Nearly four decades into a career in the health care field, Alicia McCurry's role at Newton Medical Center — like the medical treatments offered there — continues to evolve.

After 35 years in nursing, McCurry transitioned to a role as clinic director for specialty providers, a position she has held for the last five years. From that position, she oversees the orthopedics department, general surgery, neurology and more.

"I really just maintain the functionality within the clinics to make sure that the providers, the staff, have what they need and that we're providing appropriate services for the community and the needs of those we serve," McCurry said.

While her years as a nurse helped her step into that role, McCurry admitted that caregiving nature came out of her even earlier — when she was starting a family — and has stayed with her since.

"The more you see the need and opportunity to serve and help somebody else that needs something or needs care, that's just what's driven me," she said.

Seeing a need among local patients served by the Shriners Hospital in St. Louis, McCurry was a key cog in helping establish a partnership between the larger entity and Newton Medical Center, setting up a telehealth location for the Shriners at NMC earlier this year.

Having a local telehealth location means patients do not have to travel as far for followup appointments (which typically don't last longer than 30 minutes). Now, if Newton is closer, NMC will set up a telehealth conference between patient and doctor — with the service drawing patients from across the state, and some from Oklahoma as well. NMC has added additional capabilities this year to make it so a majority of services are available during those telehealth checkups as the local hospital continues to increase usage of the program.

"We are seeing more and more patients each month. We have recently added a new service at our hospital to take images of long bones, like a back, and so we're excited to help some of the Shriner's children who have long-bone deformities," McCurry said. "To be able to support those appointments for the patient and the provider locally ... was huge. It really was just something where I started to get the pieces in place."

Deferring credit to the providers and staff who have helped the telehealth partnership with the Shriners Hospital go smoothly, McCurry cannot escape recognition, as she was recently honored with the Hometown Health Care Hero award for her efforts in spearheading the program.

McCurry admitted that was an overwhelming feeling, to be honored for something she views as just part of her job and the right thing to do. That mentality, partly, comes from her family — with a mother who also worked as a nurse and a father who had a history of civic service in his family (with McCurry following suit and serving on the Mount Hope City Council).

"That's kind of how our family has always been — you always try to give back and do what you can to serve others," McCurry said.

Plenty of moments stand out to McCurry as highlights of her career — having served in a number of different departments as a nurse — but these recent efforts and recognition hold a certain distinction. With what they've provided to the community, she encouraged others not to shy away from reaching out and getting involved as well.

"I'm pleased with the accomplishments here at NMC that we're able to grow our speciality practices and extend our reach to help not only our community, but the surrounding areas. It's moments like this — being able to help implement a Shriner's telehealth outreach program — that feel good because in that little year's worth of time, it impacts so many people," McCurry said. "Don't ever underestimate what you can contribute. Sometimes we think, 'Oh, I don't know if that would help," but oftentimes even contributions that we don't think are impactful can be very impactful, so just go for it. Do it, raise your hand, get out there and offer."