Meet Dr. Carrie Mills, an experienced and dedicated speech pathologist who works with our patients at WellPark. In fact, she has served in the field of language and speech pathology for over 25 years. Her career journey has included work in schools, home health, clinical settings, skilled nursing facilities, her own private practice and more. She has treated patients across the spectrum of generations with her youngest being 8 hours old and her oldest patient being 103 years old. Dr. Mills did her clinical rotations at Shannondale and went on to work in both the Maryville and Knoxville locations.
Dr. Mills is a lifelong Tennessean. She lives in Maryville with her husband and two fur babies, Winnie Bear and Dali. She received a degree in psychology from a college in North Carolina. Upon earning her degree, her mother highly recommended that she pivot to the speech and language pathology field. She went on to earn her masters and doctorate degrees from the University of Tennessee Knoxville. Dr. Mills still thanks her mother today for that amazing advice that led her to this extremely rewarding and fulfilling career. She thrives on helping people with language and swallowing, two main aspects impacting quality of life.
A WellPark Advocate
She has dedicated the last five ½ years to patients at WellPark. In her own words, “this is the best group of people I’ve ever worked with.” She praised the work ethic of the entire team including occupational therapists, physical therapists, and the nursing team. She also credits WellPark and Shannondale for encouraging the professionals to always put patient care first. Dr. Mills goes on to describe the state-of-the-art equipment and quality of service as two of the strongest and most important aspects of care provided at WellPark.
The speech pathologists at WellPark work on three principal areas of need with their patients: swallowing, voice, and cognition. Often swallowing difficulties are a result of head and neck cancers. The WellPark team works closely with local radiology oncologists and Ear/Nose/Throat (ENTs) physicians. COVID wreaked havoc on breathing. The team also collaborates with many patients to strengthen their breath since breath powers voice.
Among the progressive and wholistic therapy tools at WellPark are the mock grocery store and mock apartment. Patients can apply their new techniques and strategies in settings familiar to them. In collaboration with the physical and occupational therapists, patients are led through a variety of activities in both mock areas that help them strengthen mobility, cognition, and endurance.
Dr. Mills and her WellPark colleagues believe so strongly in the excellence of care provided at WellPark that many of them have referred multiple family members to WellPark for therapies and treatments. There is no higher form of praise than to send your own beloved family members to your workplace for care.
Dr. Mills is well-respected across the community and within the Shannondale family. She is always striving to strengthen her own knowledge base and overall excellence of care for all. With that spirit she has been instrumental in several initiatives.
Community Group of Therapists
Shannondale supported Dr. Mills as she established a Community Group for local speech and language pathologists. This group gathers once a month to share the most current research in the field, grow relationships with one another and share resources. This group supports each other toward providing excellence in care across our community.
Dr. Mills also started the Endoscopy Program within the University of Tennessee’s Department of Speech and Pathology. The endoscopy machine at WellPark is just one example of the top-notch equipment available for the treatment of patients. The endoscopy procedure allows Dr. Mills and her college, Kristi Reis, to see how a patient’s voice box moves and protects their airways while swallowing. Breathing, speaking, and swallowing are so interrelated. At WellPark they assess and treat the whole person which yields a much better outcome.
Memory Enhancement Program
Dr. Mills designed the Memory Enhancement Program utilized by the WellPark team. The program includes strategies for making meaningful associations, verbal rehearsal, and visualization. Dr. Mills explained that strengthening cognition is a common need among their clients. She also shared that cognition is not about intelligence. It is about helping people recognize and overcome their barriers to being independent and successful at home. It is about focusing on what they can do and using those strengths to overcome their struggles.
In addition to her workload at WellPark and across the community, Dr. Mills also enthusiastically accepts students and collaborates with them in a clinical setting. Most of the students come from local colleges and universities in East Tennessee. Last year Dr. Mills hosted a student from Illinois. Upon the student’s return to her campus, she praised Dr. Mills and WellPark so intensely, that another student is traveling from Illinois to spend this summer with Dr. Mills.
The word is out… Dr. Carrie Mills and WellPark are phenomenal!
Reach out today to schedule your tour of the facility or an appointment with a WellPark practitioner here.