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Students/Faculty News Kevin Storr December 21, 2015

Valley McCurry Christopher EidsonValley McCurry, Christopher Eidson
2015 ALOTA Award of Excellence
Christopher Eidson, MS, OTR/L and Valley McCurry, MBA, OTR/L, assistant professors in the UAB Department of Occupational Therapy, shared the Alabama Occupational Therapy Association’s 2015 Award of Excellence.

McCurry, who served as ALOTA president from 2007 – 2014, and Eidson, who served as ALOTA government affairs co-chair from 2007 – present, each believe the award was given for their cumulative efforts over the years. During their time in leadership roles, the ALOTA has grown from around 50 members to more than 300. During the same stretch, the chapter’s board grew from five to 16.

“The ALOTA was struggling when we first joined, but together, with help from a lot of good friends, we were able to build a sustainable model, make the group fiscally viable and help others see the true value of membership,” said McCurry. “Every year we are adding new, active members and it has been wonderful to be part of ALOTA’s growth into a group that is impacting our profession.”

In 2013, Eidson and McCurry spearheaded efforts to rewrite the Alabama State Occupational Therapy Practice Act. The original act, which had not been updated in more than 20 years, severely limited people’s access to necessary health care provided by OTs.

“The old act only allowed physicians to refer patients to OTs and that meant so many people were not receiving the assistance they needed for daily living,” said Eidson. “The updated act recognizes the evolution of healthcare givers and allows PAs, nurse practitioners, psychologists, chiropractors and more to refer patients.”

But rewriting the legislation was only part of the battle – the Act needed legislative approval before it could take effect. For one year, Eidson and McCurry worked with their ALOTA brethren across the state to grow a strong grassroots campaign.

There were countless phone calls and emails from them to the board. Then there were calls and emails from the board to the members. That was followed by members calling, emailing and meeting the legislators face-to-face.

“The ALOTA team is passionate about what they do and about the people they serve,” said Eidson. “So for them to share that with a legislator one-on-one sends a powerful message and it is great to say our legislators heard that message loud and clear.”

Eidson and McCurry believe the passage of the Practice Act in 2013, and their significant role in that passage, was a big factor in their receiving the ALOTA’s 2015 Award of Excellence. However, they are each quick to point out that leading the effort is only a part of the entire effort.

“This new legislation is huge for OT practitioners and it epitomizes the benefits of having a strong ALOTA because we’d still be working under antiquated laws if not for the hard work of everyone in ALOTA,” said McCurry. “We are proud to accept this award as representatives of the ALOTA and on behalf of everyone at the ALOTA.”

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