Published on October 13, 2020

Hellen Retires with 27 Years of Service

Theresa Hellen retiresTheresa Hellen, a speech-language pathologist with Pediatric Outpatient Rehabilitation, recently retired from North Mississippi Medical Center with 27 years of service.

A 1974 graduate of Baldwyn High School, Hellen earned an associate degree from Northeast Mississippi Community College in Booneville. She holds a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in speech pathology, both from the University of Mississippi in Oxford.

Early in her career, Hellen spent 11 years with Jackson Public Schools. She worked three years for Regional Rehabilitation Center in Tupelo before joining NMMC in August 1993. Originally, she was a therapist with Acute Rehabilitation and the Rehabilitation Institute. She transferred to Outpatient Rehabilitation in 1995. During her tenure at NMMC, she often filled in as needed at Pontotoc Nursing Home and Baldwyn Nursing Facility.

Hellen played a significant role in developing a program for the treatment of autistic children at NMMC’s Outpatient Rehabilitation Center. She has given numerous presentations across Mississippi to educate speech therapists and educational staff on how to better serve children with speech and language disorders. She also developed family training and assessment tools for Neonatal Intensive Care Unit patients and families at NMMC. 

Hellen was selected by her co-workers in NMMC’s Rehabilitation Services as Most Valuable Employee in 2001. In her nomination, co-workers stated that she gives unselfishly of her talents, time and money to benefit others. They knew her to babysit a long-time pediatric patient so his parents could spend a weekend away together, purchase clothing for needy patients, and come in to work on her off time to help less experienced staff.

In 2016,  the Mississippi Speech-Language Hearing Association honored Hellen with the prestigious Clinical Achievement Award.

“I love working with children—they’re just so open and honest, and you know exactly what they think and how they feel,” Hellen says. “The little ones have been the most rewarding—to able to help them and their families to achieve communication and develop their personalities has been so fulfilling. The children will love you and will work for you when you respect them and love them. They need to know that they are just as important as any adult around and they respond so well to respect and positive attention.” She considers working with autistic children and those with behavioral problems as one of the most rewarding and wonderful aspects of her career.

Since retiring from NMMC, Hellen works part-time providing speech therapy in area schools. She also has enjoyed gardening and spending time with her daughter Renae (Jason) Vallas and grandson, Jon. She is expecting to welcome a second grandson in January.

Hellen is a member of the American and Mississippi Speech/Language Associations. She is active with the Pratt Community Center, LLC. She also plays piano, teaches Sunday School and works with youth at Friendship Baptist Church.

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