When you live in a community like Arkadelphia, it’s as if your neighbors are never far from your side. They’re tight-knit, and the concept of family tends to blur a little as you grow up. Christi Beard felt that way, and it didn’t stop at the people. She knew Baptist Health was going to be her home, partly because she already knew it so well. “I knew so many people in the Arkadelphia Baptist Health area,” she said in a conversation last Thursday. “But I wanted to get more experience before coming home, so I started at the Baptist Health location in Malvern.” I got a few years of experience there. Then when I came to the Arkadelphia location as a PRN, I had already gotten my feet wet, so to speak, and knew the community really well. The people here are basically my family; they’ve watched me grow up. I was comfortable immediately, so I made the change to come here full-time. After all, she pointed out with a chuckle, she lives just two minutes down the road. The patients and team members she works alongside every day truly are her neighbors, and they deserve the best care possible. Thankfully, while Arkadelphia is a smaller hospital, it enjoys all the advances of every Baptist Health institution. “I like that it’s a small hospital,” Christi declared. I have time to slow down and make sure that all of my patients are educated about what we are doing with them. I like to teach them more about their disease process and how they can get better, or manage their health. Since her arrival at Baptist Health in 2011, Christi has gained more techniques to help her patients manage their health. She is now a registered Respiratory Therapist, and she creates long-term relationships with her patients so that they can lead the healthiest lives possible. We have so many patients that we see on a regular basis, and they become almost like family. When they come in, chances are we already know a little something about each other, and we spend so much time together while they’re here. They help me understand how scared they are and how concerned they are when they’re having such a hard time. It’s my job, then, to help them learn how to breathe, focus on what’s important, and get them calm so their breathing can improve. It's a function we can take for granted: breathing. The simple inhale/exhale process is not always so simple, especially with patients who are experiencing their first encounter with health problems. “Helping people breathe is the most important part of my work here,” Christi stated. It creates an immediate response. If I’m working with a patient who’s having difficulties breathing and I give them treatment, it instantly opens them up. You can see the fear dissipate from their eyes as they take a deep breath and go, ‘Oh, that’s so much better!’ If you don’t spot Christi encouraging her patients in the halls of Baptist Health-Arkadelphia, then you’ll most likely find her playing with her grandchildren in her front yard. For Christi and the rest of the Baptist Health community, it’s all about family—whether they’re inside the hospital or out.