Career educator enjoys learning experience

PLYMOUTH — Ted Chittum has been involved with education for most of his life. Whether student, teacher, coach, or administrator, the current Executive Director of Northern Indiana Educational Services Center knows you can never be in a position to stop learning.
“I’ve learned a lot every place I’ve been,” said Chittum. “And that’s provided me the opportunity to do a lot of things. I’ve had great role models who have inspired in me the sense that if you want to make it better, roll up your sleeves and just go do it.”
But in a way, it was rolling up his left pant in January for knee surgery that helped him learn what he and the other members of Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center/Plymouth’s Board of Directors were doing was beginning to pay big healthcare dividends for Marshall County.
“The orthopaedic surgeon told me that these are the best operating rooms around,” said Chittum, who joined the SJRMC/Plymouth Board of Directors in 2007.
Since then, the hospital has brought many new, cutting-edge healthcare initiatives to Marshall County.
Last August, SJRMC/Plymouth opened its Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory, the only one of its kind in the Marshall County community and surrounding area, bringing an unprecedented level of heart health and advanced medical technology, combined with compassionate, caring, and convenient patient experience. Three-dimensional images are obtained in high resolution without the distortion common with conventional x-ray techniques. Fine blood vessels and interventional devices are visualized in precise detail from almost any angle. Time-consuming and uncomfortable patient repositioning are eliminated, making the procedure faster and less stressful for the patient.
SJRMC/Plymouth opened its Surgery Center, enabling area residents to receive compassionate, comprehensive, state-of-the-art care for their surgical services without having to travel outside of Marshall County.
And those operating rooms Chittum experienced first hand (or knee) are some of the first in the country to feature the new Drager Medical Narkomed 6000 anesthesia machines while the laminar airflow system provides patients with a “wall of air,” ensuring the cleanest, safest environment available today for total joint replacement and other surgeries.
“All of this, plus world class emergency and cancer services, continue to impress me and show that we are taking the proper steps in bringing big city medicine to this county,” said Chittum.
His confidence in SJRMC/Plymouth and its dedication to serving the entire county and surrounding areas is what helped bring him to its Board. Originally from Peru, Indiana, Chittum has been in education as a teacher, coach, and/or administrator in both the Argos and Triton school systems since 1975.
“Judge Dean Colvin (former SJRMC/Plymouth Chairman of the Board) asked me to consider joining the hospital’s Board a few years ago as it was looking for a representative who could represent the eastern part of the county,” Chittum explained. “I think if you are asked something of this magnitude, then you kind of have an obligation to do something if you can.”
The similarities he sees in both healthcare and education helped him take advantage of the opportunity.
“With hospitals and schools you have a large physical plant,” Chittum said. “One has patients, doctors, and nurses while the other has students, teachers, and teacher aides. And for a community and a county to prosper, in addition to good schools quality healthcare is essential.
“I would never hesitate to have any of my family come to this hospital given the comfort and quality of care that you get at this facility that is so conveniently located in our county,” he continued.
When he’s not fulfilling his duties as the Executive Director of Northern Indiana Educational Services Center or attending Board meetings at the hospital, Chittum enjoys spending time with his wife and his 27 and 23-year-old sons, as well as an occasional round of golf.
“I wish I played half the amount of golf people think I do,” he laughed. “But in October, my wife and I will become grandparents for the first time so the golf game may really start to struggle. Our forthcoming granddaughter already has a closet at our house!”
Always learning.