MRHC technician earns state recognition

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Alex Pippins, an HVAC/R technician at McAlester Regional Health Center, has been selected from among 12,000 clients of Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services as the agency’s 2015 Client of the Year.


Pippins accepted the award in a ceremony attended by more than 700 people at the state Capitol during People with Disabilities Awareness Day on April 5. McAlester Reps. Donnie Condit and Brian Renegar recognized him with a citation, as well.


Pippins has a strong desire to go to work and take care of his mother and 11-year-old son Payton, but diabetes and a serious injury to his right hand were barriers to employment. He received assistance from the Oklahoma Workforce office in McAlester, which referred him to DRS Visual Services’ employment program for disability-related support.


The employment programs work together to close workforce skills gaps by preparing job seekers for high quality, skills-oriented jobs needed in the workforce.


Pippins’ story is also featured in the DRS 2015 Annual Report, which pictures Pippins on the cover.


Once a high school dropout, Pippins panicked when his Visual Services counselor Gayle Lee told him a 3.0 grade point average was required.  Lee, who is blind, inspired Pippins to succeed, telling him with a smile, “Don’t think because I’m blind that you can pull the wool over my eyes.”

Pippins thought, “Well, if she can work, maybe I can.”


Visual Services paid for his college degree, but he worked hard, earning a 3.8 grade-point average and graduating from OSU Institute of Technology in Okmulgee with a degree in applied science.


Pippins is quick to acknowledge the support from OSU IT.


“From the book store to the classroom, everybody made me feel welcome and that helped me believe that I could be successful in school,” he said.

After an internship at MRHC, Pippins was hired on a permanent basis as a heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration technician in the plant operations department.


He operates a small business using unlimited journeyman’s and mechanical contractor’s licenses and recently installed the air-conditioning unit and ductwork as a volunteer in his first Habitat for Humanity home. 


Alex says it’s his way of giving back because his family lives in a Habitat for Humanity home.


“I wouldn’t be where I am today without help from DRS and my counselor Miss Gayle,” Alex said. “You accepted me with open arms and helped me get an awesome trade. It’s hard work, but once you learn it, it’s a good living.”





Commission for Rehabilitation Services Chair Lynda Collins, left, presents Alex Pippins with the Client of the Year Award from the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Service on April 5 at the state Capitol. Pippins’ son Payton Pippins and DRS Vocational Rehabilitation Services counselor Gayle Lee joined him during the award ceremony at the state Capitol.



MRHC is a regional 171-bed general acute care public trust hospital serving a region comprised of eight counties in Southeast Oklahoma. With more than 700 employees, the hospital offers a wide array of clinics, and ancillary and outpatient programs.