June 19, 2014 at 11:45am
Stephanie Strick ’15
David Overlot ’81

David Overlot ’81 decided at a young age to pursue a career in health care and now thrives in that busy, ever-changing environment. “You have to be able to go from zero to 120 just like that because you never know what’s going to happen,” says Overlot, executive director of diagnostic radiology at Decatur Memorial Hospital (DMH). “The only constant in healthcare is that things are going to change.”

During his 32 years with DMH, Overlot has seen many advances in patient care, especially in the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. “The technology to detect and treat breast cancer has changed so much, ” he says. “Years ago, we often found the disease in a very advanced stage that was difficult to treat successfully. Now it can be detected and treated early, and people can go on and have full lives.”

He also has witnessed many technologicalchanges in DMH’s radiology department. For example, the hospital’s first CT scanners required an hour to produce a dozen images, but today’s equipment can scan the entire human body in 10 seconds.

A particular source of pride for Overlot is the recent enhancement of the hospita’s nuclear pharmacy, where radioactive isotopes are created to help diagnose and precisely pinpoint cancer. Overlot says the new technology offered, typically found only at research or university-based hospitals, provides advanced treatment and helps patients avoid the need to spend time and money on out-of-town treatment. “Our goal has always been to provide the care that people need so they don’t have to leave town,” he says.

Overlot says molecular medicine will continue to advance so doctors can detect and treat diseases even sooner. “The goal is to make a drug that will go directly to the cancer cell and target just the cancer,” he says. “That’s probably 15 or 20 years down the road, but you know it’s coming; just watch it take place. Being a part of that is exciting.”

Overlot is gratified to know that he plays a role in successfully diagnosing and treating patients toward the goal of sending them home to continue their lives. And although his work can be stressful, he embraces its responsibilities. “Healthcare is a 24/7, 365 job. It’s a pretty big commitment,” he says.

After completing a bachelor’s degree in allied health at Millikin, Overlot graduated from DMH’s School of Radiologic Technology and began his career at the hospital in 1982. He started as a general X-ray technologist specializing in angiography and CT scanning, as recommended by his mentor, the late G. Richard Locke, M.D., medical director of DMH’s Cancer Care Institute and a former MU trustee. Four years later, Overlot was promoted to chief technologist, and in 2002, he was promoted to his current position.

Overlot came to Millikin after discussing various healthcare careers with Dr. Norman Jensen, now MU associate professor emeritus of biology. His decision was also influenced by his late brother, Michael Overlot ’80, a Big Blue baseball letterwinner and Alpha Tau Omega member, who tragically drowned in a boating accident shortly after his graduation.

A lifelong Decatur resident, Overlot and his wife, Cynthia, have two children: son Sean, who is serving in the National Guard, and daughter Brittany, a Millikin junior. An active Big Blue supporter as a student, Overlot returns to campus in support of Millikin athletics whenever possible. “Go Big Blue; that’s my team. I’m Big Blue all the way through.”

Overlot is grateful for his Millikin education, which led to his DMH career. “I’ve really enjoyed my time at Decatur Memorial, and Millikin is what really set me up to be successful,” he says.

Stephanie Strick ’15 of Abingdon, Ill., was an intern for the alumni and development office. A major in art with a photography emphasis, she is completing a minor in writing.

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