Monday, May 2, 2016

Free skin cancer screenings to be held on May 7

CoxHealth will offer free skin cancer screenings on Saturday, May 7 from 8 a.m. – 12 p.m. The screenings will be held at Hulston Cancer Center (3850 S. National Ave., Springfield) and will take approximately 10 minutes per appointment.

Skin cancer screenings are a way to identify potential skin cancers and precancers. It is estimated that over 3 million Americans are diagnosed with skin cancers each year.

Participants must be at least 18 years old and not be under the care of a dermatologist. Registration for an appointment is required by May 5. Space is limited. Call 417/269-INFO to register.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Maryann Blevins chosen as Missouri’s first CDC Childhood Immunization Champion

Maryann Blevins, a family nurse practitioner at CoxHealth, has been chosen as the CDC’s Childhood Immunization Champion in Missouri for 2016. Blevins is the first Missouri-based recipient of the award, which honors individuals who are doing an exemplary job of promoting childhood immunizations in their communities.

Blevins is manager of CoxHealth’s C.A.R.E. Mobile, a clinic-on-wheels sponsored by Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals (CMN) that takes care to outlying rural areas in 32 Missouri counties. Through her collaboration with CMN and the Missouri Department of Health, Blevins leads the administration and evaluation of all Vaccines for Children immunizations administered in those counties.

Because of Blevins’ work, nearly 1,500 children per year receive vaccines. She also reaches children and families living in rural areas by collaborating with school system administrators in these areas: Together, they work on strategies to increase access to vaccines in rural Missouri.

The Childhood Immunization Champion Award is given jointly by the CDC and the CDC Foundation. It is intended to recognize individuals at the state or local level, and awardees were announced during National Infant Immunization Week (April 16-23, 2016).

Thursday, April 21, 2016

CoxHealth names new Vice President of Human Resources

Andy Hedgpeth, CoxHealth’s director of Benefits and Employee Relations, has been promoted to Vice President of Human Resources. A search committee conducted an extensive national search for the position, but ultimately decided that Hedgpeth was the best choice.

“I believe there is nothing more important to this organization than our employees, because we cannot provide exceptional care to our patients without an exceptional team,” says Steve Edwards, CoxHealth’s president and CEO. “We wanted to find someone we could trust to care for our employees, and Andy is that person.”

Over the past several years, Hedgpeth has driven several key changes in the organization to improve the employee experience. Some of these initiatives include the launch of 1906 Employee Store, the integration of the system’s wellness program with its health plan, cafeterias and fitness centers, and an increased employer match on CoxHealth’s 403(b) retirement plan.

“Andy is very innovative and we are confident he will continue to be the transformational leader we need now and into the future,” says Edwards.

Hedgpeth joined CoxHealth in 2008 and has worked as compliance coordinator, benefits manager, and director for Benefits and Employee Relations. He is active in several community organizations, and was recently elected as a school board member for Ozark Public Schools.

A lifelong southwest Missouri resident, Hedgpeth is a graduate of Nixa High School, Ozarks Technical Community College and Missouri State University. His bachelor’s degree was in psychology and human resources management, and his Master in Business Administration had an emphasis in Healthcare Management. Both bachelor’s and master’s degrees were conferred by MSU.

Hedgpeth will begin his new duties May 2. 

CoxHealth colleagues take top honors at Salute to Nurses

Teri Haist, Labor and Delivery, was named Nurse of the Year at the Springfield News-Leader’s annual Salute to Nurses on Thursday. Please join us in congratulating her on this outstanding achievement!

Three CoxHealth nurses also took home top awards, including:

Advancement of Nursing Award: Sheila Russell, Nursing Administration
Nurse Educator of the Year: Eric Cantrell, Nursing Education
Inspiration in Nursing Award: Penny Bumgarner, Ozarks Dialysis Services

A total of 11 of our colleagues and students were recognized at the event. The other CoxHealth honorees were:

Cynthia Myler: 700 East
Gina Ellerbee: Nursing Administration
Amy Wissbaum: Springfield Neurological and Spine Institute
Charlotte Lundquist: 300 West Med-Surg
Dana Hyde: Springfield Neurological and Spine Institute
In addition to those nurses, two Cox College students were also presented with awards.

Chaynna Gatton, Cox College student
Rebecca Pitts, Cox College student

Monday, April 18, 2016

Skaggs Classic to support local cardiac and pulmonary rehab patients

Rex Asselin, who had open heart surgery in November 2015, is receiving cardiac rehab services at CoxHealth Cardiac/Pulmonary Rehab in Branson thanks to a scholarship from Skaggs Foundation.

Charity golf tournament returns May 6 to Thousand Hills Golf Resort

Some people dread going to the gym, but not Rex Asselin. Asselin had open heart surgery in November and looks forward to going to CoxHealth Cardiac/Pulmonary Rehab in Branson three times a week for his workouts.

“I feel stronger, healthier and so much better,” Asselin said.

He’s not only grateful to be regaining his health, but he’s thankful for the generosity of others who are making it all possible. Asselin is one of many patients who are able to attend rehab thanks to Skaggs Foundation’s Jan Harper Cardiac Endowment Fund. The scholarship fund makes it possible for patients like Asselin to afford necessary cardiac and pulmonary rehab following an event.

“Without the scholarship funding to be able to attend rehab, I’d be nowhere near where I am today,” he said. “I’m so thankful for the scholarship fund and I’m very grateful for the opportunity to be doing rehab here, where the staff is so caring, compassionate and supportive. It means a lot to me to be able to be here.”

On average, 22 to 30 patients each month are able to receive cardiac and pulmonary rehab services through Cox Medical Center Branson thanks to the scholarship fund.

“We see patients three times a week for 12 weeks and for some patients, their deductible is as high as $50 per visit, so they’d be facing $150 a week out of pocket for rehab,” explains Hollie Holderfield, clinic nurse manager, Cardiac/Pulmonary Rehab. “Many of our patients cannot afford that and without this scholarship, they wouldn’t receive the care and services they need to get stronger and healthier.”

Funds raised during Branson’s Skaggs Classic charity golf tournament will support the cardiac rehab scholarship fund as well as Skaggs Foundation’s area of greatest need fund. Branson’s Skaggs Classic will be held this year on May 6 at Thousand Hills Golf Resort.

Registration is now open for the annual four-person scramble. Corporate sponsored teams are $1,000 or individual players are $250 each. Fees include lunch and beverages as well as appetizers during a silent auction and awards ceremony. The tournament will begin at 1:30 p.m. with a shotgun start.

“Funds raised during Branson’s Skaggs Classic will be used to help improve the health and wellness of many of our friends and neighbors, like Rex Asselin, who without the Skaggs Foundation scholarship, could not afford the cardiac rehab services he needs,” said Meghan Connell, president of the Skaggs Foundation. “We have an incredible event planned this year for our golfers, including the chance to win a boat, thanks to our Hole-In-One-Sponsor, The Harbor Boat & Yacht Sales. We just need sponsors and golfers to come out, have a great time, and support this worthy cause.”

For more information about Branson’s Skaggs Classic, call Skaggs Foundation at 348-8002, email or to register, visit

Friday, April 15, 2016

Cox Medical Center South receives second Excellence in Eye Donation Award

Saving Sight, one of the largest eye banks in the country, recognized the staff at Cox Medical Center South on Friday, April 15, for their outstanding commitment to donation.

In 2015, staff at Cox Medical Center South helped to facilitate 150 eye donation cases, which resulted in 143 individuals receiving restored sight through a cornea transplant. Overall, the hospital achieved a 60 percent consent rate for eye donation. 

The Excellence in Eye Donation Award was created in 2014 to recognize hospitals that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to eye donation. Fewer than 15 percent of Saving Sight’s partner hospitals will be recognized with a 2015 Excellence in Eye Donation Award. This year marks the second time Cox Medical Center South will receive the honor.

“We applaud Cox Medical Center South for empowering others to give the gift of sight and for striving to create a culture that supports donation,” says Tony Bavuso, CEO of Saving Sight. “Thanks to the generosity of eye donors and their families, and the staff Cox Medical Center South, more people than ever were able to receive a sight-saving cornea transplant last year.”

Each year around 48,000 individuals in the United States require a cornea transplant to restore vision that has been lost due to disease, disorder or injury. With the help of hospital partners like Cox Medical Center South, Saving Sight provided corneas for more than 3,000 of those transplant surgeries in 2015.

Arlene McCormack: 'A vision to be a comfort and a companion'

As we get ready for the 2016 Employee Recognition Banquet on April 21, we asked our colleagues about what drives their passion for health care. Here is one story of Passion and Purpose at CoxHealth:

Arlene McCormack

Oxford Hospice

Growing up as a child in Belize, Arlene McCormack saw her grandmother care for people at all stages of life.

“There were really no nurses,” says Arlene. “My grandmother delivered babies – she did everything. And when someone would die she would bathe them, dress them – whatever was needed. And I was always there with her. So that’s been in me since then.”

When Arlene came to America, it was still her dream to be a nurse. She went to school and started a career as a certified nursing assistant, then became a licensed practicing nurse, then an RN. She worked in all areas of nursing. Along the way she became a hospice volunteer and that’s when her purpose to care for others turned into a passion.

“I saw how the nurses cared for the patients and I knew that is what I wanted to do. My God has turned my knowledge into a vision to be a comfort and a companion, to love those who are leaving this life and to go with dignity and peace.”

Arlene retired a few years ago, but has returned to hospice care as a case manager with Oxford Hospice. She wants to educate people about the value of hospice and encourage other nurses, especially those new to the profession, to consider hospice care as their career.

“This area of nursing is invaluable in our world today. And hospice is about living, it’s not about dying. People hear the word hospice and the first thing they think of is death. I would give anything to change that.”

Brandi Wasson: 'When I'm here, it feels like home'

As we get ready for the 2016 Employee Recognition Banquet on April 21, we asked our colleagues about what drives their passion for health care. Here is one story of Passion and Purpose at CoxHealth:

Brandi Wasson

Brandi Wasson has been a regular face at CoxHealth for decades: It’s a particularly interesting feat since she’s only 30 years old. Now the systems manager for Si3, Brandi grew up visiting the hospital with her parents, who both worked for the health system in various capacities.

“Ever since I was young, I’ve always been a part of CoxHealth,” says Brandi.

So when it came time for her to look for a job after high school, CoxHealth seemed like a natural choice. “It just felt like an easy decision,” says Brandi. “When I’m here, it just feels like home because I’ve always been around Cox. And I still know people who ‘see’ me still as a little girl.”

She began as a switchboard operator – and did actually quit her job a few years in. But she wasn’t gone for long: After only a month or so, she missed CoxHealth so much that “I came back and filled my own requisition,” she says. And she’s been working in Communications ever since, gradually filling more administrative roles until landing at her current position in 2015.

Her parents are ecstatic, she says, about her career with CoxHealth – and her 5-year-old daughter is already a fan, too. “My daughter loves coming to the office,” says Brandi. “Anytime we see a commercial, she’s like, ‘Mom, there’s your work!’”

It’s clear that both tradition and family are things that impact Brandi’s life and career. But for her, the job is more than simply being a part of CoxHealth. “We don’t maybe have ‘direct’ patient care in our department, but in a way we do,” she says. “We provide a way for patients to communicate with their families and with the outside world. A phone sitting on a desk that we’ve put in does affect a patient.”

Tina LaRose: A drive to be the best for patients

As we get ready for the 2016 Employee Recognition Banquet on April 21, we asked our colleagues about what drives their passion for health care. Here is one story of Passion and Purpose at CoxHealth:

Tina LaRose,
CoxHealth Surgery Center

“You’re going to make a wonderful nurse someday.”

Those words spoken by a family member seemed to have had the power to set the direction of young Tina LaRose’s life. She had actually wanted to be an architect but when she walked into an operating room for the first time as a nursing student, Tina discovered her purpose in life.

“When I graduated and became a full-fledged nurse, the OR is where I went and I have been in the OR ever since. This is what gives me purpose, what gives me my drive to be the best for my patients,” says Tina, a charge nurse at the CoxHealth Surgery Center.

Tina has been at CoxHealth for 18 of her 40 years in nursing. Her passion is to use her skills and experience to reassure her patients that they are in good hands. She learned the importance of good communication to reduce anxiety when she was a patient herself.

“Even being the nurse, knowing that information that a lot of people don’t have from not being in the medical field, I was still frightened of what was going on,” says Tina. “And to have a good nurse to be there to support me and explain things to me so I wasn’t so frightened of what was going on, that is just awesome; to be that confident in your job and your ability to make a person feel they are going to be OK.”

Tina says her colleagues at the surgery center also drive her passion every day as she works alongside “the most extraordinarily talented people” she’s ever known.

“They are an awesome team here that works like a fine-oiled machine,” says Tina. “I am proud to be a surgical nurse and I am proud to be here at the surgery center.”

Rick Boaz: Meeting a community need

As we get ready for the 2016 Employee Recognition Banquet on April 21, we asked our colleagues about what drives their passion for health care. Here is one story of Passion and Purpose at CoxHealth:

Rick Boaz, Pre-Hospital

For Rick Boaz, a passion for health care is driven by a single force: the desire to make a difference in his community.

Rick had never given much thought to health care as a career until he moved to Walnut Grove, where he saw an immediate need. The distance from Springfield meant there could be a wait for an ambulance. Rick volunteered to serve with the local ambulance district, providing basic life support.
“I wanted to do my part in the community, so I started volunteering, not knowing anything,” he says. He became a first responder, then came to CoxHealth in 1997 as an EMT. By 2003, he had become a paramedic and started teaching a wide variety of classes.

“I love teaching with a passion,” Rick says. “We live the dream: We have the opportunity to take a person who is having a crisis and make things better for them.”

Beyond the medical knowledge, Rick says he has a basic message for his students: Treat every patient as you would your father, mother, sister or brother. He recalls picking up patients from Commercial Street and having those patients thank him simply for being nice.

“That tells me that at some time they were not treated very well. That is wrong. Every patient deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.”

“I have a passion for helping others and making a difference in people’s lives,” he says. Rick lives in Bois D’Arc now, and he continues to volunteer with a community ambulance district there.

Rick recalls a time when he was out at dinner and a woman came up and told him he had saved her life. He didn’t recognize her at first, but he soon realized she had been a gunshot victim on a call he responded to.

“I told her, I did some things, but it’s not always in our hands who lives and dies. I did what I was trained to do. Still, when you see people later on and they say thank you – those are always occasions that make you feel really good.”