Friday, June 24, 2016

CoxHealth and Tri-Lakes Clean Air Alliance celebrate smoke-free anniversary

Free Swim day, hotdogs and pizza planned for July 1
July 1 marks the first anniversary of Branson’s comprehensive smoke-free ordinance. Cox Medical Center Branson and Tri-Lakes Clean Air Alliance (TLCAA) congratulate the city for choosing to protect its residents, visitors and workers from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke.

“Cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths each year in the U.S., including 42,000 deaths from second-hand smoke,” said Cox Medical Center Branson President William Mahoney. “At CoxHealth, our mission is to improve the health of the communities we serve. From being the first health system in the Ozarks to no longer hire tobacco users, to offering a highly successful tobacco cessation program, our focus is on the health of the people who live, work and play in the Branson area. The city’s smoke-free ordinance is a great compliment to the work we are already doing and together, we are helping people live healthier lives.”

According to a University of Missouri evaluation, air quality at Branson establishments that allowed smoking prior to the ordinance realized a 96 percent reduction in particulate matter air pollution after going smoke-free in 2015.

“This ordinance means that the employees who work at these establishments and the thousands of guests who dine there, are no longer breathing these harmful chemicals,” explained CoxHealth Community Wellness Supervisor Danielle Dingman. “We are very proud of our Branson leaders for taking the steps to protect the health of our community.”

While going smoke-free is great for health, it has also been good for business.

Chateau on the Lake General Manager Stephen Marshall reported that guests are pleased when they learn the resort is now smoke-free.

“Healthy guests are happy guests,” Marshall said, “especially those who stop by the restaurant or lounge, where our business has improved the most.”

Other businesses have also seen a boost in sales since the ordinance went into place.

Taxable sales for restaurants and bars increased by nearly $9 million during the six-month period immediately following the implementation of the ordinance in 2015, when compared to the same six-month period in 2014. The increase in taxable sales in restaurants and bars outpaced that for total retail sales in Branson: taxable sales for restaurants and bars increased 7.4 percent, more than double the rate of 3.6 percent for Branson total retail sales.

In addition to seeing an uptick in business, Marshall also reports that he has had six staff members quit tobacco thanks to Cox Medical Center Branson’s tobacco cessation program.

“The ordinance is not only protecting people from secondhand smoke, but it is also inspiring smokers to quit, which is an incredible win,” Dingman said.

To mark the first anniversary of the comprehensive smoke-free ordinance, TLCAA is sponsoring a free swim day at Branson RecPlex from noon to 7 p.m. Friday, July 1. While supplies last, TLCAA will be giving away free hotdogs as well as pizza donated by Mr. G’s Chicago Style Pizza & Pub.

Tri-Lakes Clean Air Alliance is made possible through a Missouri Foundation for Health grant awarded to Cox Medical Center Branson.

Cox Medical Center Branson’s tobacco cessation program consists of 8 sessions. The cost is $95 per person, scholarships are available. For more information, call 348-8498.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

CoxHealth begins hiring nurses internationally

CoxHealth is experiencing tremendous growth, and in an effort to keep up with the growing need for health care personnel, the system will soon be hiring even more nurses. In a special project dedicated to filling these needs, carefully screened and highly qualified nurses are being recruited from other countries. Approximately 100 nurses – primarily from the Philippines, where English is an official language – will come to the health system over the next year. The first will begin arriving Fall 2016.   

“A nursing shortage is facing the United States, and we at CoxHealth believe we must try new solutions to fill the gap,” says Karen Kramer, CoxHealth’s Chief Nursing Officer. “We always want to supply the health care that our community needs, and feel that bringing nurses to us is a good way of doing that.”

CoxHealth is still actively recruiting local nurses and health care professionals, and this practice won’t replace traditional recruitment efforts. “The need for nurses is only going to continue to grow,” says Kramer. “Supporting that need through international hires doesn’t solve the problem, but it does allow us to greater support our patients.” 

CoxHealth isn’t the only system facing a growing demand for nursing professionals, and other hospitals have been hiring international nurses for years. Because of this, U.S.-based organizations exist to help source and screen those nurses. Once screened, each qualified candidate is interviewed by health system representatives via Skype. Interviews include assessment of clinical skills, English proficiency and organizational fit.

“We have been very impressed by the people we have interviewed so far,” says Kramer. “The U.S. and the Philippines have developed similarly strong standards for nursing over the past 50 years, so we feel that these individuals will seamlessly support our organization.”

All applicants have a bachelor’s degree in nursing, and are required to have a minimum of two years of nursing experience. They must pass the same tests, such as the national nursing exam known as NCLEX, and have the same certifications as local nurses. They are also required to pass an English proficiency exam. Once on-site, all nurses will participate in an extensive educational orientation program. 

Mentoring will also be an important part of the program. “Our goal is to hire excellent nurses that will be welcomed to our community, fall in love with Southwest Missouri and choose to stay long term, “ says Kramer. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Psychiatrist joins Cox Medical Center Branson team

Dr. Patricia Hogan
Cox Medical Center Branson is pleased to welcome Patricia Hogan, DO. Dr. Hogan is board certified in psychiatry with subspecialties in addiction, geriatric and forensic psychiatry. In addition to providing inpatient care and consultations, Dr. Hogan will dedicate time to outpatient care.

“I will work in collaboration with many of our local family practice providers to implement joint management to treat those suffering from any mental illness, including schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder,” Hogan explained. “I am pleased to have this opportunity to work with a great group of providers and together, we will be able to give excellent psychiatric care to those who need it.”

Dr. Hogan’s experience includes working in nursing homes, prisons, hospitals and clinical settings. She completed her medical education at Kansas City University of Medicine Biosciences and completed her residency in psychiatry at the University of Missouri in Kansas City.

“Having Dr. Hogan’s expertise is a great benefit for our patients and providers,” explained Brock Shamel, administrative director, regional services. “Our family medicine providers now have a collaborative psychiatrist they can work with to ensure we are providing the best care for our patients. Across the state, there is a huge shortage of qualified mental health providers so we feel very fortunate to have someone of Dr. Hogan’s caliber on our team.”

Dr. Hogan will also soon begin collaborating with Dr. Diane Cornelison on an addiction recovery program.

When not working, Dr. Hogan enjoys gardening and traveling the world with her husband. 

For more information about Dr. Hogan, call CoxHealth Family Medicine and Obstetrics at 335-7540 or 348-8012.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Making a difference despite a fear of blood

Melody Luttrell always knew that she wanted to work in the medical field, but there was one small problem: a fear of blood. “I have a habit of fainting when people have to take my blood,” she says with a laugh. The issue eliminated some traditional career paths – but Luttrell has still found a way to make a difference (and remain conscious) from a desk as an office coordinator.

The 25-year-old actually applied to CoxHealth several times before being hired: But she really wanted to work for the health system, so she never gave up. “I’ve always really liked the care that people have here and the fact that everyone genuinely wants to help,” she says. “I really liked that warm, family environment.”

Her placement at the Center for Addictions especially resonates with Luttrell. “I don’t personally have a history with substance abuse, but I grew up with a mother formally an addict and have functioning alcoholics on both sides of my family,” she says. “Being able to help people make healthier decisions for themselves and their families means a lot to me, and I’ve enjoyed celebrating their victories, big and small.”

And even though she’s only been with CoxHealth for eight months, Luttrell has already seen those victories come through the door. “There’s one person who I didn’t recognize the second time I saw her because she had just gotten so much better,” she recalls. “It’s really nice to be able to see them want to change their lives. It’s rewarding to feel like I played a role in that.”

Monday, June 13, 2016

Kelsey Chown joins CoxHealth Family Medicine Forsyth clinic

Kelsey Chown, PA-C

CoxHealth is pleased to announce that Kelsey Chown, PA-C, is now seeing patients at the CoxHealth Family Medicine Forsyth clinic.

Chown, who completed her education at Missouri State University, is board certified by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants and specializes in family medicine. By law, all physician assistants are required to have a supervising physician. Chown was first selected by Dr. Markus Kryger to practice at the Forsyth clinic. Sadly, Dr. Kryger passed away in April only weeks after Chown began her mentorship. Since Dr. Kryger’s passing, Chown was chosen to work under Dr. Jeremy Mabe.

“Kelsey Chown is a capable and caring physician assistant with tremendous potential,” Dr. Mabe said. “Following in the footsteps of the beloved Dr. Kryger, who hand-picked her for this role, Kelsey is eager to lead the residents of the Forsyth area to a state of greater health and wellness.”

Chown said she learned many valuable lessons from Dr. Kryger during the  time she was able to work with him.

“For Dr. Kryger, medicine was not a 9-5 job,” she said. “Dr. Kryger took an active role in his patients’ lives. He was not just their doctor. He was a close friend. I’m thankful I had time to work with him so I was able to have insight into how he expects his patients to be treated. I plan to continue that level of care. I know Dr. Kryger left me with big boots to fill, but I plan to make him proud.”

Chown is looking forward to collaborating with Dr. Mabe.

“Dr. Mabe and I will work as a team and together, I’m confident we can provide really great patient care,” she said.

Chown was still in high school when she was inspired to pursue a career in medicine.

“My younger brother was diagnosed with cancer when I was in high school,” Chown explained. “At that time, I was taking anatomy and physiology. I was able to research and better understand what was happening and why. For me, I enjoyed the learning aspect of it. During that time, I also had the opportunity to see the other side of medicine. So many people were a part of my brother’s journey and had a positive impact on his life. For me, I want to be a part of someone else’s journey, help them be well and enjoy life to the fullest.”

When not working, Chown enjoys playing piano, participating in triathlons, reading and traveling.

CoxHealth Forsyth Family Medicine is now open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Wednesday; 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Thursday; and 8 a.m. to noon Friday. To schedule an appointment with Chown, call 417-546-3500.

Friday, June 10, 2016

A bouquet of Daisy-winning nurses

Six nurses and an entire department at CoxHealth were recently presented with Daisy Awards, celebrating them for extraordinary clinical skill and compassion. Check out our latest honorees below:

Labor and Delivery nurses, Cox Branson

Labor and Delivery nurses were awarded a Daisy Award for the care and compassion they showed to a patient during a difficult delivery process.

Tracey Williams, director of OB Women’s Services, recently received a letter from Love Basket Adoptions agency, expressing their gratitude for the kindness and compassion shown by OB staff during a recent delivery.

“Love Basket specifically mentioned Kylie Mathewson, Brittany Durrer, Mallory Machen, and Linda Robles and shared how much they appreciated the care these nurses provided,” Williams said. “Kylie and Brittany supported the young woman all day. While they were prepared for a cesarean delivery, Kylie and Brittany coached the patient through a vaginal delivery.”

After the patient delivered, Machen and Robles, who were the night shift nurses, stepped in and continued to provide compassionate and supportive care. “These nurses impacted the care and outcome for my client and forever will be remembered,” the letter from Love Basket stated.

Shandra Goldsmith, 800 Neuro/Ortho, Cox South

Shandra was nominated by a group of nurses for the care she delivered to a patient who was transferred into the unit. The patient had refused care in the past and had been described as “difficult to deal with.” Shandra stepped in, determined to give the patient a positive experience.

Her colleagues wrote: “Shandra made it a point to be in the room when he arrived to start off on the right foot. She was able to get the patient comfortable and she started a bond with him.

Over the next two weeks, she maintained that trust and became the advocate and mediator for him and really worked to get him to participate in physical and occupational therapies. She would call on her days off just to check on him. Shandra spent hours talking with other disciplines throughout the hospital to help him. When the time came for his discharge, she was at his side. The patient teared up and was thankful for all the support Shandra showed him during his stay. She turned a ‘difficult’ patient into a patient that everyone cried for at discharge.

Shandra does an amazing job and we are so thankful and honored to be working with such an extraordinary person. She is an inspiration for any nurse who steps onto this unit.”

Erin Steele, Cox North Emergency Department
Erin received a nomination from a fellow nurse for going above and beyond to care for a dementia patient who came to the ER. The patient was from Indiana and en route with family to Arizona when he experienced a psychiatric emergency. His family was unable to transport him and Erin worked past her normal shift to help make arrangements for the patient. 

Her fellow nurse wrote: “Erin used all resources possible to get the proper care for this patient during his hospital stay and after discharge. Erin showed heart and dedication in this situation.”

Mary Fox, 
Meyer Orthopedic and Rehabilitation Hospital

A patient nominated Mary for the compassion she showed to the patient’s daughter during a hospital stay. The patient had lost consciousness due to low blood volume and his daughter, who suffers from a severe anxiety disorder, witnessed the event. Mary made it her mission to make sure his daughter was OK.

The patient wrote: “Mary sought her out in the waiting room and spent considerable time with her. She took time to explain everything that was happening to me so my daughter could better grasp the situation. I cannot express how grateful I am for this extraordinary kindness extended to my family.”

Melissa Scott,
Stepdown, Cox Branson

Melissa Scott was nominated by a patient after demonstrating extraordinary critical thinking skills in an effort to provide exceptional care and comfort. The patient had experienced tightness in his chest.

“I was nauseated, disoriented and obviously having problems,” the patient wrote. “Melissa immediately took charge, calming me down and helping to stabilize me. Melissa was my nurse for one day, but she was my best friend that day, making me feel like I was her only patient.”

Marisa Crotty, Surgery, Cox Branson

Marisa Crotty was nominated for a Daisy Award by the daughter of a patient.

“I had many questions regarding my mom’s fractured hip,” the patient’s daughter explained. “When I approached Marisa, she addressed my concerns and was very informative. This was comforting. My main concern was to get my mom’s pain to a tolerable level. Marisa told me how she would address this and then followed through. She quickly earned my respect.”

Thresa Cowan, 400, Cox South

The family of a patient nominated Thresa for her efforts in making a wedding possible.

The patient’s wife wrote: “My late husband became very sick and was on the fourth floor. We decided to get married because we did not know if he would make it home. When Thresa found out, she came to talk about the wedding. The next thing I knew, she had arranged the chapel for us and she got someone to take pictures and have flowers.

The wedding went great and afterward she had the break room ready and set up with cake for a small reception.

It is people like her who make wonderful things happen. My husband did get to go home later that day and passed the next day.”

CoxHealth staff recognized with Patriot Awards

Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), an agency of the Department of Defense, has recognized Eric Clay, System Director, Douglas Schmidly, Major, Joseph Mahan, Caption, Public Safety and Security, CoxHealth, in recognition of their extraordinary support of employees who serve in the National Guard and Reserves.
According to Rear Admiral (Ret) Lee Metcalf, ESGR Missouri Chair, "The Patriot Award was created by ESGR to publicly recognize individuals who provide outstanding patriotic support and cooperation to their employees, who like the citizen warriors before them, have answered their nation's call to serve. Supportive supervisors are critical to maintaining the strength and readiness of the nation's National Guard and Reserve units."
The awards presentation ceremony was conducted during a meeting of safety and security personnel.  The awards ceremony was held at Cox South, 3801 S. National, Springfield, Mo. Colonel (Ret.) Steven Vanderhoof, ESGR Area 4 Chair, officiated the ceremony, made opening remarks, and thanked the hospital for providing jobs to Guard and Reserve members. The official presentation was conducted by Captain Nathan Smith, S-4 Officer, 935th Aviation Support Battalion, 1400 N. Fremont, Springfield, Mo., Missouri Army National Guard. 
Clay, Schmidly, and Mahan were nominated for being highly supportive of the military National Guard and Reserve Service employees and their family members by James “Randy” Wertz.  Wertz is a Sergeant, assigned to Company A, 935th Aviation Battalion, 1076 E. Highland, Aurora, Mo., Missouri Army National Guard. Wertz was not able to attend the award presentation ceremony. He is now employed as a police officer with the Aurora Police Department. Wertz spoke highly of his former employer and wanted them recognized in a formal awards presentation ceremony to show his appreciation for their patriotism and support of his military duties and career. Without the support of his civilian employer it would be literally impossible to be a member of the Guard.    
As the 1.3 million members of the National Guard and Reserve continue to perform an increasing number of unique missions with America's borders and beyond, ESGR will continue to be the resource for the employers of citizen warriors. ESGR advocates relevant initiatives, recognizes outstanding support, increases awareness of applicable laws, and resolves conflict between employers and service members. More information about ESGR Employer Outreach Programs and volunteer opportunities is available at, or by calling (Steven Brothers at 573-638-9500 x7730).

From Moldova to Monett: a new life, career in biomed

Ilya Butnaru and his family had big plans: Move with his parents and seven siblings from Moldova, a small landlocked country just north of the Balkans in Eastern Europe, and come to the United States. They had family living in the U.S. and had planned the move for some time. In their final preparations, the family had sold most of their household items. Then on Sept. 11, 2001, everything changed.

“We did not move and it was a hard winter to get through,” says Ilya. “I was 14 years old at the time and I remember not having a stockpile of food to pull from.”

After a long winter, the family eventually moved to the U.S. on April 8, 2002. They arrived in Massachusetts, and then proceeded to move to North Carolina, Tennessee, South Carolina, before settling in Missouri.

Ilya had plans to work with his father in the construction industry. In the 11th grade, he recalls questioning if high school was for him. Then, while working on a job, he fell more than 40 feet from a roof. Fortunately, he ended up breaking only a few ribs. Ilya was shocked that he walked away and lived to tell about it.
The experience changed his attitude about his future. He enrolled in credit recovery classes at Dadeville High School, where he eventually graduated.

Working with his hands, building and putting things together and taking them apart, always came easy to Ilya. In 2011, he started taking general education classes at Ozarks Technical Community College. He eventually enrolled at Linn State (State Technical College of Missouri) in their Biomedical Engineering program.

“My mom had a health scare and she ended up at Cox South and my dad called and asked me to come to the hospital to translate,” he says. Ilya’s parents did not have health insurance and they were worried about paying the hospital bills.

“My mom was reluctant to spend the night in the hospital because of the bills and I remember the physician telling my parents not to worry about the bills, just focus on her and the care she needs,” he says. After hearing that, Ilya says he knew CoxHealth was a place that he wanted to work. His parents applied for and received financial assistance through the CoxHealth Foundation to pay a large portion of the bills they incurred, and because of this, Ilya knew he wanted to help people — just like CoxHealth helped his family.

Internships were not required in college, but they were highly recommended. So, Ilya called around to various places and Brian Hoff, system director of Biomed at CoxHealth, was the only person to return his call. He offered Ilya an internship at Cox South.

“I just learned so much that summer,” Ilya says. “It was really hands-on training.” After the internship, he knew that working in biomedical engineering was the right choice.

Ilya went back to school and stayed in touch with Brian. Eventually, he applied for a position and started working as a biomedical technician at Cox Monett in 2014.

Since then, he’s made it his business to care for our patients by applying his technical skill to maintain a wide range of hospital equipment.

He takes a lot pride in his job and says he keeps patients and staff safe by performing preventative maintenance and checking equipment to make sure it is configured properly and safely functional.

“When people ask me what I do, I always say my top priority is keeping patients, staff and visitors safe,” he says.

Branson athletic trainer to be recognized with national service award

Scott Winslow
Scott Winslow, manager of Cox Medical Center Branson’s Outpatient Therapy Services, has been selected as one of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association’s 2016 Athletic Trainer Service Award recipients.
The Athletic Trainer Service Award recognizes NATA members for their contributions to the athletic training profession as a volunteer at the local and state levels.

For more than two decades, Winslow has been a committed volunteer, giving of his time and talents to organizations in both Kansas and Missouri. Among Winslow’s volunteer work, he has served as a certified athletic trainer during the NAIA Division II Men’s National Basketball Championship since 2005. His other roles include serving as educational program chair of the Missouri Athletic Trainers’ Association since 2010 as well as Youth Activities Chairman for the Knights of Columbus Council #6470.

“We are always excited to recognize the dedication, excellence, inspirational outlook and commitment of our honorees, and this year is no exception. These recipients serve as role models to their peers and represent some of the best of the best of the athletic training profession,” said NATA Honors & Awards Committee Chair Chuck Kimmel, ATC. “We know they will continue to contribute to their place of work and their community at large in ensuring quality of care and optimal health moving into the years ahead.”

“I feel honored to have been nominated and selected to receive this service award,” Winslow said. “It is a great feeling to be recognized by my peers for the work that I have done and enjoy doing.”

Winslow will be honored with the Athletic Trainer Service Award during NATA’s 67th Clinical Symposia & AT Expo in Baltimore on June 24.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Telecourt technology bridges legal, care needs

The Telecourt system - shown above during a training session at Cox North.

Handcuffs and police escorts have been a longtime standard part of transporting psychiatric patients to hearings at the Greene County Courthouse. But at CoxHealth, they aren’t any more: Patients needing long-term involuntary holds for psychiatric care or requiring guardianship hearings can now have their court appearances right at CoxHealth via Telecourt. The new system allows patients to converse with Carol Aiken, Greene County Probate Commissioner, via a large monitor and microphone in a psych-safe room in CoxHealth’s inpatient psychiatric facility.

“Our staff, physicians and the court system believe that this is a much safer process,” says Dayna Harbin, CoxHealth’s administrative director of Psychiatric Services. “If someone has a mental illness to the point that they need a long-term hold or guardianship, putting them in the care of a police escort out in the community is not ideal, and can be very traumatic for the patient.”

Through Telecourt, individuals needing to meet with Aiken simply go to the room and converse via a microphone and camera. The video/audio system uses a secured site, and in
dividuals are able to see the entire courtroom on the monitor, just as if they were there in person.

“Our hearings by video have been going very well,” says Aiken, who was instrumental in helping this project become a reality. “I think that conducting the hearings by video is much less stressful for the patients since they no longer have to be transported to the courthouse, which can be a very intimidating environment.”

“The judge can also see the entire room where the patient is, and can speak directly to the person,” says Harbin, who also notes that patients’ lawyers would be present at the hospital with them just as if the person was physically in a courtroom.

Besides being better for patients, this new system benefits other people as well. Previously, a physician accompanied some patients to court hearings – but now, physicians can stay with them on site, eliminating that lost treatment time with other patients. And it also removes the need to take a Greene County deputy off the streets to transport patients to and from the courthouse.

CoxHealth’s Telecourt program was funded in part by a grant from a Rural Access to Specialties in the ER (RASE) grant from Missouri Foundation for Health.