Friday, October 9, 2015

Mammograms key in early detection


Rachel Morgan, mammography technologist at CoxHealth Women's Center Branson, discusses the details she sees during a mammogram.

For years, Ellen Young never missed having her annual mammogram. Young, the associate administrative director of laboratory at CoxHealth, was also diligent to follow self-examination guidelines. In 2002, however, Young mistakenly missed a yearly exam.

“If it wasn’t for my daughter constantly reminding me to get it done at that time, I likely wouldn’t have had my mammogram when I did,” Young said. “It was during that exam they discovered the cancer.”

Young was diagnosed with breast cancer two days before Christmas 2002.

“I met with my surgeon on Christmas Eve to decide my course of treatment,” she explained. “Surgery was scheduled two days after Christmas.”

Because of the surgery Young elected to have and the size of the tumor, she did not need to undergo chemotherapy or radiation.

She said she believes without a doubt that had she not had the mammogram when she did, she would have endured much more extensive treatments and her battle with breast cancer would have been a much different story.

“I believe early detection saved my life,” Young said. “I strongly encourage all women to get their mammograms. I had no family history of breast cancer and I had always done self-exams as recommended. Without having the mammogram when I did, my story might have ended differently. I never felt the tumor nor could my surgeon feel the tumor. At the time of the diagnosis, I had no symptoms to indicate anything was wrong. It was only through the mammogram was my cancer detected.”

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women, except for skin cancers, according to the American Cancer Society. About 1 in 8 women in the U.S. will develop invasive breast cancer during their lifetime.

The American Cancer Society's estimates that in 2015, about 231,840 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women and about 40,290 women will die from breast cancer this year.

“Early detection is key,” said Rachel Morgan, a mammogram technologist at Cox Medical Center Branson. 

“Unfortunately, many women don’t realize the importance of early detection. The earlier you catch something, the better your prognosis is, and that includes breast cancer. In order to catch it early, you have to be faithful in taking those preventative measures and that means having a mammogram every year.”

Mammograms can detect breast cancer in women who have no signs or symptoms, such as the case with Young.

“People often think cancer is something you feel and as long as you are not feeling something, you are safe,” Morgan said. 

“That is not true. So many cancers are cancers you can’t feel and can only be detected through a mammogram. Mammograms allow us to detect cancer when it is in its earliest stages and only microscopic. If a woman is waiting until she feels something, when she does, she will end up going through a lot more than if we catch it when it is only microscopic.”

The American Cancer Society recommends for early breast cancer detection in women without symptoms, that women begin mammograms at the age of 40 and continue doing so as long as they are in good health.

“The other thing we want is for women to be doing their self-exams,” Morgan said. “We want young women to be aware of lumps and changes in their breasts and if they feel a lump or change, not to be deceived that they are too young. We are seeing a lot of younger women with findings unfortunately.”

Morgan said it is also important for women to know that a mammogram is not an impersonal procedure at CoxHealth Women’s Center in Branson.

“As women, when we designed our beautiful office space, we evaluated what was important to us and then we incorporated those things into every aspect of our service,” Morgan explained. 

“We have created an abundance of appointment options and we respect the value of our patients’ time so we work diligently to run on or ahead of schedule. We also have a private office with separate registration. Once our patient is called back, she is given a gown and chocolate, because everything is better with chocolate, even a mammogram.”

To schedule a mammogram in Branson, call 348-8313. If you are in the Springfield area and would like to schedule a mammogram, please call 269-LADY. In Monett, call 354-1138.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

We're taking charge: Gisele Bauman's story

Whenever Gisele Bauman looks up while at her desk, she’s reminded that breast cancer didn’t keep her from doing what she wanted to do. That’s because of a shadow box on her wall, one celebrating the first marathon she ever ran – a marathon she was training for when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

But that diagnosis didn’t deter her plans. “I actually went ahead and ran that marathon eight weeks after my mastectomy,” says Gisele. “The day I got home from the marathon, I...started chemo.”

Running isn’t Gisele’s only hobby. The 51-year-old is mom to three kids, loves to travel – Venice is her favorite destination – and has worked at CoxHealth for 24 years, where she’s responsible for the system’s laboratories.

Those things, coupled with the distractions of everyday life, made it easy for Gisele to postpone getting the crucial mammogram that caught her tumor. But after a friend was diagnosed with breast cancer, she made the appointment and was so glad she did. “I had an aggressive tumor, so had we not caught it when we did, I don’t think I’d have the encouraging prognosis that I have,” says Gisele.

And things are encouraging now – Gisele is cancer-free and has been for nearly three years. But the diagnosis has helped her see some aspects of life a little differently. “I think it certainly reinforces that none of us has any guarantee,” says Gisele. “Not to sound cliché, but it’s about appreciating what you have right now because it can change quickly.”

And right now, you can get a mammogram. Just call 417-269-LADY (Springfield) 417-348-8313 (Branson) or 417-354-1138 (Monett) or click here for more information:

CoxHealth’s Pink Ribbon Rally and Luncheon to spread breast cancer awareness

CoxHealth has been uniting and inspiring breast cancer survivors, as well as their friends and family, at its annual Pink Ribbon Rally and Luncheon for nearly 25 years. Scheduled for Oct. 17, this year’s rally is sure to be another wonderful time of support for lives affected by the disease – and encouragement for early detection.

“This event is a great opportunity to come together with other people affected by breast cancer,” says Autumn Bragg, CoxHealth’s community oncology educator. “People have a strong connection to breast cancer. If they haven’t experienced it personally, it’s likely that they know someone who has.”
Because of that connection, the event is open to the general public. Activities will include a photo booth, group painting, music therapy, paraffin dip hand treatments, a silent auction and more. 

Additionally, a survivors’ panel discussion will focus on how breast cancer affects relationships and intimacy. Lunch will be provided by Chick-fil-A.

The event is free to attend, and will be held from 10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. at Hulston Cancer Center. Doors open at 10:15 a.m. Space is limited, and registration by October 14 is required. Call 417-269-INFO or click here for more information.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Ferrell-Duncan Clinic honored by Department of Defense with Above and Beyond Award

Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), an agency of the Department of Defense, recognized Ferrell-Duncan Clinic with an Above and Beyond Award in recognition of extraordinary support of employees who serve in the National Guard and Reserves. The award was presented to CoxHealth vice president Bob Ferguson on October 1.  
The Above and Beyond Award is presented by ESGR State Committees. It  recognizes employers at the local level who have gone above and beyond the legal requirements of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) by providing their Guard and Reserve employees additional, non-mandated benefits such as differential or full pay to offset lost wages, extended health benefits, and other similar benefits. 

Monday, October 5, 2015

We're taking charge: Cindy Shelley's story

Cindy Shelley can’t look back at her battle with breast cancer and talk about it.

She can’t look back because she’s in the middle of it.

Life was different for Cindy Shelley just a month ago. The nearly 21-year CoxHealth employee was planning to go on a retreat with her church at the end of the month, do some dog sitting and spend time working with fibers – a hobby that’s made her a tie-dye expert. Just look at her socks, which sport a colorful combination of blue, green and pink hues.

Four weeks ago, however, was before Cindy’s annual mammogram – an appointment which caused a change in plan. “They called me saying they found something suspicious,” says Cindy. That phone call began a series of events: A biopsy and MRI revealed “more cancer in there than they originally thought,” says Cindy. And to combat that cancer, Cindy is undergoing a mastectomy today.
But despite the unknown, Cindy has peace. “I’m very much into prayer and I believe God is in control no matter what happens,” says Cindy. And when it comes to dealing with everyday life, “just take one day at a time,” says Cindy. “That’s pretty much my attitude.”

For Cindy, her diagnosis was a complete surprise – and that’s why she says mammograms are crucial. “I feel fine,” she says, and notes there isn’t a history of cancer in her family. Even a physical with her primary care physician shortly before her mammogram didn’t reveal any cause for concern.

“There was no warning that this is going on inside of me,” says Cindy. For her, it was that mammogram that made the difference. “Otherwise, I wouldn’t have ever known.”

Ready to schedule your mammogram? Call 417-269-LADY or click here for more information:

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Ladies: Take charge of your health in October

We’re taking charge: Help defeat breast cancer by getting a mammogram!

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but this time of year is about more than pink ribbons. It’s about taking action to protect yourself, to take charge of your life. All of that can begin by getting a mammogram – which is free for CoxHealth employees 40 and over with CoxHealth insurance!

Besides getting a mammogram, be sure to visit CoxHealth’s Facebook page throughout the month. There you’ll find stories from our colleagues and friends, who will talk about why this test is so important. These stories are as unique as the people telling them: There’s the employee who convinced her friend to get a mammogram by going with her – and finding out she had breast cancer herself. And there are others whose mammograms provided nothing more than piece of mind. While their stories are different, there’s a common factor: Each of their lives was affected by getting that mammogram. By getting one, they took control of their health, and you can too.

Follow our stories, but make one of your own: Sign up for your mammogram by calling 417-269-LADY (Springfield), 417-348-8314 (Branson) or 417-354-1137 (Monett)!

Get ready, we're taking care to the next level

The opening of the Cox South expansion was only the beginning of a new era that’s now underway. For Chief Hospital Officer Ron Prenger, a self-described “operations guy,” the real excitement lies in adapting to the space and perfecting the way we deliver care. “This expansion will help us take our nationally recognized services to another level,” he says. We sat down with Ron to get his thoughts on what comes next. Here’s what he had to say:

Private rooms
Our ultimate goal is to increase private beds. The new private rooms create an opportunity we haven’t had. We’ve been stretched to move patients quickly and appropriately to accommodate the needs in the current building with limited access to private beds.

A lot of time is spent moving patients – sometimes several times – to cohort by infection or by gender and to accommodate the needs of patients coming through the ER. Each time you move a patient, it requires nurse time, registration effort and work by Environmental Services.

More private beds means that will be less of a factor. Instead of spending energy on moving people around, we can put more focus on patient care.

Private rooms are good for our clinical care, too. We can create a more home-like, more patient-centered environment, which helps us take care of families as well as the patient.

New locations
Work is underway to convert the former NICU into a neuroradiology center. We want to support the neuroscience requirements for radiology and accommodate the patient flow.

The former Pediatrics unit on 700 West will get a remodel to give it a functional layout for a medical-surgical unit. The plan is to move oncology from 500 West to 700 West. Then we’ll turn 500 West into a telemetry unit. That’s one of our challenges: having enough space for telemetry. This will give us more options.

The second floor, which connects to the post-partum unit in the Dee Ann White Women’s and Children’s Hospital, will house overflow post-partum and gynecological procedure patients on 200 West. This will give us a strong consistency of services for women on that floor.

200 East will be a general med-surg unit to allow us to flex with volumes and accommodate as many private beds as possible as we work toward 100 percent private rooms.

Biggest challenges
The biggest challenge is logistics. We’re seeing the same number of patients, but we’re distributing them over a lot of geography. Those adjustments can be a challenge, but we’ve planned appropriately and now we can see how those plans function in practice and work on making it the best for our team and our patients.

We’re also working on the transition between the new and the existing construction. You get the same great care throughout Cox South, but we need to revamp the existing rooms and hallways as quickly as possible. We’ll be working on the existing tower to make sure patients and families have a positive perception of the entire facility.

A time of excitement
With our new resources, we’re taking one of the best medical staffs and best clinical staffs in southwest Missouri to the next level – so watch out!

The Jared Neuroscience Center includes a robust Parkinson’s clinic and we are developing an ALS clinic. The Jared Neuroscience Center gives us the opportunity to bring neurosurgeons, psychiatrists and neurologists closer together – they’ll build on their successes.

Meanwhile, having the women’s and children’s service line closer together will let us move faster and take bigger steps, creating more opportunities to provide better services for our patients.

This is an exciting time for our growth – hop on the train and enjoy the ride.

Technology brings care to the workplace

Employees at White River Valley Electric Cooperative are able to visit with a CoxHealth provider using dedicated telemedicine rooms at each of the co-op’s five offices. Employees are able to be seen quickly and White River offers the service at no charge to staff members.

For many workers across Southwest Missouri, a doctor’s visit no longer includes an actual visit to the doctor. Thanks to innovative thinking and technology, thousands of workers can now see a CoxHealth provider without leaving their workplace.
In January 2014, CoxHealth began piloting OccMedStat, the first occupational medicine program in the state to be offered direct to employers. The telemedicine program was soon rebranded to a larger umbrella and now DirectConnect provides basic care and wellness in addition to occupational medicine.

“With many of our service areas being rural, access to care and receiving care close to home can sometimes be a challenge,” says Lindsey Bobbitt, telemedicine project coordinator. “Many people have to travel an hour or more to see a provider. Unfortunately, some forgo medical care altogether because transportation and time away from work are significant barriers. Telemedicine is a major tool helping us close that gap and keep patients and their families closer to home for care.”

Bridging the gap
White River Valley Electric Cooperative (WRVEC) was among the first organizations to take advantage of CoxHealth’s telemedicine program. At each of the co-op’s five offices, a telemedicine room is set up with ordinary office equipment – a computer and monitor, web camera, Internet service and phone. From that office, an ill or injured employee can log on to the computer and, using special software, visit with a provider within about 20 minutes.

WRVEC Human Resources Manager Trisha Ruth says it’s a win-win for employees and the co-op.
“As an employer, this is a valuable service because we can get an employee treated as quickly as possible, which allows them to get better and return to work sooner,” Ruth says. “The staff that operates the call center as well as the providers are very caring and do their job extremely efficiently.”

White River employees no longer need to miss what can add up to hours of work time traveling to and from a doctor’s office or urgent care to be seen for most minor illnesses or injuries. Employees also save money by not having to pay for the visit, Ruth says.

“We allow employees to use the service on company time and it is completely free for the employees and their dependents who are on our insurance,” Ruth says. “The savings this program offers employees is substantial, including time and money.”

Sara Murphy, a consumer representative at WRVEC, says her first experience with the telemedicine program was great.

“It was a fast and easy way to visit with a physician,” Murphy says. “I was first contacted by a nurse to get my personal information and find out what was wrong. I briefly waited for an available nurse practitioner. She made it comfortable and easy. She asked questions to properly diagnose and was able to call in a prescription to a pharmacy near the office. I will definitely be using this service again if the need arises.”

Making care convenient
Dr. Anjum Qureshi spearheaded the work injury telemedicine program at CoxHealth. She considers herself privileged to be on the cutting edge of medicine.

“So many patients have to wait in emergency departments, urgent care centers or occupational medicine clinics. In telemedicine, the physician goes to the patient in a matter of minutes,” Dr. Qureshi says. “The patient does not have to wait in pain and away from work. It is very efficient and cost effective.”

Dr. Qureshi sees everything from eye injuries to back pain and minor lacerations to burns and rashes through the DirectConnect program.

“Of the hundreds of cases we have done, I believe we should be close to 1,000 now, and less than 1 percent are converted to an in office visit,” she says. “We see them initially throughDirectConnect and we release them through DirectConnect. The nice thing is that the patient can connect earlier with us if they are feeling better and want to be released or vice versa. If they are getting worse, we can intervene sooner rather than later. They do not have to wait for their next appointment like you would with an in-office visit.”

Bridget O’Hara, WorkComplete sales coordinator, says businesses can quickly see a dramatic cost and time savings by using DirectConnect.

“When an employee is injured on the job, the employer is often responsible for paying that employee while they seek care,” O’Hara says. “A lot of time can be lost as the patient drives to the clinic, waits and then drives back.”

Connecting with a provider through DirectConnect usually only takes a matter of minutes.
“Also, employers are encouraged to be a part of the patient visit with the physician to better understand work restrictions and care plans, however it is not always feasible for the HR manager to accompany the injured worker to the physician’s office,” O’Hara says.

“This is easily solved with telemedicine. Occupational medicine is not an abundant specialty and being able to extend those services to rural areas where resources are limited makes the employer’s life much easier.”

Advancing stroke care with TeleStroke technology

Dr. Tommy Trent demonstrates the TeleStroke telemedicine system at the Cox Monett ER. Physicians are able to talk with neurologists through a mobile device (seen at right) that provides live, two-way video and audio during the assessment of a potential stroke patient.

As technology connects us faster and faster, the tools available in health care begin to look more like the futuristic communication capabilities dreamed up on the animated sitcom “The Jetsons.” For one example, look no further than the way telemedicine is changing the landscape of medicine. From the convenience and comfort of their communities, patients in smaller towns and rural areas are being connected remotely to larger hospitals with more resources.

The TeleStroke Program at CoxHealth is one such service. It was funded through a Rural Access to Specialties in the ER grant secured by CoxHealth Foundation and Skaggs Foundation.

TeleStroke is a hub-and-spoke system: Cox Medical Center South, a level I stroke center, serves as the hub while Cox Monett and Cox Medical Center Branson, level IV and level II stroke centers respectively, serve as the first two spokes.

“The goal for CoxHealth is to eventually be an invaluable resource for spoke facilities wanting to provide telemedicine services,” says Lindsey Bobbitt, telemedicine project coordinator. “For now, we must establish a solid foundation before we can expand to providing telemedicine services beyond CoxHealth patients and facilities.”

Through TeleStroke, emergency room doctors at both Cox Monett and Cox Medical Center Branson have access to on-call neurologists who can recommend the most appropriate care when a patient with a possible stroke presents to the emergency room. The collaboration of ER doctor and neurologist through the TeleStroke system means patients can be cared for close to home.

TeleStroke provides neurologists the ability to perform a live, real-time audiovisual consultation on a patient. Neurologists are able to remotely connect and communicate with stroke patients, family members and hospital emergency medical staff by using a camera and monitor system. In addition, physicians can remotely access imaging records providing for a more rapid and accurate diagnosis.

This is extraordinary for the patient because stroke is a time-critical situation. Having a prompt evaluation by a specialist increases the possibility that clot-dissolving therapies can be delivered in time to reduce stroke-related disability.

“This technology will save lives and can result in significant financial savings for patients by ruling out unnecessary transfers and provide timely treatment for those that would otherwise not have access to a neurological consult,” says Debra Mergen, stroke coordinator for CoxHealth.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Cox Air Care participates in national safety drive

Cox Air Care recently participated in the 2015 Great American Safety Drive, helping host a Southwest Missouri stop on a national tour that promotes safety for air evac, medical transport and other public service staff members. Air Care partnered with Mercy Lifeline and the Christian County Ambulance District for a day of safety education for local fire and rescue and EMS teams.

More than 50 area professionals attended the event, which included presentations on safety issues such as the dangers that drones pose to helicopters and the challenges of maintaining personal safety when dealing with irate patients or citizens.

The event was one of several stops on the national Great American Safety Drive, which raises money for the MedEvac Foundation. The foundation funds ongoing research and provides support for families who have lost a loved one in an accident. The drive includes two custom cars that are traveling to safety events nationwide.

The southwest Missouri event featured a 2015 Camaro donated for the annual drive. Participants in the event were able to purchase raffle tickets to win one of the cars, which will be given away at the 2015 Air Medical Transport Conference in Long Beach, Calif., in October.