Monday, November 30, 2009

Free prostate cancer screenings available at CoxHealth

Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer found in American men. The risk of developing prostate cancer increases with age. African-American men and men with close family members who have had the disease are more likely to develop prostate cancer.

Are you at risk? Warning signs include:
• frequent urination, especially at night
• pain or burning with urination
• difficulty starting or stopping the urine flow
• inability to urinate
• blood in the urine
• weak or intermittent urine flow
• pain with ejaculation
• constant pain in upper thighs, hips or lower back.

CoxHealth Hulston Cancer Center will offer free prostate cancer screenings 8 -10 a.m. Monday, Dec. 14, in the ground floor conference room of Hulston Cancer Center, 3850 S. National. The screenings will include a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test.

Participants must be at least 50 years old (or 45 with a family history), and not have had a PSA test in the last year. Registration is required by Nov. 21.

For more information or to register, call 269-INFO.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A new way to communicate across cultures

When Esmerelda Cruz Aleman of Branson gave birth at Cox South in mid October, she had access to the experts in Labor and Delivery and they, in turn, had support from a new service that helps caregivers communicate with patients who speak limited English.

Being hospitalized can be a stressful experience for anyone and for those who speak little or no English, it can be even more challenging.

Caring for these patients has long involved working with in-person interpreters or caregivers who are fluent in another language. Occasionally, staff members have even communicated through a patient’s family members — a practice that is a major error when dealing with health information.

This month, however, the formal introduction of the Language Line service will create a single, consistent source for translation services.

It’s a move that’s designed to improve patient safety and help CoxHealth better serve a rapidly growing part of the community.

“Springfield traditionally hasn’t been a diverse population, but we are becoming more and more diverse and we’re starting to see our need for language interpretation with micro segments of the population is increasing at a rapid rate,” says Vicki Good, CoxHealth’s director of nursing. “It’s becoming increasingly difficult to meet that demand.”

Language Line is a California-based company that provides access to interpreters in more than 170 languages, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Staff members will be able to access a translator by calling an 800 number, where an operator will connect them with an interpreter.

For common languages such as Spanish, Language Line officials estimate that a translator will be available in 3-20 seconds. Less common languages may require more time, but waits will still be less than 90 seconds.

Frederique O. Rich, a business development executive for Language Line, says the company works with about 95 percent of all health care providers in the United States, offering everything from transcription services to phone-based and in-person translation.

For the phone service, Language Line employs more than 8,000 interpreters, all of whom have passed language proficiency tests and undergone a curriculum of courses on translation skills. Interpreters specializing in health care also have training in medical terminology and concepts and many also have skills in a variety of specialties, such as oncology.

Rich says the service has become popular as hospitals work to serve their patients in a way that improves patient safety while remaining cost conscious.

“The system is efficient, especially when hospitals are resource strapped,” she says. “Most medical errors come from poor communication. When you add a layer of foreign language, that risk multiplies. It’s important to have the right resources.”

Getting the right resources in place at Cox has been a goal for Nursing Administration since they first began exploring Language Line as an option. The demand for translation services has been on the rise and the costs of working with local, in-person translators can be startling: Last year, Good says the system spent between $600,000 and $800,000 on translators.

A lot of that cost comes from the way in-person interpreters are paid. Interpreters typically charge by the hour, from the time they are dispatched until a patient’s appointment or procedure is complete. In the case of a surgery, for example, an interpreter would be on duty throughout the entire procedure, even if translation were only needed for pre- and post-op care.

Nursing Administration also spent a lot of time seeking out and coordinating with local interpreters. When a patient needed a translator, staff would go through a list of approved interpreters. For an urgent care visit, they would look for one who could drop what they were doing and come right away. For a scheduled appointment, it was a matter of coordinating a time when the doctor, the patient and the interpreter would all be available.

“Face-to-face translation isn’t quick and it isn’t cost effective,” says Nursing Administration’s Ruth Loy, noting that Language Line will replace all of the current procedure with a phone call. “This is instant, it will help when doctors are making rounds or if an employee just meets someone in the hall who doesn’t speak English.”

Loy says it has been a challenge to find face-to-face interpreters for the increasing variety of languages staff members are working with. While Spanish is the most frequently encountered, Russian, Vietnamese and Romanian are also becoming common.

Switching to Language Line will allow staff access to interpreters in all of those languages, while eliminating the time spent coordinating with, and billing for, an in-person interpreter.

In the long run, Good and Loy say Language Line will offer a higher quality service for less. The service is budgeted for a $150/month fee plus translation at a rate of $1.40 per minute.

Good says the system is key to making sure all staff can communicate with non-English-speaking patients in a consistent manner, regardless of the situation.

“For the safety of our patients, we want to have guaranteed, rapid access to a competent interpreter,” Good says. “At any point, our staff will be able to pick up the phone and reach someone who can assist them. You can be assured that when you get somebody on the phone you have someone who is nonbiased and competent and can relay the information.”

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Work on diverging diamond intersection to cause delays near Cox South

For those who use James River Freeway to come to Cox South, now is the time to find and start using an alternate route.

Bob Edwards with the Missouri Department of Transportation warns that construction on the National-James River interchange and the accompanying underpass access to Cox South will make National Avenue “a major choke point” for traffic.

In mid-October, construction began on a new, $10 million interchange for the intersection of National Avenue and James River Freeway. Over the next 10 months, the interchange will be transformed into a “diverging diamond” configuration similar to the one at Kansas Expressway and Interstate 44.

When the project is completed, scheduled for August 2010, the intersection will provide smoother traffic flow with less “stand still” time and a lower risk of rear-end collisions.

In the meantime, though, construction will mean slow moving traffic through the area, with lane closings, narrowed lanes and lane shifts on National. Access will remain open to Cox from National throughout the project.

Edwards says from now until March and possibly July of 2010, National Avenue will have only one southbound lane open to traffic from just south of Primrose Street to the bridge over the freeway. Northbound National Avenue will have two lanes of traffic open.

Drivers need to be prepared for traffic to move slowly through the entire project, especially during the busiest times of day.

Crews will work to widen the National Avenue bridge to provide three lanes in each direction and extra lanes will be added to the ramps from James River onto National. An additional lane will be added in each direction on National south of the bridge to Kingsley Street and North of the bridge to Bradford Parkway. The project also includes an additional lane in each direction on James River between National and Campbell Avenues.

In addition to the changes on the overpass, CoxHealth has committed $3 million for ramp access to Cox South from National. The design will eliminate the left turn lane from northbound National into the driveway south of the current ER. Instead, drivers going north on National and wishing to turn into the campus will make a right at Bradford and then loop under National via a new underpass that will emerge west of National on the service road near the employee parking lot.

The traffic effects of the project include:
• At times, lanes on the National Avenue bridge will be reduced to one through lane and one left-turn lane in each direction
• In the area between the bridge and Primrose, National will be reduced to three lanes
• Nighttime lane closings will be needed at times on James River between National and Campbell.

When completed, the project is expected to provide smoother traffic flow around the south campus and accommodate increasing traffic for the new Emergency Department and future expansions.

Frequent updates on the construction can be found at the following locations:
• (sign up and receive free project updates via e-mail or text message).

CoxHealth Honor guard escorts veterans before their visit to Washington

The CoxHealth Honor Guard helped to honor World War II veterans who were on their way to visit the WWII memorial and other sites in Washington D.C.

The veterans were taking part in the Ozarks Honor Flight program that sends veterans to the nation’s capitol so they can visit the memorials that are dedicated to their service and sacrifice. The flight is at no cost for the veterans.

The CoxHealth Honor Guard was asked to participate in the send-off. The members of the Cox Security department greeted the veterans and escorted them through the airport in Springfield.

“It was an honor to participate in the event,” says Joe Rushing, director of Cox Security. “It was great to see the smiles on the veterans’ faces. They really appreciated the support.”

Rushing says the Honor Guard returned that evening to help greet the veterans as they arrived back home.

The CoxHealth Honor Guard was formed earlier this year and is made up of CoxHealth Security officers. The officers have volunteered their time to learn how to perform the precision movements and to how to properly wear the elaborate uniforms required of an honor guard regiment.

The guard is available to represent CoxHealth as casket guards and casket bearers at the funeral of any board member or administrator who should pass away. The honor guard also serves as casket bearers for any CoxHealth employee who passes away. Rushing says the honor guard will also represent CoxHealth at the funeral or memorial service for any state dignitary.

The CoxHealth unit is one of only a few fully-dressed honor guards in Springfield. The group will be available to provide a full military funeral service with a flag folding ceremony and 21-gun salute for any law enforcement agency that loses an officer.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Traffic slowdowns to increase on National near James River

The Missouri Department of Transportation says increased driving delays are expected on National Avenue at James River Freeway (Route 60) starting Thursday evening, Nov. 5, as a road construction project shifts to its next stage.

The traffic pattern change includes reducing National Avenue to only one southbound lane for a short distance south of Primrose Street. It will be fully in place by Friday morning, Nov. 6, and will remain in effect through the spring of 2010.

Drivers who need to reach nearby CoxHealth facilities, including Cox South Hospital, and the many other businesses along National Avenue will be able to do so, but it probably will take more time to get there. However, drivers who use National Avenue to commute through the area, especially southbound during afternoon rush hour, are urged to find other routes to avoid the construction and reduce the congestion along the corridor.

Construction of an underpass and service road underneath National Avenue is about to begin. That is why it is necessary to narrow down National Avenue and shift traffic to the east side of the street.

Here’s what will happen:

* National Avenue will have only one southbound lane open between Bradford Parkway (south of Primrose Street) and the bridge over James River Freeway starting some time Thursday evening, Nov. 5. Even though only a 500-foot long section of National Avenue will be narrowed down, major driving delays are expected, especially for southbound National Avenue traffic.
Southbound National Avenue will have two through lanes open across the bridge and a separate left-turn lane to eastbound James River Freeway.

* Northbound National Avenue will have two lanes open on the bridge over the freeway — one through lane and one left-turn lane onto westbound James River Freeway.
North of the bridge, National Avenue will have two lanes open through the work zone. The goal is to minimize traffic backups on the westbound James River Freeway off-ramp to National Avenue.

* In late March or April, traffic will be shifted to the west side of National Avenue, with two lanes open for northbound traffic and one lane open for southbound traffic. This will allow the east side of the underpass to be built.