Tuesday, May 25, 2010

One northbound lane on National at James River to close overnight

MoDOT passes along the following traffic alert for those of us traveling near the Cox South campus:

One Northbound Lane of National Avenue
At Route 60 Closed Tonight (Tues., May 25)

When: 7 p.m. tonight (Tuesday, May 25) to 6 a.m. Wednesday, May 26

Where: One northbound lane of National Avenue closed at James River Freeway (Route 60)

What: Contractor crews pouring concrete to build a median on the National Avenue bridge between the southbound and northbound lanes

For more information visit www.modot.org/springfield. And for timely traffic information in the Springfield area, visit OzarksTraffic.info.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Time makes 'all the difference' in stroke treatment

On May 4, Darrell Figy of Ozark was running errands when, without warning, he couldn’t move one of his legs.

“I staggered out to the car and went home to lie down,” he says. He called his wife, Jerrine, and told her he wouldn’t be able to come pick her up. “Why?” she asked. When he explained about his leg, she announced that she was coming to get him and they were headed to the hospital.

“He wanted to just lay in bed, but I said ‘I don’t think so,’” Jerrine says.

Jerrine made the right call: Darrell had suffered a stroke. Fortunately, he arrived at the ED in time to receive tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), the clot-busting drug used to treat stroke. It was successful and today, a mere three weeks later, Darrell is doing well and he reunited with his team of caregivers at today’s community stroke screening at Cox North (above).

“Getting to the hospital quickly is the main thing, that made all the difference,” Jerrine says.

The free screening continues until 1 p.m. today at Cox North in the Fountain Plaza Room.

Remember, acting FAST is key to surviving stroke. If you feel numbness in your Face, weakness in your Arm and your Speech becomes slurred, Time is of the essence. Call 911 immediately.

Quick diagnosis and treatment can stop a brain attack in progress or greatly minimize the effects. The longer you wait, the more extensive the damage to your brain will be.

Check out videos, podcasts and register for a risk assessment at CoxHealth.com: http://www.coxhealth.com/body.cfm?id=2457

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Trail bars become a cafeteria favorite

Did you ever eat something and thought you just had to have the recipe?

That seems to be the response Jason Bauer, assistant director of Food and Nutrition Services is getting from his trail bars. The bars are served most days during snack time in the South cafeteria.

Jason gets so many requests for the recipe for Jason’s Peanut Butter Trail Bars that he asked us to post it on Cox Connect.

The bars are sweet and salty but Jason says the best part is they’re healthy.

“Every ingredient we use for the bars is all-natural,” says Jason. “We put whole oats in it to increase fiber “naturally” and help control blood sugars. Cinnamon was added to not only make it very tasty but also to assist with blood sugar control. Almonds were used to help promote lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.”

Jason's Peanut Butter Trail Bars

1. 4 cups old fashioned oatmeal
2. 1 cup brown sugar
3. 1⁄4 cup corn syrup or honey
4. 2/3 cup melted butter
5. 1⁄4 cup chunky peanut butter
6. 1 tsp vanilla
7. 1⁄2 cup whole almonds (chop almonds once measured)
8. Cinnamon

Mix all ingredients and then place in a 9 x 13 inch pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 12 minutes or until brown around edges. The outside of the bars will be solid but the middle will still be soft after you take them out of the oven. Sprinkle top with cinnamon to taste. Leave in pan and cut while still warm, then remove out of pan once cooled.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A quarter century of miracles

Children’s Miracle Network is celebrating its 25th year supporting kids and their families in the Ozarks.

Heather Zoromski says that when you’re sitting in her position, it’s easy to see miracles all around.

In her time as executive director of Children’s Miracle Network, she’s consoled parents who have just had a child diagnosed with diabetes or cancer; she’s helped them face the emotional and financial obstacles that can come with a diagnosis. And she’s there when kids make it through, too. She remembers when Danielle Roeder, who hadn’t been able to walk or speak was diagnosed and treated at the Mayo Clinic.

“She went for last-ditch tests and they found out what was wrong,” Zoromski says. “Now she’s running and playing. It’s incredible.

“We get to see that every day. I wish people could see what I see. When you meet the families that come in, it’s amazing.”

This year, Children’s Miracle Network is celebrating a quarter century of caring for children in the Ozarks. On June 5 and 6, Cox will host the 25th annual telethon on KYTV, an event that will reunite many of the people who have been involved with CMN since day one.

“We’re going to have families from the early telethon years come back in and tell their stories,” Zoromski says. “Children who were kids in the ’80s and ’90s are grown up and have kids of their own.”

Since CoxHealth became a CMN hospital in the mid 1980s, the organization has raised more than $22 million, all of which has gone to help children and their families here in the Ozarks. Currently, they assist more than 100,000 kids annually.

CMN was originally founded in 1983 and organizers soon decided to expand the charity by partnering with local hospitals. Here in Springfield, Cox was becoming known for its children’s care: Cox South – originally planned as a women’s and children’s hospital – had just been completed. When CMN approached Cox CEO Neil Wortley about becoming an affiliate, Zoromski says it was an easy choice.

Since then, Children’s Miracle Network has funded everything from family care grants and equipment in the NICU to CoxHealth’s Child Life Program and the CARE Mobile.

“Hundreds of thousands of families have been affected and many may not know it,” Zoromski says. Plenty of patients have benefited from equipment or educational programs or even the little extras, such as meal trays brought to the hospital room. Zoromski says touching so many lives is possible because of CMN’s special relationship with CoxHealth.

“A lot of CMNs aren’t set up like us; they have to pay for their administrative budget out of what they raise,” she says. “Many only give money right back into the hospital in equipment and they don’t get to see firsthand where the money goes.”

CoxHealth covers all of the salaries and administrative costs for Children’s Miracle Network locally, so all donations can go directly toward helping children and their families.

“Cox is wonderful to allow us to be so hands-on with our funding,” Zoromski says. “We have a lot of control and we can help families directly. Mr. Bezanson refers to it as the community’s charity, not Cox’s charity, and that’s the way we see it.”

“I meet people who have no idea what we do, or who think we send all of the money to national,” she says. “We’re all local and everything goes to the kids. And we don’t just help kids with certain conditions; you don’t even have to be a Cox kid. We’re here to help all the kids in Springfield and the surrounding areas.”

Below are the stories of three “Miracle Kids” who will be returning to the telethon this year, each of whom have had their lives changed by Children’s Miracle Network.

Chris Plate

Chris Plate says it’s hard to calculate the amount of time he’s spent in the hospital over the last 13 years. He’s now 17 and about to head into his senior year at Kickapoo, but he’s been fighting an ongoing illness since before he started school.

At age 4, he was rushed to Columbia, Mo., with kidney failure. After he was stabilized, he was diagnosed with a kidney disease known as Minimal Change Nephrotic Syndrome. This turned into Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis, a disease that attacks the kidney’s filtering system and causes serious scarring.

Growing up, he underwent a series of IV treatments, receiving a variety of chemotherapy and other drugs to treat his symptoms.

“I was in the hospital so much, getting treatment every day or every other day,” he says. “The staff always provided things for me to do to distract me while I was getting my IVs and I really appreciate that.

“Because of CMN, it wasn’t as scary for me. I didn’t worry as much like my parents did,” Chris says. “I enjoyed going to the hospital. I got to play games and hang out with the nurses and have a lot of fun.”

Chris appreciated the care so much that, as a 6-year-old, he started making Christmas ornaments – Santas made with clothespins, angels crafted from plastic spoons – that he sold to benefit CMN.

“I sold them for 2 or 3 dollars apiece,” he says. “The first year, we raised $200 and over the next few years we eventually made $1,000 a year to donate to them.”

By sixth grade, his disease was in partial remission and, for the first time, he had a chance to play sports. He loved football, but he had always been told he’d never get to play.

“When I asked the doctor if I could play and he said ‘yes,’ that’s one of the best moments I can remember from middle school,” Chris says. “Granted, I wasn’t very good, I got knocked around a little bit at 5’2” and 80 pounds, but it was a great time. I also got to run track and it was the first time I’d been involved in competitive sports.”

At the end of his freshman year, though, he had a relapse and spent half of the summer in the hospital. Now, he’s back in remission and making big plans for after high school. When he graduates, he’ll head to MU to study biology and chemistry, then on to medical school.

Even with all of those goals on his plate, he still makes time for the telethon.

“When I get around everyone else, I’m always so humbled,” he says. “Compared to a lot of other families out there, I don’t have it so bad. They’re all great people and so nice. It’s rough, but they’re strong and they have what they need through CMN.

“It’s a great organization. They help newborns and kids with severe diseases, but any one who heads up to the seventh floor benefits from their work. They really work for every family.”

McKenzie Cranor

When McKenzie Cranor was 8 years old, she woke up one morning with a severe headache. Her mom gave her Tylenol and let her lay back down. A half hour later, she had a seizure and became unresponsive. Her parents rushed her to Cox South, where doctors determined she had an aneurysm and would require emergency brain surgery.

“They were pretty blunt with my parents,” McKenzie says. “They told them to pretty much say goodbye before the surgery once they realized what was going on.”

Doctors couldn’t be sure what they were dealing with and they feared that even if surgery was successful, McKenzie might suffer brain damage. McKenzie made it through the surgery and, amazingly, avoided any permanent damage. She was in the hospital for a week and during her stay, nine machines were required to help keep her alive. Eight of the nine devices had been purchased by CMN.

She was in the ICU from Tuesday until Friday night, when she was able to go to the seventh floor. She remembers well the care staff provided and the Nintendo that they let her play.

While the surgery was a success, doctors were unable to pinpoint the cause of the aneurysm. McKenzie had a series of follow-up MRIs and when she was 13, tests found an area where it could rupture again. With CMN’s help, she was able to travel to Kansas City for the Gamma Knife procedure, a non-invasive treatment that prevented a rupture.

In the years since, McKenzie has been doing well and she and her family have been heavily involved with CMN. Her mom served on the board and she’s been in every telethon since. In 1997, McKenzie was the Missouri champion and traveled to Washington, DC, and Orlando for the national telethon.

Over the years, she has met many children helped by CMN, but some of her fondest memories are of her friends in Springfield.

“In the local telethon, the most amazing child I remember is Ryan,” she says, remembering Ryan Capps, who passed away in 2006 at age 17 after years of struggling with kidney failure and complications of spina bifida.

“She was one of the first people I met involved with the telethon. I did a lot of CMN stuff with her and she was the most amazing person – always upbeat and outgoing. Even when she was in the hospital, she was determined to get downstairs to the telethon.”

McKenzie says being a parent herself now – her daughter, Hanna, is about to turn 5 – has given her an even deeper appreciation for the work CMN does.

“I couldn’t imagine what my parents went through,” she says. “One day I was healthy and the next day I was in the hospital and they were saying I wasn’t going to make it. I couldn’t imagine being one of those parents. All the parents involved with CMN say ‘you don’t expect it to be you until it is you.’”

Justin Bess

When Stan Bess worked for KY3 in the mid-1980s, his job included working on the first telethon. He never thought then that CMN would touch his own life.

That changed in December 1987 when his son, Justin, was born 10 weeks premature. He weighed 3 lbs., 14 oz. and began his life with six weeks in the NICU.
In the NICU, the equipment required for Justin to survive was largely funded by CMN.
“All of those machines, scaled down to work with infants, are quite expensive,” says his mom, Nan. “To afford that caliber of equipment, you almost have to have an organization like CMN in the mix.”

Soon after they took Justin home, they learned his breathing reflex wasn’t fully developed. He quit breathing, but Stan was able to revive him. After a stint in intensive care, he was able to go home again.

The experience made Stan and Nan devoted CMN supporters. At just 6 months old, Justin appeared in his first CMN telethon in 1988.

For Justin, now set to graduate from Missouri State, the telethon has always been a part of his life.

“We were in the NICU a couple of weeks ago and it’s crazy all the doctors who, 20-plus years down the road, know who I am,” he says. “They have a vested interest in every child and every family that goes through there.”

Growing up, Justin underwent extensive physical therapy to improve his mobility. He says he remembers how tough some of the therapy was, like the time he went across the skywalk on his stomach on a scooter and how it seemed like he’d never make it.

“You want to give up and quit, but the therapists and staff were there every day, making sure I did it,” he says. “There was no quitting. That’s still a part of the way I go through my life today.”

Stan says it’s clear Justin’s passion and drive was forged in his early childhood.
“Any child that goes through the NICU is born fighting,” he says.

Early in his life, doctors were cautious about what they thought Justin might eventually be capable of. Stan says he remembers a twinge of selfish disappointment when doctors told him Justin might not be one of the kids who runs across the football field. He may walk, but he might not run.

Justin, however, had other plans. He played basketball and football before settling into playing year-round baseball in high school.

“To have people say, ‘don’t plan on this happening,’ ups the ante to make it happen and throw it back in their faces,” he says with a laugh. “I’m happy that I’ve been able not to just participate but to excel.”

“Without the help of the staff and CMN, we wouldn’t be sitting here talking,” Justin says. “I know the things I’ve been able to participate in, they wouldn’t have been possible without CMN.”

Doctors race for a cure (and some glory) in Antarctica marathon

Carl Price, his wife, Kathy, John Steinberg and José Dominguez spent a harrowing few days in Antarctica in March, where they were among 85 runners who participated in a marathon and half-marathon. To see a full gallery of photos from Dr. Price, visit the CoxHealth Facebook page.

If you ask physicians José Dominguez, Carl Price and John Steinberg about their recent trip to Antarctica for the Children’s Tumor Foundation, they’ll all agree on the uniqueness of the trip and the brutal difficulty of the run. Who came home with the best bragging rights, however, is a more contentious matter.

“It was the hardest physical endeavor I’ve ever done,” says Dominguez, who has run a series of marathons for the foundation since his son, Eric, was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis in 2001.

Dominguez had been looking for something more “extreme” and when he heard about the Antarctica marathon, he knew it was a perfect fit. He talked up the trip among his colleagues and he recruited a few adventurous souls. In March, he made the trip joined by cardiothoracic surgeon Steinberg, plastic surgeon Price and Price’s wife, pharmacist Kathy Price.

The team had trained throughout Springfield’s unusually nasty winter, but not much could have prepared them for the conditions once they came ashore. With the temperature at 35 degrees, the ground was unfrozen, meaning that instead of running on ice and snow, the team was running in what they call “shoe-sucking, peanut-butter mud.”

“The first mile was uphill in mud that came to the mid-calf; people were on their hands and knees to get to the top,” says Steinberg. “And when you got to the top, there was a sign that said ‘1 mile.’ There was nothing but misery about the run itself.”

The course was set up with a single stretch of a little more than 3 miles; four out-and-back trips added up to the total length. Of the 85 runners who started the marathon, only 70 finished – a high dropout rate among serious marathoners.

Enduring the conditions was worth it, especially for Steinberg, who eagerly points out: “I did kick José’s butt; I was drinking wine while he was still finishing.”

Dominguez concedes that “allowing Steinberg to beat me in a marathon” was a major disappointment of the trip. However, there were mitigating factors: Firstly, he had been eating a lot and he wanted to run a little longer, for the extra cardio.

“I also had to provide some medical care during the race. A woman had fractured her finger and I checked it out,” he says. “I said, ‘Yeah, it’s broken, let’s keep moving.’ The most likely explanation is that Steinberg was faster, but ...”

Price, who points out that he also had a look at the woman’s hand at the end of the race (“Dominguez is a colorectal surgeon! How does that help?”), says the conditions left him with a time of 3:20 in the half marathon, longer than his normal time of around 2:15.

“But I did get third. Unlike Steinberg who got 20th,” he says.

A point quickly clarified by Dominguez.

“Don’t be implying that the Prices did the marathon, they did the half,” he says. “Yes, Dr. Price got third place in the half marathon, but Steinberg and my times at the halfway point would’ve beaten him. We can’t have him getting any excessive glory.”

After the race, the team was invited to do a “polar plunge,” in which they could take a quick dip in the Southern Ocean alongside the icebergs. The water is cold enough that organizers have defibrillators on hand in case the shock is too much. Dominguez and Price took the plunge, but Steinberg passed.

“Steinberg was a total wimp, he didn’t jump in the water,” Price says, before recounting his own experience. “It was like an electric shock, the water was so cold. Afterward, they give you a shot of brandy and it’s like the warmth goes through your whole body. It’s quite an experience.”

Those who complete the challenge get a certificate. And, in Steinberg’s case, Dominguez had a special certificate made commemorating the fact that he didn’t do it.
Kathy Price says this is all par for the course when one travels with surgeons.

“To do what they do, you need to have a healthy ego; you have to be confident in your abilities,” she says. “They do a wonderful job of pushing each other on without pushing each other down.”

Regardless of who, exactly, had the best showing in the races and follow-up events, the trip was a fundraising success, bringing in more than $85,000.

“If we’re willing to go to the end of the earth for this, literally, maybe people will want to help,” Carl Price says.

About the fundraising effort

The trip to Antarctica was the latest run in the ongoing fundraising effort for the Children’s Tumor Foundation.

Dominguez began running for the organization when his son, Eric, was diagnosed with Neurofibromatosis at age 2. Neurofibromatosis, or NF, includes a set of genetic disorders that can cause tumors to grow along various types of nerves. The severity can vary from cases in which patients show no symptoms to ones that result in brain or nerve tumors.

The Antarctica run raised more than $85,000 from more than 300 donors, bringing Dominguez’s total so far to nearly $240,000. Dominguez has set a goal of raising $1 million to help find a cure for neurofibromatosis through the Children’s Tumor Foundation.

The group’s next international run is planned for 2012 in Kenya; Dominguez says runners are always welcome to join the team. For more information or to donate visit runforeric.com

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

If Toby Keith needs a song ending, we know the woman to call...

If you were at CoxHealth's employee recognition banquet a couple of weeks ago, you no doubt heard about Priscilla Curbow’s non-traditional retirement plan: sell one of her songs to country music star Toby Keith.

This was mentioned in passing during her recognition and it’s the kind of thing that demands a few follow-up questions. We caught up with Priscilla, who works in CoxHealth’s Communications department, and asked about her burgeoning songwriting career.

Her first question to us was, “Do you know how to get in touch with Toby Keith? I know he lives in Oklahoma.”

“He’s never there, though, or I’d stalk him out,” she says with a laugh. “You’d hear on the news about this ol’ grandma stalking Toby Keith.”

If she could get in touch with Mr. Keith, Priscilla says she has an ending to a song called “Brand New Bow,” a deep cut on his “White Trash With Money” album from 2006.

If you haven’t heard it, the song centers on a double-entendre-prone narrator, who is a few months late in calling up an old girlfriend to wish her a happy birthday. He tells her that he may not have the funds for a ring, but perhaps they could put a new bow on “the same old thing” - “you can guess what he means,” Priscilla says.

As the song fades out, Keith says over a guitar harmony: “It’d be cool if we could make an ending for it.”

Priscilla, who writes poetry in her spare time and has penned a few songs in the past, believes she has the perfect ending. It’s two verses that are a cleverly worded rebuttal from the girlfriend, who has heard all of this before and, frankly, she ain’t going for it. The lines would sound especially good if sung by, say, a Gretchen Wilson-type.

Priscilla keeps the complete contents of her verses confidential - unless you’re a Nashville agent - but we’ve heard them off the record and they’re indeed a good fit for the song. Now, all she needs is a chance to get in the right hands. So, if any of us run across Mr. Keith, perhaps in a honky-tonk with Willie Nelson, we should keep Priscilla’s number handy.

“I always keep a copy of it on me,” she says. “You just never know!”

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Cox participates in Hand Hygiene Day

CoxHealth is the only health system in our area signed up to participate in The World Health Organization’s Hand Hygiene Day.

The organization is asking patients and their families to observe and record the hand hygiene practices of their care providers on Wednesday, May 5. Patients and their families will be asked to complete a brief five-question survey, and they will observe as their care providers clean their hands at five different moments of patient care. CoxHealth’s Infection Prevention department will collect the data and report the findings to WHO and receive feedback on their efforts from a global perspective.

“No matter how good we are, we know there is always room to improve,” says Susan Soetaert, CoxHealth’s director of Infection Prevention. “Participating in Hand Hygiene Day is an excellent opportunity for us to compare how we’re doing to hospitals around the world.”

The “Five Moments of Hand Hygiene” are:
• before touching a patient
• before inserting or caring for an IV, changing wound dressings or brushing a patient’s teeth, etc.
• after removing an IV, changing wound dressings, handling soiled linens, etc.
• after touching a patient, including his or her dry, intact skin
• after touching patient surroundings such as the bed, tables, monitors and when leaving the room.

Data will again be collected for one day in July and in October, and feedback from these observations as well as education and awareness activities will be presented to staff throughout the time period.

Image courtesy of The World Health Organization

Lane shift demands caution from drivers

Lanes on National have shifted to the west as construction continues on the tunnel under National Avenue near the new diverging diamond intersection at James River Freeway.

MoDOT passes along a few pointers for those of us driving and/or walking near the construction on south National:

"1.) Pedestrians are highly discouraged from using the sidewalks on the east side of National especially south of Bradford Parkway. There will be a large open trench where earth is being excavated for the east side of the National Avenue underpass. Pedestrians can use the sidewalks along the west side of National Avenue.

2.) Drivers trying to enter National Avenue at the CoxHealth Service Road on the west side of National are strongly cautioned to not pull past the white stop bar painted on the pavement at the entrance.

Now that traffic is shifted to the west side of National Avenue, southbound traffic may clip a vehicle that rolls past the stop bar while attempting to pull onto National Avenue from the Service Road. Our construction inspector has noticed a couple of cars pulling past the stop bar this morning that were nearly hit because people don't realize that the southbound lane is now back to its original position and right against the curb."

Monday, May 3, 2010

Work to shift traffic to west side of National

The Missouri Department of Transportation has announced that traffic through the James River and National construction zone will switch to the west side of the street sometime early Tuesday, May 4.

The switch will allow crews to build the east half of the new underpass beneath National. When complete, the underpass will allow easier access to CoxHealth facilities, including the new Emergency Department.

The traffic shift is needed to allow contractor crews to build the east of half of an underpass underneath National Avenue which will connect the CoxHealth facilities on either side of National Avenue.

After the shift, the same traffic configuration will remain in place -- with only one southbound lane of National Avenue open between Primrose Street and James River Freeway. Two northbound lanes of National Avenue will remain open.

Access to CoxHealth facilities and other businesses will remain open. However, drivers traveling southbound on National Avenue will not be able to make a left turn onto Bradford Parkway.

Drivers who use National Avenue to commute through the area, especially southbound during afternoon rush hour, are still being urged to find other routes to avoid the construction and reduce congestion along the corridor.