Friday, December 30, 2011

Departments give back to the community

Departments at CoxHealth have been working this holiday season to find ways to give back to the community we serve. In recent weeks, staff members in Case Management and the F300 unit at Cox North have made Christmas brighter for children in the Springfield area.

For the second year in a row, Case Management purchased coats for students in Springfield Public Schools. The Case Management team worked with school officials to identify students in need, then they went shopping. They made the most of the funds CoxHealth employees donated by working out discounts with Kmart and Kohl’s.

Just prior to Christmas, the department delivered 75 coats, along with hats, gloves and other winter necessities. They were even able to provide a few extra coats for schools to have on hand throughout the winter.

Staff members on F300 donated dozens of presents for students at Robberson Elementary. Shown with the gifts above are: Terry Earnhart, Shanna Stafford, Dr. Edgar Galinanes and Brittney Day.

Meanwhile, staff members on F300 at Cox North adopted 21 children from kindergarten through fifth grade at Robberson Elementary. Robberson’s counselor and principal identified students most in need and the F300 staff went to work fulfilling their wish lists. 
By the week before Christmas, the adopted children all had presents and stockings filled with goodies. The staffers also donated 35 new coats. Char Biamonte Stockl, Assistant Administrative Director in Psychiatric Services, says the staff members were so eager to help, the effort won’t end with the holiday season.

“We aren’t going to stop at Christmas, we want to make this a year-long, employee-engaged effort. I would like to see Easter baskets, a summer gift and fall events for these children,” she says. “We want them to always know that someone cares.”

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Free infant massage classes at CoxHealth

Infant massage helps parent and baby bond, builds baby’s coordination, language development and muscle tone, and may provide relief when baby experiences colic, muscle tension and more. It even helps baby sleep, lowers stress hormones and may decrease the “baby blues.”

Why wouldn’t a parent want to learn more?

The Women’s Center at CoxHealth will offer free Infant Massage classes in January. Classes will be held 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 12, and Wednesday, Jan. 18, in suite 130 of the Turner Center, 1000 E. Primrose.

New parents with their babies, and expectant parents, are invited to attend. Call 269-LADY for more information.

Have diabetes? Need to lose weight? LeanerLife is for you

LeanerLife is a diabetes-focused weight loss program, sponsored by the CoxHealth Diabetes Center. This 12-week program will help you learn to make healthy lifestyle changes and develop a support network for successful weight loss.

Classes are held on Thursdays from 5-6:30 p.m., beginning Jan. 12. Topics covered include emotional eating, portion distortion, eating out, recipes and substitutions, and much more.

LeanerLife is held in the CoxHealth Diabetes Center, suite 203 of the CoxHealth Surgery Center, 960 E. Walnut Lawn. There is a $170 fee for this program and registration is required. Call 269-3900 to register. Learn more about LeanerLife by visiting

CoxHealth offers smoking cessation classes

Start 2012 off right and kick your smoking habit with the help of TIPS (Tobacco-free Individual Program) smoking cessation classes at CoxHealth.

Lifelong smokers have a 1 in 2 chance of dying from a smoking-related disease. Smoking can cause heart disease, cancer, respiratory problems, and even osteoporosis. But if you quit, you begin to experience health benefits in as little as 20 minutes.

TIPS classes will be held 5-6 p.m., Tuesdays, Jan. 10-31, and 7:30-8:30 p.m., Tuesdays, Feb. 7-28, in the CoxHealth Diabetes Center, suite 203 of the CoxHealth Surgery Center, 960 E. Walnut Lawn. Each four-week course is designed to offer you the support you need to quit. There is a $50 fee, but the program may be covered by your health insurance.

For more information or to register, call 269-4847. To learn more about TIPS and the benefits of quitting, visit

CoxHealth announces executive leadership advancements

Steven D. Edwards, incoming President & CEO of CoxHealth, announced the following executive leadership advancements effective Jan. 1, 2012:

John Duff, MD,
Senior Vice President, Chief Hospital Officer: Duff’s responsibilities will include oversight of four hospitals (Cox South, Cox Walnut Lawn and Cox North in Springfield, and Cox Monett Hospital in Monett, Mo.), as well as Oxford HealthCare (home health services), Home Parenteral Services (home infusion therapy), and Cox College.

Ken Powell, MD, Chairman JOC, Chief Integrated Physicians: Powell will be responsible for integrating physician operations for CoxHealth’s Regional Services (employed physician clinics), Ferrell-Duncan Clinic (multi-specialty physician clinic), and Springfield Neurological and Spine Institute (SNSI).

Ron Prenger, Vice President, Chief Clinical Officer: Prenger’s responsibilities will encompass all hospital inpatient clinical services.

Brian Williams, Vice President, Chief Business Development: Williams will be responsible for CoxHealth Network, (managed care contracting arm for CoxHealth), Marketing and Planning, and Occupational Medicine and SNSI clinic operations.

Edwards says the changes will enhance continuity of care for patients through increased efficiencies, standardization and improved access to physician clinics.

CoxHealth is Springfield’s only locally owned, not-for-profit health system. It is accredited by The Joint Commission and distinguished as one of the nation’s Top 100 Integrated Healthcare Systems (2006-2011).

Friday, December 23, 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

From caroling staffers to a visit from St. Nick himself, everyone is in the holiday spirit at CoxHealth. Here are a few scenes of holiday merriment as the CoxHealth family celebrates Christmas:
The team at the Cox Family Medicine Residency (above) caroled at Cox South Thursday night. They visited patients on all floors, beginning on 9 and working their way down to Labor & Delivery!
Santa and an elf were spotted in the hallways at Cox South Friday, transporting patients around the hospital and visiting children on Pediatrics.
Santa was actually transporter Bill Kezerle who has been growing out his white beard so he could play Santa for his wife Pamela’s Christmas party in the Sleep Lab. His supervisor, Eric Uffman, asked Kezerle if he would dress as Santa during his shift Friday. When transporter Katelyn Kramme heard that Bill was going to be Santa for the day, she volunteered to dress as an elf.
“We have had a wonderful time. It’s been very well received,” says Kezerle. “We have encountered several children in the hallways and their eyes get big when they see us. We went up on Peds and had a good time up there, too.”
Brownie Troop 60129 from Sherwood Elementary in Springfield visited the Cox South lobby on Thursday to sing carols for our patients and visitors.
Staff members at Ozarks Dialysis recently took the time to gather and sing Christmas carols for patients in the unit. The caroling has become an annual tradition for the staff. 

"We have 28 patients at one time and we go to each and every chair to spread joy and love," says nurse manager Maggie Seiser. "For us, this is a part of what Cox is all about."

From the CoxHealth family to yours, here's wishing you all a safe and happy holiday season!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Robert Bezanson: A legacy of service

When Robert Bezanson wakes up on Jan. 1, 2012, his world will have shifted beneath him. It will be the first time in three decades when he hasn’t had responsibility for CoxHealth as one of the top concerns on his mind. Since he announced his retirement in August, he’s been working on the transition to new leadership and making final preparations to take a step back from an organization he has served since 1981 and helmed as CEO since 2004.

“People have been asking me, ‘What are you going to do?’ and I just say, ‘Anything I want,’” Bezanson says with a chuckle. “It’s going to be fun when the biggest challenge is ‘will I catch a fish at Bennett Springs?’ as opposed to ‘let’s get that contract finalized.’”

As Bezanson prepares to launch his retirement, he’s ready to devote some time to hobbies like fly fishing, wood turning and photography, but he knows he’ll miss the daily efforts both large and small that are required to run a health system.

Over the last 30 years, Bezanson has honed his passion for business in service of the public good into a career that has featured him presiding over much of CoxHealth’s greatest expansion.

His arc, from a new administrator all the way to chief executive officer, parallels the trajectory of Cox from a single Springfield hospital to a multi-hospital system serving a large region. It’s a career marked with milestones – from ribbon cuttings on Medical Mile construction projects to the adoption of organizational foundations such as the Baldrige business model and the strategic plan.

When he first arrived at Cox North for an interview on a rainy day in March of 1981, he wouldn’t have predicted he’d be retiring from CoxHealth in 2011. In fact, he wouldn’t have predicted he’d be here for more than five years. He recalls visiting a field at the end of the interview and peering into the freshly excavated void that is now the foundation of Cox South. He had interviews at hospitals across the country, but there was something about the people here and the potential to get in on the ground floor of a growing system that led him to take a chance.

“When I met Neil Wortley, Charlie Edwards and Larry Wallis, I knew I really wanted to work with those individuals,” he says. “There was a management team that was a great fit and there was a hospital that was looking to the future and building a new facility.

“There was an opportunity to make a difference in the delivery of care and ultimately to make a difference in people’s lives. That’s been my main motivation over the years.”

‘A dream position’

Bezanson’s path to being a health care administrator had begun 12 years earlier. As the Vietnam draft started in 1969, Bezanson, like other men of his generation, knew he’d be serving, it was just a matter of where. He had a business degree and he decided to apply for a direct commission in the Medical Service Corps.

“I was very fortunate. Hospital administration wasn’t something I originally aspired to, but it was an area that presented itself and I took the opportunity,” he says. “As I got into it, I realized that it was a very rewarding career.”

Bezanson had a mentor who encouraged him to pursue a master’s in health care administration, which he did at Washington University in St. Louis. During that time, he did a residency at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, where he fell in love with the operations of a large hospital system.

After three more years of service to repay his Air Force-sponsored education, Bezanson started looking for his first job. Southwest Missouri hadn’t been on his radar before his interview, but the chance to grow with a health system was inspiring.

“At Cox, I saw opportunities for learning about new construction and that’s not something you always get the chance to do early in your career,” he says. “I felt like I could learn something here.”

He figured he could work at Cox for two or three years and move on to other challenges. Soon, new challenges here began to pique his interest. The direction of South shifted from a 220-bed women’s and children’s hospital to a 500-bed tertiary care center. When the facility was finished, Bezanson joined administrator Larry Wallis in opening the new hospital. One year later, he was offered the position of administrator of Cox South. That offer changed everything.

“For me, that job was a dream position,” Bezanson says. “That’s when I realized I really could be a change agent for health care in southwest Missouri.”

Leading Cox South

In the early days of Bezanson’s time as administrator, Cox South became a competitive tertiary care center with capabilities that rivaled hospital systems around the nation.

Bezanson had hoped for a learning experience when he accepted the job and he soon found many opportunities. From the beginning, he was taking on new challenges and finding his way in uncharted territory. He presided over a number of firsts for Cox that now stand out in his mind, including:

• The launch of the Lifeline program, which provided users with a call device they could use at home to summon medical help in an emergency. Bezanson remembers being in charge of the Lifeline press conference as his first taste of staying on message and working with the media. “Sometimes leading a press conference can produce some anxious moments, but it’s a chance to tell your story, too.”

• The first Children’s Miracle Network telethon: “It was exciting; it was the unknown, doing everything with no chance of a do-over,” he says. “It turned out remarkably well and the community really responded to it.”

• Cox’s first air ambulance: Bezanson recalls the months of planning that culminated in the final, tense moments of making a deadline to get a license for Cox Air Care. All the effort paid off when he traveled to Pennsylvania to see the helicopter as it arrived from Germany for final assembly. “That was a great day,” he says.

As Bezanson’s career grew, he found new opportunities to use his business acumen to drive ongoing improvements in patient care.

In the late 1980s, Cox helped bring the first outpatient MRI service to Springfield with Ozark Magnetic Imaging, a joint venture with St. John’s. Looking back, Bezanson is especially proud of how that partnership served a community need in a cost-effective way. He credits much of the project’s success to careful planning and a strong business agreement. The project also illustrates what he says is one of the biggest lessons of his career.

“If you enter a project with another partner, you need to make sure your partner has the same values and they’re in it for the same reason,” he says. “There has to be an alignment of values, just like a marriage.”

Forming successful partnerships and negotiating business agreements has been as vital to Cox’s growth over the last three decades as any of the new services or facilities brought on line. When he speaks about his work, it’s clear that Bezanson’s passion for a good deal is driven by the positive outcomes for people – both our patients and our staff.

“There’s so much that goes on in administration that the person on the front line might not be aware of,” he says. “You have to remain focused and try to do the best you can for the patient and for employees; you can never forget that.”

He points to the partnership with Ferrell-Duncan Clinic in 1996 and the 1998 acquisition of Columbia HCA, which became Cox Walnut Lawn. In both cases, leaders were able to smoothly transition the employees into Cox.

“We managed to transfer all of those employees and keep them whole,” he says. “I’m proud of that and I think we did a great job.”

Since he became CEO in 2004, Bezanson’s career has been notable for the new construction he has led. He earned the local moniker of “Bob the Builder” as he presided over the opening of the Cox Surgery Center, the Meyer Orthopedic Center, the Cox South Emergency Department and, most recently, the critical care expansion at Cox South.

“Every ribbon cutting has been pivotal,” he says.

While each of those expansions are visual landmarks of CoxHealth’s growth, their power lies in something much deeper than bricks and mortar. The projects Bezanson has led – from new facilities to partnerships like the Clinic at Walmart – have all been based in the desire that has driven his career: to make a difference in people’s lives.

That desire is also clear when Bezanson discusses what it has meant to serve as a leader for employees.

“At employee orientation, I always tell new employees, ‘We hope to be your last employer,’” he says. “Our culture cares about the employees; we truly are a family. We believe in promoting from within; I’m a perfect example of that.”

A high point of his career was participating in CoxHealth’s centennial celebration in 2006. At the time, he had been present for one quarter of the hospital’s history. He’s proud of being a leader for the CoxHealth family and being an advocate for change within the system, even when that change wasn’t easy.

“It was a bold move to go smoke free, but it was the right thing to do,” he says. “ETO was initially controversial, but it was quickly embraced as people had more control over their time.”

He also mentions the importance of employee engagement and the value he sees in the We Want to Know survey.

“If you don’t ask them, you won’t know what’s important to employees,” he says. “You’ll never know where to set your priorities. I’m glad we’ve been able to do that and we’re still doing it every year.”

Bezanson says it’s been his commitment to the people who make CoxHealth a success that has guided him through some of the biggest challenges of his career.

“One of the worst parts of the 3-year federal investigation we went through was the fact that we weren’t allowed to be as transparent as we wanted to be with employees, medical staff, volunteers and our community,” he says. While the investigation was a challenge, Bezanson says CoxHealth has become a national model of compliance. “All of our employees and medical staff remained committed to the organization and at the end of the day we’re much stronger. When you have that kind of adversity, you pull together.”

Bezanson says that ability to pull together is key to dealing with a changing health care landscape.

“We’ll be challenged, just as we have been in the past, like with the balanced budget act and situations where the revenue stream isn’t as predictable,” he says. “We have to be agile and we have to be creative, but we persevered in the past and we’ll do so in the future.”

The foundation

Predicting the future can be tricky, especially in a field that evolves as rapidly as health care. The prospect of growth inspired Bezanson during his 1981 interview, but it would have been impossible to imagine where Cox would be in 2011. Seeing the future is just as difficult, but Bezanson does have a sort of secret weapon.

“See my crystal ball?” He gestures to a glass globe perched on a bookshelf across his office. “Now you’ve seen the secret of Bezanson; he’s got a crystal ball in his office!

“Someone gave me that crystal ball when I started this job and let me tell you, it doesn’t work nearly as well as it should,” he says with a grin.

Whatever changes may come, Bezanson says CoxHealth has the advantage of a clear vision that will guide all of our decisions.

“We don’t make widgets, we take care of people when they’re at their most vulnerable,” he says. “Our work is about people and taking care of their needs. In the end, it’s all about the patient.”

Bezanson says he’s proud to be leaving CoxHealth with a strong framework that will allow us to provide the best care for our patients in the coming years.

“When I came into this position, I encouraged management to embrace a Baldrige model and the foundation is now in place for that,” he says. “We’re moving forward with deploying a lot of the components of Baldrige, which will make this an even better organization.”

Just as the past three decades have grown from the foundation being poured in a field during his first interview, Bezanson says the future of CoxHealth will be built on the work being done today by everyone who serves the organization. He says his greatest accomplishment of the last 30 years can be seen in the management team he’s developed – a team he knows has the health system well prepared for future challenges.

“I’m extraordinarily proud of being associated with CoxHealth. I know it sounds corny, but you really are only as good as the people around you,” Bezanson says. “Eighty percent of management is who you hire and we have a great team in place. That is what I’m most proud of. It’s not the buildings, it’s the people.”

Thursday, December 8, 2011

CoxHealth, American Lung Association partner to present COPD class

CoxHealth and the American Lung Association of the Gulf Plains Region (Springfield office) have partnered to present “COPD 101,” a free class for people with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and their caregivers Wednesday, Dec. 14, from 1-2 p.m.

COPD occurs when damage to your lungs blocks airflow when you exhale, making it difficult to breathe. It is most commonly caused by smoking, and is the only leading cause of death with rates that are not declining – in fact, rates of COPD are rising by approximately 16 percent each year.

While damage caused by COPD can’t be reversed, patients with this condition can take steps to improve their quality of life. This information and more will be covered in “COPD 101,” and there will be time for questions.

The class will be held in the CoxHealth Surgery Center, 960 E. Walnut Lawn. For more information, call Glenda Miller with CoxHealth at 269-3907, or Terri Stafford with the American Lung Association at 883-7177.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christmas toy drive to benefit hospitalized children at CoxHealth

This Christmas, you can help the thousands of children that are cared for at CoxHealth each year by donating to the CoxHealth Child Life Christmas Toy Drive.

Donations of a variety of newly purchased items for all ages are appreciated, including coloring books, playing cards, board games, action figures, personal care items, DVDs, video games, scrapbooking and art supplies, and more. For a complete list, visit

CoxHealth’s Child Life staff work closely with hospitalized children and their families, helping kids stay calm so medical care can be provided and helping parents cope with the stress of having a hospitalized child. Donated items will be used throughout the year as rewards, prizes and gifts for these children.

Toy drive collection bins are located at Cox South, 3801 S. National, in the North Entrance lobby and in the West Pavilion lobby. For more information, call 269-6784.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Anti-gravity training gets athletes moving

What if you’re an athlete, but due to an injury you can’t work out? What if you want to lose weight, but exercise is difficult and painful. What do you do?

You use the Alter G Anti-Gravity Treadmill.

It looks like a treadmill with an oversized plastic bag attached to it. And, essentially, that’s what it is. But don’t get hung up on what it looks like – it’s what it can do that makes it truly unique.

“What makes the Alter G different is that we’re able to safely and comfortably unweight a person, down to 20 percent of their body weight,” says Andy Compton, Outpatient Therapy manager. “The Alter G uses the air pressure created in the chamber to gently raise the user up without limiting their ability to move. So, a person can exercise as they normally would, but with reduced stress on their joints or on an existing injury.”

For years, therapists have had access to equipment that would allow them to remove a percentage of a patient’s body weight. But there were issues with it.

“The old equipment was a lot more cumbersome – you had to use straps and painstakingly adjust them to get the patient in the proper position, without restricting the patient’s respiratory system – to be honest, we didn’t use it much because it was uncomfortable for patients and difficult to use,” says Jason Pyrah, Sports Medicine coordinator.

With the Alter G, there is no restriction. The user dons special shorts with a zipper around the waist – this zipper is then connected to the zipper on the Alter G “bag,” creating an airtight seal. The therapist uses the treadmill’s electronic controls to set the percentage of body weight to “remove,” and as the bag fills with air, the user is gently lifted until the proper unweighting is achieved. After that, it’s just like using a regular treadmill, whatever your fitness or rehabilitation goal.

While the Alter G can be used by patients and the public with a number of different goals in mind, the staff in Outpatient Therapy uses it primarily while helping athletes recover from injuries.

“In the past, injured athletes were usually told to rest, or maybe get in the pool for exercise while they recovered. This technology is a great alternative where they can continue to run while they heal, with decreased stress on their bodies. They can recover while doing something they love to do,” says Compton.

“Our biggest goal is to get them to return to play,” says Pyrah. “Controlling how much weight they bear on their injury helps us help them recover faster.”

Another benefit to athletes is that the Alter G allows them to maintain their fitness level while they recover. Says Pyrah: “If an athlete sits out for 3 or 4 weeks to recover from an injury, when they get back on the field or the court they often can’t play for long because their fitness level has decreased – it doesn’t have anything to do with the injury that sidelined them in the first place. With this, we can allow the injury to heal while keeping their cardiovascular health up. Then when the injury is fully healed they are at the same fitness level as before.”

While the benefits to athletes are clear, Compton points out that this treadmill can benefit patients and members of the public in a number of different ways.

“For our neurological patients who often have weak muscles, it allows us to help them build endurance and work on their gait while placing less stress on their bodies,” he says. “We also see benefits for post-op patients, and even for people with back pain who are told to walk, but in a normal setting can’t because of the discomfort caused by the exercise.” Seniors also benefit greatly from the reduced joint pain the Alter G offers.

A steady flow of patients have been taking advantage of the Alter G, but the treadmill is also available for community use at certain times of the day. Free trials are available so people can experience the nearly weightless feeling, and passes can be purchased by anyone who would like to use the machine.

Everyone who has been on the Alter G says you have to experience it to understand what it can do. “I think people are amazed by it,” says Compton.

Want to try it?

The Alter G is available for community use. Call 269-5500 for a current schedule, or to schedule a free trial. Passes are also available.

Day pass - $20 (good for one 30-minute session)

12-visit pass
- $144 (good for 3 months from date of purchase)

20-visit pass - $200 (good for one month from date of purchase)

MRI is a new frontier in breast cancer imaging

MRI technologist Stephanie Grandestaff and the Breast Care Clinic’s Nancy Frericks test the setup of the new Aurora Breast MRI System, which recently went into service at Hulston Cancer Center.

The physicians and staff at the Breast Care Clinic now have a new tool to help them care for women diagnosed with breast cancer. Earlier this month, they began using the newly installed Aurora 1.5T Dedicated Breast MRI System.

The Aurora is the only MRI made specifically for imaging breasts, and it is the only system cleared by the FDA specifically for this purpose. For the 23,000 women screened for breast cancer at the clinic each year, the presence of the Aurora – the only one in the area – means that if cancer is found the physicians will be able to identify it and monitor it more accurately than ever before.

“The Aurora offers 3D imaging, and can routinely find a tumor as small as 2 mm in size,” says Susan Smith, director of the Breast Care Clinic. “This is significantly smaller than what you routinely find using other MRI systems.”

The Aurora will be used primarily to help stage patients who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, and to screen those at high-risk for the disease.

MRI is used following a positive breast biopsy but prior to surgery. “We want to look closely at the other breast and check it for cancer as well,” says Smith. “Most patients will have multiple MRIs – in addition to pre-surgery appointments, we bring them back in to see what their therapy has achieved.”

Breast Care Clinic staff will also use the Aurora as a screening tool for people with a high risk of breast cancer – especially those with a strong family history of the disease. New screening guidelines for women with breast implants also require an MRI every third year, with mammograms in intervening years.

Prior to the Aurora, patients who needed a breast MRI were scanned at The Martin Center, on a traditional MRI with a dedicated breast coil. The Aurora offers enhanced patient comfort and quicker scan times on a machine with software written specifically to better image breast tissue. “We’re committed to having the most advanced care available for our patients,” Smith says.

CoxHealth receives donation to help ALS patients

Representatives from the Jeff Julian ALS Foundation present a check for $15,000 to CoxHealth Foundation president Lisa Alexander. Pictured are (left to right) Tyler Watskey, Jeff Julian ALS Foundation board chair; Lisa Alexander, CoxHealth Foundation president; J.R. Hutcheson and Jeremy Loftin, Jeff Julian ALS Foundation board members.

The CoxHealth Foundation has received a $15,000 donation from the proceeds of the 2011 Julian Golf Classic and auction, hosted by the Jeff Julian ALS Foundation.

This year’s donation will be used to support the care of ALS patients at CoxHealth through rehabilitation, emergency care and speech therapy.

The Julian Golf Classic honors the life of Jeff Julian, a PGA pro who was diagnosed with ALS in the prime of his career. His wife’s family is from Branson, and the couple returned to the area to seek care for Jeff near the end of his life.

ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that attacks motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord, and affects muscle function. There is no cure.

The yearly golf tournament and auction is held at the LedgeStone Championship Golf Course in StoneBridge, near Branson. The event is scheduled for Sept. 9 and 10. For more information on the tournament, visit To learn more about the CoxHealth Foundation, visit

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Osmonds Christmas show to benefit Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals

Your donation to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals at CoxHealth is your admission to “Miracle on 76 Boulevard,” the Osmonds' 2011 Christmas show. This two-hour holiday show will feature the traditional fun and festivities of the holidays, plus performers The Tinocos and the Thomas Brothers, with CMN Hospitals Miracle Kids and their families as special guests.

“Miracle on 76 Boulevard” will be held Friday, Nov.11, and Saturday, Nov. 12, at 8 p.m., in the Caravelle Theater, 3446 76 Boulevard, in Branson.

Money raised during these special shows will benefit the CoxHealth CMN Hospitals C.A.R.E. Mobile, a pediatric clinic on wheels that offers basic health services to children across the Ozarks. The C.A.R.E. Mobile is available to children who have no health insurance, who do not have a primary care physician, or whose parents cannot afford to pay for necessary medical services.

Call 417-336-6100 for reservations. For additional information contact CMN Hospitals at 417-269-5437 or Tammy Felton at 417-766-9502.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Healthy recpies for Food Day

Dietitian Sherry Neal and dietetic intern Kelly Striker prepare butternut squash and pear soup during the Food Day demonstration at the Cox South cafeteria.

CoxHealth will celebrate Food Day on Oct. 24 with special menu selections in all Springfield cafeterias, recipe card handouts and a cooking demonstration at Cox South.

Food Day is designed to raise awareness about healthy, affordable food produced in a sustainable, humane way. Staff from Wellness, Fitness Centers and Food and Nutrition Services departments encourage us to think about how we can “eat clean” and “eat local” by purchasing locally grown food that is less processed and has less packaging.

“The quality of the food we eat can have a major impact on our overall health,” says Cindy Fluekiger, assistant director of Food and Nutrition Services. “We’re recognizing this day so we can all think about how to become healthier by consuming more whole foods that are grown right here at home.”

For a list of farmers’ markets, family farms and other resources for locally grown food, visit

Apple Crisp

Yield: 6 ¾-cup portions


6 cups Local Braeburn Apples

¾ cup Lite Brown Sugar

¾ cup Rolled Oats

1 tsp. Cinnamon

½ cup Cubed cold butter

½ cup flour

Heat Oven to 375

Peel and core apples, Dice into ½“ cubes

Place apples in 9x13 pan

Combine brown sugar, oats, flour and cinnamon in medium bowl. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle sugar mixture over apples. Bake 30 minutes or until apples are tender and topping is golden brown. Serve warm

Per Serving: 252 calories; 15 grams fat; 156 mg. sodium; 29 gm. carb

Butternut Squash

Yield: 4 - 4 oz. servings


1½ # Butternut squash

¼ cup Lite Brown Sugar

4 tbsp Butter

Dash pumpkin pie spice

Heat Oven to 350

Peel squash, then slice in half and take out seeds. Cut squash into ¾” cubes. Toss the squash with brown sugar and butter; sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice. Lay out on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.

Bake for 20 minutes. Stir.

Bake an additional 15 minutes or until squash is slightly caramelized abound the edges.

Per Serving: 164 calories; 15 grams fat; 154 mg. sodium; 8 gm carb

Roasted Rosemary Red Potatoes

Yield: 5 portions


1½# Red “A” locally grown potatoes

2 ounces Pure Olive oil

¾ tsp Kosher Salt

½ tsp Ground Black Pepper

1 tbsp. Minced Garlic

2 tbsp. Minced French Rosemary

Preheat oven to 350

Wash the potatoes, cut in quarters

Toss potatoes with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and rosemary

Once well coated, spread on baking sheet

Roast for 1 hour. With spatula turn the potatoes twice during the roasting process

Make sure the potatoes are golden brown and crisp on the outside and tender on the inside.

Per serving: 207 calories, 11 grams fat, 297 mg. sodium, 25 gm. carb

Yankee Pot Roast

Yield: 10 portions


¼ cup olive oil

3 # Top Round Roast

1/3 cup Flour

½ # Pearl Onions

¼ # Baby Carrots

¼ # Diced Celery

1 Tbsp. Chopped Garlic

3 All Spice Berries

1 cup Burgandy Wine

24 ounces Beef Broth

2 Tbsp. Cornstarch

3 Tbsp. Water

Heat the oil in a heavy, cast iron pot over medium heat. Dredge the roast in flour, shake off the excess, and brown in the hot oil on all sides. Stir in the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, and allspice; cook until lightly browned. Pour in the red wine and bring to a simmer before pouring in the beef broth. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook until the beef is tender, about 2 to 3 hours. When the meat has finished cooking, remove to a cutting board and allow to rest for 10 minutes. While beef is resting, thicken the cooking liquid with the cornstarch. Slice the beef and serve with the gravy.

Per Serving: 379 calories, 23 gm fat, 331mg. sodium, 9 gm. carb

Friday, September 23, 2011

It’s time to 'tune in' to annual CMN Hospitals Radiothon

Listen to the 2011 Radiothon to benefit Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals at CoxHealth on Power 96.5, and be a part of making miracles happen on the medical mile.

The Power 96.5 team will broadcast live, play the area’s favorite music, and share stories and interviews with area families who have been helped by your generous donations to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

The event will air Thursday, Oct. 6, and Friday, Oct. 7, from 6 a.m. – 6 p.m.; and Saturday, Oct. 8, from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals of CoxHealth is a non-profit organization that provides financial assistance for sick and injured children living in the Ozarks. All proceeds benefit Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals’ projects such as the C.A.R.E. Mobile, purchase medical equipment, provide financial assistance to children’s families and more. CoxHealth underwrites all administrative expenses of the charity locally, so that every dollar raised stays in our community and helps children. For more information on Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals or to donate, visit

Working to move patients safely

John Schurke, environmental access specialist at Cox Home Support, and Mandy Young, clinical therapist educator in Educational Services, practice with one of the ceiling-mounted patient lifts that will be used during training. As part of the safe patient handling initiative, a number of ceiling lifts have been installed in patient rooms throughout Cox South and additional portable lifts that can help staff members move patients are now available. Home Support has long provided the devices for home use and leaders say having more lifts available in the hospital will reduce injuries for staff and be more comfortable for patients.

If there’s any doubt about how physically demanding providing care at the bedside can be, the national statistics make it clear: health care workers suffer more overexertion injuries than any other type of worker and they have, on average, 30 percent more lost work days due to injury than the general working population.

The biggest culprit leading to those injuries? Moving and transferring patients. Between assisting non-ambulatory patients and repositioning patients in their beds, a typical health care worker may lift a total of 1.8 tons during the course of an 8-hour shift. It’s a reality that has led CoxHealth to launch a safe patient handling initiative that kicks off this month, with education and the addition of several devices that will help make moving patients safer.

Norma Curry, director of Nursing, says the initiative is about changing the culture of how caregivers handle patients. The goal is to move away from manual lifting and toward the use of devices that are safer and more comfortable for both staff and patients.

“Current practice involves taking multiple staff members to the bedside to move or transfer a patient,” Curry says. “Too frequently, our staff members are being injured.”

Those injuries not only affect the individual staff members, they cost the organization in a number of ways, including time lost when employees must be off from work and the cost of providing medical care for injured employees. Nationally, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is recommending that hospitals minimize manual lifting of patients and eliminate lifting altogether where possible. Nine states have passed legislation mandating safe patient handling programs and Missouri is expected to follow later this year.

To make the situation safer for staff and patients, CoxHealth has added a number of ceiling-mounted lifts, mobile devices and slide sheets that will help move patients. Education on the new devices will begin later this month.

“This approach is safer and more comfortable for patients,” Curry says. “It’s more comfortable to put them in one of these lifts or use slide sheets rather than lifting them under their arms.”
When the project is complete, every adult critical care bed will be equipped with a ceiling lift and nursing units will have a minimum of one room with a lift installed. Some units, such as the eighth floor, will have more lifts based on the need.

Nurse Sandi Brown has also joined CoxHealth as safe patient handling coordinator, Brown has worked in nursing for 37 years and has an extensive rehabilitation background as well as experience working with caregivers on the importance of proper body mechanics, safe lifting and the best ways to move patients.

“When you look at the number of injuries we see, we simply have to change our practice habits,” Brown says. “About 12 percent of the nursing work force nationally is affected with back injuries, that’s high in an area with a shortage of nurses.”

Jolene Palmquist, director of work injury in Rehab, says many injuries caregivers experience are the result of repeated movements, rather than a single incident. That’s why it’s so important to shift the culture of how patients are moved daily with the addition of simple devices such as slide sheets that will reduce the effort needed to adjust patients in their beds.

Ultimately, leaders agree that the changes proposed in the initiative are simply the right thing to do, both for employees and for patients.

“We’ve invested in it with the idea of keeping patients and employees safe,” Palmquist says. “That will lead to staff and patient satisfaction. When people are looking at hospitals of choice, they’ll be glad to know that CoxHealth has prioritized the safe handling of patients.”

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Cox College enrollment up 23 percent

Student enrollment at Cox College has reached an all-time high, with 812 students enrolled during the fall semester. This is a 23 percent increase over the same semester last year, and an 84 percent increase over the fall semester in 2008.

“The numbers are up across both the nursing and health programs, with the most significant growth the in the Master of Science in nursing program,” says David Schoolfield, Cox College dean of enrollment management. “The demographics of our students are also changing as more students are seeking a second degree due to the economy.”

Cox College was founded in 1907. The college offers certificates in medical transcription, and medical billing and coding; Associate of Science degrees in radiography, medical assisting and nursing; a Bachelor of Science in nursing degree; a post-baccalaureate dietetic internship and a Master of Science in nursing degree.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Support drives healthy lifestyle changes

Since the rollout of the Employee Health Initiative this past January, a team of experts at CoxHealth — from Food and Nutrition Services and Wellness to the fitness center and Healthy Partners — has been focused on providing the resources to help employees get healthy.

As they work toward their wellness goals, the Support Your Lifestyle Shift support group has given employees a place to share experiences and get motivated about staying healthy.

“Most people know what they need to do, it’s just a matter of doing it,” says dietitian Jenny Gardner, who runs the support group. “That’s why the support, motivation and accountability factors are so important.”

The group meets every other week on Tuesdays at 11:30 (September dates are the 6th and the 20th). The half-hour sessions let employees come during lunch. Gardner shares recipes and answers any questions participants may have. The group is a regular source of encouragement and accountability, which Gardner says are keys for anyone wanting to make a change.

“We really want to offer the service of helping people change their lifestyle,” she says.

The benefits of that service are apparent when you meet a few of the employees who are taking advantage of what the group has to offer. Below are two stories of how our co-workers are getting healthier with the help of resources here at work.

Diane Flammini


When Diane Flammini joined the Wellness program at Cox in 2010, she says she was inspired by an upcoming change in her life: she was going to be a grandmother.

“I thought, in the shape I’m in, I won’t be able to get in the floor and play with a child,” she says. “I wanted to get some of the weight off.”

She started exercising 5-6 days a week and she soon lost a few pounds and a few inches, but she quickly became frustrated with her progress. She met with dietitian David Dade, who recommended that she change the way she was eating. He worked with her on creating a 1,300 calorie-a-day diet, which Diane started in January of 2011. Since then, the combination of diet and exercise has helped her shed more than 35 pounds.

Diane says to make the change, she wanted to take advantage of all of the programs Cox has to offer. That’s why she started going to the Shift Your Lifestyle support group. The low-calorie recipes and shopping tips were helpful and Diane used the meetings as her regular weigh-ins.

“I’m one of those people who hate the scale, but it was good to see that weight loss each time. It‘s a reality check every couple of weeks,” she says. “The other people there talked about the difficulties they were having and I could relate. It became a real support group.”

In her diet, cutting out sugar has been a major key. She’s also switched to eating more frequent, smaller meals consisting of vegetables, fruits and lean meats like fish.

Sticking to the low-calorie diet was a challenge at first, but Diane says she learned about what kinds of foods could keep her feeling full without being high-calorie. Now she prepares her own food and rarely eats out, which makes it easier to manage her food intake

“The first two weeks were the hardest,” she says. “I was always hungry, especially after I exercised. David (Dade) suggested I have a glass of chocolate milk after a workout and that really helped.”

After the first few weeks, she stopped craving sweets and she was able to clear out her cabinets at home, removing cookies and chips and adding healthier options. Now she’s eating well and doing regular resistance training and cardio training at the Meyer Center.

She says anyone wanting to make a real lifestyle change will need to make those changes a priority and part of their regular schedule. That’s where benefits like the support group are helpful.

“Employees are crazy not to take advantage of programs like this,” she says. “These programs are there and we should take advantage of them, it’s been good for me.”

Cortney Freeman

Corporate Integrity

Over the last several months, Cortney Freeman says the wellness support and resources offered at Cox have helped her make health and fitness a central part of her lifestyle. If you need any evidence, check out her office in Corporate Integrity, where her desk chair is relegated to a corner while she balances at her desk on an exercise ball.

Freeman says she wanted to work on being healthier and when she saw the announcement about the Shift Your Lifestyle support group, she thought it could be a perfect fit.

“I wanted to take advantage of the free expertise,” she says. And that’s exactly what she did, attending every meeting since day one. “You have access to a trained dietitian provided by Cox. I’d be crazy not to take advantage of that.”

She started going to the support group and she rejoined the Wellness program. When she started seeing results, her husband, Brandon, joined in, which provided another boost to her efforts.

“That really made a difference, when you change your lifestyle, it’s not just your life here at Cox, it’s your whole life,” Freeman says.

And it’s important to note that the programs and the support group aren’t just about losing weight. “I’ve changed my lifestyle, I’m not on a diet, there’s no end date and the only goal is being a healthier person.”

Freeman and her husband have a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old, and keeping up with the two of them has been a major motivation for her change.

“I want to be in a healthier place to play with them and show them a healthy relationship with food. Weight loss is just an extra benefit.”

Working with Gardner has given her new ideas that have kept her diet and exercise programs fresh. In the past, she says she’s been bored with eating a limited number of dishes.

“They introduce new concepts and recipes and just having someone there to answer questions is great,” Freeman says. At home, Cortney and Brandon are also exploring new food options, beyond the meat and potatoes they had eaten in the past, adding in plantains, mangoes, grilled vegetables and turkey burgers. “My husband can almost admit that he likes turkey burgers as well as beef.”

She says spending time with her co-workers in the support group has helped her maintain the perspective and mindset needed to continue her success.

“When you surround yourself with people who have the same goals and are striving toward a healthy lifestyle, you can learn from them,” she says. “When you pass them in the hall, you know that they’re having the same struggle you’re having. You’re not alone.”

Now, the Freemans have worked exercise into their lifestyle. During the summer, if they go to the pool, they ride their bikes instead of driving. They’ll walk to the park or go on bike rides at the Nature Center instead of watching TV.

“My 3 year old will say, ‘I need to go for a walk around the neighborhood, I need my exercise,” Freeman says. “That’s a payoff, just being able to show her a healthy lifestyle.”

Steve Edwards named CoxHealth CEO

Steven D. Edwards, 45, will assume the position of president and chief executive officer of CoxHealth following the December 2011 retirement of Robert H. Bezanson, CoxHealth’s board of directors announced today. Edwards’ appointment is consistent with the Board’s succession plan.

Edwards, who joined CoxHealth in 1992, has served as CoxHealth’s executive vice president and chief operating officer since 2007. Previous positions with CoxHealth include vice president of clinical services, senior vice president of Regional Services and senior vice president and administrator of Cox Hospitals. Prior to joining CoxHealth, Edwards was assistant to the chief operating officer at Baylor University Medical Center and evening administrator at Barnes Hospital (BJC) in St. Louis.

“Steve has clearly demonstrated his integrity and leadership as part of the executive management team at CoxHealth,” said Larry W. Lipscomb, board chairman. “His compassion for our patients and commitment to the health of our community will provide the leadership and vision required for the future.”

Edwards attained his Bachelor of Science from Drury University, and his Masters of Health Administration from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. He completed his post graduate fellowship at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, Texas.

“Thousands of people before me have made CoxHealth their life’s work,” said Edwards. “I am determined to serve this tremendous heritage with every fiber of my being. There is no place on earth I would rather be than Springfield, Missouri, and no organization I would rather serve than CoxHealth. I am overcome with a sense of duty and humility.”

CoxHealth is a top 100 integrated health care system, six years running, and the only locally governed not-for-profit health care system based in Springfield, Missouri.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

‘Magical’ event to raise funds for CMN Hospitals

CoxHealth Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals will host a ‘magical’ black tie event to raise funds for the organization.

“Masquerade for Miracles” will feature dinner, beer from Mother’s Brewery, music, a silent auction, magic by Amberg Entertainment and featured entertainment the Jecobie Robert’s Comedy Hypnosis Show. Emceed by KY3’s Lisa Rose, the event will be held 6 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 24, at The Veridian, 309 S. Ave., in Springfield.

Event tickets are $60 per person, $100 per couple or $500 for a table of ten. Tickets are limited and expected to sell quickly. For tickets and additional information, contact CoxHealth Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals at 269-6853. This event is sponsored in part by The Veridian, Liberty Bank, Reliable Imports and RV, Gracie’s Bridal, Scentsy and ViVo Modern Hair Design.

CoxHealth underwrites all administrative expenses of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals locally, so that every dollar raised stays in our community and helps children. For more information on Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals or to donate, visit or call 417/269-KIDS.

Learn healthy recipes at Cooking School

Many people want to eat more healthfully, but aren’t sure how to do it. Often, they’re afraid that healthy food will be tasteless and boring. But nothing could be further from the truth, and the nutrition experts at CoxHealth will prove it at the new CoxHealth Cooking School.

Held the second Tuesday of every month, CoxHealth Cooking School will feature seasonal, healthy recipes that you’ll learn how to prepare and be able to sample. Our dietitians can also answer your questions about healthy eating.

Upcoming topics include:

• Sept. 13: Go Greek – Get the health benefits of a Mediterranean diet.
• Oct. 11: Harvest Good Health – Learn recipes such as Butternut Squash and Pear Soup, Spicy Spaghetti with Ground Turkey, and Pumpkin Honey Parfait with Greek Yogurt.
• Nov. 8: Healthy Holiday Cooking – Watch our experts prepare Sweet Potato Pie, Cranberry Salad and Mushroom Alfredo Halibut.
• Dec. 13: Gifts from the Kitchen – Discover recipes for Honey Walnut Granola, Soup Mix, and Hot Cocoa or other drink mix.

The Cooking School will be held in the CoxHealth Diabetes Center classroom inside the CoxHealth Surgery Center, 960 E. Walnut Lawn, in Springfield. There is a $5 per person fee to attend. Call 269-INFO to register or for more information.

Friday, August 19, 2011

CEO Robert Bezanson announces retirement

President and CEO Robert H. Bezanson will retire effective Dec. 31, 2011, Larry W. Lipscomb, Chairman of the Board of Directors of CoxHealth announced today.

“Bob has provided vision and firm leadership that has led the organization forward,” Lipscomb said. “Despite recent economically challenging times, CoxHealth is well-positioned for success now and in the future. He will be greatly missed. We wish him a healthful and joyful retirement.”

Lipscomb said the Board has asked Bezanson to serve as executive advisor to them and the new CEO for a period of time. His duties will include assistance with philanthropic efforts, support with operational continuity, and sharing his knowledge and contacts within the health care industry.

Bezanson has served as President and CEO of CoxHealth since Aug. 1, 2004. Prior to serving as CEO he served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer since October 1995. Previous positions held at CoxHealth from 1981 to 1995 include Administrator of Cox South, Administrator of Shared Services, and Assistant Administrator.

Bezanson, 65, says he believes the timing is right for the transition. “The leadership is in place and can pick up the pace and not miss a step,” he said.

During his 30-year career at CoxHealth, Bezanson was involved in virtually every construction project for the health system on the Medical Mile. As President and CEO, Bezanson hosted CoxHealth’s centennial celebration in 2006, marking 100 years of service to the community. CoxHealth has been recognized as one of the nation’s Top 100 Integrated Health Networks by SDI (formerly Verispan) six times.

Most recently Bezanson oversaw $120 million in capital projects including the Meyer Orthopedic Center, CoxHealth Surgery Center and the state-of-the-art Cox South Emergency & Trauma Center. In 2010, CoxHealth was recognized as Developer of the Year by the Springfield Contractors Association, in part because the majority of these construction dollars were kept local and provided jobs at a time when the economy was faltering.

Bezanson also brought innovative technology to CoxHealth, including robotic surgery, the Toshiba 320 CT, and a new MD 902 Explorer helicopter.

Bezanson serves on the Boards of Missouri Hospital Association, VHA Mid-America, Mid-America Transplant and Springfield Innovation, Inc., and as an ex-officio Board member for Isabel’s House. He formerly served on the Boards of Springfield-Greene County Chapter of the American Cancer Society, United Way and the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce.

The Executive Committee of the CoxHealth Board has appointed an Executive Search Committee that will determine the future leadership of the organization.

See the full story of Mr. Bezanson's career at CoxHealth here

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Friday night lights = Friday Night Clinics

CoxHealth and Ferrell-Duncan Clinic are again offering Friday Night Clinics to all area high school athletes with sports-related injuries, beginning Friday, Aug. 19 at 9 p.m. The clinics offer an alternative to crowded emergency rooms when care is needed for a non-emergent injury sustained during play.

The clinics will be held in The Bone and Joint Center, 3555 S. National, Suite 200, in Springfield. Each Friday Night Clinic team is led by an orthopedic surgeon and includes a nurse, certified athletic trainer, radiology tech and clerical staff. Minor radiology exams are also available on-site to assist the physician with patient evaluation.

Insurance claims will be filed. Coaches and athletic trainers can refer an athlete to the clinic by calling 417/269-7778. The final sports injury clinic of the season will be Thursday, Oct. 27. For more information about Friday Night Clinics, click here.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Volunteering offers a chance to give back

Throughout CoxHealth, the work of being the best for those who need us is supported daily by a team of dedicated volunteers. With a constantly growing array of service options, Volunteer Services always has new opportunities for those who want to experience the personal satisfaction of being a volunteer. CoxHealth’s volunteers come from all walks of life, but they have at least one thing in common: a desire to give back to the community by supporting our patients and their families. Here are the stories of three familiar faces you may have seen making a difference around Cox South.

Susan Bryant
volunteer at the Cox South Gift Shop

When Susan Bryant left her job as a bank teller, she began looking for a part-time opportunity where she could remain active in the community. She saw an ad in a local paper seeking volunteers at the Cox South Gift Shop.

“I thought that would be perfect,” she says. That was five years ago; she’s been working in the gift shop ever since. “It’s been so nice; it’s just what I needed to fill in that spot.”

She says she likes the fast pace of the gift shop and the chance to interact with patient families.

“You meet all the people who are visiting patients and you get to feel like you’re a bright spot in their day,” Bryant says. “A lot of people just need someone to talk to and I enjoy being there for them.”

She says she had never really considered volunteering before she saw that original ad. Now, she recommends it to anyone who has a few hours a week to spare.

“The customers appreciate that you’re there and I really enjoy the people I volunteer with,” Bryant says. “It’s a great place to be, around caring, nice people who want to be there and who want to help.”

In addition to working in the gift shop, Bryant also serves on the Auxiliary Board.

“You’re doing something to help the community a little bit and that feels good,” she says. “We affect people’s lives just by being something positive.”

Jacquetta Lyman,
volunteer in Urgent Care

Jacquetta Lyman’s mother was a nurse for 20 years. But it wasn’t until her mother became ill with dementia and Jacquetta and her sister began taking care of her that Jacquetta decided she wanted to work in health care.

“When she first got sick, it was tough to accept,” Lyman says. “I had to really find the patience to take care of her. I would want somebody to treat me with the same dignity.”

After her mother passed away, Lyman went back to school to study to be a medical assistant. She completed her externship and now, as a new graduate, she’s volunteering in the Urgent Care at the Turner Center.

“The experience has been good,” she says. “I feel like I’m giving back to the community and I really enjoy that.”

She spends her mornings working at the front desk and helping patients into the facility. Recently, she’s also been assisting in the gift shop, where she enjoys being a shoulder for patient families to lean on.

“If I’m able to listen to someone’s problems when they come in and I can be someone they can talk to, that’s one of my favorite parts,” she says.

She’s planning to pursue certification as a medical assistant and eventually earn her master’s.

“I haven’t decided where I’ll specialize, I just know I want to work with patients,” she says. That’s a desire that is reinforced working with patients in the Urgent Care.

“Volunteering makes you feel good that you’re doing something to help somebody else,” she says. “I love what I do; it’s a wonderful thing.”

Brian DeSpain
volunteer in Pastoral Care and at Hulston Cancer Center

Brian DeSpain (seen above with patient Marian Walsh during his morning rounds) spent 28 years working in heavy maintenance for Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway until a back injury ended his career a little more than 10 years ago. He left with disability, but he quickly got restless and needed something to do with his time. He checked into volunteering at Cox and found out about an opening in Pastoral Care.

“I feel like the Lord pointed me in this direction,” he says. “I had gone through a lot and I wanted to give something back.”

Over the last decade, he’s spent his volunteer days rounding with patients throughout the hospital. He asks if they need anything from Pastoral Care, such as a message passed on to their church or a meeting with a chaplain. Often, though, he simply offers a warm greeting and a willing ear for those who need it.

“The patients are so glad we come to see them,” he says. “They always thank us for what we do.”

He says he enjoys the people he works with and he’s constantly thankful for the relationships he’s developed while volunteering.

“Everyone I work with is so friendly,” he says. “If you have the chance to give of your time, this is a wonderful place to do that.”

When he’s not seeing 60-90 patients a day with Pastoral Care, DeSpain can often be found at the lobby desk in Hulston Cancer Center, where his wife, Sandra, works in Radiation Oncology. He greets patients, helps with wheelchairs and does everything he can to make people feel welcome.

“I get a lot of satisfaction out of helping people,” he says. “I always give the patients and visitors a big smile. That’s an important thing, just to be friendly and show them that you care.”

Want to help?

Do you know someone who would make a good volunteer? To learn more about opportunities to make an impact in the community by volunteering at CoxHealth, call 269-4169, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday.

Daisy awards recognize compassionate care

Three nurses at Cox South were recently honored with Daisy Awards, which recognize outstanding nursing care. Nurses receiving the award are:

Sharon Bibler, CREW critical care

Sharon was nominated by Frank Marsh (above) who joined her for her award presentation. Mr. Marsh’s father had been hospitalized several times over the course of a year, the final time in Critical Care at Cox South. From the nomination:

“From the minute Sharon came on duty we felt like she was a part of our family. She talked to us and explained everything she did. At that point, dad was pretty much in a coma-like state, but she talked to him like he could understand her. She would tell him what she was doing, like rolling him over or adjusting his pillows. Sharon treated us as if dad was her only patient.

“After dad passed, Sharon gave us all the time in the world we needed to say our goodbyes. She even came to each one of us and gave us a hug to let us know she cared. … The way Sharon handled the situation was not only professional, she made us feel like it was personal – like she was a good friend of our family. We appreciate her efforts tremendously. Sharon was the best part of that very trying time and we are very thankful she was there to help us through this process.”

Rachael Powell, Pediatrics

Rachael (center above, with with chief nursing officer Karen Kramer and nurse manager Lorinda Rehagen) was nominated by a co-worker for the extra care she provides to children on the unit. From the nomination:

“Every time we have one of our chronic kids she always does a special thing for them – she finds out what they like to eat, has it delivered and pays for it out of her own pocket, and then takes her lunch in and eats with them! These kids always look forward to this special day with Rachael. Some of our chronic kids don’t have much and the time Rachael spends with them makes them feel special.”

Aaron Daulton, 300 West

Aaron (with Karen Kramer above) was nominated by a co-worker after hearing from a patient’s family about the care he provided during a CAT Team call. From the nomination:

“Aaron had been working with this particular patient and family all day – they had a difficult decision to make determining code status. The patient was 90 years old but still very alert and not wanting to give up on life yet. Aaron spoke very compassionately with both the patient and family to help them with their difficult decision. In the end, the patient and family both agreed for her to be intubated.

Aaron was waiting for a critical care bed while she continued to decline. Aaron called for the CAT Team and the patient was subsequently intubated in the room. Aaron stayed by her side, holding her hand. He was a great comfort to the family and they wanted to make sure this fact was passed along.”

About the award

DAISY is an acronym for Diseases Attacking the Immune System. The Foundation was formed in January 2000, by the family of J. Patrick Barnes who died at age 33 of complications of Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP). The only positive thing Pat’s family experienced during his eight-week illness was the skillful and compassionate care he received from his nurses - even when he was totally sedated. So they created The DAISY Award For Extraordinary Nurses to recognize the super-human work nurses do every day all over the country. More information can be found here.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Cox HealthPlans recognized for excellence

Cox HealthPlans recently received the 2011 Organizational Excellence Award, presented by The TriZetto Group, an international provider of health care software and IT platforms.

TriZetto’s claims system is the backbone of Cox HealthPlans’ business operations. The system is used to organize information on providers and customers as well as to manage payments and the claims process. Each year, TriZetto recognizes organizations that are pursuing integrated health care and making outstanding use of the claims system.

In the last year, Cox HealthPlans has achieved an average 99.5 percent procedural accuracy rate and a 99.9 percent financial accuracy rate on its claims. Those numbers reflect how well the system has been implemented and managed by the staff at Cox HealthPlans.

“This award speaks to the financial accuracy of claims and to our ability to keep costs low,” says Cox HealthPlans CEO Jeff Bond (shown above with TriZetto CEO Trace Devanny). “For the people we insure, it demonstrates a high degree of accuracy in how we process claims.”

This year, Cox HealthPlans edged out runners-up Blue Cross of Louisiana and Blue Cross of New York to win the award.

Sewing talent pays off for seamstress

Working in Linen Services at Cox South, Larissa Gibson is used to seeing torn scrubs and frayed edges on room curtains. She saw linen carts coming through the department that had zippers torn or broken and cart covers that needed to be replaced. And she saw an opportunity.

She’s been sewing since she was 15, when she spent a summer visiting her grandmother. Gibson picked up the skill quickly, learning her grandmother’s tricks as they made clothes and slipcovers for her couches. Her grandmother bought her a sewing machine and she started practicing on her own.

It’s easy to see how a woman who made her own prom dress and her own wedding dress would look at a worn cart cover and think: “I bet I could fix that.”

That’s what she told linen manager Patty Scott and Environmental Services director Ronnie Lightfoot about several of the items that were coming through the department. They saw the opportunity as well. Over the last year and a half, the skill Gibson learned from her grandmother has been helping CoxHealth save money and get more out of the resources we already have.

“I was amazed that I had somebody with that skill in my department,” Scott says. Gibson fixed a few hems on blankets and curtains and before long people were bringing her items to repair. “Ronnie and I just decided we need to get her a sewing machine!”

Scott and Lightfoot set up a sewing station in Linen Services and worked with HR to create a job description and a pay scale to make Gibson an official in-house seamstress. Over the last year, the work has expanded and Gibson has devoted many of her shifts in Linen Services to sewing.

In the past, a scrub top with a torn pocket would have become a rag and Cox would spend $13 to get a new scrub top. Gibson is now able to repair those items and get them back in service.
She’s reupholstering stools used in surgery and she’s creating custom covers for arm pads in the operating room.

“If the cushion covers get a pinhole in them, the OR can’t use them,” Gibson says. “But the padding is still good – instead of throwing them out, we can just replace the covers.”
Recovering the pads can be done quickly and it eliminates the need to replace the pads entirely at a cost of $300-$400 apiece.

Her work is also creating efficiencies for staff working on patient floors. The cubicle curtains in patient rooms come in a few different sizes, but the tags would frequently come off, making it hard to tell what size a folded curtain is. Gibson has fixed that by color coding the stitching at the curtain’s edge – when it’s time to replace a red-stitched curtain, simply grab another red one and it’s a perfect fit.

She’s also been able to alter curtains and reattach the netting that can become torn at the top.

“When you have a cubicle curtain that might cost $500 and you can alter it or repair it instead of buying new, that’s huge,” Scott says. “If you have to send something out to be repaired, it can cost $100-$150. Larissa can stitch those back up in 20 minutes.”

The work continues to pour in as more departments find out about Gibson’s talents and Scott and Lightfoot say it shows no sign of slowing down.

“Larissa has a fabulous skill set and a gift,” Lightfoot says. “Last year we saved between $50,000 and $60,000 just by having Larissa use her skills to do repairs.”

Gibson says she couldn’t be happier that the hobby she picked up from her grandma is paying off in her daily work.

“My grandmother is really proud,” she says with a laugh. “She’s one of those people who can do anything: she sews, she was a florist, she does carpentry, she does it all. I try to be a lot like her. She was a great person to learn from.”

Thursday, July 21, 2011

CoxHealth expert applauds new mammography recommendations

Joanne Schahuber, director of the CoxHealth Breast Care Clinic, fully agrees with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommendation that all women with an average risk of breast cancer should be offered annual screening mammograms at age 40.

“This new recommendation from the ACOG agrees with the long-standing guidelines from the American Cancer Society (ACS), which we have always endorsed,” she says. “Research has proven that early detection of breast cancer through mammography saves lives.”
In 2009, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommended that women seek mammograms every other year beginning at age 50, upending the existing ACS guidelines. This recommendation raised concerns in the mammography community and caused significant confusion among women.

“We quickly noticed in our clinic that a significant number of women over the age of 40 were not scheduling their annual follow-up mammograms. When contacted, these women provided the task force recommendations as their reason,” Schahuber says.

While happy the ACOG has come out in support of the ACS guidelines, Schahuber remains concerned that many women are confused about when to begin annual mammograms.

“Women need to begin annual mammograms at age 40, sooner if they have certain risk factors. We are concerned that ten years from now, we’ll see more women with breast cancer that could have been caught earlier, had they not delayed their mammograms.”

Night out supports Good Samaritan Fund

Join CoxHealth at Zan the Club, 311 S. Patton Ave., for the Women’s Red Hot Night event 6 – 8:30 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 4.

Sit back, relax with your friends and enjoy a wine tasting, food, massages, manicures, hair design, a take-home gift, complimentary valet parking and much more.

Event proceeds will benefit the CoxHealth Foundation Good Samaritan Fund, which helps the uninsured and underinsured pay their medical bills. Every month more than 100 applications for assistance from this fund are received, yet only 30-40 people are able to be helped. Events like this bolster the fund, and help the Foundation help more people in the Ozarks.

There is a $35 per person fee. For more information or to reserve your seat, call 269-7037 or visit

Friday, July 8, 2011

Lorenzo Williams Charity Weekend kicks off

The Lorenzo Williams & Friends Charity Weekend got under way today with a golf tournament at the Millwood Golf & Racquet Club. The charity weekend features several current and former Missouri Tigers currently playing in the NFL; proceeds benefit Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. A youth football camp is also planned for Saturday.

Williams (shown above with his mother) and several of the players will also take part in an autograph event benefiting CMH Hospitals on Saturday night. The event will be held 7:30 p.m., Saturday, July 9, at Big Whiskey’s American Bar & Grill at 311 Park Central East in downtown Springfield.

Several former Missouri Tigers currently playing in the NFL are scheduled to be in attendance. They include: Jeremy Maclin (Philadelphia Eagles), Blaine Gabbert (Jacksonville Jaguars), Brad Smith (New York Jets), Sean Weatherspoon (Atlanta Falcons), Aldon Smith (San Francisco 49ers), Martin Rucker (Dallas Cowboys), William Moore (Atlanta Falcons), Danario Alexander (St. Louis Rams), Chase Daniel (New Orleans Saints), Atyyiah Ellison (New England Patriots), CJ Mosely (Jacksonville Jaguars) and others.

Admission to the autograph session is $25 per person. Or, take advantage of the Big Whiskey’s Special for $10 per person with a Big Whiskey’s food/drink receipt dated June 24-July 7, 2011 (minimum $10 receipt). Each paid admission allows for up to two individual items autographed (no limit to number of autographs per item; player appearances subject to change without notice).