Tuesday, April 24, 2012

CoxHealth staffers bring prom to Pediatrics

Karissa Kiblinger of Joplin had been looking forward to her prom on Saturday, April 21, but a severe respiratory infection landed her in the Pediatrics unit at Cox South last week. She realized she was going to miss the prom, but she had decided to make the best of it and just Skype with her friends as they were getting ready for the dance.

The staff on 700 West had other plans: If Karissa couldn’t go to the prom, why couldn’t they bring the prom to her? They got in touch with Karissa’s friends and her sister, Kylie, to work out the details. They wanted it to be a surprise, so that meant a few days of planning and covering their tracks. They invited Karissa’s date and her friends while hospital staffers worked to convert the pediatrics classroom into an impromptu dance hall.

“She’s stubborn and I’m honest, so it was so hard to keep the secret!” Kylie says.

On Saturday afternoon, nurse Alaina Sparkman and Kylie led Karissa down to the classroom, where she was shocked to find six of her friends.

“This is so crazy!” Karissa says. “These are true friends who came to see me and have a little prom with me; they’re keepers.”

Karissa was joined by her date, sophomore Chase Hall, and five friends who made the trip to Springfield before heading to the prom in Joplin.

“When she walked in, her reaction was priceless,” Kylie says. “She’s had a hard week; I just feel so blessed to see her so happy.”

Pediatric patients and staffers joined the teens as they spent the afternoon dancing and enjoying the prom atmosphere. As evening approached, Dr. John Carlile dropped by with a catered meal for the group.  

 “When they said they were doing a prom, it was like, ‘Wow, that’s really cool,’” Chase says. “The staff who put this on are really great – this is something that comes from your heart.”

Karissa, who will likely get to go home later this week, says the staff members in Pediatrics were amazing, even before going the extra mile to put together a special event.

“Alaina always checks on me and she’s so awesome – I’ll miss her,” she says. “I appreciate the staff so much, they’re really a big family here. It just brings tears to my eyes that they did all this.”


Friday, April 20, 2012

'Green' changes help protect the environment

In celebration of Earth Day (Sunday, April 22), it’s time to take stock of the ways CoxHealth is working to protect the environment. Over the past several years, CoxHealth had made a number of changes that have reduced waste and encouraged recycling and energy conservation throughout the health system.

In conjunction with CoxHealth’s Engineering, Environmental Services and Materials Management departments, we’ve been able to:

• Install an environmentally friendly floor covering on the hospital’s skywalk

• Switch to “greener” paper towels in restrooms throughout the hospital

• Expand the usage of concentrated, environmentally friendly cleaning chemicals that reduce the amount of water used in industrial floor scrubbers

• Recycle cardboard, paper and metal from throughout the system.

• Connect lights in areas that are not occupied 24 hours a day to motion sensors, allowing them to be off when no one’s around.

• Work to phase out CRT monitors for computers and replacing them with energy-saving flat-screen monitors.

• Modify bed-change policies to reduce the total amount of linens washed and the amount of water used.

Most recently, we’ve added aluminum and plastic recycling, managed by volunteers from throughout the system who are passionate about recycling and are pitching in to help make recycling a reality for their departments and four our guests.

A few tips on how you can help the environment, courtesy of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, can be found here: http://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/materials_minerals_pdf/earthday.pdf

Indoor/outdoor bike workshop teaches basic biking concepts

Experienced cyclists and those just getting started can attend a Bicycle Workshop 9-11:30 a.m., Saturday, May 5, at CoxHealth Fitness Centers North, 1423 N. Jefferson, in Springfield.

This one-of-a-kind seminar consists of indoor and outdoor segments designed to give participants a full understanding of basic biking concepts.

The indoor session will include a presentation about riding and riding styles, and participants will have the opportunity to practice biking basics on a CoxHealth Fitness Centers stationary bike. During the outdoor session participants will use their own bikes to practice turning and stopping techniques on an obstacle course; learn clipping in and out and shifting gears; and will bike a short ride to experience hills, intersections and road etiquette.

There is a $15 fee for CoxHealth Fitness Center members, and a $25 fee for non-members. Space is limited. Call 269-3282.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Meet a few of the staffers honored at this year's banquet

Tonight CoxHealth employees will make history with our largest ever awards banquet. More than 1,000 employees and their guests will gather at University Plaza Convention Center to celebrate 13,470 combined years of service of our honorees and recognize our team members for winning Daisy and Prestigious Partners awards.

While the years of service of our special guests are truly appreciated by CoxHealth, it is the tremendous care and compassion shared during careers of up to 55 years that has made CoxHealth such a tremendous place for care and employment. Our CoxHealth team clearly has made a difference in the community we call home. Please join all of us in saluting our long-serving team members and award winners on this very special day.

Chris Cruzan
Pre-Hospital, 30 years 

Q: When you started at Cox, how long did you expect to be here?

A: The first day I was here, I knew I wanted to retire from here. It was a perfect fit of my personality and their personalities. It felt like it was home. The personalities jibed well and I still feel that way. People I met 30 years ago at North, I see them in the halls now and it’s like 30 years ago was last week – we haven’t missed a beat. I couldn’t have found a better fit than working here.

Q: What motivates you in your daily work?

A: There are a lot of people out there who need our help and I’m glad to be the one to provide it. Every patient I see, whether it’s a good call or a bad call, I thank them all and I wish them well. And, especially if I was driving, I ask them how the ride was; I’ve done that for 30 years.

Q: Is there a day that stands out in your career?

A: Assisting in a childbirth on a very cold afternoon in 1988 or ’89 at highway MM and U.S. 60 near Republic. That was one of the calls I’ll never forget. We were in the right place at the right time. There was the potential of a not-so-good outcome, but I was with an experienced partner – Mike Dawson – who made it look easy. It was like, “this is what it’s all about. This is it.”

What advice would you have for people starting out their careers?

A: If you enjoy what you do, that’s what you need to keep your focus on. You can’t do this job 24/7, 365. I’ve known too many people who started their careers doing that. I’ve found myself doing that. You have to focus on your career, but when it’s time to clock out, it’s time to forget about it until you clock back in, otherwise you’ll burn out. A lot of people at Cox have figured that out and they’ve been doing their jobs a long time.

Q: How do you spend your free time?

Music has always been my escape; I love it. I have an extensive CD collection at home and over the years I saw a lot of concerts at the Shrine Mosque and the old Hammons Center. Any time I’m seeing somebody on stage, I’m having a good time. Back then, Three Dog Night was my band; I saw them many times. Even now, if I’m driving down the road and a Three Dog Night song comes on, I’m cranking it up. 

Cindy Bourey
Accounts Payable, Cox Monett, 20 years

Q: What is your favorite part of working at Cox Monett?

A: I have made so many wonderful friends over the years. Because I work at a small hospital, I have had the opportunity to really get to know my co-workers and their families. I can’t believe I have worked at Cox Monett for 20 years.

Q: What is the most important thing you’ve learned working here?

A: I have learned many things from working here, but the most important to me are the friendships I have made. I have witnessed firsthand how generous my co-workers can be when there is an employee in need. We truly are like family.

Q: What originally drew you into accounting?

A: I was already working at Cox Monett part-time as an assistant in Human Resources when this position came open. I was really interested in learning something new. Over the years my duties have changed a little, but I enjoy the challenges and experience that comes along with this position.

Q: How do you spend your free time?

A: I love to be with my family. My husband and I have two daughters, ages 27 and 22. We have also been blessed with a three-year-old grandson. We love the time that we get to spend with them. We also enjoy riding our Harley-Davidson. I have also recently become a big fan of the Professional Bull Riders (PBR). My favorite place to vacation is anywhere there is a beach. 

Q: What’s your radio tuned to right now?

A: My radio usually stays on a classic rock station. I enjoy all kinds of music, but it doesn’t get much better than the old time rock n’ roll. 

Mandy Dewitt
Women and Newborn Unit, 15 years

Q: What drew you into nursing and the Women and Newborn unit in particular?

A: I’ve always had a love of family and being able to be a part of that from the beginning. Being a part of those special moments as a family experiences their baby has always been of interest to me and that’s why I got into nursing. In my family growing up, Cox was always the hospital you went to, so I knew this is where I wanted to be. When I first interviewed to be a PCA in Women and Newborn the nurse manager asked me about my long-term goals and I said, “I hope someday to be leading a unit just like this.”

Q: What’s the most rewarding part of the job?

A: My reward is just helping new families learn and understand. Parents are very eager and willing to learn. I enjoy being the person they can depend on for education and advice. So many families have given me as much as I’ve given them. I love new dads and how eager they are. I try to incorporate them as much as possible, since sometimes dad gets lost in the shuffle. I remember when my sister had her oldest child here at Cox. I was in nursing school at the time and they took the time to work with her husband and that was really special to him and it made an impression on me.

Q: What advice would you have for others who are at earlier stages in their careers?

A: Everyone should love their jobs. If you don’t, that is reflected in your actions and the care you provide. It’s not easy, it can wear you down; you can’t care for people if you’re not balanced yourself. You have to love your job to do it well. Whether you’re a nurse or a taxi driver, if you don’t love your job it makes life more difficult.

Q: What are you reading or watching right now?

A: I’m working on my master’s, so the reading is mostly textbooks, but on TV “The Good Wife” and “The Voice” are always on the DVR – they’re the ones I try not to miss. And Chiefs football.

Q: What kinds of things do you enjoy in your free time?

A: My husband, Tatem, and I have two daughters, Emma, 11, and Ashlyn, 9 -- both Cox babies. We like floating and camping and we just started geocaching. I never would have thought something so simple would be so fun; we started just because we were looking for something cheap to do last summer (laughs). I also decorate cakes. My mom is Martha Stewart – she was always making cakes growing up. I wanted to be able to decorate cakes for my kids, so I took lessons. It’s a good stress relief. I’d love to open up a bakery after I retire. Maybe near the ocean – a bakery at the beach!

Janet Andrews
MRI, Cox Monett, 10 years

What is your favorite part of working at Cox Monett?

A: It may sound cliché, but I truly like the small hospital setting and how I can come into work with morning greetings and those who know more about me other than “she works in MRI.” I have worked at Cox in Springfield, which was a great place and I learned a lot, but nothing beats a small-town atmosphere where it seems your co-workers are more like family.

Q: What do you like best about your job?

A: I like the challenges in MRI but the biggest blessing I find is that I get to work with supportive, fun and intelligent friends.

Q: What is the most important thing you’ve learned from working here?

A: That two heads are better than one. When things aren’t working right, it’s best to troubleshoot with others. Everyone’s strengths and weaknesses are different, and I find the greatest success is when we can utilize each other to get the best result.

Q: How do you spend your free time?

A: My husband and I operate a part-time archery shop from our home which keeps us plenty busy. We love to travel and especially like to visit national parks. We also like to cycle (when we have the free time), and I am a huge social butterfly, so I like spending time with friends and family.

What are you reading or watching right now?

A: I like a good sappy love story, but I also like a true-life lesson book. If I get lucky and have control of the remote, I enjoy funny sitcoms or “The Voice.”

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Jeff Galloway brings his successful marathon training program back to Springfield

More than 200,000 people have trained for distance running using the Jeff Galloway Run-Walk-Run method, and now Galloway is bringing his program back to Springfield thanks to CoxHealth Fitness Centers.

Galloway will kick-off a 6-month training program 6 p.m., Tuesday, April 24, at The CoxHealth Meyer Fitness Center, 3545 S. National, in Springfield. Participants will complete the program in time to run in the Bass Pro Outdoor Fitness Festival Marathon and Half Marathon.

The Galloway method minimizes time spent in training, reduces injury and fatigue, and has a greater than 98 percent marathon completion rate. The program can be used by beginning runners and experienced runners who want to run faster.

After the kick-off, training sessions will be held 7:30 a.m., Saturdays, April 28 – Oct. 27, at Sequiota Park. (Sessions will start earlier when temperatures rise.) Program participants will receive a Jeff Galloway running shirt and book, once-a-week on-site coaching, discounts at local stores catering to runners and more. 

For participants who register June 2 or before, the fee is $99; after June 2 the fee is $120. Returning participants receive a discounted rate of $75. For more information or to register call CoxHealth Fitness Centers at 269-3282.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A team effort supports organ donation

As part of our commitment to organ donation, CoxHealth has held organ and tissue donor registration drives and public events, such as the one shown above, that honor donors and their families. Currently, the Organ Donation Council is developing organ donation champions who will support the process by serving as a resource for staff members and the families of organ donors.

Among the patient stories that unfolded at Cox South in 2011 are seven that will have a lasting effect on the lives of 26 others. These seven people were, through either a personal or family decision, organ donors. Another 64 patients became tissue donors, potentially helping 3,200 others, since for every one tissue donor, 50 people are helped. There were also 115 eye donors.

In every one of those stories, there are patient care staff members at CoxHealth who helped – in big and small ways – to make the donation possible, from the physician who alerted Pastoral Care about a potential donor, to the chaplain who lovingly informed the family of a potential donor about the option of donation, to the nurse who helped with the emotionally delicate process of preparing the donor while comforting the grieving family.

“It’s quite an involved process and every step of the way is the realization that even though the family has had a great loss, they’re giving a great gift,” says chaplain Peggy Wobbema, Pastoral Care. “That’s why we call donors heroes. They become a hero to someone.”

April is National Organ and Tissue Donor Awareness month, a time to honor those donor heroes and their families and to recognize the hospital team that plays an important role in the process. CoxHealth, led by members of the system’s Donation Council, is marking the occasion this year by unveiling a donor memorial in the atrium of Cox South (below).
“This donor memorial is a great way to show our fellow employees, our families and visitors how important the gift of donation is to us and to celebrate the gift of life that continues to have an effect on recipients and the community,” says Mary Hines, one of the nurse managers for Cox South’s intensive care units.

The donor memorial will mark a new phase in the activities of the Donation Council, whose members want to create a culture of donation at CoxHealth, where staff members in the donation process support one another to provide the best possible service to both donors and their families.

The council’s next big project is the creation of a donor champion program. The council is in the beginning stages of seeking interested staff members in intensive care units and the Emergency Department to serve as donor champions. The roles of a donor champion include:

• serving as a resource for unit staff during the donation process

• helping with education forums within the unit about donation-related topics

• possessing a firm understanding of the clinical triggers of donation

• providing service excellence to families in collaboration with Mid-America Transplant Services, 

Missouri’s organ procurement organization, and the hospital team to ensure the opportunity of donation is given to each eligible family so they can make an informed decision.

Wobbema says the donor champion program, which will be patterned after the hospital’s stroke champion program, is an enhancement of the team approach to the organ donation process.

“Our donation champions would be on the unit to help a fellow staff member through the process,” says Wobbema. “We want staff to know that when they are taking care of that patient, they are not alone. They have a whole team behind them – the donor champion, the chaplain who helps with the family and an MTS representative who assists with family and nursing aspects of donation.”

Wobbema hopes the new program provides a greater confidence and comfort level for staff in the donation process. Initially, the council wants several champions in each intensive care unit and in the Emergency Department.

“Once we get the ICU program going, we hope to eventually create a program that has a nurse on each unit who could be tissue donor champions,” says Wobbema. “Donation saves lives and it enhances lives. We also know that donation helps families through the grieving process.”

Marjorie Bryan, MTS organ program specialist assigned to CoxHealth, says having champions on each unit will increase donation awareness, communication among the hospital team and the knowledge base of people who are educated about the purpose and the process, as well as those who could become trained requestors.

“Some health care workers might have the perspective that by requesting organs, somehow we are damaging the family,” says Bryan. “That’s not the case. Offering donation options to families is just good patient and family care.”

Donation facts

Members of the CoxHealth Donation Council include staff from the ED, Surgery, intensive care units, Pastoral Care, Respiratory Care, the CoxHealth Education Center and Corporate Communications.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services:

• 113,442 people are waiting for an organ

• 18 people will die each day waiting for an organ

• one organ donor can save up to eight lives.

You may register online to become an organ and tissue donor at missouriorgandonor.com

Hospitality center makes comfort a priority

Patient Carol Hicks (with charge nurse Becca Humphreys above) was ready to be discharged after spending a week on 300 East, but she knew she would be at Cox South a little longer that Wednesday afternoon. It was 3 p.m. and her son would be picking her up, but not until his workday ended at 5. Hicks had been a 20-year CoxHealth employee before her recent retirement, so she says she was especially aware of the need for beds on nursing floors.

“The worst thing is knowing that there is a patient waiting for your room, but there’s nowhere for you to go,” she says. Hicks’ situation is a common one for patients at Cox South, common enough that leaders are addressing it with an innovative solution known as the Discharge Hospitality Center. Within a few minutes of her discharge, Hicks was relaxing in a recliner in a private room in the new center. She had a sandwich and drink from the Atrium Café and a comfortable place to rest while she waited for her ride.

“It makes me feel better to be here and I know making the bed available made the next person who needed care up on the floor feel better, too,” she says.

Since it began as a pilot last November, the Discharge Hospitality Center has offered discharged patients a private place to wait and it has helped improve throughput by freeing up beds on patient care units.

“Nobody likes to wait, especially when they’re sick,” says Sonya Hiller, director of Ambulatory Services. “The first question patients ask is ‘When can I go home?’ This gets them one step closer and it helps free up beds so other patients’ stays can be shortened.”

The center came about as a result of a lean team project examining patient flow from the surgical ICU to 300 East. The lean team identified waiting for a ride home as one of the bottlenecks in patient flow. Between people’s work schedules, private Medicaid transport and patients whose families are from outlying areas, there are plenty of patients who are unable to leave upon discharge. The team began looking for a comfortable place for patients to await their rides; they found their solution in a unit that is typically full in the morning, but has space available by afternoon, when many patients are being discharged from nursing floors.

Same Day Surgery’s Unit B is now home to the Discharge Hospitality Center. The creation of the center is a good example of a way to readjust resources we already have to make the biggest difference possible for our patients’ comfort and for ongoing issues such as access and throughput.

“The square footage is there the whole time; this just makes the best use of it for our patients,” says charge nurse Becca Humphreys, who does dual duty on the unit. Attached to her lapel, Humphreys wears a double-sided nametag: on the front, she’s in Same Day Surgery, on the back, she’s in the Discharge Hospitality Center. The nametag mirrors the structure of the center itself: in the mornings, the rooms are dedicated to patients getting ready for surgery. As patients move into the operating room, rooms become available for patients who are being discharged upstairs. The center is open 9 a.m.-7:30 p.m. weekdays. By 9 a.m., two rooms are typically available and by afternoon, the Discharge Hospitality Center can house up to 12 patients.

The center offers patients not just a place to stay, but also a variety of services to make the experience as comfortable as possible. Alongside the comforts of recliners, snacks and coffee, Humphreys works directly with discharged patients to review discharge information and answer any questions they may have.

Humphreys talked with Hicks about her prescriptions, her diet and how to control her blood sugar. Hicks was also able to get her prescriptions filled by Convenient Care Pharmacy, whose staff delivered them to the hospitality center.

“Some things I’ll need tonight and they brought those to me – that’s really good,” Hicks says. “Even though I feel good, I didn’t feel like making a stop at the pharmacy.”

Connie Deck, administrative director of nursing, says that in developing the Discharge Hospitality Center, leaders chose to focus on reinforcing an excellent patient experience, with features like the partnership with Convenient Care.

In addition to the clinical support and reviewing discharge instructions, Humphreys also provides patients a dose of personal attention. Hicks told her about her grandkids and family, and Humphreys even helped Hicks submit a Partners nomination for one of the aides on 300.

“Becca has been wonderful – you’ve definitely got the right person down here,” Hicks says.

Humphreys says she enjoys visiting with patients and making sure their stay ends on a positive note. “We want to meet all of their needs,” she says. “Safety is number 1, but their comfort is right after that.”

When she’s not staffing the center, Humphreys also acts as the liaison for the facility’s services, meeting with nurses and patients on the floors and introducing herself. She attends huddles and helps staff members identify patients who would be good candidates for the hospitality center. She has also created a set of streamlined instructions for nurses on the floors who may have patients they want to transfer.

“Nurses are busy; we want to help them out with straightforward forms to make it easy and make things work for our patients,” Humphreys says.

In addition to providing a place for guests to await their rides, the Discharge Hospitality Center also allows discharged patients a comfortable place to wait for the delivery of medical equipment they may need after their stay. Chris Davis, of CoxHealth Home Support, delivers a portable oxygen tank to patient John Bohe of Nixa as Bohe was preparing to return home. Davis reviewed the tank’s setup and helped Bohe try out the device for the first time.

Nurses on patient care floors appreciate the effort. On 300, nurse manager Dana Essary says staff members are taking advantage of the center and they’re seeing the ways it can make a difference for their patients.

“This is a real benefit for people coming into the hospital,” Essary says. As beds are freed up, new patients are able to move onto the unit more quickly. Staff members communicate with families to let them know their family member will be discharged to the center. They can then call a transporter as usual, fill out a quick SBAR (situation, background, assessment, recommendation) and send patients to the center.

Deck says nurses can sometimes be reluctant to let go of patients, not wanting to feel like they’re “handing off” a patient rather than sending them home. She says it’s important for staff to remember that patients at the center are discharged and that reinforcement of instructions for patients or their families can be delivered by Humphreys, who is only a phone call away.

“Nurses are passionate and protective and they want to get everything done for their patient,” Deck says. “We want nurses to be comfortable with using the center; it’s just another way we serve our patients.”

The Discharge Hospitality Center accepts patients who meet certain criteria, including needing minimal assistance and having a wait that is expected to be longer than 30 minutes.

Humphreys and center leaders are working on ways to expand the criteria so more discharged patients can use the rooms. The center will also be available to accommodate sleep lab patients who come in at 
5 p.m. before the lab opens at 7:15 and leaders are working to assist with outpatient oncology patients.

In addition to providing a comfortable waiting area for discharged patients, the center also offers a prime location for families to pick up their family members. Rather than walking into the front lobby and then going up to a floor, they now have easy access to the West Pavillion entrance.


With those advantages and efforts to promote the facility, leaders expect usage of the center to grow. Essary says that’s encouraging, since the center ties directly into so many parts of CoxHealth’s overall strategic plan.

“You have to look at the big picture: Bringing more patients in and making the best use of the space helps our throughput,” she says. “That, in turn, helps patient satisfaction and it helps the organization financially. We want to provide the best for employees and this helps us do that.”

Hicks says that from a patient’s perspective, it’s the right thing to do. As a long-term employee who worked in Medical Records and Occupational Medicine at Cox North, Hicks says the addition of the Discharge Hospitality Center makes her proud.

“CoxHealth is very important to me and a service like this is a big plus,” she says. “This is a bigger benefit than a lot of things that might look bigger. When I see something like this that makes patients comfortable, I know Cox is on the right track."

Cox North becomes refuge after fire

Craig Zimmermann plays with his daughter, Rylie, 4, (above) in one of the community areas on Cox North’s L wing, just days after a fire damaged the Missouri Hotel. The Zimmermanns were among several families displaced by the blaze who spent more than a week living at Cox North.

When a fire at the Missouri Hotel threatened to force dozens of families into the street in the early morning hours of Jan. 20, leaders at CoxHealth saw an opportunity to live our vision of being the best for those who need us. It’s a vision that doesn’t stop at our own hospital walls and the disaster created a community emergency with plenty of people in need.

Dr. John Duff recalls watching the news that Friday morning as he was getting ready for work. He remembers thinking to himself: “I sure hope they have a place to stay.”

Not long after that, Dr. Duff received a call from the Greene County Health Department, where staff members were working to find temporary housing for the residents. Of particular concern were the families with young children.

“We knew it would be best for those families if they could live together and with more privacy than a temporary shelter such as a gymnasium could offer,” Dr. Duff says. “This is a community need that we’re uniquely positioned to help with because of our presence and history on the north side.”

By 10 a.m., the wheels were in motion to set up temporary shelter at Cox North. Tyler Hedden, vice president of Clinical Services, began coordinating with Environmental Services and Facilities Management to assess what kind of space could be made available.

The L wing made the most sense, offering roughly 25 rooms that were being used for storage. As Incident Command was established, crews from Environmental Services, Engineering, the City of Springfield and City Utilities all went to work clearing the space and bringing in beds. Staff from the ER and Volunteer Services prepared to assign rooms and register residents.

“We became the ‘Cox Hotel.’ This is not our typical job and it was so impressive to have it set up so quickly,” Hedden says. By 5:45 p.m., the space was ready and residents began arriving. By 8 p.m., more than 90 people were settled in for the night, allowing CoxHealth leaders and Missouri Hotel staff to breathe a sigh of relief.

“It’s a scary thing when you have this many families with nowhere to go,” says Chuck Cribbs, case manager with the Missouri Hotel. “Cox was so good to respond and get bedding and furniture in place in just a few hours. We’ve had great cooperation with the hospital Security staff, helping us manage the logistics of getting people in and out safely and keeping track of everyone.”

Springfield firefighters stopped by Cox North to visit children and their families at a special event honoring the first responders who battled the fire.

More than half of the residents staying at Cox North were children, ranging in age from 10 days to 17 years old. The hospital offered a safe, secure environment that allowed school-age children to remain in classes, with busses picking up and dropping off at the Division Street entrance. For younger kids, the Red Cross provided toys and entertainment in community areas on the L wing.

For the families, the temporary housing at Cox North was a blessing.

“It’s been good, we’re just glad we have a place for the kids,” said Craig Zimmermann, who was staying on the L wing’s third floor with his daughter, Rylie, and his wife, Audra. Rylie had just turned four the day of the fire.

“We’re thankful they brought in toys for the children,” Audra said. “We weren’t able to bring any of our toys, we just grabbed the kids.”

Over the next week, the families settled into a somewhat regular routine with meals provided by the Red Cross and the Franciscan Villa. Volunteers from the Red Cross and the Community Emergency Response Team worked alongside CoxHealth volunteers, Security, Engineering and Environmental Services staff to make the temporary space as comfortable as possible. Overall, Missouri Hotel officials say the week went well as everyone pulled together to make the best of an unfortunate circumstance.

After a week of cleanup and repairs at the Missouri Hotel, the space was ready for families to begin returning. By Jan. 31, Missouri Hotel case manager Ellen Boswell was packing up the last of the items on the second floor and reflecting on the past week’s experience:

“We’re glad for the opportunity to get to know the hospital staff. In the community, there are some negative connotations about the Missouri Hotel – that everyone is a substance abuser or a ne’er-do-well. But it’s just people over there – young families working to make it.”

Hedden says being able to help those families was a good experience for staff members as well.

“It’s been great to provide solace for people who have had some bad breaks,” he says. “It’s satisfying to help out at a time when their world, which was up in the air to begin with, came crashing down.”

Want to help?

Residents are back in the Missouri Hotel, but there is still a need for financial support. You can help by visiting thekitcheninc.org and clicking on the “Donate” button. On the next page, click “Fire Relief” for a list of immediate needs. You may also call the Missouri Hotel at 837-1500.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

CoxHealth’s ‘Talk to an Expert’ series continues

Thumb pain is more common than you might think, and can make completing everyday tasks such as gripping an object or turning a key painful. The pain can result from damage or injury to the various structures of the hand, may be constant or come and go, and may improve or worsen with movement.

Dr. Erin Greer, a board-certified hand and upper extremity orthopedic surgeon, will present “Why does my thumb hurt?” Tuesday, April 10, at 6 p.m. This free informational session will be held in the Ozark Room at Cox Walnut Lawn, at the corner of National and Walnut Lawn, in Springfield.

Dr. Greer will discuss nonsurgical options for pain management and joint protection, how to increase thumb stability, splinting options, and will conduct free thumb screenings. Call 269-INFO for more information and to register.

'Basic training' for fathers-to-be

There may not be a manual that tells you how to be a father, but the Women’s Center at CoxHealth offers the next best thing – “Fatherhood: Basic Training.”

For men only, and presented by a seasoned father and physician, this class will cover topics including what it means to become a dad, birth and bonding, caring for mom and baby, and more. A question and answer session will also be included.

“Fatherhood: Basic Training” will be held 6:30 – 8:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 17, in Suite 130 of the Turner Center, 1000 E. Primrose. There is a $20 fee for this class. Call 269-INFO to register.