Friday, December 20, 2013

CoxHealth again earns Gold Plus Performance Achievement Award from the American Heart Association

CoxHealth is the only stroke program in Springfield to receive the American Heart Association Get With The Guidelines – Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award. The award recognizes a commitment to and success in implementing a higher standard of stroke care by ensuring that stroke patients receive treatment according to nationally accepted standards and recommendations. This marks the fourth consecutive year CoxHealth has won the gold award. 

According to the AHA, stroke is one of the leading causes of death and serious, long-term disability in the United States. On average, someone suffers a stroke every 40 seconds; someone dies of a stroke every four minutes; and 795,000 people suffer a new or recurrent stroke each year. 

Get With The Guidelines helps CoxHealth’s staff develop and implement acute and secondary prevention guideline processes to improve patient care and outcomes. The program provides hospitals with a web-based patient management tool, best-practice discharge protocols and standing orders, along with a robust registry and real-time benchmarking capabilities to track performance. 

The quick and efficient use of guideline procedures can improve the quality of care for stroke patients and may reduce disability and save lives. 

“Recent studies show that patients treated in hospitals participating in the American Heart Association’s Get With The Guidelines-Stroke program receive a higher quality of care and may experience better outcomes,” said Lee H. Schwamm, MD, chair of the Get With The Guidelines National Steering Committee and director of TeleStroke and Acute Stroke Services at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Mass. “CoxHealth’s team is to be commended for their commitment to improving the care of their patients.” 

Following Get With The Guidelines-Stroke treatment guidelines, patients are started on aggressive risk-reduction therapies including the use of medications such as tPA, antithrombotics and anticoagulation therapy, along with cholesterol reducing drugs and smoking cessation counseling, all aimed at reducing death and disability and improving the lives of stroke patients. Hospitals must adhere to these measures at a set level for a designated period of time to be eligible for the achievement awards. 

“At Cox Health, our mission is to be the regional leader in preventing and minimizing the debilitating effects of stroke and to position ourselves as the provider of choice for stroke care in Missouri. This recognition demonstrates our continued commitment to be the best for those we serve,” said Deb Mergen, CoxHealth Stroke Center coordinator. 

CoxHealth is also the only health system in the Ozarks to be named to the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Target: Stroke Honor Roll, and has earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for certification as a Primary Stroke Center.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Digital retinal scanning system can head off blindness

Many people who have diabetes don’t get an annual retinal exam.

The retina is a delicate lining at the back of the eye, explains Dr. Larry Halverson, family medicine physician at Family Medical Care Center. When light strikes the retina it creates a picture that is sent to the brain, causing you to see.

“Diabetes damages blood vessels in the retina, which can cause blindness,” explains Dr. Halverson.

Now, diabetes patients at Family Medical Care Center are able get an annual retinal exam. An advisory committee raised the money to buy a digital retinal imaging system. Exams are provided for free to patients and local eye doctors read the images at no charge.

“With this technology we are able to do the exam while the patient is here and send it to an eye doctor for review,” says Dr. Halverson. A treatment plan begins immediately for patients who are at risk for losing their vision.

During the quick and painless exam, the patient sits still while a high resolution photo is taken of their retina or the back of their eye.

“When we show patients the damage diabetes has done to their eyes, they may be motivated to work harder get their diabetes under control,” he says.

When people get their diabetes in better control it also helps prevent heart attacks, kidney failure, amputations and other complications, adds Dr. Halverson.

“It’s extra work for our clinic, but we are really excited about the potential this has to improve our community’s health,” he says. “We hope to prevent blindness.”

Local program connects patients in need with necessary medications – for free

For immediate release
Dec. 16, 2013 

The program, a project of CoxHealth, Mercy and Jordan Valley, is now expanding to help patients throughout the Ozarks 

When it comes to reducing the cost of health care, prevention is the best medicine. For those without prescription drug coverage, being unable to access medication can lead to additional severe health issues, sometimes requiring emergency care. 

For the past two and a half years, the Community Medication Access Program (CMAP) has been quietly working on this problem, connecting low-income patients over the age of 18 in Greene County with resources to get the prescription medications they need. Recently, CMAP expanded its chronic medication program to all counties in the CoxHealth and Mercy Springfield Communities service areas, bringing a much-needed resource to those who need help the most. 

“We know that when patients can’t afford the medications they need, they often end up in the emergency room. We see this on a regular basis,” said Karen Kramer, CoxHealth vice president and chief nursing officer. “Through CMAP, patients are able to get their necessary medications and stay healthy. We’re excited to expand the program beyond Greene County, so everyone in our area who is eligible can benefit.” 

CMAP works by connecting those in need with the many prescription assistance programs offered by pharmaceutical companies. These programs, while helpful, can be confusing to navigate. CMAP significantly simplifies the process for patients. They apply to CMAP, and the program’s staff works with the pharmaceutical companies that manufacture each of their prescriptions. 

The program is a joint project of CoxHealth, Mercy, Jordan Valley Community Health Center and The Kitchen Clinic. Since its inception, it has served more than 4,000 patients, helping them obtain medications worth an estimated retail value of $24 million – at no cost. 

Becki Jones has been a CMAP client since the summer, and sings the program’s praises: “I have been helped so much,” she said. “Once I provided them with the paperwork they needed, they took over. They knew exactly what they were doing. It’s been such a relief.” Because of CMAP, Jones receives four medications worth $555 each month, for free. 

”This program demonstrates the significant value the community can derive when the provider organizations collaborate towards a common goal,” said Dr. Dominic Meldi, Mercy medical director for care management. “Without CMAP, a significant number of uninsured patients in our community would remain untreated. This solution is so consistent with our mission of improving the health of the communities in which we serve.” 

Patients can self-refer to the CMAP program by calling 417-820-9290 or toll free 877-480-6900, or be referred by their physician. Guidelines for participation are straightforward. Patients: 
· must be 18 – 64 years of age 
· must have an income that is 200 percent or less of the federal poverty level 
· must have no current prescription coverage 
· must be a patient of a provider associated with one of the four participating organizations. 

“CMAP undoubtedly improves health outcomes for people in our community. Too many individuals are faced with the dilemma of how to pay for food, medication, or shelter and the untenable choice of deciding which they can do without. Too many people skip on the very medication they need because they can’t afford it. With CMAP, we increase access to medication and see significant improvements in our patients and their abilities to manage chronic conditions. We are proud to participate in CMAP and help remove a barrier to care,” Dr. Matthew Stinson, medical director of Jordan Valley Community Health Center, said. 

CMAP was originally a program of the Springfield-Greene County Regional Health Commission, with funding provided in part by a grant from the Missouri Foundation for Health. When that grant ended, CoxHealth and Mercy agreed to provide the bulk of the program’s funding, recognizing the importance of the project. Other funding has come by way of a generous Force for Good grant from Mercy Clinic coworkers. Program leaders continue to seek financial support through additional grants and donations. 

As Jones, the CMAP client, puts it, “Everyone needs to know about this program.”

Friday, December 13, 2013

Champions are key in organ donation

Jennifer Whitmore, nurse and organ donation champion (right), reviews a patient case with nurse Katie Scranton in CCU/MICU. For the past year, Whitmore has served as a donor champion, acting as a bridge between caregivers, families, chaplains and Mid-America Transplant Services. 

Jennifer Whitmore was just out of orientation as a critical care nurse at Cox South when her manager approached her about representing the CCU/MICU as a donation champion.

Jennifer learned that the newly formed Donation Champion program at the hospital is designed to place a select group of nurses in critical care units and the emergency department to assist families and support fellow nurses through the organ and tissue donation process.

Jennifer welcomed the opportunity to serve her patients, their families, and her co-workers in this way, having had educational experience in palliative care as a student, and personal experience in the dying process as a 17-year-old who watched her mother slowly lose her battle with cancer.

“I’ve always had a soft spot for comfort care with families and patients just because it’s a hard time,” says Whitmore. “Especially working in the ICU, we have patients who just aren’t going to make it. I think it’s very important, when nothing we could do would change the outcome, that we let families understand that choosing not to pursue aggressive medical treatment is OK. It’s OK to say enough is enough and let your loved one be comfortable and go. I’ve always had that in me, even as a new nurse. It’s just something that I’m passionate about.”

Jennifer and the other donor champions are part of a team at Cox South that supports families through decisions about organ and tissue donation including nurses, physicians, Pastoral Care chaplains and Mid-America Transplant Services (MTS), one of 58 federally designated organizations in the U.S. that facilitate and coordinate the organ and tissue donation process.

“All of this starts with the donation champions and unit nurses with that first call they make to get the process going,” says Marjorie Bryan, MTS donor program specialist. “These champions are awesome. We have a great group of individuals and I’m excited about where this program is headed.”

The Donation Champion program is in its first year at Cox South and was created by the hospital’s Donation Council to increase donation awareness, and improve communication among the hospital team as well as improve the knowledge base of people who are educated about the purpose and the process of donation.

Champions serve as a bridge between nurses caring for the patient and chaplains and MTS, who are the hospital’s designated organ and tissue requestors.

“We help nurses recognize when it might be time to talk to the family and to get a chaplain involved,” says Whitmore. “In the ICU, we do withdrawal of treatment and it’s appropriate in those cases to contact the chaplain and MTS. Even when a loss of life is inevitable, through donation, we may be able to save several lives.”

Champions receive a four-hour training and are asked to attend quarterly council meetings to hear updates from MTS and to discuss ways to improve care.

“The donation champion program has helped to bring a greater understanding and awareness of the team approach in donation,” says Peggy Wobbema, coordinator of the council and Cox South chaplain.

“The key is a greater awareness of the donor potential coupled with better emotional and spiritual care of the families through the end-of-life process. Family support is key whether the patient can be a donor or not. Our goal is excellent family care and offering the potential for organ and tissue donation is part of that.”

Since the donation champion program began, Bryan says the calls received on possible organ donors are up more than 50 percent over last year and the number of families served by organ donation has doubled from the same time last year.

Whitmore recently cared for a patient who eventually became an organ donor. She admits that experience and working as a donation champion has dispelled some misperceptions she had about MTS.

“MTS came in and they were wonderful, talking to the family about how the process worked, and about how everything was going to be from that point on. They were very comforting toward the family and toward me as well. If I had a question they would answer it.”

Whitmore is glad she decided to become a donation champion. She continues to be passionate about caring for patients and families, and now has become an advocate for donation.

“I’ve seen the process of DCD (Donation after Cardiac Death),” says Whitmore. “It was kind of a shock to see the process in the operating room, but in my mind I had to realize the surgeons who are taking the patient’s organs are taking them back to other patients. They are no longer thinking about my patient who had died, they are thinking about the patients waiting, whose pagers have gone off, who are at other hospitals waiting for an organ to come so that they can have a better life. It’s kind of a miraculous thing to think about – we’ve lost one life. How many can be saved?” 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

CoxHealth names two to Board of Directors

For immediate release 
Dec. 11, 2013 

Springfield businessman Robert B. Mahaffey (left, above) has been named to the CoxHealth Board of Directors. He is president of Mahaffey enterprises, a family company owning a number of radio stations in Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma. His father, the late John B. Mahaffey, served on the CoxHealth board for a number of years. 

David P. Manuel, Ph.D. (right, above), president of Drury University, has also been appointed to serve on the CoxHealth Board of Directors. Dr. Manuel holds degrees in economics from Nicholls State University, and a Master of Arts and doctorate from the University of Mississippi. He has 37 years of higher education experience. 

The CoxHealth Board of Directors is comprised of 30 business and community leaders who volunteer their time and talent providing direction and policy to ensure the quality, safety and financial stability of the health system. 

CoxHealth is the only locally owned, not-for-profit health system based in Springfield, Mo. It is accredited by The Joint Commission, distinguished as one of the nation’s top 100 health systems, recognized as a U.S. News & World Report Best Regional Hospital, and committed to caring for the community. 

Established in 1906, the organization serves more than 900,000 people in a 25-county service area in southwest Missouri and northwest Arkansas, offering a comprehensive array of primary and specialty care including five hospitals and more than 80 clinics in 25 communities. The health system includes Cox Medical Center South, Cox Medical Center Branson, Cox North Hospital, Meyer Orthopedic and Rehabilitation Hospital, Cox Monett Hospital, Oxford HealthCare (the nation’s second largest hospital-based home health agency), Home Parenteral Services (home infusion therapy), CoxHealth Foundation, Cox College, Cox HealthPlans and more.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Hospital secure after isolated shooting incident

For immediate release
Dec. 1, 2013

An isolated shooting incident occurred in the east wing of the 9th floor of Cox South at approximately 9 p.m., the evening of Saturday, Nov. 30. CoxHealth staff and security responded immediately to the scene, which was isolated to one patient room. The victims, a 79-year-old male and a 69-year-old female, received immediate medical treatment. The male was pronounced dead at approximately 10 p.m., the female is still receiving care.

Cox South continues to operate, and patient care is not affected. The hospital is secure, and all patients and staff are safe.

The east wing of the 9th floor is a medical/surgical hospital unit, providing generalized hospital care. An investigation is ongoing by the Springfield Police Department.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Taking a stand for health

Requiring new employees to be tobacco-free is another step in making our community healthier.

When Steve Edwards became CEO, he laid out a vision for our organization’s role in community wellness. His goal? To transform southwest Missouri into a region known for healthy lifestyles.

Edwards led CoxHealth in a bold step toward that transformation in late September, when he announced a new tobacco policy at a news conference at Hulston Cancer Center. When the change takes effect Nov. 21, CoxHealth will become the first health system in the Ozarks to add nicotine screening to the list of tests potential employees must pass once an offer of employment has been made. The new policy is the latest step in our efforts to provide a healthy, healing work environment.

“Every year 443,000 Americans die due to smoking-related illness,” Edwards told the media. “We could no longer reconcile the fact that our mission is to improve the health of our community, and we were not taking an assertive stand against tobacco products.”

Job applicants will be notified of the policy when they apply. Those who do not pass the post-offer, pre-employment nicotine screening will be offered CoxHealth-sponsored tobacco cessation classes at no charge, and encouraged to reapply with the organization once they have been tobacco-free for 90 days.

“Tobacco is a deadly addictive poison that dismantles the lives of its victims and their families. We want our workforce to be role models, to be leaders in a push inspiring our community to become a healthy place to live. We are taking a stand,” Edwards says.

Employees hired before Nov. 21 will be grandfathered in under the new policy, but are also encouraged to “kick the habit.” The organization will offer these employees and their health plan dependents tobacco cessation classes.

Missouri law specifically allows hospitals and organizations that promote health care to restrict hiring based on tobacco use. CoxHealth’s policy, and the cessation assistance it provides for, is modeled on a similar program at Cleveland Clinic.

“We are really just enacting a policy that has already been approved by our state,” Edwards says. “Our motivations are toward getting the right people and being leaders to help people who are smoking find a way to stop.”

The quest to help tobacco users kick the habit is a personal one for Edwards, who describes his father, former CoxHealth CEO Charlie Edwards, as “a dyed-in-the-wool smoker.”

“He tried everything possible to quit smoking. He never got it done,” Edwards says. “My father was the most honorable man I’ve ever known. He dedicated his career to health care, yet he struggled with smoking his entire life.”

As he was preparing to announce the policy change, Edwards decided to pay tribute to his father and encourage others who are struggling with tobacco by creating “Charlie’s Fund.” The fund, established through the CoxHealth Foundation with an initial $15,000 donation from Edwards, will offer a $1,000 cash incentive for up to 15 smokers who quit and stay tobacco-free for a year. Other leaders and donors have come out in support of the idea, raising the fund’s total to more than $35,000.

“I believe each of us needs someone important in our lives to help us quit,” Edwards says. “As an institution, it is our job to help our employees be healthier.”

Employees who make the decision to quit will have access to a variety of cessation resources.

Glenda Miller, collaborative care coordinator in Cardiovascular Services, has been fielding more calls from employees since the policy change was announced. However, she says many people trying to quit make a critical error: “People are under the assumption that they can do it by themselves.”

That’s a recipe for struggle, and, in many cases, failure.

“People are twice as likely to succeed if they combine counseling and pharmacotherapy,” she says.

Someone who has successfully quit will still face stressful situations, emergencies or life-altering events that will tempt them to return to smoking as a source of comfort.

Working with a coach will provide tobacco users tools, such as a “quit kit” that includes 31 ways to handle the urge to smoke along with ways to deal with stress. Smokers are encouraged to carry a small card in their wallet: on one side, they write five reasons they want to quit. On the other, there are five things to do before lighting up: drink water, breathe deeply, read the five reasons, take a 10-minute walk and call a support person.

“If they follow these steps, they won’t light up,” Miller says. “Smokers only need to distract themselves for a few minutes until the urge to smoke passes.”

Miller says employees who smoke can join her “Beat the Pack” support group any time they wish – and they don’t have to quit as soon as they join, they can set their own quit date.

Miller and Edwards both point out that quitting smoking is the most effective thing a person can do to decrease cardiac events.

“Everyone quits eventually, one way or another,” Miller says. “You decide to quit – and stay quit – or you have an event, like a TIA, a stroke or a heart attack.”

Missouri is one of the 10 lowest ranked states in the health outcomes we can control, and reducing smoking is key to creating a healthy community.

“If smoking killed people instantly, we’d all be compelled to not do it, but it takes decades and because of that we continue to have high smoking rates,” Edwards says. “Our employee smoking rate has been at 17-20 percent for many years. Until it’s at 0, we are failing.

“Our goal is to make this a healthier place. Ideally, a decade from now, people will look at our community and ask how such a radical change was made. At the root of the change, they’ll see the efforts we and our partners undertook to improve our health.”

Charlie’s Fund
For employees who are ready to quit for good? Charlie’s Fund will offer a $1,000 incentive for up to 15 employees who commit to quitting and remain tobacco-free for a year. Be watching the intranet and Connect Daily for details on how you can participate.

Become a donor: If you’d like to donate so more people can be inspired to quit, you may contribute at or by payroll deduction through the employee giving program.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Donation from Kohl's renews CARDIAC Kids community health effort

Children from Summit School in Nixa attended an assembly on Nov. 12 to learn about staying heart healthy – in a kid-friendly way.

It was the kickoff to a renewed partnership between CoxHealth and Kohl’s Cares that aims to identify children at risk for obesity and heart disease, and teach them and their families how to live a healthier lifestyle.

Childhood obesity has become an epidemic in the United States, and southwest Missouri is not immune. Poor eating habits, improper nutrition and a lack of exercise can lead to serious health problems as children grow. With the $41,916 donation from Kohl’s Cares, CoxHealth is continuing the Kohl’s CARDIAC Kids program, which will work to fight the childhood obesity epidemic through a variety of fun events and health screenings aimed at children ages 5 to 18 and their families.

Through the program, at-risk children and adolescents are identified and are able to learn more about living a healthy life.

“We know childhood obesity is a widespread and dangerous problem. Thanks to Kohl’s Cares, we’re able to make a real impact on the health of area children, teaching them about exercise, nutrition and healthy choices in a fun and engaging way,” said Lauren Holland, CoxHealth Health and Wellness educator and Kohl’s CARDIAC Kids coordinator.

More than 1,000 area children participated in CARDIAC Kids health screenings during the past grant year. Through the screenings, 400 participating children were found to be overweight or at risk for becoming overweight, and 203 children were found to be at risk for high blood pressure.

These children and their families received follow-up education, including healthy, kid-friendly recipes, exercises and more. Year-to-year results are tracked and analyzed for trends.

Since 2011, Kohl’s has donated more than $132,000 to CoxHealth to support the CARDIAC Kids Program. Kohl's commitment to CoxHealth is made possible through the Kohl's Cares cause merchandise program. Through this initiative, Kohl’s sells $5 books and plush toys, with 100 percent of net profit benefiting children’s health and education programs nationwide, including hospital partnerships like this one. Kohl's has raised more than $231 million through this merchandise program.

In addition to the merchandise program, Kohl's Cares features the Kohl's Cares Scholarship Program, which last year recognized more than 2,300 young volunteers with more than $400,000 in scholarships and prizes. Through Kohl’s Associates in Action volunteer program, more than 669,000 associates have donated more than 2.2 million hours of their time since 2001, and Kohl’s has donated more than $63 million to youth-focused nonprofit organizations. Kohl’s also offers fundraising gift cards for schools and youth-serving organizations. For more information, visit

Friday, November 15, 2013

CoxHealth named top 'Choice Employer'

For the third year in a row, CoxHealth has won recognition from the Springfield Business Journal as a “Choice Employer.” CoxHealth achieved top honors in the large employer category at the Nov. 14 recognition event. Employers are selected for this award by an independent review process which rates each company in the areas of incentives, family friendly, people development and corporate culture.

Two CoxHealth employees were also selected by the SBJ awards panel for individual recognition. Vicki Good, administrative director of Patient Safety was one of three people recognized by SBJ as "Employee of the Year." Eric Maxwell, director of compensation and HRIS was one of three people recognized as "Human Resources Professionals of the Year" at the Choice Employer event.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Wrap up your holiday shopping and give the gift of good health

Join the CoxHealth Foundation and CMN Hospitals of CoxHealth at the “Wrap it Up” special event benefiting the CoxHealth Dee Ann White Women’s and Children’s Hospital and Jared Neuroscience Center. 

This unique event features the tastes and sounds of the holiday season, plus interactive bidding on one-of-a-kind gifts such as a home visit from the Ocean Zen chef, a holiday weekend at Tablerock Lake, jewelry, home d├ęcor and much more. Bidding will take place electronically through BidPal, so you can track your bids on your smart phone or a provided device. 

“Wrap it Up” is presented by the Jared Neuroscience Center Physicians and will be held 6:30-9:30 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 5, at the Oasis Convention Center, 2546 N. Glenstone. Tickets are $50 each and can be purchased online at or For additional information call 269-7150.

The Dee Ann White Women’s and Children’s Hospital and the Jared Neuroscience Center will both be housed in the new $130 million patient tower currently under construction at Cox South. Once complete, the facilities will offer the most advanced neonatal, pediatric, maternal and neuroscience care in southwest Missouri.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Fajardo Family Crisis Fund

The tragic deaths of Rudy and Stephanie Fajardo have shocked us all. The legacy of this event is four children who have lost their parents. In order to support the Fajardo children, CoxHealth has created the Fajardo Family Crisis Fund. Your donations will go directly to assisting the Fajardo children with their education, health care and more, providing much needed support. To contribute, go to the Donate Now page on the CoxHealth Foundation website at this link. Choose Cause-Specific Funds and Cox Family Assistance Fund in the drop downs and donate in memory of the Fajardo family. 

Services for Rudy and Stephanie Fajardo
Visitation services for Rudy and Stephanie Fajardo will be held from 7- 8:30 p.m., Friday, Nov. 15, at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church, 2200 W. Republic Road in Springfield. A prayer service will begin at 8:30 p.m. Funeral services will be held at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church on Saturday, Nov. 16 at 10 a.m.

New tower construction: Tower crane 101

We’ve asked Lee Williams, our partner with CBRE, the company serving as CoxHealth’s program manager on the project, to give us his insights as the new tower at Cox South comes out of the ground.
Since the groundbreaking, we’ve anxiously been awaiting the arrival of our tower cranes to ease congestion on the construction site and give us access to the upper floors of the new patient tower as it comes out of the ground.  After countless hours of behind-the-scenes work and coordination between CoxHealth and our construction manager Beck/Killian, the day has finally come.
Due to the shape of the new tower, two tower cranes are needed to cover the entire construction site.  The larger of the two will be located on the south side of the jobsite, not too far from where the Turner Connector Corridor was located.  The smaller crane will be located near the northwest corner of the new tower.

Tower crane dimensions are typically given in terms of “hook height” and “hook reach” – how high and how far from its base the crane is capable of lifting a load.  The maximum weight the crane can support varies by how far out from the base the load must be supported – the further away, the less you can lift.  Most capacities are given in terms of how much the crane can lift at the tip of the boom.  Here are some stats for both cranes:

South Crane
North Crane
Hook Height
225 feet 
187 feet
Hook Reach
197 feet
148 feet
Capacity at Tip
10,100 lbs
15,700 lbs
Total Height
255 feet
220 feet

 In other words, the larger crane can pick up a load weighing as much as five Volkswagen Beetles, raise it to a height equal to a 12-story building, and put it back down anywhere within a 2.8 acre circle.  The smaller crane is capable of lifting eight Volkswagens 10 stories, and covers an area slightly larger than a football field.

Unfortunately, these tower cranes don’t erect themselves (although some do!).  To get our cranes in the air, Beck/Killian is working with a crane company headquartered here in Springfield to bring a 300-ton hydraulic crane on site.  This Grove 300 Ton crane is the largest mobile crane in southwest Missouri – requiring a fleet of five tractor trailers to transport all of its parts and pieces.  It takes nearly an entire working day just to set up the mobile crane required to erect the tower cranes.

CoxHealth has allowed Beck/Killian to temporarily close a portion of the parking lot near the construction trailers to stage the trucks bringing in pieces of the tower cranes.  We’re grateful for the patience of the folks who normally park in this area as we complete this operation over the next few days.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Bringing Halloween to the hospital

Staffers from Child Life and a variety of departments, including HR, Nursing Education, the Women's Center, Trauma Prevention, Children's Miracle Network Hospitals and more, brought Halloween to the hospital on Tuesday with a party in Foster Auditorium. 

Hospitalized children in Pediatrics at Cox South enjoyed games, activities and candy and even got to meet celebrities like Winnie the Pooh and CMN's Miracle Mike!


Friday, October 25, 2013

Poised for Branson’s future

In January, when CoxHealth and the then-Skaggs Regional Medical Center finalized the strategic partnership that had been a year in the making, the commitment included a promise to invest in the hospital to better serve the residents of Stone and Taney counties. While many investments and upgrades have occurred over the intervening months – from equipment purchases to building maintenance and physician recruitment – the most visible sign of progress is now underway.

In late September, leaders, employees and others gathered to help break ground on a 60,000 square foot construction and renovation project at the Branson hospital that, once complete, will provide patients and staff with access to a new Emergency Department, expanded CCU and more. 

“This project will help us meet the growing needs of those who need us,” says William Mahoney, CEO of Cox Medical Center Branson. “It’s a statement of stability and confidence in our community.” 

Crews will demolish the existing Medical Plaza Two building to make way for the new three floor, 42,000 square foot addition to the hospital, and renovate 18,000 square feet of space within the existing structure. Once complete, the construction will include, in addition to the Emergency Department and expanded intensive care area, a third floor of shell space to allow for future expansion.

The 31,000 square foot Emergency Department will include 32 private exam and treatment rooms as well as eight observation beds. It will also offer easy access to the existing imaging and laboratory departments at Cox Medical Center Branson. Built in 1992 and renovated in 2004, the current ED serves 37,000 patients every year. The new ED is being built with future growth in mind – providers will be able to care for 55,000-60,000 patients each year in this space – and improved flow will allow for quicker patient access to services. 

“Branson is a growing community and the number of patients we serve is also increasing,” Mahoney says. “The expansion of our ED and CCU will allow us to expedite the treatment of our patients and get them back to enjoying the many exciting amenities our community has to offer.” 

The expanded coronary care unit will be on the second floor of the new structure, and connect to the second floor of the current hospital. It will include 20 private patient rooms, plus a large, comfortable waiting area for families. The current ICU/CCU has 14 patient beds. 

As with all major recent construction and renovation projects at CoxHealth, leaders used evidence-based design to plan these new spaces with a focus on patient safety, and staff and patient well-being. Different user groups are consulted, and research examined, during the design process to ensure the final product meets everyone’s needs. 

Recent examples of projects completed using this process include the Meyer Orthopedic and Rehabilitation Hospital, the Cox South ED and ICU expansion, the CoxHealth Surgery Center and the new Cox South patient tower that is currently under construction. The end result is a beautiful, functional, state-of-the-art space that allows for the best medical care in a “healing environment,” with natural light, soothing colors and other features that benefit patients and their families. 

The project has a $30.8 million price tag, financed in part by an April bond issuance – the same issuance funding the new tower construction at Cox South. At the time, leaders stated that even with the uncertainty facing the health care industry, building for expansion made sense, and that holds true today. 

“We know that as time goes by more patients will need our care, and we must be ready,” says Steve Edwards, CoxHealth president and CEO. “To meet that need, we must expand – and given the historically low interest rates at the time of our bond issuance, we knew there would likely never be another time when expansion would be so affordable.” 

In fact, an examination of the 30-year trend of interest rates shows that CoxHealth financed this project at a time when rates were near the lowest in history. “Rates have already increased 1.5 points since we issued our bonds,” Edwards says. “If we financed today, the bond issuance for our projects in Springfield and Branson would cost $42 million more due to the rate increase.” 

During construction, departments that were housed in the Medical Plaza Two building have been relocated and traffic flow around the campus has been altered. The overall project includes major changes to campus access and navigation – a loop road, similar to the road around Cox South – is being constructed that will better connect the campus and help patients and visitors more easily find their way. 

Altogether, these projects prepare Cox Medical Center Branson to meet the needs of the area, and they help CoxHealth fulfill its promise to the community. Mahoney says: “A few years ago, we were like many community hospitals, wondering what our next move should be so we could survive. Now the Branson community has confidence that we will have the resources we need to provide high-quality care, here at our local, full-service hospital.”

Friday, September 27, 2013

CoxHealth increases employee wellness efforts with renewed focus on employee tobacco use

For immediate release 
Sept. 27, 2013 

Joining a growing list of hospitals and health systems around the country, CoxHealth announced today it will become the first health system in the Ozarks to add nicotine screening to the list of tests potential employees must pass once an offer of employment has been made. 

The change, effective Thursday, Nov. 21, to coincide with the American Cancer Society’s annual Great American Smokeout event, is designed to further the organization’s efforts to provide a healthy, healing working environment. 

“Every year 443,000 Americans die due to smoking related illness,” said Steve Edwards, CoxHealth president and CEO. “We could no longer reconcile the fact that our mission is to improve the health of our community, and we were not taking an assertive stand against tobacco products.” 

In recent years the organization has taken several steps to help employees live healthier lives, from changing the menus in the cafeterias to offering walking clubs and a successful Wellness program. CoxHealth leaders say increasing their efforts to help employees stop using tobacco, and including nicotine testing as part of the organization’s required pre-employment testing, is the next logical step. 

Job applicants will be notified of the policy when they apply for a position. Those who do not pass the post-offer, pre-employment nicotine screening will be offered CoxHealth-sponsored tobacco cessation classes at no charge, and encouraged to reapply for employment with the organization once they have been tobacco-free for 90 days. 

“Tobacco is a deadly addictive poison that dismantles the lives of its victims and their families. We want our work force to be role models, to be leaders in a push inspiring our community to become a healthy place to live. We are taking a stand,” said Edwards. 

The hazards of tobacco use have been well-documented. Studies have shown that smoking reduces a woman’s life expectancy by 11 years and a man’s by 12, and costs companies more than $5800 a year per tobacco user in lost productivity, absenteeism and increased health plan expenses. With this policy change, CoxHealth joins Cleveland Clinic, Baylor Health Care System, the World Health Organization and more than 6,000 other organizations across the country who have made the decision to put health and wellness first. 

“Smoking is the worst self-inflicted damage a human being can do to themselves. As a cancer specialist, I see the devastating consequences of smoking on a daily basis, not only on the victims of this terrible habit but also their families and loved ones,” said Dr. Abe Abdalla, medical director of Oncology Services and Radiation Oncology for CoxHealth. “As health care providers we should lead by example. Our community expects us to take the lead on important issues like this one. I am very proud of CoxHealth for taking this crucial step and hope other health systems in the area – and in the entire country – follow suit.” 

Employees hired before Nov. 21, 2013, will be grandfathered in under the new policy, but are also encouraged to “kick the habit.” The organization will offer these employees and their health plan dependents free tobacco cessation classes, and waive the co-pay for Chantix, a prescription medication that helps individuals stop smoking. These resources will be available at no cost to current CoxHealth employees until Nov. 21. 

Said Edwards: “We are the only hospital in the state, to our knowledge, that will offer free smoking cessation to people who are offered a job and fail the tobacco screen, and then a chance to reapply in 90 days. We are resolute in fulfilling our mission.”

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Breaking ground on Branson's next chapter

CoxHealth and community leaders joined employees on Wednesday at Cox Medical Center Branson to break ground on a 60,000 square foot construction and renovation project. Once complete, the project will provide patients and staff with access to a new Emergency Department, expanded CCU and more.

“This will help us meet the growing needs of those who need us,” says William Mahoney, CEO of Cox Medical Center Branson. “It’s a statement of stability and confidence in our community.”

Crews will demolish the existing Medical Plaza Two building to make way for the new three floor, 42,000 square foot addition to the hospital, and renovate 18,000 square feet of space within the existing structure. Once complete, the construction will include, in addition to the Emergency Department and expanded intensive care area, a third floor of shell space to allow for future expansion.

The 31,000 square foot Emergency Department will include 32 private exam and treatment rooms as well as eight observation beds. It will also offer easy access to the existing imaging and laboratory departments at Cox Medical Center Branson.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Cox College names new president

For immediate release 
Sept. 13, 2013 

Today, Cox College announced that Dr. Lance Ratcliff has been named as the next president of the college. 

Dr. Ratcliff has served as interim president since Aug. 1, following the retirement of Dr. Anne Brett. He joined Cox College as vice president of Academic Affairs earlier this year, after previously serving as dean of Business and Science at Eastern New Mexico University - Roswell, and as chair of the University of Central Missouri’s Department of Nutrition. 

“We conducted a national search for this position, and considered candidates from throughout the region. After extensive interviews, Dr. Ratcliff emerged as the clear and overwhelming choice. The Cox College board of directors unanimously approved his appointment as president,” said Dr. John Duff, CoxHealth senior vice president and chief hospital officer. 

Dr. Ratcliff attended Lakeland College in Sheboygan, Wis., graduating with degrees in biology and chemistry. He earned his MS and PhD in Nutrition and Food Science at Auburn University in Auburn, Ala., completed a dietetic internship at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is a registered dietitian. 

About Cox College: Cox College is a single purpose college, affiliated with CoxHealth in Springfield, Mo. More than 800 students are enrolled in the college’s undergraduate and graduate nursing and health science programs.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Survivor's saga reveals hope in dark times

Suzy Farbman has had her share of trials in life.

She first gained national recognition when she appeared on “Oprah” to talk about her first book, “Back From Betrayal.” The book was a deeply personal story of how she and her husband had struggled to save their marriage after Suzy learned of his infidelity. Writing helped her sort her thoughts as she struggled to cope with a situation no one could be prepared for. She hoped her words could provide comfort to others.

Her marriage was renewed and she was enjoying the success of her book in the summer of 2004, when a twinge of pain sent her to her doctor. A series of tests revealed her next trial: uterine cancer so advanced it had spread to her bones.

She spent the next year undergoing the full range of treatment – surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. To cope with the stress, she asked her husband to keep track of the medical details with her physicians and caregivers. Meanwhile, she focused on her spiritual health.

She prayed. She read religious texts. She wrote in her own journal. As she faced an uncertain future and fear of the unknown, her efforts to “live in the moment” made her more sensitive to the details of her everyday life. She began to see things she would have dismissed in the past – from people she met to pieces of good fortune – not as coincidences, but as signs.

“I experienced a series of miracles and it felt like God cheering me on,” she says. She dubbed those miracles, large and small, “Godsigns,” and they became the basis of her second book, released in the fall of 2012. Now, she’s nine years out from her diagnosis and she’s made it her mission to share what she’s learned from the experience.

In October, Suzy will join us for a series of presentations during Customer Service Week. We were able to catch up with her to get a preview of her inspirational message.

Q: What is it like to share the very personal story of your battle with cancer with new audiences? 

A: It’s been rewarding to see the responses I get. People have their own interpretation and their own needs and they see it as a story of surviving challenges. It’s really rewarding to see them “get it” and to see heads nodding. If I’ve had a chance to interact with the audience beforehand and know there are some survivors and patients there, it’s great to give a voice to their concerns.

Q: What has this experience taught you about the mindset one needs to endure tough times? 

A: A cancer patient has little control. Cancer takes over everything: your schedule, your plans, your hopes for the future. I knew the one area I could have influence over was to pursue spiritual strength and encouragement. I had prayed years before, during my mom’s health problems. I prayed for half an hour one night. I felt physically lighter the next morning. I learned the value and possibility of turning things over to a higher power.

Q: What lessons do you hope people take away from your presentation?

First, trust the universe. Second, be willing to turn it over. Be open to whatever possibilities are out there. Trust in the outcome, some things are meant to happen. Finally, be more in the moment. Don’t spin out with fear of the future. You may tend to focus on big, global fears, but do what you can to focus on the moment. Think about, right this minute, how do you feel? That makes it easier to get through a medical crisis.

Q: What can those of us who work in health care learn from your experience?

Patients are people, too. Show your patients that you’re a person and you value them as a person as well. The care I’ve had has been amazing. As brutal as what they did to me was, my doctors and nurses were heroes to me. In chemotherapy, the staff members were always gentle and upbeat.

It’s very important that doctors and nurses take time to tell you what they’re going to do. If there’s going to be pain, they should acknowledge it. Those few extra seconds explaining things make a huge difference.

Q: How has writing helped you during this experience?

I’ve journaled my whole life, but much more often in tough times than in good times. As a patient, you have fears, but you don’t want to drag everyone through that. The journal is an objective friend that accepts what I say, period. I recommend it for everyone. If you never look back and read it, fine. But you may say, “Look at what I worried about and it didn’t happen.”

Q: How can people be better at seeing signs in their own lives?

Stop and notice when you feel a jolt, a surprise or a “wow.” Be open to it. Think about “can I construct a story around this?” Take the time to think about it, appreciate it and write to Suzy Farbman about it! (Suzy is currently working on a follow-up book compiling the Godsigns stories people share with her). Pay attention. When you’re more vulnerable, you’re more open to that kind of support. Before this experience, I had no idea the universe can be as talented as it is.

Meet the author 
Suzy Farbman will be speaking to CoxHealth employees at Cox South (Oct. 8), Branson and Monett (both on Oct. 9) as part of Customer Service Week. She will also appear at a public event Thursday evening:

When: Thursday, October 10, at 6 p.m. 

Where: Magnolia Room, 4th Floor, Hulston Cancer Center 

This program is open to anyone in the public. The first 50 registrants will receive a free copy of "Godsigns," courtesy of GYN Cancers Alliance and CoxHealth. Heavy appetizers will be served. No fee, but please register by calling 269-5224.

‘Grow Your Own’ grant will help CoxHealth enhance health care workforce

CoxHealth has been awarded a “Grow Your Own” grant from the Missouri Hospital Association to help retain and enhance the leadership talent of the health system’s health care workforce. The grant of $42,750 will be used to establish a system-wide workforce development program to identify and develop managerial talent and provide educational opportunities for future leaders at all levels of the health system.

The aging population, growing number of individuals with chronic conditions and expanded access to health insurance have led to increasing demands on the health care system. These factors and others have generated an urgent need for additional hospital caregivers. In addition, implementation of the Affordable Care Act, which includes significant changes to payments and health care delivery systems, coupled with new technology, such as electronic health records, has increased demand for workers with highly specialized skills.

“Talent development is probably my most important job. We understand that with the aging population much of our workforce may be leaving. A lot of our senior leaders are baby boomers, and they are getting ready to retire,” said Steve Edwards, CoxHealth President and CEO. “We have hundreds of managers in the organization, and so I know one of my chief jobs is making sure we have the processes in place to help train and develop people.”

At CoxHealth, Grow Your Own funds will be used to purchase HealthcareSource’s Leadership Assessment tool, endorsed by the American Hospital Association, which will enable the organization to identify and measure improvement in the leadership competencies of 500-600 leaders across the entire hospital, physician group, health plan and home health organizations. The Leadership Assessment tool applies behavioral science to leader identification, selection, development and succession planning. The tool prescribes individualized development plans and group reports showing organizational strengths and developmental opportunities for specific groups of leaders.

“The workforce challenge for Missouri hospitals is two-fold,” said Herb B. Kuhn, MHA president and CEO. “First, hospitals must address the shortage of educated health care workers, including primary care physicians, nurses, therapists and imaging technicians, to meet the expanding demand for care. Second, hospital leaders also must recruit and retain talented individuals to manage increasingly complex health care organizations. The Grow Your Own program allows hospitals to address these challenges with plans that are tailored to the needs of their organizations and the communities they serve.”

Applications for the Grow Your Own Hospital Grant Program were submitted in July. The applications were reviewed and selected by an independent committee composed of representatives from health care, educational institutions and nonprofit organizations with experience in health care grant development and funding processes. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Cox South rated best in Springfield for surgery safety

Lester E. Cox Medical Centers in Springfield placed among the best in Missouri in a Consumer Reports rating of the safest hospitals in the nation for surgical care. 

In the September issue, Consumer Reports rates Cox South as among the top eight hospitals in Missouri for providing safe surgeries to our patients. No other Springfield hospital rated higher in the magazine's "Your safer-surgery survival guide" article.

CoxHealth staffers: a FAQ on 2013 Silver Dollar City Fall Fest

UPDATE: Looking for information on the 2014 event at Silver Dollar City? See the full details on the 2014 event, coming up Sept. 6 in the new blog post at this link.

Original info on the 2013 event continues below:

The 2013 CoxHealth Employee Fall Fest is rolling into Silver Dollar City on Saturday, Sept. 7 and we’re ready for a day of family fun! If you're a CoxHealth employee and you're planning to join us, here are the details:

When will the guest tickets go on sale? 

Tickets are now on sale in the gift shops at South, MORH and North. Hours vary at the different locations. Tickets will be sold until the end of business on September 5.

Do I need to show my badge to purchase tickets?

Yes, you must show your badge to purchase extra tickets in the gift shop. CoxHealth has been provided a great price on the SDC guest tickets so we need to do our part to be sure tickets are not made available to the general public. Tickets are available for purchase exclusively for CoxHealth employees.

Can I use payroll deduct to buy tickets? 

Payroll deduction will be an option with the same guidelines as any other gift shop purchase.

When will I receive my free tickets? 

We have created individual ticket packets for every employee based on the information provided by the direct supervisor or manager. Managers may pick up their department’s packets in HR South. We have arranged direct distribution with different areas and will also have packets available for pick-up at the next Department Head meeting.

Remember, once you receive your ticket packet, be sure to keep the tickets and wristbands in a safe place. We cannot replace lost tickets or wristbands.

What about new hires? 
Starting the week of August 12, new hires will receive their tickets and wristbands at New Hire Orientation. Managers need to contact HR for other new hires who were not included in their department lists.

What if I am working on September 7? 

We will distribute post-event tickets for employees working on September 7 beginning September 9.

If I am working September 7, will I get a free lunch? 

Because of the nature of the SDC event, we will not offer a free meal to working employees this year. Unlike previous years, those working on September 7 will have the opportunity to attend SDC to make up for missing the event.


When is the event? 

Our annual Fall Fest which recognizes our employees will be held September 7, 2013.

What does the CoxHealth Annual Fall Fest at Silver Dollar City include?

· Full day’s admission to the park.

· Exclusive ride time in the park from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. and again after the park closes from 6 to 10 p.m.

· Discounts on food and refreshments. A discount list will be provided at a later time.

· Trams will start running at 7:15 a.m. Breakfast will be offered at a reduced price at The Mill and Mollie’s restaurants for those who want to come early. Both restaurants will begin serving at 8 a.m.

· Bingo scheduled for various times throughout the day at the Opera House.

Who can I bring with me? 

All CoxHealth employees, including contracted employees (Crothall, Cerner, Cardinal, etc.) from all campuses and affiliates will be provided tickets and wristbands for themselves and their immediate family members. If your family member meets the criteria as a dependent for health insurance, you may receive a ticket and wristband for them. Immediate family members are defined as those who could be or are dependents on our health insurance plan.

· Eligible dependents would be a spouse, unmarried dependent under age 26 and legal dependents (disabled adult child, foster child, etc). There will be no exceptions.

· Employees may bring extended family members or other guests by purchasing tickets and wristbands at the significantly reduced rate of $25 per guest. Be watching Connect Daily for more information about the sale of these extra Silver Dollar City tickets/wristbands for guests.

What must I have to enter the SDC park on September 7? 

· CoxHealth employees and their guests will be provided their ticket and wristband before September 7 and the ticket needs to be presented when you arrive on September 7.

· The ticket must be presented for admission to the park.

· The wristband must be worn to enjoy the exclusive ride times and to obtain the vendor discounts.

· You will not need a photo ID to enter the park, only the ticket and wristband.

· Tickets and wristbands will not be provided the day of the event. Once you receive your tickets and wristbands, please put them in a safe place so you’ll have them on the day of the event.

· You will be allowed to enter the park after 6 p.m. provided you have your ticket and wristband.

What happens if I forget my ticket or wristband? 

If an employee arrives at SDC on September 7 without a ticket or wristband, SDC will expect payment at full ticket price for park entry. Without the wristband, you will not be able to enjoy the discounts or the exclusive ride times. There will be no exceptions.

What if I am scheduled to work on September 7? 

Employees working during the 24-hour period of September 7 will be provided tickets for themselves and eligible family members to be used by October 6. Distribution of tickets for post-event admission will be September 9.

What if I am not able to attend on September 7? 

The September 7 date is our annual Fall Fest, offering an opportunity for all CoxHealth employees to enjoy a day at the park to visit, ride, and dine with family and friends. It is intended to be an event, not simply a free pass for admission to Silver Dollar City.

As with the traditional Fall Fest event at the Expo Center, there wasn’t a make-up date for those unable to attend. As indicated above, we are able to provide a second chance for those employees who must work on the day of the event so those who work on the 7th will be able to obtain a pass on September 9 to be used by October 6, 2013.

What if I already have a season pass? 

Employees who have season passes will need the wristband to be eligible for discounts and exclusive ride times. Please notify your manager that you only need the wristband.

During our event on September 7, using the pass that CoxHealth provides, Silver Dollar City is offering CoxHealth employees the opportunity to upgrade to a season pass for the remainder of the 2013 season for the price of $30.00.

What if my guest already has a season pass? 

The purchase of a wristband will be necessary to take advantage of the exclusive ride time and the food discounts offered throughout the park. The price is $25.00 regardless if they need the admission ticket and wristband or just wristband.

Can we bring food into the park? 

Silver Dollar City allows park guests to bring their own food and small coolers into the park. The parks asks that large coolers be kept in vehicles and allows guests to go back to their car to retrieve their food. Many people put food in backpacks and bring them into the park which would work for many us during our event.