Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Staffers share their 'What's Your Why' stories

For most of us, health care is a calling. We asked our team members to share the inspiration behind their careers -- here’s what a few of our co-workers had to say:
Courtney Hemphill 
Ferrell-Duncan Clinic 

“In 2002, my grandmother, who had Parkinson’s and dementia, fell at home and was taken to a local hospital. She developed pneumonia and while she was there, her condition deteriorated. The family had been with her several days. As time went on, she had less and less interaction with the family.

There was one day that I had called to check with my grandfather to see how she was doing and the nurse picked up the phone and she said he had gone to the cafeteria for coffee. I told her I’d try again later and she said, ‘Well, wait a minute.’ She put me on hold for just a second and then my grandmother was on the phone. She had not talked for several days and in that moment I was able to ask how she was doing and if she was in any pain. I was able to check on her and tell her we loved her. That was the last conversation she had with anyone.

If that nurse hadn’t taken the time to stop for a moment, even though my grandmother hadn’t been talking to anyone, I would have never been able to say goodbye to her. So, because of that moment, that was the one thing that said to me, ‘OK, you like to help people, so this is what you need to do.’ I always knew I wanted to help people and it was just the little push to send me in the right direction.”

Kelly Comstock 
Senior Adult Psychiatry 

“Back when 9/11 happened, I was a travel agent and on that day we had some clients who were supposed to be on one of those planes. After it happened, we had numerous phone calls from different individuals just trying to get home. We had clients who were stranded in North Carolina and they were talking to me and I just felt very helpless. As the year progressed, the travel business was really hard and I just had a burden on my heart that I needed to give back. So on Sept. 16, 2002, I walked in and started my first day at Oxford HealthCare and I started giving back. I was there for three years. A friend of mine worked at Cox North. I applied and now I work in the psychiatric unit here at Cox North. Every day when I come to work, I really feel that this is my calling.

There’s nothing like it when a family comes up to you and gives you a hug and says thank you. In other industries you don’t have that. When you see a patient who has all the gloom and despair and when they start to leave they hug you and say thank you; to me, that is the most rewarding thing that I could ever even ask for.”

CoxHealth becomes first hospital in area to feed premature babies with donor breast milk

For Immediate Release
Jan. 29, 2012

A mother’s milk is full of the nutrients her baby needs to grow strong and healthy. But sometimes, complications can occur and new moms are unable to provide their babies with this important source of nourishment. In these situations, pasteurized donor breast milk can provide a new baby with necessary nutrition.

Last week, CoxHealth became the first hospital in the Springfield area to use pasteurized donor breast milk to care for a newborn. The milk is currently being used in the hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to care for a prematurely born baby whose mother is unable to feed the baby.

“We’ve been working on this for several months,” says Dr. Ann Hilmo, a CoxHealth neonatologist. “Feeding donor breast milk to babies who can’t have their own mother’s milk is becoming the standard of care around the country.”

CoxHealth receives donor milk from the Saint Luke's Heart of America Mothers' Milk Bank in Kansas City. At the milk bank, donor milk is inspected and pasteurized to ensure safety, then frozen and distributed to participating hospitals.

It’s a feeding option designed to protect the health of fragile newborns, and is especially beneficial for premature infants, who are at greater risk for bowel problems, infection and other issues. Studies have shown that babies who are fed donor milk rather than formula spend less time in the hospital after birth, are less likely to suffer fatal conditions and are more likely to grow and thrive.

Says Dr. Hilmo: “Ideally, we want to start all babies with breast milk. But sometimes mom can’t feed baby, and donor milk becomes our best option.”

For more information, contact: Stacy Fender, media relations coordinator, at Stacy.Fender@coxhealth.com or (417) 269-4113.

Monday, January 28, 2013

What's Your Why? Dr. Elizabeth Stover Lucore

Each Monday, CoxHealth president and CEO Steve Edwards welcomes new employees to CoxHealth as they participate in orientation. Each week, he always asks the group a question: “Why did you come into health care?” Some of the responses have been both touching and inspiring.

We recently asked that question of all employees on our intranet so we can all be reminded of why health care is one of the most worthwhile careers. In the coming days, we'll share a number of staff responses here on the blog. Here's what Dr. Elizabeth Stover Lucore shared with us:

Dr. Elizabeth Stover Lucore 
Family Practice & Obstetrics of Monett

“It started in college when I heard a quote by theologian Frederick Buechner: “Your vocation in life is where your greatest joy meets the world’s greatest need.”

It always stuck with me because I never knew what my passion was. There were so many needs around. I always wanted a job where I would want to go to work every day, knowing I wasn’t going to be motivated by my paycheck. I wanted a job where I didn’t have to worry about switching careers. But I didn’t know what that was. I majored in science because I liked those classes. But I had no idea where it was going. After college, I was able to join volunteer service and I had a bunch of amazing experiences. One of those was taking care of homeless people in Washington, D.C.

I would spend the whole day bandaging really gross bandages on a person’s legs. One man had no skin from his ankles to his knees and so every day as I changed his dressing he would tell me something about his life and we would just be talking. And I, the girl from rural Kansas, and he, the man from Washington who had never met a white person, became really good friends. I figured out that: a.) I really love people and b.) I did not get grossed out. And so I started to explore, ‘what does that mean?’

It was so natural to think about going to medical school next and so I talked with doctors who were working there. I talked with nurses and I talked with pre-hospital people and I started thinking real intentionally about, ‘what is my role, what is the place where my greatest passion is going to meet the world’s need?’

Through all those conversations, I figured out that I belonged somewhere with all kinds of people, with all kinds of needs, where I need to listen, where I can be a listener.

I’m really happy now every day I go to work. I get to be a family doctor. I get to deliver babies. I help people with chronic illnesses. It’s a lot of education, lots of listening and getting to touch people in a way that can make a difference. I get to be a part of their life journey.

It keeps me learning and I think that’s a unique thing about health care. Everybody in health care knows that we have a unique window into, and a privileged role in, people’s lives. It could be a second of their life, but we’re pivotal.

Why did I go into health care? I think that’s where my joy meets a great need so hopefully I can make a difference doing that.”

What's Your 'Why'? Staffers share their stories

Each Monday, CoxHealth president and CEO Steve Edwards welcomes new employees to CoxHealth as they participate in orientation. Each week, he always asks the group a question: “Why did you come into health care?” Some of the responses have been both touching and inspiring.

We recently asked that question of all employees on our intranet so we can all be reminded of why health care is one of the most worthwhile careers. In the coming days, we'll share a number of staff responses here on the blog, beginning today with Dr. Shannon Woods:

Dr. Shannon Woods 
Family Medicine and Orthopedics 

“The reason why I became a physician is kind of long and complicated. I grew up in a home that wasn’t very well-educated and we didn’t have a lot of money. In fact, I was the first person in my family to graduate from high school, let alone college or med school. I saw a lot of negative things, a lot of negative attitudes and there were a lot of negative people around me. Whenever I was growing up, I felt this sense of burden because we didn’t have much money, we grew up on welfare and my folks were frequently in and out of jobs. I felt there was this need that I didn’t want to be in that situation. I wanted to be in a situation where I could contribute something positive to the world and to my community.

I grew up here in Springfield and at a very early age I realized we didn’t have a lot of funds to help me succeed and so I started working, trying to repay society for what they had given me. I always felt a sense of gratitude for the community and for the United States as a whole for the things they had helped provide for me as a child, whether that be food stamps or the WIC program or pre-school. I knew all of these things were paid for by the government. I had a good sense from an early age that all of these things were not free and they were being provided to me to help me become a better person.

When I was 12, I started working selling candy door-to-door; I started saving money to buy my own school lunches and for my own school supplies and clothes and my car, so society didn’t have to pay for me. If you don’t have a car, you can’t get a job. It’s kind of a snowball effect. There’s this hierarchy of needs that you have to go through in order to have success and I had to start laying down those foundations of things.

I was able to start working and achieve that and build on that success with each single step. I guess you could call it a series of fortunate events.

I started searching for a profession where I could make a good living and provide for my future family. I was very determined to try to break that poverty cycle and also find a way to contribute back to society at the same time. I started to think about the idea of health care and eventually I ended up settling on medical school.

So, it was a long process that took me from those early roots that were fairly impoverished to graduating from high school, college and then med school, which was a great accomplishment for me.”