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.