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.