Thursday, January 30, 2014

New study says child’s weight in Kindergarten best predicts weight later in life

CoxHealth’s Kohl’s CARDIAC Kids program fights epidemic of childhood obesity

A recent study found that children who are overweight in Kindergarten are four times more likely than “normal” weight children to become obese by 8th grade. It’s just the latest in a series of studies examining the epidemic of childhood obesity and its potential causes.

CoxHealth’s Kohl’s CARDIAC Kids team has been working to fight childhood obesity in the Ozarks for a number of years by spreading the message of a healthy lifestyle through school-based and community events, working closely with children and their families to help them understand the connections between food, exercise and overall health.

“During the past year, we were able to connect with more than 1,000 area kids,” said Lauren Holland, a CoxHealth wellness coordinator and CARDIAC Kids coordinator. “Through the health screenings that are part of our program, we found 39 percent of the children were overweight or at-risk, and 20 percent were at-risk for high blood pressure. We’re working with these families to help them change their child’s health and future.” 

The program, which began in the Monett area, is now in 13 school districts, including Nixa. CARDIAC Kids educators host fun, educational assemblies for students, organize health screenings, and, through CARDIAC Kids Family Fun Nights, reconnect with at-risk families for information on exercise, kid-friendly healthy recipes and more.

“It’s that follow up that really makes a difference,” said Holland. “With that, and tracking year-to-year results, we can see positive trends.”

The program is made possible by yearly grants from Kohl’s Cares. Since 2011, Kohl’s has donated more than $132,000 to CoxHealth to support the CARDIAC Kids program.

Like to sew? Sew for a cause with CoxHealth

Are you handy with a needle and thread? If so, CoxHealth needs your help! The CoxHealth Volunteers are organizing a sewing day 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 12, in the Fountain Plaza Room at Cox North, 1423 N. Jefferson, in Springfield. 

Sew and stuff heart-shaped pillows for patients to use after open-heart surgery, and eye pillows. All materials will be supplied, and no experience is needed. Volunteers are welcome to stop by anytime they are available between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. 

If you would like more information, please call 269-3169.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

CoxHealth employees help stock local food pantries with healthy options

Annual event raises more than 4,000 pounds of food

Increasing numbers of individuals and families across the Ozarks are relying on food pantries to meet their daily food needs. However, much of the food that is available is highly processed and contains large amounts of sugar, salt and fat rather than the building blocks of a healthy diet.

For the second year in a row, CoxHealth staff in Springfield, Branson and Monett pulled together to address this issue during the CoxHealth “Pack the Pantries” healthy food drive. In total, more than 4,000 pounds of food was donated – and all of it healthy. Employees donated items such as whole wheat pastas, low-sodium soups, canned fruits packed in fruit juice, and much more.

“We know that obesity, heart disease and diabetes are leading health issues in our community,” said Glenda Miller, CoxHealth collaborative care coordinator and food drive organizer. “By donating healthy foods to our local pantries, we are helping not only provide much needed food for our friends and neighbors, but also supporting those who wish to eat a heart-healthy diet.”

Miller says the food drive also serves another purpose – helping keep the health system’s patients healthy. “Many of our patients rely on food pantries. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for these patients to be discharged healthy from the hospital, only to again require hospitalization because the foods they have access to have aggravated their medical conditions.”

Food donated in Springfield and Monett was provided to Crosslines in both communities. Food donated in Branson was provided to the pantries operated by Christian Associates in Stone County, and Christian Action Ministries in Taney County.

Forging success for area children

Dr. Jennifer Williams leads Nixa Flight Academy students through an intensive reading lesson during one of the program’s specialized classes.

A partnership with Burrell and CoxHealth is offering tailored education to students with dyslexia at Nixa's Flight Academy.

During the first three years of school, educators focus on teaching children how to read – letters and their sounds, the differences between consonants and vowels, and how it all strings together to form words, sentences and more. But in third grade, the focus of learning shifts. Children begin reading to learn as math, science, social studies and other subjects include materials children must read to understand what they are being taught.

“If they don’t know how to read, they can’t learn the content,” says Dr. Jennifer Williams, an educator and dyslexia expert at Nixa Public Schools. “Instructionally, third grade is an extremely difficult year for all kids.”

For children with dyslexia this shift can seem almost insurmountable, and third grade becomes a crucial time not only in their education, but also in their lives.

Enter Flight Academy, a new program at Nixa Public Schools made possible thanks to a partnership with CoxHealth and Burrell Behavioral Health. In the innovative Flight Academy classroom, nine third grade students from across the Nixa school district are learning the typical third grade curriculum plus strategies to help them overcome the challenges presented by dyslexia. They are learning to read, and boosting their self-confidence and self-esteem along the way.

Dyslexia is a disorder that is often misunderstood. Many think those with dyslexia flip or transpose letters when they read – and they often do. But dyslexia is also much more. People with the condition have difficulty learning and processing the sounds of letters, making it hard to recognize words in print. Essentially, it is a disruption in the wiring of the brain, causing difficulty with reading, writing and spelling. In addition, it’s not uncommon for people with dyslexia to have coexisting conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, which can make learning even harder.

“Dyslexia crosses the boundaries between the neurological, behavioral health and educational worlds, to the point that it falls in no world, and children are often left with no intervention,” says Steve Edwards, CoxHealth president and CEO. “Flight Academy changes that, and we are happy to be a part of it.”

The Flight Academy classroom is based on the Take Flight program developed by Texas Scottish Rite Hospital. The program uses intense, guided, repeated practice of reading strategies to help dyslexic children learn and understand the connections between letters and the sounds they make. The small class size makes this method of learning possible, and the “safe” environment championed by Dr. Williams means the children aren’t afraid or embarrassed to speak up when they are struggling to understand a concept.

“They are a very tight group. It’s not a place where they feel scared to say ‘I don’t get it.’ They help each other,” says Dr. Williams.

While a significant amount of class time is spent helping the children learn how to read, the day is also filled with typical third grade subjects. Dr. Williams takes a “dyslexic-friendly” approach, incorporating movement, rhymes and other strategies that help those with dyslexia better comprehend the information they are receiving.

“Everything is multisensory – that’s the premiere methodology for anyone with dyslexia. There is a lot of movement, we develop songs, we use all our senses to help with the learning process,” she says.

To address reading skills, Dr. Williams uses the Orton-Gillingham method. This methodology, developed in the 1930s, is a phonics-based system that teaches how words are formed. Students are taught the strategies and techniques in a systematic way, through sight, sound and movement.

“The Take Flight program is backed by a lot of research, and it doesn’t focus solely on word recognition,” says Dr. Williams. “It also deals with comprehension, fluency and all the pieces that are necessary to becoming a good reader.”

Children in Flight Academy have committed to fulfilling at least one year of the two-year program. Dr. Williams and the children will “loop” together to fourth grade during the next school year.

“What typically happens is that children progress in a slow and steady manner, and then all of a sudden they skyrocket. But that can be after quite a bit of time. Flight Academy is a two-year program so that we have the intervention time we need to see that skyrocketing take place.”

The program is already seeing results in improved reading scores among many of the students. One child has experienced a year’s worth of reading level growth in just the first four months of school. But Williams says the biggest improvement the children’s parents notice is their child’s attitude about school.

Studies indicate that 5-17 percent of children have dyslexia. In a typical classroom, that means there are likely two or three children with the condition. Often, these children are not identified as dyslexic. Their struggles with schoolwork are noted, but because most educators lack training in dyslexia, teachers simply don’t understand why these struggles are occurring. The children fall further behind, often feel alienated from their peers, and begin to experience extreme self-doubt.

Sometimes, they are referred for special education testing but often do not qualify for the program because the discrepancy between their IQ and their performance isn’t large enough. So, they struggle along, not doing well enough to truly succeed, not doing poorly enough to qualify for typical interventions.

“They fall into a gap. Our goal is to keep them out of special ed, and teach them the techniques and strategies they need to cope,” Dr. Williams says.

Thanks to Flight Academy, children who routinely experienced extreme anxiety about school, from panic attacks to mysterious Monday-morning stomachaches and even self-harm, now find enjoyment in school.

“Parents tell me their children don’t hate school anymore. They no longer come home crying,” she says.

They’ve also learned that dyslexia, while a challenge to overcome, can be a gift. Some of the most celebrated, creative, successful people in history are, or are believed to have been, dyslexic. Leonardo da Vinci, Steve Jobs, Steven Spielberg, Winston Churchill, Thomas Edison and many others were either diagnosed as dyslexic or exhibited strong dyslexic tendencies during their lives.

“A lot of famous, wealthy, creative people are dyslexic. The thing that made them struggle is also the very thing that made them successful,” says Williams.

Those success stories highlight the need for educators to reach dyslexic children in a way that works for them. If 5-17 percent of children have dyslexia, then there are roughly 600 students in the Nixa district alone who could use specialized help. The academy is a step in the right direction, but Dr. Williams and Edwards agree that education systems have a long way to go in helping dyslexic students develop their full potential.
The Flight Academy is the only dyslexia-specific program available in a public school in the state of Missouri. Schools in a number of other states have programs – some states even have laws mandating dyslexia experts in schools. Missouri lags behind, but Edwards is hopeful that will change.

“I think there will be movement in Missouri, but it will be slow and take a lot of persistence,” he says.

Edwards says he’s discussed the need for programs similar to Flight Academy with superintendents from schools across the region. So far, Nixa is the only school that has acted. Dr. Williams long ago laid the groundwork with district leaders, pressing the importance of the issue.

When Edwards, Nixa school officials and Burrell leaders first gathered to discuss the possibilities, they thought the program could be two or three years away. But a classroom became available, Burrell offered funding, CoxHealth offered in-kind financial support and Flight Academy was born.

“It took the three of us – CoxHealth, Burrell and Nixa Schools – coming together to make this happen,” Edwards says. “I know that now, nine kids are better for it.”

Monday, January 20, 2014

Three nurses honored with Daisy awards

Three Springfield nurses were recently presented with Daisy awards, which recognize outstanding patient care:
Heather King, 300 East 
King was nominated by a patient’s family: “Heather was my mom’s nurse – she showed caring and compassion to her and my family. She made sure we were informed and explained everything to us. Her emotional support and care has been excellent!”

Susan Simpson, 400
A patient nominated Simpson, writing: “I was hurting, sick and very stressed because I didn’t know for sure what was wrong with me. She talked me through it and then got me some medication to help me relax. I think she is an exceptional nurse and great person. I feel privileged to have had her take care of me.”
Jane Van Zandt, 900 East 
A patient wrote: “This nurse knows how to treat a patient. Every time she entered my room, she had a smile. She showed a genuine concern for my pain and nausea. She was my advocate. CoxHealth should be proud to have such an outstanding nurse as she truly provides exemplary care.”

Hand hygiene is best defense against illness

One simple step can keep you healthy this winter – and all year long

This time of year, it can seem like everyone you meet is sneezing, coughing – or worse. If you’d like to avoid becoming sick yourself, CoxHealth says there is one simple step you can take that will protect your health this winter, and all year long.

“Practicing proper hand hygiene is the absolute best way to prevent illness,” said Dr. Emily Mebruer, a family physician with CoxHealth Center Lebanon. “By keeping your hands clean, and avoiding touching your mouth, eyes and nose, you can prevent the spread of infection.”

The Centers for Disease Control recommends washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds – about the same amount of time it takes to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice. When washing, scrub your hands well, and pay attention to all hand surfaces.

Alcohol-based hand sanitizer is an excellent alternative when soap and water aren’t readily available. Choose a product that is at least 60 percent alcohol, use a dime- to quarter-sized amount, and rub it on all surfaces of your hands until they are dry.

“It’s a good idea to carry a small bottle of sanitizer with you,” said Dr. Mebruer.

Some final advice - remember to clean your hands:

• before eating
• before, during and after preparing food
• after using the restroom or changing a diaper
• after coughing and sneezing, or before and after caring for someone who is ill
• after taking out the garbage
• after petting animals.

Follow these simple steps to keep yourself, and your family, healthy in every season.

Image courtesy of The World Health Organization

Program helps teens, parents navigate tough issues

In today’s fast-paced, digital world it is more difficult than ever for young people to consistently make good choices. Movies and television, video games and social media mean teens are exposed to – and often influenced by – questionable behavior more frequently, and from an earlier age, than even their parents may realize.

CoxHealth’s experts recognize these dangers and have developed a program specifically for young people ages 12 and up and their parents or guardians. At the free “Risky Behaviors” workshop, they’ll learn about drug awareness, the dangers of distracted driving, healthy dating and much more.

“Young people’s lives can be incredibly complicated, and the pressures they face can make it hard to make good choices,” said Jason Martin, an injury outreach coordinator with CoxHealth. “With this program, we’re able to have an open, honest discussion about all the stuff they’re dealing with, and give them strategies for handling tough situations in the best way.”

“Risky Behaviors” will be Thursday, Jan. 23, from 6-8 p.m. in Foster Auditorium at Cox South, 3801 S. National. The workshop is free, but registration is required. Call 269-0920 for more information and to sign up.

Studer Group names Cox Monett its Organization of the Month

Leaders and staff at Cox Monett celebrated the recognition at a special event on Thursday, Jan. 9.

Cox Monett Hospital has been selected as the HealthCare Organization of the Month by The Studer Group. Studer Group is an outcomes firm that implements evidence-based leadership systems that help hundreds of organizations attain and sustain outstanding results. Studer Group is devoted to teaching evidence-based tools and processes that organizations can use to create and sustain outcomes in clinical, operational and services excellence.

The Healthcare Organization of the Month Award is a distinguished honor that Studer Group bestows upon hospitals. Each recipient is considered a Fire Starter hospital—which is one that keeps the true essence of the organization alive and flourishing. Fire Starters ignite the flame of service and caring for others that guides and supports the organization and results in measurable positive outcomes.

“Cox Monett Hospital’s journey with Studer Group began in October 2012,” said Genny Maroc, CoxHealth VP of Clinical Services and president of Cox Monett Hospital. “We started the process of building our culture of excellence around five pillars—People, Business, Quality, Service and Community. We met with our team leaders and explained to them Studer Group principles and started the process of hardwiring the tools for excellence,” said Maroc.

The tools for excellence included “hardwiring” best practices such as AIDET (Acknowledge, Introduce, Duration, Explanation and Thank You), hourly nurse rounding, leadership rounding and quarterly employee forums.

“From previous experience, I knew the impact Studer Group and its evidence-based tools could have, and I wanted it for our wonderful staff and physicians so we could create that culture of excellence and accountability to achieve the results that I knew we were capable of,” added Maroc.

Among the achievements that Studer Group noted as reasons for selecting Cox Monett are: inpatient satisfaction rating at the 99th percentile, 30 percent reduction in surgical site infections, 50 percent reduction in inpatient and outpatient falls combined, 12.2 percent improvement in composite Core Measures score, 37 percent improvement in pneumonia score, 227 days since the last outpatient fall and 628 days since the last Catheter Associated Urinary Tract Infection (CAUTI).

“Our employees, physicians and volunteers are a shining example of Studer Group principles—they are highly engaged and 100 percent focused on safe and positive outcomes for our patients. We are honored to be named Healthcare Organization of the Month by Studer Group,” said Maroc.


Friday, January 17, 2014

Cardinals players visit kids in Pediatrics

Cardinals pitcher Shelby Miller and former pitcher Danny Cox visited kids and signed autographs in Pediatrics at Cox South Friday afternoon. They were in town along with other Cardinals players and broadcasters as part of the annual Cardinals Caravan. Our thanks to them for stopping by!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Meet the CoxHealth New Year's babies for 2014

Springfield's first baby of 2014 was born early on Jan. 1 at Cox South: Judah Erikson Hansen, a 10 lb. 2 oz. baby boy was born at 12:11 a.m. Baby Judah is the son of Erik and Amber Hansen of Springfield.
CoxHealth proudly welcomed 2014’s first baby with a congratulations basket (below) featuring a hooded bath towel, a commemorative shadow box for first photos and footprints, a stuffed toy elephant and an assortment of baby necessities. The basket also includes a $50 gift card from the CoxHealth Auxiliary Gift Shop. 

First baby of 2014 at Cox Monett

The first baby of 2014 was born New Year’s night at Cox Monett Hospital. Tate Goetz, a 9 lb. 1 oz. little boy was born at 8:48 p.m. Tate is the son of Ty and Courtney Goetz of Monett. Tate will be welcomed home by two siblings: 6-year-old Carsyn and 3-year-old Tucker. Courtney is an L & D nurse at Cox Monett and Ty is a school teacher with the Monett School District. The family received a congratulations basket from the hospital and prizes from area businesses. 
First baby of 2014 at Cox Branson

The first baby born in Branson in 2014 is Logan Oliver Lee Burall from Reuter, Missouri. 

He was born at CoxHealth Family Beginnings-Branson at 8:18 p.m., Jan. 1, 2014. He weighs 8 lbs, 11 oz and is 20 inches long. His proud parents Jennifer Ellison and Issac Burall are excited to share experiences with him this year and well into the future.

“I look forward to teaching him everything I know,” says Ellison. “And I know one day Issac wants to teach him how to work on cars.”