Friday, October 31, 2014

Health insurance marketplace experts offer enrollment events Saturday, November 15

Open enrollment to purchase marketplace insurance – a component of the Affordable Care Act designed to allow individuals, families and small businesses the opportunity to shop for private health insurance based on quality and price - starts November 15.

Customers who enroll by December 15 will have coverage beginning January 1. After that, customers who enroll by January 15 will get coverage February 1 and those who wait until February 15, when the enrollment period ends, will have coverage begin March 1.

Certified Application Counselor Sloan DeLong explains that if you enrolled last year, counselors can assist with the re-enrollment process. “We want to help ensure that you have the best plan available for you and your family.”

In addition, many who applied for plans during last year’s enrollment did not qualify, but some changes could mean it’s worth another look. “This is a good time to come in and reapply,” says DeLong. “We can see if they qualify now, and if not, we can get an exemption done so they’re not penalized on their taxes next year.”

Certified Application Counselors from CoxHealth and Mercy will be at four events to provide enrollment support. Upcoming enrollment events are:

Saturday, November 15, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the OTC Computer Lab, 1001 E. Chestnut Expressway, Springfield.

Saturday, November 15, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at CoxHealth - Southwest Missouri Hub Office, 3318 S. National Ave., Springfield.

Saturday, November 15, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at OTC Computer Lab, 10698 Hwy 165, Hollister.

Tuesday, November 18, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Best Western Branson Inn, 8514 Missouri 76, Branson West.

Walk-ins are welcome, however it is preferred that people call (417) 269-INFO to register.

In order to enroll or learn what coverage you qualify for, you’ll need:

· social security numbers

· employer and income information for every member of your household who needs coverage (Pay stubs or W-2 forms are preferred, but not required.)

· policy numbers for any current health insurance plans covering members of your household

· knowledge of any job-based health insurance plans you or someone in your household is eligible for.

Certified application counselors are available at both CoxHealth and Mercy to assist people.

Scheduled an appointment with CoxHealth, 3318 S. National (Kelly Plaza), 417-269-2945, or Mercy, 417-820-0486.

Physical therapy is an important part of recovery, quality of life for many patients

Cox Medical Center Branson is celebrating National Physical Therapy Month this October and the vital role physical therapy plays in improving the quality of life for many patients.

Physical therapy can help patients on their road to recovery by restoring and improving motion while helping to eliminate pain.

Physical therapists work with a wide range of patients, from people who have suffered severe illnesses or accidents, had a recent surgery or suffers from developmental delays, endures chronic pain or neurological disorders.

“A therapist is like a personal coach to the patient,” explained Sally Meadows, director of therapy services at Cox Medical Center Branson. “We often motivate patients to exercise and lead them on that road to recovery.”

The patient-physical therapist relationship can make a substantial contribution to a patient’s success.

“Physical therapists have the benefit of spending a great deal of direct contact time with their patients, providing an opportunity for patients to better understand their diagnosis and course of treatment,” Meadows said.

Despite numerous advances in medicine and surgery, nothing can replace the benefits a patient receives through physical therapy, she explained.

“Even with advanced techniques in surgery, it does not change the fact that therapy is often needed after surgery,” Meadows said. “When therapy is started early in the course, patients are getting out of bed earlier after a procedure and therapy is vital in teaching patients the techniques needed along with strengthening and stretching to reach their maximum potential.”

CoxHealth Therapy Services in Branson offers physical therapy, aquatic therapy, vestibular rehabilitation therapy, instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM), traction, Anodyne Therapy, sports medicine and speech therapy. The center can assist patients who range in age from infants to elderly. For more information about CoxHealth Therapy Services, call 335-7274. For information about physical therapy services available in Branson West, call 417-272-0370.

CoxHealth only Springfield hospital named for Great Neurosurgery and Spine Programs by Becker’s Hospital Review

Becker’s Hospital Review has named CoxHealth to its list of “100 Hospitals with Great Neurosurgery and Spine Programs.”

“There is no better place to be a patient or a physician than CoxHealth,” says Chad Morgan, MD, Springfield Neurological and Spine Institute.

CoxHealth is the only Springfield hospital system named to the exclusive list that recognizes hospitals and systems that offer “remarkable spine and neurosurgical care” as based on clinical accolades and recognition from various health care groups and agencies.

“This is a tremendous honor for CoxHealth and a tribute to its physicians, nurses, and staff in the neurosciences,” says Brian Williams, CoxHealth VP, Business Development, Neurosciences. “If you look at this list, we are recognized among many of the most elite health systems in the nation.”

The hospitals and systems on this list have been recognized for excellence in the specialties by U.S. News & World Report, Healthgrades, Blue Cross Blue Shield, CareChex and the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

The neuroscience team at CoxHealth features the largest private practice group of neurosurgeons in Missouri and northern Arkansas. A comprehensive team of neurologists, neurosurgeons, physiatrists, and neuro-radiologists treat a variety of diseases and disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, sleep disorders, brain and spine disorders and stroke.

CoxHealth is ranked as one of the best hospitals by U.S. News & World Report, recognized in three specialty areas including Neurology and Neurosurgery. It is among CareChex’s top 100 hospitals for neurological care and top 50 hospitals for neurosurgery in 2014. It is also a Blue Distinction Center+ for spine care. Additionally, CoxHealth has received Healthgrades’ Excellence in Stroke Care and Spine Surgery Excellence Awards.

Comprehensive Diabetes Workshops begins next week

Cox Medical Center Branson will host two comprehensive diabetes workshops starting next week. The 10-hour courses cover everything from diagnosis to meal planning, according Valerie Newcome, diabetes education coordinator and outpatient dietitian.

The class is recognized by the American Diabetes Association as meeting national standards for diabetes self-management education. Newcome and Joan Heil, a registered nurse and certified diabetes coordinator, teach the course.

A physician’s referral is required so anyone interested in attending should talk to their doctor.
The next morning sessions will be held from 9 a.m.-noon November 4, 11 and 18. The next afternoon sessions will be held from 1–4 p.m. November 6, 13 and 20.
For more information or to register, call 417-335-7453.

CoxHealth Women’s Center classes in November

Fatherhood: Basic Training
November 4, 6:30-8:30 p.m., The Turner Center, 1000 E. Primrose. Expectant fathers learn infant basics and caring for new mom. For dads only. Fee is $20.

What’s Happening to Me? Mother Daughter Dialogue
November 7, 7-9 p.m., Cox Medical Center South, 3801 S. National Ave. A discussion of puberty for moms and their daughters ages 10-13.

November 13, 7-9 p.m., The Turner Center, 1000 E. Primrose. Safely introduce your baby to pets in your home. Taught by a certified dog behavioral therapist and trainer. Fee is $10.

Call The Women’s Center at 417/269-LADY to register.

More classes and events can be found on the online calendar at

New road will increase traffic flow at Cox Branson

A new road and driveway at Cox Medical Center Branson opened to traffic this week, improving safety and increasing traffic flow. The project allows traffic to travel from the campus’ north driveway near the cancer center to the south side of the campus and the hospital parking garage without having to access Branson Landing Boulevard.

“This road project improves traffic flow on our campus and it increases safety by eliminating the need for motorists to get on and off of Branson Landing Boulevard when traveling between our outpatient center and the hospital. While the project was designed to make it easier to navigate our campus, we also made it a priority that the new entry point be more welcoming to patients and visitors, a sentiment we want to convey to our guests throughout their entire visit,” said Cox Medical Center Branson President William Mahoney. “This road is another way we are enhancing the experience for our patients and visitors.”

In the 22 months since Skaggs Regional Medical Center merged with CoxHealth, becoming Cox Medical Center Branson, a total of 14 new physicians have been hired. Among the new physicians who have joined Cox Branson are hospitalists, general surgeons, family medicine physicians, a gastroenterologist, an endocrinologist, a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist and an oncologist.

The most visible change has been the opening of the first phase of a new emergency department and critical care unit in September. Renovations on the existing facility continue and are expected to be completed by the end of the year. When the $30 million project is complete, the emergency department will feature 34 exams, including five rapid treatment rooms, and the critical care unit will offer 20 patient beds.

Only Springfield Nurse to be named March of Dimes Nurse of the Year works at CoxHealth

Rhonda Donnelly, BSN, RNC-OB, CoxHealth, was named a March of Dimes Nurse of the Year during an event in St. Louis, October 25. Donnelly, a nurse manager with Cox Medical Center South’s Family Beginnings, is the only Springfield nurse to be honored this year.

Twenty Missouri and Metro East nurses representing 16 health care institutions in Missouri and six counties in Illinois were named Nurse of the Year.

The nurses were recognized for their extraordinary level of patient care, compassion, professionalism, integrity and leadership in the nursing profession. The winning nurses each received a crystal award and a gift certificate to Scrubs and Beyond.

Recognizing our Nurse of the Year nominees

Leaders Ron Prenger and Karen Kramer were up early Friday morning serving pancakes to nursing staffers who were recently nominated for the March of Dimes Nurse of the Year award.

Twenty-seven CoxHealth nurses were among the nominees and Springfield's only Nurse of the Year award winner is our own Rhonda Donnelly, a nurse manager with Cox Medical Center South’s Family Beginnings.

Nurse of the Year winners are recognized for their extraordinary level of patient care, compassion, professionalism, integrity and leadership in the nursing profession. The winning nurses each received a crystal award and a gift certificate to Scrubs and Beyond.

Congratulations to all of the CoxHealth nominees:

Jo Ellen Branstetter Cox College: Education
Erica Engle 3W: Charge Nurse
Marti Peterson ED: Emergency
Corinne Werner 7W: Pediatrics
Autumn Freiburger Monett: Medical
Cindy Dawson Oncology: Medical
Bob Robertson F2: Behavioral Health
Caitlin Ressel NTICU: Rising Star
Katey Stafford F3: Rising Star
April Henson F1: Behavioral Health
Ruth Velasquesz 9W: Medical
Colleen Keeter Branson: Women’s Health
Billy Hancock CDU: Charge Nurse
Cheryl Webb Monett: Charge Nurse
Cheri Colton F1: Behavioral Health
Kristi Elliot 7E: Medical
Daniel Brumbaugh C2: Behavioral Health
Damion Ellison NAO: Nursing Administration
Brittany Thompson L&D: Women’s Health
Mary Yocum WHC: Case Management/Public Health
Cathy Spargo Nursing Education: Education
Leisa Lower Cox College: Education
Kim Cash Pt Safety: Quality/Risk Management
Jane Thomas Cox College: Education
Ruth Ann Moore Accreditation: Quality/Risk Management
Patsy Crawford F1 (retired): Behavioral Health

Monday, October 13, 2014

1906, the new employee store, opens at Cox South

A grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony was held 11 a.m., Monday, Oct. 13, for CoxHealth’s new employee store, named 1906. The event was held in the new store located in the tunnel at Cox South on the Engineering office and Printing Services hallway.

The name is a nod to CoxHealth’s founding year and the logo features the 30-bed, three-story hospital where our history began.

The store, located in the tunnel at Cox South, will offer more than 100 products to add value and convenience for employees as we carry on CoxHealth’s legacy of service. 1906 will sell household items such as diapers, baby wipes, batteries and sterile supplies as well as foods, including bread, milk and eggs.

Gift cards, ready-to-go meals and CoxHealth logo wear will also be available, as well as concierge services for dry cleaning and auto service. 

The store is now open for business! Store hours will be Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.- 5:30 p.m., and the store’s number will be 269-1906. Later this year, an online store will be launched to serve staff members at CoxHealth’s other campuses.


Friday, October 10, 2014

Nurses recognized for going above and beyond

Three nurses were recently presented the DAISY Award, celebrating them for extraordinary clinical skill and compassion. The latest winners are:

Rhonda Toler, Ambulatory Procedure Center, Cox Monett

Rhonda in the Ambulatory Procedure Center (APC) at Cox Monett was nominated by a fellow nurse for the compassion she showed to a patient who comes to the APC two times per week. When the patient came to the center one week so she could leave town to be with her son in Texas who was dying of cancer, the nurse noticed that Rhonda, after work had come back to be with the patient. “Rhonda knew the patient had no one to stay with her during her infusion and she was grieving terribly so she prayed with, talked with, listened to, and shared tears because she is a compassionate and caring nurse.”

Kathleen Mullen, Nursing Education 

“Kathleen has a passion for nursing” writes a fellow nurse of Kathleen. Kathleen has worked with the staff at The Martin Center to obtain and educate them on the use of specialized lift equipment to accommodate bariatric patients. One day, the Martin Center staff contacted Kathleen regarding a patient that would be coming for treatment. Kathleen organized the transfer of equipment and staff to assist. She personally assisted with the transfer and stayed after work hours to ensure the patient’s safety. “Kathleen treats the patient with courtesy, compassion and respect and encourages and engages staff while promoting safety for both the staff and patient.”

Kathy Jacks, 700 West Peds/PICU

Kathy was nominated by a fellow nurse for going above and beyond to ensure the comfort of patients and families. A fellow employee was battling cancer and had traveled to California to lay her father’s ashes to rest when her illness took a turn for the worse. She became paralyzed and was unsure of how she and her family would get back home. Kathy using her own money and time flew to California and assisted in the safe return of her friend and fellow nurse and her family home. “I know the employee and family will be forever grateful for Kathy’s time and help.”

Thursday, October 9, 2014

CoxHealth’s three birthing hospitals recognized for eliminating early-elective inductions

Cox Monett

CoxHealth is the only hospital system in the state to be recognized at all of its birthing hospitals by the March of Dimes and the Missouri Hospital Association for eliminating elective inductions and Cesarean deliveries performed before 39 completed weeks of pregnancy.

This achievement was recognized through a banner from the March of Dimes and Missouri Hospital Association (MHA). The banners were recently presented to the Labor and Delivery Departments of each hospital.

A total of 68 birthing hospitals in Missouri were eligible to apply for the honor, according to Trina Ragain, state director of program services, advocacy and government affairs, March of Dimes Missouri Chapter. Ragain said 25 hospitals applied and met the criteria and out of those 25, 19 had an early elective delivery rate of 0%. CoxHealth has approximately 4,900 births each year at its birthing facilities in Springfield, Branson and Monett.

The March of Dimes says this will give more babies a healthy start in life. Babies delivered before full-term are at increased risk of serious health problems and death in their first year of life.

“We’re proud of our expert team of physicians and nurses who saw this opportunity to improve care in our community and put in place policies to avoid scheduling elective inductions or caesarean deliveries before 39 weeks of pregnancy, except when medically necessary,” said Beth Rutherford, Administrative Director of Nursing, CoxHealth.

Cox South

Babies born just a few weeks early have higher rates of hospitalization and illness than full-term infants. Recent research by the March of Dimes, the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found that although the overall threat is small, the risk of death more than doubles for infants born at 37 weeks of pregnancy when compared to babies born at 40 weeks, for all races and ethnicities.

“The last weeks of pregnancy are extremely important. Babies aren’t just putting on weight. They are undergoing important development of the brain, lungs and other vital organs,” Ragain said. “The March of Dimes commends CoxHealth for being a champion for babies with their quality improvement effort.”

“We know that the last weeks of pregnancy are vitally important in a baby’s development,” said Tracey Williams, RN, director of OB Women’s Services. “At Cox Medical Center Branson, we eliminated early elective inductions and Cesarean deliveries in the best interest of the babies we deliver and are honored to be recognized by the March of Dimes for this effort.”

Cox Branson

A two-year partnership between the March of Dimes Missouri Chapter and the Missouri Hospital Association (MHA) is achieving its goal of significantly reducing early elective deliveries (EEDs) by the end of 2014. Of the 46 participating birthing hospitals in Missouri, 78 percent report a rate of five percent or less and 61 percent have had no EEDs in the last six months of reported data.

Additionally, of the 46 hospitals, 87 percent now have a “hard stop” policy in place which establishes strict medical guidelines for when a physician may schedule a delivery. Only 35 percent had a hard stop policy in place before the MHA/March of Dimes collaboration began. The policy prohibits doctors from scheduling a delivery – either by induction or cesarean section – before the baby is at a confirmed 39 weeks gestation. The policy applies to non-medically indicated (elective) deliveries only.

“In the best interests of the health of mothers and infants, Missouri's hospitals have been working to reduce early elective deliveries,” said Herb Kuhn, president and CEO of the Missouri Hospital Association. “This is one of many quality improvements they are aggressively pursuing to achieve the Triple Aim of better care, better health and lower costs.”

More information is available at

Friday, October 3, 2014

CNBC at CoxHealth for national 'Where the Jobs Are' report

The national news network CNBC is at CoxHealth today reporting live for a national segment called Where the Jobs Are. The focus is a shortage of medical coders. Click here to see their first live report that aired this morning. They’ll also be live during the CNBC Power Lunch at 12:50 p.m., and CNBC Street Signs at 1:05 p.m., and will run another report during National Business Report on Ozarks Public Television tonight at 5:30 p.m.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Tonight: CoxHealth Center for Prosthetics and Orthotics open house

The new CoxHealth Center for Prosthetics & Orthotics is having its open house tonight, Oct. 2, from 4-8 p.m. All are invited to attend. Join us for interactive tours, including demonstrations and special guest Whitney Harris, product champion for the Ossur Power Knee. The center is located at 2224 West Sunset, just off Kansas Expressway. Food and drink will be provided. Call 269-INFO or 730-2000 for more information.

Prosthetics career is a chance to give back

Orthotic technician Ashleigh Bentz works in the prosthetics shop at CoxHealth’s new Center for Prosthetics and Orthotics in Springfield. Bentz has had a prosthetic foot her whole life and the care and support she received led to her career choice. When she heard CoxHealth was opening the center, she says she knew immediately that she wanted to be on the team. 

Ashleigh Bentz has a unique relationship with the new CoxHealth Center for Prosthetics and Orthotics. “It was what I was born to do, you could say,” she laughs. That’s because Ashleigh, an orthotic technician at the center, became an amputee at the age of two. 

“I was born with three toes and no fibula bone and a degenerative bone disease,” she says. “My mother was given the option to have my foot removed at a young age or to wait and later in life have it amputated above the knee.” 

“It’s one of those things, you play the hand you’re dealt, but you learn to deal with it.” Growing up, Ashleigh says having only one foot was just a normal part of life. She recalls with a laugh how when her sister wanted to play, she’d bring Ashleigh’s foot to her. She has a sense of humor about her prosthetic, too: “Yeah, I had a lot of fun with substitute teachers.” 

Now, she has a new prosthetic, made at the Center for Prosthetics and Orthotics. “People get new ones because of wear and weight change. With mine, it was just time for a new one,” says Ashleigh. “The leg I have is pretty simple. I’m just missing my foot.” 

Ashleigh’s lower leg slides into a socket that connects to a carbon foot, ordered from an outside vendor. As an orthotic tech, she helped make the socket that covers her leg and attaches to her new foot. 

As an orthotic technician and amputee, Ashleigh is excited to relate to her patients. 

“When I was in Shriners Hospital, I saw what it meant to help someone. Through the relationships I built there, I knew this was for me. When I found out that CoxHealth was opening up a new facility, I just knew I needed to be here. CoxHealth has given me the opportunity to do what I wanted to and I couldn’t be more excited to help people the way that I was helped.” 

As a child, Ashleigh benefited from the services of the Shriners Hospital, but once out of its care she soon missed the integrated system where the prosthetist can talk to the physical therapist under the same roof. 

“Coming back to this area there really wasn’t a model like that, so with the new center for prosthetics and orthotics, it’s going to be nice for people to come to one place, an integrated system.” 

When you talk to Fred Lerche, administrative director of outpatient rehab services and prosthetics and orthotics, and Chris Cobb, clinic manager, the excitement about the type of service CoxHealth can provide for amputee patients is contagious. 

“We will have an integrated physical therapy department, allowing therapists and prosthetists to work closely together for maximal patient outcomes and satisfaction,” says Chris. “It’s a true team approach that benefits the patient. For example, adjustments to prosthetic devices can be made in real time during a patient’s therapy visit, eliminating the need to schedule another appointment with the prosthetist.” 

The Center for Prosthetics and Orthotics has on its staff certified prosthetists and orthotists, pedorthists, orthotic fitters, experienced fabrication technicians and physical therapists. 

“It’s fantastic,” says Ashleigh. “It’s one of those things where there’s not a model like it here in town. You’re able to get a new leg, then go right across the building and have physical therapy training and even an adjustment. The prosthetist can talk to the physical therapist, no one is missing a step and your care is in the best hands because they’re communicating in the same facility. You’re good to go.”

Oct 2, 2014 open house
The new CoxHealth Center for Prosthetics & Orthotics is having its open house tonight, Oct. 2, from 4-8 p.m. All are invited to attend. Join us for interactive tours, including demonstrations and special guest Whitney Harris, product champion for the Ossur Power Knee. The center is located at 2224 West Sunset, just off Kansas Expressway. Food and drink will be provided. Call 269-INFO or 730-2000 for more information.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Two Missouri healthcare leaders partner to provide a new Medicare plan in southwest Missouri

Two of Missouri’s most trusted names in health care, CoxHealth and Essence Healthcare, have partnered to bring comprehensive, affordable coverage to more than 87,000 Medicare beneficiaries in Christian, Greene, Stone and Taney counties through a new Medicare plan called CoxHealth MedicarePlus.

CoxHealth MedicarePlus was carefully designed to solve a growing problem for southwest Missouri’s Medicare recipients: health care costs are on the rise. With the rising costs, many people with Medicare are being forced to dip further into their savings and retirement to cover their health care expenses. Some are even forgoing taking medications they need to stay healthy.

CoxHealth MedicarePlus is able to offer better, more affordable health care coverage by taking a new approach, originated by Essence Healthcare that brings doctors and insurance companies together to collaborate on ways to improve the cost and quality of care.

“Medicare Advantage plans are a popular option among Medicare recipients who want a simpler way to get the comprehensive coverage they need and also want to lower their out-of-pocket costs,” says Steve Edwards, CEO and President, CoxHealth. "We are excited to extend our comprehensive and quality health care services into a single Medicare Advantage plan, CoxHealth MedicarePlus."

“Through this collaboration, we are able to offer coverage and protection that traditional Medicare plans cannot,” said Richard Jones, CEO of Essence Healthcare. “We are not only providing comprehensive health coverage, but also important financial protection that shields people from the rising costs of health care. We believe CoxHealth MedicarePlus will bring much needed security and peace of mind to people with Medicare in the Springfield/Branson area.”

By working together to improve cost and quality for Missouri’s Medicare patients, CoxHealth MedicarePlus can specifically address the rising cost of health care by providing benefits traditional Medicare plan cannot. These benefits include:

Medicare parts A, B and D
CoxHealth MedicarePlus helps people with Medicare simplify and save by bundling medical, hospital and prescription drug coverage together in one plan.

Extra benefits
In most Medicare plans, valuable extras like dental and vision coverage are not provided. CoxHealth MedicarePlus offers those extras free of charge, and includes free health club memberships to keep members healthy and active.

$0 Premiums
CoxHealth MedicarePlus is a $0 premium plan that allows members to forgo high monthly payments. Plan members won’t pay any additional premium above and beyond the Part B premium they currently pay.

Maximum out-of-pocket protection
CoxHealth MedicarePlus protects people’s savings and retirement by limiting the total amount patients have to pay out of their own pocket for medical services each year regardless of sickness or injury, important protection not offered by traditional Medicare plans.

Access to Great Doctors and Hospitals
Members of the CoxHealth MedicarePlus plan will be cared for by the high quality doctors, nurses and hospitals of CoxHealth.

“We have seen the benefits of similar plans really impact the quality of life for Medicare patients in the St. Louis area,” said Jones. “We’re thrilled to work with CoxHealth to bring that same patient-centric model to southwest Missouri.”

For more information on CoxHealth MedicarePlus visit