Thursday, December 31, 2015

A dietitian speaks out: Simple ways to kick start New Year’s food-related resolutions

Long-lasting change doesn’t happen overnight, but Jan. 1 can launch lifestyles that will last a lifetime. “Instead of jumping on the latest and greatest fad diet, try setting anywhere from one to three realistic goals for yourself this year,” says Stephanie Hart, a dietitian with CoxHealth. “Once those goals become habits, set new goals to build your healthier lifestyle and achieve a healthy weight you can maintain.”


Here are eight of Hart’s top tips:

  1. Avoid or limit drinks like soda, sweet tea, juice, and sports drinks. Drinking just 12 ounces of a sugary drink can cause a weight gain of 15 pounds in a year. Instead, try unsweet tea, fresh-fruit infused water, or even carbonated water.
  2. Don’t skip meals. Aim for at least three meals each day and have a balanced snack planned ahead of time for when you’re hungry.
  3. Choose more fresh, whole ingredients. A food that does not require an ingredient list – such as fresh produce – is as “whole” as you can get. Try shopping at a local farmer’s market to get foods that are at their peak freshness and highest quality. For dishes with ingredients, try choosing ones with shorter ingredient lists. If you can’t pronounce the ingredient, or your great-grandma wouldn’t recognize the food, it probably shouldn’t become a staple in your house.
  4. Try the 80-20 rule. 80 percent of the time, try to make higher quality, less processed food choices – and then, more processed foods and sweets can still sneak in for the other 20 percent. This will help keep you from feeling deprived and as if you are on a diet.
  5. Avoid dieting. Diets which deprive fail in 95 to 98 percent of cases because bodies, brain, and day-to-day environment all fight against them. Research shows that depriving yourself of a food actually increases hunger and cravings for the particular food. Instead, give in once in a while, but watch your portion – and enjoy it!
  6. Practice mindful eating. This means being in the moment when you eat, avoiding distractions, eating slower, and enjoying every bite. The slower you eat, the sooner your brain will register that you are full. You will also enjoy your food more. The first four bites of food are the most pleasurable: Beyond that, we’re just eating to be eating, or eating mindlessly.
  7. Aim for 30 minutes of activity per day. This doesn’t have to be done consecutively: It can even be 10 minutes three times a day. A lot of people have great success with aids that track their movement – such as pedometers – and help them set new step goals for themselves. And remember that seemingly little things, like parking farther from the building or taking the stairs, can make a big difference!
  8. Reward with life, not food. When you meet milestones, don’t turn to food to celebrate. That helps stop the mental connection between reward and the addictive, emotional aspects of eating.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Leaving a legacy to begin a new chapter

Some might say that Norma Curry is a CoxHealth institution. As an Administrative Director of Nursing, Curry is one of the health care system’s top professionals – but back in 1968, she was simply a student entering the Burge School of Nursing (now Cox College). She didn’t know that 47 years later, she’d have risen through the ranks, spending her entire career in one place.
But on Dec. 24, nearly five decades after it began, Curry is closing the CoxHealth chapter of her life. She’s retiring, taking a legacy of memories and leaving huge shoes to fill.   

Choosing her career

Curry knew from an early age that nursing was what she wanted to do. “It’s just something that was in my heart,” says Curry. “From the time I was ever asked, (nursing was) all I ever thought of.”

Norma Curry in a yearbook photo from 1971.
In high school, she took classes geared toward that career. And after graduation, the only school she applied to was Burge School of Nursing. “I entered the school in ‘68, which was over on the North campus, and literally never left,” says Curry. She graduated in 1971, and began working as a staff nurse in the Cardiac Care Unit (CCU) all while working on her BSN, which she obtained in 1972.

That role in the CCU, and later in the Emergency Department, also gave Curry her first management experience and led to her promotion to evening supervisor. Things just snowballed from there. “Then from evening supervisor to dayshift assistant director to director to administrative director,” says Curry of her career progression.

Looking back   

That experience has showed Curry more than just how to be a good manager: It’s given her a first-hand look at how health care has changed over the years. She recalls things, years ago, that were different – such as admitting patients to the hospital to run tests.  “That was the common, totally acceptable thing to do,” she says. “So you came in for your checkup and your battery of tests and you might be in the hospital two or three days.”

She recalls the construction of Cox Medical Center South in the early 1980s, which was initially designed to be a niche women and children’s hospital. But in the 2.5 years it took to build the hospital, Springfield had changed enough to warrant more expansive services on the south side of town. They decided to add services such as adult medical-surgical and critical care units and “see if the beds would fill,” says Curry. They did. “Then we just opened unit after unit after unit and saw the need grow, and never looked back again.”

But despite the innovation that came with a new hospital, Curry recalls some things that took a little longer to modernize. One example is the immortalized all-white nurses’ uniforms, which was never complete without a white cap. “I still have two places on my head where the bobby pins went that don’t have as much hair,” says Curry. “It was heavy, it was awkward. And it got knocked around a lot when you were actually giving patients care.”

Despite its tieback to nursing’s proud history, that’s one thing that Curry wasn’t sorry to see go by the wayside. “You finally had to break that mold and realize that you’re a professional, regardless of what you wear – and whether or not you have that precious, blessed cap on your head,” says Curry.

Personal journey

As the days fade away, Curry knows what she’ll miss the most about CoxHealth. “The stress? No. The long hours? No. Being on call? But the people. The relationships,” she says.

After all, those relationships have had nearly five decades to grow and develop – offering a network of support, such as when tragedy struck through the death of her 15-year-old daughter. “I just will never forget how kind and caring people were during a time in my life when I didn’t know how I could put one foot in front of the other,” Norma says.
She also recalls the new graduates she hired, and the joy that comes from watching them rise through the ranks. “And now one is going to walk into this office and sit in that chair,” says Curry, pointing to the seat behind her desk. “Those are friendships and relationships that couldn’t have been forged any other way than to just be here and be a part of this.”

Dietitian offers top 10 tips to avoid holiday weight gain

From fudge to frosted cookies, it seems even the most disciplined weight watchers can struggle with temptation during the holiday season. Lisa Frazier, clinical dietitian at Cox Medical Center Branson, is sharing her top 10 tips to help you avoid packing on any extra pounds this season.

“The key is planning ahead and then sticking with that plan,” Frazier said. “If you are going to a party, plan ahead and have a healthy snack beforehand so you are not tempted to overindulge. If your week nights are jam-packed with activities, plan ahead and have a quick, healthy meal ready to put together at home. With a little forethought, you can make it through the holidays without putting on an extra pound.”

Plan ahead: Think about your schedule. If you have evenings when you will be short on time, plan ahead and have all of the ingredients on hand for a quick, healthy meal.

Maintain: Do not put undue pressure on yourself by trying to lose weight. Make a goal of maintaining and not gaining this holiday season.

Make time for exercise: This time of year, schedules are busy, it gets dark early and it is often cold out. While an evening walk might not be ideal, look for creative ways to work exercise into each day such as walking on your lunch break or make a lap around the mall before you start shopping.

Don’t get too hungry: Getting too hungry can set you up for bad decisions. Curb those hunger pangs by keeping healthy snacks on hand. Fruit, nuts, fresh vegetables or cheese sticks are great for taking the edge of off hunger.

Follow the 15 minute rule: While you may be hungry when you sit down for a meal, don’t assume you will need a second helping to feel satisfied. Start by eating a small plate of food slowly and take time to enjoy what you are eating. Wait 15 minutes before going back for more and only go back for that second helping if you are still hungry.

Limit your alcohol: A glass of wine can have the same number of calories as four cookies and a pint of lager often has the same number of calories as a slice of pizza.

Take the focus of off food: From cookie exchanges to candy-making parties, often our holiday gatherings revolve around food. Instead of putting the focus on food, consider making a craft together or spending that time volunteering instead.

Heading to a potluck? Take a healthy dish: We tend to take our most indulgent, delicious dishes to share with our family and friends. Don’t forget that healthy dishes can also be delicious and you might just start a healthy trend.

Don’t just jump in line: If you find yourself at a buffet line, take some time to see what your options are before jumping in line. Plan what you want to eat and only put those items on your plate.

Use the buddy system: Don’t be tempted to overeat by large, restaurant-sized portions. Split an entrĂ©e or dessert with a friend. This saves calories and money.

For great, healthy recipes, visit

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

CoxHealth creates Young Professionals Council to better connect to the community

In an effort to better align CoxHealth’s mission, vision and values to the needs of the community, the health care system has created the Young Professionals Council. This hand-picked group of civically engaged professionals, all between ages 21 to 39, will serve as a sounding board for the CoxHealth Leadership Team and Board of Directors.  
“As a locally governed health care system, it is important that we continue to expand our perspective to better understand our community's needs,” says Steve Edwards, CoxHealth president and CEO. “This council will be in a position to provide insight and influence to our leadership and Board of Directors, and we’re honored they agreed to serve.”
The charter council includes the following members:  
Logan Aguirre (417 Magazine)
Mike Brothers (Drury University)
Carrie Brown (Elliott, Robinson & Company, LLP)
Mitchell Cox (CoxHealth)
Teresa Coyan (CoxHealth)
Brad Erwin (Paragon Architects)
Scott Fitzpatrick (MariCorp U.S, State Representative, District 158)
Emily Johnson (Marlin Network)
Marshall Kinne (Med-Pay, Inc)
Marc Mayer (Great Southern Bank)
Megan Morris (Bass Pro Shops)
Krystal Russell (Payroll Vault)
Jeff Seifried (Branson Area Chamber of Commerce)
Bryan Simpson (5 Pound Apparel)
Stephanie Summers (Ozarks Technical Community College)
Besides providing collective feedback to CoxHealth leadership, the group will also directly influence CoxHealth’s Board of Directors: The council’s chairperson will serve as an ex-officio board member with vote.

“As our community grows, it’s important that we align and expand to serve it effectively and efficiently,” says Joe Turner, chairman of CoxHealth’s Board of Directors. “Having a member on our Board of Directors will ensure that the board’s direction reflects those needs.”
The council plans to meet quarterly, but may gather as often as six times per year. Members are appointed by the council’s chair, with advice and counsel from CoxHealth’s leadership, and will serve two-year terms.

Photo caption: Members of the CoxHealth Young Professionals Council gathered for the group’s orientation on Nov. 30. Pictured from left to right (front row) are Brad Erwin, Logan Aguirre, Stephanie Sumners, Krystal Russell, Megan Morris, Teresa Coyan; (back row) Mike Brothers, Marshall Kinne, Emily Johnson, Marc Mayer, Carrie Brown, Bryan Simpson and Mitchell Cox. Not pictured are Scott Fitzpatrick and Jeff Seifried.

Cancer patients are knot forgotten

Battling cancer really is the fight of one’s life, and the courage necessary for such a struggle deserves recognition. This year, that strength can be honored and memorialized through the CoxHealth Foundation’s Knot Forgotten Christmas trees. It’s the decorations that make these trees special: Each one is adorned with red, gold and silver “knots”  (bows) in honor or memory of cancer patients.

Every bow will have a card attached with the donor’s name, as well as the name of each honoree. If desired, one can also add a special message with words of encouragement. Trees are displayed at Cox Medical Center South in the north lobby and West Pavilion and in Hulston Cancer Center.

Bows are $5, $7 and $10 and can be purchased at Allenbrand Resource Center inside Hulston Cancer Center, in the north lobby and in the West Pavilion lobby of Cox Medical Center South or online at Proceeds benefit the Glauser Oncology Fund’s Patient Advocacy Program, which helps patients with free medications, travel assistance, nutritional supplements and supportive medical care in the hospital and at home.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

CoxHealth Auxiliary named top in Missouri for volunteer services

After 154,517 hours of service, the Missouri Hospital Association has named CoxHealth’s Auxiliary the state’s top auxiliary in the large hospital category. The award was presented at a luncheon during the Missouri Hospital Association’s 93nd Annual Convention & Trade Show in Osage Beach, Mo. on Nov. 5. It’s the second year in a row that CoxHealth’s Auxiliary has been chosen for the award – and 11th time overall.  

 “CoxHealth’s Auxiliary provides an incredibly valuable resource to the health care system and our community as a whole,” says Barbara Frogue, CoxHealth’s director of volunteer services. “Our volunteers’ hours of service really can be life-changing as they donate time and raise money for new resources and development right here in southwest Missouri.”

Besides number of hours, the hospital system’s 1,224 auxilians were recognized for helping donate more than $160,000 to support the hospital and community, including $70,000 for the new patient tower that will house the Dee Ann White Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Post-Partum Floor and Neuroscience Unit. The auxiliary also contributed $45,960 in scholarships for students pursuing associates and bachelor’s degrees in nursing, $1,500 to support the Medical Explorer Program and six scholarships of $1,500 to Medical Explorer Program participants.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

CoxHealth receives Donate Life Award for its commitment to organ and tissue donation

In recognition of its commitment to organ and tissue donation, CoxHealth has been recognized by the Missouri Hospital Association with a Donate Life Award. The award, which honors the health care system’s exceptional leadership in raising awareness of organ and tissue donation and transplantation, was presented on Thursday, Nov. 5, during an awards luncheon at the Missouri Hospital Association’s 93nd Annual Convention & Trade Show in Osage Beach, Mo. CoxHealth was only one of two hospitals in Missouri to receive such an award.

“Organ and tissue donation are a wonderful opportunity and a crucial resource for patients,” says Jami Blackwell, CoxHealth’s trauma program manager. “We at CoxHealth do all we can to help better people’s lives through the second chance these donations can bring.”

CoxHealth continues a longstanding commitment to organ and tissue donation. In 2014, the hospital had an 86 percent conversion rate of potential vital organ donors and a 100 percent referral and approach rate of all potential vital organ donors. Between 2012 and 2014, CoxHealth increased its conversion rate by 15 percent and doubled the number of organs transplanted.

Awareness is essential to organ and tissue donation. CoxHealth holds numerous events annually to inform staff and the public about the importance of donation and transplantation. The system’s Donation Council helps engage and educate staff and ensure program compliance. Moreover, the hospital has worked to build physician champions, placing the donation efforts under the umbrella of the director of trauma as the lead physician champion. Beginning in 2012, CoxHealth established a Donor Champ program for front-line staff volunteers to receive additional training on the donation process so that they may provide donation resources to their units.

For more information about organ donation, log on to

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Partners Spirit honoree: Misty Denevan

PARTNERS Spirit recognizes an employee, volunteer, physician or Cox College nursing student who has made a significant contribution to the benefit of CoxHealth, an individual or the community. PARTNERS behaviors generally demonstrate everyday excellence or exceed the employee's normal job duties.

Misty Denevan, Branson ED
From the nomination: “Misty was on her way to the airport to travel to a conference when she saw a huge car crash. No firefighters, EMS, or police had arrived on the scene yet. There were bystanders there trying to break into a car that was on fire.

She responded to the scene and was able to get into one of the vehicles where she found a very elderly gentleman with obvious injuries: fractures, blood on his swollen face and legs pinned. He was holding his side and she was concerned about his spleen, ribs, and lungs.

She was able to reassure him and found out his name. She secured what she could, and held c-spine until EMS arrived. He looked at her and asked if he was going to die. She assured him that he was going to be taken care of by some amazing staff.”

Kohl’s Department Stores donate more than $35,000 to CoxHealth to support heart health education for local children

In an effort to improve the lives of area kids, Kohl’s Department Stores recently donated $35,074 to CoxHealth for its Kohl’s CARDIAC (Coronary Artery Risk Detection in Area Children) Kids program. The program, implemented four years ago, helps tackle the issue of childhood obesity through health screenings and education.

“CoxHealth’s Kohl’s CARDIAC Kids has been working to fight childhood obesity in the Ozarks by spreading the message of a healthy lifestyle through school-based and community events,” explains Lauren Holland, CARDIAC Kids coordinator. “We’re working closely with children and their families to help them understand the connections between food, activity and overall health.” 

The donation was celebrated with a kick-off event on Monday, Nov. 2 at Nixa Espy Elementary School. The event consisted of an assembly where kids learned about heart health, fitness activities and how much sugar is in certain food products.

But CARDIAC Kids offers much more: In additional to assemblies in local schools, the organization also reconnects with families through CARDIAC Kids Family Fun Nights for information on things like exercise and kid-friendly healthy recipes.

Health screenings are also a part of the program, which have determined that 38 percent of local kids are at risk for being overweight or obese, 40 percent have elevated blood pressure and 20 percent have abnormal cholesterol.

There is good news, however: Sixty-nine percent of students with abnormal cholesterol during the 2013-14 school year improved their cholesterol during the 2014-15 school year. “We’re working with these families to help them change their child’s health and future,” says Holland.

The program is made possible by yearly grants from Kohl’s Cares. Since 2011, Kohl’s has donated more than $169,000 to CoxHealth to support the CARDIAC Kids program.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Jared Neuroscience Center: Many teams, one focus

While new buildings like the West Tower at Cox South are obvious signs of progress, it’s the evolving collaboration underway inside that is revolutionizing the care we deliver.

When the Jared Neuroscience Center opened this summer, it ushered in a new era of unified neuroscience care.

The center and the neuroscience service line bring together two large, award-winning services: Ferrell-Duncan Clinic Neurology and Springfield Neurological and Spine Institute. These two groups have joined with Neuroradiology, rehab specialists and psychology services to create our region’s only fully integrated neuroscience service line.

Now, the top three floors of the new West Tower offer a place where providers work side by side and patients have the best access to experts in a variety of fields.

“Patients come to us for interdisciplinary care,” says Dr. George Wong, neurologist and co-director of the Jared Neuroscience Center. “By coming together, we will allow patients the ease of moving from one specialty to another as we consult each other. We’ve all been trained uniquely, but what brings us together is the patient. That’s our focus: how our talents and disciplines come together for comprehensive patient care.”

The neuroscience service line sees a wide variety of patients, many of whom have conditions that require care from neurology, neurosurgery and additional disciplines. Having those services under one roof is a powerful change.

In the past, outpatient clinics were off-site, which made it challenging for physicians and nurses to travel back and forth and check on patients. Now, you can ask any provider and they’re quick to point out the advantages of working close to their partners and their patients.

“From the surgeon’s perspective, your life is in the hospital,” says Dr. Chad Morgan, neurosurgeon and co-director of the center. Clinic work is a big part of the job, but there are huge advantages to having an outpatient clinic in the hospital facility.

Dr. Morgan recalls a patient who was being treated for a brain tumor who came into the clinic with an issue. He was in the operating room all day, but since the clinic is now located in the hospital, he could work her in.

“I was able to come up between cases and see her in the clinic. We admitted her to the inpatient floor, just one flight up, and we operated the next day,” Dr. Morgan says. “Even the first day, I was in the OR, but my nurse could go up and check on her and make sure she was feeling better.”

Dr. Wong says the ability to check on patients by simply taking an elevator ride is a welcome change from the years of traveling from a clinic to the main hospital campus. But that convenience pales in comparison to the easy access to other providers.  

“The ability to walk down the hall, turn a corner and talk to someone who can aid you is so valuable,” he says. “That proximity is important – it’s so much better than dealing with the barrier of a phone call, voice mail, or messages.”

The Jared Neuroscience Center’s design also encourages interdisciplinary care, with specialized collaboration rooms where physicians and providers can gather to consult, discuss patient cases and examine X-rays.

“Our care is so much less fragmented than when there was care in the hospital and care in an ambulatory center,” says Max Buetow, the center’s administrative director. “Now, it’s a more seamless situation.”

In addition to centralizing neurology and neurosurgery, the center allows easy access to areas like neuropsychology and physiatry, as well as specialized clinics for Parkinson’s and ALS. Buetow says subspecialties, such as neuro-oncology, are also in the works through partnerships with the University of Missouri School of Medicine.

A benefit to inpatients
The proximity of the specialty clinics on the seventh and ninth floors is also improving the care delivered on the inpatient eighth floor. When the team on the neurosciences inpatient floor needs a second opinion, it makes a real difference having providers only one floor away.

“It’s very nice to be able to ask a nurse, ‘Can you come and look at this with me?’” says Shannon Rantz, nurse manager on the eighth floor. “It’s a great convenience for patients and it makes us more flexible.”

Rantz says sometimes patients are eligible for an early dismissal when they’re doing well and the discharge process goes much faster in the centralized neuroscience center. A provider can write prescriptions and sign orders quickly, whereas in the past, staff members on the floor had to wait for the next time the provider was rounding in the unit.

“Now, with their offices nearby, it’s easy to have last-minute details taken care of,” Rantz says. “Doctors can handle an issue for us and be back in the clinic without skipping a beat.

“When families are visiting their loved ones, physicians can take a break in the clinic and drop in to see them,” she says. “The families feel like the physicians are more readily available and there’s better communication. It helps with a lot of family questions.”

Leaders say patients are appreciating the changes. The centralized location is convenient, and the teamwork it fosters pays off in improved communication and well-coordinated care.

“This is a nice building and facility, but our staff has done such a nice job communicating directly with our patients,” Buetow says. “And we have the best group of volunteers here in the West Tower. Our patients have access to those people and it makes a great difference.”

Flying the ‘Jared flag’
As the Jared Neuroscience Center transforms care, it’s also changing the way the community sees CoxHealth.

“Our service line is made up of the same award-winning teams, but the commonality of branding is a big deal,” Buetow says. Soon after the center opened, Buetow met a woman in the lobby who remarked that she didn’t realize we had such comprehensive neuroscience care. “She told me, ‘I’ve always had my care at Washington University, but when I found out that CoxHealth had this new center, I moved all my care to CoxHealth.’”

The center has done wonders to unify and energize the service line teams, Buetow says.

“People are so proud to walk their family members through this center,” he says. “We have several entities working together here, but being on the Cox South campus reinforces that we’re a part of CoxHealth. And we’re proud to fly the Jared flag – the name makes us feel like part of something bigger and broader in the Springfield community.”  

Dr. Morgan agrees. “People feel more connected. CoxHealth is a big part of the community and this center helps us live up to our reputation. We had the specialists and talent, but it’s a lot easier when you have the bricks and mortar that reflect that.

“This concept has been in the making for a decade and we’ve brought all the parties together under one name, one roof, with one mission statement. We’re excited it’s here and the community will see a big change in the way we deliver neuroscience care.”


New inpatient space enhances teamwork

Since the center opened, the eighth floor has been busy with a full load of patients and staff members have been adjusting to the new, larger space.

“We changed the way we assigned patients, we changed the way we give medications and we changed the way we get their supplies out to patients,” says nurse manager Shannon Rantz.

New scanners are in place for scanning medications and supplies are now located in Omnicell cabinets, which makes record keeping and charging for supplies more efficient.

At the front desk, a large digital screen features patient IDs and room numbers, so arriving providers, transporters and staff can quickly locate their patient.

Rantz says the decentralized nursing pods allow staff members to spend more time in patient rooms. The larger space has also fostered teamwork as nursing and nursing assistant staff members get to know one another and work closely together.

And patients are loving the space.

“When you round, you see how much patients love the rooms, they love the ability to look out the windows. That’s a major incentive to getting them up and moving – they want to get up and see everything out the window,” Rantz says.

Looking for a fight: Meet boxer Mary Nguyen

When Mary Nguyen stepped into the boxing ring at the 2015 Pathway to Glory Olympic Qualifier in Baltimore, Md., it was a chance for a lot of hard work and preparation to pay off. Yet while winning was a goal, simply having the opportunity to compete made the event a success to her. “Not a lot of people have this chance,” says Mary, who works as a physical therapist in Acute Care Therapy at Cox South.

So even though she wasn’t officially declared victorious in her preliminary bout on Sept. 8, she doesn’t have any regrets. “It was a great experience,” says Mary of the fight, in which she boxed the woman currently ranked third in the world in their weight category. “I felt like I was really able to fight my fight.”

Mary’s journey as a flyweight boxer began three years ago. However, it wasn’t this Republic native’s first attempt at the sport. “I did walk into a boxing gym when I was 17, broke my arm the next week and never walked back,” says Mary.

A decade later, she got into the ring and decided to stay. At first, it was because it offered her a chance to stay in shape and keep competitive. But now she’s reaped other benefits that she wasn’t initially aware of. “It helps me with my social anxiety a little bit,” says Mary. “Because in boxing, you’re up on a stage and it’s just you.”

While it’s true that matches require solo work, that’s not what it’s like during training. “The way we do it at our gym, it’s more like a family and it is like a team,” says Mary, who now trains at Smitty’s Mid-West Boxing Gym in Springfield. “We train together, we work together. We push each other. Yes, I’m performing by myself, but they’re always there with me.”

At 5’3” and less than 115 pounds, Mary says she regularly surprises people when she mentions she boxes. “When people think of boxers, they think of this big, burly man. They don’t realize that there are smaller weight classes and a lot of people don’t even realize that females do box.”

Those reactions reflect a bigger issue. While women definitely box, it’s true that there isn’t an abundance of them in the sport – leaving Mary few people to practice with. “It is frustrating,” says Mary. “I feel like I spend a lot of my time training and not a lot of time competing.”

That lack of competition is a new thing for Mary. In high school, she was a member of the school’s basketball, softball and track teams. Later, as a student athlete at Southwest Baptist University, she played center field on the U.S. Athletes International team. She’s learned over the years that all sports require dedication and determination – but she’s also found that when it comes to difficulty, boxing wins hands down.

“It’s so much different than any other sport out there,” she says. “People say, ‘Oh, two-minute rounds. That’s no big deal.’ A two-minute round seems like a lifetime.”

While getting through the physical – and mental – aspects of the sport can be challenging, Mary says she has great inspiration. “My big motivator is honestly my patients. There are so many people out there who wish they could do physically what I’m getting the chance to do.”

A message from Mary
“Thank you to all my friends, family, co-workers and CoxHealth for being in my corner as I took my shot at the Olympic qualifier.

I dropped the decision to a humble and very worthy opponent. Although I did not come out with the win, the experience has been great.”

Taking open enrollment on the road

As the open enrollment season for health care coverage kicks off this fall, CoxHealth has a new way to help the uninsured across our region get signed up: The CoxHealth enrollment bus.

The repurposed CoxHealth shuttle will be hitting the road this month to raise awareness about health insurance. As open enrollment begins in November, certified application counselors will travel to health fairs and community events throughout a 16-county area. The bus is the first of its kind in Missouri.

“Health insurance is a complex issue. It’s important to have it and it’s important to maintain it,” says Diane Rozier, certified application counselor manager at the CoxHealth Network. “You have to go where people are and craft a message for them. The bus will help us get to the people who need us.”

The bus is key to helping people understand their options: A counselor can explain the available plans and walk anyone through the enrollment process.

“If you don’t have insurance or if you know someone who doesn’t, you need to know that you can talk to a counselor,” Rozier says. 

Meet our latest Daisy award-winning nurses

Three nurses at CoxHealth were recently presented the DAISY Award in Springfield, celebrating them for extraordinary clinical skill and compassion.

Cynthia Myler, 700 East
Cynthia was nominated by fellow nurse Ashley Lacea. Ashley wrote: “Cynthia is one of the hardest working, caring and dedicated individuals I have ever met. She goes above and beyond and gives 110 percent in everything she does.”

Recently a patient had been involved in a shooting and was concerned about her safety and the safety of her family. This patient received discharge orders well before she was ready. Cynthia worked with Case Management to postpone the discharge. She also worked with social workers and the facility that the patient was to discharge to, to get the therapies at that facility to come to the hospital to work with the patient.

This was very important to Cynthia due to the sensitivity of the situation. This patient has since been discharged and is doing well, thanks in part to the care Cynthia provided.

Sheila Lander, Same Day Surgery
Sheila was nominated by fellow nurse Lynn Rossner, who wrote: “Sheila always displays a positive, caring attitude toward others. Her patients have her undivided attention and leave feeling well cared for with the knowledge to continue that care at home.”

One example of her devotion was with a homeless patient she cared for. After many phone calls to arrange transportation and a place for him to stay, she noticed he left his pain prescription lying on the bedside table.

After many unsuccessful calls to get the medication delivered to him that day, Sheila drove across town to deliver the needed medication after working a busy 12-hour shift.

“Sheila demonstrates this kindness toward all she comes in contact with. She is a proud employee of 41 years and portrays the mission, vision and values of CoxHealth.”

Melissa McCarty-Clark, 500 West
Melissa was nominated by the family of a patient who was facing complications from cancer. The family wrote: “Melissa is one of those people you automatically like. She was so attentive and caring. Every time she came on, she greeted him with a ‘Hello, handsome.’ My uncle, who was meticulous about his looks, had lost his hair from chemo and this meant a lot to him.

“One night when he was in pain, she came in to give him his meds while talking softly to him and comforting him. We realized she was crying. It is so nice to see a nurse with heart. She is truly amazing. You’ve got a very special nurse there!”

Fourth annual Pack the Pantries Healthy Food Drive begins Nov. 9

Improving the health of the community is our mission at CoxHealth.

Our healthy food drive meets a critical need in our communities for healthy food available for people who rely on food pantries, especially those on special diets.

Our Pack the Pantries Healthy Food Drive runs Nov. 9-23 in Springfield, Branson and Monett.

Check out this list of healthy food items and the collection locations below.

Springfield (benefiting Crosslines of Springfield)

Cox South: Near North Entrance, West Pavilion Entrance and West Tower Entrance

Meyer Fitness Center: In the lobby near the front doors

Cox North: Inside the Outpatient Entrance off Robberson; and near FMCC entrance off Jefferson

Medical South Building: Wound Care Clinic waiting room, first floor

Ferrell-Duncan Clinic (main): Employee entrance next to the time clock

Home Support/HPS: Lobby

Monett (benefiting Crosslines of Monett)

Cox Monett: Near the hospital’s first floor Kronos time clock

Branson (benefiting Christian Action Ministries)

Cox Branson: In cafeteria and media relations office in Suite 404, across from Administration in Plaza One.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Two CoxHealth nurses chosen as Nurse of the Year award recipients by March of Dimes

Two nurses from CoxHealth were honored as Nurse of the Year award recipients at the 4th Annual March of Dimes Nurse of the Year Awards Gala earlier this month in St. Louis.

Glenda Miller, Center for Health Improvement, won Nurse of the Year in the Advanced Practice category. Terry Westrip, Cox South Surgical Services, won in the Surgical Services category. The nurses were recognized for their extraordinary level of patient care, compassion, professionalism, integrity and leadership in the nursing profession. The March of Dimes Missouri Chapter received more than 500 nominations for Nurse of the Year.

Daniel Brumbaugh, Senior Adult Psych, was recognized as a Nurse of the Year finalist in the Behavioral Health category.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Springfield’s first High Risk Breast Clinic is now open at CoxHealth

While breast cancer is a risk for all women, part of the population is considered to be at greater risk. This, however, is the beginning of a new chapter for those women: CoxHealth’s High Risk Breast Clinic is now open.

“We are thrilled to be able to offer this resource to local women,” says Dr. Christian Brodeur, a CoxHealth radiologist. “Awareness and early detection are crucial when it comes to fighting breast cancer, and the High Risk Breast Clinic will be a resource for those things.”

The clinic, the first in the Springfield area, will exclusively treat women with an increased lifetime risk of developing breast cancer. It will also work with women who have a personal history of breast cancer and would benefit from specialty care. Additionally, the clinic will provide appropriate surveillance, determine need for chemo-preventive treatment and offer education on lifestyle modification strategies to reduce a patient’s risk of developing breast cancer.

The High Risk Breast Clinic will be staffed by Dr. John “Bucky” Buckner, a longtime breast cancer surgeon with nearly 25 years of experience, and Jessica Conn, PA-C. Together this healthcare team will help women reduce their risk for breast cancer, as well as provide optimal measures for early diagnosis.

The clinic is open to referrals from gynecologists, and health and primary care providers. Self-referral is also available for any patient with a personal concern about breast cancer risk. For more information about the clinic, the referral process or becoming a patient, call 417-875-3761.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Nurse helps patients navigate their cancer journey

Marcy Keltner, RN, is a patient navigator at CoxHealth Cancer Center Branson. 

A cancer diagnosis can be some of the toughest news a person will ever receive. After the initial shock begins to wear off, oftentimes many questions follow: Will the treatment have adverse effects? How will I afford the care I need? If I can’t work fulltime, how will I pay my bills? 

At CoxHealth Cancer Center Branson, Patient Navigator Marcy Keltner’s job is to help answer the questions and solve the problems many patients and their family members will face after a cancer diagnosis.

“My job is whatever the patient needs,” said Keltner, RN, who has been an oncology nurse for 38 years. “When someone hears the words ‘you have cancer,’ they often do not hear much beyond that moment. They are in shock and in a bit of a mental fog during the early part of their cancer journey. My job is to come alongside our patients and their family members and help them navigate through their journey. There are so many tasks that are completely normal in our everyday lives when we are healthy that suddenly become overwhelming when diagnosed with cancer.”

Much of Keltner’s job consists of helping patients connect dots, or connecting dots for them, whether it is finding financial assistance, arranging transportation to and from appointments, or simply answering questions about their treatment plan.

“I’m also available to help patients and family members fill out paperwork because when someone is battling cancer, paperwork is the last thing they want or need to be focusing their time and energy on,” she said. “I want to take as much stress off of their plate as I can by always being that resource. I’m here to do as much or as little as each patient needs.”

For patients diagnosed with breast cancer, Keltner is able to tell them about Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks (BCFO) and then she helps them connect to the local organization. BCFO, which is dedicated to individuals and families impacted by breast cancer, provides financial assistance for a wide range of needs that a breast cancer patient may face, ranging from rent, utility and car payments to providing funds for clothing and birthday gifts for children affected by breast cancer.

Keltner’s focus is on more than finding funds.

“Much of what I do is simply listening to patients and their families and talking with them about what they can expect during each stage of their journey,” she said.

Keltner has been in nursing for more than 40 years, and when she started, she never planned to go into oncology nursing.

“When I first graduated from nursing school, I floated for a while, working wherever I was needed,” she explained. “I always thought I’d end up in orthopedics.”

After what Keltner described as a long, harsh stint in a cancer unit, she was floated to other areas again. She soon found herself wanting to return to the cancer ward.

“It had really grown on me,” she said, recalling back to her early days of nursing. “In oncology, we see the same people over and over again and we are able to build relationships. I made my decision to go into oncology nursing around the same time it was becoming more acceptable for nurses to show their human side and emotions. That change allowed me to more fully enjoy what I was doing. Relationships are a large part of oncology nursing and it has become my passion.”

While Keltner no longer provides hands-on patient care, as a patient navigator she continues to make a difference in the lives of her patients.

“I have the best job because everything I do is about helping someone,” she said. “For me, it is a privilege to be a part of their journey.”

We're taking charge: Tareena Penrod

Earning a degree was one of Tareena Penrod’s longtime goals. Last year, she began making that dream come true when she enrolled at Ozarks Technical Community College, intent on getting a degree in Health Information Technology. “I’ve wanted to go to college all my life,” says Tareena with a smile. “And now, I’m able to go.”

The first semester was understandably busy for the 49-year-old mother of two. But even though things were hectic – and it would’ve been easy to skip or at... least postpone her annual mammogram – she didn’t give into temptation. “It was too important,” says Tareena, thinking back to last October.

That mammogram was a blessing in disguise: When she went in for her mammogram, Tareena caught her ductal carcinoma before it progressed any further. But even with an early diagnosis, finding out something like that is a shock. “Your whole world just gets flipped upside down,” Tareena notes. After discussing her results with her doctor, she opted for a double mastectomy. “I made the decision right there,” she says.

It was the right one for Tareena. “All my tests are coming back fine,” she says, now just shy of the one-year mark of her diagnosis. Although some things about life are similar to a year ago, other things have changed. “You just want to be more vigilant about your health,” she says. “I don’t want to take one more day for granted.”

And while she’s been a proponent of mammograms for years, her personal experience with breast cancer has given her an even stronger voice. Today, here’s what she’s saying: “Do it. Now. Today. Like, you should’ve already made your appointment.”

It really is that important. “You don’t know if it’s you,” says Tareena. “You don’t know if you’re the one.”

Ready to schedule your mammogram? It's easy: Just call 417-269-LADY (Springfield), Just call 417-269-LADY (Springfield) 417-348-8313 (Branson) or 417-354-1138 (Monett) or click here for more information: