Thursday, January 29, 2015

CoxHealth senior leaders recognize outstanding departmental efforts

CoxHealth's surgery teams were recognized for the following CareChex awards: #1 in MO for Medical Excellence in General Surgery and #1 in MO for Medical Excellence in Major Bowel Procedures.

CoxHealth's Pulmonology team receives a recognition poster for their work that led to CareChex rating CoxHealth number one in Missouri for medical excellence and patient safety in pulmonary care.

Senior VP, General Counsel Charity Elmer presents a recognition poster to the Ferrell-Duncan Clinic Neurology Department for a #1 ranking in Missouri for Medical Excellence in Neurological Care by CareChex.

CoxHealth has had many awards over the past few months and our senior leaders are reaching out and visiting some of the departments who have made those awards possible.

As part of a new recognition effort, leaders have begun presenting posters announcing the awards to departments throughout CoxHealth.

“CareChex identifies many areas in which we are number one in the state and even the top 10 percent in the nation for medical excellence and patient safety,” says Teresa Coyan, legislative and public affairs manager and coordinator of the recognition effort.

“Steve Edwards and other senior leaders will be making a few surprise visits to some departments to present a small token of appreciation for the efforts that make these awards possible. Without excellent medical and clinic staff, these awards would not happen.”

Cardiovascular Services
CEO Steve Edwards presented the first recognition poster to Dr. James Ceaser, for the following CareChex rankings:
#1 in Missouri for Medical Excellence in Heart Failure Treatment
#1 in Missouri for Patient Safety in Heart Attack Treatment

Dr. John Duff (right) presented posters to Dr. Mark Crabtree and nurse manager Adene Smith, for the following rankings:
#1 in MO for Medical Excellence in Neurological Care & Major Neurosurgery (CareChex)
#1 in MO for Patient Safety with Spinal Fusion, Spinal Surgery and Major Neurosurgery (CareChex)
CoxHealth is one of the 101 Hospitals with Great Neurosurgery and Spine Programs (Becker’s Hospital Review)

Thursday, January 22, 2015

CoxHealth to host enrollment event in Springfield

On January 24, 2015, CoxHealth is hosting a city-wide enrollment event to provide consumers in Springfield with educational resources and in person assistance for navigating affordable health coverage options through the Missouri Health Insurance Marketplace.

Certified Application Counselors and Navigators will be on site during the event to assist with enrollment through and answer consumer questions about qualifying for a tax credit or cost-sharing option.

WHAT: CoxHealth to host an enrollment event to provide consumers in Springfield with educational resources and in person assistance for navigating affordable health coverage options through the Missouri Health Insurance Marketplace. 

WHEN: January 24, 2015
10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

WHERE: Southwest Hub Office (CoxHealth), 3318 S. National Ave. (inside Kelly Plaza), Springfield.

Library Station, 2535 S. Kansas Expressway, Springfield.

Library Center, 4653 S. Campbell, Springfield.

WHO: This event is free and open to the public.

For more information about this event, or to learn more about the Missouri Health Insurance Marketplace, visit or contact or call 417-269-2945.

CoxHealth is part of the Cover Missouri Coalition, a project of the Missouri Foundation for Health to promote quality, affordable health coverage for every Missourian. The Cover Missouri Coalition aims to reduce the rate of uninsured Missourians to less than five percent in the next five years. Members work to build awareness, facilitate enrollment, increase health insurance literacy, and support Medicaid transformation. Coalition members will also share learning and best practices, maximize resources, identify challenges and opportunities, and build an inclusive plan to insure Missourians. For more information on the Marketplace, please visit

Tour the Islands of New England and help raise funds for CoxHealth Auxiliary

Enjoy a vacation while helping the CoxHealth Auxiliary raise funds. From September 28 – October 5, enjoy highlights of Providence, Newport, Boston, Cranberry Bog, Plymouth Rock, Plimoth Plantation, Cape Code, Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, Hyannis, Provincetown, Whale Watching, and more.

A total of 11 meals provided during the trip. As a leisure stay the itinerary is designed to allow for multiple-night stays in two more cities. This allows you a more leisurely pace and more time to explore the destinations on your own.

It also includes round-trip air from Springfield Branson Regional Airport, air taxes and fees/surcharges, and hotel transfers.

Details of the trip are outlined at

By booking through the CoxHealth Auxiliary, you’re saving $100 on this trip. The deadline to sign up is March 20. Call Barbara Frogue at 269-4168 or email her at

CoxHealth brings two new pediatric specialty programs to Springfield

In anticipation of the opening of the Dee Ann White Women’s and Children’s Hospital at Cox Medical Center South, CoxHealth is excited to add pediatric general surgery and pediatric urology to its list of pediatric specialty programs.

The addition of pediatric general surgery and pediatric urology brings the total number of pediatric specialty programs at CoxHealth to eight, including cardiology, critical care, endocrinology, neurology, orthopedic surgery and pulmonology.

CoxHealth has signed an agreement with St. Louis Children’s Hospital, one of the premier children’s hospitals in the U.S. Pediatric general and urology surgeons from St. Louis Children’s and Washington University begin seeing patients in Springfield in coming weeks.

Brad Warner, MD, Chair, St. Louis Children’s Hospital Pediatric Surgery Department and Chair, American Academy of Pediatrics Surgical Section will lead the pediatric surgical program at CoxHealth with the support of Mark Vogel, MD and Martin Keller, MD

Douglas Coplen, MD, Chair, St. Louis Children’s Hospital Pediatric Urology Department, will lead the pediatric urology surgery clinics at CoxHealth.

These pediatric general surgeons and pediatric urology physicians will hold clinics and schedule outpatient surgeries for patients who previously may have had to travel to St. Louis for this level of pediatric expertise care. 

All providers are contracted with CoxHealth insurance so patients will have the same level of coverage for clinic and surgical procedures performed at CoxHealth in Springfield with these providers.

“The addition of these subspecialties means more children can stay close to home for specialized treatment,” says Beth Rutherford, administrative director, Nursing, Women’s and Children’s Services, CoxHealth. “This partnership allows us to increase quality care and service for families.”

About the providers:

Dr. Warner is surgeon-in-chief at St. Louis Children's Hospital. He is the Jessie L. Ternberg, MD, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Pediatric Surgery, and division director of pediatric surgery at Washington University School of Medicine. He has a special interest in pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition including short bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease.

His special interests also include pediatric solid tumors. Dr. Warner is happy to provide a second opinion to help answer your questions and confirm diagnosis and treatment options for families who have been told that their child needs a surgical procedure. Dr. Warner is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

Dr. Vogel is happy to provide a second opinion to help answer your questions and confirm diagnosis and treatment options for families who have been told that their child needs a surgical procedure.

Dr Vogel is a surgeon who treats all aspects of pediatric general and thoracic surgery, advanced minimally invasive surgery of neonates and children, operative and non-operative management of traumatically injured infants and children, pediatric surgical critical care, vascular anomalies, and complex colorectal disorders.

Dr. Keller is an Associate Professor of Surgery and the Medical Director of Trauma at St. Louis Children's Hospital. He has a special interest in newborn surgery, trauma, and critical care. His interests also include Extracorporeal Membranous Oxygenation.

Dr. Keller is happy to provide a second opinion to help answer your questions and confirm diagnosis and treatment options for families who have been told that their child needs a surgical procedure. Dr. Keller is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

Dr. Coplen specializes in pediatric urology and fetal urology: prenatal intervention for hydronephrosis, renal dilation, endopyelotomy, disorders of the penis, ectopic ureters, ureteroceles, buccal mucosal urethral replacement, hypospadias, bladder exstrophy, urogenital sinus anomaly, cloacal anomaly, epispadias, prune belly syndrome, enuresis, neurogenic bladder, myelomeningocele, testicular cancer and urological cancer.

He is a diplomate of the American Board of Urology with subspecialty certification in pediatric urology. Currently there are less than 150 practicing physicians in the US that have this certification. Dr. Coplen is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Cox Air Care: 25 years of care at 2,500 feet

Over the past quarter century, Air Care crews have changed lives with more than 19,000 flights.

Every time you see the Air Care helicopter lift off at Cox South, the crew on board is about to add another story to their history. Like all emergency responders, they’re moving quickly, but they’re always headed to the same place: A turning point in a stranger’s life.

For the last 25 years, CoxHealth’s Air Care crews have raced to that spot over and over again – a place where lives are won or lost. It’s lonely being one of a handful of people at that spot. Some days, you’re left second-guessing what you could have done differently. Some days, you’re the shepherd of someone’s second chance.

“I wanted the worst of the worst, the most challenging patients,” says Jim Lawrence, a flight nurse who has flown with Air Care for 23 years. “That’s what I prayed for: Put me in a situation where I can provide someone the best chance to survive.”

Like most emergency responders, Lawrence can rattle off memories of patients who remind him of why he chose the field.

On a flight early in his career, he met a 6-year-old boy who had been hit by a car and suffered a severe head injury. It didn’t look like the little boy would survive. After he made it to Springfield and received what Lawrence describes as “heroic” neurosurgery, he began his recovery.

“I’d go to see him in the PICU and he couldn’t move the left side of his body, but he was a happy boy,” Lawrence recalls. “And his mom was so grateful – she had her boy.”

After months of rehab, the boy and his mother came back to visit Lawrence and the Air Care team.

“I was amazed, he was running around – he had a mild limp, but he was happy. The first time I got that experience, I knew I was where I needed to be.”

Air Care director Susan Crum says those moments are the big payoff for racing to scenes day after day, year after year. The desire to provide care at someone’s turning point has driven the Air Care program throughout a quarter-century of service.

Crum has been with the Air Care team since its founding in 1989. She was working in an ER in Osage Beach when a ride-along in an air ambulance sparked her interest. She was drawn to the excitement of emergency response and the independence required to work in the field.

“It’s a challenge – there’s no doctor or other staff members. You have to be educated, skilled and prepared,” Crum says. “When you think you’ve seen it all, you’ll get caught.”

Like all of us in health care, the team spends significant time training and keeping abreast of the latest standards of practice. Skills labs, re-credentialing and regular air care conferences are designed to keep the team ready for anything they might encounter.

“We do chest tube insertions and other things many nurses don’t do. We see pediatric to geriatric patients – we’re everybody’s nurses,” says flight nurse Shelly Elsey, who joined Air Care in 1997 after spending a decade working in ground ambulances.

Each flight holds the potential for a positive outcome – to change the next life. Creating the best possible odds requires both clinical excellence and a commitment to safety. Safety is a top concern for the flight medicine industry and Air Care is ahead of the pack: 25 years – that’s more than 19,300 flights – with no accidents.

Some of that success lies in improved technology – the new helicopter, added in 2007, includes terrain-avoidance systems and CoxHealth was only the second hospital in Missouri to add night-vision goggles in 2009. The core of safety success, though, is in solid processes, such as walkarounds by every crew member before a flight, and a TeamSTEPPS-style approach that allows any crew member to call a time out.

“Twenty-five years accident-free is huge in this industry,” Lawrence says. “That has to do with the experience of the medical crew, the aviation side, the mechanics, all of us working together.”

Air Care is well known for its teamwork. Crum says the group is more like family than co-workers, supporting one another after difficult cases and sharing the successes of those with positive outcomes. The group even gathers each Jan. 16, to celebrate Air Care’s official “birthday.”

“The longevity here – with so many who have 10 or 15 years in flight – that’s huge. Sometimes, I wonder if I’ve I hogged this spot too long, I’m sorry to all those who didn’t get to do it,” Lawrence says with a laugh.

Crum says she’s thinking about what the future will bring for the Air Care family. Like everywhere in health care, patients’ needs will grow and the program will have to meet them. Air Care recently restarted a ride-along program that lets nurses, physicians, EMS staff and ER nurse interns see what it’s like to practice medicine at 2,500 feet. Crum knows that among those riding along, there will be someone who will feel the same calling she did 25 years ago: The call to be there at someone’s turning point; to collect their own stories of times they made a difference.

Elsey says those times keep you going, and they get you through the tough cases. She remembers once when she was working in the Air Care office on the ground floor of Cox South and a man appeared in the doorway. She barely recognized him.

The last time they met was on the bank of Table Rock Lake, where Elsey had helped revive him. It was winter and the car he was in had crashed, plunging him into the water.

“He had made it to shore, but he literally was frozen from lying on the bank overnight. When he was discharged from the hospital, he came back specifically to find us, see us and say ‘thank you.’ He brought us all flowers,” Elsey recalls. “Those things are why we do what we do.”

Air Care: fast facts

  • The Cox Air Care helicopter, an MD 902 Explorer, has a cruising altitude of 2,500 feet. 
  • The enhanced safety features, like terrain avoidance and night vision, allow pilots to put the helicopter into some very confined landing zones that are common in rural areas. Between 60 and 70% of Air Care’s missions are scene flights, making those features especially important. 
  • Each flight has at least three crew members, along with the patient. 
  • The typical service area stretches as far north as Benton and Morgan Counties (a 30-40 minute flight), south into Arkansas and to Texas County in the east. Air Care also does transports to Kansas City, Columbia, St. Louis, etc. 
  • Becoming a staff member requires licensure as a flight nurse or a flight paramedic. Flight nurses are required to have three years of critical care experience, and paramedics at least two years on an advanced life support  ambulance.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

CoxHealth reminds patients and visitors that the use of e-cigarettes is prohibited on its campuses

CoxHealth is committed to the wellness of our community and for that reason smoking by patients, visitors and staff is prohibited on all CoxHealth campuses.

While e-cigarette manufacturers market the convenience of using their product anywhere, CoxHealth reminds its patients, visitors and staff that CoxHealth policies prohibit the use of all tobacco products on its campuses, including the use of electronic nicotine delivery devices.

Glenda Miller, CoxHealth Cardiovascular Services, explains that the long-term health risks of electronic nicotine products are unknown.

“Their content is unregulated and they are not a proven safe alternative to smoking,” she says. “No scientific evidence at this time has shown that they are an acceptable form of tobacco-cessation therapy.”

Additionally, there are reports nationally and locally of people being injured and fires resulting from these devices.

“Another concern we have at CoxHealth is the potential for these types of products to cause false fire alarms,” says Steve Dodds, safety officer at CoxHealth. “We’ve already experienced this once when the vapor from an e-cigarette set off a false fire alarm at Cox Medical Center South. The use of these products in our facilities places the safety of our patients, visitors and staff at risk.”

CoxHealth is committed to providing an environment that promotes health and well-being and appreciates its patients and visitors for adhering to the tobacco-free policy.

Monday, January 5, 2015

CoxHealth recognized for advanced stroke care from The Joint Commission

The Joint Commission has recertified CoxHealth’s Advanced Primary Stroke Program. Our successful completion of the extensive recertification process shows that our experts in stroke care continue to provide the highest levels of safe, high-quality care, treatment and services to our patients.

“We are extremely proud of CoxHealth’s neurologists, neurosurgeons, emergency room physicians, radiologists, medical and nursing staff and the entire stroke team for this accomplishment,” says Dr. Richard Jung, medical director of the CoxHealth Stroke Center. “Someone in the U.S. has a stroke every 40 seconds, and stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in Missouri. Maintaining this certification demonstrates CoxHealth’s commitment to the highest levels of safe, high-quality care, treatment and services to our patients,” says Dr. Jung.

The Joint Commission certification is valid for 24 months.

CoxHealth welcomes first babies of 2015

Update: A fourth baby girl, born at Cox Monett January 6, can claim the title as New Year's baby of 2015 at CoxHealth. She joins twin girls born at Cox South New Year's Day and a baby girl born January 2 at Cox Branson as the first babies to arrive at CoxHealth's three birthing hospitals this year.

First baby born in 2015 at Cox Monett Hospital is a girl

The wait is over for the first baby to be born in 2015 at Cox Monett Hospital. Timberley Lynn Nelson decided it was time to make her arrival on Jan. 6 at 11:56 p.m. She weighs 6 lbs., 3 oz., and is 20.5 inches long. Her parents are Shane and Racheal Nelson of Aurora. The couple also has a 3 year-old son named Kaden.

“The nursing staff and the physicians have gone above and beyond,” says Racheal Nelson. “Our stay here has been fantastic—I loved it.”

To celebrate the occasion, the Cox Monett Auxiliary presented a basket to the family filled with a piggy bank, pacifier, stuffed animal, bib and other items.

Twin girls are first Springfield births of 2015

Three baby girls claim the title as New Year's baby of 2015, twin girls born at Cox South New Year's Day and a baby girl born January 2 at Cox Branson.

The first birth at a CoxHealth birthing hospital came in the way of twin girls at Cox Medical Center South. Hadley Swearngin-Powers was born at 4:31 a.m., weighing 2 lbs., 13 oz. and 15 inches long. Hensley Swearngin-Powers was born at 4:37 a.m., weighing 3 lbs., 3 oz. and 15 inches long.

Hensley Swearngin-Powers

Hensley Swearngin-Powers

Hadley Swearngin-Powers

Both babies are in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Cox South. They were born at 29 weeks, with a due date of March 14, 2015 and are both doing well.

Their parents Mary Swearngin, 25 and Nate Powers, 31 of Ozark were visiting family in West Plains when Mary went into labor Saturday, December 27. “We were just watching a movie,” says Nate Powers. “And she started having contractions.” She was transported from the West Plains hospital via ambulance to Cox South.

For the past five days doctors did what they could to hold off the pre-term labor. “They said the girls were ready,” explains Mary Swearngin. “So, they took me off the drugs keeping me from going into labor. I went into labor within a few hours. It went fast.”

Between Mary and Nate, the couple has three other daughters ages 3, 5, and 7. “We officially have a basketball team,” laughs Mary. “I know they’re excited to get to see them, but they’ll have to wait a little longer.”

CoxHealth presented a basket with stuffed animals, clothes and other items to celebrate the first birth of 2015.

(photographed: holding basket – Nate Powers, Mary Swearngin, Mandy Dewitt, RN, Cox Medical Center South)

First baby born in 2015 at Cox Medical Center Branson is a girl

Emmalyn (pronounced Emma-LYNN) Rebecca Marshall was due January 3, but decided after the fanfare of New Year’s Eve to have the first day of the year as her birthday. 

Emmalyn was born at Cox Medical Center Branson, January 1 at 1:30 p.m. She weighs 6 lbs., 8 oz., and is 18.5 inches long. Her parents are Erica, 33 and Rob Marshall, 35 of Branson. The couple also has a 3 year-old son named Eli. 

“We had stayed up until midnight to ring in the New Year,” says Erica Marshall. “So, we only had a few hours of sleep when I started having contractions at 3 a.m. We came to the hospital at 9 a.m. and within a few hours she was here.” 

“The nurses have been amazing,” explains Rob Marshall. 

“I had a natural birth,” says Erica. “And the nurses here were all so supportive and encouraging.”