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:

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

We're taking charge: Pam Kenworthy

Pam Kenworthy loves to crochet, but not for herself. “I never keep anything,” she says of her creations. “I always give afghans or whatever I make away.” One of those recent projects was for her 5-year-old granddaughter: It was a pastel-colored afghan that looked like it was made out of Legos. Pam’s been a wife for 41 years, and is mom to one daughter and two grandchildren. She’s worked at CoxHealth for 37 years, and currently is an office assistant for Cox Medical Group’s Care Management Services. “I feel like I’ve been here all my life,” she jokes.

That is Pam. There’s another part of her story, however, that began with a mammogram. Two years ago, that yearly visit led to the discovery of a cluster that needed a biopsy. “And that’s when they told me it was cancer,” says Pam. On Aug. 22, 2013, she was diagnosed with Ductal carcinoma in situ.

Pam wasn’t a stranger to the “c” word – her husband had been diagnosed with prostate cancer the year before – but her discovery was a surprise. That’s because with Pam’s type of cancer, “you don’t feel anything,” she says. And while her cancer was confined to the milk duct, “if I hadn’t of had my yearly mammogram, at some point it would’ve become invasive,” she notes.

Even at this early stage, the cancer still needed to be removed and Pam underwent a mastectomy. “I just had a peace about it and knew everything would be OK,” says Pam. “And by the grace of God it has been.”

But the experience has changed Pam: She’s now an advocate. “I am now on a mission to let women know that they need to have mammograms,” says Pam. “After I came back to work, I even asked to talk to the clinic managers at their monthly meeting to let them know of the importance.”

Why, you ask? “You have to," says Pam. "You can’t not have one.” And really -- “why would you not have a mammogram?”

Wise words. If you’re ready to schedule your mammogram, 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:

Monday, October 12, 2015

Nurse credits self-detection with saving her life

Andrea Romeiser, RN, poses for a photo with her daughter Aspen Jade, now 14. Andrea was diagnosed with a rare form of breast cancer in 2003.

When Andrea Romeiser was in nursing school, she gave a presentation about the importance of breast self-exams and what women should look for during those self-exams. Romeiser didn’t realize at that time how impactful that very message would be in her own life just a few years later.

“I remember telling the girls how important it is to know who you are and what you look like,” recalled Romeiser, a registered nurse and assistant manager of the post-surgical unit at Cox Medical Center Branson.

Around late spring in 2003, Romeiser, who was 30 at the time, noticed a piece of skin on her right breast starting to flake and peel.

“I mentioned this to my husband and said jokingly, ‘It might be cancer,’” Romeiser recalled.

Her husband responded, saying she shouldn’t be silly. For the next few months, she didn’t give the dry skin much thought.

During an annual physical exam in August of that year, Romeiser mentioned the spot to her doctor who said it was likely a callous from breast feeding her daughter.

In September of that year, Romeiser noticed the spot again and decided to see a breast specialist, remembering back to her presentation she’d given during nursing school.

After the exam at the breast clinic, Romeiser was informed that they would have to do a biopsy and that it was possible she could have a very rare type of cancer, however, the chances were very slim. The biopsy was performed the next day, a Friday. Following what Romeiser described as a very long weekend, she was given the news that Monday – she had the rare type of cancer the breast specialist had told her about the week prior. Her official diagnosis was ductal carcinoma in-situ with Paget’s disease.

Romeiser couldn’t understand why it was happening to her. She was only 30, in great shape, and had nursed both of her daughters, who were then 2 and 5. Breastfeeding has been credited with helping to decrease a woman’s chance of breast cancer.

After considering her family history – her maternal grandmother had breast cancer, as did five of her grandmother’s sisters and Romeiser’s had recently lost an aunt to breast cancer - she made the decision to have both breasts removed. While all of the cancer was removed on Dec. 12 of that year, for the next two years, Romeiser endured multiple surgeries and dealt with painful complications. Despite spending weeks in the hospital and having a total of 10 surgeries over the two-and-a-half years, she found comfort and peace in knowing she did the right thing.

Romeiser only had to see an oncologist once, but what he told her during that visit reaffirmed to her that all that she endured was worth it and that the treatment she had chosen was a good choice for that type of cancer.

“I remember he told me, ‘God has been watching over you. If you hadn’t found that piece of skin flaking off, you could have been dead in two to five years,’” Romeiser recalled.

Romeiser has since made it her mission to help raise awareness about breast cancer and the importance of self-examination.

Before making the move from Rush County, Kansas, to the Ozarks, Romeiser helped start the Rush County Relay for Life and she continues to help raise funds for the American Cancer Society.

Romeiser continues to celebrate life. Annually, she takes a trip to Las Vegas with friends where they relax, have fun, and take every opportunity they can to raise awareness.

Romeiser has also shared her story in the book, “Women as Healers: Voices of Vibrancy.”

“My message is a message about self-detection and knowing your body,” Romeiser said.

Rachel Morgan, CoxHealth Women's Center Branson mammography technologist, agreed that it is extremely important that women with normal risk factors begin self-exams at the age of 20 and at the age of 40, receive yearly mammograms.

“We want young women to be aware of lumps in their breasts as well as visible changes. If they feel lumps or changes, they should not be deceived that they are too young,” Morgan said. “If they notice any changes or lumps, they should contact their primary care provider to discuss concerns.”

Morgan said in addition to self-exams, it is recommended that women with normal risk factors begin having clinical breast exams starting at age 20. Talk with your doctor about how often you should have a breast exam. If you have a high risk for developing breast cancer, talk to your doctor about when to begin having routine mammograms and other screening tests.

To schedule a mammogram in Branson, call 348-8313. If you are in the Springfield area and would like to schedule a mammogram, please call 269-LADY. In Monett, call 354-1138.

For more information about breast cancer, visit

Prevention urged as flu season begins in the Ozarks

LaDonna Alexander receives her annual flu shot from Employee Health Nurse Patriece Ladon

Pumpkin spice lattes, football, fall foliage and cool, crisp mornings are often the first things that come to mind when people think of autumn. Cox Medical Center Branson Nurse Care Manager Carol Myers, RN, hopes there is one more thing that people think of this time of year  – flu shots. 

“Fall is also the time of year when the flu season begins,” Myers said. “In the Ozarks, the flu season typically runs from Oct. 1 through March 31.”

Seasonal influenza, commonly referred to as the flu, is a contagious respiratory illness caused by the flu virus. Myers said oftentimes people will confuse the common cold with the flu, however, the flu is a very serious illness.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that on average each year in the U.S., 5 to 20 percent of the population gets the flu and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from seasonal flu-related complications. Flu symptoms often include fever, body aches, fatigue and cough. 

Compared to the common cold, these symptoms are typically much more intense and will last one to two weeks with the flu.

“While the flu is a serious illness, the good news is, it is easy to protect yourself,” Myers explained. “Immunization is a person’s No. 1 line of defense against the virus.”

The CDC recommends everyone 6 months and older receive an annual flu vaccination with rare exception.

“The flu vaccine can prevent the flu or greatly reduce its severity and ultimately reduce flu-related hospitalizations and deaths,” Myers said. “Getting vaccinated is easier now than it ever has been with many local pharmacies offering the vaccine, and all CoxHealth primary care providers have the vaccine available. If a person does receive the vaccination outside of their primary care provider’s office, they should just let their provider’s office know.”

While the flu vaccine is a person’s best line of defense against the seasonal flu, good health habits can also protect you against the flu.

“Those good health habits that protect you from the common cold and other viruses also help prevent the spread of flu,” Myers said.

  • Try to avoid close contact with anyone who is ill
  • Limit contact with others when you are sick
  • If you have been ill with flu-like symptoms, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone, except to get medical care or for other necessities
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water is not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and items that may be contaminated with germs

For more information about the flu or to find out the best vaccination for you, talk to your primary care provider.

Friday, October 9, 2015

We're taking charge! CoxHealth goes pink for breast cancer awareness

Staff and physicians on 800 East show their support of breast cancer awareness by wearing pink to work.

In recognition of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, our charity of the month, BCFO, and all the women in our community, including our colleagues, touched by breast cancer – we’re wearing pink to work on Friday, October 9!

Outpatient Oncology, Hulston Cancer Center, Springfield

Patient Services, Cox Medical Group

Patient Financial Services, Cox North

Cardiac Rehab, Wheeler Heart & Vascular Center

Home Support and Home Parenteral Services

Ozarks Dialysis, Cox Monett

Betty Wieder and Dorothy Brucks, FDC administration

Audit and Compliance

Bone and Joint Orthopedics

Wheeler Ambulatory Infusion Center

Urgent Care South

Case Management South

Case Management South

Bone and Joint Orthopedics/Sport Medicine

Bone and Joint Orthopedics

Bone and Joint Orthopedics

Center for Professional Development

Respiratory Therapy Branson

Breast Care Clinic, Hulston Cancer Center

Neurology and Pain Center

Neurotrauma ICU

Neurology and Pain Center, Cox Branson

Health Information Management

Care Management Team

9th floor, Cox South

Fitness Centers at the Meyer Center

Patient Financial Services

Marketing and Planning

Stepdown, Cox Branson

NeuroRegistration, 7th floor

Patient Registration, Cox Monett

Cox HealthPlans

Registration/Admissions Cox South

MORH Pharmacy

Hulston Cancer Center Radiation

Central Access

Branson Outpatient Admission

Wheeler Heart and Vascular Center

Central Access Scheduling

Clinical Excellence, Infection Prevention; Quality Improvement, Employee Health - Cox Branson

MORH Administration


Revenue Integrity

Women's Center

The Martin Center

Regional Services