Thursday, July 28, 2016

Cox Medical Center Branson receives 4 star rating from CMS

Cox Medical Center Branson is ranked in the top quartile of hospitals nationwide, according to CMS' Overall Hospital Quality Star Ratings.
When the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published its Overall Hospital Quality Star Ratings this week, Cox Medical Center Branson received four out of five possible stars, ranking Branson in the top quartile of hospitals nationwide. Only 2.2 percent, or 102 hospitals, across the U.S. received five star ratings and only one of which was in the state of Missouri.

“The information released this week confirms something I’ve known,” says Cox Medical Center Branson William Mahoney. “We have an incredible team of care givers in Branson who provide top quality care. On a daily basis, I hear from our patients about the kindness and compassion our staff demonstrates. At the end of the day, these results show that our providers and staff are not only caring and compassionate, but they also have outstanding clinical skills.”

The rating takes into consideration seven categories: mortality, safety of care, readmission, patient experience, effectiveness of care, timeliness of care, and efficient use of medical imaging.

“Since our affiliation with CoxHealth in 2013, we have had the resources necessary to recruit numerous top notch physicians to add to our already great team of providers,” says Mahoney. “Since that time, we have also had the financial resources needed to add new technology essential to provide top quality care in the Branson community. Because of our affiliation, we are able to better fulfill our mission of improving the health of the communities we serve.”

“CMS’ Hospital Compare ( site provides information about the quality of care at more than 4,500 Medicare-certified hospitals in the U.S. and is based on 64 measures to assess the quality of routine care given at these hospitals,” explains Simon Wajnblom, vice president of performance management. “The star rating is designed to be an easy-to-understand system that lets people make informed decisions about their health care.”

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Branson pharmacist awarded pharmacotherapy specialist certification

Cox Medical Center Branson’s Pharmacy Clinical Coordinator Ethan Osborn, Pharm.D., has been awarded certification as a pharmacotherapy specialist through the Board of Pharmacy Specialties (BPS).

“As a board certified pharmacotherapy specialist, Ethan has the advanced knowledge to optimize medication use, improve patient outcomes, and serve as a source for therapeutic information and recommendations,” explains Pharmacy Manager Kirsten Dougherty. “Ethan has the expertise to work with our physicians to design medication therapy regimens for our patients and recommend adjustments to dosage or alternate medications when appropriate.”

Nationwide, there are approximately 300,000 licensed pharmacists, however only 25,000 pharmacists worldwide are BPS certified.

“While the certification was challenging, I saw this as an opportunity for myself to grow clinically and be the best I can be for our patients,” Osborn said.

Osborn completed his Doctor of Pharmacy degree at the University of Missouri, Kansas City and completed his pharmacy practice residency at the University of Toledo Medical Center.

Throughout the CoxHealth system, 35 percent of pharmacists maintain BPS board certification with areas of practice including pharmacotherapy, pediatrics, nutrition support, critical care, ambulatory care, oncology and psychiatric pharmacy. CoxHealth pharmacists also hold certifications in pain management, geriatrics, infectious disease and anticoagulation.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Steps for Success Breastfeeding Awareness Walk set for Aug. 4 at Branson RecPlex

Most women know the benefits of breastfeeding extend well beyond basic nutrition. However, it often takes that knowledge as well as the support of family, friends and community for a mother to successfully breastfeed her baby beyond those first few days.

To raise awareness about the importance of this issue and give the community an opportunity to show its support, Cox Medical Center Branson and the Taney County Health Department have teamed up to host Steps for Success Breastfeeding Awareness Walk on Thursday, Aug. 4, from 6-7:30 p.m. at Branson RecPlex-Pavilion D, 1500 Branson Hills Parkway. In addition to the walk, the free event includes activities for children, refreshments and more.

"Breastfeeding can have a positive impact on a child’s health well beyond those first few years,” says Tammy Drake, WIC division manager, Taney County Health Department. “Breastfeeding also leads to healthier children, healthier moms and ultimately healthier communities. For those reasons, we have partnered with CoxHealth to host Steps for Success. We want families to not only learn about the importance of breastfeeding, but to also feel that they are supported in their decision to breastfeed.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2014 Breastfeeding Report Card, in 2011, 79 percent of newborns started to breastfeed, however, breastfeeding did not continue for as long as recommended. Of infants born in 2011, 49 percent were breastfeeding at 6 months and only 27 percent at 12 months.

“Research shows, educating mothers on the importance of breastfeeding is not enough,” says Melanie Lavoi, RN, Cox Medical Center Branson lactation consultant. “At the hospital, we encourage breastfeeding by offering education, help and support. When the mother and baby go home from the hospital, we follow up within the first three days to see how they are doing, offer any additional help that we can and let them know they are always welcome to come back for a consultation.”

Lavoi says the event is open to anyone and is a great way for the community to support local families.

“I hope that World Breast Feeding Week activities, including our Steps for Success event at Branson RecPlex, continue to raise awareness about the importance of breastfeeding and helps new moms feel the support they need to provide the best for their babies,” Lavoi says.

Call 417-334-4544 for more information.

Treat yourself and help local children on Dairy Queen’s Miracle Treat Day

Dairy Queen restaurants, a long-time national partner of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, will hold their annual Miracle Treat Day on Thursday, July 28.

To help local kids with medical needs, simply stop by any participating Dairy Queen on July 28 and buy a Blizzard treat. A portion of the proceeds from every Blizzard sale will be donated to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, and participating stores can be found at

CoxHealth underwrites all administrative expenses of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals locally, so 100 percent of gifts and proceeds help local children. For more information on Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals or to donate, visit or call 417-269-KIDS.


Monday, July 25, 2016

Risky Business teaches teenagers how to make responsible decisions while driving

Making responsible decisions is an important part of hitting the road – especially for teenagers learning to drive. To help with that, CoxHealth will host Risky Business on July 28. The interactive course is designed to prepare young drivers, ages 15-18, to make responsible decisions while driving.

Speakers include registered nurses, as well as representatives from community organizations. Participants will also have the opportunity to tour various parts of the hospital.

The class, which costs $25, will be held on July 28 at Cox South from 8 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Space is limited, and advance paid registration is required. For more information or to register, call 417-269-0920.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Five Branson nurses honored with DAISY Awards

Doug Beckman, Holly Letterman, Brandi Newberry, Renee Garrison and Amanda Winford

Five Cox Medical Center Branson nurses were recently honored with DAISY Awards for demonstrating extraordinary clinical skills and compassionate care.

Doug Beckman, RN

Doug Beckman, in nursing administration, was nominated by two different people for the
DAISY Award. Beckman was first nominated for the award by the daughter of a patient. In her nomination, she explained that Beckman always took the time to answer questions, explain tests, talk about medication and provide comfort to her mother.

“I think what impressed me the most was that he took my father home after work,” the patient’s daughter wrote in her nomination. “He said, ‘No problem, on my way.’ I found out Branson West was not on his way the next day from a staff member.”

She reported that Beckman also took the time to locate a phone charger for her when her phone’s battery died. She said it was a comfort knowing that Beckman was taking care of her mother each day.

Beckman’s second nomination came from the husband of a patient who reported that Beckman stayed after his shift to review the diagnosis and medications with the patient’s daughter who couldn’t arrive until late one evening. The patient’s husband also said Beckman went above and beyond several times for both him and his wife.

“He always had a smile for my wife and a good word,” the nomination letter reads. “He made her feel special and like she was his only patient.”

Holly Letterman, RN

Holly Letterman, a nurse at CoxHealth Cancer Center Branson, was nominated by a mother whose son suffered injuries to his face in a baseball accident. The patient was referred to ambulatory infusion due to fear of dehydration as a result of his injuries, as well as for steroids and antibiotics.

“At infusion, we met a cheerful, helpful, caring and truly genuine Holly,” reported Kami Burtless, the mother of the patient and an employee of CoxHealth Women’s Center Branson. “She did all she could to ensure my son was comfortable while he was there for five days.”

Burtless explained that Letterman was very resourceful in helping find ways to ease her son’s discomfort and maintain hygiene.

“I really could go on and on about how wonderful she was to my son and our family during our time with her,” Burtless said. “It was a very scary situation for this mom and I will be forever thankful for Holly’s care, concern, helpful ideas, and so much more.”

Brandi Newberry, RN

Brandi Newberry was nominated by the wife of a patient for her attentiveness and compassion. The wife explained that her husband was doing well following a pancreatitis attack and was expected to be released from the hospital when Newberry noticed a change in her husband’ condition.

“He did not even realize his breathing had changed,” the nomination letter stated. “Brandi listened to his heart and immediately hooked him up to the EKG machine to run a test.”

The patient was experiencing atrial fibrillation.

“Brandi was very compassionate and caring and certainly a very good RN,” the letter reads. “We were both very thankful that she had been our nurse on that unit. She was very informative, very respectful. We feel she is a part of our family. We were very impressed with Cox Medical Center Branson and have been telling everyone what an exceptional hospital you have here.”
Renee Garrison, RN, and Amanda Winford, RN

Renee Garrison and Amanda Winford are nurses on the critical care unit and were nominated for showing extraordinary compassion to a patient on their unit. They were nominated by Misty Denevan, director of critical care.

“We had a ventilated patient in our critical care unit who was discouraged and just wanted to be outside,” Denevan explained. “Amanda and Renee mobilized his outdoor adventure. They wheeled him in his bed with the ventilator outside so he could get some fresh air and sunshine. The patient was so appreciative and cried tears of joy. I am so proud to be part of a team who puts patients first.”

About the DAISY Award

The DAISY Award is an international program that rewards and celebrates the extraordinary clinical skill and compassionate care given by nurses every day.

The not-for-profit DAISY foundation is based in California and was established by family members of a 33-year-old man who died in 1999 from complications from an autoimmune disease. The care he and his family received from nurses while he was ill inspired the DAISY Award, thanking nurses for making a profound difference in the lives of their patients and patient families.

Nominate your nurse for going above and beyond. Nomination forms can be found at any CoxHealth location or online at under the “Patients and Visitors” tab

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

CoxHealth brings diabetic digital retinal imaging to its patients

For diabetic patients, a scan of the back of the eye can be the difference between sight and blindness – and the technology necessary for such scans is now available at CoxHealth. The health care system has recently launched a retinal imaging program in 15 of its clinics, located in Springfield, Branson, Monett, Aurora and Willow Springs, to diagnose diabetic retinopathy.  

In the three weeks since they began serving patients, 82 cases of diabetic eye disease and 100 other eye pathologies have been detected that otherwise might have gone unnoticed.

“Diabetic eye disease is the number one cause of adult blindness,” says Dr. Mark Costley, medical director for CoxHealth’s Regional Services. “The best way to prevent debilitating eye disease and vision loss from diabetic complications is through early detection and annual screening. In fact, if detected early, vision impairment and/or blindness can be avoided 90 percent of the time.”

CoxHealth has partnered with Intelligent Retinal Imaging Systems (IRIS) to deliver this innovative solution, and is the first health system in the state of Missouri to do so. “Previously, a patient had to make a separate appointment with their eye doctor, take off work in some cases, and pay additional fees that were associated with a separate visit,” says Costley. “That created a lot of barriers that kept patients from having this exam done. We felt this was a service we wanted to make accessible to our patients right in our offices. It’s much easier to simply include it as part of a check-up than making a separate appointment.”

The retinal exam is easy and non-invasive, and takes less than five minutes to perform. After a photo is taken of the back of a patient’s eye, the image is read and signed by an ophthalmologist at a qualified reading center that is under the medical direction of a retina specialist. The results are then discussed with the patient – and if warranted, treatment is prescribed to help correct the issue.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Registration for Medical Explorers begins July 18

Medical Explorers, a longtime tradition at CoxHealth, offers young adults the chance to see if a career in the health care industry is right for them – and registration for the next chance to participate is right around the corner. Applications will be accepted for the upcoming session from July 18 to August 26.  

“Medical Explorers helps get the next generation involved and interested in healthcare,” says Pat Long, CoxHealth’s Medical Explorers coordinator. “Considering the demand for professionals in the industry, this program is more important than ever before.”

The program is open to students ages 15-20, and gives them the opportunity to shadow and interact with providers across the field. At least twice each month, students volunteer for two-hour shifts in various areas of the hospital, including Pediatric Urgent Care, nursing units, and radiology. Monthly meetings also introduce students to a variety of health-care topics, such as air care, emergency services, nursing and surgery.

CoxHealth’s Medical Explorers program began in 1968, and is the second-largest – and oldest – program in the country. Around 250 students participate in the program annually at CoxHealth. For more information about the program, click here or call 417-269-4157.



Wednesday, July 6, 2016

CoxHealth earns “Most Wired” honors

CoxHealth has again been recognized as a “Most Wired” hospital in the 2016 Most Wired Survey, recently released by Hospitals & Health Networks magazine. The survey, conducted in conjunction with the American Hospital Association, measures how hospitals across the country are adopting information technology to improve patient care.

“I’m pleased to see the hard work and dedication of our information technology staff and organizational leaders recognized with this award, and I’m thankful for the physicians and caregivers who have embraced these IT solutions,” says Bruce Robison, CoxHealth vice president and CIO. “Each step forward improves our ability to provide an excellent experience for our patients.”

This year’s list shows that the nation’s top hospitals are now placing even greater priority on cybersecurity, the usage of data to transition from volume-based to value-based reimbursement, the expansion of telehealth, and greater ease of electronic records usage. All of these are areas where CoxHealth has increased emphasis. Other projects implemented by the CoxHealth Si3 IT team improve patient documentation, advance clinical decision support and evidence-based protocols, reduce the likelihood of medication errors, and rapidly restore access to data in the case of a disaster or outage.


Friday, July 1, 2016

Stay safe on the water this Fourth of July

Summer is in full swing, with all of the lake and pool-side fun that comes along with it. However, dangers associated with water can’t be ignored: There have been at least six drownings or near drownings in the Table Rock Lake area in 2016 so far. It’s a number typically found in an entire summer in that area, says Jason Martin, CoxHealth’s injury prevention outreach coordinator.
Below are some tips Martin believes can help ensure a safer summer experience – and tip number one is simple: When on the water, wear a life jacket.
“All states have regulations regarding life-jacket wear by children,” says Martin. “Adult-sized life jackets will not work for children. To work correctly, a life jacket must be worn, fit snugly, and not allow the child’s chin or ears to slip through.”

Here are some other ways to stay safe this summer:

  • Brush up on swimming skills. Formal swimming lessons are a great way for kids (and adults) to be in the water with confidence – and know how to keep calm if they get in water that’s a little too deep.
  • Use the buddy system. No one should swim alone, especially since drowning is prone to happen silently.
  • Learn CPR. Such skills could mean the difference between life and death.
  • Avoid alcohol. Drinking should be avoided before and during swimming, water skiing or boating – and while supervising children.
  • And again: Wear a life jacket. Certain life jackets are designed to keep people’s heads above water and help them remain in a position which permits proper breathing. To meet U.S. Coast Guard requirements, a boat must have a U.S. Coast Guard- approved life jacket for each person aboard. Boats 16 feet and over must have at least one Type IV throwable device as well. Life jackets should be tested for wear and buoyancy at least once each year. Waterlogged, faded, or leaky jackets should be discarded. And life jackets should be easily accessible – if they’re not at hand, they’re of no use.