Swope Health’s Employment Service helps find “Dream Jobs” for clients

In March 2017, Swope Health started a new employment program for clients with the support of the State of Missouri’s Vocational Rehabilitation Service. In the first year, the program successfully placed 55 clients.

IPS Supported Employment

Swope Health Employment Service

The Swope Health Employment Services team, from left, is Janelle Strozier, Brandon Ford, Ron Knisley, Kelli Fisher, and LaShelle Ross. Kelli is the supervisor for the team of four employment specialists.

The program, called IPS Supported Employment, helps people with behavioral health conditions find competitive employment. The IPS in the name stands for “Individualized Placement Support,” meaning the program assists with finding a position that aligns specifically with the client’s needs and preferences.

Kelli Fisher, Swope Health Employment Services Supervisor, said the process starts with a referral from a case manager. If a client’s care plan includes an employment goal, the client is directed to the program.

“If a client wants to work, we work with them to find a job,” she said.

The team works under a rapid placement approach, typically getting a client in a position within 60 days – far faster than some job programs that can take months.

The Process

When a client is referred, a member of the employment services team meets with them to develop a vocational profile. The client identifies at least three areas of employment they are interested in – retail, construction, administrative functions, environmental services, food service, health care, etc.

The next step is a meeting with Missouri Vocational Rehabilitation, to get approval for joining the state’s program. Clients are required to provide two forms of Identification such as a Missouri I.D., birth certificate, social security card or a passport. With approvals in place, the Swope Health team works to make the client’s goals a reality.

“The best is when a client says, ‘This would be my dream job,’” said Ron Knisley, Employment Specialist with Swope Health. “We call that ‘job carving’ when they can identify the perfect fit. We love that. It gets us excited to make it happen. We like the thrill of the chase.”

Ron notes the team has successfully placed clients in dream jobs: one who wanted to be around animals now works in a veterinarian’s clinic. Another client who enjoyed the open road found a job driving a truck.  Others have found dream jobs in administrative office work and as a hostess at a local restaurant.

The team helps the client prepare for the job search – using work history to build a resume, write a cover letter, and get ready for the first interviews.

The program can also provide some financial support, like funding for gas cards or bus passes, or clothing for the interview. If the client gets the job, the support can continue – buying a uniform or helping with necessary certifications or licensing fees.

Program Expansion

The early success of the program is leading to expansion. The team now has four employment specialists, each working with up to 25 clients at a time.

Kelli said the four team members use their own network of contacts and relationships with area employers to find full-time or part-time positions for clients. That network now has a multitude of employer contacts, and many of them reach out to Swope Employment first when they have an open employment opportunity.

The client support doesn’t end with the job placement. The support may include attending orientation with the client and helping sign up for benefits, or following up with the employer and client after a week on the job. It might entail coaching or providing feedback to improve job performance, or help with financial planning. Ron noted the team provides ongoing support for up to one year after placement.

When it works, the good feelings spread to everyone: the employer, client and the team.

“It is absolutely priceless to see someone get their first paycheck ever,” Ron said. “We see their confidence go from zero to 50 all at once. What a difference a job makes.”

Celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month

Respect LogoMay is Mental Health Awareness Month, as designated by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, an organization that advocates and supports Americans with mental illness. To mark the observance, the Respect Institute will host the Fifth Annual “Respect for Mental Health Awareness” program, 5:30 to 8 p.m., Tuesday, May 7 at the Kauffman Foundation, 4801 Rockhill Road, Kansas City.

The program is free and open to everyone. Swope Health, along with other metro area healthcare providers, will be on hand to share information about resources for mental health.

The keynote speaker will be Rachel O’Brien, a board-certified music therapist with Truman Medical Centers.

In addition, a number of speakers from the Respect Institute will share their personal stories about mental illness and recovery. The program also features a panel discussion between a crisis intervention officer of the Kansas City Police Department, a therapist, a minister and a teacher. The program encourages people to talk about mental health and reduce the stigma associated with mental illness.

Respect Institute

2019 Mental Health Awareness EventThe Respect Institute, launched in 2010 through the Missouri Department of Mental Health, teaches individuals who have mental illnesses to share their personal stories of recovery with public audiences. The hope is to foster a better public understanding of mental illness and related issues.

The institute trains about 10 to 15 individuals a year, and facilitates presentations to public groups including those at high schools, churches, probation offices, shelters and civic organizations. Over the years, the institute has trained 60 people and about 35 currently are available to speak.

Kansas City’s chapter of the Respect Institute is the largest in the state, largely due to the activity of the three local leaders – Trena Fowler of the Center for Behavioral Medicine; Kellie Sullivan of Truman Medical Centers; and Ruthe Workcuff of Swope Health.

“I like to remind people we are all on a mental health continuum, and we don’t know what traumatic experience might knock us off balance at any moment,” Ruthe said. “I always tell people about the Ten Commandments of good mental health.”

Participants from the Missouri Department of Mental Health, Comprehensive Mental Health Services, ReDiscover, Tri-County Mental Health Services Inc., and Truman Medical Centers will also participate at the Respect celebration.

Mental Health Facts in America InfographicTen Commandments of Good Mental Health

  • Think positively. It’s easier!
  • Cherish the ones you love.
  • Continue learning as long as you live.
  • Learn from your mistakes.
  • Exercise daily. It enhances your well-being.
  • Do not complicate your life unnecessarily.
  • Try to understand and encourage those around you.
  • Do not give up. Success in life is a marathon.
  • Discover and nurture your talents.
  • Set goals for yourself and pursue your dreams.

 

Swope Health Artist Featured in 9th Annual Expressions Art Exhibit [VIDEO]

Artist Antwan PettisSnakes and spiders give most of us the creeps, but for Antwan Pettis, they are his inspiration and reason behind two of his passions: art and gardening. For those brave enough to come face to face with a snake, you’ll want to check out his artwork now on display as part of The Whole Person’s  9th Annual Expressions Art Exhibit.

Antwan participates in both the gardening and arts programs as part of Swope Health’s Adult Day Program. Here, he finds safe, supportive outlets for his energy, creativity and curiosity.

Kansas City Young Audiences

One of his images – a close-up illustration of the deadly puff adder snake – was recently selected by a panel of art experts to be included in the exhibit at Kansas City Young Audiences, 3732 Main St., Kansas City, MO. The exhibit showcases artists with disabilities, celebrating their abilities and unique talents.

The show adds diversity to the Kansas City arts community and introduces audiences to art that otherwise might not be presented. The ninth annual exhibit will run at various locations throughout the community through February 2020. Antwan’s art, like the others on display, is available for sale after the show ends.

Swope Health Arts Program

In the arts program, part of the Adult Community Psychiatric Rehabilitation Program (CPRP), led by Carolyn Graves, Community Support Specialist, Antwan learned a variety of techniques for drawing and working with markers, pastels and chalk. Combining his love of snakes, spiders, insects and reptiles with his art, he found a productive way to fuel both passions – as exemplified in his work in the exhibit.

Pettis Puff AdderWhy a puff adder?

“I think it’s a very fascinating snake because of its patterns and its dual venom,” Antwan said. “It looks just like the rocks and debris it lives in. And it is both hemotoxic and neurotoxic.” Antwan explains that the snake’s venom attacks the blood as well as the nervous system of its prey. He learned about puff adders and related snakes in school, and is quick to note that he is always learning more.

Volunteering at Lakeside Nature Center

As a volunteer at Lakeside Nature Center for the last six years, he frequently works with birds of prey and wild animals. His goal is to become a reptile rehabilitator – one who works with injured reptiles.

Part of his learning process involves personal research. He enjoys visiting area woods with his friends, where they look for snakes in the wild. If he finds any, he identifies the species and its gender, he measures it and estimates its age, and takes a picture. He keeps a detailed record of his findings.

His interests in gardening also ties back to his fascination with insects and reptiles. When he learned that a friend’s rhinoceros iguana enjoys vegetables, he decided to take his share of eggplant and tomatoes from the Swope Health Day Program’s garden to the iguana.

Drawing Comic Books

In addition to his interest in reptiles, he also draws comic books, sometimes featuring mythological beasts like Cerberus or the Hydra.  Antwan said he always enjoyed drawing and began developing his skills in high school under the attention of a caring art teacher.

Lenise James, Community Support Specialist, notes that Antwan has exhibited artwork before, at the Creations of Hope Gallery in Topeka, part of the Valeo Behavioral Health Care Center, as well as at the Midwest Ability Summit, an expo for the metro area organizations serving people with disabilities and older adults, as well as families, caregivers and healthcare professionals. He has also exhibited and sold items at the Swope Health Holiday Mart.

You can find more examples of artwork produced by Antwan and other participants in the art program at Swope Heath Services, 3801 Blue Parkway, Kansas City, Mo., on exhibit in the main hallway of Building C.

Child Abuse Prevention: All Children Deserve Great Childhoods

National Child Abuse Prevention

National Child Abuse Prevention Month recognizes the importance of families and communities working together to prevent child abuse and neglect, while promoting the social and emotional well-being of children and families.

At Swope Health, you can find events each week in April – all designed to increase awareness, provide education, and offer support and resources to prevent child abuse and neglect. Here is the rundown of activities:

Week 1

National Child Abuse Prevention: Blue PinwheelsFind blue pinwheels in front of Swope Health Central on Blue Parkway in Kansas City, Mo. Since 2008, the pinwheel has been a symbol for the “Pinwheels for Prevention” campaign.

“These pinwheels represent the great childhoods all children deserve and the prevention efforts that help them happen,” said Margaux Lemmones, Clinical Supervisor for Children’s Therapy and Adolescent Substance Use Disorder.

Friday, April 5, is the National Go Blue Day – a day to wear blue as a reminder of the importance of taking action to prevent child abuse. At Swope Health, staffers wearing National Child Abuse Prevention T-shirts will gather for a group photo, standing together to support prevention efforts.

Week 2

On Friday, April 12, associates from the Behavioral Health department will set up a table in the lobby of Swope Health Central, 3801 Blue Parkway, in Kansas City, Mo. to share information on ways to prevent child abuse. Visitors to the table will receive a pinwheel (while supplies last) along with materials like self-care for parents, resources for parents, important phone numbers and educational materials.

Week 3

For Swope Health associates, there will be a special program teaching ways to prevent child abuse from occurring and the importance of self-care for parents/caregivers/direct care providers that work with children.

Week 4

On Friday, April 26, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Behavioral Health associates will host an art activity in the Children’s Conference Room on the second floor.  Anyone who stops by can participate in an art activity to decorate a hexagon. At the end of the day, all the hexagons will be compiled together, interlinked.

“It’s a great reminder that each of us is a part of something greater, and we are all part of a community that cares about keeping kids safe,” said Margaux. “Each life touches the lives of others and, when we work together, we can prevent child abuse.”

During the month of April and throughout the year, Swope Health also runs a Caregiver Support Group that focuses on teaching how adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are a predictor of being at greater risk for alcoholism, depression, drug use, financial stress, suicide attempts, and more.

The support group helps caregivers understand how their own traumas may affect the way they parent, Margaux said. The group promotes self-care and healing for the caregivers as a way to break generational cycles of abuse.

“We want to create healthy environments for families to thrive,” Margaux said.

If you have questions about preventing child abuse or neglect, call 816-777-9892 to talk with one of the Swope Health Behavioral Health associates about resources or services.

Additional Resources from the Children’s Bureau:

The Children’s Bureau, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, sponsors the annual Child Abuse Prevention Month activities nationally. The organization also provides resources and information on ways to improve the lives of children:

Mission Possible: The Best Champs Holiday Party Ever!

ScriptPro, a Kansas City-area company that provides pharmacy software, robotics and management programs, has taken on a new task this quarter.

ScriptProThe company’s employees, part of a program called Community Connection, are putting on a holiday party for the SHS Champs program.

“We love giving back,” said Erin Pagel, Manager of Strategic Pharmacy Services at ScriptPro, “and it’s important to our employees to give back locally.”

The Community Connection team surveyed the approximately 800 ScriptPro employees and found a passion for children’s needs, fighting hunger, supporting cancer research and caring for animals.

The team partnered with Harvesters, Kansas City’s community food network, in the first quarter of 2018; with PurpleStride, a non-profit that raises funds and awareness of pancreatic cancer, in the second quarter; and with KC Pet Project in the third quarter.

For the fourth quarter and the holiday season, the company looked for a way to support children in need. Since the company already had a connection with SHS – the  Swope Health Services Pharmacy uses ScriptPro products – it was an easy decision to host the party for the kids in the Champs program.

ScriptPro Planning Team

The ScriptPro-SHS planning team at an October meeting, from left: Joi Franklin, Electrical Quality Assurance Technician II at ScriptPro; Amy Kuhnlein, SHS Manager of Development and Community Affairs; Kristen Meschede, Customer Communications Manager at ScriptPro; Elgie Hurd, SHS Supervisor, CPRP; Tiffany Clinton, SHS Supervisor, CPRP; and Erin Pagel, Manager, Strategic Pharmacy Services at ScriptPro.

Champs is a monthly youth group for children aged 5 to 17 who are enrolled in the Community Psychiatric Rehabilitation Program (CPRP), said Tiffany Clinton, Community Support Supervisor.

The program serves an average of 50 children each month with different life-skills topics and age-appropriate activities.

The children in the Champs program face numerous challenges, including physical and verbal aggression, impulsivity, maintaining focus in the classroom, suspensions, struggles with depression, and homicidal or suicidal thoughts, Tiffany said.

Some children are in the family court system and others have received inconsistent care with medication and treatment plans. Some have been hospitalized for mental illness and related issues.

“These kids face issues no child should have to face,” Tiffany said.

ScriptPro’s Community Connection team agrees, and intends to create a memorable and fun celebration for the Champs kids.

For the party, the team will convert the activity rooms in Building C into a “Winter Wonderland,” with a Christmas tree and activity stations featuring cookie and cupcake decorating, ornament making, making and decorating goodie bags and other crafts.

The team’s plans include a Karaoke station, a snowman bowling game (think of a snowball knocking down snowman pins), and a station for temporary tattoos. A costumed Olaf, the snowman from “Frozen” movie fame, also will be at the party on Dec. 19, 2018.

There will be a photo booth, and kids can use the photos to create personalized ornaments to take home. The celebration will include a meal, as well as personalized holiday gifts for each.

ScriptPro Competition

Kaitlin Xouris, ScriptPro Digital Brand Strategist, is participating in ScriptPro’s Toy Drive for SHS Champs participants and Toys for Tots. There’s a competition at ScriptPro to see which member of the leadership team can bring in the most toys. In early December, Bill Thomas, ScriptPro’s Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, was in the lead over Lindsey McDonald, Director of Product Configuration Management, Field Operations, and Tony Goble, Vice President, Customer Service. The winner of the competition gets the honor of dressing as Olaf, the snowman from Frozen, for one day.

The ScriptPro team held a friendly competition among departments to see which could bring in the most toys for the Champs program, Erin said.

“We want to make sure every kid gets at least one gift, if not more,” Erin said.

Putting on such a celebration takes a lot of volunteers. Erin noted that the team is working in three shifts: the first has employees who are doing the advance work of creating craft kits, baking the cookies and cupcakes for decorating, and designing the decorations for the activity room.

A second shift will handle the transformation of the room and set up all the activities. And the third shift will host the party and then clean up after the event.

More than 30 employees signed up to participate in the first week alone.

“We are so excited to partner with ScriptPro for this event,” Tiffany said. “The amazing generosity and spirit of the ScriptPro team will help create a special holiday event for our kids.”

Would you like to support the Champs program? Donations are always welcome, either in cash or assistance with programming items – like hygiene kits, daily planners, or craft supplies. Contact Shantelle Wells (816-599-5252, SWells@swopehealth.org) or Jaclyn Powell (816-599-5243, jrpowell@swopehealth.org) for more information. 

KCCAN! Supports SHS Champs

Here’s a big shout-out to KCCAN! (Kansas City Children’s Assistance Network), which has provided an $11,000 grant to the Champs program at Swope Health Services.

The Champs program is a monthly youth group for children ages 5 to 17 who are enrolled in the Community Psychiatric Rehabilitation Program (CPRP), said Tiffany Clinton, Community Support Supervisor.

The program provides education on different life-skills and age-appropriate activities for an average of 50 children each month.

champs at work

Champs program members exercising creativity in an exercise, and some products from recent programs.

For example, an activity might include a community field trip, such as the October visit to a pumpkin patch for younger children or learning how to use the city bus system for older kids.

Topics are drawn from the Daily Living Assessment-20, a behavioral health care tool that measure aspects of daily life that might be impacted by trauma, mental illness, disability or behavioral disorder.

Programs are held after school, usually from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. and often include physical activity.

The goal for all of the programs is to help participants develop skills in self-sufficiency, independence, and confidence to live meaningfully in the community.

The sessions use role-playing and behavior modeling in real-life situations. The programs might touch on topics like anger and emotions and include coping skills.

Participants are provided with resources to continue working on life skills at home. For example, a program on grooming and hygiene might provide the kids with soap, toothpaste and other supplies, while a program on time management might include a daily calendar and planner book.

“This grant will enable us to do things for the kids that we haven’t been able to do,” Tiffany said. “It will give us options to think outside the box and add to the activities we already have.”

KCCAN is a not-for-profit organization focused on funding programs that improve the quality of life for Kansas City’s children, especially projects related to meeting basic needs, education and wellness.

At SHS, the KCCAN funds will be used for the monthly programs starting in 2019 and will also support the annual Thanksgiving and Holiday celebrations for the kids.

“Our kids in the Champs program face numerous challenges, including aggression, difficulty at school, struggles with depression, even homicidal or suicidal thoughts,” said Tiffany.

“Some are in the family court system and others have received inconsistent care. In short, these kiddos are facing issues no child should have to face. We’re so grateful to KCCAN for their support. We know this funding will help us improve the lives of the children we serve.”

Would you like to support the Champs program? Donations are always welcome, either in cash or assistance with programming items – like hygiene kits, daily planners, or craft supplies. Contact Shantelle Wells (816-599-5252, SWells@swopehealth.org) or Jaclyn Powell (816-599-5243, jrpowell@swopehealth.org) for more information. 

 

Champs provides programs on nutrition and healthy eating and includes foods to take home…

Teamwork: Learning with Lemons and Zucchini

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The recipe for Lemon Zucchini Bread

It was a steamy morning with thunderstorms looming, but the kitchen in the activity room at Swope Health Services was full of warmth and anticipation.

Today, instead of working in the SHS garden, a group of participants in the adult Community Psychiatric Rehabilitation Program (CPRP) were following the directions of Lenise James, Community Support Specialist.

On this day, the participants in the Power, Hope and Recovery Program (PHRP) would put their skills to use in trying out a recipe for Zucchini Lemon Bread.

The ingredients were laid out on the table, along with bowls and utensils like a lemon zester, a juicer, measuring spoons and cups, whisks, spoons and spatulas.

There was a flurry of activity as each of the five participants tried out a new tool for the first time – a Salad Shooter. Lenise demonstrated its use first, explaining how it works and how the resulting shredded zucchini will provide moisture in the cake.

Each one took a turn using the shooter, feeding a chunk of zucchini and watching it transform into shreds. Each one showed the next how to use it, adding tips to help. It was a simple thing, each helping the other, all learning together.

The lessons were practical and immediately put to use, but they also resonate as lessons everyone can use throughout the day – be kind, help each other.

“I love cooking, I absolutely love this,” said Brenda, one of the participants. “It’s so much fun.” Antwan suggested they make pesto next week, to use up the last of the basil planted out in their gardens. Others recalled a delicious cornbread from a previous cooking day.

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The Salad Shooter produces shredded zucchini.

Step by step, Lenise and the team put together the ingredients, first the wet ingredients, then the dry, then the two mixed together. Brenda adeptly juiced the lemons, while Rosie took control of the zesting duties.

“This is really good for taking out your frustrations,” Rosie said at one point, surveying the mound of lemon zest that had accumulated after she muscled through the lemon skin all the way to the fruit.

When she was advised to use a lighter touch, she replied, “I can’t help it if I’m strong.” But she tried again, and this time did it more slowly and gently.  The results were perfect.

As the aroma of the lemon zest wafted through the kitchen, Lenise demonstrated how to properly measure the dry ingredients using measuring cups and spoons.

Deborah carefully measured her dry ingredients — flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda – checking to make sure she added the right amount each time. Orlando did the same with his batch.

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Brenda has some fun working the Salad Shooter.

After Deborah’s batter was completely mixed and scooped into the loaf pan, she moved to start the dishwashing. “I like to do the dishes,” she said, “it’s better to clean up as you go.”

The program teaches practical skills, like measuring and following instructions in a recipe, but it also emphasizes life skills – listening, sharing, patience, kindness.  Working together, there is an accomplishment at the end of the session: a jar of pickles, a loaf of bread, a meal.

Once again this year, the adult CPRP program is offering participants “Eat Well on $4/Day, Good and Cheap,” by Leanne Brown, an acclaimed book that focuses on removing barriers from good nutrition. The book offers recipes and techniques to help make tasty food on a strict budget, aligned with the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

The adult CPRP program, directed by Sonia Bolden-Oakley, supervisor, also runs the SHS gardening program, which produces cucumbers, pepper, potatoes, zucchini, herbs and more. This year, the garden added a peach tree, which Richard, a long-time participant, named Tummy. Why? “Because those peaches will be in everyone’s tummy,” he joked.

And as for the Lemon Zucchini Bread?

Delicious!

 

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Assembly of the wet ingredients.

 

 

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Measuring out the dry ingredients.

 

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Putting together the wet and dry ingredients to make a stiff batter.

 

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The finished batter, in loaf pans, ready for baking in the oven.

 

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Clean-up is part of every exercise. Here, Deborah takes on the dishwashing.

 

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Pickles, from an earlier cooking class.

 

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The Zucchini bread, fresh from the oven.

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A close-up of the moist, lemony zucchini bread.

Join us for National Suicide Prevention Week, Sept. 9-15, 2018

suicide warning signsSwope Health Services is joining in the campaign to raise awareness of suicide prevention, in alignment with National Suicide Prevention Week, Sept. 9-15, 2018.

“Our goal is awareness,” said Nicole James, Crisis Specialist at SHS. “We want to be accessible to everyone.”

SHS activities will extend though National Suicide Prevention Month and include:

  • Promoting awareness through T-shirts and outreach: The Crisis Team will set up tables in the SHS Central lobby on Fridays (Sept. 14, 21 and 28) for outreach with information, stress balls and cards. T-Shirts will be available for sale ($12 for short sleeve, $15 for long sleeve) with all funds supporting the Zero Suicide
  • Encouraging kindness: SHS is using “Care Cards” to provide an extra outreach and show support to anyone facing challenges. The postcards have simple messages, like “I Care About YOU.” SHS providers, case managers and associates are invited to use the cards with their patients and clients. Cards are developed by participants in the Community Psychiatric Rehabilitation Program and will be available through the crisis staff for anyone to use.
  • Advocating for primary care providers’ engagement in identifying behavioral health issues. As part of the Zero Suicide initiative at SHS, providers and clinical staff are encouraged to use a standard Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ) to identify patients in need of support.

A majority of suicides – 83 percent – are completed by people who had seen a primary care provider within a year, Nicole said, citing data from Zero Suicide. The idea is that providers can help reduce suicides by recognizing depression and other warning signs and addressing those issues.

power of connectionThere is no single cause of suicide – it occurs when an individual becomes overwhelmed by stress and experiences feelings of hopelessness and despair. Each year, nearly 45,000 people complete suicide, making it the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Depression is the most common condition associated with suicide, and it is often undiagnosed. That’s why it is so important to be aware of depression and other mental health conditions, and to address them with treatment. Events like these at Swope Health aim to remove the stigma associated with suicide and depression, Nicole said.

“We can all benefit from a little kindness, and from honest conversations about mental health and wellness,” she said. “We can all benefit from connecting with each other. We all have a role in preventing suicides.”

If you are worried about someone, take action:

  • Call the Access Crisis Intervention Mental Health Crisis Hotline: 1-888-279-8188. These confidential calls are routed to Swope Health and provide direct local support.
  • Call the national Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)
  • Send a text to 741 741. You can text the word “home” or ask a question.

“If you have any doubt or any question, just call. Or text. Or come in,” Nicole said. “You can ALWAYS walk in and ask to speak with a crisis specialist. We are here for you.”

More resources and information about Suicide Prevention:

Swope Health Services wins five federal Quality Improvement Awards

NCHWSwope Health Services was honored with five Quality Improvement Awards from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration last week.

The awards cap off the annual celebration of National Community Health Center Week, highlighting the critical role community health centers play in providing high-quality affordable healthcare.

SHS was recognized with Quality Improvement Awards for:

  • Achieving status as a Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH).
    This is a program focused on coordinated organization and delivery of primary care, emphasizing access to quality and safety in comprehensive care services.
  • pcmh-badgeEnhancing Access to Care.
    This award recognizes health centers that increased the total number of patients served and the number of patients receiving comprehensive services between 2016 and 2017.
  • access-enhancer-badgeAchieving Clinical Quality Improvement with an increase in Clinical Quality Measures.
    This recognizes health centers that achieved at least a 10 percent improvement in one or more Clinical Quality Measure between 2016 and 2017. These clinical measures assess the care given to patients and show how the organization performs, leading to improved care.
  • hit-badgeAchieving Clinical Quality Improvement through the use of electronic health records data.
    This award recognizes health centers that use electronic records to report and manage all clinical quality measures for all patients.
  • Advancing Health Information Technology for Quality.
    This award recognizes health centers that used IT systems to increase access to care and advance quality of care.

“Here at Swope Health, we are proud to be a perennial recipient of HRSA quality awards and recognition,” said Kenneth Thomas, M.D., SHS Chief Medical Officer.  “Last year, we worked especially hard to identify areas for improvement and this most recent award validates our efforts and teamwork.”

Dr. Thomas emphasized that the awards are the result of a team effort, across the entire organization, to focus on quality care.

“These awards should show our patients that we value quality and safety,” he said. “We are creating innovations to make their experiences better, safer and of the highest quality.”

Wael Mourad, M.D., Associate Chief Medical Officer, noted the awards show a focus on patient outcomes.

“We look forward to building on this success to propel Swope Health as a quality leader amongst Community Health Centers in not just Missouri, but in the entire Midwest region,” he said.

Swope Health was one of 29 award-winners in the state of Missouri, according to the HRSA Awards report. Along with the recognition, SHS received $137,000 in award funds, which will be used to further develop quality programs, said Dave Barber, President and CEO of Swope Health.

“We are honored to receive these awards,” he said. “This demonstrates that our commitment to quality to every patient is making a difference.”

Life Lessons in the Garden

Collard greens and kale

Collard greens and kale ready for picking, with Garry hard at work in the SHS garden in the background.

The sun was beaming on the Swope Health Services gardens at mid-morning as the gardeners began assembling to plan out the day’s work.

The gardeners are all members of the adult Community Psychiatric Rehabilitation Program (CPRP), along with Lenise James, Community Support Specialist.

Today’s tasks involved examining the crops already planted and then preparing two beds: one for sweet potatoes and one for zucchini.

Gardening empowers the participants, giving them specific tasks and focus.

Participants follow their interests: Garry takes a shovel and makes short work of preparing the bed for planting; Antwan, who aspires to be a herpetologist, inspects the garden for bugs – he finds earthworms, grubs and a caterpillar and he’s happy there are no signs of Japanese beetles. Stephan relishes the task of harvesting collard greens.

About 15 individuals in the CPRP participate in the gardening activity two or three days a week, weather permitting.

They plan for three seasons, rotating crops in the eight beds, and then they take care of watering, weeding and generally nurturing the plants to harvest.

Sweet potatoes

Abera Kelecho shows Lorena and Stephan how to plant sweet potatoes.

“We have a good time,” Lenise says, with her gardeners nodding in agreement. The gardens are a tangible expression of caring and nurturing, raising up tiny seedlings, and ultimately, cooking and eating the bounty that comes from the plants.

“It’s a little like raising children,” said Clarence, a program participant. “They start out so small and helpless, and then before you know it, they’re teenagers and young adults and ready to go on.”

This year’s garden program included a class on tomatoes, presented by the Kansas City Community Garden, and hands-on experience in planting and tending vegetables and herbs. Lenise notes it also gives some of the members a chance to teach the others. Some have experience and enjoy sharing memories and insights with others.

Abera Kelecho, case manager, joins the group this morning to help with planting sweet potatoes.  There’s plenty of lively chatter as he demonstrates how to separate the tender plants and prepare them for planting.

Lorena and zucchini

Lorena carefully positions the seedling zucchini in the garden.

Novice gardener Lorena listens intently and follows the guidance, earning praise from Abera.

“When I started, I didn’t want to touch the dirt,” she said. “Now I love it.”

The garden gives the group a chance to plan for the future as well as remember the past. Every year, the team dedicates a memorial to honor fellow gardeners who recently passed away.

This year’s memorial will be a large planter, filled with healthy and thriving herbs. The herbs will join the other plants when harvested in creating meals like collards and cornbread.

“They are so delicious,” Clarence said. Soon the team was busy recalling past meals from the garden while making suggestions for the next one.

Six members of the CPRP team, led by Sonya Bolden-Oakley, Supervisor, support the partnership that produces and manages the garden.

Co-leads are Lenise and Mark McIlroy, an experienced gardener and community support specialist.  The program is also supported with a grant from Kansas City Community Gardens.

 

 

Additional photos provided by Rosie, a program participant, showing the fruits of the 2017 garden: watermelon, tomatoes ripening on the vine, collard greens and peppers