It’s Hard to be a Kid

Remember what it’s like to be a kid? No jobs, bills or deadlines. You get to play all day. It’s carefree, right?

Not really. Kids face stress and can feel overwhelmed by pressure, too. Actually, says Teresa Strub, Children’s Services Program Director at Swope Health, there are a vast number of stressors facing kids today, including pressures at school; making friends; new classes; getting good grades; having the “right” clothes and things; emotional and physical changes; bullying and taunting; and challenges at home. Social media is a contributing factor in creating instability for kids, also.

Healthy Human Attachments

Play Therapy

Playtime can help kids manage stress. At Swope Health, counselors use play therapy to encourage kids to express themselves.

All these stressors mean there is a greater need than ever for kids to have healthy human attachments, Teresa said. Our human connections these days are not what they once were, she added, noting that it is rare for families to gather at dinner tables or spend spare time together.

“In the absence of human attachment, kids will turn to what they hear about, which makes suicide a big problem,” she said. “They hear that it’s normal to shut down and detach.”

Teresa noted she’d recently heard of a four-year-old child who attempted to strangle himself. How can a four-year-old even learn that is an option? Today’s children receive large amounts of adult-level information from media and social media, she explained.

Without stabilizing personal relationships, those situations and stress can create a cauldron of uncertainty in a young person. “We have to remember: kids need to learn skills for coping with stress,” she said.

So what’s a parent to do? What can the community do?

For parents, there is no substitute for time. Margaux Lemmones, Clinical Supervisor for the Children’s Outpatient Therapy and Adolescent Substance Use Disorder programs at Swope Health, described every hour in conversation with children as an investment in their future. Listening to their concerns, showing them love, role-modeling behaviors in challenging situations – all these simple steps will pay off in the long term, she said.

One way to find time is to set boundaries around children’s activities such as limiting the amount of time kids spend on video games or social media. Build schedules that allow for reading and homework, as well as helping around the house. Pair up on fixing dinner or doing the dishes and use that time to talk about school, friendships, plans and more.

Kids and Technology

Teresa invites parents to challenge the notion kids “need” their own mobile phone. “Yes, I understand that safety is the predominant reason,” she says, “but then do they really need the camera and access to all that other information, too?”

Mobile devices easily draw in children and then quickly become a demanding time-occupier, a status symbol and a subject of peer influence. Teresa advises setting limits on screen time and making an extra effort for building personal connections with family and friends. It’s up to parents to show that those attachments are important.

Play Therapy

Activities, including building toys, puzzles and games, can encourage kids to develop problem-solving skills while relieving stress.

Margaux suggests making sure kids have activities they can do without their phones or computers – especially exercise! Studies have shown that physical exercise, especially team sports or games, is a great way to combat stress, while fueling brain development and building social skills.

Games, puzzles, drawing and making things – especially involving ideas from science, technology, engineering, arts and math – can encourage kids to develop problem-solving skills. One of Margaux’s favorite activities is having kids create a book of their own life stories – have kids plan, write and illustrate their own story.

“Anything we can do to encourage more people-related activities and less device-related activities, including just talking, will help build attachments and confidence,” she said.

“It’s all simple,” she said, “but it’s not easy to do. It demands time and that works against us. We’ve got to address our attachment needs and make sure kids know there are people who care for them.”

If you or your child ever feels overwhelmed by stress, come talk with us. Visit Swope Health Behavioral Health or call 816-922-1070 to make an appointment.

Identifying Stress in Kids

By the American Psychological Association

  • Watch for negative changes in behavior. This could be acting moody, withdrawing from activities, complaining, crying or other changes. In some kids, it might be expressions of anger, hostility or fear.
  • Stomachaches and headaches can be signals of stress.
  • Acting out. Some kids will behave normally at home but act in unusual ways in other settings. Parents can check in with teachers and others to watch for changes.
  • Listen carefully. Kids may not have the skills to explain what they are feeling. They might use negative descriptions of themselves or their feelings (“I’m stupid,” “Nothing is fun,” “Nobody likes me”).

How Stress Affects the Brain

Stress can affect the way kids think and learn, resulting in lower IQ scores and difficulty reading and paying attention. It can damage emotional well-being and lead to mental health problems like depression or anxiety.

In adults, stress is linked to high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular problems, memory loss and ulcers. Stress can lead to burnout and affect mental health and behaviors.

Source: PsychCentral

Resources for Parents

Learn about Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding WeekSabrina Holliman, Chief Compliance Officer at Swope Health, is getting ready for a new challenge – she will become a first-time mom within a few months.

When she started wondering about breastfeeding, she didn’t have to look far for information. She turned to her colleagues for answers. Treva Smith, a Community Education Specialist in the dental department, has dedicated nearly 20 years to studying, educating and advocating breastfeeding. Treva also serves as member of the Board of Directors of the Kansas Breastfeeding Coalition.

Swope Health Celebrates World Breastfeeding Week

World Breastfeeding Week, sponsored by the World Health Organization and other groups, is the first week of August each year. The theme this year is “Empower Parents, Enable Breastfeeding.”

Swope Health’s WIC clinic held a Breastfeeding Resource Fair for moms and moms-to-be. The community-wide baby shower promoted breastfeeding and offered food, games and gifts for moms and kids, plus a raffle for special prizes.

The event was sponsored by Home State Health, Missouri Care and United HealthCare.

Swope Resources

Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Jennifer Jones and Swope Health’s WIC Department are also great resources for new moms and moms-to be. The WIC Program, provides supplemental nutrition for low-income Women, Infants and Children and offers extra incentives like breast pumps for breastfeeding moms. The program supports breastfeeding moms with a wealth of education, resources and referrals, plus a personal connection.

“We offer breastfeeding counseling for prenatal and new moms, and education for the whole family,” said Jennifer Jones, Breastfeeding Peer Counselor for WIC at Swope Health. “We educate the entire support system – moms, dads, siblings, grandparents, cousins or friends.”

Sabrina’s top questions were ones Swope Health’s breastfeeding support team has heard from other moms-to-be:

  • Where do I start in making a choice between breastfeeding and formula feeding?
Breastfeeding Week

Breastfeeding advocates at Swope Health include these members of the WIC team, from left, Lakeisha Davis, Program Coordinator; Terri Johnson, WIC Certifier; Ramona Mills, WIC Certifier; and Jennifer Jones, Breastfeeding Peer Counselor. The team also includes Breastfeeding Peer Counselors Shunte Johnson and Sherri Tauheed.

WIC is a good place to start, Jennifer notes. The federal program provides facts about infant nutrition as well as benefits of breastfeeding.

  • Should I expect breastfeeding to hurt in the beginning? Or does that mean I’m doing something wrong?

Sometimes women hear about pain in breastfeeding, but that is overcome with learning correct latching methods, Jennifer said. Initial soreness and tenderness is completely normal, and peer counselors can help with assuring a good latch and help check for issues like a plugged milk duct, infection or engorgement.

  • I understand it takes 2-5 days to change from producing colostrum to milk. Do I need to supplement with formula during that time?

Colostrum is the first milk produced, right after birth. It is typically thick and yellowish, and is full of the nutrients the baby needs in those first hours and days. You would use a supplement only if the baby isn’t nursing, she said.

  • How will I know if the baby is getting enough milk?

At birth, a baby’s tummy is about the size of a marble, and after 10 days, it’s about the size of a ping-pong ball. So it doesn’t take much to fill up a baby, Jennifer said. The best signs are if the baby seems happy after feedings, and if the baby is growing and gaining weight. There is also a series of indicators in the baby’s diapers, based on the number, type and colors of the baby’s poop – and this is the kind of info you’ll learn in more detail in classes or discussions with a peer counselor, she added.

  • When I go back to work, should I maintain the pump schedule?

Jennifer recommends continuing on a schedule, or at least every three hours. She notes it is important to maintain production for your baby.

The Swope Health WIC team welcomed Sabrina’s questions – and those from any moms or moms-to-be in the community.

“We’re passionate about empowering and educating moms on breastfeeding, which can improve health outcomes for babies and moms,” Jennifer said.

Research has shown that babies fed breast milk have less sickness, asthma and allergies. Babies get antibodies for immune system support and gut health as well as brain stimulation during breastfeeding. For moms, breastfeeding is linked to less osteoporosis and reduced risk of cancer. It can improve mental health by stimulating the hormones that help women through postpartum. Bonding between mom and baby helps with calmness and a better mental state for both, Jennifer noted.

The WIC program offers two breastfeeding classes, scheduled every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, which cover all aspects of breastfeeding. Classes start with details about what to expect, during and after pregnancy, including changes in anatomy. Moms learn how to help the baby latch correctly and how to hold the baby in the way that is best for both. There is also discussion of community resources, like Medicaid support for pumps, meal planning and all the other aspects of life that can affect breastfeeding.

The WIC team also works to challenge stigmas around breastfeeding, emphasizing the benefits of supporting women. In recent years, employers have evolved to provide time and comfortable rooms for moms to pump milk. Employers have learned that if the baby is healthy, Mom will be less likely to need to take unscheduled time off for sickness or doctor’s visits, Jennifer said.  Swope Health employees use the lactation room in WIC, a private and comfortable space to express milk during work hours.

“We prepare moms as best we can,” Jennifer said. “We know it’s one thing to learn and it’s another to experience it firsthand! We’re here to help with questions anytime. We work with moms in the clinic and provide referrals if the mom needs additional help, like with a healthcare provider or a lactation consultant.”

Sabrina said she was happy to learn answers to her questions, with resources so readily available right where she works.

“It’s wonderful to feel so supported by Swope Health,” she said. “I’m so glad to have such wonderful resources right here for all moms.”

100% Compliance: Audit Results for the VFC program at Swope Health Wyandotte

When we talk about Swope Health, we always talk about quality. It is in our mission statement and it is part of everything we do, every day. Here is an example.

VFC Program

VFC LogoSwope Health is a participant in the federal Vaccines for Children (VFC) program, which provides vaccines to approved providers to offer to children at no cost. The program works to vaccinate children who might otherwise not be vaccinated because of inability to pay.

The program, operated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has strict guidelines and controls, including annual site visits performed by state health departments to make sure providers meet all requirements.

VFC requirements include things you might not think about, like:

  • A Vaccine Accountability and Management Plan
  • Required annual training of clinic staff
  • Current Vaccine Information Sheets at every location, given with every dose
  • Complete immunization records
  • Strict requirements for storage, labeling and security of the vaccines, including temperature controls and procedures for disposing of expired or damaged vaccines

VFC Audit

Swope Health Wyandotte Team

The clinical team at Swope Health Wyandotte won praise for its high standards in a recent site visit by inspectors from the Kansas Immunization Program.

Recently, the Kansas Immunization Program sent a representative to perform a site visit – a kind of audit – of the VFC program at Swope Health Wyandotte. The investigator follows an evaluation framework to check in on each element of the program, gathering specific information, completing a questionnaire and interviewing clinic associates.

At the conclusion of the Wyandotte site visit, the investigator reported:  “As always, it is obvious the high standards your clinic holds.  There were no compliance issues discovered.”

Dr. Kenneth Thomas, Chief Medical Officer for Swope Health, noted the state is “very protective” of its vaccines and is strict in enforcing adherence to federal guidelines.

“This is a big accomplishment,” he said. “Our medical assistants and nursing staff are doing great work.”

Wyandotte Clinic Manager Irma Salinas, RN, agreed.

“I am so proud of the work the Wyandotte team has done and continues to do to care for our patients,” she said.  “I have received many wonderful comments about the compassionate care we are providing.”

Irma noted the team has been working hard on its processes – the step-by-step procedures that assure consistent and repeatable care for all patients.

“We know standard operating procedures are significant factors in providing more quality and efficient care,” she said.  “The last few weeks have not been easy, but each of us has demonstrated a strong desire to continue to make this the most outstanding clinic in Wyandotte County and beyond.”

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:

All Smiles for Children’s Dental Health Month

Dental Health Month 2019It’s February! That means it’s time to raise awareness about children’s dental health.

The American Dental Association sponsors the month-long observance to focus attention on the importance of good oral health in children and to equip caregivers, parents and teachers with information to promote good dental care for kids.

At Swope Health, we are in on this. Our dentists and dental assistants love to help kids develop good brushing habits, understand tooth-healthy choices and feel comfortable with dental care.

“Primary teeth–also, known as baby teeth–play a crucial role in a child’s health and development,” said Dr. Arezo Hesaraki, who sees patients at Swope Health’s Wyandotte Dental Clinic. “Practicing good oral health during a child’s early years promotes good nutrition by allowing them to chew properly. It also helps children develop better speaking skills while creating a better self-image.”

Dr. Hesaraki notes that the absence of good dental care can lead to cavities, which can cause problems with eating and interacting with others, and even contribute to difficulty learning or paying attention in school. The better approach is to learn about hygiene and healthy habits early, to prevent extensive – and expensive – treatments later.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends children see a dentist twice a year, although some children may require more frequent care. In a typical visit, Dr. Hesaraki will:

  • Check the teeth for cavities, by examination and X-ray.
  • Clean the teeth to remove any debris that builds up.
  • Help the child learn proper brushing and flossing.
  • Apply fluoride to strengthen teeth and prevent cavities.
  • Place sealant treatment on the teeth as a further protection, which is a bit like putting on a raincoat.

Dr. Hesaraki spends time talking with children and parents about good nutrition. She encourages them to make healthy choices like fruits, vegetables and water instead of sugary candy, juice and sodas.

Good dental care should start with infants, so Dr. Hesaraki teaches parents to wipe out the baby’s mouth with a soft, moist clean cloth after feeding to remove sugars and bacteria. She cautions not to let children go to sleep with a bottle of milk, noting if a bottle is necessary, it should contain only water.

“Tooth decay is the most common childhood disease,” she said. “The goal is to decrease the time that their teeth are exposed to sugars. You can do this by reducing the frequency and duration of sugar intake, and promptly cleaning teeth after eating.”

“I love children,” she says. “I want each one to have a healthy smile.”

Dental Team at Swope Health Wyandotte

The Dental team at Swope Health’s Wyandotte Clinic stands ready to help children develop the skills and habits that are critical for good oral health and healthy smiles. From left are two Swope Health Wyandotte Clinic dentists, Dr. Arezo Hesaraki and Dr. Nidhi Gupta, and two Dental Assistants, Laura Contreras and Naima Ibrahim.

Additional Resources:

HealthyChildren.org: Dental Health & Hygiene for Young Children

HealthyChildren.org: Brushing up on Oral Health – Never Too Early to Start

MouthHealthy.org: A Healthy Smile Can Last a Lifetime

My Children’s Teeth: Tooth Decay (American Academy of Pediatric Dentists)

Support Holiday Book Drive for SHS Kids

Barnes & Noble - Country Club PlazaThe Barnes & Noble Bookstore on the Country Club Plaza has named Swope Health Services as the recipient of its annual Holiday Book Drive.

This is the third time in four years Barnes & Noble has selected SHS to receive books donated by its customers.

All customers who visit the Plaza Barnes & Noble store, 420 W. 47th St., Kansas City, MO, through Dec. 9, 2018, are invited to purchase books for SHS children’s programs.

SHS will provide the books free to children of all ages who visit SHS clinics for healthcare and behavioral health services.

“In the past, we have worked with Swope Health and it’s been a great success,” said Joseph Harris, assistant store manager at the Plaza Barnes & Noble.

“We’ve had a lot of engagement from the community. We get really excited because it’s such a great cause. We’re happy to partner with Swope Health.’’

The book drive launched at the end of October and will wrap up at the end of the first week in December.  Joseph said the drive is on pace to produce more than 1,000 books.

“This is a wonderful program that provides books for our kids here at Swope Health throughout the year,” said Amy Kuhnlein, SHS Manager of Development and Community Affairs. “Books are used in treatments and as rewards for reaching milestones. Barnes & Noble helps us make KC a community of healthy readers.”

Customers can choose their own childhood favorites or select from SHS- or Barnes & Noble-recommended titles.

Polor Express Pajama PartyBarnes & Noble keeps a supply of recommended books at every checkout counter, making it easy for customers to select a book for the drive at checkout.

The SHS list was developed by professional therapists and counselors in the Children’s Community Psychiatric Rehabilitation Program, which works with children from ages 5-17 who experience trauma or behavioral health issues.

The reading list includes books featuring characters in similar situations and provides stimulus to work through challenges.

“Reading is magic,” said Tiffany Clinton, Supervisor, Children’s Community Psychiatric Rehabilitation Program at SHS.

“The kids can disappear into a story, into a new world, and sometimes it becomes a little easier to talk about the difficult stuff. These books offer hope and life lessons.”

Barnes & Noble, a national chain, encourages book drives at all of its local shops. In its 2017 book drive, Barnes & Noble helped deliver more than 1.6 million books to more than 650 local charitable organizations serving disadvantaged children across the country.

The Plaza Barnes & Noble has donated books from its Holiday Book Drive to SHS in previous years, providing SHS more than 1,500 books in 2015 and again in 2017. SHS volunteers will also help wrap presents at the store throughout December.

“We love our partnership with Barnes &Noble,” Amy said, adding SHS will distribute the books through its children’s programs and pediatric health care clinics.

SHS healthcare providers also use the books to help assess a child’s cognitive and physical development and talk with parents about the importance of reading to their children.

Research has shown that reading to young children produces benefits including increasing vocabulary, curiosity and memory and improving listening skills. The American Academy of Family Physicians describes a positive association with books and reading as a foundation for scholastic success.

You can support the book drive by visiting the Barnes & Noble on the Country Club Plaza, 420 W. 47th St. The store is open Sundays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. On Dec. 24, the store is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and closed on Dec. 25, Christmas Day. The store reopens from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Dec. 26.

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…

Don’t Delay – Get Your Flu Shot Today

Did you know the best time to get a flu shot, providers say, is before the flu starts circulating?

That’s because it takes about two weeks from the time you get a shot for the vaccine to take effect in your body. You want to have the vaccine antibodies BEFORE the flu season kicks into high gear.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest people should be vaccinated by the end of October.

While it’s impossible to predict exactly when the flu will start appearing in Kansas City, flu activity across the U.S. typically peaks between December and February.

If you don’t make the October deadline, the CDC says, it’s still a good idea to get vaccinated, even into January.

Vaccinations are recommended for everyone ages six months and older. Pregnant women should also get flu shots to protect themselves and their babies.

At Swope Health Services, we are ready. When you come in for any kind of visit, your provider can give you a flu shot. Call for your appointment today: 816-923-5800.

“We encourage all our patients to get the flu shot to build a healthier community,” says Julie Richards, Director of Infection Prevention and Control, at Swope Health Services.  “Remember, you may be able to spread the flu to someone else before you are sick or while you are sick.  Getting the flu shot protects all of us!”

Why is it important to get a flu shot? To prevent the disease from spreading, especially to the very young and very old and other people who are most vulnerable to flu complications.

For most people the flu is an inconvenience, but for some, the flu leads to hospitalization. Annually, an estimated 12,000 people die from complications of the flu – that’s the equivalent of about 23 747 jet planes full of passengers.

In addition to getting the seasonal flu vaccine, there are other basic steps you can take to stay healthy:

  • Wash your hands often
  • Avoid being around people who are ill
  • If you become ill, don’t go to school or work or any place where you can spread the flu to others

What can you expect if you get the flu? Usually, flu symptoms, like a runny nose, sneezing and sore throat will come on quickly.

Most people have a fever of 100 degrees or more, aching muscles, chills and sweats, headache, dry cough, nasal congestion, and sore throat. They also may feel fatigued and weak. In short, having the flu is no fun.

Most people can recover from the flu on their own, although it can take a week or more for some people.

If you have risks of complications, don’t hesitate to see your provider, who can prescribe antiviral medications to help fight the infection.

More information about the flu:

Celebrating Moms and Healthy Babies

Ahkeya Howard

Ahkeya Howard, SHS Lead Community Health Worker and a licensed clinical social worker, shows off some of the many resources available to participants in the Healthy Start Initiative.

At Swope Health Services’ Healthy Start Initiative, every day is Mother’s Day.

The program, operating at SHS Central and Wyandotte, is where pregnant women and moms can find support for just about any need. About 80 women are now enrolled.

Healthy Start is a federal program, offered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) department of the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, to support healthy pregnancy and early childhood.

The Kansas City Healthy Start Initiative operates at SHS and at Samuel Rodgers Health Center as a program of the Mother & Child Health Coalition.

Kansas City Healthy Start supports eligible women from certain zip codes in Jackson (MO) and Wyandotte (KS) counties where infant mortality rates are higher than average.

The free program helps pregnant women and women with children under the age of 2 get information and services they need to have a healthy pregnancy, raise a healthy family, and keep themselves healthy and strong.

After enrolling, each participant is assigned a community health worker. Each program starts with an exploration, said Ahkeya Howard, SHS Lead Community Health Worker and a licensed clinical social worker.

“We talk about your needs,” Ahkeya said. “We ask questions and provide support. We are here for you.”

That support can be personal – encouragement, advocacy, listening and training. It can also be tangible items, like diapers (provided by Happy Bottoms), baby cribs and car seats.

For example, when mothers complete Safe Sleep Training provided by community health workers and Infant Loss Resources, they are eligible to receive a free portable playpen/napper.

Each participant is encouraged to set goals, which can also range from personal (practicing better coping skills or relationship building) to professional (enrolling in training, getting a degree or finding a job).

If needed, the support extends to finding housing, transportation, food and signing up for other benefits like health insurance.

Participants typically visit the program once a month, and the goals are re-examined and reset every six months. The program, typically covering the span from a child’s birth until age 2, focuses on key topics of relationships, education, employment, health, mental health, basic essentials and child development.

“It’s important to think about the future, about what will be best for your child,” Ahkeya said. “We’re your cheerleaders and we want to see you succeed.”

This month, the “cheerleaders” organized a special drawing for two baskets filled with treats designed to pamper new moms. All the items were donated by associates in WIC and Healthy Start, and all visitors to either program in the month of May were entered into the drawing.

“There’s something to celebrate every day,” Ahkeya said. “Happy moms and healthy babies are our favorite reasons.”

To learn more about the Healthy Start Initiative, ask your SHS OB-GYN or pediatric provider or talk with Ahkeya Howard at SHS Central or by phone at (816) 599-5791.

The staff of the WIC and Healthy Start Initiative

The staff of the WIC and Healthy Start Initiative donated items to create two gift baskets as another way to celebrate moms in their programs.

Is it Measles? One Mom’s Story

Gracelyn Spruell

Gracelyn Spruell

One recent Wednesday afternoon, Katie Spruell’s daughter came home from daycare with a red rash on her neck.

Katie, a Medical Assistant at Swope Health Services, examined her three-year-old daughter carefully. She found red bumps at her hairline, on her face and cheeks, down her neck and throughout the trunk of her body.

Little Gracelyn had a fever, too.

That’s when Katie began wondering if this was a case of measles.

An outbreak of measles had been reported in the Kansas City area, reaching 16 confirmed cases as of mid-April.  Most of the people who came down with measles had not been vaccinated.

Measles is highly contagious disease, producing a fever, cough, runny nose and red eyes, followed by a rash of tiny red spots. The rash typically starts at the head and spreads down the body. The disease is dangerous, especially in children, if it leads to pneumonia or swelling of the brain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Measles infographicKatie brought her daughter to SHS the next morning, where the Pediatric team ordered initial tests for strep throat and bacterial infection. Those rapid tests came back negative, Katie said, but that didn’t answer the specific question: was it measles?

“We had Gracelyn come back three days later for a blood draw to determine if it was an atypical case of measles,” said Dr. Kenneth Thomas, SHS Pediatrician and Chief Medical Officer. He explained the test should be performed three days after of the outbreak of the rash in order to get an accurate result.

Meanwhile, during those three days, Gracelyn stayed home to prevent any spread of her illness. She was irritated, whiny and still feverish, Katie reported. Katie was worried, too, because Gracelyn had only received one vaccination against measles.

The CDC, the American Pediatric Association and most physicians recommend defending children against the disease with a combination vaccine that provides protection against measles, mumps and rubella. The vaccine takes two doses: the first at 12 to 15 months old, and the second before the child starts school, usually between age 4 and 6.

After the blood tests, the SHS providers were able to identify the cause of Gracelyn’s rash: it was a case of scarlet fever, related to strep throat.

“I was so relieved,” said Katie, noting that Gracelyn is now better.

“This illustrates how important it is for every parent to make sure your children are vaccinated,” said Dr. Thomas. “People get complacent and think it isn’t a risk anymore. But it is – the world is a much smaller place these days.”

Most outbreaks of measles are traced to unvaccinated people or those who have traveled abroad where measles is still common. The same is true of other diseases, such as polio and the flu, he noted, which is why vaccinations are necessary.

“It’s important to protect yourself and your kids from disease,” he said. “The measles vaccine is effective and safe. We would much rather prevent the disease than treat it.”

Measles spreads quickly, typically through coughing and sneezing. If you think you have been exposed to measles and have the symptoms, it’s time to see a doctor. Bring immunization records with you, and be sure to explain the reason for your visit before you arrive. This will help us protect other patients and caregivers from risk.

“If you’re not protected from measles, this is a good time to fix that,” said Dr. Thomas. “Come talk with us. Help prevent more cases of measles, and more importantly, keep your kids safe and healthy.”

Call 816-923-5800 for an appointment at SHS Pediatrics Clinic.  

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