Asthma Training Breathes New Life into Kansas City Pediatric Clinic

Dr. Ning Haluck

Dr. Ning Haluck

This post, by the American Lung Association editorial staff, was originally published on Oct. 28, 2019, at the association’s “Each Breath” blog.

When dealing with a long-term condition, the importance of continuing treatment by taking medication on schedule and as prescribed can become a hassle—particularly for asthma sufferers. Studies have shown that both children and adults with asthma struggle to maintain adequate care throughout their lifetime, which can have deadly consequences. This is made even worse when faced with an 80% low-income African American patient population, of whom the vast majority rely on Medicaid coverage.

This is the problem facing many patients at Swope Health in Kansas City, Missouri.

“So many things get in the way of routinely visiting a clinic and sticking to a treatment plan,” said Luningning Ocampo Haluck, M.D., director of pediatrics at Swope Health. “I became a pediatrician to fix everything, everybody. In the case of asthma, I just want my patients to be able to breathe. It’s not asking much.”

Thanks to funding by the Kansas Health Foundation and John W. and Effie E. Speas Memorial Trust, Dr. Haluck was inspired to align her clinic with American Lung Association’s Enhancing Care for Children with Asthma Initiative in July 2017. Upon committing to the project, she and her entire staff received extensive in-person training on a 10-step quality improvement program to help support asthma management and care for children.

Recognizing Asthma Symptoms

“A large part of it is recognizing asthma symptoms and reducing exposure to triggers, like environmental allergens and household pets,” Dr. Haluck added. Unfortunately, common asthma triggers range from respiratory infections, allergens, irritants, exercise and even emotions.

Asthma Training

An example of asthma care in the Swope Health pediatrics department, where providers use best practices from the American Lung Association in patients’ asthma care and management.

“We became the teachers,” said Dr. Haluck. “Through building our capacity to diagnosis, treat, and educate, we are now better able to coach our patients and their parents on what medications they need, when to take them, and how to make them a regular part of their day-to-day. It’s a clinic-wide effort and I’m grateful to my staff for helping to close the circle on asthma care for our families’ benefit.”

Dr. Haluck is not only an asthma specialist, but she is also an asthma patient. And her 11-year-old son, Jeremiah, has asthma as well.

“No parent should have to worry to the extent that many asthma parents do. Asthma won’t go away; however, it can be controlled. It’s my job to bridge this knowledge gap and provide my patients with every possible resource that exists because they deserve it. American Lung Association’s asthma program has been key to our success in reducing asthmatic patients’ acute hospital stays,” concluded Dr. Haluck.

The American Lung Association’s Enhancing Care for Children with Asthma Initiative recently exceeded 400 clinics across the country and with each new clinic, the positive impact reaches families further and faster. To learn more, please visit Lung.org/enhancingcare.

Swope Health Goes Back To School

Swope Health associates are heading back to school, right along with students at Benjamin Banneker Elementary School in the Kansas City Public School District.

Banneker Elementary LogoThe associates are part of a new pilot program to support students and teachers. Three days a week, a Swope Health Child and Family Services Interventionist will work with kids referred from the school’s Problem-Solving Team.

“We engage a community support specialist and create a care plan to provide for the needs of the child and the family,” said Margaux Lemmones, Clinical Supervisor in Children’s Outpatient Services. “The idea is to wrap the entire family in support.”

The Goal

The goal is to help kids struggling with trauma develop positive, pro-social behaviors and emotional stability. Services include gaining an understanding of specific triggers that cause an emotional reaction; learning and increasing use of coping skills to assist with managing their emotions and behavioral responses; increasing communication, and defusing conflict.

In this pilot program, the Swope Health Interventionist becomes a regular part of the Kindergarten through 6th grade school team, collaborating with trauma specialists, counselors and teachers, and participating in the school’s professional development workshops.

The Interventionist also offers assistance to teachers and front-line staff members to help them teach coping mechanisms and de-escalation techniques to the students. The school principal advocated for the extra support, encouraging the program to build strong relationships between school staff and Swope Health.

“We’re delighted to have this partnership with the school,” said Teresa Strub, Children’s Services Program Director. “This is a group that’s onboard with providing trauma-informed care.”

The pilot program includes steps for measuring engagement and outcomes. If it proves successful, it may be expanded to other schools, Teresa said.

In addition to the Banneker pilot program, Swope Health is present in other schools:

  • At the Academy For Integrated Arts (AFIA), Swope Health provides two Community Support Specialists who work from the charter school at 7910 Troost Ave., in Kansas City, Missouri. They are on site to work with kids and provide behavioral support.
  • The Parenting Education & Prevention program, with Kansas City Public Schools, Hickman Mills School District and Charter schools in Kansas City, offers training to teenage students to avoid pregnancy. The program also provides parenting education for teen parents.
  • The Adolescent Substance Use Disorder program is expected to start offering services through Ruskin High School in the Hickman Mills School District. This program is an extension of the substance use disorder programs operated in the Swope Health Children’s Services Department.
  • At Brookside Charter School, Swope Health offers a Parenting Group, Suicide Prevention Group, and Social-Emotional Skills Group. The Parenting Group works to help parents who have experienced trauma understand how those experiences may be affecting the way they parent and interact with their kids. For kids, the Suicide Prevention Group will teach risk factors, possible warning signs, how to seek help and other protective factors. The Social-Emotional Skills Group focuses on increasing the children’s emotional intelligence, helping them gain a better understanding of their own emotions and how those emotions affect their bodies and behaviors toward others.

Swope Health Dental Visits Schools, Too!

Swope Health Dental Team

Swope Health’s Dental Team visits schools to provide dental care for students enrolled in Head Start.

The Dental Team at Swope Health is in school, too.

The Dental Team provides services to children enrolled in the Head Start program across the metro area. Head Start is a program designed to give every child, regardless of family circumstances or economic status, an opportunity to succeed in school.

Funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the program provides health, nutrition and educational resources to pre-K children.

This fall, the Swope Health Dental team is scheduling visits at Head Start locations in:

Additionally, Swope Health performs regular outreach to schools and is eager to develop solutions to meet the needs of individual schools. Colleen Innis, Outreach Coordinator, invites school administrators to contact her with questions (cinnis@swopehealth.org or 816-922-1070).

What You Need To Know About Flu Season

Time to get your flu shot

It’s that time of year: kids are back in school, leaves are changing colors and starting to fall, and the flu will soon be circulating in our community.

It is flu season, and that means it is time for your annual flu shot. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a flu shot for everyone age six months and older. To assure you are protected during peak flu season, typically from December to February, the CDC suggests you receive your vaccination as soon as possible.

At Swope Health, getting a flu shot has never been easier.

Flu Vaccine Prep

Julie Richards, Director of Infection Control and Prevention, prepares an injection for a flu vaccination at Swope Health. She encourages everyone to get a flu shot to help prevent the spread of the flu.

“Call or come in,” said Julie Richards, Director of Infection Control and Prevention. “If you’ve been seen by a medical provider at Swope Health in the last year, you can call and ask for a Nurse-only visit to get a flu shot.”

You can also get a flu shot during an appointment with a Provider, whether scheduled or walk-in. To schedule an appointment, call 816-923-5800.

The CDC says the flu sickens millions of Americans every year and sends hundreds of thousands of people to the hospital. The National Foundation for Infectious Disease says it affects 5 to 20 percent of the nation’s population annually, and tens of thousands die from the flu and related complications.

The flu vaccination can keep you from getting the flu and help prevent the spread of the illness.

While getting a flu vaccination is your best way to prevent the spread of the flu, you should take other steps too, said Julie.

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Wash your hands frequently, using soap and water. If soap isn’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Try to avoid spreading germs when you cough or sneeze. Cover your nose and mouth with your elbow or use tissues. If you are using tissues, throw them away after use and wash your hands. Also, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • If you have a fever, stay home from school or work for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone. Limit your contact with other people to prevent spreading the illness.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces – doorknobs, sinks, keyboards, mobile devices, etc.

And if you do get the flu, talk or visit with your healthcare provider. You may be a candidate for antiviral prescription medication that may prevent complications or lessen the impact of the sickness.

Julie notes the flu vaccine will be available throughout the flu season, which, according to the CDC, can extend to May. “High numbers of cases can still occur in the springtime,” she said. “It’s never too late to get vaccinated in the flu season.”

Calling all Trick-or-Treaters! Come to Treat Town on October 31st!

Swope Health: Treat Town 2019It’s time for Treat Town!

This year marks the 24th annual community public service sponsored by Swope Health and Hot 103 Jamz (radio station KPRS 103 FM). The event is from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, October 31, 2019. The free event is a safe trick-or-treat experience for children 12 years and younger and their parents.

For one night only, Swope Health Central Building C will be transformed into a paradise for the Halloween crowd looking for candy and treats. Last year, more than 1,400 kids and parents visited the event, where they connected with community service agencies, danced to the DJs, played games, and admired the creativity of the Halloween trick-or-treaters. Oh, and everyone got plenty of candy!

Treat Town is a Safe Option

“Every year, parents tell us that, were it not for Treat Town, they would not go out with the kids on Halloween because of safety concerns,” said Dan Barnett, Communications Specialist at Swope Health, who organizes the annual event. Swope Health associates volunteer their time to decorate and organize the party, as well as hand out candy.

More than a dozen community support agencies are also on hand, sharing information, candy and small gifts in the Halloween spirit.

“This is a neighborhood tradition that’s just such a good time,” Dan said. “Our associates love seeing the excitement of all the little kiddos in costumes. It’s a feel-good experience for everyone.”

Swope Health: Treat Town 2019

Swope Health Building C is transformed into a Halloween extravaganza for Treat Town.

Swope Health: 2019 Treat Town

More than 1,400 princesses and superheroes visited last year’s Treat Town.

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.