Shiny, Sparkling New Facilities Unveiling at SHS

Open HouseAt long last, the dust is settling at Swope Health Services as three major renovation projects are coming to completion.

  • Behavioral Health Children’s Services

The north side of the second floor of building B at Central Facility is now home to an integrated Children’s Services Center. The new center is securely separated from adult services, and includes room for new services.

The total renovation of the 5,200-square-foot area cost $300,000, and took about four months of intense construction.

The project included creation of a new lobby and reception area, a community conference room, a “grand room” for groups of 30, a children’s playroom, two new treatment rooms, three new provider offices and a much-needed storage room. Additional renovation upgraded the staff breakroom, cubicles and hallways.

The result is bright and lively, full of vibrant colors.

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The new playroom in the Childrens’ Services Center is packed with games and toys in a fun space.

“It’s a friendly and welcoming environment,” said Josette Mitchell, Director of the Community Psychiatric Rehabilitation Program. “That’s by design. If you feel good about where you go, that’s an aid to the healing process.”

The project was designed by Bell/Knott & Associates Architects of Leawood, Kansas, and construction was performed by Purdum Construction of Overland Park, Kansas.

Mark your calendars for the Grand Opening: 8 a.m. Friday, March 30.

  • Pediatrics/OB-GYN Expansion

Debbie Meads, Program Manager, shuffled departments and clinics for about a year to make room for a vastly expanded Pediatrics and OB-GYN service area.

In Pediatrics, there are now 15 treatment rooms, up from 10. The Obstetrics clinic grew from nine rooms to 23, with space to support seven providers.

“The new spaces are designed for improved efficiency and workflow,” Debbie noted, “and include better infection control procedures for testing, easier access to weight stations, and new Neonatal Stress Testing rooms.”

Some of the additions in OB-GYN – like wall-mounted vital signs monitors – speed up examinations, as medical assistants no longer have to wheel in mobile units. Plus, the readings from the monitors now flow directly into the patient’s electronic medical records, reducing potential for errors in transcribing the data.

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The Pediatrics team in one of the new exam rooms.

“It’s faster for the staff and that means faster care for the patients, too,” Debbie said.

Dr. Kenneth Thomas, Chief Medical Officer and Pediatrician, said: “It’s a beautiful place for kids – full of healthy, educational and creative themes to stimulate kids’ minds and creativity and build strong habits.”

But, he added, “The beauty is just a bonus – the most important thing is how we’ve expanded.

We now have the capacity to see more patients and provide a higher level of service. We want to be a place our patients are proud to come to, a place our patients want to be.”

The final phases of construction are wrapping up this month.

This project was supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number C8DCS29675 Renovation of SHS-Central Pediatrics & OB/GYN Clinics with an award of $1 million with $800,000 financed with nongovernmental sources.

The project encompassed 12,955 square feet, or about 10 percent of the entire Central facility. The design work was completed by Garcia Architecture LLC of Kansas City, and Purdum Construction handled construction.

The Pediatrics and OB-GYN Grand Opening will be at 8 a.m. Friday, May 11.

  • Imani House Renovation
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The new computer lab at Imani House.

SHS’s Imani House is a freestanding facility for substance abuse treatment, just behind SHS Central, at 3950 E. 51st St. The 10,733-square-foot facility was updated from top to bottom in this project, which began in 2016 and cost more than $655,000.

There are two new group rooms, a conference room and a new six-station computer lab. There’s also a workout space, plus all new offices and remodeled group meeting spaces throughout.

“These renovations, along with new programming, have shifted the atmosphere into one clients and associates alike can be proud of,” said Andrea Buford, Director of Clinical Operations, Behavioral Health.

“This aids in our goal to make Imani House the premiere treatment facility of choice in Kansas City.”

The project was designed by Bell/Knott & Associates Architects with construction performed by Purdum Construction.

The finishing touches will await warmer weather – that’s when the new landscaping will be added, just in time for the grand opening.

The Imani House Grand Opening will be 8 a.m. Friday, April 20.

Please add these dates to your calendars and plan to join us to see the changes for yourself.

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The OB-GYN team in their new workroom.


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One of the new conference rooms at Imani House.


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There’s bright and whimsical artwork throughout the new Pediatrics clinic.


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An example of the built-in vital signs monitors in the new Ob/Gyn clinic exam rooms.


It’s time for your flu shot!

flu season

From left, Sheila Shipley, Infection Control Nurse, and Bobby Mickens, Interim Director of Nursing and Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner, encourage you to get a flu shot. Call for an appointment or ask your provider during your next visit.

Welcome to October! It’s the time for cooler mornings, sunlight angling through the trees, even a bit of fog in the early hours.

It’s also time to get ready for flu season.

Experts say October is the best time to get your annual flu shot because you want to be vaccinated before the virus is circulating widely.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend getting a flu shot between October and the end of the year.

At Swope Health Services, we’re ready!

“Getting a vaccine means you’ll have a better chance of avoiding the flu, missing work or school, and spreading the illness to others around you,” said Bobby Mickens, Interim Director of Nursing at SHS.

“I’m encouraging everyone to get a flu shot,” she said. “It’s a good prevention measure for everyone. And the more people who get the shot, the more protection we have to avoid spreading illness to the people who are more vulnerable to flu complications.”

Most health insurance programs cover flu vaccinations.

So what are you waiting for? Call 816-923-5800 to schedule an appointment or visit any of the SHS locations for a walk-in appointment.

Myths about the Flu Vaccine

Sheila Shipley, Infection Control Nurse, spends a lot of time debunking myths about the flu and the flu vaccine. Here are the most common ones:

  1. The flu shot will make me sick.

The vaccination is not made with a live virus so it can’t make you sick. It takes the vaccine about two weeks to become effective and provide protection, so it is possible you can be exposed to the flu and get sick during that period. That’s why it’s important to be vaccinated before the flu is widespread in the community.

Also, after the shot, some people may have soreness in their arm, a low-grade fever or achy feeling.  That’s normal, and to address it, she recommends exercising the sore arm and taking either Tylenol or Motrin for the fever and aches.

  1. I’m allergic to eggs so I can’t get a shot.

The vaccine is safe even for people with egg allergies. Most people with egg allergies are still able to eat foods made with eggs, and so would not have an allergic reaction to the vaccine. People with serious allergic reactions to eggs are monitored after receiving the flu shot.

  1. I’m healthy and the flu is nothing more than a bad cold. I don’t need a shot.

Healthy people can get the flu. If you haven’t had it before, consider yourself lucky! But even if the flu affects you with only mild symptoms, you should remember that you are still carrying the virus and potentially spreading it to others who may be more vulnerable.

“In patients whose health is compromised, the flu can be truly life threatening,” she said. “They can be susceptible to pneumonia and other complications leading to death. Every year, thousands of people die from the flu.”

Mark Your Calendars! Back-to-School Health Fair – Saturday, July 29th

Back to School Health Fair FlyerIt’s summer now, but school season will be here in a few short weeks!

We’re ready to help all school-aged children get ready with our fourth annual Back-to-School Health Fair.

The fair is free and will run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, July 29 at SHS Central, 3801 Blue Parkway in Kansas City, Mo.

Like previous years, this 2017 health fair offers a one-stop shop for health screenings for kids, including immunizations (as needed), pending provider availability. Parents, please remember to bring your I.D. and your child’s immunization records.

We’ll also provide backpacks, filled with school supplies, and bicycle helmets for school-aged kids – free, while supplies last. (Children must be present to receive these items.)

The event promises music and fun, too, with performances by The Battery Tour as well as balloon animals, face painting and refreshments.

The fair includes information for parents and children, with resource tables featuring staff from SHS and community organizations.

See you Saturday, July 29!

SHS Gratefully Acknowledges the Support of our Sponsors and community partners who make this possible:


Going Swimming? Follow These Tips to Keep Your Kids Safe

True or False: Among preventable injuries, drowning is the leading cause of death for children 1 – 4 years old.

Sadly, it’s true.

With hot summertime weather and swimming pools beckoning, it’s time for a refresher on how to make sure children are protected when they spend time around water.

Here are some top recommendations from, a reference from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

  • Don’t leave kids alone in the water, and make sure a responsible adult is watching them closely. This “water watcher” should never be distracted by a smartphone or other activities, like chatting with friends or reading.
  • “Touch supervision” – staying within an arm’s length of a child in the water – is especially important for kids under the age of 5 and those who have less swimming experience.
  • Never swim alone. Even good swimmers need buddies!
  • “Floaties” or those inflatable swimming aids are not rescue equipment. Don’t use them in place of approved life jackets. If you are boating, make sure kids wear properly fitted life jackets at all times.
  • Teach your child to never dive into water without getting permission from an adult who’s made sure the depth is safe.
  • Empty all tubs, buckets, containers and kiddie pools immediately after use. Store them upside down so they don’t collect water. It doesn’t take much water for a drowning accident.
  • Know what to do in an emergency. Learning CPR and basic water rescue skills may help you save a life.

Some Additional Resources:

Be a “Roll Model”: Bike Safety Saves Lives

national-bike-month-bicycle-logoMay is National Bike Safety Month – a good time to review ways you can take precautions to avoid injuries and accidents while cycling.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 818 bicyclists died and more than 45,000 were injured in bicycle-automobile accidents in 2015, with deaths rising 12 percent from 2014 numbers.

It’s not surprising that car and bicycle collisions are the most frequent source of injuries to cyclists, responsible for nearly one-third of all bicycling injuries.

This year’s awareness programs encourage bicycle riders and drivers to serve as “Roll Models” for safety. Here’s what it means to be a “Roll Model:”

  • Ride and Drive Focused — Never ride or drive distracted.
  • Ride and Drive Prepared — Always expect the unexpected.
  • Safety First — Always wear a bicycle helmet when on a bicycle and a seatbelt when in a vehicle.
  • Know the Rules of the Road — A bicyclist is considered a vehicle on the road with all the rights and responsibilities of motorized traffic.
  • Share the Road — Motorists and bicyclists should look out for each other and show mutual respect.

roll modelHere are a few references with more information:

If you don’t have a bicycle and would like one, check out The Bike Shop by Revolve KC. This not-for-profit organization provides free online bike safety training, refurbishes old bikes, and helps everyone get a bicycle. They’re a great resource for answering questions about bikes and biking.

Why Do You Need to Schedule Well-Child Visits?

well child (2)When a child is sick, it’s time to see your pediatrician. But you may not realize it’s just as important to take your healthy child for a visit.

These are called “Well-Child Visits.” They give the pediatrician a chance to detect disease, help prevent issues, track growth and development, and get a good measure of possible concerns.

“I want to see your child before there’s an illness or a problem,” said Dr. Kenneth Thomas, SHS Chief Medical Officer and a pediatrician. “There’s a good chance we can prevent a problem or an emergency before it even shows up – if we get the chance.”

Well-child visits are a best practice widely recommended by medical professionals, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Institutes of Health.

well child (3)In the visits, pediatricians take preventive measures like administering immunizations and conduct numerous screenings, including dental, hearing, vision, lead poisoning and others.

The visits also give parents a chance to ask questions. It’s a good idea for parents come to the well-child visit with an agenda of topics.

“I welcome the opportunity to talk with parents about their kids,” said Dr. Thomas. “I want parents to feel free to talk with me about anything unusual or anything they’re uncertain about in their child’s behavior, growth or habits. It helps us build a team to focus on what that child needs.”

Building that long-term relationship is valuable, giving the pediatrician insights to help parents anticipate their child’s specific needs. Common questions cover topics like sleep habits, potty training, nutrition, exercise and social behavior.

well child (1)“We anticipate what’s coming next in a child’s development,” Dr. Thomas said. “For example, for a six-month old, the focus will be on preparing for the child’s crawling stage – removing hazards and creating a safe home.”

Well-child visits are especially important if the child has a chronic condition like asthma, eczema or allergies.

“We can avoid potential problems if we stay caught up,” said Dr. Thomas. “We can refill prescriptions and manage the child’s condition better if we’ve had regular contact via a well-child visit.”

Experts recommend regular well-child visits, starting with frequent visits in the first year – within a few days of birth and then at 1, 2, 4, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 24 and 30 months. After age 3, children should see a doctor at least once a year throughout their teen years. Well-child visits may be required by Medicaid or some other insurance plans.


Help your kids start the New Year off in a healthy way – bring them in for a Well-Child Visit. Call 816-923-5800 to schedule your appointment now.

How Do Your Children Behave at Home and School?


Colleen Innis

By Colleen Innis, MA, Child Behavioral Health Project Coordinator, CPRC Children

School is cool when kids can follow the rules. But we know that sometimes, kids need a little extra help to learn the rules or work through issues that might make it hard for them to follow the rules.

Here’s a checklist: Is your child having difficulty sustaining attention to tasks or activities at home and school? Does your child show any of these behaviors or have any of these actions?

  • Has multiple suspensions
  • Does not seem to listen when spoken to directly
  • Fidgets with hands and feet or squirms in seat
  • Leaves seat when remaining seated is expected
  • Has difficulty playing or engaging in leisure/play activities quietly
  • Has difficulty waiting his/her turn
  • Loses temper
  • Argues with adults
  • Actively defies or refuses to comply with adults’ request or rules
  • Blames others for his/her mistakes or misbehaviors
  • Bullies, threatens, or intimidates others
  • Initiates physical fights
  • Has run away from home overnight
  • Is fearful, anxious or worried
  • Experiencing the effects of trauma

childrenIf any of these symptoms are preventing your child from developing and maintaining healthy relationships at home or school, you should consider having your child participate in a Behavioral Health Assessment at Swope Health Services.

Our walk-in hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. We provide a variety of services and treatment:

  • Individualized treatment plan and services
  • Community coordination and support services
  • Crisis intervention
  • School and community outreach and engagement
  • School coordination and support
  • Group programming
  • Psycho-social assessments

To learn more about our Children’s programs and services, please call Colleen Innis at 816-918-6130. When attending a walk-in appointment please bring Valid Identification for the parent or guardian, proof of address, proof of income, custody documents and child’s proof of insurance.

Our programs provide a safe place for kids to work through challenges and have positive and healthy experiences. For an appointment, call 816-923-5800.

A Dialog on the Safety of Vaccines

By Kenneth Thomas, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Pediatrician

I received some critical feedback from someone on my recent blogs on immunization addressing myths vs truths, frequently asked questions, and  schedules. I appreciate the time this reader took to write, and I want to share both the comment and my response with you.

First the comment:

This is a disappointing example of how “experts” in medicine will say a lot while saying nothing at all. You promised to address parents’ objections to vaccines, yet really provided nothing in particular to assuage those concerns parents might have after witnessing friends or family members deal with the reality of a vaccine-damaged child. What would you say to the request of a parent for any long term studies to support the efficacy or safety of any vaccine combinations administered to infants and up today? The sad reality is that there really are not any studies done like this while the vaccine inserts themselves list the many reasons parents would be objectionable to their infant being injected with vaccines.

The documentary VaXXed chronicles the CDC’s own use of fraud and abuse of its power to perpetuate the idea that vaccines do not cause autism, when in its own MMR study it dramatically increased the rates of autism in African-American patients.

I would ask Dr. Thomas to take the time to read the vaccine inserts before imposing on others the idea that vaccines are safe, they simply are not safe for everyone. They never have been proven, in today’s schedule, to be safe or effective in preventing the illnesses they are purported to prevent.

When 1 in every 2 children is overweight, obese or struggles from some sort of learning disability I would say that everything being done in the name of keeping our children healthy is on the table for reconsideration and vaccines, because of all the toxic and foreign ingredients from heavy metals to adjuvants to foreign DNA, are a primary choice for elimination until proven, by sound science and not political theater, to be absolutely safe and effective.

immunizations (1)I’ll address each point:

If a parent asked me for long-term studies to support the safety or efficacy of vaccine combinations, I’d offer this website:

It contains a list of long-term studies, specifically addressing multiple injections. This site is produced by the Immunization Action Coalition and provides solid scientific reference materials for parents and physicians.

One of the most compelling research studies (an analysis of 96,000 children) was published by the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study specifically debunks any link between vaccines and autism.

You are correct about vaccine inserts containing information that many parents might find scary or objectionable. There’s a law (the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act) that specifies that all vaccines have Vaccine Information Statements that detail possible side effects and risks. All FDA-approved medicines are required to inform users of possible negative outcomes from taking the medication.

I am quite familiar with the Vaccine Information Statements and regularly give them to my patients.

While I have not seen the film “VaXXed,” I know it is a work of propaganda, not journalism or unbiased reporting. (For example, even the IMDb movie site labels the film a “fantasy, thriller,” not a documentary.) It represents the point of view of the director, who is the same author who initially instigated the now-debunked concept linking vaccines and autism and lost his medical license as a result of ethical violations and deliberately manipulating data – in other words, committing fraud in his research.

I stand by my position and I stand with the scientific data that demonstrates the efficacy, safety and benefits of childhood vaccinations. I stand with a majority of physicians, scientists and researchers united in support of the positive health benefits of vaccinations.

I also stand with you and share your concerns for keeping our children healthy, including addressing the factors that cause obesity and learning disorders. I’ll take that on in a follow-up post.

Meanwhile, thank you for your concerns. I look forward to continued engagement and working together to keep our children healthy.

Questions and comments are always welcome. Use the box below to respond, or call us for an appointment for your child at 816-923-5800.

Here’s Our Recommended Routine Vaccination Schedule for Children

immunizations (1)By Kenneth Thomas, MD – Chief Medical Officer, Pediatrician

Scheduling children for vaccinations can be challenging. The recommended schedule shows a list of diseases and dates for immunizations — six sets from 2 -18 months of age.

Plus more at age 4 years, to start school, and again at starting at age 11, all together providing protection against more than a dozen diseases.

Yes, it’s complicated. And important.

Let me explain. In a previous post, I answered some common questions about vaccines.

Vaccines work by stimulating the body to create defenses against disease-bearing bacteria or viruses. A vaccine contains a weakened version of the germ (or toxin they produce), or subunits (parts) of the germ to “imitate” an infection – just enough to prompt the body’s immune system to get to busy fighting off the infection. Once the body fights off this imitation infection, it can “remember” and fight off a real infection if it occurs.

Decades of research have developed the detailed schedules of recommended vaccines throughout a lifetime — the process assures that appropriate vaccines are given to children at the right ages, in the right sequence, and at the right intervals.

You see, the vaccines are carefully timed for maximum effectiveness. Some vaccines require multiple doses to achieve immunity or booster doses to maintain protection.

Here is our recommended routine vaccination schedule:

At Age …Receive a Vaccination to Prevent
Two months

(Primary Series)

•       Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis / Hepatitis B / Polio (Dose1)

•       Pneumococcal disease (Dose 1)

•       Haemophilus Influenza Type B (Dose 1 – we typically use a 3 dose series)

•       Rotavirus (Dose 1 – we typically use a 2 dose series)

Four months

(Primary Series)

•       Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis / Hepatitis B / Polio (Dose 2)

•       Pneumococcal disease (Dose 2)

•       Haemophilus Influenza Type B (Dose 2)

•       Rotavirus (Dose 2)

Six months

(Primary Series)

•       Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis / Hepatitis B / Polio (Dose 3)

•       Pneumococcal disease (Dose 3)

Nine months Catch up any as needed
12 months •       Measles, mumps, rubella (Dose 1)

•       Varicella (chickenpox) (Dose 1)

•       Hepatitis A (Dose 1)

Note: other vaccines may be given at this point to catch up or if an accelerated schedule is needed.

15 months


•       Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis (Dose 4)

•       Pneumococcal disease (Dose 4)

•       Haemophilus Influenza Type B (Dose 3)

18 months •       Hepatitis A (Dose 2)
4 years


•       Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis (Dose 5)

•       Polio (Dose 4)

•       Measles, mumps, rubella and varicella (Dose 2)

11 years •       Tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis

•       Meningococcal disease (Dose 1 of 2)

•       Human Papilloma Virus (starting 3 dose series)

16 years •       Meningococcal disease (Dose 2)

Our recommended schedule complies with state immunization requirements for public schools and aligns with the latest guidance from the medical profession and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (You can learn more from the CDC website.)

Vaccines will help keep your children safe and healthy. Please bring your children for regular physical and Well-Child exams. Call 816-923-5800 to schedule an appointment.

Have other questions about vaccines? Leave your question in the comment box below or come visit the SHS pediatric clinic.

Vaccination Q&A: You’ve Got Questions. We’ve Got Answers.

immunizations (3)By Kenneth Thomas, MD – Chief Medical Officer, Pediatrician

In my experience in pediatrics, I know parents often have questions about childhood vaccinations. In this post, I will answer some of the most common questions I hear.

  • How do vaccines work? Vaccines greatly reduce the risk of infection by working with the body’s natural defenses to safely develop immunity to disease. Vaccines work by stimulating the body to create defenses against disease-bearing bacteria or viruses. A vaccine contains a weakened version of the germ (or the toxin they produce), or parts of the germ, to “imitate” an infection — just enough to prompt the body’s immune system to get busy learning how to recognize and fight off the infection.

This type of infection does not cause illness, but it does cause the immune system to produce T-lymphocytes (White Blood Cells) and antibodies to respond to the infection. Sometimes, after getting a vaccine, the imitation infection can cause minor symptoms, such as fever. This is normal and expected as the body builds immunity. Once the imitation infection goes away, the body is left with a supply of “memory” T-lymphocytes, as well as B-lymphocytes that will remember how to fight that disease in the future.

  • Can someone who’s been vaccinated still get the disease? It typically takes time for the immune system to develop an adequate level of protection after vaccination. So it is possible that a person who was infected with a disease just before or after vaccination could develop symptoms and catch the disease, because the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection. No vaccine is 100 percent effective, but most come pretty close, and the vaccine may prevent the most severe complications of the disease such as hospitalizations or death.
  • Is the “natural” way better? This is a belief that it’s better to catch the real disease and let your body deal with it. This is a dangerous belief, as the fact is children can suffer from serious consequences or die from measles, chicken pox, whooping cough and other preventable diseases. Vaccines save lives.
  • Why are there so many childhood vaccinations? Decades of research have developed the detailed schedules of recommended vaccines throughout a lifetime. The vaccines are carefully timed for maximum effectiveness. Some vaccines require multiple doses to achieve immunity or booster doses to maintain protection. (I’ll talk more about this in my next post.).
  • Why do babies and young children need vaccines? In general, vaccines are recommended for members of the youngest age group at risk for experiencing the specific disease, for which efficacy and safety have been demonstrated. We try to protect children before they are likely to encounter the disease.
  • Are vaccines toxic? Unsafe? Untested? In the United States, vaccines are regulated and required to meet standards for safety and effectiveness before they are approved for use. This includes careful testing and controls in their development and production. The vaccines are safe and only a tiny fraction of people ever have a serious reaction to them. Take a look at The Journey of Your Child’s Vaccine, an explanation of the vaccine development process, for more information.
  • Are these the same vaccines offered at big hospitals and specialty health centers? SHS vaccines are those approved and recommended by medical experts and the government. There is no differentiation in vaccines based on income, race, religion, gender or any other attribute.

Here at SHS, we know vaccines are safe. Vaccines are important protections against disease. It is our desire that the children of this community are as safe and healthy as possible. If you have other questions, let’s talk.

Let’s get our entire community healthy. Please bring your children for regular physical and Well-Child exams. Call 816-923-5800 to schedule an appointment.

Have other questions about vaccines? Leave your question in the comment box below or come visit the SHS pediatric clinic.