Trauma-Informed Care Techniques… Because we care.

Trauma-Informed Care Techniques

From left, Alicia Johnson, Residential Supervisor; Candice Owen, Residential Qualified Mental Health Professional; Chris Williams, Training and Development Specialist; and Carla Lee, Patient Community and Education Specialist, welcome Swope Health associates to the “Peaceful Pause.”

At Swope Health, associates use trauma-informed care techniques to offer support and coping skills to help people who feel depressed, frightened, angry, helpless, overwhelmed or stressed.

“Trauma-informed care is an awareness that everyone experiences trauma in their lives, in some way or another,” said Laurie Cox, Director of Integrated Recovery Services. “We understand that trauma can take a variety of forms and can cause a variety of responses. We recognize how common trauma is and we know that anyone who’s experienced trauma needs support and understanding.”

We See Trauma

All too frequently, associates at Swope Health see clients facing trauma, involving physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse or neglect. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate about one in seven children will experience abuse each year, and the number increases for children in lower socioeconomic status.

Additionally, the CDC notes that one in four women experiences domestic violence, and one in five women experiences rape.

Trauma Reactions

Trauma-Informed Care

D’Ambra Baker, Behavioral Health Consultant-Outreach, was on hand to explain how seeing through different colored lenses can stimulate different types of energy.

Reactions to trauma can vary widely. Some people may withdraw or feel depressed while others may respond with anger or violence. Recognizing the range of reactions is part of understanding trauma and providing care, Laurie said.

“We are here to help you manage your mental health and learn good strong coping skills,” she said.

Trauma Transformers

With that awareness, Swope Health has formed a team called the “Trauma Transformers” to use the techniques of trauma-informed care with the community and associates.

“We all need self-care,” said Carla Lee, Patient Community and Education Specialist and one of the Trauma Transformers leaders. “If we are not healthy mentally, physically, emotionally or spiritually, we will not be able to help others be successful.”

Peaceful Pause

D’Ambra Baker, Behavioral Health Consultant-Outreach, was on hand to explain how seeing through different colored lenses can stimulate different types of energy

Play therapy included hands-on activities, like solving the Rubik’s cube puzzle.

To demonstrate self-care at Swope Health, the Trauma Transformers host periodic events and activities for associates. In May, the team sponsored a “Peaceful Pause” – relaxation stations set up to allow associates to take a break from their work to achieve a moment of peace and mindfulness. The event used color therapy, aromatherapy, play therapy and coloring stations for associates to explore. Associates also were treated to healthy snacks– reminders of the importance of physical health, too.

More than 70 associates took advantage of the peaceful pause, which featured soothing music and soft lighting during the two-hour event.  Some wore colored sunglasses to experience differing energy levels while reading inspirational notes; others experimented with the sensations caused by a variety of aromatic oils.

“We want you to know that we care about you, and we want you to take care of yourself, too,” Carla said.

Every day, someone feels depressed, frightened, angry or helpless. Every day, Swope Health stands ready to offer assessments, treatment, support and coping skills. You can visit or call the Behavioral Health team at (816) 922-1070 for an appointment.


Explore a Career with Swope Health!

Swope Health is hosting a career fair 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, June 5, at the Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Center, 3700 Blue Parkway, Kansas City.

The fair is free and open to anyone who is interested in learning about Swope Health. Hiring managers from most departments will be on hand to talk with applicants, and candidates will be able to fill out applications on the spot.

“We want members of the community to come and talk with us about what it’s like to work here,” said Reiko Reliford, Senior HR Manager. “We’re seeking talented people who want to be part of our mission.”

All departments – from patient services, healthcare and behavioral health, to facilities, IT, accounting and transportation – will accept applications and resumes. Candidates can check the Swope Health website for specific job openings.  Positions may be located at Swope Health Central or any of eight metro area locations.

Reiko suggests candidates come dressed for success, with copies of their resume and reference letters.

“Hiring managers may interview candidates during the event and there could be on-the-spot job offers,” she said. “You’ll want to be ready to impress!”

Any job offers will be subject to successful completion of a background check and drug screening, she added.

Candidates should be age 18 or older to apply. Swope Health is an affirmative action, equal opportunity employer. Swope Health will consider all applicants without regard to race, color, creed, religion, gender, national origin, age, marital status, veteran status or disability.

The Swope Health mission:

Improve the health and wellness of the community by delivering accessible, quality comprehensive patient care.

Career Fair Flier - 2019

New Translation Services: We Listen and Understand

Swope Health: New Translation Services

Adult Clinic Medical Assistant Monique Anderson enjoys using the new system, which uses video calls to facilitate better communications between patients and providers speaking different languages.

It has just gotten a little easier to communicate across multiple languages while visiting with your providers at Swope Health.

That’s thanks to a new mobile translation service offered on iPads in a feature that looks and feels familiar to patients, a lot like using FaceTime or other video chat services.

Sharon Trongaard, Adult Medicine Practice Manager, says the new service, provided by CyraCom, is an improvement over the previous method. In the past, when a patient or provider needed translation services to communicate, they would both move to the one room in the Adult clinic that was equipped with a phone. Then, using the landline phone, they’d place a call to the service and have communications translated by the person at CyraCom.

“When the room was in use, patients would have to wait,” she said. “Now, we just roll in the iPad and make a video call. The sound quality is great and patients feel like they have an advocate.”

Monique Anderson, Registered Medical Assistant, is a fan of the new system, which has been in use almost three months in the Adult Clinic.

“Patients like being able to see the person they are communicating with,” she said. “It feels more connected and more personal.”

At the other end of the call, CyraCom translators can see the patient and provider. The translators can also observe body language and help facilitate good information sharing across more than 100 languages, including sign language.

“This gives us a more modern feel too,” Monique added. “We’re up to speed. It helps the patients feel more comfortable and we get a better understanding of the patient’s needs. The patient gets a better understanding of what I’m trying to relate.”

With the successful trial in the Adult Clinic, Swope Health will begin adding the mobile translation stations to all clinics.

Don’t let language stand in the way of your health care. Make an appointment to visit Swope Health at (816) 923-5800 and be confident you will be understood in your native language.

Swope Health: New Translation Services

The new translation service uses iPads to place video calls where the translator, patient and provider can all see each other and communicate openly.

Welcome to Swope Health’s Amazon Smile site!

If you’re a fan of, you’re already aware of how easy it is to shop online and get your purchases delivered – quickly – right to your door. Now there’s a way you can support your shopping habit and Swope Health at the same time!

It’s called Amazon Smile. In this program, the AmazonSmile Foundation donates 0.5% of the purchase price of eligible products to a charitable organization.

Swope Health has joined this program to raise funds for patients and to make it easier for shoppers to support programs like our Healthcare for the Homeless and Adult Community Psychiatric Rehabilitation Program (CPRP) Day programs.

Amazon operates the Swope Health Smile site with the same products, prices, and shopping features as You will see eligible products marked “Eligible for AmazonSmile donation” on product detail pages.

“The funds we receive from the AmazonSmile program will go to the Patients in Need fund,” said Amy Kuhnlein, Manager of Development and Community Affairs. “This fund helps patients with immediate needs that might otherwise go unmet.”

Each request for a grant from the Patients in Need Fund is evaluated on a case-by-case basis. In the past we’ve helped with medications, eye glasses, bus passes, dentures and more.

In addition to the AmazonSmile program, Swope Health has set up “Wishlist” pages to make it easy for anyone to assist with needed supplies. For example, see:

  • Homeless outreach – This page supports the Community Outreach Clinic and Swope Health’s Mobile Medical Unit (MMU), which visits homeless shelters throughout the metro area to provide healthcare.
  • The Adult CPRC Day program – This page supports the program that focus on building life skills through topics like gardening, cooking and art. Supplies for these activities are always welcome.

If you choose to purchase any items on these Wishlists, you can opt to have the items delivered directly to Swope Health.

Here is how you can help Swope Health every time you shop at Amazon:

Swope Health: AmazonSmile Step 1

Swope Health: AmazonSmile Step 2

Swope Health: AmazonSmile Step 3

Swope Health: AmazonSmile Step 4


Sharing healthcare expertise across cultures.

Swope Health Hosts Nursing Students from Japan

Swope Health hosted a group of nursing students from St. Luke’s International University in Tokyo, Japan.

Japanese nursing graduate students recently visited Swope Health to learn more about how we care for our homeless patients.

Rachel Melson, Nurse Practitioner in the Outreach Department, led the students on a tour of Swope Health’s Central facility, highlighting the array of medical and behavioral health services we make available to all of our patients, including our homeless clients.

Rachel explained that the homeless community generally lacks access to medical care, so they receive less preventive care and fewer screenings, and generally face worse outcomes in hospitalizations than the general population. Chronic illness, such as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease, are common diagnoses, along with substance abuse and mental health conditions like bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, psychosis and depression.

The students took notes throughout and asked questions.

Some of the questions were about registration procedures (How do you know a patient’s income?), some were medical (What is PCP?) and some were political (How has healthcare changed under President Trump?). The most intriguing questions were personal: Why do you do this? What is most important to you?

“Our goal is for people to leave healthier than when they came in,” Rachel said. “It’s all about connecting. If I give someone a medication but don’t make a connection, we’re not helping. It’s about making a connection and meeting the patients wherever they are, addressing whatever they need.”

The students are training for nursing professions in public health settings.

Swope Health Hosts Nursing Students from Japan

The Long View: Time to Take Care of Your Eyes

Glaucoma: Take Care of your Eyes

Dr. Vincent Parsons, right, demonstrates a glaucoma screening on Norma Owens. Norma is an optometric assistant at Swope Health.

January is the month designated to raise awareness of glaucoma, one of the leading causes of vision loss and blindness.

Seeing that clean, new calendar makes it a good time to schedule an eye exam and learn more about taking care of your eyes.  At Swope Health, you can call for an appointment with our optical team at 816-923-5800.

Facts About Glaucoma

Vincent Parsons, O.D., Swope Health’s director of optometry, shared some facts about glaucoma:

  • More than 3 million people in the U.S. have glaucoma. Half of the people who have it don’t know they have it.
  • Glaucoma is usually associated with seniors who are age 60 or older, but it can affect anyone at any age.
  • Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in African Americans. It’s also prevalent in Hispanic populations.
  • There is no cure for glaucoma, but early identification can slow the progress of the disease.

According to the National Eye Institute, glaucoma actually refers to a group of diseases that affect the optic nerve in the eye. The optic nerve, a bundle of more than a million nerve fibers, connects the retina of the eye with the brain.

“Throughout most of the disease, there are no symptoms and you can’t tell if you have it,” Dr. Parsons said. “That’s why it’s important to have a glaucoma exam.”

The disease is detected through a visual field test, to see if you have lost side vision or peripheral vision. The optometrist also will use a magnifying glass to look for damage to the optic nerve.  Finally, the optometrist will use eye drops to numb your eyes, and perform a test to measure your eye pressure and determine the thickness of your cornea.


If you are diagnosed with glaucoma, you may be treated with medicines to lower the pressure in the eyes. These medicines may be in the form of eye drops or pills, and need to be taken regularly to be effective in preventing the disease from progressing. In some cases, surgery is recommended to lower pressure in the eyes.

In advanced or very advanced stages of glaucoma, you gradually lose your peripheral vision – it appears as if you are looking through a tunnel.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the number of blind and visually impaired people in the U.S. will double by 2030 as the population ages. Taking care of vision health with a visit to the optometrist can help reduce that number and improve health, wellness and quality of life.

“Glaucoma can occur at any age,” Dr. Parsons said. “If you haven’t had an exam by age 40, it’s a good time to start.”

Why wait? Start now with an eye exam: call 816-923-5800 to schedule an appointment. 

New Year, New Look!

By Michelle Keller, Vice President, Community Engagement, Development & Outreach.

50th AnniversaryHello!  Do you see something different here today?

We have created a new look for Swope Health, at the same time we celebrate 50 years of service to our community.

The leadership team and Board of Directors agreed a new look would be an excellent way to kick off our next 50 years.

Why a new look?

As we reflected on our years of service, we also evaluated how we perform – our strengths, weaknesses and opportunities.

We identified four pillars to define our service to the community, and we re-imagined how we could show you our commitment, starting with our name. The new look should guide us into the future.

Appointment CardsFirst, the four pillars of our service:

  • Understanding: We relate to you, no matter where you are in your healthcare journey.
  • Invested: We’re committed to the communities we serve and the people who need care.
  • Accessible: Our knowledge, services and caring providers are available to everyone.
  • Skilled: Our staff delivers high-quality, expert care at every moment.

We worked with a professional branding firm, Native Digital, whose team challenged us with a question: If Swope Health was a person, what kind of person would we be?

We came up with three ideas: We would want you to think of us as a friend, counselor and advocate.

As a friend, we listen, care about you and work hard to have mutual trust. We speak your language.

As a counselor, we drive you to better understand yourself and to become the best you can be, through empathy, guidance and wisdom.

As an advocate, we are invested in your success and we boost you up so you can achieve your goals. We’re with you on your path to health.

Swope HealthAnd it’s that idea – a path leading to a healthier, happier life – that sparked the change to the logo.

We widened the bottom of the “S” to make it look more like a path, the flowing start of a journey. We also simplified the look of the lettering and made it less formal, more friendly.

Then finally, we jazzed up the colors! We want to be clean, bright and fresh.

You’ll see vibrant colors throughout our presence: pink and maroon, dark blue and light blue, dark green and light green.

All of this comes together in our new look. I hope this gives you a peek into our thinking and I hope you will see us in a new light.

Let us know how we’re doing in meeting our pillars and serving as your friend, counselor and advocate.

Comments always welcome – use the text box below or send an email to

You Can Reduce Holiday Anxiety – Here’s How

Carla Lee

Carla Lee, SHS Patient and Community Education Specialist, offers tips to take control and avoid stress and anxiety during the holiday season. Start with a plan, and focus on what’s important to you, she says.

Yes, it’s the holiday season.

It’s a time for giving and sharing, laughing and loving, and gatherings with family and friends.

For many people, it’s also a time filled with stress-inducing scenarios. Do you cringe at the thought of…

  • Dealing with crowds at malls and stores?
  • Finding the right gifts and being able to afford the right gifts?
  • Overeating and gaining weight?
  • Traveling, near or far, with so much traffic and bad weather?
  • Going to that Holiday party or event, or meeting with relatives – especially the ones you can’t stand?
  • Missing a loved one?
  • Managing all this along with the normally hard-to-balance workload and family life?

Carla Lee, SHS Patient and Community Education Specialist, has some tips to help anyone who answered “yes” to any of those situations.

“It all starts with a plan,” she said. “Plan, plan, plan.”

She added: “Make sure you set realistic goals. Set your own expectations and boundaries. It’s OK if you don’t get everything done. Just say ‘Oh well,’ and don’t beat yourself up.”

Carla also emphasizes the importance of self-care. “If you don’t have self-care,” says Carla, “You can’t take care of anyone else.”

Here are some of her other tips for dealing with other stressful scenarios.

Plan, Plan, Plan!Gift-giving: Establish a budget and stick to it. Use cash, and when you’ve run out, you’re done. Consider: Does everyone need a gift? She notes that when her favorite nephew had a baby, she opted to give a gift only to the baby – not to the adult nephew. She also suggests having a few small spare items on hand – holiday cards with a gift card to a coffee shop, restaurant or movie theater tucked inside – in case you need something quickly.

And when money is an issue, time is the best gift of all. Offer to help out with wrapping gifts, cooking, or just visit with a loved one.

Gaining weight: Focus on eating healthy throughout the day and drink lots of water. Get up and move around regularly. Maybe even start a series of little exercises you can do anywhere, such as the Neila Ray Office Workout.

If you are going shopping, park in the far lot and walk in. You’ll avoid some of the traffic and get some exercise on the way.

Travel: Plan ahead! Coordinate with others and pick the kind of travel that works for you. If you don’t like to drive, consider taking a plane, train or bus. If you have to drive, map out your schedule and pick times to avoid maximum traffic.

Or, think about using technology to be with a loved one without traveling. Use your smartphone, tablet or computer to have a Facetime or Skype session. You can even watch a movie together!

Balance: Remember, it’s OK to say “No.” You don’t have to agree to everything. It’s OK to skip a party or limit your commitments. It’s also OK to ask others for help. You can say “No” without guilt.

Missing a loved one on the holiday: For this special kind of grief, Carla suggests allowing yourself to remember while also starting a new tradition. It might be hanging a special ornament on the tree, lighting a candle, or gathering with others to reminisce with you.

Breathe. That’s right…just breathe. Deep, intentional breathing can help calm you down when the stress levels rise. A simple step is to use box breathing as a calming tool: inhale, pause, exhale, pause.

“The most important tip — the one that works in dealing with all of the holiday stressors — is self-care,” said Carla. “Make sure you laugh throughout the day. Stay in the moment, and be thankful for what you experience, whether that’s sitting near the tree and appreciating the evergreen aroma, playing with a pet, praying, stretching or just breathing.”

“You can’t pour from an empty cup,” she says. “Take care of yourself. Self-care is an act of self-love.”

If stress or anxiety are beyond what you can handle, please call to schedule an appointment with Behavioral Health at 816-923-1070.  The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline phone number is 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Finding Creativity and Inspiration: “We Can Uplift Other People”

Bird artThe next time you visit Swope Health Services Central, take a stroll through the main corridor of Building C, where you’ll find the hallway transformed into a mini art gallery.

The walls are lined with art in many forms and styles, all of it created in an adult day program directed by Carolyn Graves, Community Support Specialist, Adult Community Psychiatric Rehabilitation Program.

The program encourages creativity and expression as another tool for dealing with Life’s challenges.

“When you’re looking for your creative self, it doesn’t matter if you’re a kid or an adult,” says Carolyn. “You find out you can do something you didn’t think you could do. It’s an awesome coping skill.”

Carolyn finds projects that start small and have possibilities to grow. One of the first projects, for example, was coloring. There’s good reason adult coloring books are best-sellers (more than 12 million sold in 2015) and the practice has swept the country.

“It focuses attention,” Carolyn said. “You get to truly be the artist. No two pages are the same.”

Carolyn uses the coloring as an exercise to see different abilities in program participants– some are stronger with color selection, others with line and balance, while others see possibilities beyond the design on the page.

Carolyn teaches different techniques – three-dimensional coloring projects, Zentangle design method, decoupage, painting furniture and other items, for example – giving participants opportunities to find their favorite method of expression.

Art Program Corridor

A view of the corridor at Building C, where Brenda, left, and Angel, display some of the products of the art program.

Two participants at a recent program, Angel and Brenda, talked about how they use their new skills beyond the day program.

“My most favorite thing to do is to color,” said Angel. “It keeps me calm. That’s one of the reasons I come. They say, ‘An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.’ It’s true. I used to think about suicide. I tried a couple of times.”

She continued: “I used to question myself: Why am I here? What good am I? But now, with my art, I get so focused. There’s no room to think about suicide. I can keep focused on something other than myself. I bring it up in my mind as a coping mechanism. I have become a mastermind, thanks to Carolyn.”

The skills Angel learned have given her a new attitude. “I can look in the mirror and see myself as beautiful. I might be having a bad hair day,” she laughs, “but I’m still beautiful.”

Brenda notes that she’s still working toward that level of self-acceptance, but she is proud of the progress she has made. “Sometimes, I’ll leave a little imperfection in my work,” she said.  “I know it’s there, but nobody else can see it. It can still be beautiful.”

Carolyn describes the art as a coping mechanism–a way of focusing your feelings into something positive. “That’s the point,” she says. “You can take this with you. Use it when you need it or use it when you feel good.”

SHS Holiday Mart

From left, Angel and Brenda show an elaborately decorated chair, which will be part of the items offered for sale at the SHS Holiday Mart in November.

For example, a recent project involved painting small stones with affirming messages such as “I hope you dance;” “Stay strong;” and “Love.”

Then the participants placed the stones out into the world, in areas near the Country Club Plaza and at Loose Park.

Said Artist Brenda, “We saw people get so excited, taking pictures when they found them. We saw kids shouting that they found special rocks.”

That the artists could be responsible for bringing such excitement and joy to others was empowering.

“After you understand why you’re doing this, how it could make someone else feel…,” said Angel. “I love it. We can uplift other people. This is for anyone who needs it.”

If you’d like to support our art therapy program with donated art supplies or funds to purchase supplies, please contact Michelle Keller, VP-Community Engagement, Development and Outreach at or 816-599-5556.

Art for Sale

Raising the Bar for Patient Safety: New Sterile Processing Department


As part of their training, SHS associates visited the Sterile Processing Department at North Kansas City Hospital. Here they are in the Decontamination Room where full Personal Protective Equipment (called PPE) is required to minimize the risk of exposure to hazards. From left, Debbie Meads, Program Manager; Veronica Sosa, Medical Assistant; Chris Roseberry, Clinic Manager; Sherry Rider, Medical Assistant

Swope Health Services has launched a state-of-the-art sterile processing area at Central and Wyandotte locations.

The new Sterile Processing department is similar to centers housed in large hospitals.

The purpose is to assure patient safety in the decontamination of all reusable instruments used in medical and dental procedures.

“We’re raising the bar for community health centers,” said Debbie Meads, program manager, who directed the construction of the department.

The project involved changes to the Central clinic environment, water and air handling, as well as to the transportation and storage of instruments.

The project also included an education plan for all associates who work with reusable instruments and special training for about 10 associates in proper disinfection and sterilization of reusable instruments.

These associates now serve as sterilization processing technicians.

“Other than handwashing, sterilization is the next most important thing to consider in infection control,” said Kenneth Thomas, M.D., Chief Medical Officer and a practicing pediatrician.

“It is vital to make sure our instruments are sterile, and how we handle and clean contaminated equipment is just as important. It’s important to the safety of our patients, associates and families.”

Prior to the development of the Sterile Processing areas, equipment was sterilized in autoclaves or small steam chambers in various clinics.

The new department creates greater efficiency and assures consistent practice in the decontamination and sterilization of all materials, under the same standards, every day.

“Our program is important in delivering excellent patient care,” said Dr. Thomas. “It demonstrates our commitment to reducing and controlling infection.”


A peek inside the new Sterile Processing Department on the second floor at SHS Central where, from left, Jaleeah Jones and Flora Wooster, Sterile Processing Technicians, are preparing reusable instruments for sterilization. This is a special room with its own heating, cooling and ventilation system. It is pressure-controlled, with special air exchange capability to completely exchange all the air in the room 10 times an hour, 24 hours a day. This secure room with these special capabilities assures that no contamination – pathogens or germs – can enter or escape from the processing units.