Swope Health wins International Relations Council Award

IRC LogoSwope Health recently was honored to receive the International Relations Council’s (IRC) 2019 Award for Contributions to the Community.

This award is given to an individual, organization or company who has contributed to economic growth in the area and has shown exemplary service to their community. The IRC, through a release announcing the award stated:

“For 50 years, Swope Health, seeing global health as a field with broad reach and important local implications, has worked to serve the underserved and address health disparities in and around the Kansas City community.”

2019 IRC Award

Swope Health President and CEO Jeron Ravin accepts the Contributions to the Community Award from the International Relations Council.

The IRC is located in Kansas City and its mission is to bring a global perspective to our community through strategic partnerships with businesses, universities, community organizations, and K-12 schools. The Council brings world leaders and dignitaries to the metro region, hosts forums for high-school students to interact with and learn from foreign-policy experts, and creates opportunities for area business leaders to strengthen relationships abroad.

Global Health

The Council’s event this year focused on the theme of Global Health, which it describes as a field with broad reach and important local implications. The council noted: “Significant work remains in our own communities and around the world to combat health disparities and challenges around infant and maternal mortality, chronic and infectious diseases, and the health of immigrant and refugee populations. New, innovative approaches and collaborative efforts in research, health system delivery strategies, and community-based health are essential to equalize access to health for everyone everywhere.”

Past Recipients

2019 IRC AwardPast recipients have included the Consular Corps of Greater Kansas City (2017); Julián Zugazagoitia (2014), director of the Nelson-Atkins Musuem of Art; R. Crosby Kemper III (2013), executive director of the Kansas City Public Library; Sporting Kansas City (2012), Seaboard Corp. (2010), and John P. McMeel (1998), chairman of Andrews McMeel Universal.

In addition to Swope Health’s award, the Council presented the Academic Leadership award to Dr. Sarah Finocchario Kessler, an associate professor with the University of Kansas Medical Center, and the Distinguished Service Award for International Statesmanship to Ambassador Deborah Birx, M.D., who is the coordinator of U.S. Government activities to combat HIV/AIDS and a U.S. Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy.

Swope Health Hosts Opioid Discussion with Missouri Attorney General

Attorney General Visit

Attorney General Eric Schmitt, left, with Jeron Ravin, J.D., president and CEO of Swope Health; Mark Miller, vice president of Behavioral Health; and Mark Stringer, director of Missouri Department of Mental Health, at the opioid discussion held at Swope Health.

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt heard first-hand from Swope Health providers, peer counselors, social service providers, rehabilitative housing specialists, public defenders and the police department about needs in combatting the opioid abuse issue in the Kansas City area.

The discussion, held at Swope Health Central, was part of the Attorney General’s listening tour to better understand what is working – and what is needed. The attorney general is gathering the information in advance of an expected settlement from lawsuits against opioid manufacturers who are alleged to have misled doctors and patients about the highly addictive nature of their drugs.

Missouri joined other states in lawsuits against Cardinal Health, McKesson, AmerisourceBergen, Johnson & Johnson and Teva, as well as other pharmaceutical companies. In October, a settlement framework was announced, which could lead to millions of dollars coming to Missouri in the next few years.

Opiod Related Overdoses

In his comments to the audience of more than 40 participants, the Attorney General noted that there were nearly 1,000 deaths caused by opioid related overdoses in Missouri last year.

“We want to do everything we can to help as many people as we can,” he said.

Dr. Naiomi Jamal

Attorney General Visit

Dr. Naomi Jamal is a family physician as well as a specialist in preventive medicine and public health. She spoke about the need to provide support to the one in three families affected by opioid disorders in Missouri.

Dr. Naiomi Jamal of Swope Health spoke as a family physician as well as a specialist in preventive medicine and public health. She noted that one in three families are affected by opioid abuse, with vulnerable populations at disproportionately higher risk. Nationally, opioid addiction has killed more people than HIV at its peak in 1995.

“We have to recognize that addiction is a chronically treatable brain disease that requires medical intervention, not moral judgment,” she said.

Dr. Derek Brown

Dr. Derek Brown, psychiatrist at Swope Health, described the Medication-Assisted Treatment program and noted how it can help break the cycle of opioid use, opioid withdrawal. He called for support taking treatment programs out into the community and for caseworkers to help provide the ancillary services – like transportation and housing – so critical to recovering patients. Andrea Buford, Director of Clinical Operations and the Swope Health Imani House, envisioned a world with services to support sober living after opioid treatment, ranging from fully staffed residential housing, to sober community group homes and individual housing with community support groups and services built in.

Greg Smith, Greg Mermelstein and Detectives

The Attorney General also heard from Greg Smith, speaking for Healing House Inc. and the Missouri Recovery Network; Greg Mermelstein from the Missouri State Public Defender System; as well as detectives from the Kansas City Police Department. They spoke of a need for better connections to physical and behavioral health care service, access to medications and therapy, housing support, child care, education, case workers and peer counselors to assist with the journey from addiction to recovery.

Mark Stringer

Attorney General Visit

Dr. Derek Brown, a psychiatrist at Swope Health, described the Mediation-Assisted Treatment program and called for additional resources to bring programs like this out into the community.

“Far too many people in Missouri are dying from opioid disorders,” said Mark Stringer, director of the Missouri Department of Mental Health. “Addiction has been considered separately from medical care for decades, but it’s time to bring them together.”

Would you like to comment to the Attorney General? The Attorney General’s office has established a website – Real Opioid Pain – to invite Missourians to share their experiences with opioid addiction and recovery, to assist the state in pursuing litigation against manufacturers.

We Welcome Your Feedback

Have you ever wanted to tell somebody about your experience at Swope Health? We invite you to tell us.

It is easy to do so – from every page of the Swope Health website, at the very top, you’ll find a button labeled “Provide Feedback.”

When you click that button, you’ll see a Patient Feedback Form ready for your input.

Link to Provide Feedback

The Swope Health website invites your feedback from every page. See the “Provide Feedback” button at the top of each page.


Swope Health Feedback Form Sample

When you click on “Provide Feedback,” you’ll see a simple form.


“We really care about providing great care,” said Sabrina Holliman, Compliance Officer for Swope Health. “We run a robust risk management program to identify any shortcomings and work on them. We work on anything that can improve processes for quality care and patient satisfaction – so we need to hear from our patients.”

We Take Feedback Seriously

Swope Health takes seriously all feedback from patients. When you submit a form, a risk manager reviews and works to substantiate it. This impartial investigation might entail looking at records, policies, procedures and interviewing participants and the relevant department managers.

“We get in touch with each patient to let them know we are working on their form,” she said. “We look objectively at every item and work to address it.”

The team reviews feedback openly at a monthly compliance meeting, and raises some items to senior management and the Swope Health Board of Directors. At the end of the process, Sabrina said the team sends a letter to the patient to let them know their voice was heard.

“We’ve implemented a vast number of improvements resulting from patient feedback,” she said.  These items include changes to standard operating procedures and policies and new training programs in customer care and satisfaction.

The web-based form replaces the former method of seeking input, which required patients to ask for a paper form and fill it out. Sabrina said this change should give patients a sense of comfort and privacy.

“When patients feel their voice is heard, they know we care and they will be more inclined to come here,” she said. “We hope this amplifies the voices of our patients.”

She added:  “We want to be a friend, counselor and advocate to our patients. We want to be your provider of choice.”

A New Home in the Northland

New NorthlandSwope Health-Northland, our newest location, held an open house and ribbon cutting on July 19, 2019.

Dozens of associates, supporters and community members participated and toured the newly remodeled 6,200 square-foot facility at 2906 N.W. Vivion Road in Riverside.

“This is a newly renovated building with all new equipment,” said Dr. Kenneth Thomas, Chief Medical Officer for Swope Health. “Not only does this give our patients a nice facility but it expands our capacity to care for more patients.”

The new facility will support two providers and has more exam rooms, as well as a larger dental office.

New Northland“This demonstrates how we invest in our patients, even if patients don’t have the ability to pay for our services,” Dr. Thomas said. “We think it’s important to invest in our communities and give all of our patients a high quality environment for healthcare. We’re committed to the highest quality of care possible for all of our patients.”

Dr. Thomas led the ribbon-cutting ceremony with shout-outs to Swope Health associates and Purdum Construction staff who worked on the project – Don Payne, Senior Project Manager; Mitch Welty, Superintendent; and Nicole Anderson, Project Manager.

Clinic Tours

Clinic associates proudly led members of the Northland community on tours of the new space. The facility features five dental exam chairs, five medical exam rooms, one medical procedure room, a large break room, shared offices on medical and dental sides, as well as three private provider offices.  The clinic has modern accents like galaxy images on the ceiling above dental chairs, wood plank-style flooring in some parts, with muted colors on the walls throughout.

Come check out the new Northland location. Clinic hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Our phone number for making appointments is still the same: 816-923-5800.  

New Northland

Swope Health Associates prepare for the ribbon-cutting at the new Northland clinic, from left, Cynthia Whitson, Dental Clinic Manager/Hygenist; Dr. Jennifer Frost, Medical Director for Wyandotte, West and Northland clinics; Dr. Kenneth Thomas, Chief Medical Officer; Matthew Wells, Nurse Practitioner at Northland; Emily Glen, Clinic Manager; Mark Miller, Vice President, Behavioral Health; and Michelle Keller, Vice President, Community Engagement, Outreach and Development.


New Northland

The lobby at the new Northland clinic is full of associates and community members, in preparation for the ribbon-cutting and open house, held in July 2019.


New Northland

A view down the dental side hallway during the Northland open house.


New Northland

Nurse Practitioner Matthew Wells chats with a community member who visited the Northland open house and ribbon cutting.

Celebrating the Nation’s Community Health Centers

National Health Center Week 2019Aug. 4-10, 2019, is National Health Center Week, a time to raise awareness and celebrate the accomplishments of America’s health centers.

According to the National Association of Community Health Centers, health centers serve 28 million patients a year – a number that grows every year along with the demand for affordable primary care.

The association sponsors the week of recognition under the theme “America’s Health Centers: Rooted in Communities.”

The theme includes special topics of focus on each day of the week:

  • Sunday, Aug. 4: Social Determinants Day. The social determinants of health are the socioeconomic conditions, environmental conditions, institutional and social networks that affect how a community lives, works and ages. By understanding patients’ clinical and non-clinical needs, health centers can take steps to improve health outcomes.
  • Monday, Aug. 5: Healthcare for the Homeless Day. This day celebrates and advocates for the Healthcare for the Homeless programs, which provide care to more than 1.3 million individuals experiencing homelessness nationwide. These programs address poor nutrition, inadequate hygiene, exposure to violence and weather-related illness and injury and the stress of housing instability faced by individuals experiencing homelessness. Learn more from the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, which advocates the idea that no one deserves to be homeless.
  • Tuesday, Aug. 6: Agricultural Worker Day. Health centers serve 20 percent of the estimated 4.5 million agricultural workers in the United States, including migrant and seasonal agricultural workers and their families. Learn more from the National Center for Farmworker Health.
  • Wednesday, Aug. 7: Patient Appreciation Day. National Health Centers are required to have boards of directors are made up of at least 51 percent consumers. This means that patients from the community, representing the race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status of the community, have a voice in making health centers aware of needs and holding them accountable. Learn more from the Health Center Advocacy Network.
  • Thursday, Aug. 8: Stakeholder Appreciation Day. Health centers depend on legislative support to deliver on their mission, through the $7.8 billion in federal grant funding for the Community Health Center program. This is the day to recognize and applaud local, state and federal legislators whose advocacy is integral to the success of health centers across the nation.
  • Friday, Aug. 9: Health Center Staff Appreciation Day. This day provides a public “Thank You” to the associates at health centers who deliver high quality health care to patients in need.
  • Saturday, Aug. 10: Children’s Health Day. Health centers provide primary health care services to more than 8 million children in the United States. Programs include well-child exams, nutrition support, behavioral health services and events providing books, car seats, back-to-school supplies and much more – all to help children feel healthy, happy and empowered.

At Swope Health, all are welcome on Wednesday, August 7, Patient Appreciation Day, to enjoy healthy treats and snacks provided by United Healthcare. Swope Health associates are raising funds for homeless meals through a special barbecue luncheon on Health Center Staff Appreciation Day.

National Health Center Awareness 2019 National Health Center Awareness 2019 National Health Center Awareness 2019

Swope Health is Open for Tours

Swope Tours Now Available

Kristina Duran, Pediatric Support Specialist, met with members of the Kansas City Plaza Rotary Club during a recent vocational visit to Swope Health.

On a recent afternoon, more than a dozen members of the Kansas City Plaza Rotary Club assembled in the lobby of Building A at Swope Health Services. From there, the Rotarians walked through the entire facility – from pediatrics to behavioral health, dental to optical, pharmacy to radiology and more.

Directed by Dan Barnett, Swope Health Communications Specialist, the tour covered the history of Swope Health and introduced the visitors to staff associates who described their department’s operations and answered questions. Each department was marked with a poster on an easel.

The entire tour, which included frequent stops for questions and answers, took about an hour.

“We’re always happy to show the community how we operate,” said Michelle Keller, vice president of community engagement, development and outreach. “We love giving people a better understanding of all the services we offer at Swope Health.”

Plaza Rotary Club Collects Donations

Swope Tours Now Available

Tours like this one led by Michelle Keller, right, cover both floors of the Swope Health Central facility with stops at the clinics and departments with community service offerings.

The Plaza Rotary club is a service organization. Its members had collected small bottles of single-use toiletries like shampoos, soaps and deodorants and donated them to the Swope Health homeless program, for clients served by the Swope Health Mobile Medical Unit. The tour was a chance to learn more about Swope Health.

All the club members left with deeper appreciation of the array of services offered. “I had no idea,” said Richard Cane, a Rotarian who made his first visit to Swope Health and peppered the tour guides with questions.  Bob Merrigan, another member of the club, agreed. “I was very impressed with the entire outfit,” he said. “It’s obvious that this organization does good work for community.”

If you or your organization would like to tour Swope Health, please contact Dan Barnett at 816-599-5710 or dbarnett@swopehealth.org.

Swope Tours Now Available

Ebony Peterson, Community Health Worker, from the WIC program at Swope Health, talks with visitors about the “wraparound services” offered to provide assistance for women with young children. The coordinators provide guidance to services offering food, housing, baby supplies, transportation and more.

ReEngage Graduation Brings Affirmation, Tears of Joy

ReEngage Graduation 2019

ReEngage recently celebrated five graduates from Imani House. Proudly displaying their certificates, starting second from left, are: Tamika Estes, Arisha Logan, Kimberly Happy, Demetrius Wilson, and Kentrell Spikes. The group is flanked, left, by Rodney Knott, Executive Director and founder of ReEngage, and right, Father Turbo Qualls of the St. Mary of Egypt Orthodox Church who led a prayer at the service.

A recent afternoon was another in a long string of rainy and grey days. But that Friday, inside the Imani House it was a different story altogether. Here the atmosphere was charged with a joyous energy, a sense of expectation and excitement.

Nearly every seat in the main activity room was taken but for the five seats of honor at the front of the room. These were the seats saved for the graduates of ReEngage, an intensive program to prepare its participants for taking a job, another step in a life of sobriety and stability.

Dressed for the Occasion

When they entered, the five graduates were dressed for the occasion – suits and dresses, every detail in perfect order. They took their seats at the front of the room and one of them, Tamika Estes, blinked away tears.

“This program made me a better person for my family, my church, my community,” she said. “It helped me be a better parent, be responsible, be determined and never give up. I learned to love myself without drugs. I learned that I am worthy.” Her eyes were full of tears again. “I am so grateful.”

How ReEngage Works

Over the course of three weeks, the ReEngage program challenges its participants to accept themselves and accept responsibility for their lives. Through daily meetings and assignments, the class works hard to break down negative feelings, deal with anger and frustration, and adopt tools to help make decisions for future success.

A primary tenet of the program is the difference between being a male and a man, a female and a woman, explains Rodney Knott, founder and executive director of ReEngage.  The program also offers employment training, pre-employment screening, interviewing skills, mentoring, OSHA certification, referrals and support groups.

At the graduation, Rodney delivered a rousing talk. “There is hope for those who think there is no hope. There is always hope if you believe. It’s in here,” he said, pointing to his heart. The audience clapped, nodded and cheered in agreement.

The five participants are the third class referred by the Imani House staff. All had completed the Imani House program, as well as an after-care program. All had maintained sobriety for at least 28 days, said Sandra McMurtrey, Case Manager at Imani House.

The Graduating Class

Along with Tamika, the other members of the graduating class are Kimberly Happy, Arisha Logan, Kentrell Spikes and Demetrius Wilson.

“They endured and stayed with it,” Sandra said. “Now, we hope they will be an inspiration to other Imani House graduates.”

Tamika has embraced the challenge. “I want to help people like I have been helped,” she said. “My goal is to be a certified peer specialist. I’d love to come here to work.”

The goal will require completing her GED and then community college, staying drug free throughout.

Helping Graduates Find Work

As part of the ReEngage program, Rodney helps his graduates find work. Already, two of the five are starting jobs with a local manufacturer at a rate of $17 an hour. Others are pursuing opportunities for careers, like an earlier graduate and Imani House alumni Tara Anderson.

“I now have the knowledge of gaining a career instead of just a job,” she said. “My chances for a better future for my family and myself are improved from the lessons I learned. The program has opened up new opportunities for me. This class has improved my spirit and allowed me to open my heart to others. What I received from the ReEngage program were self-dignity and respect.”

ReEngage is part of a Workforce Development Program at Imani House, 3950 E. 51st St., Kansas City. Imani House is Swope Health’s outpatient treatment venue offering services to those dealing with issues stemming from alcohol or drug abuse. Imani House – named for the Swahili word for “faith” – provides services to more than 500 people each year.

If you or someone you know struggles with substance use, please visit or contact Swope Health’s Behavioral Health team at (816) 922-1070 for an appointment.

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.