Coming to SHS for the first time? Here’s what you need to know.

melanie

Melanie Evans, Director of Assurance, manages the Registration operations at Swope Health Services. Registration is on the first floor at SHS Central, straight ahead as you come in the main entrance.

If you are planning to visit Swope Health Services for the first time, here are a few tips to make your visit as convenient as possible.

  1. Bring registration information.

On your first visit, bring along a government-issued photo identification, like a driver’s license or passport.

Also bring any insurance and proof of income or employment, such as a check stub from an employer or social security or pension, tax record, or unemployment benefit letter.

And plan on filling out several forms with basic information – your date of birth, address, phone numbers, emergency contact information.

Why do we ask? SHS is a federally qualified health center, operating under federal grants, which means we have to provide specific reports to the federal government about the care we provide.

We gather this registration information once a year from all patients to satisfy our operating grant requirements.

We also provide services on a sliding-fee scale. We look at several factors, including income, to determine if your fees could be reduced or waived. If we don’t have that information, you can still get services but you may be 100 percent financially responsible for it. If you forget any of this information, we’ll ask you to provide it within 30 days.

  1. Arrive early.

For your first time here, completing all the registration paperwork usually takes about 25 minutes. If you’ve registered before, it rarely takes more than 10 minutes. On follow-up visits after you register, we verify your address, phone number, insurance and date of birth.

We charge a $25 service fee for medical care, and a $45 service fee for dental care. There’s also a $10 service fee for children’s medical care and a $20 service fee for children’s dental care.

There can be additional charges for other services such as lab work or procedures. We will accept whatever you can pay and will work with you on payment plans.

  1. Bring medical records and medications.
SHS Reg Team

Here are members of the SHS registration team at the Central registration desk standing by to welcome you! From left, Sherron Hubbard, Lena Adams, Chiquata “Gladys” Harris, Debra Law, Jaimela Clemons and Tamika Robinson.

Visiting for the first time means you should be prepared to talk about your health history with the clinical care team.

They will ask about all the medications you take, allergies, illnesses or chronic issues and even your family’s history of diseases. Sometimes it easy to bring your medications along with you.

If you can’t bring them, consider making a list or taking a mobile phone photo of each medication bottle. Be prepared to show these photos to your provider during your visit.

It is also helpful to bring records of any recent hospitalizations or other medical attention. For kids, remember to bring immunization records, too.

  1. Let us know if you can’t make it.

When you register at SHS, we ask you to sign an agreement that you will keep your appointments or provide at least a 24-hour notice when you can’t make an appointment.

If you call to cancel, you can reschedule your appointment or come in for walk-in service.

The SHS Wyandotte Clinic, SHS Central Adult Medicine and Outreach clinics all have “open access” scheduling – which means you can take the next available open appointment whenever you come in. In OBGYN and Pediatrics clinics, some time slots are reserved for walk-ins with acute needs only. Services like physicals and procedures always require scheduled appointments in OBGYN and Pediatrics.

If you miss three appointments in 12 months, you may have to accept service on a walk-in basis only.

We do this to respect our clients and providers. We know that you are busy, and we want to operate as efficiently as possible to be able to provide care to as many people as we can.

Do you have other questions about registering? You can also call us at 816-923-5800 or leave a comment below. We look forward to serving you.       

WOW…She’s Been Helping Women at SHS for 40 Years!

Dr. Dhana Rengachary

Dhana Rengachary, M.D.

With 40 years of service, Dhana Rengachary, M.D., is a fixture in Swope Health Services Women’s Health Care.

While she can’t say how many babies she has delivered or how many women she has cared for, she has patients who have brought daughters and now granddaughters to see her for their obstetric and gynecological care.

“The best part of being in the same community for so long is people know you,” she said. “I am seeing many of the third and even fourth generation of my patients.”

She has tremendous recall of names and faces, which often astonishes her patients when she asks about family members and long-ago connections.

“I really have a good memory about people,” she said. “It surprises them to learn that I remember them. They learn that I am still connected to them. And when they come back for a visit, that connection is there.”

“Connection” is important to Dr. Rengachary. She invests her time and energy in making connections with her patients, in special ways that work for her. She arrives early to review the charts and records of the patients she will see each day. That way, when she is in the exam room, she avoids the distraction of using the computer. Her focus remains on her patient and making sure she is listening – connecting – with each person.

Talking to Dr. Rengachary is a bit like visiting with a friendly grandmother. You feel the focus of her attention, and she is always smiling and happy to see you. She asks questions and listens carefully, then offers her own direct views, often with a story of her own experience. It is her special way of developing a bond with her patients.

These days, she finds herself frequently encouraging patients to make time to take care of themselves. She sees the pattern of women putting a focus on children and family for years, and then caring for their own parents in later years.

“I say, ‘Make time to take care of yourself,’ ” she says. “I see people who are so involved with their children’s lives that they forget to care for themselves. Now is the time to live your life.”

For Dr. Rengachary, her own life is inextricably tied to Swope Health Services. She is proud of the care SHS offers, and she speaks as both a caregiver and a patient. Dr. Rengachary tells her patients she uses SHS for her own medical, dental and optometry care.

When colleagues ask for advice, she says there are three things you need for a good practice: Availability, Amicability and Ability.

  • Availability – “I am always on call for my patients.”
  • Amicability – She is approachable and friendly, showing her patients she cares for them.
  • Ability – She brings her medical training and experience to care for every patient.

But her main philosophy is much simpler and can apply to everyone. “Put your heart into your work,” she said.

“This is service. This is what I love,” she says. “I give the best care I can every day. And I can’t wait until I come back the next day.”

We encourage you to take Dr. Rengachary’s advice and make time to visit your doctor. Call us to schedule an appointment: (816) 923-5800.

Get to Know Our Director of Dentistry: Dr. David Moyer

david-moyer-d-d-sDr. David Moyer is the Director of Dentistry for Swope Health Services. A native of St. Joseph, Mo., he received his doctorate of dental surgery degree from the Georgetown University School of Dentistry in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Moyer was a general dentist with the Missouri Department of Corrections and before that, a Colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserve, serving with the 442nd Medical-Dental Squadron at Whiteman Air Force Base. He joined Swope Health Services in October 2016.

We caught up with him recently to ask a few questions. Here are his responses:

When did you know that you wanted to be a dentist?
It was in college. Growing up, I thought I wanted to be a physician. When I was 6 years old, my father died of a heart attack, so I was interested in medicine.

But while I was in college working at the teaching hospital at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, I saw a woman who was in a car accident and died – it brought my father’s experience back to me and I realized I didn’t want to do this.

But, a friend’s father was a dentist, and that was interesting to me. There was a lot of close work with your hands, and I liked that since I had played piano all my life. It was interesting.

What led you to join Swope Health Services?
I’m getting a Master’s degree in Healthcare Administration from the University of Maryland. I had taken a course in public health and was learning about Federally Qualified Health Centers and I decided to explore opportunities. SHS had an opening, and I got it.

What are the key things you hope to accomplish in your new role?
I want my group to work together as a team. I want to bring in new patients and help them get their treatment plans completed. I’d like to expand our dental services to additional locations. I’m interested in developing a dental outreach program for the homeless.

What is your favorite characteristic in yourself?
I have a degree in mathematics, so I guess I’m fairly analytical. My leadership qualities tend to come out easily.

Least favorite?
My procrastination.

What book is on your nightstand?
The only book I read at night is the Bible.

What’s the one thing you wish you could change about your patients?
I wish I could change the no-show rate. It’s so inefficient and it hurts our patients. It prevents them from completing their treatment and it hinders us from helping other patients.

What else would you like our readers to know about you?
I have an 11-year-old son. I love animals and sports and music. I still play the piano. I’ve played in bands in college – rock and roll and blues bands. I taught piano and guitar during college and I still get invited to sit in with bands for recordings.

Do you have a question for Dr. Moyer? You can leave your question or comment in the box below. SHS has limited openings for new dental patients but we’re working hard to see all those who need us. If you are open to being seen at our Independence, Northland or Wyandotte County clinics, we may be able to see you sooner, rather than later. Please call 816-923-5800 to explore your options.

Get to Know Our Chief Medical Officer: Dr. Kenneth Thomas

immunizations (1)Dr. Kenneth Thomas is the Chief Medical Officer of Swope Health Services. A native of Kansas City, KS, he received his medical degree from the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, NE.

He completed a pediatric residency and a pediatric emergency medicine fellowship at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City.

Board-certified in pediatrics (and for a time, in pediatrics emergency medicine), he has worked in children’s health care in the Kansas City area for more than 20 years.

He joined Swope Health Services in January 2015 as Director of Pediatrics and in April 2016 was named to his current post leading all medical services at SHS.

We caught up with him recently to ask a few questions…

When did you know that you wanted to be a doctor?
I knew as early as high school that I wanted to be a doctor. I was fortunate to participate in programs that gave me a chance to shadow doctors in clinics and confirm that it was right for me.

How did you choose pediatrics as your specialty?
I’ve always been interested in taking care of children. Somewhere during my medical training, it dawned on me that I was happiest on the pediatric rotations. You get to play with kids — who wouldn’t love that? For a while, I thought I might want to be a pediatric surgeon, but I realized I wanted to work in primary care, in family-based preventive care and wellness, not cutting something out of a child’s body.

What led you to join Swope Health Services?
I spent 20-plus years at Children’s Mercy, taking care of special needs patients. I decided I wanted to do pediatrics closer to the community, so I moved to Truman Medical Center-Lakewood. I was working in-patient and out-patient and in the community-based nursery.

In the fall of 2014, I got a call from Swope and I initially said no, but I listened. It was an opportunity for leadership in a community-based pediatrics clinic. That’s where my interests are: providing quality care a needy population and becoming more deeply entrenched in the community, not a hospital. To be able to come here and lead that effort, that attracted me.

What are the key things you hope to accomplish in your new role?
There are a thousand things. I want to make sure that we are providing the highest standards of care to our patients. Too often, our patients get just enough to get by, but not really what’s needed. The disparity is so great. I want to give not just the standards of care, but quality care, as efficiently as we can.

I want to find that sweet spot between quality, efficiency and cost. A point where all three are optimized. I want to find that middle where quality is present, efficiency is present and the cost won’t break the bank. I want our patients to be happy and I want our providers to be happy. I want to be a model for other federally qualified health centers.

What is your favorite characteristic in yourself?
I don’t take myself too seriously.

Least favorite?
I could be more patient at times.

What book is on your nightstand?
I’m mostly reading on this thing (tapping his computer) or other electronics. But I’m more of a classics guy, so if there’s a book on my nightstand, it would be Homer, The Odyssey.

What’s the one thing you wish you could change about your patients?
To understand the importance of keeping appointments for your children. We have so many people who don’t come in for their appointments. People have problems and they don’t come in for care, they just bounce from crisis to crisis.

Things happen, I understand. But you can still call us. Who knows, maybe we can help you keep the appointment. I want to teach our patients to be proactive and preventive. Come in for well-child visits, get vaccinations on time. Respect those appointments.

What else you would like our readers to know about you?
My approach is: I don’t micromanage. I’m looking for leaders here in our departments. I don’t pretend to know everything, but I know we can sit down together, research and definitely figure out a solution. I strive for the best. I don’t want mediocrity. I don’t want anyone to tell me it can’t be done.

Do you have a question for Dr. Thomas? You can leave your question or comment in the box below. Or call 816-923-5800 to schedule a well-child appointment or check-up for your children.  Same day appointments are available, just call!  

Get Ready! It’s Time to Sign up for Health Insurance

The SHS Certified Application Counselors are ready to help with your health care insurance enrollment. From left, Janelle Strozier, Dr. Karimah Baptiste-Edward, and Angela Rogers.

The SHS Certified Application Counselors are ready to help with your health care insurance enrollment. From left, Janelle Strozier, Dr. Karimah Baptiste-Edward, and Angela Rogers.

Open enrollment season is nearly here. That means it’s time for you to examine your health insurance options and make choices about coverage. You can enroll, make updates, or change your plan between November 1, 2016, and January 31, 2017.

SHS is here to help. Dr. Karimah Baptiste-Edward, Manager of SHS Outreach and Enrollment, and her team are ready to help you pick the right plan that meets  your needs.

“There are a lot of moving parts,” she said, noting some insurance providers have pulled out and others have made changes to plans. “If you are re-enrolling, you’ll want to shop for the best deal and update your application.”

Even if your financial or employment status hasn’t changed, Dr. Baptiste-Edward encourages a visit with the Certified Application Counselors at SHS.

“We might see things that you don’t,” she said. “We’re trained and we’re here to help you navigate the system.”

A counselor can also help with the application process for financial assistance, which is based on projected income and family size. In this region, approximately 86 percent of people who got coverage in the health insurance marketplace (HealthCare.gov) qualified for financial assistance to help lower the cost of their health insurance plan..

This year’s enrollment programs include some new “Simple Choice Plans” or standard packages designed to make comparisons easier. The plans are grouped in tiers – Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum.

Some common questions our counselors hear:

Why do I need insurance? Just in case! We don’t walk around thinking something catastrophic is going to happen, but if it does, you know you won’t be bankrupt too. Medical bills are the No. 1 cause of bankruptcy and insurance can protect you.

Is it going to be more expensive? There may be a rate increase, but it’s still better than rates before the Affordable Care Act. Also, if you qualify for a subsidy, that can soften the blow.

How long does it take to sign up? The visit time varies, anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours. We suggest you plan on an hour. We’ll take as much time as you need.

What happens in these sessions? We ask you to bring your social security number, an income statement, like a paycheck or unemployment benefit, plus I.D.s and dates of birth for everyone who’ll be covered. We talk about what’s important to you – specific health concerns, medications you’re currently taking, which physicians you want to see. We help figure out what you can afford and show you all the plans. We help you sign up.

Where can I go to meet with a counselor and sign up? Call 816-599-5590 to schedule with our counselors at any of our locations: Central, South, Independence, Hickman Mills, Belton, Northland, Wyandotte and West.

Resources:

Don’t wait till the last minute! Enroll by December 15 and coverage will begin as early as January 1.To be sure you’re covered, call 816-599-5590 to schedule your visit.

Thank a Medical Assistant Today!

medicalassistantsIt’s time to give thanks to the Medical Assistants among us!

The American Association of Medical Assistants sponsors Medical Assistants Recognition Day on Wednesday, Oct. 19. The whole week is set aside to show appreciation to Medical Assistants.

Medical Assistants are health professionals who support the work of physicians and other health professionals. Medical Assistants are cross-trained to perform medical and administrative tasks. Some of the things Medical Assistants do to make clinics run smoothly:

  • Meet patients in the clinic exam rooms, taking medical history and vital signs
  • Prepare patients for an exam or lab tests
  • Serve as an advocate for the patient, sharing information between the provider and the patient
  • Provide patient education about health matters, including lab results, taking medications and other health information
  • Coordinate with clinic back offices, including ensuring HIPAA compliance, managing insurance processes, working with the medical records
  • In general, take steps to support the needs of patients and physicians.

“Practicing medicine takes a whole team,” said Lee Champion, SHS Director of Nursing. “We couldn’t deliver high quality care across our clinics without the service and dedication of our Medical Assistants.”

Swope Health Services is honored to recognize these hard-working and patient-focused professionals in our clinics. Please join us in honoring them by leaving a comment. We’ll make sure they get to read them.

Help Us Celebrate National Nurses Day on Friday, May 6th!

National Nurses Week

Join Swope Health Services as we offer special thanks to our nursing team and celebrate National Nurses Day on Friday, May 6.

At SHS, our nurses will receive a special card and a gift to mark our appreciation of their work in caring for patients and advocating on their behalf. Our nurses will be recognized in an afternoon event, featuring a program on Florence Nightingale.

National Nurses Day, sponsored by the American Nurses Association, is also the start of National Nurses Week, which ends on May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale.

Do you know the story of Florence Nightingale? She was a real person who lived from 1820 to 1910, mostly in England. She’s known as the founder of the profession of nursing, responsible for pioneering nursing practices and reforming health care with an emphasis on hygiene and sanitation.

Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale

She was a strong-willed social activist and a dedicated nurse. In 1854, England was battling Russia in the Crimean War near the Black Sea. Thousands of British soldiers were wounded, with more than 18,000 suffering in poorly staffed military hospitals. War officials asked Florence for help, and she organized a corps of nurses and quickly traveled to the hospital at Constantinople.

According to the Florence Nightingale Biography on The biography.com, she found horrid conditions — the hospital was erected on a cesspool, water was contaminated, the facility was overrun with rodents and bugs, and infectious diseases like typhoid and cholera were rampant.

She set about cleaning the facility, enlisting even patients to help with scrubbing. She led her staff in caring non-stop for the patients and earned the nickname “the Lady with the Lamp” as she made rounds at night. She is credited with reducing the hospital’s death rate by two-thirds.

She later wrote about her experiences, and her work sparked a reform in nursing and hospital practices and earned her prizes and honors from the British government and soldiers. She became a revered symbol of the profession and she remains an inspiration for her leadership in preventing disease while delivering compassionate care for the suffering.

Please join us saying “Thank you” to all who follow her in serving in this critically important profession, at SHS and across the Kansas City region.

Do you have a story about a favorite nurse? Please share it with us here. Or plan to come to Swope Health Services and meet our amazing nurses! Call 816-923-5800 to schedule an appointment.

Nurses Day (1) Nurses Day (2)

 

 

The Summer Sizzler: SHS Teamwork Creates a Picnic to Remember!

Teamwork is at the heart of Swope Health Services. Associates proved that recently in a week full of challenges.

First, associates came in to work on Monday morning to learn they would be tested by surveyors from The Joint Commission, an independent organization that assesses safety and adherence to quality standards. (See more about this here.)

summer sizzlerThen, after the assessors completed their four-day exam, a well-timed picnic — the Summer Sizzler — beckoned. Except when the Summer Sizzler organizing team arrived that Friday morning to set up, the location looked nothing like the serene park they knew. As a result of storms the night before, it looked more like a war zone. Tree limbs and debris were everywhere and there was no electricity at the Swope Park shelter.

No matter. Associates took charge and cleaned up. They improvised and played music through an associate’s car and speakers and orchestrated a great event. There were all the staples of a great picnic — hamburgers, hot dogs, summer salads and side dishes, cookies, lemonade and iced tea. Associates competed for prizes in carnival and field games, including a water balloon relay race, sponge race and toilet paper race. There was even dancing and pick-up basketball games.

Why is the event important?

“The Summer Sizzler is a time for us to get away and get to know each other better,” said Robin Wheeler, Vice President-Human Resources. “We get a chance to build camaraderie by teaming up in friendly competition with people that we don’t usually get to work with.”

SummerSizzlerCamaraderie is a key factor in building employee engagement. According to the Harvard Business Review: “It is also about creating a common sense of purpose and the mentality that we are in it together. …In short, camaraderie promotes a group loyalty that results in a shared commitment to and discipline toward the work. Camaraderie at work can create ‘esprit de corps,’ which includes mutual respect, sense of identity, and admiration to push for hard work and outcomes.”

Dozens of studies show that when employees care about each other and the organization, they are happier, provide better customer care and are more productive. Gallup, for example, has been measuring employee engagement since the 1990s and found that companies with highly engaged workforces outperform their peers. This year’s Gallup survey noted that close friendships at work boost employee satisfaction by more than 50 percent.

So, events that build teamwork and camaraderie, like the Summer Sizzler, are investments in developing even stronger teamwork among our associates. And they are also investments in our commitment to you — to provide SHS patients with the best possible care.