Valentine’s Day opening for Swope Health West

It was a chilly morning on Valentine’s Day, but warm inside our newest clinic location at Swope Health West, at 4835 State Ave., in Kansas City, Kansas.

The outpouring of warmth came from dozens of Wyandotte Community representatives who joined Swope Health staff in a ceremonial ribbon-cutting to open the new clinic location. There were balloons and flowers, candy and treats, as well as tours throughout the expanded clinic.

Swope Health President and CEO Jeron Ravin welcomed the audience, which included representatives from the KCK-Wyandotte County Unified Government, El Centro, Wyandotte Health Foundation and other agencies and business partners. Ravin noted that the new clinic allows for an expansion of services for Wyandotte County patients.

Swope Health West Opening

The ribbon cutting, led by Jeron Ravin, with West Clinic associates and Dr. Kenneth Thomas, right.

Swope Health West

This new facility replaces the former Swope Health West location at 6013 Leavenworth Road in Kansas City, Kansas. The new Swope Health West has five exam rooms, plus a procedure room, all newly renovated and installed with new fixtures and equipment. The Community Care Network of Kansas provided more than $13,000 for some of the new medical equipment and supplies at Swope Health West.

Swope Health West Opening

The West Clinic has five exam rooms and a procedure room with all new equipment and supplies.

Swope Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Kenneth Thomas also spoke at the ribbon-cutting, both to welcome the community and express appreciation for all the hard work that supported the creation of the new clinic. He introduced the clinic associates, including Dr. George J. Bures Jr. and Nurse Practitioner Kylie Gaustad.

Swope Health West Opening

Bertha Thomas, Clinic Manager, left, introduced the West Clinic staff: Dr. Jennifer Frost; Dr. George Bures; Nurse Practitioner Kyle Gaustad; Medical Assistants Jalyssa Marshall, Nastasha Garry, and Yuliana Loveland-Paez;  and Jeron Ravin.

Dotte

Dr. Thomas, who introduced himself as a “Dotte,” shorthand for native of Wyandotte County, spoke of his deep ties to the community. He emphasized the Swope Health commitment to quality healthcare for all.

 “This beautiful new facility is another example of our commitment to and investment in high-quality care,” Dr. Thomas said. “We want our patients to have an experience that demonstrates our promise to quality care, starting at the moment you enter the new Swope Health West. We want you to find a safe, clean and welcoming environment, with associates who are skilled and compassionate in caring for every person.”

To schedule an appointment at Swope Health West, call 816-923-5800. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Offering Hope – A Cure for Hepatitis C

Larry H. of Independence had struggled with health issues for years. He had bad teeth and a damaged immune system, which led to his retirement. When a friend recommended Swope Health, he thought he’d try it for dental care.

He couldn’t have predicted the journey that followed.

In April, he sought dental care but learned he had high blood pressure that needed treatment first. While receiving care for high blood pressure, his provider did a routine screening for Hepatitis C based on his age. Baby boomers (born between 1945 – 1965) make up about 75 percent of those positive for the virus. Larry learned he also had Hepatitis C.

Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is a viral infection that causes liver inflammation, sometimes leading to serious liver damage and long-term health problems including liver cancer. There are an estimated 2.4 million people living with Hepatitis C, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many people may have Hep C and not know they are infected, as they may not have symptoms.

Rachel Melson

Rachel Melson, Nurse Practitioner, in the Outreach Clinic at Swope Health. She is the champion of a pilot program that assists patients with Hep C get treatment.

Enter Rachel Melson, DNP, Nurse Practitioner and Director of Outreach Clinic at Swope Health. When Larry was referred to Dr. Melson, she determined he would benefit from a new Hep C treatment. The only barrier was the cost – roughly $74,000 for a 12-week course of treatment.

Dr. Melson went to bat for him. She petitioned the drug manufacturer and secured the treatment for him at no cost.

“Thank God,” Larry said. “This helps me live a little longer.”

Swope’s Pilot Program for Treatment of Hep C

Larry was part of Swope Health’s Pilot Program for treatment of Hep C. Traditionally, patients required a referral to a specialist outside of Swope Health to receive treatment. For most, this created additional obstacles to their treatment, such as transportation, and the financial requirements of the outside agency. The Hep C Treatment Program was launched in Spring 2019 to provide treatment for hundreds of identified patients, many who have been referred but still had not gone to receive treatment for various reasons.

Dr. Melson led Swope Health efforts to establish an effective primary-care Hep C treatment program. Swope Health is committed to developing specialized services for patients and delivering these services on site – no need for additional transportation or financial considerations. Now patients can be screened, tested and treated for Hep C all on-site at Swope Health. Dr. Melson performs an evaluation including blood test to determine whether a patient requires treatment by a specialist. Unless a patient is too sick for treatment by a primary care provider – for example, if cirrhosis is present or if the patient has had an organ transplant – Dr. Melson will manage their treatment.

Since March, Dr. Melson’s Hep C Clinic at Swope Health has seen more than 100 patients. She leads a team that works closely with patients as a champion to help them get the medication they need and follow their treatment plan.

What Does “Cured” Mean?

Hep C Infographic“I am already able to say that we’ve cured patients, and we rarely get to use the word ‘cure’ in medicine,” she said. “But this is such an effective treatment that we have actually been able to cure Hepatitis C.”

In this case, “cured” means the patient has no active Hep C virus in the body three months after finishing the medication.

“This service gives us another way to connect with and help take care our patients,” she said. “I love being able to develop that trust and a stronger rapport with patients through education about their health including Hep C. The more we build that relationship, the more we can care for them in the way that they need.”

Larry said he appreciates what Dr. Melson has done for him.

“Rachel is a very good doctor and a very sweet person,” he said. “There are a lot of doctors who could learn a lot from her. Not just her smarts, but her mannerisms, her way of being people to people. She’s very caring.”

Now Larry is completing his last few weeks on the antiviral drug and looking forward to the end-of-treatment blood test.

“I’m feeling pretty good now,” Larry said. “I’d recommend Swope Health to anyone. And I have.”

Do you have questions about Hepatitis C? We encourage you to talk with your provider. Call 816-923-5800 to schedule an appointment at Swope Health.

About Hepatitis C

  • About 75 percent of people with Hep C were born between 1945 and 1965, commonly known as the Baby Boomer generation. Most boomers are believed to have become infected in the 1970s and 1980s when rates of Hepatitis C were the highest, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • Hep C is rapidly increasing, it’s growth tied to the opioid epidemic. The virus is now found in all ages, with sharp increases especially in younger Americans age 18 to 39. There is no vaccine to prevent Hep C.
  • The Hep C virus spreads when infected blood enters the body of an uninfected person. It can spread with shared use of needles, spoons, even razors or nail clippers. The virus stays alive and active on surfaces, making it easier to transmit. And once you have been infected, even if you have cleared the virus, you can be re-infected.
  • The current treatment for Hep C is an antiviral drug that is taken as one pill a day for 12 weeks. There are several types of antiviral drugs available, and these drugs cure more than 90 percent of people who use them.
  • The drugs, however, come with steep price tags. There is high demand, and the cost to bring drugs to market is expensive – up to $900 million to develop, test and market. Prices may come down as generic versions come to market and if more companies enter the market.
  • At the end of treatment, a blood screen determines if the medication has cleared the virus from the body. In most cases, there is a dramatic reduction in the active virus. Patients are tested again after three months to verify that the virus is still inactive – what is called a “sustained virologic response.”

Meet Priscilla Perez Schmid, our Registered Dietician!

Priscilla Perez Schmid

Priscilla Perez Schmid, Swope Health’s Registered Dietitian, shows a sample plate with healthy food groups and portion sizes.

Priscilla Perez Schmid is a Registered Dietitian who has joined Swope Health with the goal of developing a new service to assist patients with their nutritional health.

Over time, she plans to build a team of registered dietitians who will perform clinical assessments and make recommendations for treatment of conditions that might be helped with nutrition. She and her team will then help patients set goals for their eating habits to support better overall health.

“Food is our first and most basic medicine,” says Priscilla. “What you eat determines, in part, how healthy you will be. I want to help everyone understand how to eat healthy for better well-being.”

Priscilla will also set up ways to measure the effectiveness of the program, including incorporating measures from patients in the program.

“Patients should know that my priority is establishing a collaborative relationship with them,” she said. “Patients are the leaders of their own health, and I am here to help them on their path toward sound health decisions.”

Nutrition and Dietary Education Needs

Swope Health providers refer patients to Priscilla to support their nutrition and dietary education needs. She regularly works with patients who have diabetes, obesity or high blood pressure, assisting them with healthy food choices to better manage and improve chronic health conditions. She also guides them to resources for selecting, purchasing and preparing healthy foods.

“After diverse cultural exposure, I am sensitive to people’s differences in opinions and values,” she said. “I respect individuality and prefer to work on shared goals.”

Priscilla’s Education and Training

Total Diet Approach to Healthy EatingPriscilla has earned the credential of Registered Dietitian (RD) from the Commission on Dietetic Registration, the credentialing agency for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. She holds a Master’s degree in Public Health, with a specialty in Nutrition from Loma Linda University, and is licensed as a dietitian in Missouri and Kansas.

Before arriving at Swope Health, Priscilla worked as a clinical dietitian in acute and chronic healthcare at St. Mary’s Medical Center and DaVita Dialysis in Apple Valley, Calif. She grew up in west Puerto Rico, and after obtaining her Bachelor’s degree in Biology, she moved to the Washington, D.C. area, where she was a post-baccalaureate research fellow at the National Institutes of Health.

Fluent in Spanish, Priscilla is still adjusting to the Kansas City environment and indulging her curiosity by exploring the region.

“I love how green it is out here in Kansas City,” she said. She also admitted to an immediate fondness for Kansas City barbecue—though in moderation!

When not working, Priscilla enjoys painting, playing jazz flute and practicing yoga. She lives in Kansas City with her husband (a psychology doctorate intern) and her two big dogs.

Meet our CEO Jeron Ravin

Meet the CEO: Jeron RavinOn Aug. 26, 2019, Swope Health announced the appointment of our new President and Chief Executive Officer Jeron Ravin.

Here are some early questions we had for Jeron:

What attracted you to the position?

Without question, it was the chance to work at Swope Health. I have always found FQHCs at the intersection of mission-driven work and the fight for health equity. Swope Health embodies that.

What attracted you to Kansas City?

I’ve never lived in the Midwest. More importantly, it’s an exciting time to be in KC.  The city’s population has grown year over year. New development is sprouting up throughout the city, and KC has a rich history of music, great food, technology, and civil rights – things I have an ardent interest in.

Why do you think you are the right person for this job at this time?

I believe in leadership that is centered in integrity and collaboration. My career has demonstrated that this approach builds effective teams. Swope Health is at an interesting precipice. As the best, we now get to decide what our next level of care looks like. To me, this is continuously pushing the envelope to give our patients the very best–and changing lives in the process. Not only am I passionate about this approach but I have a history of achieving it.

What are you most looking forward to in your new role and as a new resident of Kansas City?

Working with the team here at Swope Health. I’ve been in community health for some time and instantly realized that Swope Health is special. This was clear to me after meeting the Board of Directors and numerous Swope Health associates. As far as KC is concerned, I’m looking forward to sampling the BBQ, art, music, festivals, snow, college basketball and Arrowhead Stadium.

What is your management style or philosophy?

Lead honestly, collaboratively, and unselfishly, with purpose and vision. Surround yourself with smart people and work with them to make a difference.

What are some of your hobbies? What do you like to do in your spare time?

Traveling. It’s a big world. I like to experience as much as possible. Live music and concerts are also something I really enjoy. I also read often and workout.

Swope Health is celebrating 50 years and many have said it is the perfect time for this change. What do you see for Swope Health in the next 50 years?

I see growth, and an opportunity to forge genuine connections with the communities we serve. I truly want Swope Health to become the healthcare provider of choice for all of the Midwest. Keep watching –I have a few things up my sleeve. J

100% Compliance: Audit Results for the VFC program at Swope Health Wyandotte

When we talk about Swope Health, we always talk about quality. It is in our mission statement and it is part of everything we do, every day. Here is an example.

VFC Program

VFC LogoSwope Health is a participant in the federal Vaccines for Children (VFC) program, which provides vaccines to approved providers to offer to children at no cost. The program works to vaccinate children who might otherwise not be vaccinated because of inability to pay.

The program, operated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has strict guidelines and controls, including annual site visits performed by state health departments to make sure providers meet all requirements.

VFC requirements include things you might not think about, like:

  • A Vaccine Accountability and Management Plan
  • Required annual training of clinic staff
  • Current Vaccine Information Sheets at every location, given with every dose
  • Complete immunization records
  • Strict requirements for storage, labeling and security of the vaccines, including temperature controls and procedures for disposing of expired or damaged vaccines

VFC Audit

Swope Health Wyandotte Team

The clinical team at Swope Health Wyandotte won praise for its high standards in a recent site visit by inspectors from the Kansas Immunization Program.

Recently, the Kansas Immunization Program sent a representative to perform a site visit – a kind of audit – of the VFC program at Swope Health Wyandotte. The investigator follows an evaluation framework to check in on each element of the program, gathering specific information, completing a questionnaire and interviewing clinic associates.

At the conclusion of the Wyandotte site visit, the investigator reported:  “As always, it is obvious the high standards your clinic holds.  There were no compliance issues discovered.”

Dr. Kenneth Thomas, Chief Medical Officer for Swope Health, noted the state is “very protective” of its vaccines and is strict in enforcing adherence to federal guidelines.

“This is a big accomplishment,” he said. “Our medical assistants and nursing staff are doing great work.”

Wyandotte Clinic Manager Irma Salinas, RN, agreed.

“I am so proud of the work the Wyandotte team has done and continues to do to care for our patients,” she said.  “I have received many wonderful comments about the compassionate care we are providing.”

Irma noted the team has been working hard on its processes – the step-by-step procedures that assure consistent and repeatable care for all patients.

“We know standard operating procedures are significant factors in providing more quality and efficient care,” she said.  “The last few weeks have not been easy, but each of us has demonstrated a strong desire to continue to make this the most outstanding clinic in Wyandotte County and beyond.”

Meet Dr. Jennifer Frost

Dr. Jennifer FrostSwope Health’s newest addition to healthcare services and leadership is Dr. Jennifer Frost, Medical Director of Wyandotte, West and Northland Clinics.

She brings a wealth of experience from social work to family medicine and women’s healthcare, from developing health policy to providing healthcare in underserved urban areas. In her new position, she wears two hats – seeing patients and driving improvements in healthcare at her clinics.

“Patients should know that I am really collaborative,” she said. “Medicine can be very paternalistic and we as doctors are often trained to be paternalistic. But I’m not. I will listen to patients and help them figure out what they are able to change and what they want to change. I will work with them to maximize their health.”

She is comfortable conversing with patients in Spanish, another example of her willingness to listen and work with patients on achieving health goals.

Dr. Frost is passionate about applying evidence-based care to all practices at the clinics.

“I want to make sure that everything we do is evidence-based,” she said. “That means making sure we provide care that actually improves outcomes and avoid doing things that can cause harm.”

In her administrative role, she focuses on improving efficiency in the clinics, starting with Wyandotte Clinic, where sometimes patients have to wait for walk-in service. She is working to add eye exams to support the large percentage of patients who have diabetes, which is a leading cause of blindness, kidney disease and limb amputation. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 30 million people in the U.S. have diabetes.

Another goal is to develop Behavioral Health Case Management services at Wyandotte and West Clinics, to help patients find the community resources and support they need.

Dr. Frost’s Journey to Swope Health

Dr. Frost is a native of Tacoma, Wash., and has lived in the Kansas City area for the last 16 years. Before joining Swope Health in January 2019, she had worked at the American Academy of Family Physicians where she developed clinical practice guidelines and health policy. Before that, she was the Director of Women’s Services and Associate Program Director for the Family Medicine Residency Program at Research Medical Center. She has also worked at Truman Lakewood as a staff physician.

Earlier, she worked at Arroya Vista Family Care, a federally qualified health center in Los Angeles that provided healthcare for an underserved urban community. She completed a fellowship in women’s health services at the Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton, Calif.; and her residency in family medicine at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, N.M.

She received her medical degree from Brown University in Rhode Island. She also studied pre-medicine at Bryn Mawr College in Bryn Mawr, Penn.; and has a bachelor of arts from Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vt.

Dr. Frost and her husband, a professor of U.S. History at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, have two children. She enjoys photography and hiking and spends free time with family.

All Smiles for Children’s Dental Health Month

Dental Health Month 2019It’s February! That means it’s time to raise awareness about children’s dental health.

The American Dental Association sponsors the month-long observance to focus attention on the importance of good oral health in children and to equip caregivers, parents and teachers with information to promote good dental care for kids.

At Swope Health, we are in on this. Our dentists and dental assistants love to help kids develop good brushing habits, understand tooth-healthy choices and feel comfortable with dental care.

“Primary teeth–also, known as baby teeth–play a crucial role in a child’s health and development,” said Dr. Arezo Hesaraki, who sees patients at Swope Health’s Wyandotte Dental Clinic. “Practicing good oral health during a child’s early years promotes good nutrition by allowing them to chew properly. It also helps children develop better speaking skills while creating a better self-image.”

Dr. Hesaraki notes that the absence of good dental care can lead to cavities, which can cause problems with eating and interacting with others, and even contribute to difficulty learning or paying attention in school. The better approach is to learn about hygiene and healthy habits early, to prevent extensive – and expensive – treatments later.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends children see a dentist twice a year, although some children may require more frequent care. In a typical visit, Dr. Hesaraki will:

  • Check the teeth for cavities, by examination and X-ray.
  • Clean the teeth to remove any debris that builds up.
  • Help the child learn proper brushing and flossing.
  • Apply fluoride to strengthen teeth and prevent cavities.
  • Place sealant treatment on the teeth as a further protection, which is a bit like putting on a raincoat.

Dr. Hesaraki spends time talking with children and parents about good nutrition. She encourages them to make healthy choices like fruits, vegetables and water instead of sugary candy, juice and sodas.

Good dental care should start with infants, so Dr. Hesaraki teaches parents to wipe out the baby’s mouth with a soft, moist clean cloth after feeding to remove sugars and bacteria. She cautions not to let children go to sleep with a bottle of milk, noting if a bottle is necessary, it should contain only water.

“Tooth decay is the most common childhood disease,” she said. “The goal is to decrease the time that their teeth are exposed to sugars. You can do this by reducing the frequency and duration of sugar intake, and promptly cleaning teeth after eating.”

“I love children,” she says. “I want each one to have a healthy smile.”

Dental Team at Swope Health Wyandotte

The Dental team at Swope Health’s Wyandotte Clinic stands ready to help children develop the skills and habits that are critical for good oral health and healthy smiles. From left are two Swope Health Wyandotte Clinic dentists, Dr. Arezo Hesaraki and Dr. Nidhi Gupta, and two Dental Assistants, Laura Contreras and Naima Ibrahim.

Additional Resources:

HealthyChildren.org: Dental Health & Hygiene for Young Children

HealthyChildren.org: Brushing up on Oral Health – Never Too Early to Start

MouthHealthy.org: A Healthy Smile Can Last a Lifetime

My Children’s Teeth: Tooth Decay (American Academy of Pediatric Dentists)

A look back in time.

Swope 50 Year AnniversaryOn a recent Friday afternoon, for just a moment, an audience at Swope Health Central hit the “pause” button to think about what life was like in 1995. The reason? The unsealing of a time capsule placed in the wall of the building by members of the Swope Health Board of Directors and staff members that year. They offered mementos and messages for a future audience.

Fast forward 25 years. That “future audience” of current staff, board members, patients and community representatives were on hand to witness the opening of the time capsule as part of the kickoff of Swope Health’s 50th anniversary year.

Dave Barber

Dave Barber, President and CEO, kicks off the celebration of Swope Health’s 50 years of service to the Kansas City community.

The event began with brief remarks from President and CEO Dave Barber. He spoke of the past, while inviting the audience to offer suggestions of items and messages to place in a new time capsule at the end of 2019.

The unveiling was managed by Dan Barnett, Manager of Communications and Special Events, who wore white gloves as he opened the box and carefully handled each item.

The time capsule included:

  • A proclamation from the Mayor of Kansas City Emmanuel Cleaver II – who today serves as a Representative in Congress.
  • Photos of the Board of Directors.
  • Sample medical records — on paper! Today’s medical records are electronic and available via a Patient Portal from the internet and a mobile app called Healow.
  • Dan Barnett

    Dan Barnett, Manager, Communications and Special Events, reads from the Mayor’s Proclamation on the dedication of the Swope Health Central facility in 1995.

    Polaroid photos of members of the Swope Health staff. Some of the staff members are still working in the same departments!

  • Sample eyeglasses that were the height of fashion in 1995.
  • A listing of codes used for the diseases known in 1995. The listing for today is much larger, a reflection of the advances in medical knowledge.
  • Calendars, memos, guidebooks, pamphlets and other documents, preserved as printed materials, faxes, slides and on discs (CD-ROM).

The mementos will be organized into a traveling display that will be showcased at each of Swope Health’s locations before year-end.

The Time Capsule Opening Ceremony  was the first of a series of events Swope Health will use to celebrate 50 years of service in the community. Other events are scheduled throughout the year, including a community birthday party, a gala celebration, and a year-end event to seal a new time capsule.

Swope Staff Members

Staff, members from the board of directors, patients and community partners gathered for the time capsule’s unsealing. Participants were treated to a hot chocolate bar and cookies as part of the celebration.

Naimish Patel

Naimish Patel, Chief Financial Officer, holds a Polariod picture of an earlier version of himself in the Finance Department at Swope Health.

Time Capsule Items

The variety of items unearthed in the time capsule.

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.

Treatment

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. 

Raising the Bar for Patient Safety: New Sterile Processing Department

IMG_2215

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.”

DSC_0442

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.