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.

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.       

Meet the Providers: Amy Warren

Amy WarrenAmy Warren is a regular provider on the Swope Health Services Mobile Medical Unit (MMU), which visits shelters and other locations to serve the homeless population of the Kansas City area.

Amy, a nurse practitioner, says it’s important to meet her patients wherever they are.

“There is no excuse to not receive medical care,” she said. “We will come pick you up. We will see you at a mission or shelter. We are here to care for you.”

Firmly, she adds, “I want you to realize that someone DOES care.”

Amy’s focus on providing for the indigent was nurtured during her tenure at Frontier Nursing University, located in rural Hyden, Kentucky.

The school is best known for its focus on midwifery and serving women and children’s healthcare needs in the rural Appalachian foothills.

MMU

Thanks to generous donors, the Mobile Medical Unit is fitted with medical equipment and exam rooms to provide healthcare at any location.

In the early days of the school (1939), the area had the highest infant mortality rate in the nation.

With the school’s midwives, who traveled on horseback to remote hamlets and villages and provided basic primary care, the women and children began to thrive.

The model of taking care to the community has been a hallmark of the school’s programs ever since.

The Swope Health MMU is a little bit like today’s version of the horseback provider, venturing out to places where healthcare is needed but hard to get.

And Amy is convinced the MMU can produce the same kind of impact today in Kansas City as her alma mater did nearly 80 years ago in Kentucky.

“I focus on breaking down barriers to medical care,” she said. “My goal is for every patient to feel that someone cares about their health.”

Amy, with more than 20 years’ experience with Research Medical Center, works Tuesdays on the MMU and the remainder in the Outreach clinic.

This MMU, by the way, is a new addition to the SHS Outreach Services fleet.

Delivered in the summer of 2017, the MMU was funded with the generous support of Gould Charitable Foundation, Hall Family Foundation, John W. and Effie E. Speas Memorial Trust and the Sunderland Foundation.

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.

It’s Time to Applaud, Appreciate and Thank Our Social Workers

stand upThe National Association of Social Workers has named March as Social Work Month, giving us all a chance to recognize and applaud the services of social work professionals.

Given how broad the term “social work” is, we thought this would be a good time to learn more about the role some social workers play here at SHS.

“It’s such a broad field,” said Kortney Carr, Director of Children’s Services at SHS. “That’s both a blessing and a curse.”

The “blessing” is the wide range of opportunity areas for social work: healthcare, mental health, government, military, schools, universities, social service agencies, community organizations. The “curse” is in that same broad variety of services, making it hard to quickly define the field of social work.

“We’re helpers,” Kortney said. “We’re focused on decreasing symptoms that are causing impairments for our patients. We work directly with clients to help them access the services they need.”

What are those services? It could be therapy and healthcare, housing and transportation resources, training and education. Social workers help people who are experiencing illnesses or mental health crises; suffering abuse, neglect or trauma; or facing poverty and other roadblocks to daily living. Social workers’ services are covered by insurance, Medicaid and state and county programs.

social workersJosette Mitchell, Director of Adult Community Services, notes that a big part of the job is advocacy. That can mean making sure the policies and procedures meet the needs of the clients, including weighing in on state and federal programs and providing feedback to legislators and policy makers.

Other times, advocacy can mean going to bat for a specific client – perhaps seeking appropriate medication or helping gain access to needed services. It can involve teaching, coaching and consultations, to help clients build their own toolbox of skills and resources, added Kortney.

Social workers obtain extensive education and training, Josette notes. They are licensed by the state and credentialed by the National Association of Social Workers Credentialing Center. Social workers are required to participate in 30 hours of continuing education every two years to maintain credentials in Missouri.

There are about 50 social workers at SHS and more than 650,000 across the U.S. By standing up for the vulnerable, social workers play an important role in creating healthy communities.

“Every day, we’ll drop everything to do whatever needs to be done,” Kortney said. “We’re here to help. We’re helpers.”

In this month for recognition of social work, we invite you to join us in applauding, appreciating and thanking social workers. At SHS, our professional social workers support clients in behavioral health, pediatrics, OB/GYN, outreach, homeless outreach, residential services and Imani House departments.