Got 30 minutes? Get a Mammogram.

toolkit_badge_OctPink ribbons are popping up everywhere, an effective reminder of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Every October this national and international campaign, organized by major breast cancer research non-profits, kicks into gear to emphasize awareness of the disease and teach prevention tips.

Swope Health Services supports breast cancer awareness by providing year-round mammogram services, said Claire Holland, Manager of Radiology. During October as well as the rest of the year, the Radiology Department also provides free breast cancer awareness information and health care tips.

“If you have a mammogram, it can change your life,” Claire said. “A lot of cancers can’t be found without a mammogram – it’s important to be checked. The quicker a problem is found, the easier the treatment. If untreated, over time, it spreads and the risk increases.”

Claire noted that most visits take about 30 minutes, with the actual mammogram lasting about eight minutes.

She recalled an instance last year in which a mother and daughter came in together. The mother was afraid to get a mammogram – her last one, years earlier, had shown an abnormality but she never followed up. As a result, she was fearful, Claire said.

But her daughter encouraged her, and both were screened. The results came back normal.

“It was a cool thing,” Claire said. “She would never have gotten it done, but her daughter pushed her. Now she doesn’t have to be afraid.”

A mammogram is just one of the steps you can take toward breast health, Claire said. Other steps focus on healthy lifestyle habits, understanding personal risk, knowing the signs and symptoms, and learning how to detect changes in your breasts.

BreastCancerMortality_1200x630The signs and symptoms can include any change in the size or shape of breasts, pain in any areas, nipple discharge or the presence of any lump.

But mammograms are important, because some people with breast cancer have no symptoms at all, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  A mammogram won’t prevent cancer, but it can help find it early, when it is easier to treat.

The World Health Organization reports that breast cancer is by far the most common cancer in women worldwide, with about 1.4 million new cases each year. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, in the US, breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer in women (after skin cancer). About one in eight women in the US will get breast cancer.

So, take action: schedule a visit with your provider today. Call 816-923-5800 for an appointment; to schedule your mammogram, call 816-599-5870.

Do you need a mammogram?

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists encourages women to discuss their health and risks with their provider and take an active approach to managing their own health care. The goal is to encourage and support women in making informed, individualized decisions about when to start screening, how often to be screened and when to end screening.

Here are the general guidelines for screening:

  • Women at average risk of breast cancer should be screened at age 40.
  • At age 50, if a woman has not had a mammogram screening, she should.
  • Women with average risk of breast cancer should have follow-up mammogram screenings every year or every other year.
  • Screenings should continue until about age 75, for women at average risk.

Find more details on the ACOG recommendations here.


Celebrating Moms and Healthy Babies

Ahkeya Howard

Ahkeya Howard, SHS Lead Community Health Worker and a licensed clinical social worker, shows off some of the many resources available to participants in the Healthy Start Initiative.

At Swope Health Services’ Healthy Start Initiative, every day is Mother’s Day.

The program, operating at SHS Central and Wyandotte, is where pregnant women and moms can find support for just about any need. About 80 women are now enrolled.

Healthy Start is a federal program, offered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) department of the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, to support healthy pregnancy and early childhood.

The Kansas City Healthy Start Initiative operates at SHS and at Samuel Rodgers Health Center as a program of the Mother & Child Health Coalition.

Kansas City Healthy Start supports eligible women from certain zip codes in Jackson (MO) and Wyandotte (KS) counties where infant mortality rates are higher than average.

The free program helps pregnant women and women with children under the age of 2 get information and services they need to have a healthy pregnancy, raise a healthy family, and keep themselves healthy and strong.

After enrolling, each participant is assigned a community health worker. Each program starts with an exploration, said Ahkeya Howard, SHS Lead Community Health Worker and a licensed clinical social worker.

“We talk about your needs,” Ahkeya said. “We ask questions and provide support. We are here for you.”

That support can be personal – encouragement, advocacy, listening and training. It can also be tangible items, like diapers (provided by Happy Bottoms), baby cribs and car seats.

For example, when mothers complete Safe Sleep Training provided by community health workers and Infant Loss Resources, they are eligible to receive a free portable playpen/napper.

Each participant is encouraged to set goals, which can also range from personal (practicing better coping skills or relationship building) to professional (enrolling in training, getting a degree or finding a job).

If needed, the support extends to finding housing, transportation, food and signing up for other benefits like health insurance.

Participants typically visit the program once a month, and the goals are re-examined and reset every six months. The program, typically covering the span from a child’s birth until age 2, focuses on key topics of relationships, education, employment, health, mental health, basic essentials and child development.

“It’s important to think about the future, about what will be best for your child,” Ahkeya said. “We’re your cheerleaders and we want to see you succeed.”

This month, the “cheerleaders” organized a special drawing for two baskets filled with treats designed to pamper new moms. All the items were donated by associates in WIC and Healthy Start, and all visitors to either program in the month of May were entered into the drawing.

“There’s something to celebrate every day,” Ahkeya said. “Happy moms and healthy babies are our favorite reasons.”

To learn more about the Healthy Start Initiative, ask your SHS OB-GYN or pediatric provider or talk with Ahkeya Howard at SHS Central or by phone at (816) 599-5791.

The staff of the WIC and Healthy Start Initiative

The staff of the WIC and Healthy Start Initiative donated items to create two gift baskets as another way to celebrate moms in their programs.

Birthday Kits Celebrate Moms and Moms-to-Be!


Hawthorne109, a boutique featuring fashion and gifts from local Kansas City businesses, is celebrating its one-year anniversary in the City Market in April.

That’s reason enough for the shop’s owners to extend the party to Swope Health Services in a unique and festive way:  birthday celebration kits.

The kits, each featuring a cake mix, frosting, candles and decorative items, will be given to moms and moms-to-be in our OB/GYN department while supplies last.

The giveaways will occur throughout April and May, said Bobby Mickens, SHS Director of Nursing.

“These kits are a fun way to show our new moms and moms-to-be just how much we—and the community—care about them and their babies,” said Bobby.

“The timing is perfect, too, as we’ve recently renovated the Women’s Health Clinic and hope to welcome more moms into the SHS family.”

Hawthorne109 is enlisting support from the entire City Market community from now to April 30. The shop will host a special “Cake Day” April 21 offering customers complimentary cupcakes from Bloom Baking Co., 15 E. Third St., Kansas City, MO, to encourage support for birthday kits.

Visit Hawthorne109 at 400 S. Grand Boulevard to learn more about this drive and shop the fashion and gift items from local Kansas City businesses.

Our talented OB/GYN team is ready to care for you. Look to us for all your women’s health needs, including pre-natal and post-partum care. Schedule an appointment today by calling 816-923-5800.

Shiny, Sparkling New Facilities Unveiling at SHS

Open HouseAt long last, the dust is settling at Swope Health Services as three major renovation projects are coming to completion.

  • Behavioral Health Children’s Services

The north side of the second floor of building B at Central Facility is now home to an integrated Children’s Services Center. The new center is securely separated from adult services, and includes room for new services.

The total renovation of the 5,200-square-foot area cost $300,000, and took about four months of intense construction.

The project included creation of a new lobby and reception area, a community conference room, a “grand room” for groups of 30, a children’s playroom, two new treatment rooms, three new provider offices and a much-needed storage room. Additional renovation upgraded the staff breakroom, cubicles and hallways.

The result is bright and lively, full of vibrant colors.

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The new playroom in the Childrens’ Services Center is packed with games and toys in a fun space.

“It’s a friendly and welcoming environment,” said Josette Mitchell, Director of the Community Psychiatric Rehabilitation Program. “That’s by design. If you feel good about where you go, that’s an aid to the healing process.”

The project was designed by Bell/Knott & Associates Architects of Leawood, Kansas, and construction was performed by Purdum Construction of Overland Park, Kansas.

Mark your calendars for the Grand Opening: 8 a.m. Friday, March 30.

  • Pediatrics/OB-GYN Expansion

Debbie Meads, Program Manager, shuffled departments and clinics for about a year to make room for a vastly expanded Pediatrics and OB-GYN service area.

In Pediatrics, there are now 15 treatment rooms, up from 10. The Obstetrics clinic grew from nine rooms to 23, with space to support seven providers.

“The new spaces are designed for improved efficiency and workflow,” Debbie noted, “and include better infection control procedures for testing, easier access to weight stations, and new Neonatal Stress Testing rooms.”

Some of the additions in OB-GYN – like wall-mounted vital signs monitors – speed up examinations, as medical assistants no longer have to wheel in mobile units. Plus, the readings from the monitors now flow directly into the patient’s electronic medical records, reducing potential for errors in transcribing the data.

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The Pediatrics team in one of the new exam rooms.

“It’s faster for the staff and that means faster care for the patients, too,” Debbie said.

Dr. Kenneth Thomas, Chief Medical Officer and Pediatrician, said: “It’s a beautiful place for kids – full of healthy, educational and creative themes to stimulate kids’ minds and creativity and build strong habits.”

But, he added, “The beauty is just a bonus – the most important thing is how we’ve expanded.

We now have the capacity to see more patients and provide a higher level of service. We want to be a place our patients are proud to come to, a place our patients want to be.”

The final phases of construction are wrapping up this month.

This project was supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number C8DCS29675 Renovation of SHS-Central Pediatrics & OB/GYN Clinics with an award of $1 million with $800,000 financed with nongovernmental sources.

The project encompassed 12,955 square feet, or about 10 percent of the entire Central facility. The design work was completed by Garcia Architecture LLC of Kansas City, and Purdum Construction handled construction.

The Pediatrics and OB-GYN Grand Opening will be at 8 a.m. Friday, May 11.

  • Imani House Renovation
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The new computer lab at Imani House.

SHS’s Imani House is a freestanding facility for substance abuse treatment, just behind SHS Central, at 3950 E. 51st St. The 10,733-square-foot facility was updated from top to bottom in this project, which began in 2016 and cost more than $655,000.

There are two new group rooms, a conference room and a new six-station computer lab. There’s also a workout space, plus all new offices and remodeled group meeting spaces throughout.

“These renovations, along with new programming, have shifted the atmosphere into one clients and associates alike can be proud of,” said Andrea Buford, Director of Clinical Operations, Behavioral Health.

“This aids in our goal to make Imani House the premiere treatment facility of choice in Kansas City.”

The project was designed by Bell/Knott & Associates Architects with construction performed by Purdum Construction.

The finishing touches will await warmer weather – that’s when the new landscaping will be added, just in time for the grand opening.

The Imani House Grand Opening will be 8 a.m. Friday, April 20.

Please add these dates to your calendars and plan to join us to see the changes for yourself.

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The OB-GYN team in their new workroom.


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One of the new conference rooms at Imani House.


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There’s bright and whimsical artwork throughout the new Pediatrics clinic.


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An example of the built-in vital signs monitors in the new Ob/Gyn clinic exam rooms.


Show some Heart – Wear Red!

heart logoFebruary is American Heart Month!

Swope Health Services will participate in National Wear Red Day on Friday, Feb. 2, in support of the campaign to raise awareness of how heart disease affects women.

Here are some facts about heart disease, stroke and women:

  • Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women. Every 80 seconds, a woman is killed by heart disease and stroke. That’s 1 in 3 deaths among women each year.
  • Eighty percent of these deaths can be prevented with education and action – steps like managing blood pressure, controlling cholesterol, reducing blood sugar, being more active, eating better, losing weight and stopping smoking.
  • Warning signs for women are not the same as in men. The most common symptom of heart attack in men and women is chest pain or discomfort. But women are more likely to experience shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting, and back or jaw pain as symptoms.
  • Stroke disproportionally affects African-Americans. African-American women have almost two times the risk of stroke than Caucasians, and are more likely to die at an earlier age when compared to women of other ethnicities.
  • Of African-American women age 20 or older, 49 percent have heart diseases. But only 1 in 5 African-American women will believe she is personally at risk.

“That’s why we love to see everyone to wearing red on Friday, Feb. 2,” said Bobby Mickens, SHS Director of Nursing. “We want everyone to take a moment to think about heart disease and learn about your own heart health. Especially women, who are less likely to be aware of their own risks for heart disease.”

Wearing red is a start, but please don’t stop there, she added.

“What’s the No. 1 thing you can do for yourself?” Bobby asks. “The answer: Schedule a physical exam.”

In this examination, she said, your provider will check your blood pressure, height and weight. There may be other screenings, like cholesterol and blood sugar levels, if you haven’t had those checked in a couple of years. Once you know your numbers, your provider can help you take steps to control your risks of heart disease.

Call us at 816-923-5800 to make an appointment.

Here are some key resources from the American Heart Association:

See you in Red!


Go Red for Women Media Room


Think Pink: October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

takeaction_infographic_africanamericanGet ready to see lots of pink!

The American Cancer Society has designated October “Breast Cancer Awareness Month,” and SHS wants to make sure you’re in the know.

Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women, affecting one in eight women in the United States, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. It’s the second-leading cause of cancer death in women.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages women to learn about their family medical history because some women are at a higher risk for breast cancer because of genetic factors.

Getting a screening or mammogram regularly can lower the risk of death from breast cancer.

Most women with average risk – that is, women without a specific family or genetic history of breast cancer – should talk with their provider about when to start screenings and how frequently to get them.

For average-risk women from 50 to 74 years old, the recommended screening is every two years.

From Monday, Oct. 16, to Friday, Oct. 20, getting a mammogram is even easier.

If it’s been at least a year since your last screening, you are 40 years or older and have a provider’s order for a mammogram, you can walk in for a regular screening during these hours:

  • 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday
  • 9 a.m. to noon on Wednesday

Regular fees apply.

Bobby Mickens, SHS Interim Director of Nursing and Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner, notes that mammograms are covered by most health insurance programs.

Women who don’t have insurance may be eligible for other programs that cover mammograms. She encourages women to talk with providers about any concerns about breast cancer.

“Breast health is part of our regular well-women visits and it is a topic I like to raise with all my women patients,” she said. “I want every woman to know her own breasts, so if you see something abnormal you recognize it and contact us.”

SHS provides a full range of women’s health services including mammograms, well-woman exams, family planning and pre-natal care. To make an appointment, call 816-923-5800.


Men: You are NOT Exempt

You might not realize that men also have breast tissue and can be diagnosed with breast cancer.

After all, cancer can appear in nearly any cells, including those in the tissue around a man’s nipples.

The American Cancer Society says breast cancer is about 100 times less common among men than women. Men have a one in 1,000 chance of getting breast cancer. In 2017, according to the American Cancer Society, about:

  • 2,470 new cases of breast cancer in men will be diagnosed
  • 500 men will die from breast cancer

Men’s symptoms of breast cancer are the same as women’s, including an abnormal lump or swelling, or unusual discharge from the nipple.

Sometimes, because men have less breast tissue, the cancer can reach lymph nodes more quickly, even before a lump can be detected. That’s why it’s important to be aware.

Men, if you see any breast changes, talk with a health care professional.

We are available: call 816-923-5800 for an appointment.

It’s Time To Think About Your Heart

heartFebruary is full of reminders about love – there’s Cupid with his bow and arrow and the color red splashed on just about everything.

There’s even National Wear Red Day, February 3, just to remind you to think about your heart.

Did you know heart disease…

  • is the No. 1 killer of women, causing 1 in 3 deaths each year?
  • strikes more women than men?
  • kills more women than all forms of cancer – combined?

The American Heart Association estimates 80 percent of all cardiovascular disease may be preventable.

Bobby Mickens, Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner and Director of Women’s Services, says misconceptions about heart disease, especially in women, can lead to disastrous consequences. Symptoms for women can be subtle and might go unrecognized — shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, and back or jaw pain.

“There are choices you can make to keep your heart healthy,” says Bobby. Here are a few of her tips and recommendations:

  • Learn more about your family’s history of heart disease. This is important because your risk for heart disease is strongly linked to your family history. Know who suffered from it and who may have passed away because of it and at what age.
  • Come in for a wellness exam. A well-woman exam includes an assessment of your physical health – your cholesterol, body-mass index, blood sugar, weight and blood pressure. Combined, those results can assess your risks of heart disease or stroke.
  • Build a “get healthy” plan with your healthcare provider. There are things you can do to improve your health, such as taking steps to stop smoking, increasing your amount of exercise, eating healthier and controlling blood pressure and diabetes.

“We have programs to help with every step of your healthcare plan, to help you achieve optimal health,” said Bobby. “Let’s work together to get healthier.”


Why not take the first step today?  Call 816-923-5800 to schedule your well-woman appointment.

Seeing Pink? Here’s What You Need to Know About Breast Cancer Awareness

It’s hard to miss the pink banners and ribbons and clothing everywhere – including in the NFL, where referees and players are wearing pink shoes, cleats, uniforms and headgear to support awareness of breast cancer.

October is the month for worldwide Breast Cancer Awareness, which encourages women to get screened for cancer and be aware of the risks.

Breast cancer, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women worldwide. One in eight women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. That’s more than 246,000 women each year.

Bobby Mickens

Bobby Mickens

At SHS, Bobby Mickens, Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner and Director of Women’s Services, asks women age 40 and older to get screened annually with a mammogram and encourages all women to perform regular monthly self-checks in case there is a need for earlier testing.

“My No. 1 question is always, ‘Do you do self-exams?’,” she said. “I want you to develop a relationship with your breasts. This is also referred to as breast awareness. Learning your breast can significantly assist in the process of early detection. Knowing how your breast normally look and feel will let you know when you should alert your healthcare provider and schedule an appointment.”

Bobby says you don’t have to be a pro to do your own check. Her tips:

  • Do a self-check at the end of your period, every month. This is when your breast will be their most normal. If you no longer have periods, still do the check at the same time each month.
  • Look and feel for anything unusual – a lump, discharge, or any changes in the size of the breast or areola. Also note any changes in the skin such as flaking or redness.
  • While performing these checks make sure to include checking your armpit. That’s because the breast tissue extends around your side, under your arm.
  • If you find anything out of the ordinary, call us to have it checked.

nbcf-fundraiser-hope-balloon“Two of the biggest issues we have in getting our patients to come in for screenings are lack of knowledge about the need for screening, and fear that something might be wrong,” she said.

Often women will find a lump but try to ignore it, hoping it goes away, wasting precious time working up courage to get it assessed. Bobby encourages women to act quickly to deal with any potential issues as early as possible. Early detection is critical in providing the best outcomes for breast cancer patients, because in its earliest stages, breast cancer is 98 percent curable.

“The best way to protect yourself is through early screening and detection,” she said. “I urge every woman to pay close attention to those screenings and get them as recommended by your provider. They save lives.”

Additional facts about breast cancer from the American Cancer Society:

  • Early detection of breast cancer improves chances that treatment will work.
  • There are an estimated 2.8 million breast cancer survivors in the United States.
  • Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death in women (only lung cancer kills more women)
  • Don’t forget about MEN! Though rare, the lifetime risk of a male getting breast cancer is 1 in 1,000.


Call SHS at 816-923-5800 for your well-woman exam today. We’re always here to answer your questions. 

Straight Talk About Women’s Health Issues

andrea allenAndrea Allen spends every working day talking with women at Swope Health Services’ OB/GYN clinic.

Women, so often responsible for the health and wellbeing of others, can sometimes pay less attention to their own needs.

Andrea, SHS Certified Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner, likes to remind women to listen to the feedback from their own bodies, especially as they undergo natural life changes and respond to environmental situations.

Here are some of the top questions and challenges she addresses regularly with women:

Why do I need a check-up or a well-woman exam?
If you’re in good shape, let’s celebrate that and document your vital signs as a baseline. We perform only the screenings that make sense for you, at whatever age and stage of life you are in. If you’re not feeling good, let’s take care of that.

I don’t want to think about breast cancer.
We know that people get really scared and worked up about breast screenings. But you’re missing out if you’re not getting a regular exam. The screenings, over time, give a good view of changes for comparison. That’s important, especially if there’s any family history with breast cancer. If you come every year, you’ll get just what you need.

What is family planning?
This just means coming to the clinic to discuss if you want to have a baby. If you don’t want a pregnancy right now, we can discuss birth control options. If you do want a pregnancy, we can help you get ready by educating you on important steps to take such as stopping smoking and drinking, eating fruits and vegetables, and starting on a prenatal vitamin, for example.

motherI’m having a baby.
Great! We’re with you throughout the journey. We want you to keep all of your appointments to take care of your health and the health of your baby. Please take your prenatal vitamin every day as this helps you and baby.

And by the way, that ultrasound scan at 18 to 22 weeks into your pregnancy? The main reason we need it is to look at all of the baby’s parts (brain, heart, spine, bowel, etc.), to make sure your baby is growing correctly. During that ultrasound you might get to find out the sex of the baby — that’s a bonus.

I’m having trouble with a relationship.
We routinely ask everyone: Are you living in a safe place, with safe people? We start with the recognition that abuse, of any kind, is never acceptable. We will help women find alternate shelter, protection from an abuser, whatever assistance is needed. We are here to help.

I want to be good to myself.
That’s what we want, too. We’ll encourage you to take care of yourself and take time for yourself. And we can help with questions about food, drinking, exercise, stress, sleep and other ways to take care of yourself. We’ll also tell you about stuff you don’t have to worry about. For example: All those vaginal hygiene products? You don’t need them. I like to describe the vagina as a self-cleaning oven! Washing outside with unscented bar soap is all you need; you really don’t want to kill the good bacteria inside your body. So skip the vaginal hygiene products.

If there’s one bit of advice to pick up from all this, it is: Just come! We want to see you.

Take charge of your health! Today is a good day to make an appointment for an annual checkup or well-woman exam —call SHS at 816-923-5800. Talk with us about all the ways we can help you get healthier, at any age.