Do it for Mom! COVID-19 Vaccination Event May 8

Swope Health announces COVID-19 drive-through vaccinations from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 8, at Memorial Baptist Church, 11424 Hickman Mills Drive, Kansas City, MO 64134.

The event is free. The Pfizer vaccines will be offered to any Missouri resident age 16 or older. If you are younger than 18, you must have a parent or guardian present to receive the vaccine. Appointments for the second dose will be scheduled at the event.

To make an appointment, register at https://swopehealth.org/vaccine-may8/. If you have any difficulty registering, please call 816-321-3333 Monday through Friday during business hours, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

May 8 is the day before Mother’s Day – getting a vaccination can be your gift to your family! Getting vaccinated is a great way to protect yourself and your loved ones from COVID-19. Show your Mom, Dad, and siblings that you care and encourage them to show some love with a vaccination too!

If you can’t make it to the event May 8, you can schedule an appointment at the Swope Health Vaccine Clinic, in The Shops on Blue Parkway, 4401 Blue Parkway, the week before – May 3 through May 7. Appointments will be available from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Swope Health supports Two Million Arms KC vaccination campaign

 

Swope Health supports Two Million Arms KC vaccination campaign

A new marketing campaign to raise awareness about the importance of getting the COVID-19 vaccination was launched this week by Comeback KC, a collection of public and private organizations focused on helping the Kansas City region make a fast and complete recovery from COVID-19.

Swope Health is proud to support the campaign, “Two Million Arms KC.” Swope Health joins campaign supporters including the Mid-America Regional Council, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Kansas City, El Centro, the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, the city of Kansas City, and governments of Clay, Platte and Johnson counties, and the Unified Government of Wyandotte County.

In a release announcing the campaign Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas said: “As more folks become eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, and more resources become available to receive it, the Two Million Arms KC Campaign will be working to inform and connect folks to these events and encourage them to receive their vaccines. We will continue to work on quickly and equitably connecting folks with a vaccine, so we can finally bring an end to this pandemic and begin our recovery process.”

Swope Health offers the COVID-19 vaccines to patients and the community, including through partnerships and mass vaccination events. (See https://swopehealth.org/covid-19-vaccination-information for details.)

“Our goal is to get as many people vaccinated as possible, as quickly as possible,” said Dr. Jennifer Frost, Interim Chief Medical Officer for Swope Health. “This strong and unified support for getting people vaccinated will especially help with achieving equitable distribution of the vaccine, getting it to the areas of the community that are typically underserved or overlooked.”

 

The campaign has a website – VaccinateKC – offering links to state guidelines, county health departments and organizations like hospitals and pharmacies that provide vaccinations. From the website, you can also find information about the vaccines and get answers to common questions about the vaccines.

“Two Million Arms” is a reference to a goal of vaccinating two million people in the Kansas City region. Experts (including specialists at Johns Hopkins University and the Mayo Clinic) have estimated that we need at least 70 percent of the population immunized to halt the epidemic. Two million people is about 90 percent of the greater Kansas City area, making this an ambitious target, noted Aaron Deacon, managing director at KC Digital Drive, one of the campaign sponsors.

As of April 18, the region’s vaccination total was 404,147 individuals, according to the Mid-America Regional Council, which tracks COVID-19 data.

If you’d like to support this campaign, there’s a way. Swope Health and the organizers welcome hearing from you about your vaccination story – send your reasons for getting vaccinated, include your photo, and you could be selected to be one of the faces in the campaign. Use this form to share your story with us, and use hashtags #TwoMillionArmsKC and #vaccinateKC if you share on your own social media accounts.  

Mass Vaccine Event at the Zoo was Wildly Successful!

On Wednesday, March 31, Community Builders of Kansas City hosted a vaccination event at the Kansas City Zoo for Missouri residents.

Swope Health teamed up with Truman Medical Centers, Children’s Mercy Hospital, the UMKC School of Medicine and the University of Kansas Medical Center to deliver nearly 2,000 vaccinations.

Community partners joined in to provide services, including Harvesters, Happy Bottoms Diapers, the Kansas City  Public Library and Catholic Charities.

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill was there, too, helping Harvesters distribute food to families in need.  U.S. Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver II, a co-sponsor, and Jackson County Executive Frank White were also present in support of the effort.

What you need to know about colorectal cancer

March has been named as the month to raise awareness of colorectal cancer, because it is a highly preventable disease and yet is a leading cause of death in the U.S.

Colorectal cancer is a cancer (a disease where cells grow out of control) that starts in the colon or rectum. It is sometimes called colon cancer, for short.

According to the Colorectal Cancer Alliance, more than 149,000 people in the United States will be diagnosed with the disease this year. Many colorectal cancers can be prevented or caught early, when they are more easily treated, according to the American Cancer Society. There are more than 1.4 million survivors of the disease.

 

At Swope Health, we are supporting efforts to raise awareness. If you are a Swope Health patient, you may receive a text message about colon cancer screening. If you come in for a visit, your provider may encourage you to have a screening.

 

Behind the scenes, Swope Health is also working on initiatives to assure that patients at higher risk for colon cancer are invited to be screened for the disease.  The American Cancer Society notes the African-American community is disproportionately at risk for colorectal cancer – they are about 20 percent more likely to get colorectal cancer than most other groups.

 

“This is a screening that saves lives,” said Dr. Naiomi Jamal, Chief Quality Officer for Swope Health. “With screening, often we can find abnormalities early, when treatment works best. With our at-home kits, the screening is both convenient and lifesaving.”

Who should be screened?

Screenings generally begin at age 50, according to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, a panel of national health experts. People who are at higher risk are those with a family history of colorectal cancer or polyps; or personal history of inflammatory bowel disease, polyps or colorectal cancer. Also, people with a history of radiation treatment to the abdomen or pelvic area should be screened.

Other conditions – like being overweight, physically inactive, or diabetic – may increase risk factors.

 

What does a screening entail?

There are two basic types of screening. At Swope Health, an initial screening is typically a stool-based test kit. You do this at home, at your convenience. You provide a sample of your feces in a kit, which looks for hidden blood in the sample.

A more comprehensive and complex screening is a colonoscopy. In this test, a provider uses a small flexible tube and camera to examine the colon and rectum. This examination requires advance preparation to clear out the intestines and typically requires sedation. (Learn more about other forms of screening at American Cancer Society or the Centers for Disease Control and Protection.)

 

Teachers, Childcare Workers, and other school staff: COVID-19 Vaccinations Available

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has directed COVID-19 vaccination providers to consider all teachers, school staff and childcare workers eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccination, regardless of state guidelines.

Teachers and staff in pre-Kindergarten to grade 12 schools and childcare workers, including those in Head Start and Early Head Start programs, are now eligible. Also eligible are:

  • Licensed childcare providers, including center-based and family care providers
  • Staff at early childhood programs operated by schools
  • School-age before- and after-school program staff
  • Faith-based program staff, including Parent’s Day Out programs
  • Staff at part-time programs, including some nursery schools, preschools and pre-Kindergarten programs
  • Classroom aides
  • Program bus drivers, janitors, counselors, administrative staff, cafeteria and substitute teachers.

To sign up for a vaccination:

In Missouri:

  • IF YOU ARE A SWOPE HEALTH PATIENT, please call (816) 321-3398 to schedule an appointment. You can also ask your Swope Health provider or an associate at the clinics to assist you in getting an appointment. Swope Health is giving vaccinations at 4401 Blue Parkway, in The Shops on Blue Parkway, Kansas City. You must have a scheduled appointment to be vaccinated at this location.
  • If you are a Missouri resident (not a Swope Health patient): please fill out the Missouri Vaccine Navigator.

 

In Kansas:

  • IF YOU ARE A SWOPE HEALTH PATIENT: Please call (816) 599-5112 to schedule an appointment for the COVID-19 vaccination at Swope Health Wyandotte. You can also ask your Swope Health provider or an associate at the clinics to assist you in getting an appointment. Swope Health Wyandotte location for COVID-19 vaccinations are at 21 North 12 Street, Suite 400 Kansas City, KS.  You must have a scheduled appointment to be vaccinated at this location.
  • If you are a Kansas resident (not a Swope Health patient) – Fill out a health department Vaccination Interest Form.

You may find other vaccination options at Vaccine Finder (https://vaccinefinder.org/). The Mid-America Regional Council operates PrepareMetro, a website with lists of vaccination providers and other information.

When you are scheduled for an appointment, please bring your ID and proof of eligibility, such as your work ID. Plan on staying at the vaccination location for at least 15 minutes, after receiving your vaccine, while you are monitored for allergic reaction. We also ask that you wear a mask at all times and adhere to physical distancing practices.

Swope Health Supports LGBTQ+ Community

Swope Health has a long history of providing care to communities that have traditionally been medically under-served. From our founding 50 years ago to today, the Swope Health team has always offered health care and support for members of our community in need.

That commitment to care extends to the LGBTQ+ community – people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning. Swope Health stands ready to meet your healthcare needs, from supportive counseling and behavioral health skills to gender-affirming hormone therapy.

Ryan StokesSwope Health’s Dr. Ryan Stokes specializes in gender-affirming hormone therapy. His interest in transgender health care started with his medical training at Truman Medical Center, where he trained with a plastic surgeon who specialized in gender-affirming surgery.

Dr. Stokes sees patients with gender dysphoria – the deep-seated discontent that appears when a person’s identity does not match the gender of the body. An example is a person who identifies and feels male but has a female body, or vice versa. Gender dysphoria does not go away and can lead to depression, anxiety and other illnesses.

Gender dysphoria affects people in different ways, according to the American Psychiatry Association. Some people may want to be present themselves with the gender they choose, and others may seek to medically transition (through hormone treatment or sex-change surgery) to the gender they identify with.

In these treatments, the goal is move a patient toward the ability to live comfortably as their true self.

“I love sharing in the moment when a patient hits their target comfort level, where they are able to feel their authentic self fully,” Dr. Stokes said.

He also recognizes the difficulty of the journey.

“The transgender community is definitely marginalized.  It can be difficult to find care. With the recent developments of transgender healthcare protections being revoked, they can be actively turned away for being a transgender patient,” he said. “As a person of color, I know how difficult it can be to face discriminations like these.”

Words matter

Dr. Stokes supports his patients on their gender-affirming health journey. He checks in with patients on hormone therapy frequently to ensure they are adapting well to medication changes, and watches for side effects. He also helps patients navigate their health insurance and payment systems and offers support to help patients be emotionally and mentally comfortable with the changes they experience.

“This takes a holistic approach, to make sure that the patient is ready in mind and body to fully transition,” he said.  It can take time for patients to fully inhabit their new gender presentation, especially if the experience has been traumatic.

Whenever Dr. Stokes meets a new patient he proactively makes sure that he uses the preferred pronouns of his patients. A typical introduction is: “Hi, I’m Dr. Stokes, I am a cisgendered male. What pronouns do you prefer?”

This attention to respectful treatment of the LGBTQ+ community also has been the topic of training programs for Swope Health associates, featuring Rae Bowerman, a consultant and trainer with Common Threads. Part of Bowerman’s program with Swope Health associates includes a discussion of the spectrum of sexuality and gender identity, using materials from The Trevor Project, a non-profit organization that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services for LGBTQ+ people under age 25.

Bowerman, who is completing a graduate school internship with The Transgender Institute, emphasizes the importance of using correct terms and pronouns as a sign of respect and an acknowledgement of human dignity. Dr. Stokes agrees and recognizes that the choice of language can make his patients more comfortable.

“My hope is that eventually the health care system will be a safer and more inviting environment for LGBTQ+ patients,” he said.  “I want it to be a safe and welcoming visit when they see me. I have the privilege to be there with them at their best, to see when they get to fully realize their true selves, and I want to be with them at their worst, to support and care for them when they face struggles related to forming who they truly are.”

Additional resources:

 

If you are experiencing gender dysphoria, there’s a safe place for you at Swope Health. Call 816-923-5800 to schedule a medical or counseling appointment. Telehealth options may be available.

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.”

What You Need To Know About Flu Season

Time to get your flu shot

It’s that time of year: kids are back in school, leaves are changing colors and starting to fall, and the flu will soon be circulating in our community.

It is flu season, and that means it is time for your annual flu shot. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a flu shot for everyone age six months and older. To assure you are protected during peak flu season, typically from December to February, the CDC suggests you receive your vaccination as soon as possible.

At Swope Health, getting a flu shot has never been easier.

Flu Vaccine Prep

Julie Richards, Director of Infection Control and Prevention, prepares an injection for a flu vaccination at Swope Health. She encourages everyone to get a flu shot to help prevent the spread of the flu.

“Call or come in,” said Julie Richards, Director of Infection Control and Prevention. “If you’ve been seen by a medical provider at Swope Health in the last year, you can call and ask for a Nurse-only visit to get a flu shot.”

You can also get a flu shot during an appointment with a Provider, whether scheduled or walk-in. To schedule an appointment, call 816-923-5800.

The CDC says the flu sickens millions of Americans every year and sends hundreds of thousands of people to the hospital. The National Foundation for Infectious Disease says it affects 5 to 20 percent of the nation’s population annually, and tens of thousands die from the flu and related complications.

The flu vaccination can keep you from getting the flu and help prevent the spread of the illness.

While getting a flu vaccination is your best way to prevent the spread of the flu, you should take other steps too, said Julie.

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Wash your hands frequently, using soap and water. If soap isn’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Try to avoid spreading germs when you cough or sneeze. Cover your nose and mouth with your elbow or use tissues. If you are using tissues, throw them away after use and wash your hands. Also, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • If you have a fever, stay home from school or work for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone. Limit your contact with other people to prevent spreading the illness.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces – doorknobs, sinks, keyboards, mobile devices, etc.

And if you do get the flu, talk or visit with your healthcare provider. You may be a candidate for antiviral prescription medication that may prevent complications or lessen the impact of the sickness.

Julie notes the flu vaccine will be available throughout the flu season, which, according to the CDC, can extend to May. “High numbers of cases can still occur in the springtime,” she said. “It’s never too late to get vaccinated in the flu season.”

Trauma-Informed Care Techniques… Because we care.

Trauma-Informed Care Techniques

From left, Alicia Johnson, Residential Supervisor; Candice Owen, Residential Qualified Mental Health Professional; Chris Williams, Training and Development Specialist; and Carla Lee, Patient Community and Education Specialist, welcome Swope Health associates to the “Peaceful Pause.”

At Swope Health, associates use trauma-informed care techniques to offer support and coping skills to help people who feel depressed, frightened, angry, helpless, overwhelmed or stressed.

“Trauma-informed care is an awareness that everyone experiences trauma in their lives, in some way or another,” said Laurie Cox, Director of Integrated Recovery Services. “We understand that trauma can take a variety of forms and can cause a variety of responses. We recognize how common trauma is and we know that anyone who’s experienced trauma needs support and understanding.”

We See Trauma

All too frequently, associates at Swope Health see clients facing trauma, involving physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse or neglect. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate about one in seven children will experience abuse each year, and the number increases for children in lower socioeconomic status.

Additionally, the CDC notes that one in four women experiences domestic violence, and one in five women experiences rape.

Trauma Reactions

Trauma-Informed Care

D’Ambra Baker, Behavioral Health Consultant-Outreach, was on hand to explain how seeing through different colored lenses can stimulate different types of energy.

Reactions to trauma can vary widely. Some people may withdraw or feel depressed while others may respond with anger or violence. Recognizing the range of reactions is part of understanding trauma and providing care, Laurie said.

“We are here to help you manage your mental health and learn good strong coping skills,” she said.

Trauma Transformers

With that awareness, Swope Health has formed a team called the “Trauma Transformers” to use the techniques of trauma-informed care with the community and associates.

“We all need self-care,” said Carla Lee, Patient Community and Education Specialist and one of the Trauma Transformers leaders. “If we are not healthy mentally, physically, emotionally or spiritually, we will not be able to help others be successful.”

Peaceful Pause

D’Ambra Baker, Behavioral Health Consultant-Outreach, was on hand to explain how seeing through different colored lenses can stimulate different types of energy

Play therapy included hands-on activities, like solving the Rubik’s cube puzzle.

To demonstrate self-care at Swope Health, the Trauma Transformers host periodic events and activities for associates. In May, the team sponsored a “Peaceful Pause” – relaxation stations set up to allow associates to take a break from their work to achieve a moment of peace and mindfulness. The event used color therapy, aromatherapy, play therapy and coloring stations for associates to explore. Associates also were treated to healthy snacks– reminders of the importance of physical health, too.

More than 70 associates took advantage of the peaceful pause, which featured soothing music and soft lighting during the two-hour event.  Some wore colored sunglasses to experience differing energy levels while reading inspirational notes; others experimented with the sensations caused by a variety of aromatic oils.

“We want you to know that we care about you, and we want you to take care of yourself, too,” Carla said.

Every day, someone feels depressed, frightened, angry or helpless. Every day, Swope Health stands ready to offer assessments, treatment, support and coping skills. You can visit or call the Behavioral Health team at (816) 922-1070 for an appointment.

Resources:

Have a Healthy Heart!

In this month when hearts are the decoration everywhere for Valentine’s Day, it is a good idea to think about your own heart.

After all, February is “American Heart Month,” a designation sponsored by the American Heart Association. According to Healthfinder.gov, heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death for men and women in the United States. Heart disease is responsible for one of every four deaths – but there are steps you can take to prevent heart disease.

Justin Swartz

Nurse Practitioner Justin Swartz from Truman Medical Centers staffs the Specialty Clinic at Swope Health.

At Swope Health, we take part in Heart Month by encouraging you to make healthy choices and manage your health to prevent heart disease. In coordination with Truman Medical Center,
Swope Health offers cardiology services in our Specialty Clinic, where Truman Nurse Practitioner Justin Swartz is all about preventive care for a healthy heart.

“Most of what I do is clean up after a heart episode has occurred,” said Justin. “But, ideally, if patients pay attention to the big five preventative steps they can avoid heart issues.”

The big five:

  1. Blood pressure control:  Keep that top number less than 100 and the bottom number less than 80.
  2. Cholesterol control:  Keep the LDL (the bad one) less than 100 and the HDL (the good one) greater than 45.
  3. Blood sugar control:  Justin likes the A1C test.  It is an average of your blood sugar levels over a three-month period.  You want that number to be less than 5.5.
  4. Tobacco control:  Smoking is linked to many heart ailments.  Just stay away from it or do everything in your power to quit.
  5. Fitness control:  You have to be active – walk, run, do yoga, bike, dance, swim – ANY physical activity will be a benefit to your heart.

28 days to a Healthy Heart

If you are not sure about your numbers, that is a good reason to find out. Make an appointment with your provider for a check-up to learn about your current health and ask about recommendations to improve your heart health.

Once you learn about heart health, we hope you will spread the word to your family, friends and everyone you love. Join us in providing encouragement to quit smoking, manage high blood pressure, add exercise to every day’s routine and make healthy food choices.

Call us at 816-923-5800 to schedule an appointment and take steps toward a healthier heart. 

Additional Resources:

Healthy Heart