Swope Health launches integrated care pilot, linking primary care & behavioral health

Innovative program, funded by UnitedHealthcare, aims for better health outcomes, quality care at reduced costs

Swope Health today announced the launch of a program to demonstrate the effectiveness of integrated care, a model that teams primary care with behavioral healthcare and community resources.

The program adopts the principles of the Primary Care Behavioral Health Consultation Model, which creates a team for patient care. In the team, primary care providers work hand-in-hand with behavioral health consultants and community health workers. The team approach pays special attention to social determinants of health, such as housing, transportation, food security and other challenges while supporting primary and behavioral healthcare.

“We know the challenges our patients face – in housing, schools, jobs, transportation, access to food, for example – produce negative health effects that can last a lifetime,” said Jeron Ravin, J.D., president and CEO of Swope Health. “Swope Health is demonstrating that health policy can be changed to address all facets of health equity. We will validate a model practice that integrates medical care, behavioral healthcare and social support resources for our patients.”

The program is funded by a grant of $80,000 from UnitedHealthcare. Over the course of the year-long program, Swope Health will track the health metrics to demonstrate improvement. There is significant research to indicate the model can improve health outcomes by addressing mental health issues and support behavior changes to improve treatment of chronic disease.

“We fully support a whole-person care model that increases member engagement, fills gaps in care and develops personalized health goals. When we all work together, we can help people get the right care from the right provider at the right time, which all leads to better health,” said Jamie Bruce, CEO, UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Missouri.

“This model reduces the stigma surrounding mental health and makes it easier to address social and mental health needs with a team-based care approach embedded in primary care,” said Dr. Naiomi Jamal, Swope Health chief quality officer. “With a team approach, we can assist patients with Medicaid enrollment or securing transportation or food resources, as well as providing counseling and medical care. It all happens in the same visit, in the same location.”

The program is a continuation of Swope Health’s steady integration of services, first initiated in 2014 with a grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration, and then expanded in 2018 and 2019.

Here’s how it works: when a patient comes for a visit, in addition to the usual conversation about how the patient is feeling, the clinical team also asks about social factors that can impact health – such as access to food, housing and transportation. Other questions explore behaviors, for example, is there a need for improved adherence to chronic disease management regimens or learning coping skills to better manage anxiety and depression? If a need is identified, a member of the team – a community health worker or behavioral health consultant – offers services on site, often during the same visit.

The model is designed to benefit all participants: patients, providers and insurers. The patients receive improved access to care and resources. The insurers benefit from reduced cost of care through fewer emergency room visits and hospitalizations. And providers benefit by having better workload management and support.

“We are changing the way we look after our patients at Swope Health,” said Dr. Jamal. “We are taking away barriers. If there’s a need, we will provide help.”


The Integrated Care Team, under the direction of Dr. Naiomi Jamal (far right),  includes the Swope Health Independence medical team as well as a community health worker and a behavioral health consultant.

Dr. Jamal (far right) consults with the Community Health Worker and Behavioral Health Consultant every morning to review integrated care plans for the day’s patients.

Swope Health Celebrates LGBTQ+ Pride Month!

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer + (LGBTQ+) Pride Month is celebrated each year in the month of June to honor the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan.

The Stonewall Uprising was a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States. Celebrations include pride parades, picnics, parties, workshops, symposia and concerts.  Memorials are held during this month for those members of the community who have been lost to hate crimes or HIV/AIDS.

The purpose of the commemorative month is to recognize the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals have had on history locally, nationally, and internationally. Swope Health is proud to support LGBTQ+ individuals in June – and every day.

Ryan StokesDr. Ryan Stokes, Clinic Director at Swope Health Belton, provides care for patients with gender dysphoria, which is when a patient’s sex at birth doesn’t match the gender to which they identify. Dr. Stokes works with his patients on hormone therapy, which helps move his patients toward a comfortable level where they feel they can present as their true self.

“The transgender community is definitely marginalized, and it can be difficult for them to find care,” Dr. Stokes said. “With the revocation of transgender healthcare protections, they can be actively turned away for being a transgender patient. As a person of color, I know how difficult it can be to face discriminations like these.  Anything we can do as providers to normalize the LGBTQ+ journey is the compassionate choice.”

Swope Health Supports Inclusivity

In an effort to demonstrate Swope Health’s dedication to inclusivity, pronoun buttons will be available to Swope Health doctors, clinicians and associates. These buttons designate the wearer’s preferred identity, and more importantly, signal awareness and respect for the preferences of others.

A pronoun is as much a part of a person’s identity as their name. And since pronouns should not be assumed based on appearance, many organizations now use pronoun buttons to help people identify themselves. These pins help members of the LGBTQ+ community feel comfortable and help make a conversation around pronouns feel normal.

“Even if you don’t need to wear a pronoun button for people to correctly guess your preference, having the pronouns visible shows our community and patients that they can feel comfortable telling us theirs,” said Dr. Rachel Melson, Director of Provider Engagement.

Learn more

All are invited to attend a webinar featuring Dr. Christy Hutton, a BRITE educator with The Center Project, on Wednesday, June 23 at 12 p.m.


The free event is held on Zoom:


Passcode: 3801

BRITE (Building Respect and Inclusion through Training and Education) is an inclusivity program that focuses on rethinking misconceptions around gender and sexuality, increasing understanding of the LGBTQ+ community and experience, and helping groups identify and develop inclusive practices in their work.

The Center Project is a grassroots nonprofit organization and Mid-Missouri’s only community center focused on the needs of LGBTQ individuals and communities. Designed as a safe and open space, TCP supports the under-served sexuality and gender-based groups within the region, including youth, families, and those living in rural communities.

Raising Awareness of Hepatitis

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has named May as Hepatitis Awareness Month. The federal health organization wants to raise awareness of what it calls a “hidden epidemic.”

May 19 is declared as National Hepatitis Testing Day.

Swope Health supports the awareness efforts and encourages our community to get tested and learn more about viral hepatitis.


The ABCs of Hepatitis

The CDC offers explanations of the primary types of viral hepatitis: A, B and C.

Hepatitis A is a contagious liver infection, caused by the Hepatitis A virus. The virus can make you sick, and you can spread the virus. There is a vaccination for Hepatitis A, and numbers of cases have declined dramatically. People who are at the greatest risk of Hepatitis A are those who use drugs, experience homelessness, have liver disease, or are or recently were in jail. In addition, men who have sex with men are also at risk.

Hepatitis B is a liver disease caused by the Hepatitis B virus. People who are infected can have lifelong infection, and over time, the disease can cause serious liver damage or cancer. Hepatitis B is preventable with a vaccine, which is recommended for all infants at birth. This disease is most common in Asia, the Pacific Islands and Africa.

Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by the Hepatitis C virus. Most people who are infected will have lifelong infection, which can cause serious problems including liver disease or liver failure, or cancer. This disease spreads through contact with blood from an infected person. Most people become infected by sharing needles or syringes in injected drug use. There may not be symptoms of disease. There are an estimated 2.4 million people living with the disease, and many may not know they are infected as they may not have symptoms. Baby boomers (born between 1945 – 1965) make up about 75 percent of those positive for the virus.


Hep C Treatment at Swope Health

Rachel MelsonIn 2019, Swope Health launched a program for Hepatitis C Treatment. Led by Rachel Melson, Doctor of Nursing Practice and Outreach Clinic Director, this program focused on increasing testing for Hep C, and helping those with Hep C obtain treatment.

Since the program began, Dr. Melson has treated and cured over 150 patients. The current treatment is an antiviral drug, a pill that is taken once a day for 8-12 weeks. These antiviral drugs are more than 90 percent effective in curing the disease. “Cured” means the patient has no active Hep C virus in the body three months after finishing the treatment.

“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. And we could see it eradicated in our lifetimes.”

Anyone who has tested positive for Hepatitis C can call Swope Health to participate in the program – regardless of insurance coverage or ability to pay. For more information, call the Hep C Nurse at 816-321-3604.

If you are unsure of your Hep C status, you can ask to be screened at Swope Health. All adults age 18 and older should be tested at least once, and continue to get routine testing if they have risk factors or conditions including HIV infection, injection drug use, recent incarceration or are receiving dialysis. 


Spreading Awareness

Dr. Melson has been recognized for her success with the Swope Health program. She participates in the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Viral Hepatitis Stakeholders Group.

With this group, she has developed a Hepatitis C “toolkit” for other healthcare organizations. The 30-page toolkit includes guidelines for staffing, processes, and clinical practices to help other clinicians ramp up testing and develop specific Hepatitis C practice areas. She will also be providing guidance to other clinicians in the state who are starting to treat Hepatitis C through the Show-Me ECHO platform.

She has been named to a state task force and will present her program and tools for success at a virtual conference supported by Medicaid, the Missouri Primary Care Association, and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

“I want to ensure everyone has access to testing and treatment for Hepatitis C,” she said. “To see an end to Hepatitis C, we need more people screened, we need more providers treating Hepatitis C, and we need improved ways to connect people to that care.”

Swope Health launches free mammogram screenings for women without insurance

Innovative grant programs help Swope Health reduce barriers to care

Swope Health is encouraging women to get breast screening examinations to take better care of their own health.

Breast screenings can be lifesaving. Screenings offer a chance at early detection of breast disease or cancer, and earlier detection means better chances of treatment and recovery.

To make it even easier to get a screening, Swope Health is offering mammogram screenings to any woman age 40 or older without healthcare insurance, under grants from The Research Foundation and Komen Kansas + Western Missouri, an affiliate of Susan G. Komen Foundation.

“Our goal is to provide screenings for women who don’t qualify for Medicaid or don’t have private insurance,” said Jennifer Frost, M.D., Interim Chief Medical Officer at Swope Health. “We know the COVID-19 pandemic has made it harder for women to get screened, and this is our way to make it easier.”

Here are the guidelines:

  • Women who are age 50 to 74 are recommended to have regular screenings every two years. No order is required – you can call 816-599-5870 to make an appointment if you haven’t been screened in the last two years.
  • If you are age 40-49 and want a screening, you should make an appointment with your doctor or clinician, who can discuss the risks and benefits of early screening and order a mammogram if appropriate..
  • If you are having any symptoms, such as pain, discharge or swelling, you should contact your doctor or clinician.
  • There is a $25 fee for all breast screening appointments. Women who do not have insurance or Medicaid will not be billed for the screening beyond the $25 fee.


COVID-19 affected screenings

During the pandemic, the effects of school and work closures, as well as scaled-back hours at many clinics, made it difficult to maintain healthcare routines. Appointments designed to prevent issues before they appeared were often the first to be cancelled.

Several independent research programs have documented significant declines in preventive care visits, such as for mammograms, Pap smears, and childhood exams, during the pandemic. The Health Care Cost Institute, for example, reported a 16 percent decline in mammograms in 2020 from 2019.

Mammograms can be lifesaving.

The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends that women age 50 and older receive a mammogram screening for breast cancer every two years. Swope Health encourages this, too.

The screening is basically an X-ray of the breast, usually involving two or more images. These images make it possible to identify tumors that can’t be detected by touch.

Early detection reduces the risk of dying from the disease by 25 percent or more, according to BreastCancer.org. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note the smaller a tumor is the more likely it is to be curable. So, having regular mammograms lower the risk of dying from breast cancer.

Black and Hispanic women have higher mortality rates of breast cancer than all other races. Women in lower socio-economic levels have disproportionately higher death rates than those in higher income levels.

How it works.

When you are scheduled for your appointment, you should expect to spend about a half an hour in the screening. Your images will be professionally reviewed and you’ll be notified of the results. In the event you are called for an additional screening, called a clinical follow up, those costs also are covered.

Call 816-599-5870 to make your appointment. Guidelines on screenings can be confusing, and we are happy to talk with you about options.



Fact Sheet: African-American Women & Breast Cancer (Breast Cancer Prevention Partners)

Race and Ethnicity (Susan G. Komen Foundation)

Disparities in Breast Cancer: African-American Women (American Cancer Society)

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.