April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month

April is National Child Abuse Prevention month, as designated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


The Children’s Bureau funds the National Child Abuse Prevention Month initiative each April with the Child Welfare Information Gateway. The purpose is to raise awareness of ways to prevent child abuse and neglect.


Swope Health will support the effort with a pinwheel display, surrounding the new heart installation at Swope Health Central this month.  Swope Health patients and associates will create the pinwheels, which are the national symbol for prevention of child abuse and neglect.

When you visit Children’s Services at any Swope Health location, you can pick up a pinwheel kit to create your own contribution to the display.


The pinwheel represents hope that every child will be raised in a healthy, safe and nurturing environment.


The pinwheel also represents a call to action, encouraging people everywhere to recognize that children are our future and that we all have a role to play in keeping them safe. ALL children deserve great childhoods.


Swope Health supports developing the “protective factors” that increase the well-being of children and families and reduce the likelihood of maltreatment. According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, there are six protective factors:

  • Nurturing and attachment
  • Knowledge of parenting and of child and youth development
  • Parental resilience
  • Social connections
  • Concrete supports for parents
  • Social and emotional competence of children

Identifying protective factors helps parents find resources, supports, or coping strategies that allow them to parent effectively—even under stress.


On Tuesday, April 26, watch for the pinwheel garden near the heart at Swope Health.

Swope Health wins in national HRSA pediatric competition

According to the U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration, within months of the COVID-19 pandemic, data showed declining rates of vaccinations and well-child visits.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that declines in vaccination coverage might leave young children and communities vulnerable to vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles.

To respond, the Maternal & Child Health bureau of HRSA launched a national competition — the Promoting Pediatric Primary Prevention (P4) Challenge.

Applicants were invited to demonstrate innovative approaches to increase well-child visits and immunizations. More than 240 entrants applied.

Swope Health and the Mid-America Regional Coalition (MARC) in collaboration were named one of the initial 50 winners in phase 1, the only applicant winning from the Midwest. The phase 1 prize was $10,000.

Then, in phase 2, Swope Health and MARC’s entry landed in the top 20, earning a $25,000 prize.

Plus, Swope Health and MARC’s Mid-America Head Start were named as one of three winners invited to deliver a national presentation on the winning program. Sandra Reece-Tinsley, Health Manager for MARC, delivered the presentation in the Winners Showcase on Jan. 31.

“We are so proud of this win,” said Kenneth Thomas, M.D., Executive Vice President of Children’s Services for Swope Health. “We demonstrated that the Swope Health’s KidsCARE solution with Head Start delivered an increase in well-child healthcare visits and immunizations over the prior year. These check-ups and immunizations help kids grow and stay healthy.”

The collaboration was among the most holistic programs presented in the challenge, offering well-child visits and  immunizations and integrated dental, optometry and behavioral health access and services as well. Many of the other challenge applicant programs had a limited area of focus.

KidsCARE is Swope Health’s program to deliver pediatric primary care, dental and behavioral health care together in the community. KidsCARE uses telehealth and  mobile medical clinics for Head Start community- and school-based locations. Swope Health recently opened a standalone KidsCARE clinic in the Emmanuel Family and Child Development Center.

The MARC-Swope Health entry showed delivery of 227 well-child examinations, 16 eye clinic examinations and 400 dental examinations. The KidsCARE pilot program covered rural and urban settings and produced improved results in both categories – higher than all other MARC Head Start sites.

Nationally, the Challenge projects generated more than 52,000 pediatric well-child visits and nearly 23,000 immunizations. Read more details from the Department of Health and Human Services: HHS Announces Winners of National Challenge to Increase Pediatric Vaccinations and Well-Child Visits.

February: Children’s Dental Health Month

At Swope Health, we are celebrating National Children’s Dental Health Month in February, with the American Dental Association.

“We want to raise awareness of the importance of taking care of your overall health and oral health, starting early,” said Dr. Megan Krohn, Executive Vice President of Dental Services at Swope Health. “We know teaching preventive care and healthy habits early sets the foundation for good lifelong oral health.”

When you visit Swope Health Central in February, on select days you’ll find a table in the main lobby offering coloring pages and crayons for kids, toothbrushes, and dental associates who will do a brief screening and fluoride application. We encourage your support by sharing photos of your kids’ coloring pages with us – and we’ll hang them up on our walls and promote them on social media to spread the word.

You can print out your own coloring page (and other activity pages) below. The coloring page will also be available in all Swope Health Dental, Pediatric and KidsCARE locations across the metro area.

This year’s campaign emphasizes dental sealants – a  thin covering that is painted on the biting surface of your back teeth as a protection against decay. The process is quick and painless.

The sealants work by providing a barrier that keeps food and germs from causing tooth decay. Germs in the mouth react with sugars in foods and drinks to create acids that can eat away at the outer layers of your tooth, creating cavities. Sealants are proven effective in preventing 80 percent of cavities on the biting surface of back teeth, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In addition to sealants, brushing and flossing and regular dental visits also help maintain excellent oral health.

“This is a great time to schedule a visit for your kids,” added Dr. Krohn. “Regular dental visits are important for developing habits to support a  a lifetime of good oral health.”

Swope Health is scheduling pediatric dental appointments at Central, Wyandotte, Northland, and Independence clinics. To schedule a dental appointment, call 816-923-5800. We look forward to seeing you!



Download Coloring Page

Download Crossword Page

Download Drawing Page


COVID-19 vaccine booster recommended for 16- & 17-year-olds

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended COVID-19 vaccine boosters for individuals 16 and 17 years of age.

Swope Health encourages everyone 16+ to receive a booster to strengthen your protection against COVID-19.

The Delta variant of COVID-19 continues to circulate in the Kansas City metro area, and the newest variant, the Omicron, has also been detected in Missouri.

Initial data on the Omicron variant suggests that COVID-19 boosters help broaden and strengthen protection against Omicron and other variants. At this time, only the Pfizer vaccine is authorized and recommended for individuals 16-17 years of age.

Protect yourself and your family this holiday season by getting a COVID-19 booster!

Who can get a booster?

Individuals ages 16+ who received the two-dose vaccine series can get their booster six months after their second vaccine. Those who received Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) may get a booster two months after their vaccine.

Established Swope Health Patients: Call 816-923-5800 for an appointment at Swope Health Central or 816-599-5111 for an appointment at Swope Health Wyandotte.

The vaccination is free and available to Swope Health established patients only.

Not a Swope Health Patient, but want a vaccine or booster by the holidays? Check out VaccinateKC.org to schedule a vaccine appointment near you.

Good news for kids! COVID-19 vaccinations now available for Swope Health patients

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last month authorized the use of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children age 5 to 11. And more recently, the CDC recommended booster vaccinations for 16- and 17-year-olds.

Swope Health is now offering the vaccine for kids, with parent approval, at Swope Health Central and Swope Health Wyandotte, by appointment.

Please call 816-923-5800 for an appointment at Swope Health Central or 816-599-5111 for an appointment at Swope Health Wyandotte.

The vaccination is free and available to Swope Health established patients.

“Vaccination is our best tool to stop the pandemic,” said Dr. Jennifer Frost, interim chief medical officer at Swope Health. “This is a critically important step to help protect children and family members.”

About the vaccine: The Pfizer vaccine for children has the same ingredients as the Pfizer vaccine already approved for individuals age 12 and up, although the dose is reduced. Children will receive two doses of the Pfizer vaccine, just like adults.

As with adults, there may be minor side-effects – the injection site may appear red, slightly swollen or painful. Some people experience tiredness, muscle aches, headaches, or fever for a short time after the vaccination. The side effects usually go away within a day or two.

What to expect: Swope Health patients visiting for regular well-child or other appointments will be offered the COVID-19 vaccination and the flu vaccination during the visit.

Patients who request a visit for COVID-19 vaccination ONLY can be scheduled to receive it in the pediatric clinic at Swope Health Central or at Swope Health Wyandotte.

Reminder: After an individual is vaccinated, they must remain in the clinic for a 15-minute observation period.

Please call today to schedule your child’s vaccination: 816-923-5800 at Swope Health Central or 816-599-5111 at Swope Health Wyandotte.

Not an established Swope Health patient?

If you are not interested in becoming a Swope Health patient, visit VaccinateKC.org to schedule a vaccine appointment near you.

If you are interested in your family members becoming Swope Health Patients, families can schedule an appointment for a child’s vaccination, which will include a brief medical evaluation to establish care.

Patients will be subject to standard billing and financial responsibilities for all services other than the free COVID-19 vaccination. Insurance will be billed and patients are invited to sign up for our sliding fee financial assistance program.


Swope Health Opens First KidsCare Clinic in Emmanuel Family & Child Development Center

A new community-based program designed to provide kids and families easier access to healthcare is now open in Kansas City. Swope Health is celebrating the official opening of its first KidsCare Clinic with a ribbon cutting on Thursday, Oct. 14.

Swope Health KidsCare clinic is located in Emmanuel Family & Child Development Center, which provides early childcare services to children living in poverty in the urban core of Kansas City. Through this clinic at the center, 4736 Prospect Ave., Kansas City, kids will have access to all forms of care – medical, behavioral health and dental.

“This is a major step in knocking down the barriers to quality healthcare,” said Kenneth Thomas, M.D., Executive Vice President of Children’s Services for Swope Health. “We want to make it as easy as possible for families to get preventive and intervention service, like well childcare and asthma management. We are bringing our whole-person healthcare services to fill unmet needs in schools, daycares, and early childhood centers throughout the community.”


Deborah Mann, Executive Director, Emmanuel Family & Child Development Center, agrees. “This onsite clinic is the culmination of my dream to offer a wide array of essential services to our families, all from within the Emmanuel Center. Our Swope Health partners share our goals, and we are thrilled to have KidsCare as part of our services.”

At the clinic, Swope Health’s team will offer a variety of services including well-child exams, immunizations, hearing and vision screenings, routine dental exams and treatment, and behavioral healthcare. The team also helps in obtaining health insurance and referrals to other services if needed.

Swope Health KidsCare is an expansion of Swope Health’s services beyond the walls of its own facilities, extending its integrated care throughout the metro area. The Swope Health KidsCare program uses mobile clinics to reach early childhood centers and schools, as well as onsite clinics like the one at Emmanuel Center and a dental clinic opening soon at Operation Breakthrough. Swope Health is partnering with other organizations and school districts to provide healthcare services to kids.

Parents can sign their child up through their school, childcare or early learning center, and the family does not need to be enrolled in programs at Emmanuel Family & Child Development Center to receive Swope Health KidsCare services.

Swope Health Celebrates with Operation Breakthrough!

Sunday afternoon was full of blue skies, games, and smiles at Operation Breakthrough’s 50th anniversary Family Reunion – a picnic and street fair for member families and program alumni.

Despite sultry temperatures, kids played pickleball and line-danced in the street at Operation Breakthrough’s campus at 3039 Troost Ave. About 150 families participated in the afternoon festivities, which included water tables, shaved ice and snacks, face painting, temporary tatoos and a DJ playing music.

Swope Health was there celebrating too, announcing our new dental clinic opening soon in the lower level at Sister Corita’s place.

From this new clinic, Swope Health KidsCare will provide comprehensive and preventive dental services for children enrolled in Operation Breakthrough, and eventually, for their families and members of the community.

“Congratulations to Operation Breakthrough on your 50th anniversary,” said Dr. Megan Krohn, Executive Vice President of Dental Services for Swope Health, during a brief program. “We are so happy to be here to join the Operation Breakthrough family and we can’t wait to meet you all.”

From the Operation Breakthough KidsCare Clinic, the Swope Health dental team will provide comprehensive exams, cleanings, radiographs, fluoride treatment and sealants. In addition, the Swope Health team offers nutrition counseling, home care instruction, restorative treatment and follow-up care coordination.

Work is currently underway to renovate the clinic site, and in early 2022, an expansion will bring new equipment, an updated X-ray unit, a new dental room and a bigger lobby. The clinic will have a full-time dental team.

Members of the KidsCare dental team and other Swope Health associates were on hand to share toothbrushes, toothpaste, timers, healthy snacks and other items with families.

“We’re looking forward to being part of the next 50 years of the Operation Breakthrough community,” said Dr. Krohn.

Why does Black maternal health matter?

Ebony Peterson, Community Health Worker at Swope Health, was only 22 weeks pregnant when she went into pre-term labor. After the initial shock, she was expecting a long hospital stay on bed rest. Instead, her baby was born just two days later. Baby Aubrey was tiny at 1 pound, 2 ounces, but mighty in overcoming the odds.

Ebony is sharing her traumatic birth story in honor of Black Maternal Health Week, which is April 11 to 17. This week of activism and education was started by the Black Mamas Matter Alliance four years ago.

“There’s power in sharing our birth experiences,” Ebony says. “It helps to learn we are not alone. We can support and learn from one another. We can spur change and, in turn, improve the health of pregnant and new moms in our minority communities.”

Why focus on Black maternal health?  

Missouri has the 7th highest maternal mortality rate in the nation with 35 deaths per 100,000 births, according to World Population Review. Missouri’s mortality rates for Black moms skyrockets to 65 deaths per 100,000 births.

Nurture KC works to close this gap and fights for health equity through education, advocacy and one-on-one support for moms – most of whom are minorities – through its Healthy Start program. Ebony provides such support for fellow moms, as she is one of the program’s Community Health Workers.

Baby Aubrey’s journey

Ebony watched her own preemie daughter spend four months in the hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Aubrey was down to weighing just 15 ounces early on. The infant was on a ventilator to help her breathe and had a feeding tube to receive nourishment. She also was diagnosed with Sickle Cell disease, a blood disorder, and Craniosynostosis – a rare birth defect where the bones in a baby’s skull join together too early. Aubrey had surgery to fix her skull when she was 2 years old.

“My daughter is a trooper and overcame so much, but we knew it could have been way worse based on how early she was born. To put it in perspective, her birthdate is June 3, but my due date was Oct. 1,” Ebony says. “We feel fortunate for her overall good health and for the medical team who took care of her during her early days. The hospital was our first home as a family of three and we knew she was receiving the best care possible there. We were lucky. Now Aubrey is 4 years old and the sweetest, talkative, independent little lady!

“I know we all have different experiences, but my background can help me empathize and advocate for fellow moms. Together, we can push for systematic change that works to level the playing field for Black moms, as I know many are not as fortunate as I was. Everyone deserves the same chance to be healthy.”

This article is from Nurture KC . Nurture KC is a community collaboration dedicated to reducing infant mortality and improving family health. Nurture KC works to change policy for broad impact, transform systems to improve health outcomes at a local level, and provides one-on-one support to connect families.


It’s Safe Sleep Awareness Month

October is Safe Sleep Awareness Month, a month that is designated to promote healthy sleeping habits for newborns and raise awareness about sleep-related risks to infants.

“At Swope Health, we provide safe sleep education with every parent enrolled in the Healthy Start program, every day – not just in October,” said Ahkeya Howard, Lead Community Health Worker for the Kansas City Healthy Start Initiative.

Every year, approximately 3,600 infants die from sleep-related infant deaths including Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The American Academy of Pediatrics has developed a series of recommendations to reduce the risk of sleep-related infant deaths. These recommendations are at the heart of the education that the Healthy Start program provides to parents.

Take a look at this short 20-second video – you’ll see Community Health Worker Ebony Peterson highlight the basics: the baby should always be alone on a firm mattress, on his or her back with nothing else in the crib.

The Kansas City Healthy Start program, which is administered by Nurture KC, provides a free “pack ‘n play’’ portable travel crib to any mother in the program who needs one.

Show us your safely sleeping baby!

This month, as part of the promotion about safe sleep habits, the Healthy Start program is partnering with Truman Medical Centers in a Safe Sleep Image Contest.  Any of the participants in Healthy Start can send in photos of their infants sleeping safely to the Swope Health program. All the images that show a safe sleep environment for an infant (up to 12 months old) will be entered into a drawing.

Winning entries (drawn at random) will receive one of three $25 gift cards to Wal-Mart. All entries that show a safe sleep environment will get a Safe Sleep Sack – like a mini sleeping bag for an infant, used especially in cooler weather to help keep the baby warm. The Safe Sleep Sack lets you avoid using blankets in the crib.

You can check out the Swope Health Facebook site and Twitter feed (@SwopeHealth) for images from our participants.

For more information on Safe Sleep, see these resources:

Quality in Asthma Care: Swope Health Pediatrician is Part of Award Team

Dr. Ning Haluck, a pediatrician at Swope Health Central, leads a program to train clinical associates in best practices in caring for asthma in kids, which resulted in a national recognition for the program.

Dr. Haluck is part of the University of Missouri School of Medicine’s Asthma program, which won the American Board of Medical Specialties “Outstanding Achievement in Quality Improvement Award.” The award recognizes a focused program that successfully decreased the rate of uncontrolled asthma in urban areas.

Asthma in Missouri “We are working to lower the rates of asthma and the number of kids with uncontrolled asthma,” she said. “The approach was first to teach primary care providers the asthma care guidelines and then make it a standard part of our practice at Swope Health.”

Asthma is a chronic disease of the lungs that causes wheezing and difficulty breathing. It is a common long-term disease in children, affecting nearly 30,000 kids in the Kansas City area. Asthma can be controlled by limiting environmental triggers and with medications.

The guidelines Dr. Haluck teaches include simple steps to help kids better control their asthma. It starts with a questionnaire, based on standards from the National Institutes of Health, to identify problems. The clinical exam includes a check of lung function and gathering objective data on allergies or triggers for asthma. There’s also a step to verify the right kind of asthma medicine is provided – both long-term and quick-relief medications are available, and not all patients receive the same medications.

“Then, we spend time teaching parents and kids about asthma,” she said. “We coach kids on how to use their inhaler and make sure they understand how important it is to take their medication. We want them to get their asthma under control.”

Having asthma “under control” means no visits to an emergency room or urgent care center, and regular visits to a doctor twice a year. Students also get an “asthma plan” for school, assuring medication at hand at the school.

In the program at Swope Health, Dr. Haluck showed a 31 percent improvement in quality of care of asthma control from 2018 to 2019. More than 75 percent of the 200-plus kids were able to control their asthma.

Dr. Haluck’s efforts are part of the Asthma Care Accelerator in the Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes (or ECHO) program. Dr. Haluck has presented her program research and outcomes at a national ECHO conference in 2019, and since then has been named co-lead of the 2020 Asthma Care Accelerator ECHO program. Her current efforts, in light of COVID-19, are in asthma telehealth best practices.

Now, Dr. Haluck is engaged in training an even broader community of healthcare providers through the University of Missouri Telehealth Network. In April, Dr. Haluck participated in a national ECHO conference on “Asthma Telehealth and Asthma Day.” The program teaches the same proven guidelines for asthma care, through use of telemedicine.

She noted that some of the steps – like checking lung function – may still require an in-person visit, but much of the standard can still be accomplished in a video visit. “I will ask the child to show me how they use the inhaler,” she said, “and I can coach them if I see them using it improperly.”

Dr. Haluck also keeps an emphasis on the Kansas City community, serving on the executive committee of BreatheUP, a consortium of local stakeholders dedicated to improving asthma control. The consortium’s  goal is to reduce the rate of uncontrolled asthma by 25 percent in the next five years.

In all her efforts, Dr. Haluck’s real focus is on taking care of children with asthma.

“All children coming to Swope Health are getting the same care as if going to a specialty asthma clinic,” she said. “We are helping kids stay out of the emergency room. We are providing preventive care and helping our patients get the prescriptions and care they need. That’s what we stand for.”

facts about asthma

asthma infographic NIH