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

Asthma Training Breathes New Life into Kansas City Pediatric Clinic

Dr. Ning Haluck

Dr. Ning Haluck

This post, by the American Lung Association editorial staff, was originally published on Oct. 28, 2019, at the association’s “Each Breath” blog.

When dealing with a long-term condition, the importance of continuing treatment by taking medication on schedule and as prescribed can become a hassle—particularly for asthma sufferers. Studies have shown that both children and adults with asthma struggle to maintain adequate care throughout their lifetime, which can have deadly consequences. This is made even worse when faced with an 80% low-income African American patient population, of whom the vast majority rely on Medicaid coverage.

This is the problem facing many patients at Swope Health in Kansas City, Missouri.

“So many things get in the way of routinely visiting a clinic and sticking to a treatment plan,” said Luningning Ocampo Haluck, M.D., director of pediatrics at Swope Health. “I became a pediatrician to fix everything, everybody. In the case of asthma, I just want my patients to be able to breathe. It’s not asking much.”

Thanks to funding by the Kansas Health Foundation and John W. and Effie E. Speas Memorial Trust, Dr. Haluck was inspired to align her clinic with American Lung Association’s Enhancing Care for Children with Asthma Initiative in July 2017. Upon committing to the project, she and her entire staff received extensive in-person training on a 10-step quality improvement program to help support asthma management and care for children.

Recognizing Asthma Symptoms

“A large part of it is recognizing asthma symptoms and reducing exposure to triggers, like environmental allergens and household pets,” Dr. Haluck added. Unfortunately, common asthma triggers range from respiratory infections, allergens, irritants, exercise and even emotions.

Asthma Training

An example of asthma care in the Swope Health pediatrics department, where providers use best practices from the American Lung Association in patients’ asthma care and management.

“We became the teachers,” said Dr. Haluck. “Through building our capacity to diagnosis, treat, and educate, we are now better able to coach our patients and their parents on what medications they need, when to take them, and how to make them a regular part of their day-to-day. It’s a clinic-wide effort and I’m grateful to my staff for helping to close the circle on asthma care for our families’ benefit.”

Dr. Haluck is not only an asthma specialist, but she is also an asthma patient. And her 11-year-old son, Jeremiah, has asthma as well.

“No parent should have to worry to the extent that many asthma parents do. Asthma won’t go away; however, it can be controlled. It’s my job to bridge this knowledge gap and provide my patients with every possible resource that exists because they deserve it. American Lung Association’s asthma program has been key to our success in reducing asthmatic patients’ acute hospital stays,” concluded Dr. Haluck.

The American Lung Association’s Enhancing Care for Children with Asthma Initiative recently exceeded 400 clinics across the country and with each new clinic, the positive impact reaches families further and faster. To learn more, please visit Lung.org/enhancingcare.

Swope Health Goes Back To School

Swope Health associates are heading back to school, right along with students at Benjamin Banneker Elementary School in the Kansas City Public School District.

Banneker Elementary LogoThe associates are part of a new pilot program to support students and teachers. Three days a week, a Swope Health Child and Family Services Interventionist will work with kids referred from the school’s Problem-Solving Team.

“We engage a community support specialist and create a care plan to provide for the needs of the child and the family,” said Margaux Lemmones, Clinical Supervisor in Children’s Outpatient Services. “The idea is to wrap the entire family in support.”

The Goal

The goal is to help kids struggling with trauma develop positive, pro-social behaviors and emotional stability. Services include gaining an understanding of specific triggers that cause an emotional reaction; learning and increasing use of coping skills to assist with managing their emotions and behavioral responses; increasing communication, and defusing conflict.

In this pilot program, the Swope Health Interventionist becomes a regular part of the Kindergarten through 6th grade school team, collaborating with trauma specialists, counselors and teachers, and participating in the school’s professional development workshops.

The Interventionist also offers assistance to teachers and front-line staff members to help them teach coping mechanisms and de-escalation techniques to the students. The school principal advocated for the extra support, encouraging the program to build strong relationships between school staff and Swope Health.

“We’re delighted to have this partnership with the school,” said Teresa Strub, Children’s Services Program Director. “This is a group that’s onboard with providing trauma-informed care.”

The pilot program includes steps for measuring engagement and outcomes. If it proves successful, it may be expanded to other schools, Teresa said.

In addition to the Banneker pilot program, Swope Health is present in other schools:

  • At the Academy For Integrated Arts (AFIA), Swope Health provides two Community Support Specialists who work from the charter school at 7910 Troost Ave., in Kansas City, Missouri. They are on site to work with kids and provide behavioral support.
  • The Parenting Education & Prevention program, with Kansas City Public Schools, Hickman Mills School District and Charter schools in Kansas City, offers training to teenage students to avoid pregnancy. The program also provides parenting education for teen parents.
  • The Adolescent Substance Use Disorder program is expected to start offering services through Ruskin High School in the Hickman Mills School District. This program is an extension of the substance use disorder programs operated in the Swope Health Children’s Services Department.
  • At Brookside Charter School, Swope Health offers a Parenting Group, Suicide Prevention Group, and Social-Emotional Skills Group. The Parenting Group works to help parents who have experienced trauma understand how those experiences may be affecting the way they parent and interact with their kids. For kids, the Suicide Prevention Group will teach risk factors, possible warning signs, how to seek help and other protective factors. The Social-Emotional Skills Group focuses on increasing the children’s emotional intelligence, helping them gain a better understanding of their own emotions and how those emotions affect their bodies and behaviors toward others.

Swope Health Dental Visits Schools, Too!

Swope Health Dental Team

Swope Health’s Dental Team visits schools to provide dental care for students enrolled in Head Start.

The Dental Team at Swope Health is in school, too.

The Dental Team provides services to children enrolled in the Head Start program across the metro area. Head Start is a program designed to give every child, regardless of family circumstances or economic status, an opportunity to succeed in school.

Funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the program provides health, nutrition and educational resources to pre-K children.

This fall, the Swope Health Dental team is scheduling visits at Head Start locations in:

Additionally, Swope Health performs regular outreach to schools and is eager to develop solutions to meet the needs of individual schools. Colleen Innis, Outreach Coordinator, invites school administrators to contact her with questions (cinnis@swopehealth.org or 816-922-1070).

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.”