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.”

Calling all Trick-or-Treaters! Come to Treat Town on October 31st!

Swope Health: Treat Town 2019It’s time for Treat Town!

This year marks the 24th annual community public service sponsored by Swope Health and Hot 103 Jamz (radio station KPRS 103 FM). The event is from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, October 31, 2019. The free event is a safe trick-or-treat experience for children 12 years and younger and their parents.

For one night only, Swope Health Central Building C will be transformed into a paradise for the Halloween crowd looking for candy and treats. Last year, more than 1,400 kids and parents visited the event, where they connected with community service agencies, danced to the DJs, played games, and admired the creativity of the Halloween trick-or-treaters. Oh, and everyone got plenty of candy!

Treat Town is a Safe Option

“Every year, parents tell us that, were it not for Treat Town, they would not go out with the kids on Halloween because of safety concerns,” said Dan Barnett, Communications Specialist at Swope Health, who organizes the annual event. Swope Health associates volunteer their time to decorate and organize the party, as well as hand out candy.

More than a dozen community support agencies are also on hand, sharing information, candy and small gifts in the Halloween spirit.

“This is a neighborhood tradition that’s just such a good time,” Dan said. “Our associates love seeing the excitement of all the little kiddos in costumes. It’s a feel-good experience for everyone.”

Swope Health: Treat Town 2019

Swope Health Building C is transformed into a Halloween extravaganza for Treat Town.

Swope Health: 2019 Treat Town

More than 1,400 princesses and superheroes visited last year’s Treat Town.

It’s Hard to be a Kid

Remember what it’s like to be a kid? No jobs, bills or deadlines. You get to play all day. It’s carefree, right?

Not really. Kids face stress and can feel overwhelmed by pressure, too. Actually, says Teresa Strub, Children’s Services Program Director at Swope Health, there are a vast number of stressors facing kids today, including pressures at school; making friends; new classes; getting good grades; having the “right” clothes and things; emotional and physical changes; bullying and taunting; and challenges at home. Social media is a contributing factor in creating instability for kids, also.

Healthy Human Attachments

Play Therapy

Playtime can help kids manage stress. At Swope Health, counselors use play therapy to encourage kids to express themselves.

All these stressors mean there is a greater need than ever for kids to have healthy human attachments, Teresa said. Our human connections these days are not what they once were, she added, noting that it is rare for families to gather at dinner tables or spend spare time together.

“In the absence of human attachment, kids will turn to what they hear about, which makes suicide a big problem,” she said. “They hear that it’s normal to shut down and detach.”

Teresa noted she’d recently heard of a four-year-old child who attempted to strangle himself. How can a four-year-old even learn that is an option? Today’s children receive large amounts of adult-level information from media and social media, she explained.

Without stabilizing personal relationships, those situations and stress can create a cauldron of uncertainty in a young person. “We have to remember: kids need to learn skills for coping with stress,” she said.

So what’s a parent to do? What can the community do?

For parents, there is no substitute for time. Margaux Lemmones, Clinical Supervisor for the Children’s Outpatient Therapy and Adolescent Substance Use Disorder programs at Swope Health, described every hour in conversation with children as an investment in their future. Listening to their concerns, showing them love, role-modeling behaviors in challenging situations – all these simple steps will pay off in the long term, she said.

One way to find time is to set boundaries around children’s activities such as limiting the amount of time kids spend on video games or social media. Build schedules that allow for reading and homework, as well as helping around the house. Pair up on fixing dinner or doing the dishes and use that time to talk about school, friendships, plans and more.

Kids and Technology

Teresa invites parents to challenge the notion kids “need” their own mobile phone. “Yes, I understand that safety is the predominant reason,” she says, “but then do they really need the camera and access to all that other information, too?”

Mobile devices easily draw in children and then quickly become a demanding time-occupier, a status symbol and a subject of peer influence. Teresa advises setting limits on screen time and making an extra effort for building personal connections with family and friends. It’s up to parents to show that those attachments are important.

Play Therapy

Activities, including building toys, puzzles and games, can encourage kids to develop problem-solving skills while relieving stress.

Margaux suggests making sure kids have activities they can do without their phones or computers – especially exercise! Studies have shown that physical exercise, especially team sports or games, is a great way to combat stress, while fueling brain development and building social skills.

Games, puzzles, drawing and making things – especially involving ideas from science, technology, engineering, arts and math – can encourage kids to develop problem-solving skills. One of Margaux’s favorite activities is having kids create a book of their own life stories – have kids plan, write and illustrate their own story.

“Anything we can do to encourage more people-related activities and less device-related activities, including just talking, will help build attachments and confidence,” she said.

“It’s all simple,” she said, “but it’s not easy to do. It demands time and that works against us. We’ve got to address our attachment needs and make sure kids know there are people who care for them.”

If you or your child ever feels overwhelmed by stress, come talk with us. Visit Swope Health Behavioral Health or call 816-922-1070 to make an appointment.

Identifying Stress in Kids

By the American Psychological Association

  • Watch for negative changes in behavior. This could be acting moody, withdrawing from activities, complaining, crying or other changes. In some kids, it might be expressions of anger, hostility or fear.
  • Stomachaches and headaches can be signals of stress.
  • Acting out. Some kids will behave normally at home but act in unusual ways in other settings. Parents can check in with teachers and others to watch for changes.
  • Listen carefully. Kids may not have the skills to explain what they are feeling. They might use negative descriptions of themselves or their feelings (“I’m stupid,” “Nothing is fun,” “Nobody likes me”).

How Stress Affects the Brain

Stress can affect the way kids think and learn, resulting in lower IQ scores and difficulty reading and paying attention. It can damage emotional well-being and lead to mental health problems like depression or anxiety.

In adults, stress is linked to high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular problems, memory loss and ulcers. Stress can lead to burnout and affect mental health and behaviors.

Source: PsychCentral

Resources for Parents

Learn about Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding WeekSabrina Holliman, Chief Compliance Officer at Swope Health, is getting ready for a new challenge – she will become a first-time mom within a few months.

When she started wondering about breastfeeding, she didn’t have to look far for information. She turned to her colleagues for answers. Treva Smith, a Community Education Specialist in the dental department, has dedicated nearly 20 years to studying, educating and advocating breastfeeding. Treva also serves as member of the Board of Directors of the Kansas Breastfeeding Coalition.

Swope Health Celebrates World Breastfeeding Week

World Breastfeeding Week, sponsored by the World Health Organization and other groups, is the first week of August each year. The theme this year is “Empower Parents, Enable Breastfeeding.”

Swope Health’s WIC clinic held a Breastfeeding Resource Fair for moms and moms-to-be. The community-wide baby shower promoted breastfeeding and offered food, games and gifts for moms and kids, plus a raffle for special prizes.

The event was sponsored by Home State Health, Missouri Care and United HealthCare.

Swope Resources

Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Jennifer Jones and Swope Health’s WIC Department are also great resources for new moms and moms-to be. The WIC Program, provides supplemental nutrition for low-income Women, Infants and Children and offers extra incentives like breast pumps for breastfeeding moms. The program supports breastfeeding moms with a wealth of education, resources and referrals, plus a personal connection.

“We offer breastfeeding counseling for prenatal and new moms, and education for the whole family,” said Jennifer Jones, Breastfeeding Peer Counselor for WIC at Swope Health. “We educate the entire support system – moms, dads, siblings, grandparents, cousins or friends.”

Sabrina’s top questions were ones Swope Health’s breastfeeding support team has heard from other moms-to-be:

  • Where do I start in making a choice between breastfeeding and formula feeding?
Breastfeeding Week

Breastfeeding advocates at Swope Health include these members of the WIC team, from left, Lakeisha Davis, Program Coordinator; Terri Johnson, WIC Certifier; Ramona Mills, WIC Certifier; and Jennifer Jones, Breastfeeding Peer Counselor. The team also includes Breastfeeding Peer Counselors Shunte Johnson and Sherri Tauheed.

WIC is a good place to start, Jennifer notes. The federal program provides facts about infant nutrition as well as benefits of breastfeeding.

  • Should I expect breastfeeding to hurt in the beginning? Or does that mean I’m doing something wrong?

Sometimes women hear about pain in breastfeeding, but that is overcome with learning correct latching methods, Jennifer said. Initial soreness and tenderness is completely normal, and peer counselors can help with assuring a good latch and help check for issues like a plugged milk duct, infection or engorgement.

  • I understand it takes 2-5 days to change from producing colostrum to milk. Do I need to supplement with formula during that time?

Colostrum is the first milk produced, right after birth. It is typically thick and yellowish, and is full of the nutrients the baby needs in those first hours and days. You would use a supplement only if the baby isn’t nursing, she said.

  • How will I know if the baby is getting enough milk?

At birth, a baby’s tummy is about the size of a marble, and after 10 days, it’s about the size of a ping-pong ball. So it doesn’t take much to fill up a baby, Jennifer said. The best signs are if the baby seems happy after feedings, and if the baby is growing and gaining weight. There is also a series of indicators in the baby’s diapers, based on the number, type and colors of the baby’s poop – and this is the kind of info you’ll learn in more detail in classes or discussions with a peer counselor, she added.

  • When I go back to work, should I maintain the pump schedule?

Jennifer recommends continuing on a schedule, or at least every three hours. She notes it is important to maintain production for your baby.

The Swope Health WIC team welcomed Sabrina’s questions – and those from any moms or moms-to-be in the community.

“We’re passionate about empowering and educating moms on breastfeeding, which can improve health outcomes for babies and moms,” Jennifer said.

Research has shown that babies fed breast milk have less sickness, asthma and allergies. Babies get antibodies for immune system support and gut health as well as brain stimulation during breastfeeding. For moms, breastfeeding is linked to less osteoporosis and reduced risk of cancer. It can improve mental health by stimulating the hormones that help women through postpartum. Bonding between mom and baby helps with calmness and a better mental state for both, Jennifer noted.

The WIC program offers two breastfeeding classes, scheduled every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, which cover all aspects of breastfeeding. Classes start with details about what to expect, during and after pregnancy, including changes in anatomy. Moms learn how to help the baby latch correctly and how to hold the baby in the way that is best for both. There is also discussion of community resources, like Medicaid support for pumps, meal planning and all the other aspects of life that can affect breastfeeding.

The WIC team also works to challenge stigmas around breastfeeding, emphasizing the benefits of supporting women. In recent years, employers have evolved to provide time and comfortable rooms for moms to pump milk. Employers have learned that if the baby is healthy, Mom will be less likely to need to take unscheduled time off for sickness or doctor’s visits, Jennifer said.  Swope Health employees use the lactation room in WIC, a private and comfortable space to express milk during work hours.

“We prepare moms as best we can,” Jennifer said. “We know it’s one thing to learn and it’s another to experience it firsthand! We’re here to help with questions anytime. We work with moms in the clinic and provide referrals if the mom needs additional help, like with a healthcare provider or a lactation consultant.”

Sabrina said she was happy to learn answers to her questions, with resources so readily available right where she works.

“It’s wonderful to feel so supported by Swope Health,” she said. “I’m so glad to have such wonderful resources right here for all moms.”

100% Compliance: Audit Results for the VFC program at Swope Health Wyandotte

When we talk about Swope Health, we always talk about quality. It is in our mission statement and it is part of everything we do, every day. Here is an example.

VFC Program

VFC LogoSwope Health is a participant in the federal Vaccines for Children (VFC) program, which provides vaccines to approved providers to offer to children at no cost. The program works to vaccinate children who might otherwise not be vaccinated because of inability to pay.

The program, operated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has strict guidelines and controls, including annual site visits performed by state health departments to make sure providers meet all requirements.

VFC requirements include things you might not think about, like:

  • A Vaccine Accountability and Management Plan
  • Required annual training of clinic staff
  • Current Vaccine Information Sheets at every location, given with every dose
  • Complete immunization records
  • Strict requirements for storage, labeling and security of the vaccines, including temperature controls and procedures for disposing of expired or damaged vaccines

VFC Audit

Swope Health Wyandotte Team

The clinical team at Swope Health Wyandotte won praise for its high standards in a recent site visit by inspectors from the Kansas Immunization Program.

Recently, the Kansas Immunization Program sent a representative to perform a site visit – a kind of audit – of the VFC program at Swope Health Wyandotte. The investigator follows an evaluation framework to check in on each element of the program, gathering specific information, completing a questionnaire and interviewing clinic associates.

At the conclusion of the Wyandotte site visit, the investigator reported:  “As always, it is obvious the high standards your clinic holds.  There were no compliance issues discovered.”

Dr. Kenneth Thomas, Chief Medical Officer for Swope Health, noted the state is “very protective” of its vaccines and is strict in enforcing adherence to federal guidelines.

“This is a big accomplishment,” he said. “Our medical assistants and nursing staff are doing great work.”

Wyandotte Clinic Manager Irma Salinas, RN, agreed.

“I am so proud of the work the Wyandotte team has done and continues to do to care for our patients,” she said.  “I have received many wonderful comments about the compassionate care we are providing.”

Irma noted the team has been working hard on its processes – the step-by-step procedures that assure consistent and repeatable care for all patients.

“We know standard operating procedures are significant factors in providing more quality and efficient care,” she said.  “The last few weeks have not been easy, but each of us has demonstrated a strong desire to continue to make this the most outstanding clinic in Wyandotte County and beyond.”

Child Abuse Prevention: All Children Deserve Great Childhoods

National Child Abuse Prevention

National Child Abuse Prevention Month recognizes the importance of families and communities working together to prevent child abuse and neglect, while promoting the social and emotional well-being of children and families.

At Swope Health, you can find events each week in April – all designed to increase awareness, provide education, and offer support and resources to prevent child abuse and neglect. Here is the rundown of activities:

Week 1

National Child Abuse Prevention: Blue PinwheelsFind blue pinwheels in front of Swope Health Central on Blue Parkway in Kansas City, Mo. Since 2008, the pinwheel has been a symbol for the “Pinwheels for Prevention” campaign.

“These pinwheels represent the great childhoods all children deserve and the prevention efforts that help them happen,” said Margaux Lemmones, Clinical Supervisor for Children’s Therapy and Adolescent Substance Use Disorder.

Friday, April 5, is the National Go Blue Day – a day to wear blue as a reminder of the importance of taking action to prevent child abuse. At Swope Health, staffers wearing National Child Abuse Prevention T-shirts will gather for a group photo, standing together to support prevention efforts.

Week 2

On Friday, April 12, associates from the Behavioral Health department will set up a table in the lobby of Swope Health Central, 3801 Blue Parkway, in Kansas City, Mo. to share information on ways to prevent child abuse. Visitors to the table will receive a pinwheel (while supplies last) along with materials like self-care for parents, resources for parents, important phone numbers and educational materials.

Week 3

For Swope Health associates, there will be a special program teaching ways to prevent child abuse from occurring and the importance of self-care for parents/caregivers/direct care providers that work with children.

Week 4

On Friday, April 26, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Behavioral Health associates will host an art activity in the Children’s Conference Room on the second floor.  Anyone who stops by can participate in an art activity to decorate a hexagon. At the end of the day, all the hexagons will be compiled together, interlinked.

“It’s a great reminder that each of us is a part of something greater, and we are all part of a community that cares about keeping kids safe,” said Margaux. “Each life touches the lives of others and, when we work together, we can prevent child abuse.”

During the month of April and throughout the year, Swope Health also runs a Caregiver Support Group that focuses on teaching how adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are a predictor of being at greater risk for alcoholism, depression, drug use, financial stress, suicide attempts, and more.

The support group helps caregivers understand how their own traumas may affect the way they parent, Margaux said. The group promotes self-care and healing for the caregivers as a way to break generational cycles of abuse.

“We want to create healthy environments for families to thrive,” Margaux said.

If you have questions about preventing child abuse or neglect, call 816-777-9892 to talk with one of the Swope Health Behavioral Health associates about resources or services.

Additional Resources from the Children’s Bureau:

The Children’s Bureau, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, sponsors the annual Child Abuse Prevention Month activities nationally. The organization also provides resources and information on ways to improve the lives of children: