Tackling Poverty — It Starts with Understanding

Donna BeegleDr. Donna M. Beegle is on a mission to educate Americans about poverty. With awareness and understanding, she believes, we can take steps to change the structural causes of poverty.

She brought her message to Kansas City last week at an event sponsored by Swope Health Services (SHS) in celebration of National Health Center Week. Nearly 50 people attended, including SHS associates and board members as well as members from SHS partner organizations and community support advocates.

Dr. Beegle has firsthand experience with her topic. She grew up in “generational migrant labor poverty” and dropped out of school to get married at age 15. By the time she was 25, she found herself with no husband, little education, no job skills and two children.

“Poverty steals your hope,” she said. “Yesterday is gone and there is no tomorrow. You just have to make it through today.”

Through personal experiences of homelessness and hunger, she explained the role of the media and social policies in segregating those in poverty from those “in privilege.”  She gave examples of well-meaning but ineffective social programs — handing out literacy brochures to people who can’t read, for example.

She also recounted a story that gave some insight into why people in poverty might be reluctant to seek out healthcare. When she was young, her school sponsored a dental screening. She was scared to death and cried so much, she ended up not being seen. Why was she so terrified? Everyone she knew who went to the dentist went to have their teeth pulled, due in part to living in poverty and not having the proper nutrition to support healthy teeth. In fact, she didn’t know anyone over 30 who still had teeth — all the adults she knew had dentures.

PovertyAt the luncheon, Dr. Beegle also shared a preview of a video documentary, featuring her and her family. Due out later this year, she feels this is another way to raise awareness and launch community action. A preview of the documentary is available on Facebook online at https://www.facebook.com/102238439830427/videos/1442934325448/

“We have to consider the humanity of people in the crisis of poverty,” she said. “It’s not that people don’t care. It’s just that they don’t understand. There is an ignorance of poverty that we need to change.”

She called for a community-wide approach to removing the isolation of poverty.

“We can shift the paradigm from fighting people to fighting the systems that perpetuate poverty,” she said.

SHS President and Chief Executive Officer David Barber wholeheartedly agrees and promised the audience that Dr. Beegle’s presentation was just a first step. Stay tuned for ways you can learn more and join the dialogue.

About Dr. Donna Beegle

Donna Beegle, Ph.D., is president of Communication Across Barriers, a consulting firm based in Portland, Ore. She is the author of “See Poverty, Be the Difference,” a resource book for professionals who work with people in poverty.

Dr. Beegle has an undergraduate and a master’s degree in communications. Her doctorate degree is in educational leadership from Portland State University.

Resources for those working to better understand and assist those in poverty are available in her book and on her firm’s website: http://www.combarriers.com

Tips for Preventing Heat Illness This Summer

Summer in Kansas City officially arrived on June 21. Time for shorts, swim gear and outdoor activities!

Enjoy the outdoors, but remember: Too much time in the sun can make you sick. Sticky and humid weather makes it hard for your body to release heat because your sweat can’t evaporate.

SunThe good news is that you can prevent heat illness. Here are a few tips:

  • One of the best ways is to enlist a buddy — make plans to watch out for each other! Here are a few tips you and your friends can take to make sure everyone stays safe in the heat:
  • Drink plenty of water. Your body will lose fluids through sweat, so you have to drink more water than usual to keep your body hydrated. It’s important to drink water when you are out in the heat and humidity — even if you don’t feel thirsty.
  • Use sunscreen and wear light clothing, especially if you are working or playing out in the bright sun. Try to stay in the shade, and find spots to cool off.
  • Pace yourself! Anyone can overheat with activity in the hot sun, but those most at risk are the elderly, infants and toddlers, and people with chronic illnesses like heart disease or diabetes.
  • Take extra precautions when transporting infants, children, or pets. Though it’s tempting when you are just running a quick errand, don’t leave them in the car, even for a short while. The temperatures within a parked car reach dangerously high levels very, very quickly on summer days, even with the windows opened.

Signs of heat exhaustion

So how do you know when you or your friend has had too much heat? If you feel weak, are sweating heavily but have cold or clammy skin, have muscle cramps, vomiting or fainting, you may be experiencing heat exhaustion. Take care:

  1. Cool down — get into an air-conditioned building, take a cool shower or bath, or use cool wet cloths on your body.
  2. Drink water — take sips.
  3. Seek medical help if you’ve vomited and it continues.

Heat stroke is even more dangerous. If you have a rapid pulse, high body temperature (above 103 degrees) and feel faint or fall unconscious, you need immediate medical attention. Call 911 at once and move to a cooler location, but don’t drink water.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is a great resource with information on heat safety and preventing heat stroke and other heat-related illnesses.

Swope Health Services wishes you a safe and fun summer! Contact us with questions anytime — 816-923-5800 — or drop in to cool off with us.


SHS Supports La Raza at National Conference in KC – July 11-14

La RazaSwope Health Services is a proud sponsor and participant in the 2015 National Council of La Raza Annual Conference, held at the Kansas City Convention Center July 11-14.

SHS will use its booth at the conference to connect with participants and share information about SHS health services. The event typically attracts more than 2,000 participants from the Hispanic community.

“We will be there to reach out and strengthen our relationships with the Hispanic community,” said Michelle Keller, Vice President of Patient Services. “Part of our mission is to eliminate health disparities in our community, and that includes helping people overcome language barriers or lack of insurance to gain access to health care.”

The La Raza conference includes training, workshops, presentations and panel discussions on education, health care, the environment, workforce development, public policy and political action, family and housing issues, just to name a few topics.

The event also features a National Family Latino Expo, which is free and open to the public. The expo has family entertainment, activities and give-aways. It runs Saturday and Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Monday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Kansas City Convention Center.

The conference features national and local leaders, including the Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, and Mayors Sly James (KCMO) and Mark Holland (KCK). Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will also speak at the conference.

For more information, visit the National Council of La Raza conference website. Be sure to visit SHS at La Raza!




Leave Fireworks to the Professionals

Britney Lesher, BSN, RN

Britney Lesher, BSN, RN

Post written by Britney Lesher, BSN, RN – Clinic Manager, Pediatrics and OB/GYN clinics – Swope Health Central

A few years back, on the Fourth of July, we had a family gathering. A family friend gave a firework to a young child…and that was the last time we ever made that mistake.

You see, that was the day that an exploding M-80 firework hit my cousin, then just six years old. Her ankle was shattered.

It all happened in the blink of an eye.

Just one moment, and her life was forever changed.

Please don’t let this happen to you or anyone in your family.  Let my experience be a lesson to you.

If that’s not enough, here are a few more facts to consider:

  • Fireworks are illegal in Kansas City, Mo. If you use them, you’re breaking the law.
  • Fireworks are dangerous, each year causing serious burns and eye injuries and other injuries to people. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that in 2013, 11,500 people were treated in emergency rooms for fireworks-related injuries.
  • Fireworks are destructive, causing fires and damaging homes and property. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the annual cost of fireworks injuries is more than $100 million; the annual cost of property damage is $22 million.

fireworksThere are just too many ways to have an accident — some of the most common are setting them off too close to people, picking up unexploded fireworks, throwing a firecracker, and exploding a firecracker near material that can catch fire.

Even sparklers — often considered a “safe” firecracker — are dangerous, burning at temperatures of 2,000 degrees, which is hot enough to melt some metals.

A moment of excitement for a lifetime of hurt? It’s just not worth it.

This year, why not start a new tradition to enjoy only the professional fireworks displays? Here’s a list of some of the best in the area.

4 Tips for Avoiding Bug Bites This Summer

Britney Lesher, BSN, RN

Britney Lesher, BSN, RN

Post written by Britney Lesher, BSN, RN – Clinic Manager, Pediatrics and OB/GYN clinics – Swope Health Central

Now that school’s out, we’re likely to be spending a lot more time outdoors in our glorious summer weather. And so are the bugs!

So here are a few suggestions to help avoid bug bites:

1)    Stay away from places that attract bugs.

The easiest way to avoid bug bites is to stay away from areas where the insects gather, like pools of still water, uncovered foods or hives and nests.

2)    Use a good insect repellent.

Insect repellents have a role in preventing insect-related diseases like Lyme Disease and West Nile Virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests using only bug repellents that contain 10 to 30 percent DEET, a chemical compound that makes it harder for biting bugs to smell people, so they stay away. Don’t use these products on infants younger than two months.

If you don’t like insect repellents, cover up with long-sleeved shirts, pants and socks to prevent bites. It’s a good idea to wash off repellents when you return indoors.

mosquito3)    Use citronella candles or tiki torches with citronella-infused oils.

There are many products on the market that contain essential oils from citronella, a plant-based insect repellent.

4)    Consider having your yard sprayed.

There are several companies like Mosquito Squad who offer a wide range of services to keep bugs and ticks out of your yard. You can also take some tips from the CDC when it comes to avoiding ticks and mosquitos bites.

If you do get bitten, you can remove a stinger by backing it out using your fingernail or a credit card or something similar. To ease the stinging sensation, some people like to put a penny or other coin on the bite — the salts in the metals react to the insect toxins.

If you have a severe allergic reaction to an insect bite, seek immediate medical assistance. Call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.

If you have a less threatening bite that looks a little funny or you suspect might be infected, come see one of our providers. We’d be happy to take a look at it. Call us at 816-923-5800 if you’d like to make an appointment or simply walk in and we’ll work you in.

Register Now: FREE “Keep Healthy” Kidney Screening May 30th

National Kidney FoundationOne in three American adults are at risk for kidney disease. Are you the one?  Find out at a FREE screening hosted by Mattie Rhodes Center and the Midwest chapter of the National Kidney Foundation (NFK).

The NFK’s KEEP Healthy program is a community-based initiative designed to educate the public about the kidneys, risk factors for kidney disease and steps to keep your kidneys healthy.

The event is Saturday, May 30, 2015 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Mattie Rhodes Center (Northeast), 148 N. Topping Avenue, Kansas City, Mo. Save time at the event by pre-registering on the NKF’s website.

The KEEP Healthy check-up includes:

  • A Risk Survey
  • Body Mass Index (BMI) Calculation: Height and Weight Measurements
  • A blood pressure check
  • An ACR urine test for albumin (a type of protein) – For individuals at risk only!
  • Free educational materials
  • The opportunity to speak with a health care professional

For more information on kidney health, visit the NKF website at www.kidney.org or call 913-262-1551.

Swope Health Services is proud to promote and sponsor the work of the National Kidney Foundation as many of our patients have risk factors that can lead to kidney disease. These include high blood pressure, a BMI greater than 30, diabetes and a family history of kidney disease. If you or someone you know is concerned about your kidney health, please call 816-923-5800 to schedule an appointment with one of our providers.

Dr. Karmen Smith Honors Mother and Supports SHS

On Friday, May 15, SHS hosted a luncheon with Dr. Karmen Smith, a Trauma Specialist and Ordained Minister based in Las Vegas, Nevada.

From left: Mark Miller, Vice President of Behavioral Health and SHS CEO Dave Barber receive Karmen Smith's donation.

From left: Mark Miller, Vice President of Behavioral Health and SHS CEO Dave Barber receive Karmen Smith’s donation.

Dr. Smith’s “A Legacy of Compassion” presentation reflected on the career and philosophy of her mother, Kanzetta Harris, a former social worker with SHS. The Kanzetta Harris House, one of the SHS group homes, is named in her honor.

“My mother had a different set of eyes than I did,” said Dr. Smith. “She endeavored to see her clients the way God sees them.”

Dr. Smith recalled how she would question her mother’s compassion when applied to those who beat their spouses or robbed others for drug money.

But her mother would answer, “If I can’t see the good in those people, how can I help them?”

The heart of her message is best captured through the quote she shared and attributed to the theologian, Thomas Merton, “Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy.”

At the conclusion of her presentation, Dr. Smith surprised all attendees with a $10,000 donation for the Kanzetta Harris House.

Learn more about Dr. Smith’s online workshop, Trauma to Triumph.