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

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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).

All Smiles for Children’s Dental Health Month

Dental Health Month 2019It’s February! That means it’s time to raise awareness about children’s dental health.

The American Dental Association sponsors the month-long observance to focus attention on the importance of good oral health in children and to equip caregivers, parents and teachers with information to promote good dental care for kids.

At Swope Health, we are in on this. Our dentists and dental assistants love to help kids develop good brushing habits, understand tooth-healthy choices and feel comfortable with dental care.

“Primary teeth–also, known as baby teeth–play a crucial role in a child’s health and development,” said Dr. Arezo Hesaraki, who sees patients at Swope Health’s Wyandotte Dental Clinic. “Practicing good oral health during a child’s early years promotes good nutrition by allowing them to chew properly. It also helps children develop better speaking skills while creating a better self-image.”

Dr. Hesaraki notes that the absence of good dental care can lead to cavities, which can cause problems with eating and interacting with others, and even contribute to difficulty learning or paying attention in school. The better approach is to learn about hygiene and healthy habits early, to prevent extensive – and expensive – treatments later.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends children see a dentist twice a year, although some children may require more frequent care. In a typical visit, Dr. Hesaraki will:

  • Check the teeth for cavities, by examination and X-ray.
  • Clean the teeth to remove any debris that builds up.
  • Help the child learn proper brushing and flossing.
  • Apply fluoride to strengthen teeth and prevent cavities.
  • Place sealant treatment on the teeth as a further protection, which is a bit like putting on a raincoat.

Dr. Hesaraki spends time talking with children and parents about good nutrition. She encourages them to make healthy choices like fruits, vegetables and water instead of sugary candy, juice and sodas.

Good dental care should start with infants, so Dr. Hesaraki teaches parents to wipe out the baby’s mouth with a soft, moist clean cloth after feeding to remove sugars and bacteria. She cautions not to let children go to sleep with a bottle of milk, noting if a bottle is necessary, it should contain only water.

“Tooth decay is the most common childhood disease,” she said. “The goal is to decrease the time that their teeth are exposed to sugars. You can do this by reducing the frequency and duration of sugar intake, and promptly cleaning teeth after eating.”

“I love children,” she says. “I want each one to have a healthy smile.”

Dental Team at Swope Health Wyandotte

The Dental team at Swope Health’s Wyandotte Clinic stands ready to help children develop the skills and habits that are critical for good oral health and healthy smiles. From left are two Swope Health Wyandotte Clinic dentists, Dr. Arezo Hesaraki and Dr. Nidhi Gupta, and two Dental Assistants, Laura Contreras and Naima Ibrahim.

Additional Resources:

HealthyChildren.org: Dental Health & Hygiene for Young Children

HealthyChildren.org: Brushing up on Oral Health – Never Too Early to Start

MouthHealthy.org: A Healthy Smile Can Last a Lifetime

My Children’s Teeth: Tooth Decay (American Academy of Pediatric Dentists)

SHS’ Dental Team Goes Back to School


The Swope Health Services dental van and staff getting ready to set up, and here, performing dental exams on students.

Reading, writing, arithmetic…and brushing and flossing!

Our dental team is bringing some important lessons to the classroom these days, as we have made a commitment to provide services to children enrolled in the Head Start program across the metro.

Head Start is a program designed to give every child, regardless of circumstances of birth, an opportunity to succeed in school.

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

The program, housed in schools and community centers, encourages parent involvement and provides linkages to social services for low-income families.

Nationwide, the program has helped more than 32 million children and their families since its founding 50 years ago.

Swope Health Services Dental Department is an important part of the healthcare offerings at Kansas City Head Start programs, operated through the Mid-America Regional Council.

“About 30 percent of all emergency room visits are dental-related and about half of those involve children,” said Dr. David Moyer, SHS Director of Dentistry. “The Emergency Room is not the right place for these kids. We can help.”

Emergency visits are expensive and ERs are not equipped for dental emergencies. Dr. Moyer notes the real goal for parents and kids is to get ongoing dental care from the start, so we can prevent issues that lead to emergencies.

mobile_dental2In the Head Start program, Dr. Moyer and his team of dentists, dental assistants, dental hygienists and patient care representatives travel twice a year to the Kansas City-area Head Start locations to provide dental care.

The team can perform basic examinations and assess risks of cavities and impediments to oral health.

The team’s mobile set-up allows them to take X-rays, perform cleanings, provide fluoride treatments, fill cavities and even perform extractions.

“A big part of the work is counseling the kids and parents on oral health and good habits,” he said. “The SHS team follows up with families of kids who need more dental services or medical healthcare. We want to help them get healthy, whether that takes an extra dental appointment or other care.”

SHS is now visiting 15 locations throughout the metropolitan Kansas City area, from Grandview to Liberty, Excelsior Springs and Parkville and throughout the urban core.

Top Three Dental Tips for Kids

  1. Don’t brush off dental care. Use your toothbrush with fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day. More is even better!
  2. Watch what you eat and drink – those sugary treats can really take a toll on your teeth. Eat healthy.
  3. Make a habit of visiting your dentist every six months for a cleaning, fluoride treatment and sealants. Take care of any cavities or problems at those visits, too.

Have Your Kids Been to the Dentist Lately?


Dr. David Moyer, D.D.S

February is Children’s Dental Health Month. It’s a national health observance to encourage good oral health practices for children, resulting in beautiful smiles that last a lifetime.

Dr. David Moyer, SHS Director of Dentistry, is among the thousands of dentists across the country encouraging awareness of children’s dental health all year long.

“I want to invite parents to bring in their kids,” he said. “The earlier, the better.”

Even infants under one year should come in for dental visits, and return every year until age 4-6 when they should start dental visits twice a year.

“I want them to get used to coming to the dentist,” Dr. Moyer said.

When children and parents come for a dental exam, Dr. Moyer likes to offer suggestions to help build good habits for lifelong dental health. Some of his regular tips:

  • Don’t put your baby to bed with a sugary drink in the bottle. The sugars will coat the teeth and start to accelerate decay. It’s better to give clear water at night.
  • Poster MARCWhen your baby’s teeth come in, start brushing. You can start just with a tiny dab of toothpaste on your finger or on a soft brush. Get your child in the habit by brushing their teeth for them every night. By the time your child is about 4 years old, the child should be able to brush on their own.
  • A fluoride rinse can be a good idea for children. Have your child swish it around for 30 seconds after brushing to prevent bacterial formations and help prevent cavities.
  • Stay away from sodas! They’re not good for your health or your teeth. The carbonation, acids and sugars –even if it’s a diet formula – all can eat away at the enamel tooth covering. Juices aren’t much better. Plain ol’ water is usually the best.

Dr. Moyer encourages regular dental visits for all kids, and he also works with the Mid-America Head Start program to make it easier to reach kids who might not be able to make it to a dental office.

The SHS mobile dental service offers exams, X-rays, cleanings and application of fluorides and sealants to children at schools, YMCA and other Head Start locations.

The SHS Head Start program is developing regular schedules for those visits, either for a half-day or full day of appointments, every day of the week at different outreach locations.

Have your kids been to the dentist lately? It’s a good time to get them in for a visit and help them learn some healthy tips for bright smiles to last a lifetime. Call us at 816-923-5800 to make an appointment.

Get to Know Our Director of Dentistry: Dr. David Moyer

david-moyer-d-d-sDr. David Moyer is the Director of Dentistry for Swope Health Services. A native of St. Joseph, Mo., he received his doctorate of dental surgery degree from the Georgetown University School of Dentistry in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Moyer was a general dentist with the Missouri Department of Corrections and before that, a Colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserve, serving with the 442nd Medical-Dental Squadron at Whiteman Air Force Base. He joined Swope Health Services in October 2016.

We caught up with him recently to ask a few questions. Here are his responses:

When did you know that you wanted to be a dentist?
It was in college. Growing up, I thought I wanted to be a physician. When I was 6 years old, my father died of a heart attack, so I was interested in medicine.

But while I was in college working at the teaching hospital at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, I saw a woman who was in a car accident and died – it brought my father’s experience back to me and I realized I didn’t want to do this.

But, a friend’s father was a dentist, and that was interesting to me. There was a lot of close work with your hands, and I liked that since I had played piano all my life. It was interesting.

What led you to join Swope Health Services?
I’m getting a Master’s degree in Healthcare Administration from the University of Maryland. I had taken a course in public health and was learning about Federally Qualified Health Centers and I decided to explore opportunities. SHS had an opening, and I got it.

What are the key things you hope to accomplish in your new role?
I want my group to work together as a team. I want to bring in new patients and help them get their treatment plans completed. I’d like to expand our dental services to additional locations. I’m interested in developing a dental outreach program for the homeless.

What is your favorite characteristic in yourself?
I have a degree in mathematics, so I guess I’m fairly analytical. My leadership qualities tend to come out easily.

Least favorite?
My procrastination.

What book is on your nightstand?
The only book I read at night is the Bible.

What’s the one thing you wish you could change about your patients?
I wish I could change the no-show rate. It’s so inefficient and it hurts our patients. It prevents them from completing their treatment and it hinders us from helping other patients.

What else would you like our readers to know about you?
I have an 11-year-old son. I love animals and sports and music. I still play the piano. I’ve played in bands in college – rock and roll and blues bands. I taught piano and guitar during college and I still get invited to sit in with bands for recordings.

Do you have a question for Dr. Moyer? You can leave your question or comment in the box below. SHS has limited openings for new dental patients but we’re working hard to see all those who need us. If you are open to being seen at our Independence, Northland or Wyandotte County clinics, we may be able to see you sooner, rather than later. Please call 816-923-5800 to explore your options.

Our Dental Services Are Expanding!

Swope Health Services is expanding dental services at the Central, Wyandotte, Northland and Independence facilities.

David Ewing

David Ewing

Arezo Hesaraki

Arezo Hesaraki

Andrew Medlin

Andrew Medlin

The expansion brings new dental staff members as well as additional dental clinic space:

-At the Wyandotte Clinic, we have added three new dental offices plus an additional dental darkroom, supply room and provider office. This brings the total number of dental chairs to eight and allows the clinic to offer dental services daily.

-We’ve also added another dentist to the Wyandotte team, Dr. Arezo Hesaraki. She will join Dr. David Ewing in providing daily services at Wyandotte. She’ll also work in rotation at the Northland Clinic with Dr. Andrew Medlin.

-We’ve added a new dental room in Northland Clinic, which now has three dental chairs.

Ashlee Miller

Ashlee Miller

Ryan Cox

Ryan Cox

-We have added a new dental hygienist, Ashlee Miller, who will work at Central and at the Independence Clinic, with Dr. Ryan Cox.

-SHS is also adding a dental community education specialist. This position will promote dental health and awareness, through medical referrals and community outreach. This position will allow for greater outreach to the homeless population and for work in collaboration with SHS behavioral health services.

Beyond these expanded facilities and services, SHS is reaching out to Mid-America Headstart programs to provide additional dental screenings for children. So far, SHS has provided these dental exams and cleanings for four-year-olds in the Headstart programs in the Center and Grandview school districts.

This year, SHS will also provide Headstart screenings in the Raytown School District.

There’s no time like the present! Why not schedule a dental visit with us today? Call 816-923-5800 to make an appointment.


See SHS tips: Teaching Kids How to Take Care of Their Teeth

Grin and Bear It: Dentures Made at SHS Dental Lab

Most people who visit the dental offices at Swope Health Services barely notice the doorway leading to the Dental Lab. That’s where you’ll find a room that’s a combination workshop and studio for Keith Halvorsen, Dental Lab Technician.

His role is to make the dentures and partial dentures needed by SHS patients. This makes him something of an artist and an engineer. He works to get the most natural look and the best possible fit for his patients.

Halvorsen works closely with the six dentists at SHS. When one of them recommends a partial or full replacement denture for a patient, he participates in the discussion.

“My favorite part of the job is interacting with patients,” he said, noting that in his prior experience, working in a commercial lab, he never got to meet the people who used the restorations he created.

denturesAt SHS, when a dentist advises a patient to get teeth pulled for a partial or full set of dentures, Halvorsen helps guide the patient through the five-step process:

  1. At the first appointment, the dentist makes an evaluation and recommendation. Halvorsen comes in for an initial check and makes preliminary impressions while the teeth in question are still in place. In this phase, he’s looking to see if the patient’s bone structure can support the new denture.
  1. With a decision to move forward, a second, more usable impression is required. This one helps him plan out where the replacement teeth in the denture will fit, after the original teeth are pulled.
  1. On the patient’s third visit, he’ll make a bite rim. This is a template that shows how the patient’s jaws bite together. It’s necessary to make sure that the replacement teeth will be comfortable when the patient is talking and chewing. Each person’s mouth is unique, so the bite rim has to be customized for each patient. In this visit, he’ll also make notations about the fit, mark the centerline of the patient’s face for symmetry, and help determine the right color for the replacement teeth.
  1. At the next appointment, the patient tries out the wax model denture with the artificial teeth to make sure it looks and feels right. The patient has to be comfortable with the look and feel of the replacements. It’s only when the patient signs off that the final product is created.
  1. The last meeting is when the patient receives the final, completed denture, which is made of hard acrylic materials. It is also at this time that any final adjustments are made.

The entire process typically takes about a month, but emergency work can occur much faster.

Halvorsen is proud of his work, but admits he really wouldn’t mind if the demand was less. He wishes people would take better care of their teeth and not need dentures or partial replacements.

“Nothing can replace your natural teeth,” he said. “As good as our work is, it will never be as strong or feel as good as your real teeth. I love doing this work, but I hate seeing it come down to that — an artificial replacement for natural teeth.”

dentalHalvorsen’s Recommendations for Healthy Teeth

  • Brush your teeth after every meal. — Yes, carry a toothbrush with you or keep a spare at work. If you can’t brush after every meal, at least try to rinse with mouthwash.
  • Get in the habit of flossing your teeth. Every day. Make it part of your morning or evening ritual.
  • Avoid sweet syrupy soda drinks and candy. The sugars coat your teeth and, over time, eat away at the enamel. If you absolutely must drink soda, at least use a straw so the sugars don’t get a chance to coat your teeth.
  • See a dentist twice a year for a check-up and cleaning. If you have any tooth pain or other issues, see a dentist immediately.

Do you have questions about dental care? Leave a comment below. Call 816-923-5800 to make an appointment in the SHS Dental Clinic. Our adult dental care clinic is often fully booked, so we encourage you to schedule now. 

Watch the 2 minute video to see how Keith Halverson makes dentures!

(If you’re unable to see the “Making Dentures” video, you can see it on YouTube.)

Teaching Kids How to Take Care of Their Teeth

Dr. Rita Burnett

Dr. Rita Burnett

Dr. Rita Burnett, Director of Dental Services, has more than 30 years’ experience in dentistry. She’s an advocate for children’s dental health and has loads of ways to make a first a dental visit a safe and even fun experience.

As this is National Children’s Dental Health Month, we asked Dr. Burnett about how she gets children started with healthy dental habits.

Do you teach children how to brush?

We talk a lot about brushing! I always ask them when they brush, and I explain how important it is to brush at night — to get rid of the food from all day.

I ask them about brushing their tongue, too. That might be a surprise sometimes. I tell them to start brushing in a different spot each time. That’s because you always brush hardest at the start.

I show them the right amount of toothpaste — about the size of a pea. And I remind them to change their tooth brush about every three or four months, or after they’ve had a cold. Get a new one when the bristles are splayed out.

What are some other milestones for dental care?

We like to see children typically at around three years old, but we’ve seen children as young as 12 months. When they are that young, we do a “lap exam” —when I sit knee to knee with a parent and the baby lies between us.

choose healthy foodsAt about age six, children get their permanent molars. This is when we like to apply a sealant on the chewing surface for protection against cavities.

At about age 10, I like to teach kids how to floss. I always talk about good habits and offer tips.

What kind of tips?

I explain that sugars and carbohydrates in foods can ferment on teeth — that creates plaque acids. If you have a sugary treat, you should brush or chew sugar-free gum afterward. Chewing gum for 20 minutes after eating stimulates saliva and that helps prevent cavities by reducing plaque acids.

Another option might surprise you. Research has shown that eating just a little cheddar cheese – about the size of a pair of dice – will also stimulate saliva and decrease the amount of acid on the teeth.

What’s the most important thing to teach children?

I want kids to feel comfortable at the dental clinic. I want them to like coming to the dentist, to feel safe and not afraid. I want to nurture them a little bit and build a relationship with them.

It’s so important to educate kids. Their oral health affects the rest of their health. I want them to make better decisions and learn good, healthy habits.

Have your children visited the dentist lately? Please call 816-923-5800 to schedule an appointment. Questions and comments welcome in the space below.