Be Safe This Thanksgiving

With more than 1 million COVID-19 cases reported in the U.S. in early November and local numbers setting new records daily, the Thanksgiving Holiday this week calls for more preparation than usual. This year, the focus must be on precautions to celebrate safely.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year “is to celebrate at home with the people you live with.” If you are going to celebrate with people outside of your household, you and your family will be at an increased risk of exposure. If you intend to celebrate with others keep your gathering smaller and shorter, practice hand washing and sanitizing, mask wearing and safe physical distancing.

Summary recommendations:

  • Celebrate only with your immediate family. Gathering with people who don’t live with you increases your chances of getting COVID-19 or the flu.
  • Avoid travel. Stay away from large public gatherings, like at airports, train stations, bus stations and public transportation. Even if you drive, you’ll still face potential exposures at rest stops, gas stations and other places you stop.
  • If you gather with your family, keep it outside if possible. The virus spreads through the air, so ventilation is critically important. If you must be inside, open windows and doors and keep your home’s fans on.
  • If you have more than one household gathering, stay physically distanced. Make sure there is at least six feet of separation between different family pods and wear masks when not eating. Make sure there’s plenty of hand sanitizer available.
  • Keep it short! Gatherings that last longer pose more risk than shorter gatherings.

The CDC also offers suggestions for:

New Temporary Entrance, Parking Changes during Swope Health Central Renovations

Starting Tuesday, Nov.17, the Main entrance at Building A will be closed and Patients will be guided to a new temporary entrance at the C Building.

This temporary move is to accommodate the renovation of the A Building vestibule, which will be part of a larger new lobby development project. This vestibule work will continue through Dec, 31, 2020.

The majority of parking Lot C is reserved for Patient use.

As a reminder, standard COVID-19 screening will continue at this entrance for all Patients. All Patients must wear a mask and practice safe physical distancing.

Swope Health Associates will greet Patients at the new temporary entrance at the C Building and will help guide you to your appointments.

Swope Health CEO Appointed to National Task Force Addressing Racism

Jeron Ravin, JD, President and CEO of Swope Health, was recently appointed to the newly formed National Association of Community Health Center’s (NACHC) Task Force on Addressing Racism.

Task force members are charged with transforming NACHC into an anti-racist, multicultural organization and developing actionable strategies to lead the health center movement and the country in addressing social and health injustices. In the midst of a national movement concerning racial justice, this Task Force, representing one of our nation’s largest health care delivery systems, will focus on developing tangible steps to undo the affects that systemic racism has on healthcare and health outcomes.

“Rooting out systemic racism in healthcare is a monumental undertaking,” said Ravin, “but it must be done and I am honored to help forge a path to health equity.”

The association represents more than 1,400 federally supported health centers, providing healthcare to more than 29 million people.

NACHC recognizes that the profound racial and ethnic health disparities in the United States are embedded in long-standing institutional and systemic racism. Furthermore, NACHC recognizes that racism is a public health issue and public health crisis.

The Task Force will consist of no more than 11 people who will reflect diversity in terms of race/ethnicity, geography, age, sexual orientation, and gender. Lathran Woodard, NACHC Board President and a representative from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) will serve as members of the task force.

New Temporary Entrance! Part of Swope Health Central Building Renovations

Starting Monday, Nov. 16, when you come to Swope Health Central, you will see a new temporary entrance at the C Building. We’re moving the entrance while we renovate the A Building vestibule, which will be part of a larger new lobby development project.

Swope Health associates will greet patients at the new temporary entrance at the C Building. All patients will still need to wear a mask, maintain physical distance, have their temperature checked and answer screening questions to enter Swope Health Central. Patients who require additional screening for COVID-19 will be directed the COVID-19 clinic.

This temporary entrance will be in place through the end of the year. During this time, we will expand the size of the A Building vestibule to provide for separate entrance and exit areas. The new vestibule will also give us improved climate control in the lobby.

You may see other areas of construction around the facility as well. Here’s a summary of what you can expect in coming weeks and months.

  • Adult Health Clinic – Located on the first floor of Building A, we have begun expanding the lobby by removing the hallway wall. This newly opened lobby will allow for better physical distancing and provide additional space for the clinic registration area. This development should be complete by late November.
  • New Pharmacy – We’ve begun renovating the former registration space off the Building A lobby as the new home for our Pharmacy department. This renovation will include the addition of a drive-through lane for increased convenience as well as a private consultation space for discussions with the pharmacy associates about your medications. (The Swope Health Optical Shop and Optometry Clinic will move to the former Pharmacy space in a later phase of renovation.) Parking spaces near the A building will not be available during construction.
  • A Building vestibule – This main entrance renovation will provide for separate entrance and exit areas. The new vestibule will also give us improved climate control in the lobby.
  • New Lobby – This project will take several months and will produce a brighter and more welcoming entrance to Swope Health.
  • Radiology Ultrasound Suite – Located on the first floor of Building A, this is a designated Ultrasound Suite constructed inside our Radiology department. New ultrasound equipment will soon be installed.
  • Dental Treatment Rooms – Dental treatment rooms have been reconfigured to allow for improved handling of X-Rays, making visits more efficient for our patients.
  • Public Restrooms Building B – Our Second Floor restroom renovations are complete and now feature improved lighting, bright new tile and fixtures, and conveniently positioned infant changing stations.

There are additional construction projects underway in administrative and back-office areas of Swope Health Central, as well as updates at Swope Health Wyandotte and Swope Health Independence.

All of these improvements are designed to address the new requirements brought by COVID-19 and to improve your experience when visiting. In everything we do, you have the Swope Health Promise: We Make Care Visible.

Tradition in a Spooky Season

Traditions are important. Merriam-Webster defines traditions as “the handing down of information, beliefs, and customs by word of mouth or by example from one generation to another without written instruction.” In other words, traditions are what we gift the generations to come.

In the middle of this pandemic it may be difficult to find a safe way to partake in the customary traditions. We all have to do our part to stop the spread of COVID-19 and this gives us an opportunity to start new traditions. Those new traditions can keep you and your family safe this Halloween season.

You can start a new tradition with these yummy treats, the Crunchy Mummy – a combination of a Crunchy Pumpkin and Mummy cheese snack. This snack was prepared by Priscilla Perez Schmid, Clinical Registered Dietitian with Swope Health, based on recipes from the US Department of Agriculture. (Download the Halloween Recipes.)

“Traditions are a celebration of belonging,” Priscilla said. “It is a moment to enjoy that place and time that can describe some of our best memories.”

Additional resources:

And, if you are looking for options for a safe trick or treating event, remember TreatTown! Join us at Swope Health Central, 6:30 to 8:30 pm Saturday, Oct. 31, for our drive-through Halloween experience!

What new traditions will you build this spooky season?

Help yourself: Pantries offer healthy foods

The COVID-19 pandemic has strained many aspects of our life, including adding difficulty to keeping safe and healthy foods available at home.

If you are skipping meals to make do or if your family is hungry, one of the nearly 1,000 food pantries in the state of Missouri may be able to help.

Swope Health’s registered dietitian Priscilla Perez Schmid, MPH, RDN, LDN, recently had a conversation with Rebecca Collier of Harvesters, a community food network, about how food pantries in our community.  Their conversation answers questions about how food pantries work and how you can find a food pantry near you.

Harvesters has a service locator to help find resources near you and a calendar of public food distribution sites, many operated as drive-thru events.

Swope Health hosts regular food distribution drive-thru events on the first Saturday of each month with support from Sysco Foods, Total Man Community Development Corp. and Rep. Barbara Anne Washington and others. The next event is 9-11 am Saturday, Nov. 7 at Swope Health Central, 3801 Blue Parkway, Kansas City.

In addition, you can locate a nearby Food Pantry at feedingmissouri.org. Feeding Missouri is a coalition of six Missouri food banks working together to distribute foods.  The organization’s groups distribute more than 120 million pounds of food each year through a network of more than 1,500 community feeding programs.

Harvesters is a member of Feeding Missouri and a member of Feeding America, a nationwide network of more than 200 food banks.

You do not need to receive Food Stamp benefits to get help from a food pantry. You’ll be asked for basic information and a few questions about where you live. The pantries exist to provide relief from hunger. In the United States, the government estimates that one of every nine persons struggles with hunger.

information on finding a food pantry

Time for Your Flu Shot – Don’t Delay!

 

Flu shots are now available at all Swope Health locations. You are invited (and encouraged) to come in for your vaccine, which is especially important during the current coronavirus pandemic.

“We are very concerned about the upcoming flu season, combined with COVID-19,” said Dr. Jennifer Frost, interim Chief Medical Officer at Swope Health. “We encourage everyone six months or older to get a flu shot.”

The flu – by itself – is dangerous. In the 2018-2019 flu season, the flu was responsible for more than 34,200 deaths and more than 35 million illnesses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“Now, coupled with another potentially fatal virus, it is especially important to take precautions,” she said. Individuals who are 65 and older, those with illnesses like asthma or heart disease, and pregnant women are particularly encouraged to get vaccinated.

This year, with growing concern over the two viruses spreading together in the community – a so-called “Twindemic” – many workplaces will require employees to have a flu shot.

Here are some answers to key questions:

Keep your family strong. Vaccinate. Fight Flu.

Is it safe? YES!

The flu vaccine has been well studied and, yes, it is safe, Dr. Frost says. The CDC confirms that flu vaccines have been studied for more than 50 years and have a good safety record. The vaccine does not contain the actual flu virus itself, but a substance that “looks like” the flu. The injection prompts the body’s immune system to take action.

The risk in getting a flu shot is minimal – some people may get a little redness or pain at the site of the injection. It is possible the shot may produce a low-grade temperature or mild aches, but this goes away within a day or so. This reaction is actually the body confirming that its immune system is responding, Dr. Frost noted.

When is the best time? NOW!

Yes, now! Getting a shot early in the flu season gives you a better chance of protecting against catching the flu. The CDC encourages everyone to get a flu shot early – in September or October – before the flu season gets heavily underway. The CDC also notes that it’s helpful to get the flu shot even if you miss the early opportunity because the flu generally stays active and reaches a peak in February.

Why is the flu vaccine even more important to get this flu season?

We want to reduce the number and severity of the flu especially this year because of COVID-19. We want to reduce the overall impact of respiratory illnesses on the population, and also lessen the burden on the healthcare systems in our community.

Are there any other precautions we can take? YES!

These will sound familiar: you can prevent the spread of the flu by frequent handwashing, maintaining physical distancing from others and wearing a mask. The practices that prevent the spread of COVID-19 are the same for influenza, because both are contagious viruses that use the respiratory system to infect others.

The CDC suggests staying away from close contact with people who are sick, and staying home if you get sick. The other rules are to cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough, wash your hands thoroughly and practice good cleaning of surfaces and items you touch. Remember to keep your hands away from your face and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

Can I get the flu from the flu vaccine?

No, flu vaccines cannot cause flu illness.  Flu vaccines given with a needle are made with either inactivated (killed) viruses, or with only a single protein from the flu virus.  An inactivated virus cannot transmit infection.  So people who get sick after receiving a flu vaccination were going to get sick anyway.  It takes approximately two weeks to get protection from the vaccine.

How long does it take to develop symptoms of influenza after being exposed?

The incubation period for influenza is usually two days, but can range from one to four days.  A person may pass the virus from one day before symptoms start through seven days after the start of the illness.

If I get the flu, what should I do?

Contact your provider. You may benefit from antiviral medicine. Antiviral medicines are most beneficial when started within the first 1-2 days of influenza illness.

Why do some people who get the flu vaccine still get the flu?

Studies have shown that the flu vaccine is about 50% to 60% effective for healthy adults who are between 18 and 64 years old.  Even when the vaccine doesn’t completely prevent the flu, it may lessen the severity of your illness, and reduce the risk of serious complications and serious illness requiring hospitalization.

What is the difference between the (flu) and COVID-19?

Flu and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses.  Because some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, it may be hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone, and testing may be needed to help confirm a diagnosis.

Can I get the flu and COVID-19 at the same time?

Yes, it is possible to have flu, as well as other respiratory illnesses, and COVID-19 at the same time.

Call Swope Health at 816-923-5800 to schedule your appointment for a flu shot now. It’s more important than ever.

Wicked Fun! Drive-through Treat Town Oct. 31

Trick or treating in the age of COVID-19? Yes, it sounds scary but Swope Health has a solution – a new, drive-through version of our annual Treat Town!

Please plan to join us 6:30-8:30 pm Saturday, Oct. 31, for a drive-through version of our annual Treat Town.  This year, our 25th annual event is redesigned as an outdoor-only drive-through treat giveaway at the parking lot at Swope Health Central.

From the safety of your vehicle, you will be guided to drive through a large (spooky) tent where we provide treat bags for children under age 12. All cars will enter the Swope Health Central main entrance, 3801 Blue Parkway, to participate.

We ask all participants to wear a face mask to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. Everyone stays in the car with just a quick stop to gather your treats!

Thanks to our partner Hot 103 Jamz for again supporting this free, safe trick-or-treating event.

VOTE! Get registered Mondays at Swope Health Central

Are you registered to vote? There’s still time – you can register to vote in the November election until Oct. 7.

Come to Swope Health, 10 am to noon on Mondays, where you can register, request a mail-in ballot or absentee ballot, get your application notarized or learn more about your polling place and what to expect on your ballot.

This service is provided by our partners at the Kansas City Public Library. They will be at Swope Health Central every Monday through Oct. 26 to answer questions and provide information – always non-partisan, factual, accurate information on your rights.

We encourage you to vote.

Important upcoming dates:

  • October 7: Last Day to Register before the General Election
  • October 21 at 5 p.m.: Last day to request a Mail-In Ballot or to receive an Absentee Ballot in the mail
  • November 2: Last day to request an Absentee Ballot in-person
  • November 3: General Election
  • Absentee ballots may be turned in by mail or in person. Mail-in ballots must be notarized and delivered by mail.

Notary Services for Absentee/Mail-in Ballots for the Nov. 3 Election:

  • Ballots must be signed, notarized, and received by the Election Board before 7 p.m. on election day. Ballots received after the deadline will not be counted.

Voters can have their ballot envelope notarized for free at the following locations:

Absentee ballots in 2020 do not need to be notarized if you are age 65 or older, have contracted coronavirus, or are at-risk due to any of the following:

  • Live in a long-term facility
  • Have a chronic lung disease/asthma
  • Have a serious heart condition
  • Are immunocompromised
  • Have diabetes
  • Have chronic kidney disease and are undergoing dialysis
  • Have liver disease

“Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves—and the only way they could do that is by not voting.”

– President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 5 October 1944

For accurate, non-partisan voting information, visit Vote411.org, a reference site operated by the League of Women Voters. The site includes information on registering, how to check your voter registration status, find your polling place, and find the ballot questions in your area.

Swope Health Wins Three National Quality Improvement Awards

Swope Health is proud to announce it has received three quality improvement  awards from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

The three awards total $143,464. The awards are:

  • National Quality Leaders award, for $72,714. This award goes to the top 1 to 2 percent of health centers that meet or exceed national benchmarks. Swope Health was awarded in the area of Behavioral Health. The winning health centers performed depression screening and follow-up on at least 75.9 percent of patients; performed screening, brief intervention and referral to treatment on at least 5 percent of patients; and increased medication-assisted treatment by at least 10 percent from 2017. Swope Health was one of three centers in Missouri to receive this award.
  • Advancing Health Information Technology for Quality, for $10,750. This award recognizes health centers that optimized health information technology (HIT) services for advancing telehealth, patient engagement, interoperability and collection of social determinants of health to increase access to care, and to advance quality of care between 2018 and 2019.
  • Patient-Centered Medical Home Recognition, for $60,000. Swope Health was designated a Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) in 2018. The PCMH program focuses on the coordinated organization and delivery of primary care, emphasizing access to quality and safety in comprehensive care services.

“This is a recognition of our achievements in providing high quality healthcare and a demonstration of our commitment to excellence in all aspects of our service,” said Jeron Ravin, JD, president and chief executive of Swope Health. “This recognition places Swope Health in the top rankings of the nation’s health centers.”

Dr. Kenneth Thomas, Director of Pediatrics, who helped spearhead the quality initiatives at Swope Health, said: “These awards illustrate a true integration between Behavioral Health and Primary Healthcare in caring for our patients. It’s the result of significant efforts from the entire team, from frontline clinical associates to department leadership – a genuine team accomplishment.”

Swope Health will reinvest these award funds into additional quality initiatives.

Swope Health also was recognized recently as 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.”