Swope Health supports gun safety with free gun locks, lockboxes

Swope Health is now offering free gun locks or lockboxes to anyone interacting with its Crisis Services team.

The gun-safety initiative is a response to increasing rates of suicide in the United States and the recognition that firearms were used in more than half of all suicides. Studies show an alarming increase in suicide deaths among Black youth and adolescents; at the same time, Americans are buying guns at roughly twice the level of 15 or 20 years ago.

The gun lock and lockbox giveaway is also in response to alarming gun violence in Kansas City, which is contributing to a new record of homicides in 2023. As of July 24, the city has seen 114 homicides, according to the Kansas City Police Department. There have also been more than 265 non-fatal shootings.

Examples of two types of gun locks available from Swope Health – a cable lock, left, and a trigger lock.

The Swope Health mobile outreach unit carries two types of gun locks and two models of lockboxes for free distribution. The goal is to keep guns safely out of reach from persons who may have suicidal or homicidal thoughts, said Laurie Cox, Director of Crisis Services at Swope Health.

Examples of two types of lockboxes offered by Swope Health, designed for securing firearms, but can also be used to secure sharps or medications.

“We know that if we can encourage a person in crisis to slow down, to shift their focus elsewhere, the moment of crisis can pass,” she said.  For example, she said, one client has taped photos of family members on the gun lockbox, so whenever there’s temptation to act with the gun, they first encounter beloved images that spark a different emotion.

“Anything that can shift focus can help slow down the access to the gun and maybe prevent violence,” she said.

The Swope Health program is funded by the Missouri Department of Mental Health, as part of the national rollout of the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. Swope Health is part of the network of caregivers supporting the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.

The 988 lifeline, which launched just one year ago in July 2022, is a three-digit phone call that works in the same way as 911. When you dial 988, you will be connected with a crisis counselor trained to provide care and support for anyone experiencing mental health-related distress.  Organized by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services through its Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the program can assist with thoughts of suicide, substance use crisis, trauma, or other emotional distress.

A regular part of the work of the Crisis Team is to reduce access to lethal means, such as firearms, sharp objects and medications. Case managers, therapists and members of the crisis team routinely talk with families about how to remove those lethal items when caring for someone struggling with suicidal or homicidal thoughts.

The guidance uses an approach known as CALM, Counseling on Access to Lethal Means, which has been proven effective.  Case managers create a specialized and personalized safety plan for each client, and educate the family and support structure on the evidence behind the approach.

Swope Health joins other organizations, including the Kansas City Police Department, Children’s Mercy Hospital, and Grandparents for Gun Safety, a local non-profit, in offering free gun locks. There are several programs at other organizations around the country as well.

For more information or to request a gun lock or a lock box, please call the Swope Health Crisis Team at 816-599-5630.

One on One with Swope Health: Janay Reliford and Mickey Dean, KC Reparations Coalition

Swope Health announces a new edition of its podcast, One on One with Swope Health, featuring Janay Reliford and Mickey Dean of the KC Reparations Coalition.

Eric Wesson, founder and publisher of The Next Page KC, a newspaper focused on the Black community, hosts the show’s conversations with Kansas Citians about issues of importance to the community’s health and wellbeing.

In this conversation, Eric invites his guests to explain the role of the KC Reparations Coalition and the Mayor’s newly formed reparations commission. The Coalition helped document the information that led to the city ordinance which authorized the commission. The commission holds the responsibility for developing recommendations to close the wealth gap in Kansas City.

Janay Reliford, chair of the Coalition, speaks to the Coalition’s focus on healthcare, housing, education, business and economics, and criminal justice. The group documented inequities that harmed Black people in each category.

Reliford notes that other groups have received reparations. “Why not Black people?” she asked.

Mickey Dean, speaking as a member of the Coalition and an advisor to the commission, brings extensive ties to the reparations movement across the nation. At the first meeting of the commission, Dean delivered an extensive presentation on the reparations movement, including a series of examples from history from 1619 to the present.

Reparations comes from the word “repair.” The goal of reparations is repair the damage of segregation and inequality. To close the wealth gap, an intervention is required.

This discussion touches on reparation initiatives in other parts of the nation, including cities like Evanston, Ill., and San Francisco, and the state of California. The conversation also addresses the impacts of mass incarceration, health injustices, educational inequalities and more, including affirmative action and myths surrounding it. The goal is to hold the city accountable for bringing reparatory justice — equality for Black people.

Oppression impacts all people. The benefit of reparations can uplift the entire community. Learn more in this conversation.

Watch the podcast:

YouTube: https://youtu.be/4HgIH77RC20

Spotify: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/swopehealth/episodes/One-on-One-with-Swope-Health-Jenay-Reliford-and-Mickey-Dean-e273l2e


A new milestone for KCKCC project, future Swope Health clinic

The Kansas City Kansas Community Education, Health and Wellness Center Association, which includes Kansas City Kansas Community College (KCKCC), Swope Health, and CommunityAmerica Credit Union, has chosen McCownGordon as the Construction Manager at Risk for the new 100,000 square-foot, KCK Community Education, Health and Wellness Center to be located in downtown Kansas City, Kan.


KCKCC, Swope Health, and CommunityAmerica Credit Union have partnered to build a comprehensive center that meets the holistic needs of those living in downtown Kansas City, Kan. providing access to educational programs, health services, financial literacy, and more.


“This center is a national model for nonprofit collaboration across the country,” said KCKCC President Dr. Greg Mosier. “It will offer programs and services desperately needed to create a self-sustaining economic solution for the downtown KCK community that will help end many social and economic inequities that have prevailed for decades. The college looks forward to returning downtown, just two blocks from where the college began a century ago.”


Other key partners include KCK Public Schools and the Unified Government of Wyandotte County.  The Unified Government is providing land owned by the government and the Unified Government Land Bank for the project.

KCK Public Schools has partnered with KCKCC for programs that will be offered to high school students as well as traditional-age and adult college students at the new site.

Groundbreaking for the new center is planned for September with completion anticipated June 2025.


McCownGordon was selected as the construction manager at risk/general contractor for the project after a competitive process.

According to Dr. Mosier, the company was chosen based on its vast construction experience in the Kansas City region, including in building educational, health care and banking facilities. The company also demonstrated proven success as a construction manager at risk, which ensures the project is completed on time and on budget.


“The downtown Community Education, Health and Wellness Center will provide immeasurable benefit to the Kansas City, Kan. community for generations to come, and McCownGordon Construction is thrilled to be a partner on this transformational project,” said Pat Contreras, vice president for business development at McCownGordon.


As envisioned, the “partner building” building will have four floors. The first floor will be home to Comunity America Credit Union for a community access center as well as a KCKCC welcome center, art gallery space, community meeting rooms, and a shared public lobby.


CommunityAmerica Credit Union will create a community access center, which will offer financial literacy support as well as access to financial services including financial coaching, job assistance, and financial education courses.  This will be the first community access center in Kansas with CommunityAmerica Credit Union.


“This project was a great fit for CommunityAmerica and our mission to deliver financial peace of mind to all of Kansas City,” said Lisa Ginter, CEO of CommunityAmerica. “Our collaboration with KCKCC and Swope Health will improve access to higher education, workforce development – and with our full commitment, access to a full suite of financial resources for local students and businesses alike.”


The remaining space on the first, second, and third floors will be dedicated educational classrooms and labs, offices, and public meeting spaces for KCKCC. KCKCC plans to offer admissions/financial aid support spaces, general education and science courses, biomanufacturing, art, commercial construction technology, Automated Engineering Technology, and administrative office professional programs at the site.  Additional offerings include English as a second language (ESL) and general educational development (GED) classes.


The fourth floor will be dedicated to Swope Health as a health and wellness space, with medical and dental clinics. 


“Swope Health is honored to work in such strong collaboration with KCKCC, CommunityAmerica Credit Union, PGAV Architects, and McCownGordon Construction,” said Jeron Ravin, J.D., president and CEO of Swope Health.


“As we reflect on this partnership and our role in it, providing a new medical and dental clinic in downtown KCK and offering education and internships that will connect students to meaningful careers in community health, we believe the Kansas City, Kansas Community Education, Health and Wellness Center will fill service gaps in our community and become a national model for achieving collective impact,” Ravin said.


In March 2023 PGAV was selected as the project architect after a competitive selection process.  PGAV has partnered with KCKCC and Swope Health on previous projects and was selected due to its extensive experience working with colleges and universities, health agencies, and banking institutions.


“PGAV has enjoyed working with the college, Swope Health, and CommunityAmerica on this uplifting project. The combining of education, physical and mental health, as well as financial support into one location, is a great way to build community,” said Steve Troester, principal at PGAV Architects. “This project will have the ability to meet individuals where they are at in their life’s journey and provide solutions in three critical ways to improve their lives.”

He continued: “At its core, a building becomes a tool for those that use it. Buildings are often a tool that allows people to work, learn, play, heal, gather, and transact. This groundbreaking project will serve many of these essential roles to improve the lives of others. PGAV is thrilled to be part of it.”


Design is underway and demolition will begin in early fall. Construction will commence this winter with the target of June 2025 for completion of the KCK Community Education, Health, and Wellness Center.


Swope Health Expands Operations with Leavenworth Pediatric Clinic

Swope Health, a leading voice in community health and premier provider of quality accessible healthcare in Kansas City, announces its acquisition of the assets of Lori Ann Golon, M.D., P.A., a Leavenworth, Kansas-based pediatric practice, effective Monday, July 10.

This marks Swope Health’s first expansion in Kansas since the 1980s, when its first clinic opened in Wyandotte County.

Dr. Lori Ann Golon, the primary physician at the practice, and the full clinic staff will join Swope Health and continue serving their roster of patients. Operating hours will remain unchanged: Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“For 23 years, Dr. Golon’s practice has provided quality, cost effective medical care to pediatric patients in the Leavenworth and Lansing communities. Relatedly, Swope Health seeks to eliminate barriers to care while helping kids and families develop healthy habits for a lifetime,” said Jeron Ravin, J.D., President and CEO of Swope Health. “We are thrilled to welcome the entire staff to Swope Health and feel honored to strengthen our service to Kansas families.”

Dr. Golon said: “Combining resources and services will allow us to provide our patients and families with the best in care and support. We are excited to join the Swope Health system of care clinics.”

Swope Health will host an open house at the clinic, located at 1001 6th Ave., #210, Leavenworth, Kan., 66048, for patients and members of the community on Friday, July 14, 3-5 p.m.

The public is invited to meet the clinicians, associates, and Swope Health leadership team.


Take the Test! Take the Next Step!

June 27 is National HIV Testing Day, as proclaimed by HIV.gov, an agency of the federal government, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Since 1995, the federal government has recognized this day each year to encourage everyone age 15 and up to get tested for HIV, learn your status, and get linked to care and treatment.

This annual promotion is part of a national goal to achieve a 90 percent reduction in new HIV infections by 2030 – to effectively end the HIV epidemic in the United States.

“This goal is achievable if we all take steps to get tested for HIV,” said Dr. Naiomi Jamal, Chief Health Officer for Swope Health. “Swope Health supports this national effort and encourages everyone age 15 and older to get tested. This screening is simple and can occur during your regular examination, or by appointment, at any Swope Health clinic.”

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an independent volunteer group of national experts in preventive medicine, has championed the guideline that all persons from 15 to 65 should be tested for HIV.

“Screening for HIV is so important because we are able to detect infection earlier, meaning we can prevent further transmission and provide linkages to the more effective treatments that are now available,” Dr. Jamal said. “This is a practical approach that makes sense for everyone and can improve the health of people nationwide.”

HIV Basics

HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. This is a virus that attacks the cells that help the body fight off infection. Left untreated, the virus can lead to AIDS (which is short for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). HIV spreads through human contact and bodily fluids, most commonly during sex or injection drug use.

There are about 1.2 million people in the US with HIV, and more than 10 percent of them are not aware they have the virus. HIV can affect anyone, but people of color, especially Black and Hispanic men, continue to be disproportionally affected.

HIV is preventable and treatable, which is why the federal government launched the campaign to eradicate HIV as an epidemic over the course of the next six years.

Take the Test!

Achieving the national goal starts simply – first, by increasing the number of people who are aware of their HIV status. That means encouraging more people to get tested.

The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion says EVERYONE age 15 to 65 should be tested at least once. People with higher risk of infection may need to be tested more often, for example if you:

  • Are pregnant
  • Have sex with someone who has HIV
  • Use drugs with needles (other than prescription medications)
  • Have a sexually transmitted disease
  • Have sex in exchange for money, drugs or other items

Then what?

If you test negative, your healthcare provider can help you maintain your healthy status. For example, if you are in a relationship with someone with HIV, there are medications to lower your risk of also getting infected with HIV.

Learn more about preventive approaches, including PrEP. (PrEP stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis – a medicine that lessens the risk of getting HIV.)

If you test positive, your healthcare provider can help you with linkages to care, including selecting a treatment option that will work best for you. There is no cure for HIV, but HIV can be managed with regular care, especially with an early diagnosis. Treatment works best when you commit to a schedule including regular medication and doctor appointments.

Learn more about HIV care.

Do you have questions about HIV testing, prevention, or care? Swope Health is here for you. Call 816-923-5800 to make an appointment and get answers.

Time to think about your child’s vision

Checking the calendar, you’ll find that June, May and August all have sponsors calling for Child Vision Awareness, or Children’s Eye Health and Safety, or Healthy Vision month. This looks like a good time to focus in on children’s vision care.

After all, summer months bring a change of perspective as kids spend time in places other than the classroom – whether that’s outdoors in bright sunshine or indoors in front of a screen. Kids probably aren’t thinking about their vision, but you should.

“Kids can have vision problems and not realize it,” says Dr. Vincent Parsons, Swope Health’s chair of optometry. “And even minor vision problems can lead to impacts in learning, reading, developing social skills and reaching their full potential.”

That’s why Swope Health, the American Optometric Association, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other professional and public health agencies recommend annual eye exams.

Another reason is the stress we inflict on our eyes – at all ages – by staring at screens aglow with videos, games, social media posts and so much more. Optometrists know this can produce what’s called “digital eye strain” or computer vision syndrome. This is a series of vision-related problems like eyestrain and blurred vision resulting from too much time in front of a computer, tablet, reader or mobile phone.

Digital eye strain can cause itchy eyes, Dr. Parsons noted, because staring at the screen makes the eyes work harder and can suppress the normal blink reflex, which acts to spread tears across the surface of the eye. Without keeping the eyes moist, they can dry out and feel scratchy.

“I get more complaints about dry eyes in children now than ever in my 30-plus years of practice,” Dr. Parsons said.

How can you tell if your kids are getting too much screen time?

Start with the guidelines: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends one hour of screen time a day as enough for children 2 to 12, and two hours a day is acceptable for teens and adults. Children under two shouldn’t have any screen time.

If your kids are using the screen more than those guidelines, watch for these signs:

  • Headache
  • Blurry eyes
  • Foggy brain or trouble focusing
  • Eye strain
  • Sleep issues


Granted, it might be hard to spot some of these. You can also look for related signs:

  • Poor posture
  • Behavior issues
  • Poor core strength
  • Decreased attention span
  • Difficulty in transitioning from one activity to another
  • Less self-control

You can also watch for changes in behavior, like these:

  • Less family interaction
  • Less creative or imagination play
  • Lack of energy
  • Easily distracted
  • Wanting more screen time
  • Moodiness or Increased frustration

What you can do

All of these factors demonstrate the many ways our society’s preoccupation with digital screens affect us, in ways beyond the stress to our vision, Dr. Parsons noted.

For example, the American Optometric Association notes that too much screen time can affect a child’s vocabulary and communication skills, leading to lower developmental readiness.

It’s worth taking to heart the guidance from pediatricians and optometrists to build a plan for your family’s use. For example, set up screen-free areas (like at the dinner table) and specific screen-free family times (walks, outdoor games, reading, etc.) Be sure to incorporate physical activity to make up for the lack of movement while using most digital media. Taking breaks from the screens is the No. 1 step.

And don’t forget to schedule an eye examination for the kids. Be sure to let the eye doctor know if your child exhibits any of the symptoms of too much screen time or any other vision problems.

Swope Health can coordinate your healthcare needs and make scheduling easy. Plan a back-to-school vision check-up at the same time you schedule a physical, immunization check-up, or dental exam for your kids. Call 816-923-5800 for your appointments.

Men, the month of June is all about YOU

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health proclaims June as Men’s Health Month, a time to encourage boys and men to take charge of their health.

Why a special focus on men? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the data on men’s health shows opportunity for improvement:

  • 2 percent of men age 18 and older are in fair or poor health,
  • 5 percent of men age 20 and over have obesity,
  • 9 percent of men age 20 and over have hypertension, measured high blood pressure or are taking medicine for high blood pressure,
  • And 23.3 percent of men age 18 and older meet the federal physical activity guidelines for aerobic and muscle-strengthening activity,



Swope Health stands ready to help boys and men take stock of your personal health status and work with you to improve your overall health.


“Let’s start with a physical checkup,” said Dr. Naiomi Jamal, Chief Health Officer. “We hear from men all the time that they just don’t think about their own health needs, or they don’t have time to come in for a check-up. We can make it easy for you, with options for check-ups at any of our eight primary care locations across the region.”


A physical check-up will give you an understanding your current vital signs and health status, and help you make plans and decisions for improving your health.  A check-up can also include preventive screenings, such as colorectal cancer screening, which is recommended for everyone age 45 and older. The idea is help catch small problems before they become health issues.


“Your Swope Health care team will support you in a great variety of ways,” she said. “It might include prescription medication or vaccinations, or ways to stop smoking, get more exercise, focus on better foods, or even tips for reducing stress and anxiety. We call this whole-person care, and it means there are many ways we can support you.”


For example, Swope Health focuses on caring for high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease, which is No. 1 cause of death for men. Other major risk factors are diabetes, obesity and being overweight, unhealthy diet and lack of physical activity.

Managing high blood pressure might include taking steps like these:

  • Getting regular blood pressure checks
  • Getting tested for diabetes
  • Prescribing medication for control of high blood pressure
  • Encouraging quitting smoking and limiting use of alcohol
  • Consulting with dietitian about healthy foods, meal planning, recipes and even shopping tips
  • Offering therapy or counseling for depression, substance abuse, anxiety, or stress reduction.


Additionally, Swope Health can help with transportation to our clinics and access to other resources and services, from help with Medicaid or the health insurance marketplace to food giveaways and introductions to our network of partner organizations.

Men, it’s your time

In time for Father’s Day, why not act now to schedule a physical check-up? Make it one thing that you do for yourself. And once you make your appointment, encourage your friends to do the same. Consider it your investment in a healthier tomorrow for you, your family and friends.

Family members, you can help!

Please encourage the men in your life to take care of themselves. Use Men’s Health Month as a way to talk with the men in your life about living the heathiest life possible. And be willing to help them with building new habits for healthier outcomes – those habits can help the whole family!

Call Swope Health at 816-923-5800 to schedule an appointment today.

One on One with Swope Health: Chris Goode

Swope Health announces a new edition of its podcast, One on One with Swope Health, featuring Chris Goode, founder and CEO of Ruby Jean’s Juicery, 3000 Troost Ave., and other locations in the Kansas City metro area.

Eric Wesson, managing editor and publisher of The Call, hosts the show’s conversations with Kansas Citians about issues of importance to the community’s health and wellbeing. In this conversation, Eric and Chris discuss healthy eating, and Chris relays the origin story of Ruby Jean’s – named for his beloved grandmother who died at age 61.

Chris said his grandmother didn’t trust doctors or the health care system and as a result, died of Type II diabetes, a preventable and manageable condition. When Chris discovered juice cleansing as a transformative health care tactic, he became a health care advocate and educator. The juice bar, launched in 2015, is in honor of his grandmother.

He served as a member of the Kansas City Parks and Recreation board of commissioners and was responsible for leading the charge to rename the J.C. Nichols Boulevard on the Country Club Plaza. The campaign succeeded in removing Nichols’ name from both the street and the fountain on the Plaza.

Chris discusses his earliest forms of community engagement and civic action, starting out volunteering on Janice Ellis’ campaign for mayor, supporting the Gillis Home, bringing LeBron James to Kansas City for fundraising. He describes an “insatiable appetite” to pour himself into the city.

His current initiative is the renaming of Troost Avenue to Truth Avenue. The street is currently named for Dr. Benoist Troost, the first resident physician of Kansas City and the builder of the city’s first hotel. He also was a slaveowner who owned six people. The 11-mile avenue named for him has also become synonymous with the dividing line of Kansas City, a legacy of redlining.

Chris explains his approach to making the case for the name change, starting with an educational exhibit at Ruby Jean’s. He has held collaboration sessions, virtual and in-person with stakeholders and the community, and he plans a mailing to every address on Troost Avenue. He is working with city council members to bring the change, using a petition with 15,000 signatures to rename the street.

“Truth pushes us forward,” he said. “There’s only one truth. Truth is universal, not divisive.” He argues that the name change will flip the narrative about the dividing line and serve instead to unite people.

Learn more about Chris Goode and his passion for driving positive change in this conversation.

Listen now:

YouTube: https://youtu.be/zLJWqFt4rj4

Spotify: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/swopehealth/episodes/One-on-One-with-Swope-Health-Chris-Goode-e25f7cp

Swope Health presents a Health Equity Town Hall, June 15

Swope Health invites you to join us for the second event in our Social Drivers Series, a Health Equity Town Hall, Thursday, June 15, at the Kansas City Public Library, Plaza Branch, 4801 Main St., Kansas City.

The event begins with a reception at 5 pm, followed by the discussion starting at 6 pm in the Truman Forum Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines social drivers of health as the nonmedical factors that influence health outcomes. They are the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live and age and the wider set of forces and systems shaping the conditions of daily life.

These factors are broadly categorized as:

  • Economic policies and systems, impacting economic inclusion and stability
  • Education and access to education
  • Access to healthcare and quality of healthcare
  • Housing and the built environment, including access to clean water, green space, healthy food
  • Social justice policies, political systems, racism

This discussion brings together an expert panel to address Kansas City’s record in healthcare access and examine current data on disparities in healthcare among people of color vs white individuals, and to examine policies and initiatives to drive change. The discussion will be moderated by Ruth Ramsey, publisher and editor in chief of Our Health Matters, a Kansas City-based magazine offering health and wellness guidance for more than 18 years.

Panelists are:

Jeron Ravin, J.D., president and CEO of Swope Health, the voice of community health in Kansas City. Swope Health annually serves more than 44,000 patients at 16 centers throughout the greater Kansas City metropolitan area. Ravin is an advocate for health equity and works with federal, state and local leaders to advance policies for a more just and equitable society. He also serves on the board of directors of the National Association of Community Health Centers, Missouri Primary Care Association, Research Medical Center, KC Civic Council and many other professional associations and charitable organizations.

Sharla A. Smith, Ph.D., MPH, associate professor of population health in the School of Medicine. Dr. Smith is a health services and systems researcher whose primary research is maternal and infant health disparities, women cancer disparities, and community engagement. She is the co-founder of Kansas Sisters and Brothers for Healthy Infants and the founder of the Kansas Birth Equity Network. Dr. Smith is passionate about developing a culture of birth equity through community engagement, empowerment, and education.

Carla Gibson, vice president of programs for REACH Healthcare Foundation, is responsible for developing strategic community investments designed to implement REACH’s mission of advancing health equity in its six-county service area. Gibson joined REACH in 2006 and has led the foundation’s health equity investments. Gibson also is an appointed member of the National Rural Health Association’s Health Equity Council, the Women’s Executive Leadership Council of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, and a steering committee member of the Missouri Council on Aging.

Michael Wells is senior special collections librarian for the Kansas City Public Library’s Missouri Valley Collection. As a local history and genealogy research specialist, Wells has written extensively about Kansas City’s segregated past, including topics of redlining, jazz in Kansas City, civil rights, urban renewal,  healthcare access and more.

Please plan on joining us for this candid Town Hall discussion reviewing Kansas City’s access to healthcare, with a focus on history, current state, and work to bring about healthcare equity to all in Kansas City.


Celebrating Excellence: Swope Health Associate Awards

Laura Frisbee

Laura Frisbee, Swope Health Patient Access Awardee

Laura serves as Dental’s lead CSR at Swope Health Central and goes above and beyond in taking on new initiatives. When a scheduling system was piloted for a year, which created an entirely new template for our dentists, she championed its implementation and dove in to ensure that the program is fully and properly used. Without being asked, Laura trained the call center on its use and continues to orient others to the system to ensure that dentists are scheduled correctly. She consistently helps guide patients through their dental appointments and is often complimented on her coordination and professionalism at the front desk. Likewise, we are grateful for her expertise, skill, dedication and contributions.

Congratulations, Laura!

Delana Pickens

Delana Pickens, Swope Health Patient Experience Awardee

Recently, a Nurse Care Manager from one of our community partners described how Delana, who serves as a CSR in Independence, went above and beyond to assist in taking care of a patient. Delana was commended for ensuring that requests made on behalf of the patient, who deals with multiple physical challenges, were addressed—even speaking with a nurse to be certain that the patient’s needs were met. It speaks volumes that our community partner wanted to be sure that Delana was recognized by management and by all of Swope Health.

Beyond the external acknowledgment, Delana is described by her peers as one who goes above and beyond consistently. She demonstrates a desire to make the patients feel that they are her top priority. She calls patients to get questions before their appointments, and patients themselves have commented how much they appreciate that she takes the time to confirm that their information is correct. Because of her diligence, wait times are decreased. Delana communicates thoughtfully, follows up with patients as promised, and provides helpful information to patients about what to expect.

Congratulations, Delana!

Rush Patel (left) with Angela Smart, who assisted Jeron Ravin with handing out the awards.

Rush Patel, Swope Health Support Awardee

Rush Patel stepped up during the last year to work on several non-traditional federal/state/county funding sources for Swope Health. As an accounting supervisor, he is an experienced, compliance-focused associate who works with diligence and attention to details.  Rush is responsive to inquiries and responds with thorough analysis and research, while also being customer-oriented and approachable. In order to get work done, Rush often stays late, beyond routine business hours. Due to his work ethic, Swope Health has not missed a reporting deadline for any of the grants that he manages.

Congratulations, Rush!

Angela Smart (left), and award winner Leticia Shelton (right).

Leticia Shelton, Clinical Support Awardee

Leticia has served as a nurse at Swope Health for several years. Over the past two years, in the absence of a clinic manager in adult medicine, she has taken on a lead nurse role and has made herself available to the care team, managers, patients, and support services, including compliance, HR, and IT, to help bridge the gap between clinical service delivery and administrative tasks.

Leticia’s providers and care team have often said that they wouldn’t know what to do without her. Still, she remains open to feedback and is genuinely committed to making care visible at Swope Health – particularly, within the Adult Medicine Clinic.

Congratulations, Leticia!

Dr. Khiara Drew

Dr. Khiara Drew, Dental Provider of the Year

In the past three years that  Dr. Drew has been with Swope Health, she has grown in her knowledge, investment, and engagement in community health, as well as in her leadership. She serves as Dental Clinic Director of Swope Health Wyandotte, and is consistently among the highest of all dental providers in producing and customer satisfaction scores. Additionally, due to her influence, her team has developed a very cohesive rapport and positive culture. Dr. Drew is very invested in KCK/the Wyandotte community, and watching her growth in her role and dedication to the community has been particularly satisfying to observe.

Congratulations, Dr. Drew!

Please note: During the ceremony, Dr. Drew’s name was unintentionally missed during the formal remarks. Click here to see President and CEO Jeron Ravin, JD, present her award.

Sonia Kalia

Sonia Kalia, Behavioral Health Provider of the Year

Sonia serves as a psychiatric nurse practitioner in Behavioral Health and brings the unique experience of having served in primary care before transitioning to Swope Health’s Behavioral Health division. She’s the first associate to model the movement of practitioners between divisions, and her expertise in primary care, coupled with her experience in behavioral health care, enables her to provide whole person care to Swope Health’s patients.

Sonia is forward thinking and inventive. When she was still a student, her capstone project centered on providing an app to patients that allowed them to more easily share their medication information with providers. She used her capstone project to enhance and modernize a similarly-themed Shark Tank project at Swope Health, and the program was implemented. This is one of the many ways that Sonia uses her experience and exposure to improve operations and the patient experience at our health center.

Congratulations, Sonia!

Taylor Walker, P.A.

Taylor Walker, Medical Provider of the Year

Taylor currently serves at our Northland Clinic. During her time at Swope Health, her dedication to providing quality patient care has always been on display. Feedback from community partners, most recently at Maple Woods, is that she is a provider who goes above and beyond for her patients and the community. Since moving to the Northland, Taylor’s – and by consequence, the clinic’s – quality numbers have shown significant improvement. She also garners exemplary patient experience scores and is always in pursuit of making care visible.

Congratulations, Taylor!

Tamika Reliford

Tamika Reliford, Volunteer of the Year

Tamika has represented Swope Health at many community events throughout the years. She is known for being positive, and for greeting people with a big smile. Not only does she make care visible in her day-to-day encounters as a Community Outreach Specialist, and as a volunteer, but Tamika recently represented Swope Health before a national audience, as one of the associates featured in our article about Medicaid unwinding in the New York Times.

Congratulations, Tamika!

Robert Kenemer, Outreach and Intake Case Manager, and Alina Gargesh, Outreach Case Manager, accepting on the program’s behalf.

Outreach Program, Clinic of the Year

Despite being adversely impacted by COVID-19 over the past year, the program has increased their numbers and provided care to more patients this year. The outreach clinic has also accommodated overflow from adult medicine and continued to provide care to an extremely vulnerable patient population. They’ve gone out in community and worked with multiple partners to increase access and improve health outcomes. The team is always open to trying new and innovative approaches to patient care and integrates well across Behavioral Health and medical service lines.

Congratulations, Outreach Clinic!

*Includes Medical and Behavioral Health Services