Thank a Medical Assistant Today!

medicalassistantsIt’s time to give thanks to the Medical Assistants among us!

The American Association of Medical Assistants sponsors Medical Assistants Recognition Day on Wednesday, Oct. 19. The whole week is set aside to show appreciation to Medical Assistants.

Medical Assistants are health professionals who support the work of physicians and other health professionals. Medical Assistants are cross-trained to perform medical and administrative tasks. Some of the things Medical Assistants do to make clinics run smoothly:

  • Meet patients in the clinic exam rooms, taking medical history and vital signs
  • Prepare patients for an exam or lab tests
  • Serve as an advocate for the patient, sharing information between the provider and the patient
  • Provide patient education about health matters, including lab results, taking medications and other health information
  • Coordinate with clinic back offices, including ensuring HIPAA compliance, managing insurance processes, working with the medical records
  • In general, take steps to support the needs of patients and physicians.

“Practicing medicine takes a whole team,” said Lee Champion, SHS Director of Nursing. “We couldn’t deliver high quality care across our clinics without the service and dedication of our Medical Assistants.”

Swope Health Services is honored to recognize these hard-working and patient-focused professionals in our clinics. Please join us in honoring them by leaving a comment. We’ll make sure they get to read them.

“He Helped Save My Life. I’m Now Cancer Free.” – An SHS Success Story

Erma Billingsley felt awful. She had a pain in her stomach, and had been lying around feeling sick for several weeks, unable to care much for herself or her big cat Buttercup.

She had gone to an urgent care center where they told her it was constipation. They sent her home with a laxative.

Her condition continued to worsen. With help from her granddaughter, the 83-year-old came to Swope Health Services.

Dr. Ratnesh Kumar

Dr. Ratnesh Kumar

That’s where Ms. Billingsley saw her primary care provider, Dr. Ratnesh Kumar, who realized that she wasn’t just feeling bad. He found a serious problem – a mass in her abdomen – and sent her immediately to the hospital for emergency care.

It turned out to be a tumor. Cancer.

Ms. Billingsley was admitted to the hospital and was in surgery the following morning. Her surgeon removed both her appendix, which was leaking and damaged, and the tumor near her colon.

“I’m really pleased with Dr. Kumar,” Ms. Billingsley said.  “He helped save my life. I’m now cancer-free. I praise God that everything came out all right.”

Ms. Billingsley spent about a week in the hospital before she was released. She had a second surgery a couple of weeks later, which confirmed that she was cancer-free.

She praised Dr. Kumar for his care, as well as Research Medical Hospital and Bishop Spencer Place during her rehabilitation.

“I was in the intensive care units and I really appreciated the care I got,” she said. “And at rehab, too. Everyone – from my therapist to the housekeeper – was just great.”

Ms. Billingsley said she is grateful for the care she continues to receive from Swope Health Services and Dr. Kumar.

“Everyone is so good to me,” she said.

At SHS, we welcome new patients and want to help you be healthy. Call 816-923-5800 to make an appointment, even a same-day appointment.

Best Time to Prepare for an Emergency? Now!

femanpm2016_logoSeptember is designated as National Preparedness Month by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The goal of this campaign is to raise awareness and encourage planning for an emergency – any kind of emergency.

At Swope Health Services, emergency planning is part of the everyday job for Don Rau, Manager of Facilities.

“It’s important to plan ahead so you don’t have to think too much when an emergency gets here,” said Don. “In my career and military experience, it’s practice, practice, practice until it becomes second nature.”

Emergency procedures at SHS address how to handle power failures, disruption of water service, tornado strikes, winter storms, and fires, just to name a few. SHS uses a code system to train associates to respond to scenarios like a bomb or gun threat, infectious disease threat or hazardous material spill.

Planning includes conducting drills and then assessing how well everyone responded. After an actual emergency, there’s also a de-briefing meeting where the responsible team examines what went right, wrong, and what could be done differently, Don said. Then the emergency plan – a 40-plus page document – is then updated with the new process.

Each one of us can apply this same kind of thinking, Don said.

“Every individual is responsible for their own safety,” he said. “The more you think about it in advance, the better off you will be when something unexpected happens.”

Here’s some steps you can take:

  • Teach your children how to call 9-1-1 and explain a problem. School-age children and teen-agers should know basic information about how to reach members of the family, knowing, for example, where Mom and Dad work or how to reach a relative.
  • For a fire or an emergency that requires getting out of the house, you can assign a spot for the family to meet – maybe at a neighbor’s house. Work out the fastest ways out of the house, and consider having a rope ladder to get out from the second story. Be sure to test your smoke detectors and change batteries twice a year, Don added.
  • To plan for a situation that requires quick action, help members of your family think about what to grab and what to leave. Keep a backpack loaded with a first aid kit, flashlight, batteries. Have a supply of water on hand, plus food. Blankets and camping materials can be useful, too.

The idea is to make a plan now, so everyone in your family can be as prepared as possible, Don said. He recommends checking the Department of Homeland Security, which has a wealth of information about different kinds of risks – from fires to floods, chemical dangers to earthquakes.

Resources for YOUR Plan:

SHS is a resource for the community, providing health care services, behavioral health services, and connections to many other support resources. Call us at 816-923-5800 to make an appointment.

Help Us Celebrate National Nurses Day on Friday, May 6th!

National Nurses Week

Join Swope Health Services as we offer special thanks to our nursing team and celebrate National Nurses Day on Friday, May 6.

At SHS, our nurses will receive a special card and a gift to mark our appreciation of their work in caring for patients and advocating on their behalf. Our nurses will be recognized in an afternoon event, featuring a program on Florence Nightingale.

National Nurses Day, sponsored by the American Nurses Association, is also the start of National Nurses Week, which ends on May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale.

Do you know the story of Florence Nightingale? She was a real person who lived from 1820 to 1910, mostly in England. She’s known as the founder of the profession of nursing, responsible for pioneering nursing practices and reforming health care with an emphasis on hygiene and sanitation.

Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale

She was a strong-willed social activist and a dedicated nurse. In 1854, England was battling Russia in the Crimean War near the Black Sea. Thousands of British soldiers were wounded, with more than 18,000 suffering in poorly staffed military hospitals. War officials asked Florence for help, and she organized a corps of nurses and quickly traveled to the hospital at Constantinople.

According to the Florence Nightingale Biography on The, she found horrid conditions — the hospital was erected on a cesspool, water was contaminated, the facility was overrun with rodents and bugs, and infectious diseases like typhoid and cholera were rampant.

She set about cleaning the facility, enlisting even patients to help with scrubbing. She led her staff in caring non-stop for the patients and earned the nickname “the Lady with the Lamp” as she made rounds at night. She is credited with reducing the hospital’s death rate by two-thirds.

She later wrote about her experiences, and her work sparked a reform in nursing and hospital practices and earned her prizes and honors from the British government and soldiers. She became a revered symbol of the profession and she remains an inspiration for her leadership in preventing disease while delivering compassionate care for the suffering.

Please join us saying “Thank you” to all who follow her in serving in this critically important profession, at SHS and across the Kansas City region.

Do you have a story about a favorite nurse? Please share it with us here. Or plan to come to Swope Health Services and meet our amazing nurses! Call 816-923-5800 to schedule an appointment.

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National Doctors’ Day: Thank a Provider Today!

National Doctors' DayMarch 30 is National Doctors’ Day, the annual celebration of physicians, their work and contributions to the community. It’s a day to say thank you to our physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants for all that they do for us. At Swope Health Services, we’re planning to recognize them with greeting cards and cookies.

We invite all patients to join us in thanking our physicians and providers for helping us live healthier lives.

If you’d like to share a message for our providers, you can do so in the comment box below or on our Facebook page.

The cards are fitting, since the first Doctors’ Day — March 30, 1933 — was celebrated by mailing greeting cards to physicians and their spouses and by putting flowers on the gravesites of deceased doctors. A red carnation is the symbol of Doctors’ Day.

providersKansas City-based Hallmark Cards provides a history of Doctor’s Day and offers greetings for the annual observation. Hallmark Cards reports that March 30 was selected as the date because it is the anniversary of the first use of general anesthetic in surgery.  Dr. Crawford Long of Jefferson, Georgia, used ether for the first time in 1842 to remove a tumor from a patient’s neck.

Doctors’ Day was officially made a national day of celebration in 1991 with a resolution signed by President George H.W. Bush. The resolution, in part, states:

Whereas society owes a debt of gratitude to physicians for the contributions of physicians in enlarging the reservoir of scientific knowledge, increasing the number of scientific tools, and expanding the ability of health professionals to use the knowledge and tools effectively in the never-ending fight against disease;

and Whereas society owes a debt of gratitude to physicians for the sympathy and compassion of physicians in ministering to the sick and in alleviating human suffering:

Now, therefore, be it resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That March 30, 1991, is designated as ‘National Doctors Day.’

Providers share in our deepest joys and sorrows, providing guidance, care and empathy at all stages of life. Please join us celebrating our extraordinary physicians and providers today — and every day.

Thank you, providers!

Have you been touched by a doctor’s care? Please share your story with us here. If you haven’t seen a health care provider in a while, please take time to call us to schedule an appointment at 816-923-5800 — even a same-day walk-in visit.

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SHS Provider Day

Leap into Patient Safety Week!

The week of March 13 – 19 is Patient Safety Week. A week to encourage everyone to learn more about and celebrate the daily efforts needed to improve patient safety.

Swope Health Services recognizes patient safety as a public health issue.

According to the National Patient Safety Foundation, medical errors cause the deaths of 44,000 to 98,000 patients a year.

What Swope Health Services is doing to improve patient safety:

  • We adhere to safety and quality standards and track our progress
  • We train all of our associates on proper safety practices and quality initiatives
  • We conduct safety audits and drills

As an organization certified by the Joint Commission, Swope Health Services undergoes rigorous audits and evaluations to ensure its processes meet quality standards.

PatientSafetyDayThe Center for Patient Safety and the National Patient Safety Foundation drive this campaign and encourage all of us to remember patient safety all year around.  And you can join us in celebrating Patient Safety Week by wearing the color Purple.

What you can do to help:

  • Learn about your responsibilities as a patient
  • Communicate openly and honestly
  • Give a complete and truthful medical history
  • Request information and/or clarification if you do not understand
  • Actively participate in decision making of treatment recommendations
  • Agree upon goals of therapy and treatment
  • Comply and follow through with the agreed-upon treatment program

Be safe, and have a wonderful Patient Safety week! Remember, we are all patients.

For more information, please visit:

Have questions about patient safety or your responsibilities as a patient? Leave us a comment below. Stay engaged with your health care team at SHS – call 816-923-5800 for an appointment or same-day visit.


Thank You, Medical Assistants!

MedAssistantsDayby LeAna Champion, Director of Nursing, Swope Health Services

Here’s a shout out to all the Medical Assistants at Swope Health Services (SHS), just in time for Medical Assistants Recognition Week, October 19-23, 2015.

At SHS, our 45 Medical Assistants, or MAs for short, work in all of our clinics performing clinical and administrative duties, working alongside physicians and nurses.

It’s likely you’ve encountered an MA arranging your lab work, documenting your medical history, drawing blood and generally, serving as a member of your health care team.

The MA position is projected as one of the fastest-growing occupations in the United States, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the American Association of Medical Assistants.

If you happen to be visiting any of our SHS clinics, this is a great time to give your MA a little appreciation! Or leave us a comment here – we love hearing from you.


Health Insurance Open Enrollment Is Coming

OPEN ENROLLMENTWhen the Swope Health Services Outreach & Enrollment team launched in 2013, the department set a goal of about 7,600 encounters.

Each encounter is a meeting with someone who had questions about the Affordable Care Act (ACA), what insurance subsidies are available, or how to sign up for insurance and other benefits.

Now, more than 30,000 encounters later, this team has won attention from federal officials for its top-ranked performance:

  • SHS was the No. 1 performer among all recipients of a National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association grant in 2014. SHS enrolled 4,787 people in affordable insurance in 2014.
  • Former Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius sent a congratulatory letter to Karimah Baptiste, SHS Manager of Outreach & Enrollment, thanking her for “great work on a daily basis.”
  • Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack held a press conference at SHS last November, using SHS to promote the open enrollment opportunity to sign up for affordable insurance at

Right now, Baptiste and her team of six Certified Application Counselors are getting ready for a new open enrollment season, which starts November 1, 2015.

Anyone who obtained insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace will receive a letter from their insurance provider advising of any changes to their plan.

If you had a plan and liked it, and it is still available, you can re-enroll. Some plans, however, will have changes — perhaps in coverage areas, provider networks, or rates.

“I want everyone to explore their options,” Baptiste said. “There may be new marketplace plans or other changes. We are here to help with that exploration.”

The Outreach & Enrollment team will meet with individuals and families, in person and taking as much time as necessary. The service helps individuals compare plans, select levels of coverage and co-payment, and sign up for insurance or other services.

Do you have questions about the ACA or your own health insurance status? Call SHS Outreach & Enrollment at 816-599-5590 to schedule an appointment.

The Summer Sizzler: SHS Teamwork Creates a Picnic to Remember!

Teamwork is at the heart of Swope Health Services. Associates proved that recently in a week full of challenges.

First, associates came in to work on Monday morning to learn they would be tested by surveyors from The Joint Commission, an independent organization that assesses safety and adherence to quality standards. (See more about this here.)

summer sizzlerThen, after the assessors completed their four-day exam, a well-timed picnic — the Summer Sizzler — beckoned. Except when the Summer Sizzler organizing team arrived that Friday morning to set up, the location looked nothing like the serene park they knew. As a result of storms the night before, it looked more like a war zone. Tree limbs and debris were everywhere and there was no electricity at the Swope Park shelter.

No matter. Associates took charge and cleaned up. They improvised and played music through an associate’s car and speakers and orchestrated a great event. There were all the staples of a great picnic — hamburgers, hot dogs, summer salads and side dishes, cookies, lemonade and iced tea. Associates competed for prizes in carnival and field games, including a water balloon relay race, sponge race and toilet paper race. There was even dancing and pick-up basketball games.

Why is the event important?

“The Summer Sizzler is a time for us to get away and get to know each other better,” said Robin Wheeler, Vice President-Human Resources. “We get a chance to build camaraderie by teaming up in friendly competition with people that we don’t usually get to work with.”

SummerSizzlerCamaraderie is a key factor in building employee engagement. According to the Harvard Business Review: “It is also about creating a common sense of purpose and the mentality that we are in it together. …In short, camaraderie promotes a group loyalty that results in a shared commitment to and discipline toward the work. Camaraderie at work can create ‘esprit de corps,’ which includes mutual respect, sense of identity, and admiration to push for hard work and outcomes.”

Dozens of studies show that when employees care about each other and the organization, they are happier, provide better customer care and are more productive. Gallup, for example, has been measuring employee engagement since the 1990s and found that companies with highly engaged workforces outperform their peers. This year’s Gallup survey noted that close friendships at work boost employee satisfaction by more than 50 percent.

So, events that build teamwork and camaraderie, like the Summer Sizzler, are investments in developing even stronger teamwork among our associates. And they are also investments in our commitment to you — to provide SHS patients with the best possible care.

Swope Health Services Undergoes A Rigorous Quality Assessment

Joint CommissionThe Joint Commission, an independent accreditation organization, made an unannounced visit to Swope Health Services recently.

For four days, from June 22-25, assessors performed a rigorous examination of SHS’ clinics and services, checking for adherence to quality standards and regulations. They interviewed SHS associates, providers and patients; observed patients as they were treated; and reviewed medical records and policies.

The assessors even looked into closets and cabinets, checking for proper inventories and correctly functioning devices.

It might be an understatement to say that the assessors were thorough and demanding.

But that challenge, an independent assessment of our commitment to excellence in care at all locations, is just what SHS wanted. And it was exactly what SHS associates have spent months preparing for — the chance to demonstrate our every day commitment to quality care.

The Joint Commission provides accreditation to facilities with high quality patient care, assessing the delivery of care, policies and practices, and adherence to safety and quality standards. An estimated 2,100 organizations maintain this accreditation, which is awarded for a three-year period.

SHS first received The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval more than 20 years ago. After initial accreditation is granted, SHS is revisited every three years to make sure standards are still being met. These ongoing visits give patients assurance that SHS continues to perform at its highest levels.