Show some Heart – Wear Red!

heart logoFebruary is American Heart Month!

Swope Health Services will participate in National Wear Red Day on Friday, Feb. 2, in support of the campaign to raise awareness of how heart disease affects women.

Here are some facts about heart disease, stroke and women:

  • Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women. Every 80 seconds, a woman is killed by heart disease and stroke. That’s 1 in 3 deaths among women each year.
  • Eighty percent of these deaths can be prevented with education and action – steps like managing blood pressure, controlling cholesterol, reducing blood sugar, being more active, eating better, losing weight and stopping smoking.
  • Warning signs for women are not the same as in men. The most common symptom of heart attack in men and women is chest pain or discomfort. But women are more likely to experience shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting, and back or jaw pain as symptoms.
  • Stroke disproportionally affects African-Americans. African-American women have almost two times the risk of stroke than Caucasians, and are more likely to die at an earlier age when compared to women of other ethnicities.
  • Of African-American women age 20 or older, 49 percent have heart diseases. But only 1 in 5 African-American women will believe she is personally at risk.

“That’s why we love to see everyone to wearing red on Friday, Feb. 2,” said Bobby Mickens, SHS Director of Nursing. “We want everyone to take a moment to think about heart disease and learn about your own heart health. Especially women, who are less likely to be aware of their own risks for heart disease.”

Wearing red is a start, but please don’t stop there, she added.

“What’s the No. 1 thing you can do for yourself?” Bobby asks. “The answer: Schedule a physical exam.”

In this examination, she said, your provider will check your blood pressure, height and weight. There may be other screenings, like cholesterol and blood sugar levels, if you haven’t had those checked in a couple of years. Once you know your numbers, your provider can help you take steps to control your risks of heart disease.

Call us at 816-923-5800 to make an appointment.

Here are some key resources from the American Heart Association:

See you in Red!


Go Red for Women Media Room


Think Pink: October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

takeaction_infographic_africanamericanGet ready to see lots of pink!

The American Cancer Society has designated October “Breast Cancer Awareness Month,” and SHS wants to make sure you’re in the know.

Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women, affecting one in eight women in the United States, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. It’s the second-leading cause of cancer death in women.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages women to learn about their family medical history because some women are at a higher risk for breast cancer because of genetic factors.

Getting a screening or mammogram regularly can lower the risk of death from breast cancer.

Most women with average risk – that is, women without a specific family or genetic history of breast cancer – should talk with their provider about when to start screenings and how frequently to get them.

For average-risk women from 50 to 74 years old, the recommended screening is every two years.

From Monday, Oct. 16, to Friday, Oct. 20, getting a mammogram is even easier.

If it’s been at least a year since your last screening, you are 40 years or older and have a provider’s order for a mammogram, you can walk in for a regular screening during these hours:

  • 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday
  • 9 a.m. to noon on Wednesday

Regular fees apply.

Bobby Mickens, SHS Interim Director of Nursing and Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner, notes that mammograms are covered by most health insurance programs.

Women who don’t have insurance may be eligible for other programs that cover mammograms. She encourages women to talk with providers about any concerns about breast cancer.

“Breast health is part of our regular well-women visits and it is a topic I like to raise with all my women patients,” she said. “I want every woman to know her own breasts, so if you see something abnormal you recognize it and contact us.”

SHS provides a full range of women’s health services including mammograms, well-woman exams, family planning and pre-natal care. To make an appointment, call 816-923-5800.


Men: You are NOT Exempt

You might not realize that men also have breast tissue and can be diagnosed with breast cancer.

After all, cancer can appear in nearly any cells, including those in the tissue around a man’s nipples.

The American Cancer Society says breast cancer is about 100 times less common among men than women. Men have a one in 1,000 chance of getting breast cancer. In 2017, according to the American Cancer Society, about:

  • 2,470 new cases of breast cancer in men will be diagnosed
  • 500 men will die from breast cancer

Men’s symptoms of breast cancer are the same as women’s, including an abnormal lump or swelling, or unusual discharge from the nipple.

Sometimes, because men have less breast tissue, the cancer can reach lymph nodes more quickly, even before a lump can be detected. That’s why it’s important to be aware.

Men, if you see any breast changes, talk with a health care professional.

We are available: call 816-923-5800 for an appointment.

It’s Time To Think About Your Heart

heartFebruary is full of reminders about love – there’s Cupid with his bow and arrow and the color red splashed on just about everything.

There’s even National Wear Red Day, February 3, just to remind you to think about your heart.

Did you know heart disease…

  • is the No. 1 killer of women, causing 1 in 3 deaths each year?
  • strikes more women than men?
  • kills more women than all forms of cancer – combined?

The American Heart Association estimates 80 percent of all cardiovascular disease may be preventable.

Bobby Mickens, Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner and Director of Women’s Services, says misconceptions about heart disease, especially in women, can lead to disastrous consequences. Symptoms for women can be subtle and might go unrecognized — shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, and back or jaw pain.

“There are choices you can make to keep your heart healthy,” says Bobby. Here are a few of her tips and recommendations:

  • Learn more about your family’s history of heart disease. This is important because your risk for heart disease is strongly linked to your family history. Know who suffered from it and who may have passed away because of it and at what age.
  • Come in for a wellness exam. A well-woman exam includes an assessment of your physical health – your cholesterol, body-mass index, blood sugar, weight and blood pressure. Combined, those results can assess your risks of heart disease or stroke.
  • Build a “get healthy” plan with your healthcare provider. There are things you can do to improve your health, such as taking steps to stop smoking, increasing your amount of exercise, eating healthier and controlling blood pressure and diabetes.

“We have programs to help with every step of your healthcare plan, to help you achieve optimal health,” said Bobby. “Let’s work together to get healthier.”


Why not take the first step today?  Call 816-923-5800 to schedule your well-woman appointment.

Seeing Pink? Here’s What You Need to Know About Breast Cancer Awareness

It’s hard to miss the pink banners and ribbons and clothing everywhere – including in the NFL, where referees and players are wearing pink shoes, cleats, uniforms and headgear to support awareness of breast cancer.

October is the month for worldwide Breast Cancer Awareness, which encourages women to get screened for cancer and be aware of the risks.

Breast cancer, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women worldwide. One in eight women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. That’s more than 246,000 women each year.

Bobby Mickens

Bobby Mickens

At SHS, Bobby Mickens, Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner and Director of Women’s Services, asks women age 40 and older to get screened annually with a mammogram and encourages all women to perform regular monthly self-checks in case there is a need for earlier testing.

“My No. 1 question is always, ‘Do you do self-exams?’,” she said. “I want you to develop a relationship with your breasts. This is also referred to as breast awareness. Learning your breast can significantly assist in the process of early detection. Knowing how your breast normally look and feel will let you know when you should alert your healthcare provider and schedule an appointment.”

Bobby says you don’t have to be a pro to do your own check. Her tips:

  • Do a self-check at the end of your period, every month. This is when your breast will be their most normal. If you no longer have periods, still do the check at the same time each month.
  • Look and feel for anything unusual – a lump, discharge, or any changes in the size of the breast or areola. Also note any changes in the skin such as flaking or redness.
  • While performing these checks make sure to include checking your armpit. That’s because the breast tissue extends around your side, under your arm.
  • If you find anything out of the ordinary, call us to have it checked.

nbcf-fundraiser-hope-balloon“Two of the biggest issues we have in getting our patients to come in for screenings are lack of knowledge about the need for screening, and fear that something might be wrong,” she said.

Often women will find a lump but try to ignore it, hoping it goes away, wasting precious time working up courage to get it assessed. Bobby encourages women to act quickly to deal with any potential issues as early as possible. Early detection is critical in providing the best outcomes for breast cancer patients, because in its earliest stages, breast cancer is 98 percent curable.

“The best way to protect yourself is through early screening and detection,” she said. “I urge every woman to pay close attention to those screenings and get them as recommended by your provider. They save lives.”

Additional facts about breast cancer from the American Cancer Society:

  • Early detection of breast cancer improves chances that treatment will work.
  • There are an estimated 2.8 million breast cancer survivors in the United States.
  • Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death in women (only lung cancer kills more women)
  • Don’t forget about MEN! Though rare, the lifetime risk of a male getting breast cancer is 1 in 1,000.


Call SHS at 816-923-5800 for your well-woman exam today. We’re always here to answer your questions. 

Straight Talk About Women’s Health Issues

andrea allenAndrea Allen spends every working day talking with women at Swope Health Services’ OB/GYN clinic.

Women, so often responsible for the health and wellbeing of others, can sometimes pay less attention to their own needs.

Andrea, SHS Certified Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner, likes to remind women to listen to the feedback from their own bodies, especially as they undergo natural life changes and respond to environmental situations.

Here are some of the top questions and challenges she addresses regularly with women:

Why do I need a check-up or a well-woman exam?
If you’re in good shape, let’s celebrate that and document your vital signs as a baseline. We perform only the screenings that make sense for you, at whatever age and stage of life you are in. If you’re not feeling good, let’s take care of that.

I don’t want to think about breast cancer.
We know that people get really scared and worked up about breast screenings. But you’re missing out if you’re not getting a regular exam. The screenings, over time, give a good view of changes for comparison. That’s important, especially if there’s any family history with breast cancer. If you come every year, you’ll get just what you need.

What is family planning?
This just means coming to the clinic to discuss if you want to have a baby. If you don’t want a pregnancy right now, we can discuss birth control options. If you do want a pregnancy, we can help you get ready by educating you on important steps to take such as stopping smoking and drinking, eating fruits and vegetables, and starting on a prenatal vitamin, for example.

motherI’m having a baby.
Great! We’re with you throughout the journey. We want you to keep all of your appointments to take care of your health and the health of your baby. Please take your prenatal vitamin every day as this helps you and baby.

And by the way, that ultrasound scan at 18 to 22 weeks into your pregnancy? The main reason we need it is to look at all of the baby’s parts (brain, heart, spine, bowel, etc.), to make sure your baby is growing correctly. During that ultrasound you might get to find out the sex of the baby — that’s a bonus.

I’m having trouble with a relationship.
We routinely ask everyone: Are you living in a safe place, with safe people? We start with the recognition that abuse, of any kind, is never acceptable. We will help women find alternate shelter, protection from an abuser, whatever assistance is needed. We are here to help.

I want to be good to myself.
That’s what we want, too. We’ll encourage you to take care of yourself and take time for yourself. And we can help with questions about food, drinking, exercise, stress, sleep and other ways to take care of yourself. We’ll also tell you about stuff you don’t have to worry about. For example: All those vaginal hygiene products? You don’t need them. I like to describe the vagina as a self-cleaning oven! Washing outside with unscented bar soap is all you need; you really don’t want to kill the good bacteria inside your body. So skip the vaginal hygiene products.

If there’s one bit of advice to pick up from all this, it is: Just come! We want to see you.

Take charge of your health! Today is a good day to make an appointment for an annual checkup or well-woman exam —call SHS at 816-923-5800. Talk with us about all the ways we can help you get healthier, at any age.

Time to Make Women’s Health a Priority

National Womens Health Week logoCalling all women!

As we join in the National Women’s Health Week celebration May 8-14, we’re calling on all women to take steps to take care of themselves.

Specifically, we invite women to come to Swope Health Services for a well-woman checkup and preventive screenings.

SHS also supports healthier lifestyles through our Women, Infants and Children (WIC), OB/GYN, nutrition and mental health programs. SHS wants to help women understand they can take steps for better health at any age.
Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health, the week-long celebration includes a challenge pledge to be as healthy as you can. The pledge includes a checklist of healthy tips for women at any age.

The campaign also invites women to spread the word on social media using the hashtag #NWHW. We welcome your input in our comments box, below.

This is a great time to empower yourself and take steps for better health.


Start now!  Call SHS at 816-923-5800 for an annual checkup or well-woman visit. Talk with us about all the ways we can help you get healthier, at any age.infographic-well-woman

Read Across America Celebration at SHS!

Dr. SeussOn Wednesday, March 2, Swope Health Services joined thousands of organizations in celebrating Read Across America Day.

Volunteers Ann Goodrich and Pam Bickel spent the morning in Pediatrics and WIC departments at SHS Central.

They sat one-on-one with children and quietly explored books, and at other times they read out loud to groups of kids. Children who participated selected stickers and took home a bag of books, donated via the Barnes & Noble holiday book drive.

Reading 1Sponsored by the National Education Association (NEA), this annual celebration of reading also marks the birthday of Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss. That’s why our volunteers wore “Cat in the Hat” costumes and frequently used favorite Dr. Seuss books for read-alongs.

Goodrich, who has been a Reach Out and Read volunteer for more than two years, said she knows from personal experience as a Kindergarten teacher how important it is to read to children.

Children need a vocabulary of about 5,000 words by the time they start Kindergarten, she said. Those without will feel left behind, and she noted it can be difficult to catch up.

“I always tell parents to share their words with their kids,” she said. “You have 80,000 to 100,000 words — just give some to your child.”

Goodrich says it doesn’t even matter what you read — it’s OK to read your Facebook feed or text messages.

“They need to hear your voice,” she said. “They need to hear words and sounds to learn.”

According to the NEA, children who are read to and who read for pleasure are significantly more successful in school than children who do not.

Reading 3Goodrich agrees, and frequently takes time with parents to coach them with reading tips. You can make reading interactive by pointing out what’s happening on the page and asking your child questions about the story. Help build your child’s vocabulary by talking about interesting words and objects.

“You should read to children from Day One,” she said. “Take 20 minutes a day and hold the child on your lap. It’s a confidence you are putting into your child.”

If you missed our Read Across America celebration, you can still learn about reading to your children. You can find a Reach Out and Read volunteer in the WIC department, typically every Thursday morning, reading to kids and meeting with parents.

Call to make an appointment, even for a same-day visit, at 816-923-5800. Do you have suggestions for reading with kids? Leave us a comment about your favorite books or ways you make reading fun.

Reading 2

Now Is The Time To Wear Red, Learn About Heart Disease, and Take Action!

Red is everywhere this month!

From red candy heart boxes to red roses, the color red is always front and center in February. February is also American Heart Month, the time to raise awareness about heart disease and provide tips on ways to take care of your heart.

Did you know that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women? In fact, one in four women dies from heart disease.

And while heart disease and stroke don’t discriminate, African-American men are at the highest risk for heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About two in five African-American men have high blood pressure, but only half have it under control.

Stroke disproportionally affects African-Americans. And African American women have two times the risk of stroke than Caucasian women.

SHSWearRedIt’s time to change those statistics. Here’s what you can do:

  • Be aware: Know the warning signs for heart disease and attack. Women and men can both experience gripping chest pains or a cold sweat. But women often have more subtle symptoms like discomfort in the stomach; pain in the back, neck or jaw; nausea or shortness of breath.
  • Get regular checkups: If you haven’t had a checkup lately, take a minute right now to schedule one at Swope Health Services. Call 816-923-5800 to make an appointment for a well-woman visit or physical. Talk with your provider about your risk of heart disease and its complications.
  • Take control: The major risk factors for heart disease are diabetes; smoking; high blood pressure; high cholesterol; lack of physical exercise; obesity and family history of heart disease. Other than family history, you can take steps to change your risk level by managing diabetes, quitting smoking, controlling high blood pressure, eating healthy foods and getting exercise regularly.

At SHS, we support heart health and, as you can see, we have the photograph to prove it! Many of our associates dressed in red on Feb. 5 — National Wear Red Day.

Join us! Do your part by Now Is The Time To Wear Red, Learn About Heart Disease, and Take Action! Your heart will love you for it!

To make an appointment for a checkup, call 816-923-5800. You can even call ahead for a same-day visit. Have a question? Leave a comment below.


Symptoms of heart attack:

Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest.

Pain or discomfort in your arms, back, neck, stomach or jaw.

Shortness of breath.

Breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

Source: CDC

Additional Resources for your Healthy Heart
GoRed por tu Corazon
American Heart Association
Centers for Disease Control: Heart Month
Million Hearts
CPR Training
Heart Disease & Stroke Prevention

SHS provides these links as a resource, not an endorsement.