Don’t Miss Heart Attack Symptoms

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One in three deaths in the United States is linked to cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack, heart disease, stroke or other cardiovascular conditions.

Cardiovascular conditions can be linked to high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, tobacco use, high cholesterol and physical inactivity, all of which can be treated with lifestyle changes and/or medication.  All of these cardiovascular conditions can lead to blocking the blood supply to your heart and arteries causing a heart attack.

Some heart attacks are sudden and intense, but most start slowly with mild pain and discomfort that sometimes isn’t recognized as the beginnings of a heart attack.

Most heart attacks begin with chest discomfort.  The discomfort is located in the center of the chest and lasts more than a few minutes.  The uncomfortable pressure may go away and give the sensation of fullness, squeezing, or pain.

Discomfort in other parts of the upper body is another warning sign of heart attack.  Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, and stomach.

Shortness of breath, breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness are also signs of a heart attack.

Chest pain and discomfort is the number one sign of heart attack for both men and women.  Women are more likely than men to experience the other common symptoms such as shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting, and back or jaw pain.

Learning the signs of heart attack are important.  Even if you aren’t sure you’re experiencing a heart attack, it should be checked out at the nearest emergency room or by calling 911 for emergency medical services.

Texas County Memorial Hospital has been designated by the state as a “Level Four STEMI” hospital for their ability to respond to patients experiencing a ST segment elevation myocardial infarction or STEMI, commonly referred to as a heart attack.

Lauren Toman, cardiopulmonary director and STEMI coordinator at TCMH, works closely with the emergency department and cardiopulmonary department teams to decrease crucial times in the medical process for area heart attack patients.

In 2017, nine patients have come to TCMH experiencing heart attack symptoms.  Each time, the STEMI response team is activated to treat or to rule out the heart attack.  Toman and her team know that every minute counts for patients that may be experiencing a heart attack.

“The heart is a big muscle, and during a heart attack blood stops flowing to the heart which causes the muscle to die,” Toman said.  “Every minute that we have with a heart attack victim is an opportunity to save more of that patient’s heart.”

For additional information about heart attack symptoms and health factors that can cause a heart attack, contact Connie Brooks, education director at TCMH, at 866-967-3311 or

Quickly Recognize the Signs of Stroke

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Every 40 seconds someone has a stroke.  A stroke can happen to anyone at any time.

A stroke occurs when the blood flow to an area of the brain is cut off.  During a stroke the brain cells are deprived of oxygen and begin to die.  When brain cells die, the abilities controlled by that area of the brain such as memory and muscle control are lost.

The effect of a stroke depends on where in the brain the stroke occurs and how much of the brain is damaged.  For example, a small stroke may cause temporary weakness in an arm or leg.  Larger strokes may cause permanent paralysis or loss of the ability to speak.

The physical damage caused by a stroke can be irreversible.  With therapy, stroke patients can recover some abilities, but two-thirds of stroke survivors have some type of disability.

Texas County Memorial Hospital is the state designated stroke center for Texas County and the surrounding areas.  Last year TCMH treated 40 stroke patients, and any time a patient comes to the hospital with stroke symptoms, the stroke team is activated.

Recognition of stroke symptoms and calling 9-1-1 determines how quickly a stroke patient will receive treatment.  The acronym “FAST” is an easy way to determine if you or another person is experiencing a stroke.

  • “F” stands for “face”. Ask the person to smile.  Does one side of the face droop?
  • “A” stands for “arms”. Ask the person to raise both arms.  Does one arm drift downward?
  • “S” stands for “speech”. Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase.  Does their speech seem strange or slurred?
  • “T” stands for “time”. If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.


Immediate treatment can minimize the effects of stroke and improve recovery outcomes.

For additional information about stroke symptoms and health factors that can cause a stroke, contact Connie Brooks, education director at TCMH, at 866-967-3311 or


Comfort Care Booklets Available to Area Residents

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Texas County Memorial Hospital Hospice of Care has a new booklet—Considering Comfort Care, A Guide for Families—available to area residents.

“This easy-to-read guide is a good way to learn about comfort care,” Courtney Owens, TCMH Hospice of Care director, said.  “It can be helpful to you or to a family member, and it’s something you may want to discuss with your healthcare provider, too.”

Hospice of Care purchased the booklets with funds from a grant from Hospice Foundation of the Ozarks.  The booklet is written by G. Leigh Wilkerson, an experienced critical care and hospice nurse.

“Comfort care is another option for medical treatment, and many times patients and their family members do not understand comfort care,” Owens said, noting that the book explains comfort care and why and when a patient or a patient’s family member might choose comfort care.

The booklet features frequently asked questions and lists online resources and other books regarding comfort care.

The booklets are available at no charge through the TCMH Hospice of Care office located behind the hospital at the TCMH Office Annex.  You can also request a booklet by contacting the Hospice of Care office at (417) 967-1279 or

Tips for Preventing Sports Injuries in Kids

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Each year in the US more than 3.5 million sports-related injuries requiring medical treatment occur in children under the age of 14.

“Sports injuries are on this rise,” according to Cory Offutt, MD, of the TCMH Medical Complex in Houston.

Offutt attributes the rise in injuries to the increasing numbers of children participating in sport activities and to the younger age groups of children involved in these activities.  Additionally, many sports involve more games that are more intense with competition at higher levels.

While children cannot be protected from injury while participating in sports or even playing in the backyard, there are many things that can be done to help prevent injuries.

Children of all ages that are involved in sports should begin their season with a visit to their healthcare provider.  A physical examination will help ensure that the child is fit and ready for the rigors of a particular sport.

On the field or at the playground, injury prevention can be as simple as putting on a helmet, slipping on kneepads, buckling up a life jacket or wearing a mouth guard.

“A child should start wearing a helmet from the first time he or she rides a bicycle,” Offutt said.  “Wearing a helmet while riding a bicycle can lay the groundwork for using safety equipment in other sports.”

A coach can provide advice about the appropriate protective gear for each sport.  “A coach can also work with children to ensure they are following proper form for a particular sport,” Offutt explained.

As with any type of exercise, children should warm up prior to and after physical activity.  Offutt considers stretching to be a “very important” component in preventing sports injuries.

Adequate hydration is also key to preventing muscle cramps, dizziness or fainting.

If a child is injured while playing, the injury may require a trip an immediate to the emergency room or a trip to the child’s healthcare provider within the next few hours.

“Some injuries obviously require immediate attention,” Offutt said.  He provided the example of a head injury with amnesia, loss of consciousness or nausea and vomiting as a reason to make an immediate trip to an emergency room.

Other injuries may not be so obvious to the child or parent.

“Although they may not be easily seen, lower extremity injuries, pain while walking or impaired range of motion should be seen by a physician within 24 hours,” Offutt said.

Offutt explained that some “pains” may not always be immediately diagnosed by a physician and may require an x-ray or further testing.

“What may seem like a common sprain, may actually be a fracture,” Offutt said.

Offutt cautions parents of older athletes to watch for unreported injuries.  “A small child will tell their parent that they are hurt, but an older child may not report an injury,” Offutt said.  “Parents can watch their children for symptoms of an injury like a limp.”

Children that are already injured may increase the extent of their injury if they continue to play while they are hurt.  A healthcare provider should be consulted to determine the extent of the injury and the need for treatment.

Offutt is positive about the involvement of kids in sports and doesn’t believe parents should hold their children back for fear of injury.

“The majority of kids should be able to play whatever sports they like,” Offutt said.  “It’s important for kids to have fun with physical activity; exercise is an important part of physical health.”

Children with the right protective gear being used the right way will have the opportunity to learn play with others and learn sportsmanship and discipline while staying safe.

Watch Out for the S-Word! Tips for Consuming Healthy Amounts of Salt

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Everyone needs some salt for their bodies to function properly. However, nearly all Americans consume more salt than they need.

Salt makes your body hold more water which requires the heart to work harder. In many people too much salt can lead to high blood pressure, and as the heart works harder due to high blood pressure the deadly affect can be heart disease, stroke, heart failure and kidney disease.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that a person in good health consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of salt in one day, which equals approximately one teaspoon.

Anyone seeking to lower their blood pressure should cut their salt intake to 1,500 milligrams daily, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Lower-sodium diets also can keep blood pressure from rising and help blood pressure medicines work better. Most Americans are consuming 3,000 to 4,000 milligrams of salt each day.

According to the FDA, the natural salt in food accounts for about 10 percent of total intake, on average. The salt we add at the table or while cooking adds another five to 10 percent. About 75 percent of our total salt intake comes from salt added to processed foods by manufacturers and salt that cooks add to foods at restaurants and other food service establishments.

Lois Hilgers, registered dietitian at Texas County Memorial Hospital, works regularly with patients that have dietary restrictions such as a physician’s order to reduce salt intake. “Eat lots of fruits and leafy green vegetables,” Hilgers encourages her patients.

The potassium in fresh fruits and vegetables can blunt the effects of sodium in the diet.

Hilgers notes that it’s also easy to find salt-free frozen vegetables in the supermarket. “It’s better to switch to salt-free frozen vegetables than to rinse off canned vegetables,” Hilgers said. “Some nutritional value of canned vegetables is lost when the liquid is discarded.”

When choosing processed foods, Hilgers also recommends that salt-free snacks are chosen. The amount of salt in a snack or any food is listed as “sodium” on the “Nutrition Facts” label that appears on most food packages.

The salt intake in a diet of mostly processed foods will quickly add up. Foods like cereal, lunchmeat, canned soup and boxed pasta and rice may have very high amounts of salt.

The Nutrition Facts label also lists the “% Daily Value” for sodium. Look for the abbreviation “%DV” to find it. Foods listed as five percent or less for sodium are low in sodium. Anything above twenty percent for sodium is considered high.

“Try to select foods that provide ten percent or less for sodium, per serving or 30 percent or less for something like a pre-made meal,” Hilgers said.

Hilgers knows that it’s not easy for anyone to completely cut salt out of their diet.

“It takes about a month for the natural flavors of foods to begin to taste good when all salt is removed from the diet,” Hilgers said.

Hilgers recommends that herbs are used in place of salt for flavoring.

“Fresh herbs are always best, if available,” Hilgers said. She noted that one tablespoon of fresh herb is equivalent to one teaspoon of dried herbs. Herbs should also be dated so they are not kept for over a year at a time to maintain fresh flavors.

Hilgers also utilizes a “Spice Blend Recipe” (see sidebar) as a salt substitute seasoning.

Simply learning to avoid tipping the salt shaker is a good way to avoid extra salt intake and to begin conditioning the body and taste buds to appreciate the flavors of food without salt.

“You will find that the health benefits of limiting salt intake greatly outweigh the temporary pleasure found in the taste of salt in food,” Hilgers said.

For additional information regarding your health and salt intake, talk with your healthcare provider. Additional information about physical health and salt intake is also available here through the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute.

Spice Blend Recipe – Makes 1/3 Cup
5 tsp. onion powder
2 ½ tsp. garlic powder
2 ½ tsp. paprika
2 ½ tsp. ground mustard
1 ½ tsp crushed thyme leaves
½ tsp white pepper
¼ tsp celery seed

Cora Turnbull is Employee of the Month

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Texas County Memorial Hospital has named Cora Turnbull of Bucyrus the August employee of the month.

Turnbull is a paramedic in the emergency medical services department at TCMH, and she has worked in that position since December 2008.  Turnbull was nominated for the award by her supervisor, Bill Bridges, EMS director.

Turnbull was hired to work in the TCMH EMS department while she was deployed to Iraq. After completing her term of service, Turnbull started out as a basic emergency medical technician at TCMH; then Turnbull trained to become a paramedic.

“Cora strives to complete daily duties in a timely manner, and she provides excellent patient care,” Bridges said.

Bridges noted that Turnbull is a resource to fellow employees that need assistance with paperwork and billing for services.

“Cora is a solid and consistent employee in the EMS department,” Bridges said.

As employee of the month,  Turnbull received a certificate honoring her achievement; a pin; a special parking place in the TCMH lot; one day of paid vacation; a $50 gift card, and gift certificates to Paws N Claws, D&L Florist; Blissful Nirvana Massage, Wehr Motors, and Savor Grill.  A reception will be held at the hospital in honor of Turnbull.

Turnbull is eligible for the 2017 TCMH employee of the year award.

Cora Turnbull with her supervisor, Bill Bridges.



Hospice of Care Training for New Volunteers

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Texas County Memorial Hospital Hospice of Care will provide training for new Hospice of Care volunteers on Fri., Sept. 22nd.

The training session is from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. in the downstairs meeting room at TCMH.

Hospice of Care depends on volunteers to meet the needs of terminally ill patients and their families.  Volunteers provide direct services to patients as well as indirect services that support Hospice of Care staff with daily operations.

Sandy Eaton, a licensed practical nurse with Hospice of Care, is the volunteer coordinator for the group.  Anyone with questions about the training or volunteer work can contact Eaton at (417) 967-1279 or 1-888-967-3311.

Hospice of Care is a non-profit organization that offers care for the terminally ill.  They assist in providing hospice care, supplies and equipment for patients and their families in Texas County and surrounding areas.


Pirates of the Piney Event to Benefit Surgery Department at TCMH

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Texas County Memorial Hospital employees have planned Pirates of the Piney Regatta on Saturday, September 9 at Boiling Spring Resort in Licking from 1 to 7 p.m.

Pirates of the Piney Regatta features a cardboard boat race, a rubber duck race, live music and barbeque to benefit the construction of a new surgery department at TCMH.

Bill Bridges, one of the event organizers and TCMH emergency medical services director, believes the cardboard boat race will be the first of its kind in Texas County.  The race will take place between the Boiling Springs bridge and the Boiling Springs river access ramp on the Big Piney River.

Adults and youth ages 16 and under can enter the race with vessels made entirely of cardboard.  Each vessel must have two people inside it, and life vests must be worn.  There is a $50 entry fee per boat.

Prizes will be awarded to the “people’s choice” of all cardboard boats, and there will be prizes awarded in the adult and youth categories for fastest and most creative boats.

A rubber duck race will also take place between the bridge and ramp.  A duck can be sponsored for $5 the winner of the fastest rubber duck will win half the prize money, up to $250.

Boiling Springs Resort is hosting the musical entertainment and festivities for the day.

Taylor Feighery, an acoustic guitar player and singer from St. Louis, will perform at 1 p.m.   Joshin the Giants, a four-piece Americana band from Joplin, will perform at 4 p.m.

Mike and Julie’s Smoked Meats will be on site with barbeque and fried potato nachos.  TCMH employees are staffing a beverage tent.

“Many hospital employees choose to support the hospital’s ongoing construction by donating every pay period to the TCMH Healthcare Foundation, but we wanted to find another way to support our hospital,” Bridges said.

Bridges explained that he and other department managers in patient care departments at TCMH decided that an outdoor activity on a local river would be “different but fun”.

“We hope that the community will join us in having a good time outside for a great cause,” Bridges said.

Entries in the boat race are still being accepted by Bridges.  Rubber ducks are available for sponsorship, too.

For additional information about the event, to register a boat, or to sponsor a rubber duck, contact Bill Bridges, TCMH emergency medical services director, at (417) 967-1385 or

Hospital Seeks Volunteer Youth Ambassadors

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Texas County Memorial Hospital has opened the application process for area youth to join the 2017-2018 Youth Ambassador program.   Youth Ambassadors are area high school juniors and seniors and area college students that volunteer their time at TCMH.

Youth Ambassadors have volunteered almost 8,000 hours at the hospital since the program began in December 2009.  During the 2016-2017 school year, youth ambassadors volunteered over 800 hours.

“The Youth Ambassador program has been an excellent way for some of our area young people to get a taste for working in a healthcare environment and to provide a valuable service to the hospital,” Renina Pearce, Youth Ambassador coordinator at TCMH, said.

The Youth Ambassador program at TCMH was created as an extension of the hospital’s traditional Auxiliary program.

The program is limited to 40 students.  Members are chosen from a formal application process.

Youth Ambassadors are required to go through an orientation and must commit to volunteering at TCMH for four hours each month.  The program includes three levels of volunteer achievement, and the three levels can be achieved based on volunteer hours and work ethic.

Since its inception, many Youth Ambassadors have reached the various levels of achievement in the volunteer program.

Several former Youth Ambassadors now have jobs working in the hospital departments.  Youth Ambassadors are also eligible for educational scholarships from TCMH.

Volunteer duties include passing out fresh linens and filling ice water cups for patients on the medical surgical floors, greeting visitors and patients at the main entrance, and reading to and talking with patients in the hospital’s swing bed program.

“One hundred eighty-nine students have been a part of the Youth Ambassador program, and it continues to grow each year,” Pearce said.

Pearce explained that the program has achieved its goal of providing area students with hands on experience and a much greater knowledge and appreciation for what goes on behind the doors of their community hospital.

“There’s a lot more going on in hospitals than just people working as doctors and nurses,” Pearce said.

“Some of our current Youth Ambassadors will be able to continue to volunteer at the hospital in the upcoming year,” Pearce said.  “We hope to add to our ranks by opening up the program to new applicants and open up the world of the hospital to more students in our area.”

Additional information about the TCMH Youth Ambassadors and the application for the program is available at the link below.  It’s also available from Pearce or area guidance counselors.  The application deadline is Fri., Sept. 15th.

Pearce can also be reached by calling 417/967-1236 or 866/967-3311 or via e-mail at

Youth Ambassador Application 2017

Volunteer Opportunities at TCMH

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Texas County Memorial Hospital is seeking additional volunteers to serve at the county hospital in information desk greeter and way finding roles.

“We need additional volunteer staff members that can direct patients, visitors and vendors that come to the hospital,” Renina Pearce, administrative secretary and liaison with the TCMH Auxiliary, explained.

Pearce coordinates the staffing of the front information desk with Auxiliary volunteers and Youth Ambassador volunteers.

“With the Youth Ambassadors back in school, we have additional needs for volunteers to greet patients and visitors during the morning and early afternoon hours,” Pearce said.

Pearce seeks volunteers that are able to acquaint themselves with the many staff members and departments at the hospital in order to provide directions as needed.

“TCMH needs volunteers with a positive attitude and cheerful demeanor,” Pearce explained.

In addition to staffing the informational desks, the TCMH Auxiliary has a gift shop that is open throughout the day and on weekends.  Volunteers also staff the TCMH Gift Shop that is open throughout the week.

“I hope that some able-bodied, retired men and women that have free time during the day will be able to join our volunteer ranks for a few hours each month,” Pearce said.

Pearce is available to discuss volunteer opportunities at the hospital.  Volunteer applications are available in the TCMH administration office.

Additional information about volunteering at TCMH is available by contacting Pearce at 417-967-1236 or

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