Jennifer Gunter is Employee of the Month

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Texas County Memorial Hospital has named Jennifer Gunter of Bucyrus the September employee of the month.

Gunter is a registered nurse in the TCMH medical surgical department, and she has worked at the hospital since June 2014.  Gunter was nominated for the award by her supervisor John Sawyer, medical surgical department and intensive care unit nurse manager.

“Jennifer promotes a positive culture in the department, especially when she works on the night shift,” Sawyer said.  “Jennifer makes night shift a pleasant place to work.”

Gunter is often requested by the emergency and intensive care departments when an extra set of hands is needed.  She also serves as a preceptor to new nurses training at TCMH.

“Jennifer is very versatile, and I’m grateful to have her working in my department,” Sawyer said.

As employee of the month, Gunter 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, Wher Motors, and TQ’s BBQ.  A reception will be held at the hospital in honor of Gunter.

Gunter is eligible for the 2016 TCMH employee of the year award.

Jennifer Gunter (left), Texas County Memorial Hospital September employee of the month, with her supervisor, John Sawyer.

Jennifer Gunter (left), Texas County Memorial Hospital September employee of the month, with her supervisor, John Sawyer.

Preparations Underway for Tenth Annual TCMH Healthcare Foundation Chili Cook Off

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2016-cook-off-logoThe Texas County Memorial Hospital Healthcare Foundation is gearing up for the Tenth Annual Chili Cook Off on Sat., Nov. 5th from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Community Building at the Texas County Fairgrounds.  The Foundation is hosting the event to raise funds to benefit TCMH Hospice of Care.

Jay Gentry, director of the Healthcare Foundation, is overseeing the chili cook off and related activities.  “In 2015 the Foundation brought in $48,300 for Hospice of Care,” he said.  “We have a tradition of holding an event that provides fun and entertainment for all ages and raises much needed funds for a really good cause.”

The TCMH Healthcare Foundation Chili Cook Off will feature 14 teams competing for chili prizes and in raising money for Hospice of Care.  The event will also feature live music by the band Deep Fried Squirrel, a live auction, a chili dog eating contest and booths with special foods or games as well as the opportunity to sample all the chili.

Chili cooking teams are comprised of five people and are sponsored by businesses and organizations.  Currently Intercounty Electric Cooperative; Landmark Bank; Security Bank of the Ozarks; Raymondville United Methodist Church; Houston Walmart Supercenter; Mercy Clinic-Houston; Houston High School Administration; Gentry Residential Treatment Center; Peoples Community Bank; Bank of Houston; Air Evac Lifeteam; Forbes Pharmacy Powered by Walgreens; Dr. Christopher Baldwin; Dr. Randal Qualls, and Dr. Philip Brackett have sponsored chili cooking teams.

“We have added the component of a popular band to this year’s cook off in hopes that we would bring out some additional guests that just want to eat chili and listen to music,” Gentry said.

The five-person band, Deep Fried Squirrel, hails from Southwest Missouri.  The band is known for upbeat, bluegrass and Americana original music and covers.  Deep Fried Squirrel will begin playing at 11 a.m.

A live auction held at 2 p.m. in the Community Building will be a major portion of the fundraising for the day.

The auction features handmade and donated items.  Harold Mitchell made and donated a handmade coffee table made of sycamore wood to honor of his mother who was in Hospice of Care service.  Other donated items in the auction include a Revolution 24 gun safe by Liberty Safe; one locally raised beef; a guided game bird hunt at Ozark Wings in Caulfield; a Branson holiday getaway for two, and an outdoors package featuring a YETI cooler and a kayak.

Two large raffle items will also be awarded to winners at the event.

All of the chili cook off teams are raffling tickets for a Kawasaki Mule utility vehicle and a Stoeger Double Defense shotgun.  The raffle items will be immediately awarded following the live auction.

Brandon Beck, meteorologist at Springfield television station KY3, will again serve as the master of ceremonies for the day’s events.

“Hospice of Care has a long tradition and a well known reputation for providing physical, mental and spiritual care for terminally ill patients and their family members in Texas County and the surrounding area regardless of their ability to pay for the services,” Gentry said.  “Many people look forward to the annual Hospice fundraising event as a way to give back to a charity that has benefited them, their family or friends.”

Hospice of Care provides end of life care for patients and their families regardless of a patient’s ability to pay for the service.  If insurance coverage is not available, Hospice of Care may use Chili Cook Off funds to purchase medications in addition to providing care at no charge.  Hospice of Care also uses funds from the cook off for palliative care training and materials for patients and the family and friends of hospice patients.

“Our goal is to raise at least $40,000 for Hospice of Care through the raffles, cook off ticket sales, the auction and team fundraising,” Gentry said, noting that the proceeds from the Chili Cook Off remain in Texas County to benefit area residents.

The Healthcare Foundation has a special “Hospice Fund” for the chili cook off money and other hospice donations such as memorials.  “A very important aspect of the annual Hospice of Care fundraising event is that all money raised at the event will stay in the Texas County area to benefit area patients,” Gentry said.

“We want everyone to come out to our event, bring their kids, and have an afternoon of fun while raising money for a very worthy cause,” Gentry said.   “Once again, the Foundation board of directors and Hospice of Care staff are excited to bring this event to the community.”

Tickets to the event are $10 for adults and $5 for children and are available through Hospice of Care and the Healthcare Foundation at TCMH.

For more information about a sponsorship or to make a gift in support of the chili cook off, contact the TCMH Healthcare Foundation, (417) 967-1377 or online at

Medicare Open Enrollment Underway

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Open enrollment for Medicare health and drug plans begins on October 15.

Every year between October 15 and December 7 Medicare recipients must decide if their current coverage will continue to meet their needs through the upcoming year.  Changes must be made by December 7, 2016 to be effective in 2017.

The prescription drug coverage plan that is part of Medicare coverage can cause confusion.   All Medicare recipients are required to sign up for a prescription drug coverage plan which is known as “Medicare Part D”.

Due to the required Medicare Part D coverage, many seniors find themselves looking at various insurance options.

Because Medicare covers about 55 percent of the patients seen at Texas County Memorial Hospital, TCMH offers to help area residents in the enrollment process, particularly with Medicare Part D.

Wes Murray, chief executive officer at TCMH, noted that Medicare coverage can be very confusing for the elderly population.

“Anyone in the market for supplemental Medicare coverage should contact his or her healthcare provider prior to purchasing the coverage,” Murray said.  “Ask your healthcare provider if they accept the insurance you plan to purchase.”

Murray cautioned that some enrollees have been told that TCMH accepts certain insurance, but the information is incorrect.

“Before signing up for anything, please make sure the insurance is accepted by your healthcare provider,” Murray stressed.

Additionally, enrollees shouldn’t sign anything without knowing exactly what they are signing for.  Copies of any signed papers should be obtained and retained by enrollees, too.

Anita Kuhn, controller at TCMH, is available to consult at no charge with area residents until December 7 each year.  Kuhn will assist those interested in re-enrolling in Medicare Part A and B, if they left it for a Medicare Advantage Plan.  She also can assist in determining the best Medicare Part D coverage for each individual.

Please contact Kuhn for a consultation appointment by calling her office at 417-967-1277 or 1-866-967-3311, ext. 4052.

If TCMH is a person’s hospital of choice, information about the insurance carriers they contract with can be obtained by calling the TCMH Business Office at 417-967-1298 or 1-866-967-3311.

Swing Bed Program Can Decrease Long-Term Recovery Time

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Our patients need to know that we have swing beds available for their long-term recovery,” Dr. Cory Offutt, physician at the Texas County Memorial Hospital Medical Complex said.

In Offutt’s work as a board certified family medicine physician, he has seen many patients leave a large hospital where they received major medical care and return home before they were ready to be at home on their own.

“Sometimes patients are discharged to receive care at home, but the patient needs specialized care that the family caregiver isn’t equipped to provide,” Offutt said, noting that these patients are at a higher risk for falls or other complications that can send the patient to the emergency room or for additional hospitalized care.

“Just because a patient is ready to go home doesn’t mean that home is the best place for the patient,” Offutt explained.

Offutt routinely educates patients and their family members about the TCMH swing bed program which allows patients that are recovering from a surgery, stroke, major accident, or other recent hospitalization to receive additional recovery care without being far from home.

“Our swing bed program at TCMH is better for the patient and for their family,” Offutt explained.  “Utilizing the program may prevent a patient from returning quickly to the hospital.”

Offutt believes that patients recover more quickly and receive better recovery care under the guidance of a healthcare team in a hospital swing bed program.

Becky Scott, utilization review nurse at TCMH, works with patients that are admitted into the hospital’s swing bed program.  Scott is also responsible for making sure that potential swing bed patients meet the criteria for admission to the swing bed program.

“Swing bed patients must have three days of acute care in a hospital in the past 30 days,” Scott said.

Swing bed patients also require some type of “skilled service” while in the hospital.  Scott described a few skilled services such as physical therapy, speech therapy, wound care, respiratory therapy or intravenous therapy.

The vast majority of swing bed patients at TCMH are Medicare recipients, but some patients utilize another form of commercial private insurance or are self-pay patients.  Medicare replacement plans do require pre-authorization before patients are admitted to the swing bed program.

Medicare provides 100 percent coverage for the first 20 days of swing bed care.

“At TCMH about half of our swing bed patients have received hospital care here in Houston,” Scott said, “And half come from other hospitals in places like Springfield or St. Louis.”

Scott works closely with the social worker that handles patients already at TCMH or social workers from another facility.

In the case of patients that are not already at TCMH, the hospital social worker from the other facility and the patient or the patient’s family members determine if swing bed care is needed, and the patient’s doctor must make contact with patient’s primary care provider to set up swing bed care.  If the primary care provider is not on the TCMH medical staff, the patient is assigned to the TCMH physician that is on call for patients that do not have a primary care provider that is on staff at TCMH.

Scott likes to talk with the patient or the patient’s family members before the patient arrives at TCMH.  “I like to explain to them what to expect from swing bed care before they get here,” Scott said.

While in swing bed care, the patient’s physician sees the patient once a week or more frequently if needed.  Regular meals and medications are provided to the patient as well as any required therapeutic services.

“Although patients don’t see their doctor every day like they did when they were initially hospitalized, they can rest assured that their doctor is working closely with the entire hospital care team,” Scott said.

TCMH swing bed patients have access to 24/7 nursing care.  Certified nurse aides work closely with swing bed patients as they recover and ready themselves for their return home or to a long-term care facility.

“Most of our swing bed patients are here 20 days or less,” Scott explained.

Occasionally swing bed care extends beyond 20 days.  For Medicare patients staying over 20 days, 80 percent of the cost of swing bed care is covered by Medicare, and co-insurance, if available, will pick up the remaining cost of care.  Other private insurance companies evaluate patient need for swing bed care on a weekly basis.

Angie Gimpel, a social worker at TCMH, works closely with patients in the swing bed program.  She assists them, if needed, in obtaining home health care or transitioning to a long term care facility after leaving TCMH.

TCMH Auxiliary volunteers and Youth Ambassador volunteers also regularly visit swing bed patients to talk with, to read to or to provide other interactive activities with swing bed patients.

Scott noted that she regularly talks with patients and their family members, explaining swing bed services at TCMH.

“Sometimes patients have to tell their provider that they are interested in swing bed care,” Scott said.  “If a patient is at a larger hospital that has its own swing bed program, the patient may have to tell their physician they would like to utilize swing bed care in Houston at TCMH.”

Many area residents that require additional care after hospitalization choose the TCMH swing bed program because it is close to home.

“When our patients are able to easily see friends and family it helps with their recovery,” Scott said.

For additional information about the TCMH swing bed program, Scott can be reached by phone at 417-967-3311, ext. 4178.

Vascular Screening Should Be Part of Routine Healthcare

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beers-1Did you know that your knowledge about your vascular health could save your life?

According to Dr. Jonathan Beers, internal medicine physician at Texas County Memorial Hospital, knowledge about vascular health can save your life and improve the quality of your life.  Vascular health screenings are a routine part of healthcare exams for Beers’ patients.

In layman’s terms, the vascular system is a “highway” of vessels in every human body.   Arteries are blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood away from your heart, and veins carry oxygen-poor blood back to your heart.  Sometimes the highway of vessels cannot do their job of transporting blood through your body because of vascular disease.

Vascular disease is a disease of the arteries and veins that blocks circulation anywhere in the body. Vascular disease is very serious. It can lead to disability, amputation, organ damage and even death.

Vascular disease manifests itself in many ways—deep vein thrombosis, peripheral artery disease, stroke and varicose veins are just a few indicators of vascular disease.  However, vascular disease can begin long before a patient has a stroke or other outward sign of the disease.

“More awareness about vascular disease is needed,” Beers explains.  “Patients should be routinely talking with their primary care provider about their vascular health.”

According to Beers, screening for vascular disease should begin for most patients around the age of 55.  Beers noted that personal health history such as smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes and poorly controlled cholesterol can lead to vascular disease and may indicate a need for vascular disease screening earlier in life.

“I typically ask my patients screening questions at first,” Beers said.  Sometimes patients come in with physical complaints that may indicate the need for additional testing.

Symptoms of vascular disease may include pain in the legs—typically in the calves but also in the thighs or buttocks–and numbness or cold sensations in the extremities.   A more obvious symptom would be a discolored or black toe.

An ankle brachial index (ABI) test can be ordered by physician to screen for vascular disease.  These tests are usually administered in the hospital, and the test will indicate whether there is artery blockage in the legs.

“When a patient comes back with an abnormal ABI, I will treat them with medication and a supervised walking program,” Beers said.

Medications vary depending upon the patient and may be as common as aspirin or more complex drugs such as ones that that dilate the arteries to increase blood flow or anti-platelet drugs.

“In addition to the medication, patients walk to increase blood flow,” Beers said.  “They walk until they have pain, and they do that every day, pushing further and hopefully improving.”

If medication and exercise do not improve a patient’s condition, surgical options are the next step.

“Treatment of vascular disease can greatly improve your quality of life,” Beers said.  “It will ease symptoms of the disease that may cause you pain or discomfort, and it will increase your exercise capacity.”

Beers monitors his vascular disease patients with ABIs at least twice annually and more frequently when a patient is first diagnosed.

“With the proper care vascular disease can be controlled,” Beers said, adding that by taking the proper preventions early in life, less vascular disease would actually develop.

Beers is a big believer in vascular health.  His mentor during residency at Gunderson Lutheran Hospital in LaCrosse, WI was the director of the hospital’s vascular institute.  Beers learned under him and developed an understanding of the importance of vascular health in the lives of his patients.

“The mortality rate of patients with vascular disease is much higher than other diseases that are aggressively treated,” Beers said.  “If your vascular health is poor, you significantly increase your chance of stroke, heart attack and death.”

According to the American Diabetes Association, anyone with a history of smoking or anyone with diabetes should have an ABI at age 50.  Anyone age 65 and older should also have a routine ABI.

“Vascular health is something that can be followed by your primary care physician, even after you’ve received treatment from a specialist,” Beers said, adding, “With proper care vascular disease can be controlled.”

Beers noted that for many patients vascular disease can be prevented by abstaining from smoking, following a proper diet and getting regular exercise.

“The important thing is be aware of vascular disease,” Beers emphasized.  “Talk regularly with your physician about the health of your arteries as part of your routine health.”


Two New Medivans Available for Non-Emergency Transportation

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One of two new Medivans available at TCMH for non-emergency transportation.

One of two new Medivans available at TCMH for non-emergency transportation.

Texas County Memorial Hospital has two new Medivans on the road providing non-emergency transportation for area residents.

The two Dodge Caravan brand vans were purchased with grant funding through the Federal Transit Administration administered by the Missouri Department of Transportation 5317 New Freedom program which assists with public transportation projects.

The total cost of the two vans was $73,132, and TCMH paid $14,626 of that cost.

Each van is equipped with a side-entry ramp and a lowered floor to make them handicapped accessible for patients in wheelchairs.  One van is configured to hold seven people, and one van is configured to hold five people.

“These vans will get much better gas mileage than our original Medivans, and patients in wheelchairs will be closer to the driver which is much more personable,” Wes Murray, Murray, TCMH chief executive officer, said.

The Medivan program began in 2005 at TCMH with the purchase of two wheelchair-accessible full-size vans purchased with a grant from the Missouri Foundation for Health.

The vans provide low-cost transportation for non-emergency medical services such as trips to a TCMH doctor or pharmacy.  TCMH also uses the vans to provide rides home to patients that need transportation following a hospital stay.

“Residents in rural areas face barriers to healthcare accessibility because of transportation issues,” Murray said.  “It has always been a goal of our hospital to try to help patients get the healthcare they need through the Medivan service.

The Medivan service is $5 per passenger for each one-way ride within the city limits of Houston.  Outside the city limits of Houston, the charge is $1 per mile, one-way.

A rider may bring a passenger such as a family member or caregiver with them on the ride to the medical appointment.

TCMH does not bill for the Medivan service; all fees are paid up front with cash.

The Medivan service is available Monday through Friday during regular business hours.  Individuals can schedule a ride by calling the Medivan at (417) 260-2127.

TCMH Receives $357,000 Grant from Missouri Foundation for Health to Start Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Program

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Texas County Memorial Hospital will receive a $357,000 grant from the Missouri Foundation for Health (MFH) to fund a three-year outpatient cardiopulmonary rehabilitation program at the county hospital, board members heard at their monthly meeting on Tuesday.

“Our grant was one of thirteen awarded by the Missouri Foundation for Health in the 2016 grant making cycle,” Wes Murray, TCMH chief executive officer, said.

Murray noted that MFH received 197 requests for grant funding during the three funding cycles for “Special Projects” in 2016.  TCMH was one of 27 organizations asked by MFH to submit a full grant application for further review and consideration.  The TCMH grant was part of $3,790,941 awarded by MFH to 10 different projects in this funding cycle.

The funds will cover wages for a full-time respiratory therapist, wages for a part-time administrative support staff member, equipment for the program, transportation expenses for some patients, patient counseling sessions, and smoking cessation products for some program participants.

“This is great news for TCMH,” Murray said.  “This grant will help us build on the solid lineup of outpatient primary care services we provide locally.”

Patients will quality for the multi-disciplinary program following testing for lung disease.  The 12-week program will help patients improve lung function and activities of daily living.

Approximately 10 patients complete pulmonary function tests at TCMH each month.  Over half the patients receiving pulmonary function tests at TCMH in the past year would qualify for a pulmonary rehabilitation program because they have moderate to severe lung disease.

Dr. Juan Mella, board certified pulmonologist and sleep studies specialist

Dr. Juan Mella, board certified pulmonologist and sleep studies specialist

The cardiopulmonary rehabilitation program will begin later this year.  Dr. Juan Mella, board certified pulmonologist at TCMH, will oversee the cardiopulmonary rehabilitation program.

“Dr. Mella told me that he already has a dozen patients that he’s identified to benefit from the program, and there are four cardiac rehab patients that are also candidates for the program,” Murray said.

Doretta Todd-Willis, TCMH chief nursing officer, is working with the cardiopulmonary department to plan details regarding patient parking, patient check-in procedures, patient parking, etc.  The TCMH plant operations department will renovate two rooms on the hospital’s East wing for use in the program.

The TCMH Healthcare Foundation pursued the MFH grant on behalf of the hospital.  With the inclusion of this MFH grant, TCMH will have received over $2.5 million in grant funding since the Healthcare Foundation reorganized in 2005, according to Murray.

“I’m very proud that we have been able to capture that amount of funds to benefit the health of the people in Texas County and the surrounding area,” Murray said.

Amanda Turpin, TCMH quality management director, reported that the hospital will have the “best year yet” in 2017 with the “value-based purchasing score” from the Center for Medicare Services (CMS).  TCMH is in line to collect an additional two percent of payment for Medicare patients seen in 2017.

Since 2012 CMS has looked at hospital data related to patient experience, patient outcomes, clinical process of care, and efficiency of care to award a value-based purchasing score.  TCMH met criteria to be included in the value-based purchasing scoring process beginning in 2014.

With the value-based purchasing program, Medicare takes two percent of reimbursement from hospitals across the nation.  The two percent cut is then re-distributed to hospitals by Medicare based on each hospital’s value-based purchasing score.

Some hospitals lose the two percent in reimbursement for the year.  Some hospitals get a portion of the funds back.  TCMH will receive the two percent and an additional two percent for fiscal year 2017 for all Medicare patients.

Turpin explained that TCMH received a value-based purchasing score of “66” in 2016 to determine the 2017 Medicare reimbursement rate.  The Missouri state average hospital score was 36 and the national hospital average was 35.

“There are over 3,000 hospitals in the US, and last year only 105 hospitals in the nation scored 66 or higher,” Turpin said.

Turpin cited three key factors to the TCMH score–patient experience; 30-day mortality of pneumonia patients, and Medicare spending per beneficiary.

“In comparison to other hospitals, we did exceptionally well on these three factors,” Turpin said.

Turpin believed that the “patient experience” portion of the score was a “big boost” to TCMH.

Turpin and the Customer Quality Team at TCMH continually work on ways to improve patient experience within all areas of the hospital from medical staff interactions with patients to overall inpatient stays to ancillary services provided to patients.

“Most of our hospital inpatients receive a survey after their stay, and we need our patients to complete those surveys and return them,” Turpin said.

About 30 percent of patients at TCMH return their inpatient stay survey, which is on par with the national average for inpatient surveys returned to hospitals.

The hospital also continues to score well in efficiency–providing care to patients at a lower cost than other hospitals in the state and nation.

“We go into every year hoping that we will break even in value-based purchasing,” Murray said.  “Next year, we are not only getting our two percent back, but we’re also getting an additional two percent to reward us for the care that we’ve provided our patients.”

The actual dollar amount the additional two percent in reimbursement will likely equal approximately $76,000 in the upcoming year depending upon the number and acuity of Medicare inpatients at TCMH.

Todd-Willis presented information on nurse turnover rates at the hospital, comparing TCMH turnover for registered nurses and licensed practical nurses to the “South Central” region and to the Missouri state average.  Three years of data was presented.

“I am very proud to say that our RN nurse turnover rate is consistently less than the regional or state average,” Todd-Willis said.

Registered nurse turnover regionally was at 18.7 percent, at 17.9 percent statewide, and at 16 percent at TCMH in 2016.

According to Todd-Willis, LPNs have a higher rate of turnover at TCMH due to the educational offerings in the area that allow LPNs to become RNs.

“It’s not that we’re actually losing the LPNs, they are moving up into RN positions at the hospital,” Todd-Willis said.

Licensed practical nurse turnover at TCMH was at 28 percent; the state average was 21.8 percent and the regional average was 33 percent.

Texas County Technical College in Houston, Drury University/Cox College of Nursing in Cabool, and Missouri State University in West Plains all send nursing students—LPNs and RNs—to train at TCMH as part of their course curriculum.

“We are able to target quite a few graduates from area programs for full-time positions at TCMH,” Todd-Willis said.

Todd-Willis also reported that the in-house TCMH pharmacy received “zero deficiencies” during the annual survey of the department.

“All policies were in place and correct, and everything was accounted for,” Todd-Willis said.

Cory Offutt, MD, board certified family medicine and obstetrician

Cory Offutt, MD, board certified family medicine and obstetrician

Murray reported that with the number of obstetric providers joining the TCMH medical staff, the TCMH obstetrics department will undergo a facelift in October.

“Dr. Offutt already has 19 new OB patients, and Dr. Groner will be here to start growing an additional OB practice in November,” Murray said.

Currently, TCMH has three family medicine physicians, an obstetrician/gynecologist and a certified nurse midwife that provide complete maternity care.  Two locally-based, Mercy physicians are also on staff and provide OB services at TCMH.

“We anticipate that our OB numbers are going to grow quickly, and we want to give the department a facelift in anticipation of future usage,” Murray said.

The renovation will be completed by in-house staff, and during the renovation, the department will be temporarily relocated to the East wing, a secure patient hall where patient rooms are available.

Linda Pamperien, TCMH chief financial officer, presented the financial statement for the month of August.

Outpatient numbers were up above budgeted expectations for the month of August, but inpatient numbers were down for the month.  Expenses were up for the month due to the renewal of four physician contracts that increased the vacation payable expense on the books, radiology equipment service agreements, and additional expenses related to volume increases in certain departments.

TCMH finished the month of August with a negative bottom line of $211,244.95, and a year to date negative balance of $517,001.12.

Present at the meeting were: Murray; Todd-Willis; Turpin; Pamperien; Joleen Senter Durham, director of public relations; Dr. Jonathan Beers, TCMH chief of staff; Ron Prenger, CoxHealth representative, and board members Dr. Jim Perry, DO; Janet Wiseman; Omanez Fockler, and Mark Hampton.

TCMH board member, Russell Gaither, was not present at the meeting.

The next meeting of the TCMH board of trustees is Tue., Oct. 25 at 12 p.m. in the TCMH board room.

Sleep Studies Laboratory Open Six Nights a Week

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Dr. Juan Mella, pulmonologist at Texas County Memorial Hospital, discusses results from a sleep study with Paula McDaniel, certified sleep therapist at the TCMH Sleep Studies Laboratory.

Dr. Juan Mella, pulmonologist at Texas County Memorial Hospital, discusses results from a sleep study with Paula McDaniel, certified sleep therapist at the TCMH Sleep Studies Laboratory.

The Texas County Memorial Hospital Sleep Studies Laboratory has added the latest in sleep study technology and has increased the number of days the lab is open under the oversight of Juan Mella, MD, board certified pulmonologist and sleep studies specialist at TCMH.

“The new equipment is state of the art,” Mella said, describing the new Respironics Alice 6 G3 system.

The new equipment integrates with electronic medical records at TCMH, creating a nearly seamless electronic record of each patient’s study.

“Currently this is the preferred equipment in the business,” Mella explained.

TCMH had funds earmarked in the 2016 capital budget to purchase the new equipment for the sleep lab.  Prior to Mella joining the TCMH medical staff in June, sleep lab patients at TCMH consulted with a pulmonologist from CoxHealth in Springfield.

“This equipment really allows us to tailor the sleep study to each patient’s personal needs,” Lauren Toman, TCMH cardiopulmonary department director, said.

Toman noted that the equipment detects brain waves, leg jerks, arousals, and lack of breathing that can occur while the patient is sleeping.  Toman described the monitor hook up as “more comfortable” for the patient, too.

“My father has complex sleep apnea issues, and he had a study done on the new equipment,” Toman said.  “The study was a very good experience for him.”

There are six certified sleep therapists in the cardiopulmonary department that work in the sleep lab.  Some of the therapists are cross-trained and certified to work as respiratory therapists as well as sleep therapists.

Dr. Juan Mella, board certified pulmonologist and sleep studies specialist

Dr. Juan Mella, board certified pulmonologist and sleep studies specialist

“With our therapists and with Dr. Mella, we have a dream team,” Toman said about the sleep lab staff.

The Sleep Studies Laboratory is now open Sunday through Friday each week, offering two sleep studies each evening.

A patient must have a physician’s order for a sleep study.  Insurance, including Medicare and Medicaid, will cover a sleep study.  Private pay options are also available for patients without insurance that use the TCMH Sleep Studies Laboratory.

Most patients arrive at the sleep lab between 7 and 8 p.m.

“The patients are screened prior to the study, but our therapists spend time with each patient at the lab.  The therapist gets to know the patient and helps the patient get comfortable in the new surroundings,” Toman said.

According to Toman, the “human side” of sleep studies is an important part of the study.  Therapists ask about daily routines and sleep routines, accommodating the patient as much as possible.

A typical sleep study will begin about 9 p.m. and ends about 5:30 a.m.  The patient’s night of sleep is captured electronically and stored in the lab’s computer system.

Results from the night of sleep will be “scored” by a therapist.  Scoring involves going through the data recorded electronically to find “stages of sleep” to prepare a summary to give to Mella.

Results from a study are sent to the patient’s referring physician.  Sometimes the patient needs a follow-up appointment with Mella.  If a patient requires a sleep device, a durable medical equipment company will work with the patient’s physician and Mella when needed.

Sometimes a sleep study doesn’t completely diagnose a patient’s condition, so the patient may be required to come back for more in-depth sleep studies.

“Unlike some medical treatments, patients don’t return for another sleep study until they become symptomatic again,” Toman said.

Weight gains or losses or other physiological changes may determine a patient’s need for future sleep studies.

After many years of working with patients with sleep issues, Mella is a firm believer in using a sleep study to improve a patient’s health.

“A good night of sleep not only helps my patients feel better, but it can actually save the patient’s life,” Mella said.

Additional information about the Sleep Studies Laboratory and appointments can be made by contacting the TCMH cardiopulmonary department at (417) 967-1247.


Healthcare Foundation Kicks Off Brick Paver Project

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Bricks will be placed in the front entrance island at TCMH.

Bricks will be placed in the front entrance island at TCMH.

Texas County Memorial Hospital Healthcare Foundation has kicked off a brick paver project at the hospital to raise additional funds for the surgery department.  The personalized, engraved bricks will be installed by the main entrance of the hospital.

“The Healthcare Foundation continues to raise funds to support the completion of the surgery department, and we hope to raise $20,000 with this project,” Jay Gentry, Healthcare Foundation director, said.

TCMH completed the outer shell of a new surgery department with funds raised through the “Care for Your Future” capital campaign.  Fundraising for the infill of the department is still underway.

The new 6,091 square foot surgery department will feature two operating rooms and one endoscopy suite.  Seven private pre-surgery and post-surgery bays will be available for patients and their family members in the new department.

“TCMH is currently recruiting an additional full-time surgeon, and we believe the completion of this department is vital to recruiting the surgeon we need and retaining our surgeons and surgery staff in the future,” Wes Murray, TCMH chief executive officer, said.

According to Gentry, there are four brick paver options available: a four-inch by eight-inch brick with up to three lines of text and three types of eight-inch by eight-inch brick with six lines of text, with four lines of text and pre-selected clip art, or with a custom logo.  The bricks range from $100 to $350, a tax-deductible contribution to the Healthcare Foundation.

Sample 4" X 8" brick

Sample 4″ X 8″ brick

“Personalized pavers are a wonderful way to honor or remember someone in a lasting and meaningful way while supporting the Foundation,” Gentry said.

Gentry suggested that the pavers be used to commemorate an anniversary, to celebrate an event, to remember a loved one, or to recognize the birth of a child.

“We are also encouraging area businesses and organizations to participate in the paver project as way to promote their company or recognize members in the organization,” Gentry said.

The bricks will be installed in an island at the hospital’s main entrance, and they will be installed twice annually throughout the program—in the fall and in the spring.

“Bricks will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis,” Gentry said.  “We hope to fill the designated area within the next year.”

The bricks are laser engraved with the message and/or art chosen by the donor.  The initial installation can hold 648 four-inch by eight-inch pavers.

A brick paver form is available here.  Or paver forms are also available at the hospital’s front entrance desk or in the Healthcare Foundation office.

Hospital Seeks Volunteer Youth Ambassadors

joleen General Comments Off on Hospital Seeks Volunteer Youth Ambassadors

Texas County Memorial Hospital has opened the application process for area youth to join the 2016-2017 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 7,100 hours at the hospital since the program began in December 2009.  During the 2015-2016 school year, youth ambassadors volunteered over 1,100 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,” April Steele-Clem, 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 have also received 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.

With the new construction, Youth Ambassadors have played an active role in greeting patients and visitors at the new front entrance and helping them find their way in the hospital.

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

Steele-Clem 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,” Steele-Clem said.

“Some of our current Youth Ambassadors will be able to continue to volunteer at the hospital in the upcoming year,” Steele-Clem 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 here or through area guidance counselors.  The application deadline is Fri., Sept. 16th.

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

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