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

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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

Dr. Jennifer Groner Signs Contract with TCMH

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Dr. Jennifer Groner with her children, Matthew & Sarah.

Dr. Jennifer Groner with her children, Matthew & Sarah.

Texas County Memorial Hospital inked a three-year contract with Jennifer Groner, DO, board certified family medicine physician and obstetrician.

Groner joins TCMH to work full-time at the TCMH Mountain Grove Clinic beginning November 14th.  She plans to reside in Texas County with her children, Matthew and Sarah.

Currently Groner is the attending physician for the department of community and family medicine and assistant professor at the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Medicine and Family Medicine Residency and Surgical Obstetrical Fellowship based at Truman Medical Center Lakewood in Kansas City, MO.

Groner grew up Jefferson City, MO, and she has family that still lives in the area.

Groner completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, IN, and she did biological sciences courses at the University of Missouri in Columbia.  She attended medical school at Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine in Kirksville, MO.

Groner’s medical internship year was at Ingram Regional Medical Center in Lansing, MI, and she completed residency at Capital Region Medical Center in Jefferson City, MO.

Groner completed a post-sophomore fellowship in clinical and anatomical pathology at the University of Missouri School of Medicine in Columbia.  She also completed a surgical obstetrical fellowship at the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Medicine.

Following her fellowship training in 2010, Groner took the faculty position at the University of Missouri School of Medicine.  Earlier this year Groner decided to look for a traditional family medicine physician that would allow her to live and raise her children in a smaller town.

“A job in rural family medicine with obstetrics was my goal as a first year medical student,” Groner said.  “I have very much enjoyed my time in academic medicine, but I am excited to finally do my dream job!”

Groner noted the “warmth and friendliness” of the people she met in Houston and in Mountain Grove during her visits with TCMH.

“I think this is going to be a great place to raise my family.  I am looking forward to being part of the community and finding a place for my kids to call home,” Groner said.

“Dr. Groner is going to be an excellent addition to our medical team at the Mountain Grove clinic,” Wes Murray, chief executive officer at TCMH, said.  He noted that having a full-time physician in the Mountain Grove Clinic has always been the strategic goal of TCMH.

Groner will see patients of all ages at the clinic, and she will provide complete women’s health and obstetrical care, delivering babies at Texas County Memorial Hospital.  Groner will also be on the hospital medical staff, caring for inpatients at TCMH.

“In my visit to TCMH, it was apparent to me that Mountain Grove needed a full-time physician,” Groner said.  “One of the things that made this position more attractive to me than other positions I considered was the opportunity to fill a need and make a difference in the community I serve.”

Groner will work at the clinic with Sara Openshaw, family nurse practitioner, and Tracey Arwood, certified nurse midwife.  Cory Offutt, MD will also see obstetrics patients at the clinic one afternoon a week.

“We have seen our OB services grow through Tracey Arwood and Dr. Offutt’s presence in Mountain Grove,” Murray said.  “We expect that the addition of a full-time, fellowship trained, board certified obstetrician will help us continue to draw in pregnant women that want to see a local healthcare provider and deliver their baby close to home.”

For additional information about Groner or to make an appointment, contact the TCMH Mountain Grove clinic at (417) 926-1770.

Brooke Whitaker is Employee of the Month

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Texas County Memorial Hospital has named Brooke Whitaker of Licking the August employee of the month.

Whitaker is a registered nurse in the TCMH emergency department, and she has worked at the hospital since December 2014.  Whitaker was nominated for the award by her supervisor Jeri Sue Crump, emergency department nurse manager.

“Brooke thrives in the ER,” Crump said.  “She moves quickly, she addresses issues in a timely manner, and she provides amazing care to her patients.”

Whitaker is known to pick up extra shifts in the emergency or intensive care departments when needed.  She is also willing to ride with an ambulance to provide a second set of hands for a critical patient.

“Brooke is a ‘go-to’ employee, and her future in healthcare is bright,” Crump said.

As employee of the month, Whitaker 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 Whitaker.

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

Brooke Whitaker (right), TCMH August employee of the month is with her supervisor, Jeri Sue Crump.

Brooke Whitaker (right), TCMH August employee of the month is with her supervisor, Jeri Sue Crump.

New Physician to Join TCMH Medical Staff in November

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Texas County Memorial Hospital will add another full-time physician in November, hospital board members heard at their monthly meeting on Tuesday.

“Dr. Jennifer Groner has signed a contract with us to work full-time in the Mountain Grove Clinic,” Wes Murray, TCMH chief executive officer, said.

Groner is a board certified family medicine physician with fellowship training in surgical obstetrics.  She currently resides in Lees Summit, MO, but she will relocate to Texas County.

“Dr. Groner will see patients of all ages, and she will provide complete OB care, too,” Murray said.  Groner will also participate in the on-call rotation at TCMH, providing coverage for hospital inpatients.

Murray reported that recruiting efforts for a full-time general surgeon are also underway.

“We have a site visit with a physician planned later this week,” Murray said.

According to Murray, the general surgery candidate and his wife have ties to Missouri and hope to return to the area to practice when the candidate completes his residency program in 2018.

Murray reported that the Sleep Studies Lab in the TCMH Office Annex has increased its appointment days to four days a week and five days a week in alternating weeks.  The Sleep Studies Lab is two beds.

“Our goal is ultimately to increase the sleep lab hours to a seven day a week operation, but we’re moving into that gradually,” Murray said.

Juan Mella, MD, pulmonologist and sleep studies specialist oversees the Sleep Studies Lab at TCMH.

“Dr. Mella is very positive about how we are progressing, and he’s doing everything he can to help us get there,” Murray said.

Renovations at the TCMH Medical Complex have been underway for several months as TCMH geared up for the arrival of Dr. Cory Offutt and additional mid-level provider help in the TCMH Walk In Clinic.  In addition to creating additional exam rooms for patients, the renovation includes creating one common waiting and reception area for both sides of the building.

“Renovation work is going strong,” Murray said.  “We are about to open the hallway connecting the two sides of the building.”

TCMH officials believe the creation of one reception area will better utilize staff and the flow of patient care in the clinic.  Additional clinic rooms are next on the renovation list in the Medical Complex.

Murray reported that Marvin Colyer, a certified registered nurse anesthetist, will return to TCMH in October to work full-time in the surgery department.

“Marvin left here on very good terms several years ago to be closer to his grandchildren in Farmington,” Murray said.  The Colyer’s plan to move back to Texas County for the full-time position.

Hospital board members unanimously agreed for Murray to sign a certified resolution as part of a $206,000 grant request from the Delta Regional Authority State Economic Assistance Program.

The grant would be paired with TCMH Healthcare Foundation donations and tax credits to complete the construction portion of the new surgery department.  The resolution says that the completion of the project would create five new jobs and retain the 312 full-time-equivalent employees currently at TCMH.

“We believe that the completion of the new surgery department and the subsequent renovation to the obstetrics and intensive care departments would definitely help us create five new positions and retain our current full-time staff,” Murray said.

If the hospital receives the grant funding, the hospital’s maintenance department would be responsible for doing the construction work.  Murray indicated that an additional person would be hired to do construction and other maintenance-related work.

According to Murray, a new surgeon would also require a nurse and additional staff members would need to be added to cover the increased work the new surgeon would bring.

TCMH should hear from the Delta Region Authority in September regarding the potential funds.

Home Health of the Ozarks recently underwent a survey by state and federal home health inspectors.  An official letter has not been received by the department but at the exit interview only “standard level” deficiencies were cited.

“Overall the surveyors were very pleased with what they found in the department and in the in home visits with patients and staff,” Doretta Todd-Willis, TCMH chief nursing officer, said.

Todd-Willis explained that the surveyors were impressed with “the compassion of the staff for their patients”.

“We expect to be able to easily correct deficiencies,” Todd-Willis said.

Deficiencies discussed in the exit interview with the surveyors included use of outdated departmental forms that didn’t have current agency business hours listed and a staff member not using hand sanitizer in between glove changes.

The TCMH ambulance service has also passed their service inspection which is done every five years by the Department of Health and Senior Services Bureau of Emergency Medical Services.

The bureau also approved “training entity accreditation” for the TCMH EMS department. The accreditation allows the department to train basic emergency medical technicians on site for the next five years.

Linda Pamperien, TCMH chief financial officer, presented the financial report for July which showed an increase in revenues and inpatient volumes.

“Inpatient admissions are showing an upward trend compared to last year,” Pamperien said.

Swing bed utilization was down to only 11 admissions for the month of July.

Swing bed patients are hospital inpatients that have been admitted for a skilled nursing stay at the hospital following a recent hospitalization.  Swing bed patients come to TCMH to recover from illnesses and surgeries when they are not able to care for themselves at home.

July financials at the hospital showed a positive bottom line of $72,092.02 at TCMH for the month, improving the negative year-to-date balance to $305,756.17.

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

Board members Mark Hampton and Russell Gaither were not present at the meeting.

The next meeting of the TCMH board of trustees is Tue., Sept. 27 at 12 p.m. in the hospital board room.

TCMH Youth Ambassadors Receive Scholarships

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Presenting the scholarship awards were April Steele-Clem, volunteer coordinator, and Jay Gentry, Healthcare Foundation director.  Shown here, left to right, are: Steele-Clem; Hunter; Tate and Gentry.

Presenting the scholarship awards were April Steele-Clem, volunteer coordinator, and Jay Gentry, Healthcare Foundation director. Shown here, left to right, are: Steele-Clem; Hunter; Tate and Gentry.

Two Texas County Memorial Hospital Youth Ambassadors have received scholarships to help them with their academic costs for the upcoming school year.

Monica Hunter was awarded $500, and Melody Tate was awarded $250.  Both girls are from Houston and are graduates of Houston High School.

Hunter is attending Truman State University in Kirksville this fall.  She wants to study physical therapy.

Also this fall, Tate is attending East Central State University in Rolla to study nursing.  Tate is currently employed in the emergency department at TCMH.

Hunter and Tate have volunteered at TCMH through the Youth Ambassador program for the past two years.  They have 744 combined volunteer hours at the hospital in the two year period.

A committee of five TCMH employees from various hospital departments chose Hunter and Tate as the scholarship recipients based on their applications and essays for the scholarships.

“Monica and Melody have shown exemplary efforts as volunteers at TCMH,” April Steele-Clem, TCMH volunteer coordinator, said.  “They have always been punctual, reliable and eager to do whatever is asked of them.”

Funds for the $750 in scholarships came from the Youth Ambassador Endowed Scholarship Fund administered by the TCMH Healthcare Foundation.  The Healthcare Foundation set up the fund in 2015 with local community partners and Community Foundation of the Ozarks through the annual “Give Ozarks” day fundraising effort.

With giving efforts from 2015 and 2016, the Youth Ambassador Endowed Scholarship Fund is at $20,048.  Jay Gentry, Healthcare Foundation director, noted that the Foundation is continuing to grow the endowment fund with hopes of giving away two $500 scholarships to Youth Ambassadors each year.

“Currently the fund levels only allow us to give out $750 in scholarship funds, but that is also greatly appreciated by the recipients,” Gentry said.

According to Gentry, the Youth Ambassador endowment will need to reach $25,000 to allow two annual $500 scholarships.

TCMH Youth Ambassadors are area high school juniors or seniors or college students that are chosen for the program each fall.  Youth Ambassadors are required to volunteer a minimum of four hours each month to remain active in the program.  As volunteers, the students do a variety of services in the hospital and in patient care areas.

“These scholarships are a great way to reward students that have been faithful volunteers at their local hospital,” Wes Murray, TCMH chief executive officer, said.  “Monica and Melody are very deserving of this honor, and we wish them the best as they pursue a college education.”

Additional information about the Youth Ambassador volunteer program or the Healthcare Foundation can be found at

Sheena Painter: Homegrown Family Nurse Practitioner

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Sheena Painter, FNP

Sheena Painter, FNP

Sheena Painter has been working in the healthcare field since she was old enough to have a job in Texas County.  Over the years, Painter’s homegrown healthcare roles have evolved with her knowledge base, too.

Painter’s first job at age 17 was as a certified nurse’s assistant (CNA) at Licking Park Manor.  Painter remembers thinking, “CNA?  What’s that?”

Although Painter didn’t know what a CNA was, it was a job in her hometown, and she needed a job.  The CNA job also led to some private in-home care for elderly neighbors, and Painter found an easy fit in the role of caregiver.

From the nursing home, Painter went to Phelps County Hospital where she worked as a CNA and moved up into a laboratory job as a phlebotomist.  Experience and age under her belt, Painter started LPN school when she was legally old enough to be a licensed practical nurse—18.

“I thought, ‘Why not?’” Painter said regarding her venture into full-fledged nursing.  She held jobs as an LPN at the Rolla and Salem hospitals and, finally, at Texas County Memorial Hospital.

Painter worked at TCMH while she got her associates degree in nursing from Missouri State University in West Plains.  As a registered nurse at TCMH, Painter tried her hand in many different departments including pharmacy and clinical information technology.

TCMH began implementing electronic medical records in 2005, and Painter was a “super user”.  As a super user, Painter trained others learning how to use the electronic medical records system.

“I worked with the physicians helping them learn the bedside charting program,” Painter explained.  She seemed find a niche for herself in teaching and also in patient care.

While working as an RN at TCMH, Painter continued her nursing education pursuing a bachelor’s degree in nursing through the online program at Western Governor’s University in Salt Lake City, UT.

Painter’s work with EMR and healthcare also helped prepare her for the dual RN roles—nurse at TCMH and nursing instructor at Texas County Technical College and MSU-West Plains.

Painter found that she equally enjoyed providing hands-on patient care and teaching the healthcare practice to others.

Painter’s time at TCMH also gave her the opportunity to work with many different types of healthcare providers, including nurse practitioners.  After Painter received her bachelor’s degree, she decided to continue her education by pursuing a master’s degree as a family nurse practitioner through Frontier Nursing University in Hyden, KY.

“I have had the opportunity to know and work with many amazing practitioners doing amazing things,” Painter said.

Painter and her family used area family nurse practitioners to meet their personal healthcare needs.

“Nurse practitioners can meet the needs of the whole family and the community,” Painter said.  “They provide great continuity of care in rural areas.”

When asked what aspects of the nurse practitioner profession she enjoys most, Painter laughed and explained that she loves “variety”.

“I’ve had this ridiculous career in healthcare where I’ve seen and done a lot of different things,” Painter said.  “I haven’t been bored, and I really enjoy all of it.”

The teacher in Painter comes out in her nurse practitioner role when she has the opportunity to counsel a patient about a complex medical issue or to teach a woman about simple contraceptive planning.  Painter believes that part of the role as a nurse practitioner in the community is to be a community healthcare educator.

As a family nurse practitioner, Painter has kept her ties with TCMH.  She works 20 hours a week in the TCMH Walk In Clinic in Houston.

“Over the years TCMH has shown me loyalty and appreciation, and I feel the same loyalty and appreciation toward TCMH,” Painter said.

Painter is also employed full-time by Cox College of Nursing as the simulation coordinator and assistant professor for the nursing cohorts of RN/BSN students of Cox College and Drury University.  Painter’s students are locally based and receive clinical and classroom training under Painter.

“I enjoy watching students learn new things and experience the joy and excitement that come from learning,” Painter said.

Painter firmly believes that students that are trained locally and students that have positive experiences with local employers during their training will have more incentive to stay in the area where they have trained to seek employment.

“The local nursing schools are great for our community,” Painter said.  “We have the opportunity to grow our own for our local healthcare facilities.”

Painter and her husband, Greg, have purchased a small farm in Bucyrus where they are fixing up the home on the property.  They have a son, Ryan, that’s in third grade this fall.

When Painter isn’t working or teaching, she enjoys “old fashioned” pursuits—sewing, quilting and gardening.

“I’m secretly an old timer,” Painter said with a laugh.

Regardless of her age or pastimes, Painter has a homegrown passion for the health of Texas County.  And she intends to cultivate and grow that passion for her community for many more years.

Utility Vehicle Donation to Benefit Hospice of Care

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uv 2016 2The Texas County Memorial Hospital Healthcare Foundation has received a 2017 Kawasaki Mule SX 4X4 utility vehicle to raffle for the Hospice of Care fund which benefits area Hospice of Care patients.

The UV will be awarded to a winner on November 5th at 3 p.m. at the TCMH Healthcare Foundation’s annual Chili Cook Off which also benefits Hospice of Care.

“We always have a large item with raffle tickets for our chili cook off teams to use to raise funds for their team, and this year we partnered with Mega Motorsports in West Plains for the utility vehicle,” Jay Gentry, Healthcare Foundation director, said.

The UV has an $8,600 value, and Mega Motorsports’ donation covered much of the four-wheeler’s cost.  Tickets are raffled for $10 each or $50 for six tickets.

The UV features a four-stroke, automatic transmission with four-wheel drive capability.  The UV towing capacity is 1100 pounds, and the cargo bed will hold up to 400 pounds.uv 2016 1

“We have raffled a side-by-side UV at previous Chili Cook Off events, so we know it’s something that interests people,” Jay Gentry, TCMH Healthcare Foundation director, said.

Gentry explained that the UV is currently parked at TCMH if anyone wants to see it.

The TCMH Healthcare Foundation and Hospice of Care have a fundraising goal of $45,000 for the 2016 Chili Cook Off, and proceeds from the raffle ticket sales will go toward overall fundraising for the event.

Funds from the Healthcare Foundation’s Hospice Fund and the annual Chili Cook Off are utilized to provide end of life care for patients and their families regardless of a patient’s ability to pay for the service.

“Our hospice funds are used locally to benefit the patients we serve within a 40-mile radius of TCMH,” Courtney Owens, TCMH Hospice of Care director, said.

In the past year, funds raised through the Chili Cook Off were used to pay for medications for patients that did not have any insurance.  Funds were also used to purchase materials and to provide bereavement services through Hospice of Care.

“The funds raised for Hospice of Care by the Chili Cook Off help us meet needs of area patients and family members that we might not be able to help otherwise,” Owens said.

Raffle tickets for the UV are available through the Hospice of Care office located in the TCMH Office Annex, the front registration desk at TCMH, the Auxiliary Gift Shop and any of the 13 teams that are participating in this year’s cook off.

Space is still available for additional cook off teams, according to Owens.

For additional information about raffle tickets or entering as a 2016 Chili Cook Off Team, contact Hospice of Care at (417) 967-1279 or 1-866-967-3311 ext. 1279.

Making the donation from Mega Motorsports were, left to right, John Wells, Kelley Wake and Brandon Creech, with Jay Gentry, Healthcare Foundation director.

Making the donation from Mega Motorsports were, left to right, John Wells, Kelley Wake and Brandon Creech, with Jay Gentry, Healthcare Foundation director.

TCMH to Permit Doulas in Surgery for C-Sections

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Texas County Memorial Hospital has expanded the policies of the surgery and obstetrics departments to allow professional doulas into the operating room with their clients during a Cesarean-section.

A doula provides support to a pregnant woman during pregnancy and labor and after delivery of the baby.  The word “doula” is derived from ancient Greek meaning “a woman who serves”, and there are professional doula services available in the Ozarks for women seeking additional support during pregnancy and after delivering their baby.

“At TCMH we are patient experience driven, and a doula can be part of making a great patient experience,” Angel Watkins, TCMH obstetrics department director, said.

Watkins noted that professional doulas are accepted as part of birth plans at many hospitals, but it’s rare that doulas are allowed in the operating room during Cesarean-sections.

“The C-section is typically viewed as a surgery, and only the father or one additional support person is allowed in with the mother,” Watkins said.

Last summer, TCMH became the first hospital in the area to perform “gentle C-sections” during non-emergency Cesarean sections.  The gentle C-section is also part of a patient-centered experience at TCMH.

“We support our patients’ birth plans as long as their plans are safe.  We recognized that doulas can provide support for the patient inside the operating room as well as in a non-surgical delivery,” Watkins said.

Summer Thorp-Lancaster, professional doula and owner of Summer Birth Services in Rolla, considers the TCMH move to approve doulas in the operating room as “very positive for families”.

“TCMH is leading the charge for patient centered birth experiences in a low resource area,” Thorp-Lancaster said.  “The physicians, midwife, and nurses at TCMH are passionate about the care they provide their patients, and it’s phenomenal.”

Summer Birth Services is one of two professional doula services available to patients in the Ozarks.  Thorp-Lancaster has two teams of two doulas and a certified lactation counselor available to area clients.

“We are a tour guide for birth,” Thorp-Lancaster said.  She explained that half of her clients are first time moms that don’t know what to expect, and the other half of her clients have experience with childbirth and prefer the extra care available with a doula.

According to Thorp-Lancaster typical doula service includes scheduled prenatal visits with the client; the doula attends the labor and delivery of the client, and the doula continues to provide service to the client for the first few weeks following delivery.

“One of our jobs is to focus on the well-being of the entire family during the labor and delivery process,” Thorp-Lancaster said.  “We try to bridge the gap between the patient and the care provider so that everyone is communicating with each other during the birth process.”

Thorp-Lancaster said that because doulas focus on the communication between the woman giving birth, her care providers and her spouse or labor partner, there is typically and increase in satisfaction in the overall birth experience.

“Birth matters,” Thorp-Lancaster said.  “I know from personal experience that when we give support, mom ultimately feels more confident.”

According to Thorp-Lancaster, a doula takes care of mom, she assists her client in communicating a birth plan to the care team, and she provides support to the spouse or other members of the labor support team.
“We try to make sure there is never a break in the care being provided to mom,” Thorp-Lancaster said.

Summer Birth Services does provide doula support to women that are having planned Cesarean sections, too.

“There is a misperception that doulas are only for natural birth,” Thorp-Lancaster said, “But we are pretty valuable no matter your birth plan.”

Thorp-Lancaster said that the hardest work for a doula is the work before and after birth.

“We work one-on-one with our clients so we understand their birth plan,” Thorp-Lancaster said, “And we work closely afterward to provide encouragement, advice and support following delivery.”

Watkins explained that doulas providing services at TCMH need to have and show their professional doula training.  According to Watkins, TCMH will make efforts to accommodate and make room for a doula in the operating room, but there may be times when it’s not possible for the doula and the partner to both be present in the room.

“We want to provide the women that deliver at TCMH, the freedom of choice with their birth plan,” Watkins said.  “Bringing a doula into the OR is another way to help our patients have the birth experience they desire.”

Additional information about utilizing a doula at TCMH is available through the obstetrics department by calling (417) 967-1260.  Information about Summer Birth Services is available at

Summer Thorp-Lancaster, professional doula, applies pressure to the back of a client while she labors at home.

Summer Thorp-Lancaster, professional doula, applies pressure to the back of a client while she labors at home.

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