Tips to Stay Safe this Fourth of July

The fourth of July holiday is often filled with lots of family fun including activities such as pool parties, barbecues, outdoor games and fireworks.

Amid the holiday festivities parents may overlook important safety precautions. By keeping a few key Fourth of July safety tips in mind, parents can help keep children safe while still enjoying the holiday fun.

Leave the Fireworks to the Experts

FireworksThe National Safety Council (NSC) advises everyone to stay away from all consumer fireworks and to only enjoy fireworks at a public display conducted by professionals.

Fireworks can result in burns, scars, disfigurement and even death. A new report by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) finds a 50 percent increase in deaths and injuries from fireworks-related incidents in 2020, compared to 2019. At least 18 people died from fireworks-related incidents in 2020, compared to 12 reported for the previous year.

Every year, sparklers can be found in the hand of children along parade routes and at festivals, but they are a lot more dangerous than people think. Many parents don’t realize that they burn at about 2,000 degrees-hot enough to melt some metals. Sparklers can quickly ignite clothing and many children have received severe burns from dropping sparklers on their feet.

  • Families should attend community fireworks displays run by trained professionals rather than using fireworks at home.
  • Be sure to stay at least 500 feet away from the show.

Be Vigilant About Water Safety

4th of July Safety TipsAnother common fourth of July activity is swimming in pools and lakes. It is important to remember to never leave children unattended around bodies of water. According to the NSC approximately 19 children drown during the fourth of July holiday each year.

  • Children should always be monitored while in the water. Adults should take turns watching the children in 15-30-minute intervals.
  • Sign your children up for age-appropriate swimming lessons, but keep in mind even with swimming lessons children should still be monitored closely.
  • Never use floatation devices or water wings when swimming or teaching your child to swim.
  • Learn CPR and rescue techniques.
  • Establish and communicate clear rules for the pool such as:
    • Do not push or jump on others, no diving or running, etc.
  • Children should always wear life jackets while on a boat, personal watercraft and in open bodies of water.
  • Never consume alcohol when operating a boat, and always make sure everyone is wearing U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets.
  • Sunblock, hydration and supervision are all essential water safety precautions that help keep the day fun and safe.

Barbecue Grill Safety

BarbecueNothing beats a barbecue with friends and family.  Just remember these tips to keep everyone safe.

  • Create a barbecue only zone. Children and pets should not come within three feet of the barbecue grill once it is turned on. Remind your children that the barbecue is just like the stove, it gets extremely hot, and they can be burned. Keep pets contained away from the grill while it is in use.
  • Grill in a well-ventilated area, away from your house and deck. Every year grills and smokers cause thousands of fires, hundreds of injuries and deaths and millions of dollars in damage.
  • Be prepared for an emergency by keeping a fire extinguisher and a spray bottle of water nearby.
  • Use long handled barbecue utensils to keep the chef safe.
  • Always follow manufacture’s instructions when using grills.

Protect Your Skin and Avoid Dehydration

  • Protect Your SkinLimit your sun exposure between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and wear broad-spectrum sunscreen with a protection factor of at least 30 which will protect you from both UVA and UVB rays. Reapply sunscreen often.
  • If you are swimming you should reapply sunscreen hourly or at least every two hours.
  • Drink plenty of water, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Avoid drinking beverages that are caffeinated or contain alcohol.
  • During hot weather, watch for signs of heat stroke-hot, red skin; changes in consciousness; rapid, weak pulse; rapid shallow breathing. If it’s suspected someone is suffering from heat stroke:
    • Call 9-1-1 and move the person to a cooler place.
    • Quickly cool the body by applying cool, wet towels to the skin (or misting it with water) and fanning the person
    • Watch for signs of breathing problems and make sure the airway is clear. Keep the person lying down.

Clinic celebrates National Health Center Week with Children’s Health Day

2021 National Health Center WeekCommunity Health Centers, like Health Partnership Clinic (HPC), provide innovative health service delivery to more than 30 million patients! Each year, we celebrate National Health Center Week which is a great time to spread the word about our health center and the good work we are doing for the communities we serve.

This year’s theme is “The Chemistry for Strong Communities” and it will be celebrated Aug. 8-14. This special week provides us with an opportunity to also honor our public servants, patients, employees, volunteers, consumer board members and others.

One of our featured events is our Children’s Health Day, which will be Saturday, Aug. 14. The goal is to provide a safe and affordable way for area parents to access care. The event runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Olathe location, 407 S. Clairborne Rd. Parents must schedule an appointment by calling 913-648-2266.

Download the Event Flyer

You can download the event flyer in English or in Spanish.

The following services will be provided:

  • Well Child Checkups
  • School/Sports Physicals
  • Immunizations
  • Dental Screening
  • Fluoride

2021 National Health Center Week - English 2021 National Health Center Week - Spanish

The clinic accepts insurance, including KanCare and Medicaid.

Financial assistance is available to uninsured children who qualify. The event is co-sponsored by Aetna Better Health of Kansas, Sunflower Health Plan and UnitedHealthcare Community Plan. In addition, the health insurance companies are also underwriting some of the week’s events.

For the safety of our patients and staff, we request one parent/guardian with a child along with minor siblings. Parents and children are asked to wear a mask and socially distance. Children and/or parents who exhibit any COVID-19 symptoms, should stay at home.

The event is co-sponsored by Aetna Better Health of Kansas, Sunflower Health Plan and UnitedHealthcare Community Plan. In addition, the health insurance companies are also underwriting some of the week’s events. We are so grateful to our partners!

The week will be kicked off on Sunday, Aug. 8 with Public Health in Housing Day. HPC is donating 800 pediatric dental kits to Mission Southside. These kits will be given to children living in public housing. On Monday, Aug. 9, complimentary personal care bags will be distributed to SafeHome clients and free water will be distributed by the Mobile Health Clinic, a collaborative partnership between HPC, the Olathe Fire Department and Olathe Health. We will also be recognizing our patients, stakeholders and staff during the week.

National Health Center Week is a wonderful opportunity to highlight the important role of community health centers. We are not just healers, we are innovators who look beyond medical charts to address the factors that may cause poor health, such as poverty, homelessness, substance use, mental illness, lack of nutrition and unemployment. In addition, we care for everyone, regardless of insurance status. As unemployment rises and more Americans lose their employee-sponsored health care, HPC and other community health centers will be the key to keeping America healthy.

We are accepting new pediatric and adult patients.
To schedule an appointment at one of our clinics, please call:

Olathe: 913-648-2266
Shawnee Mission: 913-432-3334
Paola: 913-294-9223
Ottawa: 913-401-2750

Improve your sleep and improve your life!

Sharon Trongaard, RRT, MS, MPHBy Sharon Trongaard, RRT, MS, MPH, Clinic Director/Risk & Compliance Officer and Respiratory Therapist at Health Partnership Clinic

Sleep is vital to our good health. Studies now link a lack of sleep to increasing the risk for obesity, diabetes, heart disease and dementia. Over time, a lack of sleep is even associated with a shortened lifespan. So even though it may be tempting to give up a few hours of sleep to get stuff done, in the long run prioritizing your sleep will improve your health and ability to enjoy life.

Getting enough sleep is as important to your health as a good diet and exercise.

Getting good sleep can become more difficult as we get older (Abbasi, 2012). Sleep is of course important for our brains, allowing us to be focused and alert, but it is during deep sleep that your brain also “takes out the trash” of byproducts and toxins that build up. A recent study by the National Institutes of Health found that impaired glymphatic clearance (the brains waste removal system), which occurs primarily during sleep, contributes to the development of Alzheimer’s Disease (Reddy, OC, 2020).

As a Respiratory Therapist and Sleep Educator, I know that everyone experiences trouble sleeping occasionally. But if you routinely have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep more than one night a week, you should consider a few small changes recommended by the Harvard School of Sleep Medicine that could improve the quality of your sleep (Harvard, 2019).

  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, chocolate, soda and some pain relievers four to six hours before bed. These substances can make falling asleep and staying asleep more difficult.
  • Make your bedroom a welcoming space for sleep by creating an environment that is:
    • Comfortable – Your bed should be supportive with a good mattress and inviting with cozy pillows, sheets and blankets.
    • Dark – Keep out light from windows with black out curtain and make sure that clocks and other electronics in the room have the display turned off or set very dim. Even small amounts of light can disturb sleep.
    • Well ventilated – Generally people sleep longer in cooler environments with temperatures between 65-85°F.
    • Quiet – if you have a pet that wakes at night, you may consider having them sleep outside your bedroom. If your partner snores or there are other noises, consider using earplugs or a white noise machine.
  • Use light to your advantage.
    • If you have problems waking in the morning, get some sunlight as soon as possible. Open the blinds as soon as you get up to let some light in. Each day try to get at least 20 minutes in the sunlight. Exposure to the sun helps regulate your circadian rhythm by turning melatonin production off when it is light and turning it on when it is dark to help you fall asleep.
    • Limit exposure to blue light from computers, tablets and phones, especially two hours before bed. Blue light can turn off melatonin production.
  • Have a bedtime routine. Remember when you were little and your parents would give you a bath, read you a book and tuck you in? These routines let your body know that it is time for sleep. Create your own routine by reading, meditating, or listening to music. Avoid activities that are stressful or energizing as these can increase the production of cortisol (the fight or flight hormone) that can keep you awake.
  • Keep a consistent sleep schedule. Sleeping in on the weekends may seem like a great idea, but it can lead to trouble falling asleep the next night. On the weekends wake up at your normal time and use the extra times for some selfcare. Go for a walk, watch the sunrise, read the paper, or cook a healthy breakfast!

Sleeping TipsImplementing one or several of these changes in your life may help improve how easily you fall asleep and your ability to stay asleep. If you have frequent problems sleeping, snore or experience excessive daytime sleepiness, you should visit your provider who can look for sleep disorders such as sleep apnea or insomnia. At Health Partnership Clinic, our providers know that sleep is key in our approach to whole person health, and we encourage our patients to talk about any sleep issues so we can partner with them to find solutions.


Abbasi B, Kimiagar M, Sadeghniiat K, Shirazi MM, Hedayati M, Rashidkhani B. The effect of magnesium supplementation on primary insomnia in elderly: A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. J Res Med Sci. 2012;17(12):1161-1169.

Harvard Medical School.  Improving Sleep: A guide to a good night’s rest. 2019. Accessed June 23, 2021.

Reddy OC, van der Werf YD. The Sleeping Brain: Harnessing the Power of the Glymphatic System through Lifestyle Choices. Brain Sci. 2020;10(11):868. Published 2020 Nov 17. doi:10.3390/brainsci10110868

Stay Safe this Fourth of July

The Fourth of July holiday is a time when families gather and enjoy traditions such as pool parties, backyard barbecues and fireworks. However, it can be easy for parents to overlook important safety precautions. By keeping a few key Fourth of July safety tips in mind, parents can help keep children safe while still enjoying the holiday fun.

​Leave fireworks to the experts.

FireworksThe American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) continues to urge families NOT to buy fireworks for their own or their children’s use, as thousands of people, most often children and teens, are injured each year while using consumer fireworks.

  • Fireworks can result in severe burns, scars, disfigurement and even death.
  • Families should attend community fireworks displays run by trained professionals rather than using fireworks at home.
  • Be sure to stay at least 500 feet away from the show. A recent study shows that 65 percent of victims of firework related injuries were bystanders.

Keep sparklers off limits.

  • Sparklers can surpass 1200 °F, which is a temperature 400 °F greater than the melting point of glass. In recent years, sparklers accounted for 28 percent of emergency room visits due to fireworks related injuries, including third-degree burns.
  • According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, sparklers are responsible for about 1,400 eye injuries each year. Typical eye injuries from fireworks include detached retina, ruptured eyeball, scratches on cornea and burns.
  • If you or someone you know is injured by fireworks, get medical attention immediately!
  • Consider giving glow sticks, which is a fun and safe alternative.

Enforce water safety.

Water SafetyIf a pool party or a trip to the lake is in your plans, remember, children must be supervised around bodies of water 100 percent of the time.

  • Always make sure that adults take turns in shifts every 15-30 minutes as designated “water watchers.”
  • Sign up your children for swim classes.
    • Start your baby in swimming classes at six months of age and continue them year-round.
  • Know CPR.
  • Never use floatation devices or water wings when swimming or when teaching kids to swim.
  • Always make sure your kids wear life jackets on boats, personal watercraft and in open bodies of water. Use only U.S. Coast Guard approved life jackets.
  • Avoid alcohol. It impairs your judgment, balance, coordination and your body’s ability to stay warm. Avoid it when swimming and supervising children.
  • Communicate the pool rules, no running, diving, etc.
  • Sunblock, hydration and supervision are all essential pool safety precautions that help keep the day fun and safe.

Don’t forget about barbecue safety.

  • Create a barbecue-only zone of three feet on all sides that is restricted to be a space designated for adults.
    • Children should be reminded that a grill is not a toy, and that the equipment is both hot and dangerous.
  • Always grill in a well-ventilated area.
  • Be prepared for an emergency by having a fire extinguisher and a spray bottle of water on-hand.
  • Never grill indoors – not in your house, camper, tent, or any enclosed area.
  • Make sure everyone, including the pets, stays away from the grill.
  • Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, the deck, tree branches, or anything that could catch fire.
  • Use the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill to keep the chef safe.
  • Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using grills.
  • According to the National Fire Protection Association, July is the peak month for grill fires (18 percent) so remember to stay vigilant!

Be prepared… Protect your skin.

  • Limit exposure to direct sunlight between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a protection factor of at least 30 which will protect against damage from both UVA and UVB rays. Reapply sunscreen often.
  • If you are in an outdoor pool, reapply sunscreen preferably every hour and absolutely every two hours. Avoid having young children in an outdoor pool longer than one hour especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Remember to drink plenty of water regularly, even if not thirsty.
    • Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine.
  • Protect the eyes by wearing sunglasses that will absorb 100 percent of UV sunlight and have a polarized coating.
  • Protect the feet – the sand can burn, and glass and other sharp objects can cut them.
  • During hot weather, watch for signs of heat stroke—hot, red skin; changes in consciousness; rapid, weak pulse; rapid, shallow breathing. If it’s suspected someone is suffering from heat stroke:
    • Call 9-1-1 and move the person to a cooler place.
    • Quickly cool the body by applying cool, wet towels to the skin (or misting it with water) and fanning the person.
    • Watch for signs of breathing problems and make sure the airway is clear. Keep the person lying down.

Ask the Doctor! Chief Health Officer answers COVID-19 Vaccine questions.

Wael S. Mourad, MD, MHCM, FAAFPPost written by Wael Mourad, MD, MHCM, FAAFP, Chief Health Officer

Turn on the TV and you’re bound to hear breaking news about the COVID-19 vaccine and vaccination plans. It has spurred many questions and concerns from parents and the communities we serve.

At Health Partnership Clinic, our providers are talking with patients every day about the new COVID-19 vaccine. At this time, we have a very limited supply of vaccines and will only be vaccinating current HPC patients who meet the established criteria of both the state and county. We ask that HPC patients request a vaccine from his/her provider through the clinic’s patient portal or call 913-276-7012.

We’re thrilled so many people are interested in becoming vaccinated to save lives. Community members are encouraged to contact their health providers and/or the county health departments. Meanwhile, Dr. Wael S. Mourad, MD, Chief Health Officer and a family physician, answers some “Frequently Asked Questions” to help you better understand COVID-19 vaccines.

Link for English Questions and Answers

Link for Spanish Questions and Answers

Ask the Doc: COVID-19 Vaccinations Ask the Doc: COVID-19 Vaccinations

Happy Holidays from Health Partnership Clinic!

HPC Happy Holidays - Billing/Patient Services

During the holiday season, we pause to reflect on the events of the year, and we are reminded how very privileged we are to count you among our many blessings. Thank you for entrusting your family’s health care needs to our staff at Health Partnership, especially in a year riddled with uncertainty. We are honored to be part of your journey and appreciate the confidence you have shown us.

From everyone at Health Partnership, we wish you and yours good health, hope, happiness and prosperity this holiday season and well into the future.

Health Partnership Clinic - Admin Health Partnership Clinic - Nursing Health Partnership Clinic - Behavioral Health

HPC will observe the following holiday schedule:

Thursday, Dec. 24 (Christmas Eve)

7 a.m. to Noon (Olathe)
8 a.m. to Noon (Ottawa, Paola, Shawnee Mission)

Friday, Dec. 25 (Christmas Day)


Thursday, Dec. 31 (New Year’s Eve)

7 a.m. to 3 p.m. (Olathe)
8 a.m. to 3 p.m.  (Ottawa, Paola, Shawnee Mission)

Friday, Jan. 1 (New Year’s Day)


Have a safe, warm and cozy holiday!

Health Partnership Clinic: Happy Holidays!

Slow the spread. Wash your hands!

By Catherine Rice, Vice President of Marketing/Outreach

During the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping hands clean is especially important to help prevent the virus from spreading. It’s one of those everyday precautions besides wearing a mask and social distancing.

With the spike of COVID cases across our country, including Kansas and Missouri, it never hurts to remind ourselves about proper handwashing. At Health Partnership Clinic, we have instituted several proactive steps to ensure the safety of our staff and patients—frequent handwashing is at the top of the list. At home, it is equally important. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides several useful tips and reminders to keep you and your family healthy.

Remember, handwashing is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your family from getting sick—that goes for COVID, the flu and colds!

How Germs Spread

Washing hands can keep you healthy and prevent the spread of respiratory and diarrheal infections from one person to the next. Germs can spread from other people or surfaces when you:

  • Touch your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Prepare or eat food and drinks with unwashed hands
  • Touch a contaminated surface or objects
  • Blow your nose, cough, or sneeze into hands and then touch other people’s hands or common objects

Key Times to Wash Hands

You can help yourself and your loved ones stay healthy by washing your hands often, especially during these key times when you are likely to get and spread germs:

  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
  • After handling pet food or pet treats
  • After touching garbage

According to the CDC, during the COVID-19 pandemic, you should also clean hands:

  • After you have been in a public place and touched an item or surface that may be frequently touched by other people, such as door handles, tables, gas pumps, shopping carts, or electronic cashier registers/screens, etc.
  • Before touching your eyes, nose, or mouth because that’s how germs enter our bodies.

Follow Five Steps to Wash Your Hands the Right Way

Washing your hands is easy, and it’s one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs. Clean hands can stop germs from spreading from one person to another and throughout an entire community—from your home and workplace to childcare facilities and hospitals and clinics.

Follow these five steps every time.

  1. HandwashingWet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to get rid of germs in most situations. If soap and water are not readily available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. You can tell if the sanitizer contains at least 60 percent alcohol by looking at the product label. Remember to keep hand sanitizer out of reach of young children and supervise their use. Swallowing alcohol-based hand sanitizer can cause alcohol poisoning. 

Get the whole family involved in handwashing.

HPC has developed an easy-to-follow tip sheet for children. Check it out!

Handwashing Tips Handwashing Tips Spanish

HPC Celebrates Nurse Practitioner Week, Nov. 8-14.

Wael S. Mourad, MD, MHCM, FAAFPPost written by Wael Mourad, MD, MHCM, FAAFP, Chief Health Officer

Nurse Practitioners occupy a very significant portion of the health care work force in the United States.

What is a Nurse Practitioner (NP)?

An NP is an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) and is a type of mid-level provider. A mid-level provider is a medical practitioner who independently sees and treats patients under the supervision of a physician (while in some select states, they are able to practice independently). They are trained to provide primary, specialty, acute and chronic care to patients of all ages.

What is the history behind NPs?

The discipline of nurse practitioners began in the 1960s and was initiated by Dr. Henry Silver, a physician, and Loretta Ford, RN, a nurse.  In 1971, the U.S. Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare formally recommended expanding the scope of nursing practice to be able to serve as primary care providers.

Do NPs practice only as primary care providers?

The answer is a resounding “No!” NPs practice in nearly all the medical subspecialties such as cardiology, pulmonology, nephrology and many more. We also have pediatric nurse practitioners and those who practice in highly acute settings such as the neonatal intensive care units. Related mid-level provider disciplines that nurses enter include midwifery and certified nurse anesthesiology (while not nurse practitioners, they are frequent members of the team).

How do NPs help form a great team?

In a great team, everyone has their role. At HPC, NPs come from a variety of backgrounds to serve our patients in a primary care role. They can care for a great variety of presentations and ailments. If the patient becomes too complex, the patient can then be seen by the physician. This allows patients to be cared for in a caring and cost-effective way that utilizes everyone’s skill to its maximum.

Do NPs bring anything to the table that physician’s do not?

Absolutely. Nurses have a different training background than physicians. Nurses are traditionally closer to the patient than are physicians. They are more in tune with patients’ needs in many respects and this allows potentially more opportunity to establish rapport with patients, as well as advocate for their needs.

We are so grateful for our NPs at HPC. Thank you, Tony Anno, DNP, ACNP-BC, APRN; Maureen Caro, FNP-BC; Elizabeth Lewis, WHNP-BC, MSN, MPA-HA, BSN, RN; Jennifer Miller, FNP-BC; Whitney Venegoni, APRN, FNP-C; Gwenyth Wagner, DNP, APRN; and Patti West, DNP, APRN.    By forming a great team that works together, that is how we best take care of our patients!

Celebrating HPC Nurse Practitioners

Clinic Now Accepting Appointments for Marketplace Enrollment

Iveth Alvarado, Enrollment SpecialistPost by Iveth Alvarado, Enrollment Specialist

The Health Insurance Marketplace (also known as the “Marketplace” or “exchange,” opens Nov. 1, and there’s only 45 days to #GetCovered in 2020! The Marketplace provides health plan shopping and enrollment services through websites, call centers and in-person help.

At Health Partnership Clinic, we offer free, in-person help with the health insurance application. Open enrollment is from Nov. 1-Dec. 15.

We are now scheduling appointments by calling 913-730-3653. A certified application counselor is available to help you in English or Spanish.

When you apply for individual and family coverage through the Marketplace, you’ll provide income and household information. You’ll find out if you qualify for:

  • Premium tax credits and other savings that make insurance more affordable
  • Coverage through the Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in your state

We’re here to help you renew your health insurance or explore your options! Call us today at 913-730-3653.

Clinic honors staff and patient veterans and those currently serving.

By Catherine Rice, Vice President of Marketing/Outreach

As Veterans Day nears, Health Partnership Clinic (HPC) reflects on the proud men and women who have served in the U.S. military. We salute and thank them for their bravery and service. It’s also a time to pay tribute to our own.

Oxana Blas

Oxana Blas

Oxana Blas
Private First Class/E-3
Kansas Army National Guard

Oxana Blas, Medical Assistant, is currently in the Kansas Army National Guard, Clinic Director and Risk/Compliance Officer Lee Champion, RN, served in the Navy for more than nine years and resigned as a E6 Petty Officer 1st Class, and Keith Petite, Technical Account Manager, Triggerfish Corp., assigned to the clinic, retired from the U.S. Army as Sergeant First Class after 25 years of service. In addition to Oxana, Lee and Keith, there are many family members of our staff who have served or are currently serving.

HPC is recognizing Veterans Day, Wednesday, Nov. 11, by sending thank you cards to our veteran patients and to staff’s family members. In addition, the Olathe clinic will be decorated with flags, and resources and flag pins will be available at all sites. Staff will be proudly displaying photographs of their loved ones in the Olathe lobby and will enjoy red, white and blue cookies. We are also sharing the stories of two members of our team, Oxana and Keith.

Medical Assistant joins National Guard to help others

While friends were busy completing college applications, Oxana Blas’ plans were undecided. She needed a break from school yet yearned for a challenge. A few months before graduating from Blue Valley West High School in 2018, she met a National Guard recruiter, and her life changed.

Before long, Oxana enlisted in the Kansas Army National Guard and headed to a 10-week basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.

Her next destination: Fort Sam’s Houston, San Antonio, Texas. Here she attended a grueling 16 weeks of advanced individual training (AIT) and  received her EMT certificate and field training. During this intensive training, Oxana learned skills in normal and emergency situations, including IVs, medication administration, airway treatment, equipment sterilization and casting broken bones. After that, she received her Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) as a Healthcare Specialist Medic.

“After my AIT training, I knew I was in the right MOS,” she reflects. “I really love helping people and the best way to do this is through health care. And the Guard gave me structure, support and opportunity.”

Oxana Blas Oxana Blas Oxana Blas

As a National Guard, Oxana is committed to one weekend a month, two weeks in the summer and ready to respond when needed. In 2019, she decided to take advantage of the Guard’s education benefit and enrolled in Kansas State Army ROTC program in Manhattan, Kan. She particularly enjoyed the competitions and comradery of her fellow soldiers.

The year was going well and then COVID-19 hit. Oxana finished her freshman year at home but opted not to return in the fall. Soon after she was activated in the spring of 2020. Her assignment: To administer COVID testing to inmates at the Lansing Correction Facility in Lansing, Kan. In addition to testing, she and three other medics were responsible for monitoring inmates’ health, distributing medications, etc. That lasted two months. Next, it was time to look for a job and that lead her to Health Partnership Clinic in July 2020.

“HPC seemed like a good fit for me,” she notes. “I knew the community, it was close to home, and I thought it would be challenging since I’ve never worked in a clinic setting. The skills I learned in the Guard are helping me in my new role as a medical assistant (MA).” Her supervisor, Lee Champion, RN, Clinic Director and Risk/Compliance Officer, couldn’t agree more.

“As a Navy veteran, I knew that Oxana would bring a wealth of skills and experience in her short time with the Guard,” she explains. “Time management, leadership and communications are three valuable skills you learn early in your military career. Her patients and coworkers appreciate the way she develops relationships, communicates clearly and how she takes initiative and helps the team. In addition, Oxana is bilingual which is another helpful skill.”

“The person I was and the person I’m today are two different people. My short time in the Guard has had a lasting effect on me. I’ve grown in so many ways. I feel like I’m a better person—I listen better, can take criticism better, and I’ve learned that it is not just me but the team. Your actions don’t just affect you, and it encourages me to be more considerate of others. Serving in the military and working at HPC is very humbling, and I’m doing something greater than myself.”

Oxana’s short term goal is to complete her MA certificate. Long term, she sees herself completing college and officer training and becoming a firefighter/medic. No matter her path to success, she always lives the Guard’s motto, “Always Ready, Always There!”

If you are interested in joining the National Guard or would like more information, Oxana would love to chat with you and share her experiences.

Oxana’s Accomplishments

  • First place Recondo Challenge, Five-person team, First Place
  • Army ROTC Wildcat, Battalion Army, 10 miler, First Place
  • First Wildcat female on the Army Ten-Miler team to finish

Did you know?

The United States National Guard is part of the reserve components of the United States Army and Air Force and each state’s National Guard unit is controlled by the governor in time of peace but can be called up for federal duty by the president. The Guard helps soldiers and the community during disasters and civil unrest at home and overseas.

Keith Petite

Keith Petite

Keith Petite
Sergeant First Class
U.S. Army, Retired

Be all you can be and have fun at it. After travelling to 23 different countries, three deployments, commanding 30 or more soldiers and being exposed to many interesting jobs, Keith Petite has learned a few things about life and people.

And these skills have come in handy as HPC’s IT guru. As the Technical Account Manager for Triggerfish Corp., which provides IT support to the clinic, Keith spends most days troubleshooting technical issues, setting up emails, installing programs and ensuring all systems (everything from computers to internet to telephones) are a go for our providers and staff.

Long before joining the clinic, Keith served in the U.S. Army. He retired in 2015 as a Sergeant First Class after 25 years of combined service Active & Reserve.

“My time in the Army taught me three very important skills that I use today,” Keith says. “When working with people—no matter their walk of life—you must be very patient, unbiased and nonjudgmental. I also learned how to manage and balance the personalities of individuals, their personal life crisis such as domestic violence, personal strife and financial burdens coupled with the goals & missions of your command. These skills have been invaluable.”

The Early Years

Keith knew firsthand about the military. His father and grandfather served in the Navy and his uncle in the Marines. As a “Navy Brat,” Keith grew up on several military installations, liked the life and always asked lots of questions of his military relatives. “I chose the Army because I liked the uniform and the concept framework of the Army, particularly with the specialized teams.”

“I knew I wanted to travel and experience all I could,” he adds. “So, I shared my plan with my family, and I never looked back.” While still in high school Keith enlisted in the Army at 17 years old. After completing high school, he shipped off to training in June 1989 with a contract as a Satellite Communications Specialist.

Expect the Unexpected

As a Satellite Communications Specialist, Keith worked with early technology where he used teletype devices and radio waves to transmit and receive encrypted data.   That data was then deciphered or decrypted and sent via radio waves through satellite. “It was a very secure way to communicate sensitive information, and we utilized various encryption methods to perform various retransmit functions. “It was nothing like it is today!”  My first duty assignment was South Korea where my job was to go on missions and transmit and receive signals and send those up the chain.”

In December of 1990, Keith left Korea bound for Fort Riley, Kan., stopping at home for some personal leave to reconnect with family in San Diego. “During my leave at home over the holiday, I was ordered to report early and prepare to ship to Iraq. I was in Iraq by Jan. 3 and just 19 years old.” Operation Desert Storm was a war waged by coalition forces from 35 nations led by the United States against Iraq in response to Iraq’s invasion and annexation of Kuwait arising from oil pricing and production disputes.

After completing his first three-year tour of Active Duty, Keith elected to transition to the Army Reserves and started working locally and settled in the Fort Riley area. He got married in 1993, started a family and enrolled at K-State University in 1995. His goal was to earn a Fire Sciences degree.

During this time, he was reclassified to Army Firefighter/EMT and deployed to Bosnia for nine months. He was selected for the Active Guard Reserve (AGR) Program. This program involved reservists and guard members who are on active duty to facilitate the day-to-day functions of the Army Reserve’s process. At this point, he rejoined as Active Duty and was responsible for all facets of fire operations including training, finance, maintenance, IT and overseeing 24 soldiers.

Then came 2010; Keith was deployed again to Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He and his team were responsible for airfield firefighting operations in northern Iraq & Mosul.  Keith’s primary job was Command & Control of the Firefighter teams while providing fire protective services in their area of operations.  Everything from helicopters, to planes & tanks and pulling bodies out of wreckages as well as fires caused by soldiers in mess tents and barracks.

After returning home from Iraq In 2011, Keith was selected to reclassify as an Army Recruiter and after a few years he was transferred to Des Moines, Iowa. His family remained in Kansas and for three years, he traveled home each weekend to be with family.   He retired in 2015 as a Master Trainer in US Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC).

After retirement, Keith opted to get back into IT, working for various companies and as a private consultant. He joined Triggerfish in May 2020 and was assigned to HPC.

Keith says he is fortunate to have a job that he loves and enjoys ever day. “I’ve taken all of the skills the Army gave me and merged them into something that is fun, and IT is fun for me,” he reflects. “I remember my Dad saying, ‘If you can’t have fun while you work, don’t work.  Do what you enjoy.’ I live by that motto.”

When Keith joined the Army in the late 80s, their motto was “Be All You Can Be,” and he has certainly fulfilled that.

Keith’s Accomplishments

  • Awarded the Glen E. Morell award for Superior Recruiting
  • 2-time Meritorious Service Medal recipient
  • “Best Small Unit in the Army,” 1996

Did you know?

  • Keith’s favorite country is Hungary, which is in Central Europe. He says, “The people are cool and friendly. Everyone I met were so thankful for what we did for them. In addition, I love the old world and traditions, and the architectural landmarks are unbelievable.”
  • For Keith, Veteran’s Day is synonymous with family. He says, “Because we are a military family, we celebrate by talking about the good and bad of what we experienced and how it has made us the people we are today. We’re proud of our accomplishments and the impact we’ve made along the way.”