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)

Closed

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)

Closed

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.”

It’s National Domestic Violence Awareness Month! Don’t stay silent. Educate yourself and speak up.

By Catherine Rice, Vice President of Marketing/Outreach

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which first began in 1981 by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence as a Day of Unity to connect battered women’s advocates across the country. Domestic violence affects millions, both women and men, of every race, religion, culture and status. It’s not just punches and black eyes — it’s yelling, humiliation, stalking, manipulation, coercion, threats and isolation. It’s stealing a paycheck, keeping tabs online, non-stop texting, the constant use of silent treatment, or calling someone stupid so often they believe it.

Since the Violence Against Women Act passed in 1994, we’ve come a long way.

This landmark legislation, led by then Senator Joe Biden, combined new provisions that hold offenders accountable and provide programs and services for victims. Between 1993 and 2010, the overall rate of domestic violence dropped nearly two-thirds and state laws have reformed to address issues such as dating abuse in the workplace, stalking, employment discrimination and more.

Nearly three out of four Americans personally know someone who is or has been a victim of domestic violence. And unfortunately, no one knows better of the traumatic impact than our very own Kallie Weas, MA.

Kallie’s Story

Kallie WeasKallie’s 23-year-old sister, Katie, and six-month-old niece were killed on Oct. 23, 2013 by Katie’s abuser-boyfriend. Last week, staff wore purple in support of Domestic Violence Month and Kallie and her family. Kallie’s family is celebrating their seventh-year anniversary. Purple ribbons were distributed to patients and staff.

“My sister and her baby daughter were killed by her abuser via a head on collusion,” Kallie reflects. “This was so devastating for all of us, including the innocent man driving the other car, who survived. To heal and remember Katie and her daughter, we launch a balloon for each year she and her daughter are no longer with us. In addition, my sister and I focus on educating people about domestic abuse.”

Kallie approached her supervisor, Lee Champion, RN, Clinic Director/Risk and Compliance Officer, and CEO Amy Falk, about bringing more awareness about domestic abuse to HPC.

“We often only associate October with “pink” and Breast Cancer Awareness Month,” Amy adds. “But for those impacted by domestic violence, including family members of the abused, National Domestic Violence Awareness Month is an opportunity to educate and bring awareness of this important public health priority. We applaud Kallie’s efforts to encourage conversation about this issue.”

Kallie can’t agree more. “I felt the best way to honor my sister is to make sure my colleagues, friends, patients and community better understand the signs of domestic abuse and what to do if a person is being abused. My older sister posts daily stats and information about domestic violence on social media. We each do something in our own way. I just want our staff and patients to know the signs and think about this issue—and not have to live through our nightmare.”

Kallie urges everyone to become informed, know the signs and take a stand. Please support survivors (and their families like Kallie’s) and speak out against domestic violence – not just in October but year-round.

Staff wearing purple in support of Domestic Violence Month and Kallie and her family Staff wearing purple in support of Domestic Violence Month and Kallie and her family Staff wearing purple in support of Domestic Violence Month and Kallie and her family

Did you know?

  • The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that 1.3 million women and 835,000 men are victims of physical violence by a partner every year.
  • Every nine seconds, a woman in the U.S. is beaten or assaulted by a current or ex-significant other.
  • One in four men are victims of some form of physical violence by an intimate partner.

Why do people in an abusive relationship stay with their partners?

There are a few reasons:

  • Their self-esteem is destroyed, and they are made to feel they will never be able to find another person to be with.
  • The cycle of abuse, meaning the ‘honeymoon phase’ that follows physical and mental abuse, makes them believe their partner really is sorry and does love them.
  • It’s dangerous to leave. Women are 70 times more likely to be killed in the weeks after leaving their abusive partner than at any other time in the relationship, according to the Domestic Violence Intervention program.
  • Statistics suggest that almost five percent of male homicide victims each year are killed by an intimate partner.
  • They feel personally responsible for their partner, or their own behavior. They are made to feel like everything that goes wrong is their fault.
  • They share a life. Marriages, children, homes, pets and finances are reasons victims of abuse feel they can’t leave.

Are you in an abusive relationship?

Sometimes, people don’t know if they are really in an abusive relationship because they’re used to their partner calling them crazy or making them feel like all the problems are their own fault.

Here are a few ways to know if you’re in an abusive relationship that you need to get out of.

  • Your partner has hit you, beat you, or strangled you in the past.
  • Your partner is possessive. They check up on you constantly wondering where you are; they get mad at you for hanging out with certain people if you don’t do what they say.
  • Your partner is jealous. (A small amount of jealousy is normal and healthy) however, if they accuse you of being unfaithful or isolate you from family or friends, that means the jealousy has gone too far.
  • Your partner puts you down. They attack your intelligence, looks, mental health, or capabilities. They blame you for all their violent outbursts and tell you nobody else will want you if you leave.
  • Your partner threatens you or your family.
  • Your partner physically and sexually abuses you. If they EVER push, shove, or hit you, or make you have sex with them when you don’t want to, they are abusing you (even if it doesn’t happen all the time.)

Signs Someone You Know Is Being Abused

Keep an eye out for things like:

  • Excuses for injuries
  • Personality changes, like low self-esteem in someone who was always confident
  • Constantly checking in with their partner
  • Never having money on hand
  • Overly worried about pleasing their partner
  • Skipping out on work, school, or social outings for no clear reason
  • Wearing clothes that don’t fit the season, like long sleeves in summer to cover bruises

Are the Signs Different for Men?

They’re often the same. And that’s true whether the abusive partner is a woman or another man. It may be emotional or verbal, like taking away keys, medicines, or other essentials. Or things like constantly putting you down in public or on social media.

And it can be physical. To make up for differences in strength, abusive partners may try to attack you in your sleep, by surprise, or with weapons and other objects. They may also abuse your children or pets.

What to Do if You’re Being Abused

First, know that you deserve better and that this isn’t your fault. If you’re in an emergency, call 911.

It can be hard to decide whether to stay or leave. That’s why it may help to start with a call to the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (1-800-799-7233). Call from a friend’s house or somewhere else where you feel safe.

You can also turn to friends, family, neighbors, your doctor, or your spiritual community.

Also make sure you have an emergency escape plan:

  • Hide a set of car keys.
  • Pack a bag with keys, extra clothes, important papers, money, and medicines. You might keep it at a friend’s house.
  • Have a plan for calling the police in an emergency. You might have a code word, so your kids, family, friends, or co-workers know you’re in danger.
  • Know where you’ll go and how you’ll get there.

HPC Celebrates Medical Assistants Week Oct. 19-23

Celebrate

 

Lee ChampionBy Lee Champion, RN, MSN, Nurse Clinic Director and Risk Manager

Medical assisting is an allied health profession whose practitioners’ function as members of the health care delivery team and perform administrative and clinical procedures. With their unique versatility, medical assistants are proving to be the allied health professional of choice for this decade and beyond. Medical assisting is one of the nation’s careers growing much faster than average for all occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Medical Assistants at HPC

Our medical assistants at HPC are multiskilled allied health professionals who perform a wide range of administrative and clinical roles with skill, dedication and loyalty. All of the medical assistants at HPC are cross trained and are an asset to our patients and providers with their vast knowledge in working in primary care.

They make a substantial contribution to the quality of health by promoting and maintaining cooperative and successful relationships between patients and providers and are vital members of the team.

HPC Celebrates Medical Assistants Week Oct. 19-23We have medical assistants who are our subject matter experts in Pediatrics that work with pediatricians providing care to infants, children and teens under the age of 18.

We also have medical assistants that specialize in Women’s Health care. They participate in quality measures that are applicable to this specialty.

We are very grateful for our medical assistants at HPC:

Carolina Barraza, Oxana Blas, Traci Gentry, Alicia Jimenez, Mayra Lemus, NRCMA, Andrea Madrigal, Teresa Najera, NRCMA, Tracie Ostermeier, RMA, Taylor Sanders, RMA, Ruth Ungang, Kallie Weas and Darayu Wilson.

Hand Hygiene 101

Laura CaseyBy Laura Casey, BSN, RN, Health Partnership Clinic, Infection Control & Occupational Health Coordinator

Keeping hands clean is one of the most important things we can do to prevent the spread of germs. Hand washing is easy, and it takes about 20 seconds to do. By washing your hands with soap during the day, you can prevent the spread of germs.

Here’s the proper way to wash your hands:

1. Wet your hands with water 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.
4. Rinse your hands well under the water.
5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

Handwashing Tips

Click to Enlarge

What if soap and water are unavailable?

Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to reduce the number of germs on them in most situations. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Take the following steps when using hand sanitizer:
1. Apply the product on the palm of one hand.
2. Rub your hands together.
3. Rub the product over all surfaces of your hands, including in between fingers and underneath fingernails.
4. Allow your hands to dry completely before touching anything.
Hand sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in many situations, but they do not eliminate all types of germs. Hand sanitizers can be a safe and effective alternative to handwashing if soap and water are unavailable.

Hand Washing is Key!

Remember proper hand washing is key in the prevention of germs spreading from person to person—especially during the COVID-19 pandemic! During International Infection Prevention Week, Oct. 18-24, the clinic will be building awareness about the importance of proper hand hygiene with various activities. Tip sheets and other information will be available in the clinic lobbies, and helpful tips will be shared on social media.

Hand Hygiene

Don’t Forget the Sunscreen!

Post written by Maureen Caro, FNP-BC, Family Nurse Practitioner

Maureen CaroAs we head into the sunnier months, it is time to talk about one of my favorite topics—sunscreen! Of course, we need to use it year-round, but it is most pressing in the summer.

The first thing to understand is why we should protect ourselves from the sun. The radiation from the sun is responsible for skin cancer, premature aging and burning.

There are two types of UV radiation that are of interest here­­—UVA and UVB.

A helpful way to remember the difference is UVA causes Aging, and UVB causes Burning.

UVA

UVA has a longer wavelength. It will go through clouds and glass, so if it seems you are protected on a cloudy day or behind your car’s windshield, incorrect! UVA is responsible for damaging cells’ DNA and causing cancer, as well as wrinkles and aging. Tanning is your skin trying to protect itself from UVA by releasing melanin, a dark protein that absorbs the radiation. African-American skin is already supplied with melanin. Even well-tanned skin is not very protective against damage. UVA rays are used in sun tanning beds.

UVB

The other UV ray is UVB. UVB does not go through clouds and glass and is what the body uses to make vitamin D. Next time someone tries to sell you on a tanning bed by saying that it will protect you against burning and help you make vitamin D, now you know that isn’t true! I also do not recommend tanning beds because they greatly increase your risk of dangerous skin cancers. There are three major types of skin cancer—basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and malignant melanoma. Malignant melanoma is the scary one, and the one I never want to miss! It is rapidly spreading and very dangerous. If you have a mole or a change in skin always contact your provider immediately.

Types of Sunscreens

Health Partnership Clinic - The importance of sunscreenThere are two types of sunscreens available in the United States (US), usually differentiated between mineral (zinc oxide and titanium oxide) and chemical. Zinc and titanium oxide are white metals that reflect the radiation back. However, they are also what we use to make white paint for artists, so they tend to make you look ghostly. If you rub it in well, this can be managed but not eliminated entirely. Chemical (or organic) sunscreens absorb the UVB radiation. Two of them have been implicated in damaging coral reefs, oxybenzone and octinoxate. Anything you wash off your skin will go in the sea eventually, so I prefer to avoid these and especially recommend not taking them for anyone planning a beach vacation.

Now on to the fun part—FDA regulations! SPF is how we measure sunscreen power in the US, and this stands for sun protection factor. It is measured by applying the sunscreen to a square inch of skin in a non-sun-exposed area (buttock) of a hopefully well-paid volunteer and then comparing it to an unprotected square inch on the opposite buttock on the same volunteer. Reddening/burning of the skin is measured, and then the poor person is mercifully released. SPF is a multiplication factor in how much more sun exposure it takes to burn in comparison to the unprotected skin. SPF 15 does not mean 15 minutes, it means 15 times more solar energy exposure to start to burn. This is not a direct correlation to time spent out in the sun. The amount of solar energy outside varies depending on what time of day it is and where you are on the globe. I usually encourage people to use SPF 15 or higher, and to reapply every two hours. You have to wait about 15 minutes after application to have it dry down and become fully effective. The other thing you want to look for on the packaging is broad-spectrum. UVB is the ray responsible for burning, and if we are measuring burning to get to a SPF classification then we are missing out on UVA entirely. Now, if you look for the words broad-spectrum, that will give you UVA protection.

Gel? Spray? Cream? Mist?

The other big thing is what kind you use. Gel? Spray? Cream? Mist? One of my nursing professors used to say, “It only works if you use it.” Find a formulation that you will use effectively. I personally keep tiny bottles of gel face sunscreen next to my front door, in my purse, in my car and in my office. I always forget to apply sunscreen until I am about to step outside. I keep spray cans in the kids’ swimsuit bags, since they refuse to sit still long enough for me to patiently rub in a cream. I don’t see mists getting a thick enough application to really work. Whatever you can get in the highest SPF of at least 15, with the least amount of perfume, can reapply every two hours, and don’t dislike—do that! Don’t forget the tricks my granny’s generation had, wide-brimmed hats and light-colored clothes with a tight weave will also protect against sun. Thank you and enjoy the sunshine responsibly!

Maureen Caro is a family nurse practitioner and is accepting new patients. To schedule call 913-648-2266.

Further reading:

 

The Business of Medicine During a Pandemic

Dr. Wael MouradBy Wael S. Mourad, MD, MHCM, FAAFP, Chief Health Officer and Family Physician, Health Partnership Clinic

The COVID-19 pandemic was an inevitable yet unexpected calamity that traversed the globe with breathtaking speed. It was a true public health emergency that tested and continues to test the capabilities and expertise of our national medical and public health infrastructure. In addition, it has been a stress test on the capacity for leadership through crisis that health care organizations must exercise as they navigate through current and future waves of a pandemic with the highest mortality rate to strike the United States in a century.

Financial Impact

The macroeconomic impact of the pandemic has been well documented. In a depression, rising total debt that eventually reaches a tipping point is usually the underlying instigator of a domino effect that imparts a downward pressure on spending that negatively impacts the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Normally, it takes all the tools in the fiscal and monetary toolboxes of the federal government and federal reserve, respectively, to reverse the trend. And those tools are appropriate for the addressing the underlying problem of escalating total debt.

The interesting feature in the current financial crisis is that the underlying instigator of the financial downturn is a medical and public health cause not easily under the control of these governmental agencies, and the normal tools leveraged to address the financial downturn will not solve the underlying problem. Because spending is equivalent to income in an economy, a downward trending GDP results in drastically reduced income for companies as well as people, leading to cost cutting, salary reductions and ultimately higher unemployment and furloughs.

Health Partnership Clinic: The financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemicWhile times of medical crisis may present themselves as business opportunities for health care organizations, the nature of the pandemic has been the opposite, as patient volumes and health care transactions have been depressed by approximately 50 percent — a seismic shock to statements of operations across the country. In this fashion, the pandemic has demonstrated in a painful way that fee for service still rules the day.

Crisis Leadership Amidst the Fallout

A crisis goes to the heart of what leadership is. Leadership is setting a vision and direction for where the team, company, or organization needs to go. It includes explaining why this direction is important, and what steps can be taken to get there. It also includes soliciting help and securing buy in from the team. Traversing this often treacherous and uncertain path requires fortitude, confidence and creativity. These characteristics can inspire confidence and creativity amongst the team, as great ideas and momentum cannot come from one person alone. While leadership can come from any level in a company, it is a requirement for optimal outcomes that great leadership is demonstrated at the top.

At our organization during the first blows of a crisis, our communications during our morning huddles routinely included answers to these four questions:

  • What is going on?
  • What are we doing about it now?
  • How do we get out of it?
  • What is the ask from the team?

Health Partnership Clinic: The financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

These questions will effectively fill in the gaps in the minds of the team, and thereby minimize the anxiety so that we can all move on together. People management is already complex and a challenge during the best of times, much less during a crisis. To move on is critical for the functions of adaptation, innovation and taking advantage of opportunities for potential growth.

Exploit and Explore

Exploitation refers to using the resources, capabilities and current market conditions to maximize value to the organization.  Exploring refers to the innovative and creative aspect of an organization that considers new services and new markets that are keys to a company evolving.  Kodak is a good example of a company that exploited but did not adequately explore.  Companies that have not struck the proper balance between exploiting and exploring are vulnerable to disruptive innovations, which are often fueled by new technologies as well as creative processes.  Despite this prospect and because of a lack of incentives, the balance is often shifted in favor of exploiting during normal times.

The COVID-19 pandemic however has provided powerful incentives for health care organizations to leverage the long available technologies of telemedicine, to familiarize themselves with the already published guidelines on coding for these visits, and to consider vendors who will interface with their electronic health records to improve communication with patients in forms such as texting, as well as to better monitor and improve quality measures.  Organizations that take advantage of these times to improve their infrastructure for quality and population health may emerge from this existential crisis better primed and positioned than their peers for value-based reimbursements in the future. And like in other industries suffering financial hardship, such as auto industry after the 2008 financial crisis, health care organizations will likely become leaner companies.

Pulling It All Together:  Public and Private Partnerships

FQHC LogoMy organization, Health Partnership Clinic, is one of over 1,300 federally qualified health centers in the United States. As such we are a captive audience for the federal government as it communicates its priorities during this pandemic and provides funding. Opportunities exist to continue to improve the alignment of the public health goals of our nation and the population health incentives of health care organizations.

While the federal government has capabilities to address rising debt and its consequences, it is less equipped to directly mitigate the spread of a pandemic with our public health infrastructure’s current state. This infrastructure needs to be as robust as our financial crisis management infrastructure in terms of responding to crises. Just like there is coordination between the governmental agencies and banks, there needs to be the same degree of intimate coordination and alignment of incentives and goals between public health agencies and health care organizations.

This coordination can only come from leaders, who can project a vision for population health outcomes, adoption of new technologies, reducing racial inequities and enhancement of public health preparedness. This direction to guide how federal funding and stimulus programs are implemented is needed to ensure that funding is directed toward activities that bring the most value to our patients and communities.

To learn more about Health Partnership Clinic, visit hpcks.org.