Improving the Healthcare System Begins with Supporting Community Health Programs

Sierra MillerPost by Sierra Miller, Kansas City University of Medical Biosciences, DO/MA candidate 2021

Changing the Narrative

Healthcare is one of the most divisive and partisan topics in the current political climate. Most people can tell you a horror story of a long ER wait, an enormous medical bill, or some other way the healthcare system has failed them. But what you don’t commonly hear about are the amazing ways that healthcare can improve the life of a person, family or community.

Collectively we have a tendency to ignore things when they are going as we expect them to and focus on the negative or bothersome things that are interrupting our plans. We don’t usually think about the shoes on our feet, until they are causing a blister. Similarly, we are quick to double down on our own opinions when someone expresses an idea that seems different from our own. These reactions have brought us to a point where nearly everyone is dissatisfied with the current system in place, but we seem unable to have a productive conversation about approaches to improve the healthcare system.

Where We Agree

Today, I want to change that narrative and instead of focusing on where we differ in our approach to healthcare policy, I want to talk about where we are more likely to agree.

  • One thing we are all likely to agree on is that we don’t want to wait for seven hours in the waiting room of the local ER and then receive a bill for $2,500.
  • We don’t want to have to pay more than a $1,000 a month for prescription medications that are required to keep us alive.
  • We want to know that when we need healthcare we have quick and affordable access to it, and we want to know that the care we seek will be safe and effective.
  • And we also want to know that if we make any changes to the current system that we will benefit from those changes.

If you are shaking you head in agreement with me so far, don’t lose faith when you read the next sentence, hear me out. I believe that the first step toward improving all of these things is through supporting community health programs.

Community Health

When I use the term “community health” I intend to describe the intersection where both the medical and social needs of a group of people within a specific geographic area are met. The health of a community affects everyone who lives or works within it, including you. The community you live in affects your everyday life in more ways than you may realize.

You may not be the person who participates in the annual neighborhood garage sale or volunteers with the PTA, but chances are you do drive on the roads and go to the local grocery store. The health of your community impacts the safety of the roads you drive on, crime rates, educational opportunities, neighborhood green spaces, transportation options, what businesses are willing to operate in your neighborhood and therefore what resources you have access to.

Most of us can identify a few things in our own neighborhoods that we would wish to improve. My ask today, is that when considering how to improve the community you live in, you consider the importance of the health of the members within your community.

Improving the Team

Sierra Miller FamilyAnalogous to a sports team, a community is only as strong as the weakest players. If we want to improve the team, we can see the biggest gains by investing in the players who have the most room for improvement. Community Health Centers (CHC) like Health Partnership Clinic are designed to improve the health of the communities they serve. They function by partnering community resources and federal funding to make healthcare more accessible and affordable for the medically underinsured population.

They provide more than just access to a primary care physician, they also bring improved access to dental care, behavioral healthcare and many other social health services.

Right now, you might be thinking I have insurance, I can pay my bills, or I don’t need this in my neighborhood. I assure you that improving the access for those who might be one paycheck or medical bill away from not being able to pay their rent will have trickle down effects to services you do use.

The Community Health Center Model

The Community Health Center (CHC) model was brought to the United States in the 1950s by Dr. Geiger. From its inception, the CHC model has proven to have compounding health effects throughout all areas of the communities that they serve. They allow patients continuity of care and improved management of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.

According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 90 percent of the $3.3 trillion spent on annual healthcare expenses goes toward managing chronic and mental health conditions.

Helping patients manage these diseases in a primary care setting reduces disease progression and complications rates. Appropriate management of these conditions in an outpatient setting also helps to relieve hospitals from having to function as a primary care physicians office and reduces some of the dramatic economic burden associated with managing chronic diseases in an acute setting. This means reduced costs, reduced waiting time, reduced physician burnout, reduced morbidity and mortality.

This also means that when you have healthy members in your community, you have more people who can contribute to the economy. You see healthier children who are more prepared for their education and to become future contributing members of society. When there is stronger economic strength you also see lower crime rates, more development and improved quality of life.

Solutions to our Biggest Problems

I truly believe that improving community health is vital to changing the narrative we are hearing and experiencing in today’s healthcare system. That is why as a third-year medical student I have chosen to work in community health centers and plan to become a primary care physician. I want to be able to serve my community and be part of the solution. I believe that focusing on our shared interests is the only way forward if we want to change the current healthcare climate and improve the communities that we live in.

When we do this, I believe the solutions to many of our biggest problems will also start to fall into place.

Sierra Miller is a third-year Osteopathic Medical Student at Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in the Community Health Center Track and is a dual degree student completing her Masters in Bioethics. Sierra has completed two months of rotations as a student in the areas of Family Medicine and Community Health Center Administration at Health Partnership Clinic in Olathe.

Housing affordability’s role in creating a healthy and thriving Johnson County

August 4-10 marks National Health Center Week. On Sunday, Aug. 3 is Social Determinants Day. In today’s value-based care environment, Health Partnership Clinic is accountable for improving health outcomes and lowering costs. To achieve these goals and succeed in such an environment, we need to better understand our patients to address both their clinical and non-clinical needs and impact the root causes of health, including patients’ health behaviors, health outcomes and health costs.

The social determinants of health are the conditions in which people live, work, play and age. They can encompass socioeconomic conditions, environmental conditions, institutional power and social networks. Understanding patients’ social determinants allows us to transform care with integrated services to meet the needs of our patients, address the social determinants of health and demonstrate the value it brings to patients, communities and payers.

Julie BrewerPost written by Julie Brewer, Executive Director, United Community Services of Johnson County

The time has come to re-think how we define a thriving community.

Typically, we focus on economic development, beautification efforts, and quality schools. But are Johnson County communities thriving if an increasing number of residents are being priced out of the opportunity to live here? Are we a thriving and healthy community if one in three community members reported being emotionally upset due to their finances sometimes, usually or always in the past 12 months in the most recent community health needs assessment survey?

In Johnson County, regardless of whether renting or owning, one in four households (25 percent) are cost burdened.

Cost burdened means your housing expenditures are more than 30 percent of your household income. Approximately 36 percent of households in Johnson County are single households or single head of households. In addition to housing costs, medical bills, credit cards, and utilities rounded out the top list of what Johnson County households reported as cost they worry about how to pay.

Social DeterminantsHow does stress impact our health and overall well-being? Approximately one in five community members reported experiencing physical symptoms (upset stomach, headache, etc.) due to their finances sometimes, usually or always in the past 12 months.

Years of public health research indicates that 50 percent of what creates your health outcomes can be attributed to social and economic factors, and your surrounding environment. These are called the social determinants of health.

A community collaborative call the Johnson County Health Equity Network has taken up the challenge to address health equity issues in our community.

Health equity means that everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible. This requires removing obstacles to health such as poverty, discrimination, and their consequences, including powerlessness and lack of access to good jobs with fair pay, quality education and housing, safe environments, and health care.

The priority health issue the Johnson County Health Equity Network has identified for our community is housing affordability. The Network’s Leadership Team includes community organizations such, decision-makers, and community members impacted by issues such as housing affordability. The collaboration is being facilitated by United Community Services of Johnson County (UCS) and the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment.  The Health Partnership Clinic is an important partner in this work and serves on the leadership team.

Since 2014, cost of living for Johnson County residents has increased by double digits.

Single households have seen a 24 percent increase in costs and all other household types have experienced a 15-19 percent increase. Housing costs is a key component of this increase. Since 2006, we have seen the proportion of homes in Johnson County available for purchase under $250,000 go down as the proportion of homes valued above $250,000 increase. Rents have increased by more than 29 percent during this same period.

If these trends continue, will young adults and families be able to live here? Will longtime residents be able to retire here? A thriving community needs a healthy, vibrant workforce for the wide array of jobs that enable a community to function, grow and be a desirable place to call home.

This past June, UCS gathered more than 200 community members to learn more about the Johnson County Health Equity Network and housing affordability needs, concluding with Call to Action opportunities. To learn more visit:

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, 2017 1-year estimates; Economic Policy Institute, Family Budget Calculator, 2017; Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Estimates, 2017, Johnson County Department of Health and Environment 2018 Community Health Needs Assessment Survey

Effective ways to protect children from the risk of child abuse and neglect.

Kansas Children's Services League Logo - Stopping Child Abuse

Jamie VanCompernolle

Guest Post by Jamie VanCompernolle, LMSW, Assistant Director Healthy Families, Kansas Children’s Service League

We all want to live in neighborhoods and communities where families are safe and children thrive. But as individuals, sometimes we aren’t sure where to start to make that desire a reality.

The Center for the Study of Social Policy, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and others have spent decades researching the causes of child abuse and neglect and the most effective methods of preventing it. Their research has identified Five Protective Factors that reduce or eliminate risk and promote healthy development and well-being of children and families.

Protective factors can serve as buffers helping parents find resources, supports or coping strategies that allow them to parent effectively even under stress. The following list[i] outlines each of the Five Protective Factors and simple actions each of us can do to help promote these in our own families and communities.

1. Parental Resilience

Parents who can cope with the stresses of everyday life, as well as an occasional crisis, have resilience – the flexibility and inner strength to bounce back when things are not going well. This ability serves as a model of coping behavior for their children as well as helping them to develop resilience at a young age.

You can support Parental Resilience by:

    • Helping parents find ways to make time for themselves and practice self-care;
    • Teaching concrete strategies for relaxation such as deep breathing; and
    • Working with parents to anticipate difficulties and problem solve.

2. Social Connections

Parents with a network of emotionally supportive friends, family and neighbors often find that it is easier to care for their children and themselves. Research has shown that parents who are isolated and have few social connections are at higher risk for child abuse and neglect.

You can encourage Social Connections by:

    • Planning events where parents can meet other families and build new connections;
    • Creating opportunities for parents to be a part of planning social events that reflect their interests or culture; and
    • Hosting special outreach activities for fathers, grandparents and other extended family members.

3. Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development

Parents who understand the usual course for child development are more likely to be able to provide their children with respectful communication, consistent rules and expectations, developmentally appropriate limits and opportunities that promote independence. They are less likely to become frustrated and resort to harsh discipline out of lack of knowledge.

You can promote Parenting Knowledge by:

  • Encouraging parents to see the world from their child’s point of view;
  • Talking to parents about what children typically do at different ages; and
  • Encouraging parents to participate in support groups or parenting classes to learn more.

4. Concrete Support in Times of Need

Families whose basic needs (food, clothing, housing and transportation) are met have more time and energy to devote to their children’s safety and well-being. When parents do not have steady financial resources, stable housing, lack health insurance or face a family crisis, their ability to support their children’s healthy development may be at risk.

You can provide Concrete Support by:

    • Helping parents learn how to navigate service systems, ask for help and advocate for themselves to receive needed support;
    • Distributing local resource guides with information on community resources for things such as food banks, mental health centers, homeless services, etc.; and
    • Encouraging parents to call the Parent Helpline (1-800-CHILDREN) or download the Parent Helpline app to find resources to meet specific needs.

5. Social-Emotional Competence of Children

Parents and caregivers grow more responsive to children’s needs – and less likely to feel stressed or frustrated – as children learn to tell parents what they need and how parental actions makes them feel rather than “acting out” difficult feelings.

You can urge Social-Emotional Competence by:

    • Engaging parents and children in a game or art activity that helps children learn to express themselves in ways other than words;
    • Creating a lending library of picture books about coping with different emotions for parents to read with their children; and
    • Teaching parents which social and emotional skills children develop at different ages.

I hope this list will spur ideas that can be implemented by individuals, neighborhoods, schools, churches and communities. Supporting families and ensuring parents have the knowledge, skills and resources they need are effective ways to protect children from the risk of child abuse and neglect. We all can play a role in building healthier communities and creating hope for families!

[i] This information is based on the annual prevention resource guide published by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Children’s Bureau, Office on Child Abuse and Neglect.

About Kansas Children’s Service League

Kansas Children’s Service League (KCSL) is a statewide not-for-profit agency with 125 years of experience keeping kids safe and strengthening families in Kansas. KCSL serves more than 40,000 children and their families each year through a variety of community-based and child abuse prevention programs. KCSL’s mission is to protect and promote the well-being of children. Our services and advocacy efforts focus on preventing child abuse, strengthening families and empowering parents and youth. KCSL is also the Kansas chapter of Prevent Child Abuse America and Circle of Parents and a Kansas multi-site system of Healthy Families America. KCSL sponsors Healthy Families, a home visitation program that provides supports to struggling families of young children, in 23 Kansas counties including Johnson, Miami, Wyandotte and Leavenworth Counties. Learn more at

To DO or not to DO? A quick comparison of the philosophies of Osteopathic and Allopathic Medicine

Guest post by Rachel Olsen, Medical Student at Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences

Rachel Olsen is a third-year Osteopathic Medical Student at Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in the Community Health Center Track and an Associate Adjunct Professor at Johnson County Community College. Rachel completed four months of rotations as a student in the areas of Psychiatry, Pediatrics, Family Medicine and Community Health Center Administration at Health Partnership Clinic in Olathe.

Rachel Olsen, DO Kansas City University Logo

When I was asked “what do you want to be when you grow up?”, I was dead set on becoming a scientist and professor. My dreams were filled with a future composed of hours spent at the lab bench or microscope discovering incredible cures for the ailments of modern man. Though my own plans did not originally include hopes of becoming a doctor, as so many have, I was drawn to the art of medicine during my graduate school years.

Little did I know how complex such a decision would become and how much my life would be changed.

I was faced with not only deciding which schools to apply to, but even more so with the decision as to whether I would become an Allopath (MD) or an Osteopath (DO).

The question boiled down to: which medical philosophy fit my own goals and beliefs? To answer this, I had to consider carefully these two pathways and make sense of the similarities and differences between them. Upon setting out on this quest I literally had NO idea what a DO was. I had never heard of any type of Doctor aside from MDs.

So, I took it upon myself to do some research, something I was very familiar with, and find out more. I am certain I was not alone in this shocking realization that there was an entire medical philosophy to which I was completely naïve. I decided I just had to share a little of what I have learned along the way in hopes of helping potential patients in choosing what they want in a physician and what will meet their personal needs and expectations in the realm of medical care.

Allopathic and Osteopathic Schools

Allopathic and Osteopathic schools alike produce licensed physicians whose training begins with foundational scientific knowledge. In many ways both pathways, and the physicians they graduate, are extremely similar. Both degrees build upon basic science to develop the methodology and techniques used in clinical medicine.

Graduates of either program may choose from the same list of potential specialties, ranging from primary care to orthopedic surgery, and are licensed to prescribe medication. However, the greatest differences exist in the approach to practicing medicine, as well as some of the tools used to do so.

I thought a simple comparison table may help clarify some of these aspects.

Allopathic Osteopathic
Philosophy Focused on diagnosis and treatment of disease Holistic approach focused on prevention of disease in addition to treatment
Education Bachelor’s degree followed by four-year post-graduate medical program Bachelor’s degree followed by four-year post-graduate medical program
Additional Training 200+ additional hours of training in Osteopathic Manipulative Therapy (OMT) which uses hands-on movement of muscles and joints to enhance the inherent ability of the body to heal itself.
Board Exams and Licensing USMLE series: Step 1, Step 2, and Step 3 COMLEX series: Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3

Often also complete the USMLE series

After Graduation Residency of three or more years dependent on specialty Residency of three or more years dependent on specialty

Ultimately, practitioners of either philosophy are capable of providing high quality health care to patients in need. Both tracks spend the same number of years in training and have the same fundamental foundation in the basic sciences. The addition of the OMT therapy gained in the Osteopathic track and the perspective of viewing the patient in a holistic manner simply deliver additional tools and techniques to provide for the needs of the patient.

My Choice…

For these very reasons, I chose to pursue the Osteopathic philosophy of training, as I hoped to use every possible tool and technique available to improve the health and well-being of my future patients. I am confident I made the correct choice and have been thrilled to have the amazing opportunity to train in such an incredible profession. I hope that future patients may come to better appreciate Allopaths and Osteopaths alike and understand that, regardless of the title or degree, all physicians have the patient’s health and well-being as their top priority.

Eye Exams Are Critical to Early Educational Success

Guest post by Jon Stoppel, Optometrist

Jon Stoppel

Jon Stoppel

Before your child starts school, you try to make sure all the building blocks are in place: they know their ABCs, 123s, colors, shapes, etc. You buy the backpack and the lunchbox and the perfect first day of school outfit. But did you make an appointment to see your optometrist? If not, you could be missing a crucial step in ensuring your child’s success.

“Eighty percent of learning happens through sight,” says Jon Stoppel, an optometrist with Overland Park and Gardner, Kan.-based Drs. Hawks, Besler, Rogers and Stoppel. “If a child is having difficulties seeing, then comprehension is secondary. Clearing up their eyesight needs to be a top priority.”

If a child can’t physically see information clearly, learning can cease to happen, Stoppel says.

Common vision problems found in children that can impede learning include:

  • Hyperopia (far sightedness)
  • Myopia (near sightedness)
  • Astigmatism
  • Asymmetry in sightedness between eyes, which can cause amblyopia (lazy eye)
  • Muscle coordination issues such as esotropia (crossed eyes or eye) or exotropia (turned out eyes or eye)
  • Accommodative issues such as lack of focusing or delayed focus while reading or transitioning from near to far vision

Eye Exam“Studies show that 20 percent of children entering kindergarten in the U.S. have vision problems,” Stoppel notes. “And that number jumps to 30 to 40 percent by high school.”

In fact, he added, 60 percent of adults in literacy programs have vision problems.

Academics aren’t the only concern with undiagnosed and untreated vision problems either. Many children who can’t see well enough to learn at the same rate as their peers begin to exhibit behavioral issues as well.

“Not to be alarmist,” Stoppel says,” but 70 percent of juvenile delinquents have vision issues.”

Literacy Rates and Prison Populations

He went on to detail how certain states use literacy rates to predict future prison populations. For example, in Indiana officials factor in 2nd grade reading rates; analyses in Ohio, Texas and Florida take into account reading rates in 3rd grade; and California uses 4th and 9th grade literacy statistics to predict rates of incarceration.

However, educational success and the overall health of a child are Stoppel’s top concern.

“We also make sure the eye is healthy and working properly for the age of the child,” he says. “We run tests to rule out congenital cataracts, glaucoma and retina issues that aren’t commonly seen but can happen at all ages and can greatly affect future sight.”

If your child will be starting school next August, there’s no better time to schedule an eye appointment than the present. And if you’re child’s already started school but hasn’t visited an optometrist, it’s never too late. It’s a quick, painless visit, and it brings with it the knowledge that your child can see well enough to learn well.

FREE Community Health & Wellness Fair July 28

COR LogoThe United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood will be hosting a free Community Health & Wellness Fair, partnering with the Health Partnership Clinic as well as other health & safety organizations in the community on Saturday, July 28 from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

You deserve to feel good!

Everyone has competing priorities in life, and it’s easy to put your own health and wellness on the back burner as you move through the responsibilities and obligations of everyday life.

Take this Saturday morning to put your focus on your own health, and the health of your family with fun and educational resources for people of all ages.

VBC_DAY3_4 Please join us in a day of workshops, conversations, and activities surrounding key health resources available right here in our community, free of charge!

Here are some of the things you can participate in at this event:

  • Health resources, door prizes, a Kids Zone and giveaways
  • On-Site Mammograms
  • Conversations about Mental Health, Mindfulness and Stress Reduction
  • Free Yoga and Family Zumba classes
  • On-site pet adoptions & READ Pals service dogs
  • Hands-Only CPR training with Johnson County MedACT
  • Cooking for Disease Prevention
  • Dementia Care & Senior Living resources and workshops
  • ….and more!

COR Exterior

How do I get there?

Church of the Resurrection’s Leawood campus is located between Roe and Nall at 137th Street.

This event will be held in the B Building, check parking lot signage for the B Building and Foundry. Full address if you’d like to use a GPS is 13720 Roe Ave, Leawood, KS 66224.

For a full list of activities, classes and workshops available and to register online visit

If you don’t have a chance to register, that’s OK. There will be plenty of activities that don’t require you to pre-register.

To make sure you get a seat in a specific workshop or class, we do recommend you register online. Individuals who pre-register and attend a class or workshop will automatically be entered in a drawing to receive a door prize!

Questions? Contact or call the church at 913=897-0120.

6 Keys to Staying Healthy and Well for Life

Jade Meylor

Jade Meylor, DC

Post written by Jade Meylor, DC
Meylor Chiropractic & Acupuncture 
Greater Kansas City Accident & Injury Clinics
Academy of Chiropractic- Trauma Team Member
7922 Quivira Rd., Lenexa, KS 66215 

6 Keys to Staying Healthy and Well for Life

  1. Nutrition: You are what you eat. Food and drink should be pure/organic and well balanced. What you put into your body is what you will get out!
  2. Exercise: You don’t use it, you lose it. Your body is made to be active, to move you and to be pushed at times. Ninety percent of stimulation and nutrition to the brain is generated by movement of the spine. So, get moving!
  3. Mood: Laughter is the best medicine. Negative thoughts can create imbalances in the body that are harmful to your health. Don’t put yourself in negative situations. These situations can release chemicals in your body that are bad for your health. Think positive, be kind to others and smile. You are in control of your mood, so be happier!
  4. Dr. Meylor and staffSleep: Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise. On average, seven to nine hours defines “normal” deep sleep every night. Calm your mind, get your body into a routine and sleep in the proper positions. Sleeping on your back is the best and side sleeping is fine (if done correctly). Stomach sleeping, however, is never correct!
  5. Correct ergonomics: As the twig is bent, so grows the tree. Sitting properly (men, without a wallet in your back pocket), and sitting with your legs uncrossed and with proper lumbar support, helps promote better pelvic and spinal alignment.  Standing in one place for long periods of time is best done with one foot slightly elevated, like on a stool, approximately six to 12 inches from the floor.
  6. Spinal and joint motion: To stop a SYMPTOM, correct the CAUSE!  From the trauma of being born to sports injuries or auto accidents, your body goes through a lot of stressors. Repetitive stress, bad posture, incorrect ergonomics and sleeping wrong can also send your body down the wrong path. Think of a car that hits a curb with the tire. If that tire gets out of alignment, although you can still drive on it, it will wear out much faster than the tires that are aligned. That is what happens to your spine, or any joints, with injuries and stressors.

One of the best ways to improve proper biomechanics is through Chiropractic adjustments. Once degeneration/arthritis occurs in the spine it can’t be reversed. With Chiropractic, however, it can be slowed down or stopped. Aging and degenerative changes are not synonymous.  Nerves control every cell, tissue and organ of your body.

If your spine is misaligned it can pinch nerves and create dysfunction of your body, as well as pain and general unhealthiness. Pain in your back or neck, numbness and tingling in your arms or legs, digestive issues or headaches are SYMPTOMS.

Chiropractic treats the CAUSE not the SYMPTOM. Chiropractic is a key part of true health!

Clinic Provides Lifeline for Mother, Daughter

Stephanie Rojas (3)Author: Stephanie Rojas Dental Assistant and Patient

I was ten years old when I first heard about Health Partnership Clinic. It was 2006.

As a kid, I knew something was wrong with my mom. She wasn’t like other moms. She was always tired, had no appetite and walked with a limp.

When she’d come home from work, she’d go to sleep, and I wouldn’t see her again until the morning.

It was lonely for me. I was always on my own—doing my homework, making dinner, cleaning the house…she just didn’t have the energy.

It got especially bad when my step-dad divorced my mom. He couldn’t cope with her inability to simply function. Her depression deepened, and it was a dark time for us.

But that all changed!

A friend told my mom about Health Partnership Clinic. As a single mom with a low-wage job and no health insurance, finances were always a worry.

When she learned that the clinic accepted donations for care (today the clinic provides a sliding discount program for those who qualify), she took the most important step in her life…she made an appointment.

Before long, the provider figured out what was causing her illness—it was Lupus. My mom was quickly referred to a specialist and started taking medications. Luckily, she was in the early stages.

It was a long treatment process but today, thanks to Health Partnership Clinic, my mom enjoys an active and full life. She credits HPC for literally saving her life. HPC gave me back my mom!

But my story doesn’t end there.

About this same time, we moved to Texas. At 15 years old, I gave birth to my son, Abel. A couple of years later I returned home to the Kansas City area and graduated from high school.

I always wanted to help people. But as a single, teen mom, I had to choose a career that would allow me to be there for my son and earn a living. I ended up enrolling in a dental assistant program at Concorde Career College. That was one of the best decisions of my life.

Stephanie Rojas (1)

Shortly after graduation, I heard about a dental assistant position at the clinic. The name rang a bell. My mom reminded me of her experience at HPC. I knew I wanted to work there.

When I was hired I was so excited to have the chance to give back. I’ve been a dental assistant since 2015.

Along the way, I had another child, Eli. Although my significant other and I live together, it’s tough to make ends meet.

I was able to qualify for the clinic’s sliding fee program—which made health care more affordable.

Today, both of my children have KanCare—thanks to the clinic’s enrollment coordinator who helped me with the paperwork.

My kids receive dental services regularly and so do I. As a patient and staff member, I have a unique perspective. Our dentist, Dr. Nader, treats patients like they are his own family members. His concern and focus on quality motivate me and my coworkers. I’m proud to be part of this team.

We see a lot of diverse patients—kids, adults, those who have physical and mental disabilities and many who have difficulty speaking English. No matter who I’m serving, my mission is to make patients feel comfortable, relaxed and accommodate their needs.

Sometimes we even do procedures standing up because the patient is afraid to sit in the dental chair. It puts a little stress on our backs, but patients leave smiling.

Our team also provides school-based dental outreach services including screenings and restorative care to hundreds of area children, and I occasionally help out.

I also bring my kids to the Pediatric Walk-In Clinic. It’s for those non-emergency problems—like earaches and fevers— when you need quick care. As a busy mom of two, working full time and on a tight budget, the Walk-In Clinic has been a lifesaver—more than once. Plus, I avoid a costly trip to the ER or urgent care center.

I’m so thankful for Health Partnership Clinic. They’ve given my mom a future, hope to me, and an active and energic grandma for my children.

I also have the privilege to work with a great staff who make a difference every day. Thank you, HPC!

Guest Post:  Are You a Brain Builder? 

Read KC 1Post written by Sallie Page-Goertz, APRN | Medical Director Reach Out and Read KC

Are you a brain builder? Do you have a young baby/child at your house?

If so, you have the opportunity to help build that baby’s brain so that they are ready to learn when they get to kindergarten!

Research shows us that the first 1,000 days of life (birth to age 3) is the most rapid period of brain growth. Every SECOND there are more than one MILLION nerve connections being made within the brain.

For healthy brain development, those connections need to be great ones – Ones that help a child see, hear, learn to talk, learn to be sociable and learn to control their emotions.

The adults and older children in the child’s life help make those healthy connections happen!  This is why health care providers give families a book and a prescription to read during every well baby visit from the first week of life through age 5!

How does this work?

Read KC 2Every time we talk, sing, read and cuddle our babies and young children, healthy connections are being made in their brains.

The more people talk, read, sing to their children, the more words those children are learning, even before they can speak.

A fascinating research project had six-month-old babies look at pictures, and researchers watched the babies respond to hearing the word that went with the picture – such as bird, ball, and apple.

Amazingly, babies who live with talkative families were more likely to look at the picture that went with the word, compared to babies who live with quiet families.

As babies approach age 3 to 4, their vocabularies grow and grow if they are in talkative families who read to them frequently. When children know more words, it’s easier for them to learn new words.

When children know more words, they are more prepared for learning new things in kindergarten.

Children living in homes where people don’t talk/read/sing a lot to their babies have about 400 fewer words in their vocabulary at age 4.

This gap in the number of words that they know makes kindergarten much harder for them, and it may be very difficult for them to ever catch up to the other children, or to be good readers by third grade. In third grade, kids are expected to be reading well, and learning new things depends on their ability to be good readers!

Using TV or phone apps or tablet programs that claim to be educational is NOT a substitute for the one-to-one interaction between a baby or young child and another person during reading/talking/singing. Research shows that babies and children although fascinated by what they see on a screen, do NOT learn from programs on screens.

So, be a brain builder!  Talk constantly to your little one – while you’re dressing, feeding, diapering them. Read to them every day – this builds their vocabulary. Sing and cuddle them. All of this nurturing builds healthy brain connections, millions per second in the first 1,000 days of life!

Health Partnership is a clinic partner of Reach Out and Read Kansas City. On behalf of our young patients and their families, thank you for donating culturally and developmentally appropriate books. It’s making a difference in so many lives!

Guest Post: What to Expect at Your Eye Exam After You’ve Been Diagnosed with Diabetes

By Alaina Webster
Hawks, Besler, Rogers & Stoppel

Diabetes Guest Blog by Alaina Webster - Bonnie Steer Drs HBR 3-2018A diabetes diagnosis can affect many aspects of your life–your hands, your feet, and yes, your eyes.

As a peripheral vascular disorder that causes the blood vessels to become fragile over time, it can result in neuropathies (pain and loss of feeling in your extremities), kidney disease and retinopathies (leakage of the blood vessels in the eye that may lead to changes in vision).

Because diabetes affects the eyes, it’s important to not only share your diagnosis with your optometrist but also schedule more frequent exams.

“If the retina, or the back of the eye, is clear, then we monitor patients on a yearly basis,” says Jon Stoppel, an optometrist with Hawks, Besler, Rogers & Stoppel.

“Depending on the severity of diabetic retinopathy, we will have more frequent evaluations to make sure the bleeding and edema don’t cause permanent vision changes.”

Optometric exams for patients with diabetes are slightly different than for those without. For one thing, you can always expect to be dilated, and photos of the back of the eye will be taken every time. In certain cases, a scanning laser called an OCT will be used to determine a level of edema that can be caused by diabetes.

“We dilate on almost every visit to determine the severity or degree of any diabetic retinopathy present. We take fundus photos, which are pictures of the back of the eyes, to help with current diagnoses but also to provide a baseline for future visits,” Stoppel says.

If the disease progresses too far, your optometrist will likely consult with retinal specialists who will manage the disease with surgical procedures such as lasers or ocular injections.

To combat additional progression of diabetes in the eye (and throughout the body) it’s important to manage your blood sugars.

Diabetes Guest Blog Pic 2 by Alaina Webster“If you can keep or reduce your hemoglobin A1C under 6.5 percent, in conjunction with lowering or maintaining your blood pressure in a normal range [under 120/80] you can limit the stress on your peripheral vascular system,” Stoppel adds. “By eating healthy and with regular exercise, you can greatly reduce the effects of vision changes due to diabetes.”

Stoppel recommends healthy carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Low-fat dairy options are also encouraged.

Fiber-rich foods are generally lower in calories and aid in digestion. Heart-healthy fish, such as salmon or tuna, that are high in omega-3s and promote lower blood triglycerides.

“Avoid high saturated fats, trans fats and high sodium,” he suggests.

The American Diabetes Association recommends aiming for 30 minutes of moderate to intense aerobic exercise, five days a week.

“Currently one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States is diabetic retinopathy,” Stoppel notes. “If we can learn to manage the disease with adequate blood sugar control, proper diet and exercise, we can limit the permanent effects with vision as well as the systemic effects caused by diabetes.”

We thank the doctors and staff at Hawks, Besler, Rogers & Stoppel, Optometrists, for partnering with Health Partnership Clinic to provide eye care for our patients!