February is American Heart Month – Wear Red Day is Feb. 3

February is American Heart Month - Wear Red Day is 2/3By James L. Wetzel, MD, Interim Chief Health Officer at Health Partnership Clinic

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women around the world. About 647,000 Americans die from heart disease each year. This accounts for one in every four deaths. The good news is you can reduce your risk of heart disease by making healthy choices and managing your health conditions.

Preventing Heart Disease

To prevent heart disease and help raise awareness of its effects, Health Partnership Clinic is proudly participating in American Heart Month. Clinic staff are bringing awareness by wearing red on Wear Red Day, Friday, Feb. 3. Heart healthy educational information will also be available in the clinic waiting rooms.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), several health conditions, your lifestyle, your age and family history can increase your risk of heart disease. About half of all Americans have at least one of three key risk factors for heart disease: high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking.

There are several healthy changes that you can make to protect your heart and lower your risk of developing heart disease.

Choose healthy foods and drinks.

February is American Heart Month - Wear Red Day is 2/3Be sure to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Eating foods high in fiber and low in saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol can help prevent high cholesterol. Limiting salt in your diet can lower blood pressure. Limiting sugar in your diet can lower your blood sugar level to prevent or help control diabetes. Do not drink too much alcohol which can raise your blood pressure.

Keep a healthy weight.

People who are overweight or obese have a higher risk for heart disease. Carrying extra weight can put extra stress on the heart and blood vessels.

Get regular physical activity.

Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. The Surgeon General recommends that adults get two hours and thirty minutes a week of moderate intensity exercise. Children and adolescents should get one hour of physical activity every day.

Don’t smoke.

Cigarette smoking greatly increases your risk for heart disease. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, quitting will lower your risk of heart disease. Your doctor can suggest ways to help you quit.

It is also important to take charge of your medical conditions. Check your cholesterol, control your blood pressure, manage your diabetes, take your medications as directed and work with your health care team to prevent or treat the medical conditions that lead to heart disease.

Health Partnership Welcomes First Ukrainian Refugee

After traveling more than 5,644 miles, Alex, a 19-year-old Ukrainian refugee, is now calling Overland Park, Kan. home.

Clinic Now Accepting Appointments for Marketplace Enrollment

Diana Zamora

Diana Zamora

By Diana Zamora, Enrollment Specialist and Certified Application Counselor at Health Partnership Clinic

The Health Insurance Marketplace (also known as the “Marketplace” or “exchange”) opens Tuesday, Nov. 1 and will close Sunday, Jan. 15. 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 Tuesday, Nov. 1-Sunday, Jan. 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:

  • Marketplace EnrollmentPremium 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.

HPC Celebrates Medical Assistants Week Oct. 19-23

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

Medical assisting is an allied health profession whose practitioners’ function as members of the healthcare delivery team and perform administrative and clinical procedures. With their unique versatility, medical assistants (MA) 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 Health Partnership Clinic

Medical Assistants at HPCOur MAs 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 MAs 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. MAs are the first point of contact for patients, relatives and healthcare staff. A significant part of the MA’s daily routine revolves around supporting the healthcare team and facilitating the process smoothly.

We have MAs 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 MAs who specialize in Women’s Health. They participate in quality measures that are applicable to this specialty.

We are very grateful for our MAs at HPC:
Carolina Barraza, Mayra Lemus, NRCMA, Sandra Marquez, Traci McIntire and Cinthia Salazar

HPC’s School-Based Health Clinic Welcomes Back SMSD Students

By Catherine Rice, Vice President of Marketing/Outreach

Shawnee Mission West Back to SchoolSchool is in and so is our School-Based Health Clinic at Shawnee Mission West High School, which resumed operations on Aug. 18. Health Partnership Clinic’s (HPC) health clinic is open on Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. We offer in-person or virtual appointments. Walk-ins are accommodated if the schedule permits. To schedule an appointment, call 913-648-2266.

Our school-based health clinic is an excellent example of how our mission extends beyond our clinic doors. Within the walls of Shawnee Mission West, we provide quality, accessible and affordable health care services, including primary, dental and mental health care, to all Shawnee Mission School District students and their siblings, from three to 20 years old.

The clinic accepts KanCare/Medicaid, commercial insurance and uninsured patients. A sliding fee discount program is available to those who qualify. Students are expected to pay a copay, and fees are waived for students experiencing homelessness.

Services include:

Shawnee Mission West Back to SchoolMEDICAL

  • Illness/injury
  • Immunizations (appointment required)
  • Yearly Physicals (school/sports)
  • Well-child/teen check-ups
  • Age-appropriate sexual health
  • Lab tests
  • COVID testing/vaccines
  • Strep/flu tests
  • Asthma care
  • Referrals


  • A Behavioral Health Clinician is on site to provide integrated visits for a wide variety of mental health and psychosocial needs. Services include brief assessments, consultations/therapy, interventions and referrals to a higher level of care as needed.


  • A Dental Hygienist is on site to provide dental screenings and fluoride varnish treatments during medical visits. More dental services coming soon.


  • Medicaid and Marketplace insurance enrollment.
  • Anything you want to talk about.

Welcome back SMSD students! We are here and ready to serve your health needs!

HPC kicks off Allergy and Asthma Awareness Month with a new video

Whitney VenegoniBy: Whitney Venegoni, APRN, FNP-C, Family Nurse Practitioner

May is Allergy and Asthma Awareness Month and the perfect time to learn about allergies and asthma and how they are related as well as how to differentiate between allergies and COVID-19.

Allergy and Asthma Month is observed in May because for many that is when their symptoms peak since so many people are affected by environmental triggers. Allergies are an immune response in our bodies to different triggers in the environment such as mold, food, pollen and animal dander.

Allergies and asthma are related because many people who have asthma also have allergies and they can have some of the same triggers. With allergies it is more environmental triggers but with asthma those triggers expand to things like tobacco smoke and perfumes. Common symptoms of asthma include shortness of breath, wheezing and overall difficulty breathing.

Differentiating between allergies symptoms and COVID-19 symptoms is a little more straight forward than it seems. Allergy symptoms are started by irritants, so you are going to experience things like itchy, watery eyes, runny nose and sneezing. COVID-19 is an infection from a virus so you will see more systemic things like a fever, body aches, cough, and even nausea and diarrhea. With COVID-19 other body systems may be affected where with allergies it will be more limited to your eyes, ears and nose.

To learn more, watch our newest video:

Allergy and Asthma Awareness


May brings special recognitions to Nurses and Patient Services Representatives


By Debbie Sparks, Development and Marketing Manager

National Nurses Week is May 6-12. 

In 1993, the American Nurses Association declared May 6-12 as the national week to celebrate and elevate the nursing profession. Each year the celebration ends on May 12, Florence Nightingale’s birthday. Florence Nightingale was an English social reformer and statistician and the founder of modern nursing.

This year’s theme for Nurses Week is Rooted in Strength. According to Beth Wathen, President, American Association of Critical Care Nurses, the theme was inspired by the difficulties in a year beset by public health, social and economic crisis. “Nurses are rooted in strength, forged in fire and growing in power, says Ms. Wathen. “Rooted in Strength we create our new path forward as leaders in healthcare.”

Araceli Coria, RN, BSN, Clinic Nurse, and Rachel Acuna, RN, Vaccine Outreach NurseAt HPC we celebrate the important roles that nurses play on the frontlines of the health care system. Special thanks to Araceli Coria, RN, BSN, Clinic Nurse, and Rachel Acuna, RN, Vaccine Outreach Nurse, for the special roles that they play at HPC.

As Clinic Nurse, Araceli is primarily responsible for triaging walk in and telephoning patients, medical administration and oversight and serves as a clinical resource for the clinic. In addition, she assists providers with patient care and education, medication refills, case management and referrals. She also plays a key role in our Hypertension Program initiative. Araceli is bilingual and is a resource for our Spanish speaking patients

As Vaccine Outreach Nurse, Rachel is responsible for increasing the availability of all lifespan vaccinations to our local communities.  Much of her work includes partnering with local businesses, schools, churches and community groups to provide education about vaccinations in an effort to decrease vaccine hesitancy.

Thank you to Araceli and Rachel for all of the good work they do to improve patient care at HPC!

Patient Services Representatives Day/Receptionist Day is May 12

Since 1991, National Receptionist Day has been celebrated on the second Wednesday of May, this year falling on Wednesday, May 12. HPC would like to take this opportunity to recognize our Patient Services Representatives (PSRs) who fill the role of receptionist and so much more!

According to Billie Reese-Turner, Director of Billing and Patient Services, working in customer service is one of the most difficult jobs there is.

“I am so grateful to our PSR team for their hard work and dedication throughout the last year,” Billie says. “Especially considering we continue to struggle with staffing shortages. I appreciate every team member’s flexibility when we are looking for coverage. I cannot thank the PSR team enough for attending to our patients and the community with a smile and a positive attitude which helps make the intake process run smoothly. I am very grateful and blessed to work with such an awesome team.”

PSR Collage May 2022

Thank you to our wonderful team of PSRs: Odaliz Arana, Ally Blume, Perla Cardenas-Baltazar, Jean Cast-Martin, Jenny Chavez, Joseph (JoJo) Delgado-Ramirez, Alejandra Gutierrez-Ortega, Nidia Hickman, Karla Nunez, Michel Ramirez, Martha Tavison and Veronica Flores Manager of Patient Services.

The PSRs are part of the Revenue Cycle Management team and work closely with Mayra Bocanegra, Billing Coordinator; Billie Reese-Turner, Director of Billing and Patient Services, and Diana Zamora, Enrollment Specialist.

Virtual Consults Comes To Health Partnership Clinic

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

As a community health center, Health Partnership Clinic (HPC) is a place where our patients find their medical home. We provide high quality preventive care for adults, help them with their chronic medical conditions and see to it that their kids are up to date on their immunizations and stay healthy. We help our patients get the imaging studies that they need whether it is an important CT scan or a critical MRI. Our patients get lab testing free of charge to them. We reach out through the patient portal to get them their results and to keep our patients engaged.

The reality is though, many of our patients do not have health insurance.

More than half to be more precise! What do we do when our patients need to see a specialist? That has been a barrier sometime too tough for our patients to overcome. It is a barrier which has indeed impacted the timeliness of care that our patients receive.

RubiconMD LogoNow at Health Partnership, our patients have new hope to obtain access to the expertise of literally dozens and dozens of specialists and sub-specialists. This month, we partnered with RubiconMD, a national company that allows all of the providers at HPC to directly communicate with specialists. Through the platform provided by RubiconMD, we are able to send our questions to the specialty of our choice, asking questions and for guidance for the care of our patients.

Keeping our Patients Right Here

Virtual ConsultsYou see, the vast majority of our referrals are simply to ask for advice for the management of our patients. Instead of sending patients elsewhere, we keep our patients right here, and it is the expertise of the specialists that are brought in house. This is the kind of care that our patients expect. Patients love it when their provider says, “You know, let me talk to a colleague about your care and get some more ideas.” Patients feel special and that they are cared for.

Our providers have already started getting virtual consultations. The questions I have sent specialists, which may very well be in another part of the country, have been answered within a couple of hours. Just think of how difficult it would be otherwise to get that same clinical advice and guidance!

While the virtual consults bring to HPC a wealth of specialist expertise, let’s talk about what it does not do. First, it does not actually connect the patient with the specialist. Instead, it connects the provider with the specialist. This is actually a good thing! That way, our provider gets the information from the specialist first-hand and knows exactly how to carry out the plan of care. Second, the virtual consults are not a way for our patients to have procedures or surgeries performed by specialists. To get those done, they will definitely still need to be referred to the specialist to perform. But just think of how much the referral workload will go down, as referrals will be limited to those referrals that absolutely require the specialist’s attention.

We’re proud of our providers!

We are very proud of the “care” in “health care” that we provide. Our providers are indeed some of the most caring people I have ever seen. We are thrilled that the virtual consults have become a reality to better equip our team to provide more comprehensive care to our patients and the medical conditions that they carry. It is truly hero’s work.

April Brings special recognition to dental hygienists and administrative professionals.


National Dental Hygienist Week, April 10-16

Christina Cook

Christina Cook

Each year in April we recognize the contribution of dental hygienists and their focus on maintaining good oral health practices which impacts overall health. There are more than 200,000 dental hygienists in the United States. In Kansas, there are more than 2,000 dental hygienists.

Dental hygienists provide oral care under a dentist’s supervision. They clean patients’ teeth and examine their mouths for signs of damage, gingivitis and other diseases. Hygienists teach patients how to maintain good oral health.

The education of dental hygienists typically includes prerequisite courses prior to obtaining either a dental hygiene certificate or associates degree, which is typically a three-year program. Dental hygienists may go on to obtain a Bachelor of Science or Master of Science in Dental Hygiene.

In Kansas, dental hygienists may obtain an Extended Care Permit (level one, two or three) which allows them to practice under indirect supervision in settings like schools or nursing homes.

Thank you to HPC’s dental hygienist Christina Cook for her hard work and dedication to our patients! Christina always goes above and beyond and is a true team player.

National Administrative Professionals’ Day

Tom Wilhauk

Tom Wilhauk

National Administrative Professionals’ Day, also known as Secretaries Day or Admin Day, is observed on the Wednesday of the last full week of April each year. This year it is celebrated on Wednesday, April 27. It is a day to recognize the work of secretaries, administrative assistants, receptionists and other administrative support professionals.

Shout-out to Tom Wilhauk, our executive assistant at HPC. Tom supports all the Senior Leadership Team members in addition to coordinating meetings and schedules, supports the Policy Committee and HR functions, and takes notes for the Board of Directors and Quality Improvement Committee monthly meetings and so much more! We thank and salute Tom for all he does!

April is Autism Awareness Month! 

John Smart

John Smart

By John Smart, LSCSW, Behavioral Health Clinician

What is Autism?

Autism is formally defined as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), a developmental disability characterized by social communication challenges and restricted or repetitive behaviors. Though they may go unrecognized, the symptoms of ASD begin in early childhood and persist into adulthood.

Having symptoms of autism does not mean someone necessarily has the diagnosis of ASD. The diagnosis of ASD is only made when the symptoms of autism cause significant impairment of social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. ASD now includes conditions previously classified as separate diagnoses: autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified, and Asperger syndrome.

What is Autism Awareness Month about?

AutismAutism Awareness Month, also identified by the Autism Society as Autism Acceptance Month, is a time to recognize that “The experience of Autism is not one thing. It is many things. It’s dreams, talents, relationships, victories, hurdles, and everything in between.”

Autism is not an identity; it is an experience that may or may not deeply impact a person’s life. When we look beyond the diagnosis, difficulties, and barriers that may be experienced by a person with autism, we can see strengths, talents, interests, challenges, and aspirations – unifying characteristics of our human experience.

Additional Information

If you need help for yourself or a loved one regarding identifying symptoms or diagnosis of autism, speak to your primary care provider. You may also contact Behavioral Health services at Health Partnership Clinic for assistance with accessing resources. The Behavioral Health Team can be reached at 913-730-3664. For more information you may want to explore the Autism Society and the National Institute of Mental Health.