Connecting with our community – Clinic adds two new providers with diverse backgrounds

Inessa and CarolinaBy Catherine Rice, Vice President of Marketing/Outreach

Though hiring can be challenging, we know that the more we can diversify our provider offerings, the better we can connect with the communities we serve. Among our recent hires, the stories of two are especially compelling, and we are excited to share them here.

Inessa Sergeyeva, MSN, APRN, ANP-BC, FNP-BC, and Edward Karanja, MSN, APRN, FNP-C, traveled very separate journeys to arrive at Health Partnership Clinic (HPC) early this year. However, they share our mission: to help treat and educate the community’s medically underserved, regardless of their ability to pay. Perhaps improbably, both Inessa and Edward found their way to Kansas—of all places—having immigrated in the 1990s. She came from Moscow; he from Kenya. And while both left home for a better way of life, Inessa had a strong nursing background, Edward had none.

Inessa’s Story

Inessa SergeyevaSpeaking mostly Russian and Ukrainian, Inessa immigrated to the United States in 1994 with her husband and then nine-year-old daughter. Several extended family members had lived in Overland Park since the 1970s, but the newcomers knew few others. Many cousins remained in Moscow and still live there. Though she established a nursing career in Russia, Inessa’s first U.S. job was as a cashier in Kansas City, Mo.

Starting over—and over the next 15 years—Inessa learned English; became a licensed practical nurse; earned an associate degree in nursing; and achieved bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing from the University of Missouri – Kansas City School of Nursing. In those years and since, she has worked as a registered nurse, adult family nurse and most recently, as a family nurse practitioner. Additionally, she has earned numerous professional certifications.

Working as a family practitioner at HPC’s Olathe clinic, Inessa serves patients of all ages. She is excited to work in community health where she says people need access to healthcare and education, from proper eating habits to a basic understanding of how the human body works. “It’s very rewarding to help someone who needs the help,” Inessa says.

An Overland Park resident, Inessa and her husband have three adult children. She enjoys travel, gardening, yoga and the outdoors.

Edward’s Story

Edward KaranjaUnlike Inessa, Edward spoke English when he immigrated from Kenya in 1997. Excited by early impressions of America from TV, he was eager to join a family member living in the area working as a certified nursing assistant (CNA). Though he had accounting and transportation industry experience, he still sought professional fulfillment. He began training as a CNA, at the urging of family.

Having received his certification and encouraged by early work in geriatrics and long-term care, Edward proceeded to earn his bachelor’s in nursing and became a registered nurse. “People complimented me on what I was doing, so I decided to advance my career to the highest potential. I got more and more comfortable as I was doing it,” Edward says.

Since 2006 at various facilities, he gained experience in skilled nursing, medical surgery, cardiac care and primary care, and he logged more than 800 hours of clinical training as a family nurse practitioner.

Edward applies his family nursing expertise to patients at HPC’s Olathe clinic. Having moved from Wichita to the Kansas City area in 2017 for a traveling nurse assignment, he lives in Lenexa and enjoys photography and road biking. His daughter, 22, shares his love for learning and is studying elementary education at Iowa State University.

HPC is proud to further help the community through these excellent providers as they continue their personal and professional journeys far from their roots.

New patient appointments are available by calling 913-648-2266.

Olathe Mayor’s Children’s Fund Keeps Olathe Children Pain Free

By Catherine Rice, Vice President of Marketing/Outreach

Olathe Mayor’s Children’s Fund Keeps Olathe Children Pain FreeIn 2023, Health Partnership Clinic screened more than 1,950 students in the Olathe School District Title One elementary schools. Of those screened, the Dental Team detected more than 450 cavities, and 106 children had urgent dental needs. All were suffering with various degrees of pain—making it difficult to eat, play, study and sleep.

That was true for two cousins, age eight and nine years old, attending Fairview Elementary. Thanks to the school nurse, their needs were identified, and she quickly reached out for help to several organizations, including Health Partnership.

“When the boys visited our clinic, both were in severe dental pain,” remembers Christina Cook, RDH, ECP II, dental hygienist and outreach coordinator. “One student needed 15 teeth worked on including five extractions and the other student had 12 teeth in poor shape, eventually resulting in three extractions.” The treatment has been completed, and the boys are now pain free and enjoying their summer.

Olathe Mayor’s Children’s Fund Keeps Olathe Children Pain Free“This is a great example of how collaboration and teamwork benefit our children,” Cook notes. “The school nurse worked with our clinic and other area oral health professionals to ensure quality dental care was available and thanks to the generous donation of the Mayor’s Children’s Fund, there was access that was affordable.”

Health Partnership works with many area non-profits to help ensure the children of Olathe receive quality, affordable and accessible dental, medical and behavioral health care. To schedule an appointment, call 913-648-2266.

To learn more about the Olathe Mayor’s Christmas Fund, visit

June is Pride Month

John SmartBy John Smart, LSCSW, Behavioral Health Clinician

The development of June as Pride Month dates back to the Stonewall Uprising that began on June 28, 1969 after a police raid of the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City’s Greenwich Village. The raids were a common form of the harassment and aggression toward the LGBTQ community at that time, and the Stonewall Uprising marked a major turning-point in the LGBTQ community’s response to discrimination.

Since the 1969 Stonewall Uprising, much progress has been made for LGBTQ rights, however, progress toward equality of any group is always met with resistance. Continued advocacy is needed in order to sustain and develop the growth of rights for the LGBTQ community. A recent example of controversy affecting the LGBTQ community is the focus on members of the transgender community. Many opinions have been developed about this community without understanding of the community itself. The below information from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) can help provide an introduction to the people of the transgender community and some of the concerns they experience.

The Transgender Community

Pride MonthThe word “transgender” – or trans – is an umbrella term for people whose gender identity is different from the sex assigned to us at birth. Although the word “transgender” and our modern definition of it only came into use in the late 20th century, people who would fit under this definition have existed in every culture throughout recorded history.

The trans community is incredibly diverse. Some trans people identify as trans men or trans women, while others may describe themselves as non-binary, genderqueer, gender non-conforming, agender, bigender or other identities that reflect their personal experience. Some take hormones or have surgery as part of the transition, while others may change their pronouns or appearance.

In addition to experiencing problems related to stigma, harassment, and discrimination, members of the trans community face problems around lack of health insurance coverage– An HRC Foundation analysis found that 22 percent of trans people and 32 percent of trans people of color have no health insurance coverage. More than one-quarter (29 percent) of trans adults have been refused health care by a doctor or provider because of their gender identity.

While political controversy has developed about members of the trans community and the health services they receive, healthcare organizations continue to recognize that gender-affirming care is well established as an appropriate aspect of an individual’s overall care. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends “providing youth with access to comprehensive gender-affirming and developmentally appropriate health care.” American Medical Association Board Member Michael Suk, MD, JD, MPH, MBA states, “Gender-affirming care is medically necessary, evidence-based care that improves the physical and mental health of transgender and gender-diverse people.”

Good healthcare is built around effective relationships between patients, their families, and healthcare providers. These relationships depend on the rights of individuals and families to work with their healthcare providers to make the health-related decisions that impact their lives. Health Partnership Clinic recognizes the right for all people to receive comprehensive, effective, and compassionate healthcare based on their individual needs.

For more information about LGBTQ+ advocacy, visit the Human Rights Campaign website.

Area High School Students Create an Animation Video for Health Partnership Clinic


Center for Academic Achievement - ClassroomThe 2D Animation Students at the Center for Academic Achievement recently partnered with Health Partnership Clinic to work on a Client Connected Project.

A Client Connected Project for the Shawnee Mission School District is one where students pair up to work on a real-world learning project to solve a problem in collaboration with a not-for-profit organization. Students benefit from this project by adding experience to their resumes, increasing their professional network, and using this as a potential steppingstone while building their careers.


The 2D Animation students to complete the group project were Owen Raile (Shawnee Mission East), Jadyn Freeman (Shawnee Mission Northwest), Milo Pflumm (Shawnee Mission Northwest),  Marcelo Moreno (Shawnee Mission South), Bethany Mongalo (Shawnee Mission West), and Teal Franklin (Shawnee Mission Northwest, not pictured.) Two more students also worked with the client on their own rather than on a group project. These two students were Boden Reardon (Shawnee Mission West, not pictured) and Kailyn Hammer (Shawnee Mission North, not pictured).

Instructor Enza Ketcham thought the experience was rewarding and will be looking to work with more clients in the future. The students were able to learn to work together and find ways to problem solve along with completing a very large project which included storyboarding, character design, delegating, post-production, and more! Senior Bethany Mongalo said, “I thought creating the ideas was difficult, but we overcame that. I enjoyed having to work with others on this and collaborating.”

Overall, the students ended up enjoying the project.

Center for Academic Achievement - Enza's StudentsSenior Marcelo Moreno mentioned, “I really enjoyed seeing everything be tied together and the end, and also being able to see my own work amongst everyone else’s.” Then continued by mentioning the challenge of working with a health care organization while being a high school student, “trying to make health care funky and cool to look at was interesting, to say the least.”

Catherine Rice, Vice President of Marketing and Outreach for Health Partnership, asked the students to create a video about how to become a patient at the clinic. After meeting with Health Partnership staff, students had the semester to work on it with periodic check-ins with Mrs. Ketcham and Ms. Rice. “This is our first animation video for the clinic, and we can’t wait to share it with our partners and community members who are seeking quality and affordable health care but unsure on how to access it,” she noted. “Throughout the project the students demonstrated creativity, great listening skills and enthusiasm. Our team at HPC is so grateful to these amazing students!”

Senior Jadyn Freeman summarized it greatly, “I found learning to work on a team to be both the most challenging and most rewarding. I’m so used to working by myself that it was weird to have to do more talking and planning. But, I needed up making some new friends and getting more comfortable with communicating concerns, criticisms and taking charge.”

May is Asian-American Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Thao LeBy Thao Le, MSN, APRN, PMHNP-BC, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner at Health Partnership Clinic

Asian-American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month celebrates the cultural contributions and influence of Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans. It also provides the opportunity to bring attention to some of the unique struggles that Asian-Americans face – including mental health stigma.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (n.d.), among the Asian Americans with a diagnosable mental health disorder, only 28 percent utilized mental health services. The lack of mental health treatment among AAPIs can be attributed to mental health stigma. Mental health stigma is the negative perception or discriminatory attitudes that others have about mental illness and is unfortunately, common among AAPIs.

Causes of Mental Health Stigma

  • “Model-minority” – one of the greatest causes of mental health stigma among Asian-Americans is culture. The term “model-minority” is a stereotype in which Asian-Americans are perceived as successful and the minority group in which other minorities should take after. Under the model-minority myth, Asian-Americans are often described as “smart,” “hard-working” and “overachiever.”The thing is these characteristics don’t sound so bad, do they? Even though the term “model-minority” may sound like a positive thing, it’s extremely harmful because not everyone fits into this narrow box. Not everyone considers themselves, “smart,” or “hardworking” and because they don’t fit into this box, this can lead to feelings of inadequacy, lack of individuality and lack of bicultural sense of self. Because of this pressure of being the “model minority,” Asian-Americans may feel reluctant to admit that they have a problem.
  • Stoicism – Stoicism is the belief that one should endure pleasure or pain without showing emotion. This is a common ideology among Chinese migrants, whose practice of stoicism helped them to overcome economic hardship and discrimination to achieve success. The “I can suffer through anything” mentality is another characteristic that again, doesn’t sound like such a bad thing, right? Stoicism is actually perceived as positive trait in Chinese culture, but again this further perpetuates the idea of suffering in silence and that the display of emotions is a sign of weakness.
  • Cultural and parental expectations – In especially first-generation Asian-Americans, there can be both external and internal pressure to achieve success because of the struggles and sacrifices their parents made to provide them with opportunity. This, as well as limited career options, can be a significant source of stress.

Success is so focal within AAPI culture that they may neglect their own mental health to achieve it. Asian-Americans may also neglect their own health while caring for others. Children are often expected to care for their younger siblings and elders. Family members may feel reluctant to share their struggles because of how it will affect their individual and family reputations, further promoting the culture of silent suffering.

The Impact of Stigma and Prevalence of Mental Health Illnesses

May is Asian-American Pacific Islander Heritage Month

  • Trauma among first-generation immigrants which gets passed down to future generations. This is known as inter-generational trauma. For example, a grandfather who was forced to flee his war-ravaged home country may have learned to cope by hiding his emotions. Because of this, he is emotionally distant with his children and his children’s children, which causes them to behave this way, leading to generations of emotional distance and suppression of feelings.
  • Major depressive episodes increased from 10 to 13.6 percent in AAPI youth ages 12-17, 8.9 to 10.1 percent in young adults 18-25, and three (3.2) to five percent in the 26-49 age range between 2015 and 2018, according to Mental Health America.
  • Anxiety that develops from stress and the pressure to succeed.
  • Substance use, including binge drinking, smoking (cigarettes and marijuana), illicit drug use and prescription pain reliever misuse, is more frequent among AAPI adults with mental illnesses.
  • Serious mental illness (SMI) rose from 2.9 percent (47,000) to 5.6 percent (136,000) in AAPI people ages 18-25 between 2008 and 2018, according to Mental Health America.
  • Suicide is the leading cause of death among Asian Americans aged 20-24 years, responsible for about 33 percent of deaths in that age bracket, according to Mental Health America.


Despite the prevalence of mental illness among AAPIs, they are three times less likely than other Americans to seek mental health treatment according to Anxiety and Depression Association of America. This can be attributed to lack of:

  • English fluency – According to Health and Human Services, in the United States, a total of 30.9 percent of Asian Americans are not fluent in English and in 2019, 73.5 percent of Asian Americans spoke a language other than English at home.
  • Preferred providers – According to the AAMC, in 2018, only 17.1 percent of physicians were Asian. In a study on health barriers in 13 Asian American communities in Maryland, participants explained that many Asian-Americans perceive Asian physicians as more “understanding, knowledgeable, culturally sensitive, and can communicate in their native language. As a result, the lack of accessibility and availability of Asian physicians may discourage AAPIs to seek treatment.
  • Available resources/services.
  • Culturally appropriate intervention models – AAPIs may prefer complementary alternative medicine (CAM) (e.g., herbal remedies, acupuncture, meditation). In a study on health barriers, 75 percent of participants had used CAM in the past year.
  • Understanding of mental illness.
  • Understanding of Western medicine or a different kind of understanding of mental illness – Asian Americans may perceive mental illness as bad karma, yin/yang imbalance, or disturbed flow of energy.
  • Interpretation services.
  • Assistance – Elderly may not want to bother their working children for assistance, and they may not even want to take off work for an appointment.
  • Transportation.
  • Childcare.
  • Health insurance.

Breaking the stigma

As providers, we can break the stigma by:

  • Training in cultural responsiveness
  • Providing culturally sensitive treatment
  • Tailoring treatment to individual needs
  • Awareness on mental health stigma among AAPIs
  • Administration of depression/anxiety screenings at primary care clinics
  • Having CAM available
  • Extending telehealth services
  • Extending translation services

As a community member, you can break the stigma by:

  • Raising awareness
  • Supporting one another
  • Minimizing shame
  • Empowering each other
  • Educating yourself and others
  • Talking openly about mental health

Health Partnership Clinic offers therapy services, psychiatric medication management and substance use services with translation services upon request. To schedule an appointment or for more details, interested individuals should call 913-730-3664. Therapy Services are available Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

A huge thank you to our Volunteers – Clinic celebrates National Volunteer Month in April

By Catherine Rice, Vice President of Marketing/Outreach

National Volunteer Month is in April, and it’s a great opportunity for Health Partnership Clinic to thank our three active, non-clinical volunteers and our 13 Board of Directors.

In-House Volunteers

Our in-house volunteers include Judy Janes, Sherry Rakes and Jody Rice. Sherry, who joined in March, volunteers in Medical and Judy and Jody in Marketing and Development. We also have virtual volunteers who help with outreach projects and even produce videos and articles.

National Volunteer Month - Judy Janes National Volunteer Month - Sherry Rakes National Volunteer Month - Jody Rice
From Left to Right: Judy Janes, Sherry Rakes and Jody Rice

Board Members

Our Board members include Tierney Grasser, Chairperson, Community Member; Darren Odum, Vice Chairperson, Community Member; Kevan Acord, Treasurer, Bridge Builder Tax and Legal Services, P.A.; Tracy A. Price, Secretary, Lakemary Center, Inc., Robin Harrold, Past Chairperson, AdventHealth; Bruce Baker, Baker Realty Advisors. Inc.; Michelle Cabrera, St. Paul Catholic Church; Mina Foster, The Salvation Army; Burnis Lance, Community Member, Barbara Letch, Community Member; John McKinney, Ed.D, Shawnee Mission School District; James Terrones, Community Member; and Christi L. Zimmerman, MSN, RN, Saint Luke’s South Hospital.

National Volunteer Month - Board

National Volunteer MonthThe volunteers at HPC give their time, talent and voice to make a difference in our community. We are fortunate to have volunteers who are aligned with our mission and want to help our patients and staff. Our in-house volunteers help assemble informational packets and bags, enter data, make patient and donor calls, and work at community events, such as open houses and health fairs.

More than 51 percent of our Board are also patients of the clinic. Health Partnership is governed by a Board of Directors representing a cross section of our community who are all committed to our mission of providing accessible, affordable and high quality medical, dental and behavioral health care. Our Board provides guidance, direction and support to our Senior Leadership Team and may serve on committees including Finance, Governance and Quality Improvement. We are honored by the time, perspectives, expertise and dedication each of our Board members provides to us.

We started our in-house volunteer program six years ago, and the volunteers who have walked through our doors have contributed much to the organization. Although we have a small group of volunteers, they do a tremendous job to help us better serve our patients and support our staff.

DID YOU KNOW? President George H.W. Bush launched the 1000 Points of Light campaign in 1991 and established April as National Volunteer Month.

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