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.

Health Partnership celebrates 30 Years with Opening Doors Fundraising Luncheon

By Catherine Rice, Vice President of Marketing/Outreach 

HPC Opening Doors Luncheon Save the DateHealth Partnership Clinic is celebrating its 30th year of providing quality, accessible and affordable health care to the underserved individuals of our community. Among the many celebration activities in 2022 is the annual Opening Doors Luncheon, a benefit for uninsured children and adults.

The celebration luncheon will be held on Thursday, April 28 at the Embassy Suites Hotel Olathe Conference Center beginning at 11:30 a.m. If you’d like to attend or sponsor the event, call Debbie Sparks, Development/Marketing Manager, at 913-433-7592, or email her at dsparks@hpcks.org.

“Our 30th anniversary year is an opportunity for us to honor those trailblazers who cared deeply about our community’s most vulnerable residents and started Health Partnership Clinic in 1992, celebrate our accomplishments and look forward to our future,” says Amy Falk, CEO. “Our story needs to reach the far corners of the counties we serve—Johnson, Franklin and Miami—so we can ensure quality health care is available for all—well into the future.”

AdventHealth Logo

Shelby Rebeck

Shelby Rebeck

At the fundraising luncheon we will be celebrating our past, present and future. The event will include a patient testimonial and the presentation of the Founders Award to AdventHealth MidAmerica Region, and the Leadership Impact Award to Shelby Rebeck, Director of Health Services for Shawnee Mission School District.


From Past to Present

From a small doctor’s office with volunteer physicians, nurses and staff, HPC has grown to five clinic sites, including a school-based clinic at Shawnee Mission West High School, in three counties with more than 65 employees. Providing nearly 26,000 patient visits annually, HPC is a lifeline for more than 10,000 adults and children.

HPC 30 Years Logo

Today, our work centers around providing an integrated model of medical, dental and behavioral health care and working together with community partners to help create healthier communities. The COVID-19 Pandemic has certainly exacerbated poverty and the need for quality, affordable and accessible health care. Falk says, “We’ve been at the forefront of the Pandemic and ever present to our patients and community partners.”

More than 60 percent of our patients are uninsured and nearly 30 percent are on Medicaid, the majority of whom are children. The need is great and is growing each year. The funds from the luncheon event will help offset the increasing cost of uninsured care, which amounts to more than $3 million.

To learn more about our celebration activities, visit hpcks.org/hpc30.

To make an online donation, click here.

A huge thank you to our 2022 sponsors:


AdventHealth Medical Staff
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City


Olathe Health


BKD LLP Scott Gold/Dana Gold
Bridge Builder Tax and Legal Services PA


Aetna Better Health of Kansas
Heartland RADAC
HFG Architecture
Kansas City University
Lakemary Center
Sunflower Health Plan
UnitedHealthcare Community Plan

HPC kicks off Patient Safety Awareness Week, March 13-19, 2022, with new video

Sharon TrongaardBy Sharon Trongaard, RRT, MS, MPH, Clinic Director/Risk and Compliance Officer at Health Partnership Clinic

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to remind us of the importance of patient safety in everything we do at Health Partnership Clinic. This March, as we celebrate Patient Safety Awareness Week, our primary aim is to build awareness among our staff and patients. Bottom line, safety is everyone’s responsibility.

To learn more, watch our newest video:

Improving Patient Safety Begins With You

Here are some of the things we are doing to ensure each visit with us lowers the chance that you will be exposed to COVID-19:

  • Our staff are screened daily for symptoms of COVID-19 and tested if they have symptoms. If they are positive, they isolate at home following the CDC guidelines
  • Everyone working at or visiting our clinics must wear masks while on campus. Masks work to decrease the droplets that can carry COVID-19.
  • Chairs are spaced apart in our lobby areas to provide less contact between patients and visitors.
  • Patients are asked a series of questions when they arrive at our clinics to determine if they are at high risk of having COVID-19. If you do have some symptoms, we can perform rapid testing.
  • We offer telemedicine visits if you would prefer to stay a home for your visit. If you are sick with COVID-19, a telemedicine visit allows you to discuss your care with a provider.
  • Dividers are being installed in our lobbies to separate patients who are sick from patients who have appointments for physicals and preventative care.
  • We are participating in the Federal program to distribute COVID-19 Home Testing Kits. You can pick some up at each of our clinic locations. Limit two per household member.

For updates on how we are addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit us at https://hpcks.org/coronavirus.

During the month of March we have much to celebrate at HPC!


During the month of March we have much to celebrate at HPC!

Special Recognitions Collage

National Social Work Month

March is Social Work Month and is a time to acknowledge the work that this profession has contributed to our society and across the globe. This year’s theme is “The Time is Right for Social Work”.

The need for social workers is great. There are nearly 720,000 social workers in our nation. There are more than 4,700 social workers in the state of Kansas. That number is expected to grow by 12 percent by the end of the decade, making social work one of the fastest growing professions in the nation, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Social workers have been an integral part of our nation for decades. Social workers played key roles in the Civil Rights and Women’s Rights movements and pushed for social programs we now take for granted, including the minimum wage, a 40-hour work week, Social Security and Medicare. The time is always right for social work. However, more people are entering the field because the life-affirming services that social workers provide are needed more than ever.

This is especially true as our nation continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, systemic racism, economic inequality, global warming and other crises. The United States is also experiencing one of the worst economic downturns since the Great Depression. Social workers are on the front lines, helping people overcome these crises. That is why the theme for Social Work Month 2022 is “The Time is Right for Social Work.”

At HPC, we salute our social worker, John Smart, LSCSW!

National Dental Assistant Week, March 6-12

“Dental Assistants – Passionate About Our Patients, Dedicated to Our Profession” is the theme for 2022 and acknowledges the growing importance of dentistry’s role in health care and the responsibilities of dental assistants.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of 2020, there are more than 330,000 dental assistants in the United States. In Kansas, there are approximately 2,800 dental assistants.

Dental assistants wear many hats in a dental clinic! They greet patients, review medical histories, take X-rays, perform dental charting during the dentist exam, assist the dentist chairside during procedures, polish teeth, review post-operative instructions and schedule patients.

In Kansas, dental assistants are not required to be certified. However, The Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) is the nationally recognized certification organization for dental assistants. Certification is a source of pride for dental assistants and provides professional advantage and potentially greater earning power.

Thank you to our HPC dental assistants Stephanie Rojas and Diana Ortiz Vargas!

National Dentist Day, Sunday, March 6

National Dentist Day was created as a day to say thank you and show your appreciation for your dentist. It is celebrated annually on March 6.

Do you know?

  • As of 2021 there are approximately 201,900 dentists who are professionally active in the United States. There are approximately 1,600 active dentists in Kansas, of which more than 200 are specialists.
  • The education and training of dentists typically includes four years of college, four years of dental school and two to three years of residency training if a specialty is chosen.
  • There are two different but equivalent degrees dentists may earn: Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD).
  • In the United States, nine specialties are recognized by the American Dental Association.
  • Orthodontics
  • Dentofacial orthopedics
  • Pediatric dentistry
  • Periodontics
  • Prosthodontics
  • Oral and maxillofacial surgery
  • Oral and maxillofacial pathology
  • Endodontics
  • Public health dentistry
  • Oral and maxillofacial radiology

Special thanks to our dentist, Nader Rastgoftar, DDS, for providing top notch patient care and serving as a leader on the Senior Leadership Team.

National Doctor’s Day, Wednesday, March 30

National Doctor’s Day is celebrated on March 30 annually in the United States to honor physicians for the work they do for their patients in their communities and for society.

  • There are over a million physicians in the United States.
  • The education and training of physicians typically includes four years of college, four years of medical school, three to five years of residency training in the chosen specialty and one to three years of additional training for sub-specialists.
  • There are two different but equivalent degrees doctors can earn: Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO).
  • The training years are difficult with long work hours of often 80 hours per week, low pay and many overnight shifts in the hospital. In addition, the highest levels of professionalism, conduct and ethics are expected of doctors.
  • Areas of practice include the primary care specialties such as family medicine, internal medicine and pediatrics. Other specialties include surgery, obstetrics and gynecology and psychiatry. There are well over 100 specialties and sub-specialties in the United States.
  • The specialty that sees the most patients during office visits is family medicine.

Thank you to our HPC physicians: Emily M. Bush, MD, Cheri El-Halawany, MD, FAAP, Kare Lyche, MD, Ahmed Maher, MD, Wael S. Mourad, MD, MHCM, FAAFP, and Noriko Okahara, DO, MPH, for their hard work and dedication to the clinic. We appreciate all that you do to support and serve our patients.

COVID-19 Home Test Kits now available at all HPC locations

By Catherine Rice, Vice President of Marketing/Outreach

HPC has received its first shipment of FDA-authorized COVID-19 at-home self-test kits. The self-test kits are free and available for pick up at our clinic locations in Olathe, Shawnee Mission, Paola and Ottawa. There is a limit of two kits per family. Please plan to wear a mask upon entering the clinic. Kits can be picked up from a designated table in the lobby area or the Front Desk. The testing kit, which includes two tests, is intended for one person to be done 24 hours apart.

COVID-19 self-tests (also referred to as home tests or over-the-counter tests) are one of many risk-reduction measures, along with vaccination, masking and physical distancing, which protect you and others by reducing the chances of spreading COVID-19. The hope is that this testing program will be the pathway out of the pandemic.

Key Information to Know

The CDC offers the following tips:

  • Self-tests can be taken at home or anywhere, are easy to use, and produce rapid results. However, these are NOT monitored test that are typically needed for travel or pre-procedures. Home tests are not PCR tests. HPC will continue to test patients with appointments or if they require a monitored rapid or PCR test. Call the clinic of your choice to schedule an appointment.
  • You can use self-tests, regardless of vaccination status, or whether or not you have symptoms.

However, with these tests it is recommended to use the first test at the onset of symptoms and if there is a negative result, to retest in 24 hours.

  • Follow all manufacturer’s instructions for performing the test.
  • If you test positive, you should isolate and inform your healthcare provider, as well as any close contacts.
  • Consider using a self-test before joining indoor gatherings with others who are not in your household.
  • A positive self-test result means that the test detected the virus, and you are very likely to have an infection and should stay home or isolate for 10 days, wear a mask if you could have contact with others and avoid indoor gatherings to reduce the risk of spreading disease to someone else.
  • A negative self-test result means that the test did not detect the virus and you may not have an infection, but it does not rule out infection. Repeating the test within a few days, with at least 24 hours between tests, will increase the confidence that you are not infected.

HPC reaches out to community partners

In addition to the test kits for patients and community individuals, HPC is providing kits to several partners in Johnson, Miami and Franklin Counties. These community groups are sharing the kits with their clients and staff. A huge thank you to everyone who is helping with the coordination and delivery of the kits and getting them into the hands of the communities we serve.

To date, we’ve distributed more than 2,000 kits to the following organizations:

  • Franklin County Health Department
  • Growing Futures Early Education Center
  • Johnson County Department of Health and Environment (Olathe)
  • Kids TLC
  • Mission Southside
  • Project 10/20
  • Safehome
  • Shawnee Mission School District


February is American Heart Month

Wael S. Mourad, MD, MHCM, FAAFP

Wael S. Mourad, MD, MHCM, FAAFP
Chief Health Officer

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

February is designated as American Heart Month to spotlight cardiovascular health and raise awareness about heart disease. To help prevent heart disease and increase understanding of its effects, Health Partnership Clinic is proudly participating in American Heart Month. Clinic staff will bring awareness by wearing red on Wear Red Day on Friday, Feb. 4.

Heart Disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease.

There are many types of heart disease. The most common type is coronary artery disease (CAD). CAD occurs when the arteries supplying blood to the heart narrow or harden from the buildup of plaque. This can lead to a decrease in the flow of blood to your heart muscle. CAD can cause chest pain called angina or lead to a heart attack.

National Wear Red DayCertain medical conditions and lifestyle choices can put people at a higher risk of heart disease including:

  • High blood pressure
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Overweight and obesity
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Physical inactivity
  • Excessive alcohol use

Your risk is increased if:

  • you are a woman over age 55.
  • You are a man over age 45.
  • Your father or brother had heart disease before age 55.
  • Your mother or sister had heart disease before age 65.

The good news is that cardiac events are largely preventable with education and lifestyle changes.

There are several things you can do to protect your heart:

  • Follow a healthy diet
  • Engage in physical activity (the recommendation for adults is 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes a week of vigorous exercise)
  • Lose weight
  • Reduce blood sugar
  • Stop smoking

For more information about heart disease, please visit https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/about.htm