March Marks Social Work Month

Cecilia Ponce

Health Partnership Clinic

Post written by Cecilia Ponce, LSCW
Behavioral Health Clinician
Health Partnership Clinic

Social workers provide invaluable contributions to the most vulnerable in our society

According to the National Association of Social Workers (2019), there are approximately 680,000 social workers in the United States who are actively employed. Social work is one of the fastest growing professions in this nation, and this is due in large part to the versatility of the general practitioner.

Social workers can be found working in non-profits, for profit companies, self-employed, federal, state and local government and even charitable organizations (NASW, 2019). The social work profession has been in existence for more than 100 years. Social workers are encouraged to advocate for the most vulnerable and oppressed members of society and must adhere to the most stringent professional code of ethics.

Social Work Month

Social Work Month was officially recognized in 1984 under President Ronald Regan and his administration. The purpose was to highlight the contributions made by social workers to society every day. March is National Professional  Social Work Month, and this year’s theme is Elevate Social Work.

Unbeknownst to most, social workers account for the largest group of mental health providers in the United States. The largest employer of masters-level social workers is the Veteran Administration (NASW, 2019).

Mental Health Professionals in Public Schools

Social Work ElevateIn recent years, legislators have taken notice of a lack of qualified mental health professionals in several areas here in Kansas. One area has been in public schools.

According to a published study (Headquarters Inc., 2018), about 17.9 percent of children/minors contemplated suicide and about five percent attempted suicide. Historically, Kansas has one of the lowest student-counselor ratios in the country. According to an article published by Tim Carter in the Pratt Tribune, Kansas Legislators have initiated a pilot program (2018) to hire over 40 social workers to address the mental health needs of children across the state bringing the state total to more than 580.

Innovation and Intervention Before Graduation

One way that social workers contribute to the field is by providing innovation and interventions before graduation. According to the Council on Social Work Education (2019), the expectation is over 900 hours of field practicum hours prior to graduation at the MSW level. Locally, we have several accredited schools that provide education and practicum placement including the University of Kansas, Newman University, Washburn University and Wichita State University.

The Path to my Social Work Career

The path to a social work career is not always direct, and I’m an example of that.  I wore several hats before completing my social work degree. I was exposed to social work and social welfare very early on in my life, but it was not until after college that I considered it as a profession. Both my aunt and mother chose careers in social welfare.

I had an interest in social welfare from an early age and was the Social Justice Coordinator at my high school. Before applying to graduate school, I volunteered with Dominican Volunteers International in Santiago, Chile and was inspired by a Dominican Sister and social worker named Neli Armas. As a volunteer, I was able to help and shadow Neli as she engaged clients through interventions in medical social work and school and community-based services as well. It was not until living abroad that I realized the seemingly limitless career possibilities associated with a social work degree.

While studying at Washington University in St. Louis, I was exposed to medical social work, case management, policy making, supervision, mental health assessment and clinical interventions. I am forever grateful for the support of my professors, practicum supervisors and colleagues.

As we celebrate Social Work Month in March, please join Health Partnership Clinic in honoring and thanking the professionals who work to promote service, social justice, dignity and worth of the person, human relationships, integrity and competence (NASW, 2018).


National Association of Social Workers. (2018). Code of ethics. Retrieved March 5, 2019, from

National Association of Social Workers. (2019). Social Work History. Retrieved March 5, 2019, from

First School-Based Clinic in Johnson County Marks First Year with Birthday Celebration

Merriam Park Elementary Clinic Party

By Catherine Rice, Vice President of Marketing and Outreach for Health Partnership Clinic

Merriam Park Elementary Clinic PartyHealth Partnership Clinic and Shawnee Mission School District Partner for Student Health

Health Partnership Clinic and Shawnee Mission School District are celebrating a year of providing health services to students through a school-based clinic at Merriam Park Elementary School in Merriam, Kan. To celebrate, the partners have planned a variety of birthday-related activities to bring awareness about Johnson County’s’ first school-based clinic and to thank all those involved.

A birthday party will be hosted at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, April 3rd at Merriam Park Elementary, 6100 Mastin St., Merriam, complete with songs, games and tours of the clinic. KC Wolf and school mascots will make an appearance and Superintendent Dr. Mike Fulton and Chief Health Officer Wael Mourad, MD, among others, will be playing Pin the Heart, Brain, and Teeth to a five foot “Operation” stand-up patient.

Merriam Park Elementary: One Year Birthday CelebrationThe community is invited to attend. To learn more, call 913-730-3661.

Other activities include distribution of healthy tips, a Health Dress Up Day at Merriam Park, and more.

Health Partnership CEO Amy Falk says, “To date, more than 250 students have received medical, behavioral health and/or dental services thanks to the many referrals from school district nurses, social workers and other staff. When we embarked on this journey, our main goal was to serve as a medical home for children and offer an additional access point to primary care. A year later we’ve accomplished that and more. We now offer dental services.”

Walk-In Clinic Hours

The walk-in clinic is open on Tuesday afternoons from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. and is available to all Shawnee Mission School District students and their siblings. Clinic services include sick visits, well-child, school and sports physicals, immunizations, strep/flu testing, lab/blood work, asthma care, behavioral health care, dental cleanings and checkups as well as nutritional guidance. On Wednesday mornings by appointment, a medical professional provides medical management for behavior health. This service is provided to established patients only and must be referred by a Health Partnership Behavioral Health provider.

Dr. Mourad adds, “The school district and Health Partnership share a common goal of keeping children healthy. Together our team of psychologists, nurse practitioners, medical assistants, school nurses, social workers and many other dedicated staff members work together to determine the best approach to help students and their families. Our clinic is a viable option for those who are uninsured, under-insured or like the convenience of easy accessibility to quality and affordable health care.”

“We are thrilled to celebrate the first year of offering the school-based clinic to Shawnee Mission School District students,” Superintendent Mike Fulton says.  “One of our most important jobs is preparing students for success in their futures. Helping students to be healthy so that they can learn is an essential part of accomplishing that mission. The clinic serves an important role in our work to ensure that we are serving the needs of all students in the Shawnee Mission School District. We thank the Health Partnership Clinic, Merriam Park, staff, students, and everyone who made the clinic so successful in its first year of operation.”

Merriam Park Elementary Clinic PartyShelby Rebeck, director of health services in the Shawnee Mission School District says, “This clinic is a powerful tool for achieving health equity among children by placing needed services right at Merriam Park Elementary School.  No matter the zip code, we are able to offer access to quality, affordable health care to all Shawnee Mission School District students.”

The Merriam Park Elementary School community looks forward to joining in the celebration, Rachel Fessenden, Merriam Park social worker says. “At Merriam Park, we want to be a school that serves the community and we take great pride in knowing that Merriam Park, the Shawnee Mission School District, and Health Partnership Clinic are able to provide this resource to families who otherwise may not have access to much-needed services,” Fessenden adds. “The clinic has been a welcome addition to our school. Happy Birthday to the School-Based Clinic at Merriam Park!”

Keep Healthy Tip Sheets

Healthy Handwashing (English) | Healthy Handwashing (Español)

Behavioral Health – Deep Breathing

For fun, download the below coloring page.

Coloring Page

Submitted Coloring Pages

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Baker Realty Executive Join Health Partnership Clinic Board

Bruce BakerHealth Partnership Clinic announces the addition of Bruce Baker, CCIM, Owner of Baker Realty Advisors, Inc. to its Board of Directors.

Baker brings a wealth of technology and real estate/facilities experience to the HPC board, having specialized in working with health care organizations in planning, executing and managing their commercial real estate needs throughout his 35-year career. He founded Baker Realty Advisors in 1992, after starting in the business with Leo Eisenberg Co.

Baker has served on more than 25 boards and committees related to the real estate profession, and he has been a member of the boards for the Kansas City Alliance for Nonviolent Programming and MediaWise. He has a bachelor of science degree in Experimental Psychology from Drake University and is a graduate of the Leadership Overland Park and Kansas Association of Realters Leadership programs.

“Throughout my commercial real estate career, I’ve met and worked with Amy Falk and others at the Olathe Clinic,” Baker says. “I learned that it’s a wonderful, necessary organization that should be supported and needs volunteers. To the extent that I have any skill or talent that will assist HPC fulfill its mission, I’d like to help.”

Health Partnership Clinic CEO Amy Falk expressed appreciation for Baker’s dedication to his community and his willingness to provide guidance to HPC leadership teams. “We rely heavily on our board members for their specific experience, perspective and expertise,” she said. “We are honored to have Bruce join us.”

HPC Scores 98 Percent on Operations Site Visit!

Amy Falk

Amy Falk, CEO

Health Partnership Clinic (HPC) was successful in its 2018 Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Operational Site Visit (OSV), which was conducted this week for HPC’s five clinic sites.

The OSV included a detailed review of HPC documents and interviews with staff, board members and patients.

In the positive review, HPC successfully met 98 percent of the elements in HRSA’s Bureau of Primary Health Care (BPCH) Compliance Manual.

One surveyor stated, “It is not often that an organization receives only two noncompliant marks. It’s very impressive.”

The HRSA site visit, which is the standard federal reviewing arm for Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC), confirms health clinics are committed to financial and service delivery work plans. The site visit occurs every three years.

The HRSA assessment confirms HPC’s ability to meet its goals and mission by offering the best quality health care to patients regardless of their economic situations.

“I am extremely happy with the survey results,” says Amy Falk, Chief Executive Officer. “The survey validates how far we’ve come over the past two-plus years to reach our goal of building a sustainable infrastructure and becoming the clinic of choice.”

“A huge thank you to the staff for their efforts this week and for practicing and living our mission every day. I am exceedingly proud of every member of our team who contributed to this positive outcome. We literally hit it out of the ballpark in almost every area!”

HRSA Site Visit

During their closing remarks to HPC’s senior leaders and board members, the surveyor team recognized HPC for demonstrating excellence in:

  • responsiveness toward patients’ needs
  • great Board of Director collaboration
  • developing and maintaining community and health partnerships
  • provider credentialing process
  • data collection and use
  • plans for the clinic’s high-risk diabetes clinic (which will begin this summer)

Board Chair Tierney Grasser adds, “The success of this survey is a testament to the commitment and professionalism of Health Partnership’s entire team. Surveyors were generous with their praise of our organization – the staff, facilities and the care we give our patients.

“Well prepared,” “superb” and “outstanding” were just a sampling of the adjectives we heard from surveyors.”

In addition to the site surveyors and HRSA representative, Melody Martin, Director of Training & Technical Assistance for Kansas Association for the Medically Underserved (KAMU), attended the three-day survey.

“The leadership team has done a truly remarkable job to transform HPC in such a brief timespan. One of the areas that stood out to me and the reviewers was the clinic’s diabetes performance plan. The idea of creating a high-risk diabetes clinic that is multi-disciplined, data-driven and utilizes existing resources indicates the caliber of staff and their innovative approach to chronic disease management. It also serves as a promising practice for other FQHCs.”

Patients Matter at Health Partnership Clinic

Amy Falk

Amy Falk, CEO

Every year, 15,000 patients walk through Health Partnership Clinic’s (HPC) doors seeking health services—medical, behavioral health and dental.

Many battle chronic diseases; others struggle with mental issues and yet others face challenges of homelessness, abuse, loss of a job or a myriad of other stressors.

It’s our mission to provide quality care. That means we must always look for ways to improve care and do what’s right for our patients.

At HPC, we know that patients have the right to choose where to go for their health care, and we want to be their provider of choice—their medical home. That’s why patient satisfaction is a top priority at HPC.

How do we know if we’re meeting our patients’ expectations? And doing it consistently?

The best way is to ask our patients. Last summer we revamped our survey tool as well as incorporated questions that are required from grant funders and our Patient-Centered Medical Home Recognition program.

Our questions ranged from the registration process, phones and front desk check in to provider/support staff, billing/payment process and behavioral health services.

In November 2017, 3,453 patients, who received services between July 1 and Sept. 30, 2017, received a survey (either in English or Spanish) request via email.

  • More than 480 responded, resulting in a 14 percent response rate, with a confidence level of 94 percent and a margin of error of only four percent.
  • Besides the great response rate, overall, our satisfaction results were positive.

One of the key questions I pay special attention to is “How likely is it that you would recommend HPC to your friends and family?” Our English responders indicated 84 percent and our Spanish patients indicated 87 percent.

In addition, our team pays close attention to our patients’ overall experience related to our facility, billing/payment process and the care we provide.

I wanted to share a few of our English results:





Next Steps

Our Quality Assurance and Senior Leadership Teams have reviewed the results and plan to tackle the following four issues:

  • Experience related to Overall Care: Communication related to delays
  • Experience related to Overall Care: Wait time-test results
  • Experience related to Billing/Payment: Explanation/Requirements
  • Experience related to Billing/Payment: Collections

Senior leaders will work with staff to develop Performance Improvement Plans in the coming weeks. Our goal is to re-survey patients in April for patients we’ve seen from October 2017-March 2018.

We appreciate the great feedback we received from our patients. This feedback, along with our dedicated staff, will help us continue to strengthen a culture of safety and quality at Health Partnership.