Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Community Assessment identifies top concerns, need for evidence-based programming

After six months of research that included working with more than
40 area organizations and interviews with 80 community members, CoxHealth and Skaggs Foundation have released the Stone and Taney Counties Community Assessment. The document is part of the Stone and Taney Counties Substance Abuse Initiative.

“This document will essentially be our road map moving forward and help guide our community in preventing and reducing substance abuse,” said Substance Abuse Initiative Project Coordinator Marietta Hagan.

Recommendations outlined by the Community Assessment includes developing and monitoring key partnerships with individuals and organizations who can provide initiative growth; develop a data dashboard for community and local organizational use; focus on evidence-based programs; utilize an effective evaluation that focuses on process, outputs and outcomes; introduce and grow research-based programming in the schools to address youth and family needs; and introduce and grow research-based practices for intervention and treatment initiatives based in the community.

“From this point on, we will be coordinating all of our efforts around these recommendations,” Hagan said. “Preventing and reducing substance abuse is no easy task and it will take time and effort, however, with the support of the communities within Stone and Taney counties, this project will have a positive impact for generations to come.”

The Substance Abuse Initiative is a concentrated effort aimed at reducing and preventing substance abuse in Stone and Taney counties. The project, which started in 2016, is led by CoxHealth and funded by a Skaggs Legacy Endowment grant.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Foundation provides $68,000 in scholarships to senior nursing students

While summertime at College of the Ozarks means a break from classes, for most C of O students, it’s usually one of the busiest times of the year.
Senior nursing students Courtney Weibel and Samuel Womble

Senior Cheyenne Martin, 22, hasn’t had much of a summer break since starting at C of O. In fact, this summer will be the first summer that her plans do not include holding down two fulltime jobs – one on campus to cover the cost of her room and board and one off-campus to help pay fees and living expenses. This summer, she’ll be focusing her time and energy on learning all she can about being a nurse.

Martin is one of 10 C of O senior nursing students receiving a $6,800 scholarship from Skaggs Foundation to cover the cost of her room and board and other fees incurred during the final year of her college career.

“This means a lot to me personally,” says Martin who will be fulfilling her externship requirements this summer by working 40 hours a week on the step down unit at Cox Medical Center Branson. “This allows me to focus on my education and not worry about money so hopefully I can be a better nurse.”

Savannah Peach, 21, says the scholarship lifts a huge burden off her shoulders and will allow her to keep her focus on her future nursing career.

“My dad is fully disabled,” she explains. “All of the resources my mom brings in has to go to support them. This scholarship means that I don’t have to be burdened this summer with finding the money I need for my last year in school.”

Peach plans to graduate debt-free and hopes to be able to help her parents once she graduates.

“My dad, he’s my inspiration and my strength,” she says.
Cheyenne Martin and Savannah Peach

Peach will be fulfilling her externship in the post-surgical unit at Cox Medical Center Branson. Following graduation, she plans to remain in the area and work in the emergency room or critical care unit.

When classes resume this fall, Peach, Martin and the other nursing students will return to a very full schedule complete with classes, course requirements and working 15 hours a week on-campus to cover tuition.

The Armstrong McDonald School of Nursing was founded by and is directed by Dr. Janice Williams. The school celebrated its 10th year in 2017. The school has achieved outstanding results since inception -- earning accreditation, producing amazing results on the National Council Licensure Examination for registered nurses (NCLEX-RN®), and showing a 100 percent satisfaction rate among employers and alumni.

The senior nursing student scholarships were made possible through a grant to College of the Ozarks through the Skaggs Legacy Endowment. Skaggs Legacy Endowment was established in 2013 and is a restricted endowment fund dedicated to improving access to health care, supporting healthy lifestyles, child and family safety, dental care, mental health and substance abuse. Since the inception of the endowment fund, Skaggs Foundation has awarded more than $3 million to organizations serving Stone and Taney counties.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Local police chief encouraged by Substance Abuse Initiative, invites community to get involved

(This Letter to the Editor from Branson West Police Chief Steve Dalton was sent to newspapers serving Stone and Taney counties.)

Dear Editor:

As the Police Chief of Branson West and a former officer with the Branson Police Department, I have seen firsthand the negative consequences associated with substance abuse. Substance abuse affects individuals, families, schools, churches, and businesses - it affects our entire community.

Given the far-reaching effect of substance abuse on our community, it is clear that we all need to do more to address the issue. We need health care providers, law enforcement officers, school administrators, politicians, business owners, social service agencies, and general community members to come together to promote proactive solutions to protect our collective wellbeing. Addressing such a complex issue will require everyone working together because law enforcement cannot solve this challenge alone.

There are a number of reasons for my alarm. Substance abuse is often associated with an increase in criminal activity, as those with substance use disorders seek to fund their addiction. Consequently, the courts must deal with these offenders and prison populations continue to rise. These issues divert already scarce law enforcement resources from other pressing problems and the truth is we cannot arrest our way out of this problem. 

I am also aware of the negative effects of substance abuse on our healthcare system, where, for example, individuals seeking hospital care due to the overuse of opioid pain medication has increased by 138% in Missouri between 2006 and 2015. In law enforcement, we have also identified persons who report a progression from prescription opioid abuse to heroin injection. The abuse of opioid pain medication constitutes a new route to heroin abuse, placing new populations at risk for heroin addiction. In addition, many heroin users progress to injection drug use as their tolerance develops and the quality of heroin varies. The implications for the spread of blood-borne diseases, such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B virus, and hepatitis C virus, are clear.

Law enforcement has a role to play, but the key to success is changing the stigma of substance abuse from that of simply a choice or moral failing to treating it like what it is – a disease – and getting those with substance use disorders the help that they need to manage the disease.

Substance abuse prevention and treatment providers have the tools needed to do the job. Prevention and treatment specialists are the front-line defense against substance use disorders, yet prevention, treatment options are often overlooked, and the necessary community collaboration for the use of resources is lacking. Effective tried and tested prevention and treatment can help extinguish the fire that the demand for drugs is fueling. Stone and Taney counties have many tools with which to combat substance abuse, but until effective prevention and treatment options are utilized, we will always be playing catchup.

One area of ongoing concern is the lack of access to medication to treat substance use disorders. Local drug courts have shown success in utilizing medication assisted treatment (MAT), but the lack of medical providers that are willing to prescribe MAT to the general population is limiting this potential.

I am encouraged by the new Stone & Taney Counties Substance Abuse Initiative, which provides an opportunity for community members to get involved as we seek to address substance abuse in a comprehensive manner. To find out more, contact the Project Coordinator, Marietta Hagan, at 417-335-7333 or marietta.hagan@coxhealth.com. You can also contribute by taking a short survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SAISpring17.


Chief Steve DaltonBranson West Police Department

Monday, May 8, 2017

Public feedback sought on local substance abuse issues

The Stone and Taney Counties Substance Abuse Initiative is a grant-funded project that
seeks to be proactive in increasing the community’s capacity at preventing and reducing substance abuse. This joint effort between CoxHealth and Skaggs Foundation has successfully hosted a Stakeholders Summit and Community Summit, and by collaborating with an expert on substance abuse prevention, conducted a community assessment focused on identifying current resources and gaps in services in Stone and Taney counties.

“As part of the initiative’s next steps, we are asking the community to take part in an online survey that will help us better understand the impact of substance abuse on a larger segment of our population,” says Project Coordinator Marietta Hagan. “If you live, work or play in Stone or Taney counties, please take a few minutes to share your knowledge and perceptions of substance abuse by completing the short survey.”

The survey can be found at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SAISpring17 and will remain open through May 19.

For more information about the Substance Abuse Initiative, call Hagan at 417-335-7333 or email  Marietta.Hagan@CoxHealth.com.
The Substance Abuse Initiative is made possible through the Skaggs Legacy Endowment. 

Since 2013, Skaggs Foundation has awarded more than $3 million through the Skaggs Legacy Endowment to area agencies dedicated to improving health and wellness in Taney and Stone counties. Skaggs Legacy Endowment is a restricted endowment fund made possible by a generous gift from CoxHealth. Funds are dedicated to improving access to health care, supporting healthy lifestyles, child and family safety, dental care, mental health and substance abuse. For more information about Skaggs Legacy Endowment or Skaggs Foundation, visit SkaggsFoundation.org

Friday, May 5, 2017

'Basically, I died'

Skaggs Foundation helping patients find confidence to get back to life 

No one plans to have a heart attack, but it happens. It happened to Frank Redburn on his sixth lap around the track at Branson RecPlex on Feb. 27.

“I was at the RecPlex walking the track and the next thing I knew I was in the emergency room,” Redburn recalled. “I normally walked a mile-and-a-half Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I was finishing my sixth lap and getting ready to rest and that’s the last I remember.”

Redburn had collapsed near the track. Employees from Branson RecPlex and CoxHealth Fitness Center provided him with hands-only CPR and used the fitness center’s automated external defibrillator (AED) to save him.

Redburn was rushed to the hospital where he underwent emergency surgery.

“They put in a stent and installed a defibrillator,” Redburn said.

He’s now ready to be fully recovered and get back to life, however, after suffering a heart attack while exercising, it’s no surprise Redburn was concerned about working exercise back into his life.

“Basically, I died,” he said. “It gives you a real sense of vulnerability.”

Thanks to the Skaggs Foundation, Redburn is attending a 12-week program at CoxHealth Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehab Center in Branson without the worry of how he is going to pay his rehab bills.

Redburn is one of about 38 patients currently receiving a scholarship from Skaggs Foundation to cover his insurance copay for the sessions.

“Believe me, I appreciate it,” he said. “It would have been a hardship.”

CoxHealth Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehab provides patients with individualized plans and expert nurses monitor patients throughout each session, giving people like Redburn the confidence to keep moving forward.

“We provide guidance to each patient as they exercise and help them know their limits,” said Hollie Holderfield, cardiac and pulmonary rehab center manager.

On average, Skaggs Foundation provides more than $3,000 a month to patients through the Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehab Fund.

“Without Skaggs Foundation, we would not be able to serve our community as well as we do today,” Holderfield said. “We are very grateful to the Skaggs Foundation and their support, not only for rehab but for what they do for our community as a whole.”

As for the AED that was used to help save Redburn, it’s being replaced with a newer, more advanced model courtesy of Skaggs Foundation.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Skaggs Foundation awards $29,500 in scholarships to local students

Skaggs Foundation awarded 33 scholarships to students this month.
Skaggs Foundation made a $29,500 investment in the future of the health care industry this month by
awarding 33 scholarships to local students pursuing careers in the medical field. The scholarships are
Jamille Twedt
for summer and fall 2017 semesters.

Among the 33 scholarship recipients, 26 are employees at Cox Medical Center Branson, six are seniors at Branson High School and one is a senior at Forsyth High School.

Scholarship recipient Jamille Twedt, RN, OCN, has been a nurse for 39 years and in oncology for 28 of those years. She is currently an assistant nurse manager of Cox Cancer Center Branson and working toward her Bachelors of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree.

Without the support of Skaggs Foundation, she says she would not have been able to complete her BSN.

“Skaggs Foundation is committed to the health of our community not just today, but for years to
Forsyth senior Whitney Haynie
come,” Twedt says. “In our rural community, we need to increase health care access by paving the way for people who want to become doctors, nurses, provide advanced
radiology services, and the like. There are many people who have a desire to better their lives and be a part of the medical field, but that education can be very expensive. Skaggs Foundation helps reduce the burden of paying for school for those wanting to improve their own lives and make a difference for others.”

“At Skaggs Foundation, we are committed to improving the health of Taney and Stone counties today, but also ensuring that excellent health care will be available here for years to come,” says Skaggs Foundation President Meghan Connell.

Since its inception in 2002, Skaggs Foundation has awarded a total of $312,450 to students pursuing degrees in the medical field. 

Students wishing to apply for a spring 2018 scholarship have until Nov. 1. Please visit
Six Branson High School Seniors received scholarships
SkaggsFoundation.org for more information about the scholarship program.

Skaggs Foundation continues the tradition of caring established in 1950 by M.B. and Estella Skaggs who provided the financial support to establish the area’s first community-owned hospital. Today the Foundation, thanks to the generosity of its donors, supports and leads community initiatives that improve health and wellness in Taney and Stone counties.

Friday, April 21, 2017

The little things can mean so much

Diabetes testing supplies – it’s another way we are making a difference.

When we learned that Cox Medical Center Branson Cardiac Rehab had patients who could not afford their diabetes testing supplies, Skaggs Foundation quickly stepped up to the plate.

“It’s so important for a patient with diabetes to manage their blood sugars in order to minimize both short term and long term complications,” says Cardiac Rehab Nurse Beth Gillispie. “Of course, a meter is necessary to track blood sugars and therefore treat appropriately.”

By working with CoxHealth Pharmacy, the foundation has been able to obtain meters and necessary supplies at a reasonable price. Cardiac rehab patients who could not otherwise afford these supplies are now receiving starter kits which include a meter, test strips, lancing device, lancets and glucose tablets.

“The test strips and lancets are an ongoing cost but patients can replenish their supplies at a very economical price at our pharmacy,” Gillispie says. “Our desire is to enable patients to leave the hospital with the tools needed to get started on their road to better health management. Not only does this allow them to better manage their health, I think they can leave here feeling like we really care and truly want them to succeed, and that’s priceless.”