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.”

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Skaggs Foundation 2017 Speaker Series kicks off with Dr. Chad Efird

Free lunch & learn to be held May 10 at Dixie Stampede

Skaggs Foundation’s 2017 Speaker Series kicks off this year with Orthopedic Surgeon Dr.
Chad Efird presenting Osteoarthritis: Living & Managing.

During this free lunch and learn at Dixie Stampede, Dr. Efird will discuss in detail osteoarthritis, how it can impact your life and treatment options available. He will also touch on hip, knee and shoulder replacement, as well as provide tips on the steps you can take to help prevent osteoarthritis.

This event, which will be held in the Carriage Room at Dixie Stampede, includes a complimentary lunch of Dixie Stampede’s signature three-course meal.

Dr. Efird is a board certified orthopedic surgeon at Cox Medical Center Branson.

The lunch and learn is presented by Skaggs Foundation, Central Trust Company and Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede Dinner Attraction.

Registration is required and this event is expected to fill up quickly. To RSVP, email Ruby.Comer@skaggs.net or call 417-348-8998.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Galena Community Vision to host series for caregivers

Workshops to be held Wednesday afternoons at Stone County Library in Galena

Whether it’s caring for an aging parent or a spouse who has fallen ill, many people eventually find themselves in a caregiver role. Galena Community Vision, formerly known as Galena Vision of Hope, is hosting a three-part caregivers series designed to equip and educate local caregivers with the information they need to make the best, most informed decisions for their loved ones and themselves.
Each session will be held from 1-2 p.m. at the Stone County Library in Galena and includes the following schedule:
  • April 19 - Caregiving: Identifying needs, organizing and planning
  • April 26 - Explanation of Medicare and Medicaid Programs (home health, consumer directed care, in-home services and private pay help)
  • May 3 - Caregiver health, community resources, Advanced Health Care Directive and more.

“These sessions will emphasize how important it is to care for the caregiver as well as the loved one in need,” says Connie Johnson, Galena Community Vision chairperson. “We want to help caregivers be better informed, be able to identify their loved one’s needs and be able to easily organize necessary care.”
This free series is made possible by the generous support of Oxford Healthcare and funded by Skaggs Foundation.

For more information or to register, call Connie Johnson at 417-357-6061. 

Monday, March 27, 2017

Skaggs Foundation, CoxHealth to host Community Summit on substance abuse

Event begins at 9 a.m. April 13 at the Hughes Brothers Theatre

Marietta Hagan
Project Coordinator
Skaggs Foundation and CoxHealth invite the community to join them Thursday, April 13, when Dr. Bill Geary, a national expert on substance abuse prevention and community coalitions, will facilitate a discussion on proactive approaches the communities of Stone and Taney counties can take to combat substance abuse. The Substance Abuse Initiative Community Summit will be held from 9 a.m. to noon at the Hughes Brothers Theatre in Branson.

“At this event, we want to bring together community members and leaders from Stone and Taney
counties for an opportunity to learn about the Substance Abuse Initiative,” explains CoxHealth Project Coordinator Marietta Hagan. “Substance abuse has been identified as a top concern by residents of both Stone and Taney counties. Together, CoxHealth and Skaggs Foundation have stepped up to the plate to invest the resources necessary to lead this initiative.”

Hagan explained that the goal of the initiative is to support the region’s social and economic prosperity by engaging key stakeholders around the topic of local substance abuse, identifying community resources, encouraging collaboration of those resources and implementing proven prevention efforts.

During the community summit, Dr. Geary will present the results of a recent community assessment and share his recommendations as to how the community can move forward. In addition to Dr. Geary’s presentation, local substance abuse experts will share their experiences and insights on the topic and area agencies will highlight existing programs and efforts already underway.

“People from all sectors of the community will benefit from attending the summit,” says Hagan. “Whether you live or just work in Stone or Taney counties, the success and prosperity of the region depends on the community’s willingness to join together to keep the Ozarks a safe place to live, work and play.”

The Substance Abuse Initiative will be held 9 a.m. to noon, Thursday, April 13, at the Hughes Brothers Theatre, 3425 W. 76 Country Blvd., Branson. For more information about the upcoming summit or the Substance Abuse Initiative, call Hagan at 417-335-7333 or email Marietta.Hagan@CoxHealth.com.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Skaggs Foundation accepting grant applications and concept papers

Skaggs Legacy Endowment dedicated to supporting health and wellness initiatives
Cedarcreek Volunteer Fire Protection District
was a 2016 Helping Hands grant recipient

Now through April 28, Skaggs Foundation is accepting grant applications and concept papers from organizations wishing to receive funding from Skaggs Legacy Endowment. Skaggs Legacy Endowment is a restricted fund made possible by a generous gift from CoxHealth in 2013.

To be considered for Skaggs Legacy Endowment funding, programs must be health and wellness related and serve Stone and/or Taney County residents. Eligible applicants must be nonprofit with current proof of 501(c)3 status, a school or governmental agency. Priority will be given to collaborative initiatives that address dental care, substance abuse/tobacco, unhealthy body weight, mental health, child and family safety, improve access to care and community health workers.

“Through Skaggs Legacy Endowment, we are investing in the health and wellness of our community today, knowing that the impact of good health will last for generations to come,” says Skaggs Legacy Endowment Grants Committee Chairman Nita Jane Ayres. “Through these grants, we’ve impacted thousands of lives in Stone and Taney counties and look forward to seeing more great projects from our community.”

There are currently two levels of grants available:
  • Helping Hands grant awards range from $1,000-$5,000 and are one-year grants. Full applications are due April 28.
  • The Priority Health Needs grant award floor is $5,001 with no award ceiling. Requests may be made up to a three-years period, although funding is committed for one year at a time. Future funding is contingent upon program results and funding availability. Programs that are collaborative in nature and address a top identified health need are of high priority. Concept papers are due April 28.
In October 2016, Skaggs Foundation awarded 14 grants to local organizations.

Among the grant recipients was Cedarcreek Volunteer Fire Protection District which received a Helping Hands grant to purchase a CPR Manikin and AED training package.

Stone County Health Department received for the third year a Priority Health Needs grant for its Healthy Bundles program. Healthy Bundles provides free home visits to families with newborns and free newborn case management in an effort to prevent and address child abuse and neglect.

For more information on these or other projects funded through Skaggs Legacy Endowment or to access Skaggs Legacy Endowment forms, visit www.skaggsfoundation.org/grants or call Mindy Honey at 417-335-7340.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Branson’s Skaggs Classic returns June 9-10

Charity golf tournament offers opportunity to play two great Branson courses

Branson’s Skaggs Classic charity golf tournament will return June 9-10 this year with the incredible opportunity for golfers to enjoy not just one beautiful Branson course, but two.

“Branson has so many wonderful courses and we decided this year to give our sponsors the opportunity to try a couple of the courses during one fun-filled weekend,” says Skaggs Foundation President Meghan Connell. “We will kick things off on Friday, June 9, with a 1 p.m. shotgun start at Thousand Hills Golf Resort. That main day of play includes free lunch, snacks and beverages for all of our players as well as appetizers, a silent auction and an awards ceremony. On Saturday, June 10, our sponsors of $5,000 or more will be treated to a second day of play, this time at Branson Hills Golf Club.”

Sponsorship opportunities begin at $500 with team sponsorships starting at $1,000. All proceeds raised during Branson’s Skaggs Classic will help support Skaggs Foundation.

“Every year, millions of visitors come to the Ozarks to enjoy our lakes, shows and attractions, but at Skaggs Foundation, we recognize that our greatest resources are the people of our community,” Connell says. “Our mission is to protect that resource by supporting community initiatives dedicated to improving health and wellness throughout Taney and Stone counties.”

Here are just a few of the ways Skaggs Foundation is improving health and wellness:
  • Jan Harper Cardiac Rehab Fund provides financial assistance to patients who have suffered a cardiac event, such as a heart attack, but are unable to afford recommended rehabilitation services as part of their recovery process. 
  • Feel Better Baby is a program designed to equip, educate and empower parents and caregivers of children 0-3 years old to treat common childhood ailments at home and know when and where to seek medical treatment when needed. This program provides 1,000 kits – kits that include a digital thermometer, pain reliever, saline drops, bulb syringe and easy-to-read information – for families in our community. 
  • Since inception in 2002, Skaggs Foundation has awarded more than $280,000 in scholarships to local students pursuing careers in the medical industry. At Skaggs Foundation, we believe there is no better way to ensure the health care industry in our area has a bright future than by supporting education today. 
  • Skaggs Legacy Endowment is a restricted endowment fund made possible by a generous gift from CoxHealth in 2013. The foundation awards grants annually to local agencies dedicated to improving health and wellness in Taney and Stone counties. More than 85,000 lives are expected to be impacted by current Skaggs Legacy Endowment grants. 

To learn more about Skaggs Foundation or to get involved in Branson’s Skaggs Classic 2017, visit SkaggsFoundation.org or call 417-348-8998.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Recovering from a ‘widowmaker’

Skaggs Foundation helps retired teacher receive the rehab he needed

At 64 years old, Arliss Stillings appeared to be the picture of great health.
Arliss Stillings is back to his active lifestyle
following a heart attack in October 2015. 

Stillings had retired from 20 years of teaching band and choir but remained active. His days of retirement included caring for two elderly women, helping at a friend’s business, serving as choir director at his church and running his own car detailing business. To maintain his active lifestyle, Stillings had taken the steps to protect his health.

“All indicators showed I was in good health,” he said. “It was great for me because I’d made it to 64 without any issues.”

That all changed one night in October 2015.

Stillings woke up about 3:30 a.m. in excruciating pain - pain he thought was from a gallbladder attack. He and his wife rushed from their home in Forsyth to Cox Medical Center Branson.

It wasn’t until he was heading into surgery that Stillings learned it wasn’t his gallbladder – he was having a heart attack.

“I had 100 percent blockage,” he said. “It’s what they call a ‘widowmaker.’”

In the hospital, Stillings learned about CoxHealth Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation Center but because Stillings had switched insurance providers in anticipation of soon being eligible for Medicare, his copay for rehab was going to be more than he could afford.

“I went home and thought I could just walk,” he said. “Then, I learned how important the cardiac part of rehab was in recovery.”

Thanks to the Skaggs Foundation cardiac rehab scholarship fund, which covers insurance co-pays when patients could not otherwise afford to attend rehab, Stillings was able to attend all 12 weeks of rehabilitation.

“The scholarship program, that was the only reason I came,” he said. “The best part of the rehab program was the security I felt by being here with all the monitors and nurses making sure I was OK.”

Highly trained nurses and staff worked with Stillings at each session, ensuring he was building strength and endurance while being safe.

“That confidence brought me forward,” he said. “My chest hurt so much after my heart attack and I was so weak. They helped me move forward though and set goals. If I was at home trying to do it on my own, I would have given up a thousand times.”

February is American Heart Month. If you would like to partner with Skaggs Foundation and help people like Stillings receive the care they need, visit SkaggsFoundation.org or call 417-348-8998.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Proactive Substance Abuse Initiative underway in Tri-Lakes Area

Skaggs Foundation, CoxHealth partner for community-wide project

More than 70 area leaders gathered at Cox Medical Center Branson Thursday morning to begin a community-wide discussion focused on how to best address the complex issue of substance abuse in our community.

The stakeholders meeting was part of a project known as the Substance Abuse Initiative. The Substance Abuse Initiative has been made possible by a partnership between Skaggs Foundation, CoxHealth and prevention consultant Dr. William Geary.

"Our end goal is to have a collaborative of community members and professionals who feel comfortable and informed and equipped to be proactive about substance abuse prevention rather than reacting to it,” Dr. Geary said. “Our goal is to equip community leaders with the data and skills they need to oversee a coordinated substance abuse effort.”

“Through this initiative, we will assess the complexity of local substance abuse, determine gaps in current services, identify community resources and make a concentrated effort to best address this complex and troubling issue,” explained Marietta Hagan, who has been hired by CoxHealth to serve as the initiative’s project coordinator.

Dr. Geary has more than 18 years of hands-on experience with helping communities choose, implement and evaluate best practices in substance abuse prevention. He said Stone and Taney counties are in a great position to begin this initiative.

“The overall health of your community seems good, even compared to the rest of the state,” Dr. Geary said. “I’ve been in communities that are in crisis state. This community is not in crisis state. Being in this position lets you focus on where you want to be five years down the road. We hope to help you build on what you already have so that you are not only avoiding a crisis, but you are able to push the envelope and improve quality of life throughout your community.”

Dr. Geary said what impressed him the most during the stakeholders meeting was that nearly 100 percent of leaders who were invited were in attendance Thursday.

“You don’t understand how rare that is,” he said. “That tells me that at least a portion of this community wants to be engaged in this process and that means they are bringing passion with them to the table.”

Those in attendance included leaders from area cities, schools, law enforcement agencies, health departments and more. Missouri Hospital Association President and CEO Herb Kuhn also attended the meeting. He described the Substance Abuse Initiative as a wonderful community-driven model that is bringing all of the right people to the table.
“These are the type of conversations that need to be taking place across the state,” he said. 

“At Skaggs Foundation, our mission is to improve health and wellness throughout Stone and Taney counties,” said Skaggs Foundation President Meghan Connell. “About two years ago, the Skaggs Foundation grant committee was reviewing grant applications and noticed a huge influx of requests for substance abuse projects. We knew there was problem but that really brought it to light. Last November, we awarded a Skaggs Legacy Endowment grant to CoxHealth to spearhead this Substance Abuse Initiative. We believe wholeheartedly a concentrated prevention effort will impact our community today and for years to come.”

The team will be collecting data and conducting interviews as part of a community assessment. A follow-up meeting will be held this spring to review the assessment and plan next steps.

For more information about Skaggs Foundation or Skaggs Legacy Endowment grants, visit SkaggsFoundation.org or call 417-348-8998.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Children’s Smile Center making long-term impact

Tooth decay is one of the most common chronic childhood conditions in the U.S. and can impact the  way a child smiles and eats, to school performance, attendance and self-esteem.

Regular visits to a dentist combined with daily brushing are key to preventing tooth decay.

Dental Hygienist Shanna Toler shows off an oral hygiene kit.
Children’s Smile Center provides free, quality preventative and primary dental care for children and pregnant women with active Medicaid. To ensure that between visits children are continuing to care for their teeth, Skaggs Foundation has awarded a $3,100 Skaggs Legacy Endowment Grant to Children’s Smile Center for oral hygiene kits.

The kits include a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss and fun timer to help kids know how long to brush.

“The kids that are getting these kits, sometimes it’s the only toothbrush or toothpaste they have,” says Community Relations Director Kristen Reiter. “If we can help them continue to take care of their teeth after they walk out of our door, we are helping them protect their smile.”

“Our goal is to have a long-term impact on their oral health,” explains Executive Director Jackie Barger. “We want to be their dental home and prevent them from having painful dental emergencies down the road.”

In addition to the oral hygiene kit, Children’s Smile Center has also received Skaggs Legacy Endowment Grants over the years for an x-ray machine and sterilization equipment.

We are so grateful to have Children’s Smile Center caring for some of the youngest residents in Taney and Stone counties,” said Skaggs Foundation President Meghan Connell. “They are providing caring, compassionate dental care and helping the children develop healthy, life-long habits.”

Children’s Smile Center serves a six-county area, with locations in Branson West, Ozark and Aurora.

In 2016, Children’s Smile Center served nearly 6,300 patients, 950 of which were residents of Taney or Stone counties.

Skaggs Legacy Endowment is a restricted endowment fund made possible by a generous gift from CoxHealth in 2013. Since the inception of Skaggs Legacy Endowment, funds have been dedicated to improving access to health care, supporting healthy lifestyles, child and family safety, dental care and mental health.
To learn more about Skaggs Legacy Endowment, how it is impacting our community, or information about applying, visit SkaggsFoundation.org or call 417-335-7340.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Skaggs Foundation awards 27 scholarships to area students

Skaggs Foundation made a $22,500 investment in the future of the health care industry this winter
Spring 2017 Scholarship Recipients
by awarding 27 scholarships to local students pursuing careers in the medical field. The scholarships are for the spring 2017 semester.
Among the 27 scholarship recipients, 20 are employees at Cox Medical Center Branson including Caitlin Dillon and Mairini Morales.
Dillon works at CoxHealth Urgent Care – Branson.
“In July, I graduated as an LPN and in January, I’m starting the 10-month journey to become an RN,” Dillon explained. “Once I graduate, I plan on returning to the emergency department where I 

started my career at Cox Medical Center Branson as an emergency multi-care technician.”
Dillon’s goal is to become a certified emergency nurse and learn to speak Spanish fluently 
Caitlin Dillon works at CoxHealth Urgent Care - Branson
so she may better communicate with the growing number of Spanish-speaking patients. Dillon said she chose a career in health care because the opportunity it provides her to give back to her community.
“Being able to help people heal, that’s an incredible thing to be a part of,” she said. “Having the support of Skaggs Foundation has helped me pursue the most fulfilling career.”
Morales is currently an obstetrical technician in the Women’s Center and working towards a bachelor in nursing degree which she anticipates completing in December 2018.
“I’ve always felt joy when I help others,” Morales said. “As a nurse, you are able to help patients when they are at their most vulnerable time. It is a privilege to care for others.”
Thanks to support from Skaggs Foundation, Morales has been able to pursue her dream.
“When I first returned to school, I didn’t qualify for any type of aid,” she said. “The Skaggs Foundation scholarship gave me the opportunity to begin my journey and make it possible so that I may return to school.”
“At Skaggs Foundation, we believe there is no better way to ensure the health care industry has a bright future in our community than by supporting education today,” said Skaggs Foundation President Meghan Connell.
Since its inception in 2002, Skaggs Foundation has awarded a total of $282,950 to students pursuing degrees in health care.
Students have until March 15 to apply for summer and fall semester scholarships. Summer semester scholarships are limited to spring semester award recipients. 
For more information about Skaggs Foundation or its scholarship program, visit skaggsfoundation.org.
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.