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 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 or call 417-348-8998.