Are you (like me) almost deaf to the words “childhood obesity”?  We have been hearing this term as an issue for many years now.  Unfortunately, hearing about it from so many sources has not made much of a difference.  Over the last several years, statistically, the problem has increased.  

In fact, over the last 18 months, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the levels of childhood obesity have greatly increased.  This is due to quarantine and increased stress, as well as other reasons.  The Freeman pediatric group noticed an increase in BMI in many of our patients during this time.  Many parents freely admit that they let the kids eat whatever they wanted and whenever they wanted.  Our patients were staying up later and sleeping in, and that drastically changed how much and what they consumed.  We also noted that this continued for children that did not go back to in-person school during the last school year.   

 It has become very clear that obesity is a major risk factor associated with worse COVID-19 health outcomes.  This is because obesity leaves the body in a constant state of inflammation.  Think of inflammation as a slow burning fire in your body, negatively affecting many of your organs.  An infection such as COVID is like a wind that stirs that fire into an inferno.   

As a pediatrician, it is part of my job to alert parents to abnormalities, diseases, or problems that they are likely to encounter with their children and give them sound advice.  However, it is very difficult to talk with families about obesity because there is such a negative and judgmental connotation to the word.  To avoid offense, we find different ways of saying the same thing, such as “your child is carrying a little too much weight.”  Parents will often deny that their child is obese or even think that they will outgrow the weight.  However, without some change in lifestyle-usually in what they consume-they will in fact carry this extra weight into adulthood.   

It is important to get something straight: OBESITY IS A DISEASE AND NOT A DECISIONNo one would choose to be overweight.  Furthermore, once your body has acquired the larger mass, it will do almost anything to hold on to it.  Therefore, it is extremely difficult to make a meaningful intervention.  As one might imagine, the earlier we intervene, the bigger the difference we can make in their future and the easier it is to make this an enduring habit. When we look at the data, we are able to predict these problems before age five.    

  The good news is that as of September 1, 2021, Missouri Medicaid has begun to pay for weight management treatment. Freeman pediatricians in Joplin are embarking on a project to aid a small number of local families with an evidence-based treatment that engages the whole family in behavior change. The bottom line is that this group of vulnerable people need our help as a community.  This includes increased access to nutritious low-calorie foods, free or low-cost enjoyable activities, and nutrition and wellness education.  We have formed a team that includes medical professionals, behavioral coaches, registered dietitians, and resource coordinators to help children with obesity, and their families, with the full range of support they need. Find out more information at https://www.freemanhealth.com/ryse. 

Dr. Paul Petry is Pediatric Medical Director at Freeman Health System in Joplin, Missouri 

A variety of health care organizations have come together to better understand the health status, behaviors and needs of the populations they serve. The Jasper and Newton Counties Community Health Collaborative, working with partners across the region, issued a Regional Health Assessment in 2019 to evaluate the health of our community and set a shared vision for action.

This group is now looking to update that assessment for 2022 and need your help.

Partners involved with this effort are asking for public feedback on local healthcare needs and experiences in the survey, which you can find here.

Questions are simple and are available in English and Spanish.

The group aims to use this systematic, data-driven assessment to inform decisions and guide efforts to improve community health and wellness.

Local Partners leading the work include Freeman Health System, Jasper County Health Department, Joplin Health Department, and Mercy Hospital Joplin.  The Springfield-Greene County Health Department has been instrumental in the organization of the project.

The resulting Regional Health Assessment will allow decision-makers to have a more holistic and up-to-date picture with which to strategically address community health concerns.

References:

Ryan Talken, Director
Joplin City Health Department
417.623.6122

Tony Moehr, Administrator
Jasper County Health Department
417.358.0480

This month’s update from Mercy Hospital Joplin includes:

  • Information on Pain Awareness Month in September
  • Spotlight on Mercy Clinics, featuring Mercy Clinic’s Pain Management
  • Onsite employer flu shot clinics
  • An update on COVID-19 vaccination boosters for immunocompromised individuals

September is Pain Awareness Month

Chronic pain from headaches, a back disorder, or other ailments don’t have to rule your life. If persistent pain interferes with your ability to be active, sleep, or enjoy time with family and friends, you can find help at Mercy.

We start by evaluating the source of your pain. Based on what we find, a team of experts will work together to develop a pain management plan that’s designed to meet your specific needs. As you go through your treatment program, we’ll keep your doctor in the loop about your progress.

Mercy’s specialists know how to help you manage chronic pain. We are experienced in treating conditions such as:

  • Post-surgical back pain
  • Sacroiliitis
  • Vertebral compression fractures
  • Complex regional pain syndrome
  • Post-amputation pain
  • Shingles and its complications

At Mercy, you’ll find that effective pain management also means we provide compassionate care. We listen to and address all your concerns — body, mind, and spirit — so you can heal completely. The sooner you move past your pain, the sooner you can return to a normal, active life.

Mercy Spotlight Clinic: Mercy Clinic Pain Management

Here to help serve our patients.

Mercy Clinic Pain Management — Carthage
3125 Dr. Russell Smith Way
Carthage, MO 64836
417.359.1829
www.mercy.net/practice/mercy-clinic-pain-management-carthage

Dr. Eugerie A. Hanley, M.D.
444 Four States Drive, Suite 1
Galena, KS 66739
877.783.4441
www.mercy.net/doctor/eugerie-a-hanley-md

Dr. Michael L. Hearndon, DO
444 Four States Drive, Suite 1A
Galena, KS 66739
877.783.4441
www.mercy.net/doctor/michael-l-hearndon-do

There are proven strategies and technologies for dealing with pain. At Mercy Clinic Pain Management, we know how to help. Our experienced team of medical specialists have successfully treated patients by helping them learn how pain changes their brain, body, and their life.

Get Your Flu Shot — Not the Flu!

Let Mercy Pharmacy come to your employer site to administer flu shots to employees in late September and October. This is the last chance for onsite flu shots!

Mercy can file your health insurance plan, pharmacy plan, or employer-paid billing.

Contact Angela Kennedy at 417.529.8495 or angela.kennedy@mercy.net for more information.

COVID-19 Vaccination Information

Mercy is now administering COVID-19 booster vaccinations for immunocompromised patients. It must have been at least 28 days since initial two-dose series. Mercy is only giving Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines at this time, so patients must have received Pfizer for the initial two-dose series.

Below are the CDC guidelines for the additional dose. Those that qualify can schedule online at mercy.net/covidvaccine or walk in the hospital clinic side, Wednesday through Friday from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm.

Who needs an additional COVID-19 vaccine?

Currently, the CDC is recommending that moderately to severely immunocompromised individuals receive an additional dose. This includes people who have:

  • Been receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood.
  • Received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system.
  • Received a stem cell transplant within the last two years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system.
  • Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome).
  • Advanced or untreated HIV infection.
  • Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress your immune response.

People should talk to their health care provider about their medical condition and whether getting an additional dose is appropriate for them.

CDC does not recommend additional doses or booster shots for any other population at this time.

Mercy Directory

Need more information on Mercy divisions throughout southwest Missouri and southeast Kansas? See the Mercy directory here.

 

About Mercy: 

Mercy, named one of the top five large U.S. health systems for four consecutive years by IBM Watson Health, serves millions annually. Mercy is one of the nation’s most highly integrated, multi-state health care systems, including more than 40 acute care, managed and specialty (heart, children’s, orthopedic and rehab) hospitals, convenient urgent care locations, imaging centers and pharmacies. Mercy has 900 physician practices and outpatient facilities, more than 4,000 Mercy Clinic physicians and advanced practitioners and 40,000-plus co-workers serving patients and families across Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has clinics, outpatient services and outreach ministries in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. In addition, Mercy’s IT division, Mercy Technology Services, and Mercy Virtual commercially serve providers and patients from coast to coast.

Reference:

Mercy Hospital Joplin
417-556-2728

Freeman Health System has received the American Heart Association’s Gold Plus Get With The Guidelines® — Stroke Quality Achievement Award for its commitment to ensuring stroke patients receive the most appropriate treatment according to nationally recognized, research-based guidelines. Find out more about Freeman and this award here 

We started the Empire Market in 2018, to increase access to fresh, locally grown food for our citizens and to provide another venue for small growers, bakers, and other makers to sell at. Along the way, we’ve learned a few things.

Freeman Health System is a proud recipient of the Missouri Platinum Level Workplace Wellness Award for its worksite wellness program designed to improve quality of life for employees.

It has been well-known for some time now that women enjoy longer life spans than men all around the world. Many studies have examined why and whether men can do anything about it. The statistics are related in part to physical and biochemical differences, but controllable factors also play into life expectancy. Men tend to have more unhealthy behaviors than women, smoking and drinking more heavily and overeating more often. Men also tend to avoid doctors more than women, and are, on average, less socially connected.

June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness month. Alzheimer’s disease, named for Dr. Alois Alzheimer who first described the disease in 1906, is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for 60-80% of dementia cases. It is the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S., and the average Alzheimer’s patient lives four to eight years after diagnosis.

Stroke Awareness Month is about to come to a close, but that is no reason to forget the lessons it teaches us. According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, almost 800,000 people in America have a stroke each year.

The Boys and Girls Club of Southwest MO was awarded a $4,000 stipend from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) for improving employee health through worksite wellness programs.