Path out of pain: Boone Hospital team helps Tebbetts woman escape severe knee arthritis

January 21, 2015

This article appeared in our fall 2014 issue of My Boone Health magazine. The next issue will be out very soon — subscribe to have it sent to your home.

By Jacob Luecke

From her home in Tebbetts, Mo., Belinda Heimericks can look down upon the Missouri River bottoms and the Katy Trail.

For years, she loved spending hours biking and walking along the trail, enjoying the views of farmland and majestic bluffs. But in recent years, those trips became fewer and fewer.

For the past decade, Belinda, 63, has suffered from arthritis in both of her knees. About three years ago, the pain became severe, requiring her to take pain medication just to make it through each day.

In addition to limiting her time on the Katy Trail, Belinda’s increasing pain was starting to take the fun out of life—making it difficult to enjoy a 2013 trip to the St. Louis Zoo with six of her eight grandkids.

“Anytime I had an outing, I would have to plan out how long I was going to be walking and make sure that I could take my pain medication throughout the day,” she says. “If I didn’t do that, I wouldn’t be able to make it through the day.”

Belinda 1


Looking for help, Belinda turned to Columbia Orthopaedic Group, the physician practice affiliated with Boone Hospital Center’s orthopedic program.

At first, Belinda and her doctor tried using injections to stop the pain, but those did not provide lasting relief. Then, orthopedic surgery specialist Ben Holt, MD, decided that performing replacement surgery was the best path forward. He recommended doing both knees at once.

“What I ask people is, ‘Which knee bothers you more?’ And if they can’t tell me which knee bothers them more, then generally those patients do better having both knees done at the same time,” Dr. Holt says. “Doing them both at once means they avoid having to face the risks of surgery twice and having to do rehab twice. This way, they can get it all over with at the same time.”

While replacement surgery was a big step, Belinda says she trusted Dr. Holt and the Columbia Orthopaedic Group, noting that the practice had helped her family members in the past.

“I had heard excellent things about them and my experience with Columbia Orthopaedics has always been very positive,” she says. “Our family has always had excellent outcomes.”

As a nurse who works in a management role with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, Belinda says she was also aware of Boone Hospital’s reputation for outstanding nursing care. The hospital’s Magnet designation made her feel comfortable she would be in good hands as she recovered from surgery.

“With my nursing background, I pay attention to the reputation of the nursing care provided at the different hospitals,” she says. “I knew that Boone Hospital Center was a Magnet hospital, which for me is very important because I know that signals that the nursing care is going to be excellent.”

Belinda’s surgery took place on Dec. 6, 2013. While the procedure is called “replacement” surgery, Dr. Holt says that term often leads to confusion. Rather than removing and replacing a patient’s knees, the surgery actually involves resurfacing the knees.

Belinda’s surgery took just over two hours. During that time, Dr. Holt cut away a small amount of bone on both of her knees, enabling him to install a new metal surface. He then placed a plastic insert to pad where the two metal surfaces would come together in the knee.

“A lot of times people have a real misconception about what we do,” Dr. Holt says. “Really I think the better term would be total knee resurfacing, because that’s really what we are doing.”

The surgery went smoothly.

After the procedure, as Belinda recovered at Boone Hospital, she says her nurses lived up to their strong reputation.

“They were just outstanding,” she says. “I think what struck me about it was how they anticipated my needs. I didn’t have to tell them I was experiencing pain, they were there and saying, ‘It’s time. We think you need more pain medication so that we can stay ahead of the pain.’ They were anticipating what my needs were and that made it much more tolerable.”

On the fourth day after the surgery, she was able to return home, where she underwent a month of in-home therapy before doing one additional month of outpatient therapy.

Belinda 2As she recovered, her world began to open up again.

Just four months after the surgery, she attended a soccer class with her four-year-old grandson. She was far from a bystander.

“I was out in that class with him and I was able to kick the soccer ball and dribble it down the field,” Belinda says. “Before the surgery, I would have been sitting on the sidelines watching everyone else. That’s how quickly it all came back”

This summer, Belinda went on an out-of-state work trip where her hotel was five blocks from her meetings. Yet each day, she skipped the shuttle and walked instead—enjoying the opportunity to sightsee.

“I had no knee pain and I didn’t have to take any medications,” she says. “I was able to walk as far as I wanted.”

This contrasted greatly with a similar trip in 2013, when Belinda needed assistance just to get around the airport.

Dr. Holt says such strong results are common with knee replacement patients.

“It’s usually a dramatic improvement,” Dr. Holt says. “Not every knee replacement patient is totally pain free all the time. But usually in comparison it’s a dramatic improvement from what they had before.”

With Belinda’s great outcome—she says she feels no pain except for some occasional, normal stiffness—Belinda is not shy about endorsing the service she received at Boone Hospital.

“I just can’t speak highly enough about the nursing care, the care provided by the physical therapists and the medical staff at Boone Hospital Center,” she says. “My husband and I have decided if we need to be hospitalized anywhere in central Missouri, it needs to be at Boone Hospital.”

Belinda also had high praise for Dr. Holt, whom she says has a wonderful bedside manner and a great sense of humor.

“He is an excellent practitioner, he’s very personable,” she says. “I highly recommend him. The first thing I say to anyone is if they have any kind of knee or hip problems, I say you need to schedule an appointment with Dr. Holt. He is fantastic.”


When should you see an orthopedic specialist for knee pain?

As people get older, it’s common to feel aches and pains every now and then. But if the pain is persistent, Dr. Holt says there is a wide variety of techniques that a specialist can use to help relieve the pain—with replacement surgery being one of the later options.

“The normal knee really shouldn’t hurt,” Dr. Holt says. “It’s one thing to have an ache or pain here and there, but if you are having discomfort several days of the week—week after week—there is something going on that probably needs to be addressed. If it’s ignored, it may just continue to get worse.”

January Employee of the Month is inspired by her patients

January 6, 2015

Mung Chin is Boone Hospital Center’s Employee of the Month for January 2015. Click here to nominate someone for Employee of the Month.

When Mung Chin saw a job posting for an oncology staff nurse in late 2010, she thought “That might be something I like.” She applied, interviewed and joined Boone Hospital Center in January 2011.

Four years later, she says, “My intuition was right.” Mung has stayed with oncology and is now the nurse navigator for the Stewart Cancer Center. As a nurse navigator, she provides support for newly diagnosed cancer patients and their families, providing education, identifying possible barriers to treatment, and connecting patients with resources to remove those barriers. The ultimate goal is to help cancer patients complete treatment without becoming overwhelmed or getting lost in the system.

Mung Chin, RN

“I help navigate cancer patients through the health care labyrinth,” she explains. Mung enjoys being able to work with patients on a continual basis, before and after staying in the Stewart Cancer Center. “I definitely like the opportunity I have to work with patients and families after they leave the hospital. You get to see their whole lives. I feel like my role is well-rounded.”

Before coming to Boone Hospital Center, Mung had worked as a staff nurse on a medical surgery unit. She earned her associates degree in nursing at Columbia College in 2009, and later completed her bachelor’s in 2013. Prior to becoming a nurse, Mung had moved to Columbia from Singapore in 2004. She worked in customer service and enjoyed her job assisting people, but says, “I kept thinking ‘Something is missing.’ Being a nurse brings me a higher, more rewarding feeling. In the hospital, you may see someone at their worst, but you also see them at their best at the same time. You see their hope and their willingness to do whatever it takes not just for themselves but for their families. It’s very touching.”

In addition to being able to make a diference in the lives of patients and their families, Mung enjoys the teamwork and support she receives from her co-workers and medical staff in her role as nurse navigator.

“When someone is diagnosed and stressed out, you can’t expect them to wait two weeks for an appointment,” she says. “The collaboration I have with physicians and other hospital departments is great. I work closely with Nuclear Medicine, for example. If there are changes to a patient’s schedule, they always work with me. They’re so supportive.”

Mung also appreciates the support from hospital leadership in furthering her education as a nurse, both in completing her BSN and in learning on the job: “My position is our first nurse navigator role. There’s a lot to learn. But everyone I talk to and approach with questions has been very supportive and is willing to teach.”

Christmas Holiday Closures

December 23, 2014


Boone Hospital Center is always open to serve our patients and community, however, some of our services and clinics will be closed or closing early for the Christmas holiday. Please see the list below for more information.

All of us wish you a happy and healthy holiday!

Wednesday, December 24

  • Boone Therapy
  • Boonique Gifts: Open until 2 PM
  • Cardiac Rehab: Open until noon
  • Cashier
  • Diabetes & Nutrition
  • Medical Records: Open until noon
  • Pain Management Clinic
  • WELLAWARE Fitness Center


  • Boone Convenient Care: Open until 3 PM
  • Boone Diabetes and Endocrine: Open until noon
  • Boone Family Practice
  • Boone Primary Care
  • Boone Pulmonary Medicine
  • Boone Specialty Clinic Moberly
  • Centralia Family Health Clinic: Open until noon
  • Mid-Mo Neurosurgery

Thursday, December 25

  • Boone Appetit Cafe
  • Boone Hospital Home Care & Hospice
  • Boone Therapy
  • Boonique Gifts
  • Cardiac Rehab
  • Cashier
  • Diabetes & Nutrition
  • Harris Breast Center
  • Medical Records
  • Pain Management Clinic
  • Patient Accounts
  • WELLAWARE Fitness Center


  • Boone Convenient Care
  • Boone Diabetes and Endocrine
  • Boone Hospital Radiology Clinic
  • Boone Family Practice
  • Boone Internal Medicine Associates
  • Boone Primary Care
  • Boone Pulmonary Medicine
  • Boone Specialty Clinic Moberly
  • Centralia Family Health Clinic
  • Mid-Mo Neurosurgery
  • Southern Boone Family Practice

Friday, December 26

  • Boone Appetit Cafe
  • Boone Therapy
  • Boonique Gifts
  • Cardiac Rehab
  • Diabetes & Nutrition
  • Medical Records
  • Pain Management Clinic
  • WELLAWARE Fitness Center: Open 6 a.m. to noon


  • Boone Pulmonary Medicine: Open until noon
  • Centralia Family Health Clinic
  • Mid-Mo Neurosurgery
  • Southern Boone Family Practice

December Employee of the Month supports the orthopedic surgery team

December 3, 2014

Brenda Singleton is Boone Hospital Center’s Employee of the Month for December 2014. Click here to nominate someone for Employee of the Month.

On a typical day in Boone Hospital Center’s Orthopaedics Specialties unit, there can be many patients arriving to the floor before and after joint surgeries. Unit Secretary Brenda Singleton prepares the nurses and patient care techs to treat the patients before they arrive, assisting with room assignments, setting up means to contact members of a patient’s care teams, entering orders, answering phones and working with our orthopedic surgeons and other physicians.

“My job is primarily multitasking,” Brenda says. “I make sure everything is running smoothly so that the charge nurse doesn’t have to worry about every minor detail and can do exactly what they need to do to care for a patient.”

Brenda Singleton

Brenda Singleton

Brenda, a Boone baby who grew up in Columbia and attended Hickman High School, joined the Boone Hospital Center team in August 2012. She had previously worked elsewhere as a medical coder.

She says, “I was looking for a job in a hospital setting, where I could work around patients. The unit secretary position was a good fit, and I was excited to get hired here. I really like the people I’m surrounded by, both my co-workers and our patients. I think Boone takes really good care of their employees. Everyone’s extremely friendly and will help you and answer your questions. You just feel like everyone here is nice and easy to talk to – that’s something that’s hard to find.”

Brenda has two daughters; the oldest lives in Columbia with Brenda’s 3-year-old granddaughter, and the youngest is a Navy officer living in California with her husband and Brenda’s second granddaughter, now 2 years old. “I really enjoy being a grandmother,” Brenda says.

She also enjoys reading mystery and thriller novels and watching movies, particularly small, independent movies, and is a supporter of Ragtag Cinema in downtown Columbia.

“I love Columbia,” Brenda says. “I always have. This is a great area to a raise family, with a great hospital.”

Brenda admits she wasn’t ever expecting to be selected as Boone Hospital Center’s newest Employee of the Month, but says she is very grateful that her teammates thought of her and nominated her for this honor: “You don’t come to work expecting an award. You do your job and hope you’re doing your best for the patients.”

Happy Thanksgiving

November 27, 2014

boonetgWe are thankful for our staff and physicians working today to care for our patients. We wish everyone a healthy and happy holiday.

Boone Hospital Center never closes, but some of our services, departments and Boone medical clinics are closed Thursday and Friday (unless specified) for the Thanksgiving holiday.


  • Boone Convenient Care (open Friday)
  • Boone Diabetes & Endocrine Center (open Friday)
  • Boone Family Practice
  • Boone Internal Medicine Associates
  • Boone Primary Care
  • Boone Pulmonary Medicine
  • Boone Specialty Clinic of Moberly
  • Centralia Family Health Clinic
  • Mid-Mo Neurosurgery
  • Southern Boone Family Practice

Boone Hospital Services:

  • Boone Appétit Cafe
  • Boone Therapy
  • Cardiac Rehab
  • Cashier
  • Diabetes & Nutrition
  • Gift Shop
  • Harris Breast Center (open Friday)
  • Home Care & Hospice
  • Medical Records
  • Occupational Medicine
  • Pain Management Clinic
  • Patient Accounts
  • WELLAWARE Fitness Center (open Friday, 6 am to noon)
  • Wound Healing Center


Cancer Screening Saves a Life in an Unexpected Way

November 25, 2014

This story appears in the Fall 2014 edition of My Boone Health magazine. Click here to request a free subscription.

by Jacob Luecke

There were plenty of good reasons for Steve Downes to get a lung cancer screening at Boone Hospital Center this spring.

For starters, Steve, 54, was a smoker for most of his life before quitting a couple of years ago. His decades of smoking put him at risk for cancer.

Another good reason to get screened was that the procedure would cost him nothing. The Stewart Cancer Center lung screening had been paid for by donations to the Boone Hospital Foundation.

Steve could have also felt compelled to get screened due to his longstanding friendship with Norm and Virginia Stewart—the leading local voices in the fight against cancer through their charitable work and as the namesakes of the Stewart Cancer Center.

But for Steve, one other reason trumped all the rest.

“I did it to make my wife happy,” he says.

Steve Downes

Steve Downes

Steve is the kind of guy who avoids medical care if possible. In fact, prior to his screening, he hadn’t seen a doctor for 10 years. He figured if he felt good, why bother?

So it took some convincing by his wife, Janice Downes, to get Steve to agree to the screening. Janice even called Boone Hospital herself to make Steve’s appointment. Then she called again when he missed that first appointment.

After all, why not get screened when the technology at Boone Hospital can detect cancer early on, when it is tiny?

But Steve’s screening ended up detecting something big—and it wasn’t cancer.


“Walking time bomb

As the nurse navigator at the Stewart Cancer Center, Mung Chin helps guide people through the complexities of a cancer treatment plan.

She’s also the person who calls patients with the results of their lung cancer screenings.

On the morning of May 14, Mung was reviewing Steve’s report before calling him. The report came back clear for cancer. However, Maxwell Lazinger, MD, the radiologist who read the scan, noted that Steve did have an abdominal aortic aneurysm.

When Mung called Steve, she gave him the good news about cancer, but also shared the aneurysm finding. She said she would send him information about how to get that checked out.

But after the call, Mung decided to go a step further. She was concerned the aneurysm might be serious.

“Although I am not a vascular nurse, from my experience working with Oncology patients—some could be really sick when they come to the hospital—I learned to be more cautious when it comes to a medical condition,” Mung said. “As a health care provider, one cannot simply assume that the person understands the severity of the problem and will take care of it as recommended. What’s more, it seemed that an aneurysm this size warranted some immediate attention.”

So she researched abdominal aortic aneurysms. She then reached out to Angelee Geisler, a nurse practitioner who works closely with Boone Hospital cardiac surgeon Joss Fernandez, MD, of Missouri Heart Center.

They decided Steve’s problem might need immediate attention. Angelee offered to have Steve see Dr. Fernandez the next day.

So Mung called Steve once more, discussed the potential severity of the aneurysm and offered the appointment with Dr. Fernandez.

The urgency caught Steve off guard.

“It was kind of scary,” he says. “I’ve been healthy all my life. I’ve broken bones through sports and stuff, but I’ve never had any kind of issues at all, ever. It was a shock.”

However, Steve knew that aneurysms could be serious. His father, Ed Downes, twice had surgeries to fix aneurysms. His grandfather had died from an aneurysm.

“All of the sudden, I was a walking time bomb,” he says.


Collaborative effort

The next day, Steve was back at Boone Hospital where he had a CT scan, this time focusing on his abdomen. The scan determined his aneurysm measured 6.4 centimeters.

Left alone, an aneurysm that size has a 14 percent chance of rupturing per year, Dr. Fernandez said. If a rupture occurred, Steve would likely die.

Dr. Fernandez wanted to act quickly, scheduling a surgery for the following week.

Steve also consulted his friend, cardiologist William Woods, MD, who agreed with the assessment and advised that Dr. Fernandez was the best surgeon for the job.

A week later, Steve was back for the surgery. During the procedure, Dr. Fernandez placed a stent to reline Steve’s aorta, keeping blood from entering the aneurysm.

The surgery went smoothly.

“His prognosis is excellent,” Dr. Fernandez said. “I get great satisfaction from turning a life-threatening, scary situation into a friendly and comforting experience.”

As he recovered at Boone Hospital, Steve was very pleased with the care he received.

“Everything was as peaceful and as calm as it could be throughout the procedure,” he says. “Everybody in the hospital was great.”

He was also impressed by Dr. Fernandez.

“Not having a lot of experience with doctors as a patient, I was extremely happy,” Steve says. “He was a nice guy, straightforward, told me exactly what was what.”

Steve’s experience also stands as an example of how the collaborative environment between disciplines at Boone Hospital leads to quick, life-saving treatment.

“At other medical centers I have worked at, getting another specialist to see your patient requires setting up an appointment through their staff and sending medical records, which leads to delays,” Dr. Fernandez said. “The coordination between disciplines at Boone is as simple as a cell phone call direct to the doctor or nurse coordinator.”

So while Steve’s lung cancer screening didn’t find cancer, it still saved a life.

“If it wouldn’t have been for that lung screening, I would have never found the aneurysm,” Steve said. “I probably wouldn’t be here.”

In his job, Steve Downes inspects roofs, estimates damage and sells repair work.

Not long after the surgery to repair his aneurysm, he found himself inspecting Norm Stewart’s roof.

“I got to thank him for basically saving my life,” Steve says.


Boone Hospital Foundation

The lung cancer screening that detected Steve’s aneurysm was funded by donations to the Stewart Cancer Center—named for Norm and Virginia Stewart—through the Boone Hospital Foundation. The service to the Stewart Cancer Center is just one aspect of the foundation’s many roles inside Boone Hospital, where it works to enhance the care and create a more comfortable healing environment for patients.

To learn more about the foundation’s work or to make a donation, visit

Boonique Gifts Offers Unique Items, Personalized Service

November 18, 2014
This article originally appeared in the Fall 2013 issue of My Boone Health magazine. 
Boonique Gifts is currently seeking volunteers for evening and weekend hours. If you’d like to volunteer, please visit or call 573.815.3472 weekdays, 8 am to 4:30 pm.

stories and photos by Jessica Park

The call came from California. Dee, the gift shop assistant who took the call, talked to a woman whose childhood friend was staying at Boone Hospital Center. The caller’s friend was not going to recover.

Dee knew this had to be a very special gift. The two women had grown up together; now, the friend in California needed to be at her friend’s side in spirit.

“Tell me a memory about the two of you growing up together,” she asked.

The caller told Dee that she and her friend would, as children, have fun reciting and acting out nursery rhymes. Dee immediately thought of an animated, talking Mother Goose doll sold in the shop. She retrieved one of the dolls and held it up to the receiver as its warm voice recited “Humpty Dumpty.”

The caller loved it and purchased the gift over the phone. And Mother Goose was delivered to her friend’s room.

“That customer later called back to tell me that her friend had let her know it was by far the best gift she’d ever received,” Dee says.

A New Home

Boonique Gifts opened in its new home in the lobby of the hospital’s new patient tower in June 2011. Across from the admissions desk, a curved wall of windows showcases a collection of colorful glass and glazed ceramic, fashionable scarves and handbags, a menagerie of plush animals, and new items being artfully arranged by Wanda, the gift shop’s coordinator.

Wanda also creates seasonal displays in a case just outside the shop. An assortment of black and gold Mizzou Tigers gifts will soon turn to a black and orange assemblage of Halloween ornaments.

“Holiday decorations are some of our best-selling items,” says Barb, manager of Boonique Gifts. “We like to have fun with sales around the holidays. Sometimes we’ll offer a discount for wearing a Halloween costume or singing a Christmas carol.”

In addition to a new location, the gift shop recently received a new name: Boonique Gifts, a portmanteau of Boone, boutique and unique. The gift shop staff members pride themselves on offering special items, from knickknacks to necklaces, not found in nearby stores.

“We have regular customers who come in from out of town to shop here for presents,” Barb says.

All sales at Boonique Gifts are tax-free and proceeds benefit the Boone Hospital Foundation. In addition to Barb, Wanda and Dee, the gift shop is staffed by a close-knit group of dedicated, upbeat volunteers, some of whom have worked in the hospital gift shop for decades.

“They’re loyal to Boone,” Wanda says. “This is their hospital. They’re not just here to put in time.”

Some shoppers aren’t looking for gifts but an experience. Visitors waiting on loved one wander in and browse. Hospital employees on break pop in for a pick-me-up snack.

“Sometimes,” Wanda says, “what people who come in here really want is a listening ear.”

Barb agrees. “I think of our shop as a respite.”

Personal Shoppers

“We offer a personal shopper approach,” Dee says. “If I know a patient has already received a similar gift, I’ll suggest something different. I’m happy to make recommendations. Flowers aren’t for everybody.”

Boonique Gifts offers custom gift baskets tailored for any patient. Any item in the store, including personal hygiene items and Sudoku puzzles, to name a few, can be included. For those still unable to decide, Boonique gift cards, customizable for any amount, are also available.

The gift shop also takes orders from and delivers items to patient rooms during shop hours on weekdays. Payments can be made over the phone with a credit or debit card or with cash upon delivery.

Patients have found these services helpful. Dee recalls another customer who called the gift shop: “A lady called me from her room and said, ‘I’m going to be here all day, and I’m bored. Do you have any magazines?’”

After learning that the patient loved celebrity magazines, Dee read her the shop’s extensive list of titles.

“Great,” the patient said. “I want them all. With three young kids at home, I rarely have time to catch up on gossip about the stars.”

“So we bundled up the magazines and ran them all up to her room. She was so happy, you would have thought we’d gone to the moon and back for her.

Boonique Gifts is located on the first floor near Boone Hospital Center’s Main Entrance. The shop is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays and from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Online orders may be placed 24 hours a day at or, for telephone orders, call 573-815-3525.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 97 other followers

%d bloggers like this: