March Employee of the Month says, ‘It’s more than a job… it’s a calling.’

March 4, 2015

Gayle Hoelscher is Boone Hospital Center’s Employee of the Month for March 2015. Click here to nominate someone for Employee of the Month.

After being a nurse on Boone Hospital Center’s oncology unit for nearly twenty years, Gayle Hoelscher wouldn’t want to work anywhere else – in fact, she knew this before she started her first day on the floor. Gayle says, “When I first applied at Boone Hospital Center, it was specifically for a nursing position on the oncology floor.”

Gayle Hoelscher

Gayle Hoelscher

Gayle’s interest in oncology started while working toward her associates in nursing degree at Central Methodist in Fayette, when she completed her clinical rounds at Columbia Regional Hospital.

“When I was in nursing school, everybody I knew thought I’d go into pediatrics, because I took care of kids,” Gayle says. She began her nursing education at 40, completing prerequisite courses at Columbia College during the evening, and providing childcare in her home during the day as well as raising her three sons. “When the kids were studying, I’d be studying,” she says.

Gayle’s first experience caring for cancer patients and their families inspired her. “Cancer doesn’t only affect the patient,” she says. “It affects their loved ones. You’ll have people staying with the patient overnight, and they need help, too. I like taking care of patients and families – I don’t care if it’s just getting someone a cup of coffee, taking the trash out of a patients’ room, or making someone some toast or hot tea at 2 in the morning. They might say, ‘That’s not your job,’ but my job is to do anything for them.”

Gayle has worked the night shift most of the time and says she enjoys the cooperation and support among other night nurses. “We have each other to depend on,” she says. “If a nurse has a patient who’s critically sick, we’re all involved, whether you’re helping that patient or covering for a nurse’s other patients.”

She also likes the pride that she and her teammates take in their unit and the care they provide.

“I like that I’ve worked with some of the same people for 10 or 15 years,” she says. “Sometimes it can be tough working on an oncology floor, because we do lose patients, and sometimes they can be very young. But again, you’re there for the patient and their family. I think if you continue to work this long on a unit like this, it’s more than a job. I feel like it’s a calling.”

Gayle also takes pride in the quality of care Boone Hospital Center’s physicians and staff provide all of its patients. “I think we have the best of both worlds here. We have a close community, and we also offer the type of care that they provide in Saint Louis or Kansas City. And I think our physicians do what’s best for the patient.”

Gayle grew up in Jefferson City and has called Columbia home for the last 30 years.

When not working, Gayle likes to stay active at the WELLAWARE Fitness Center and gets together with a group of friends once a month for dinner, as they’ve been doing since their children were little. She enjoys spending time and visiting with her three sons, Scott, Jason and Matthew, and her three grandchildren, and traveling with her husband Larry to a different part of the world each year.

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.”

Dr. Joseph Muscato, MD, to be the Medical Director of the Stewart Cancer Center

January 31, 2014

Dr. Joseph Muscato, MD, has been named Medical Director of the Stewart Cancer Center at Boone Hospital.

Dr. Muscato is a hematologist-medical oncologist who has practiced in mid-Missouri since 1982. He is the founder of the region’s leading oncology clinic, Missouri Cancer Associates. He is also immediate past-president of the Missouri Oncology Society and chairman of Boone Hospital’s cancer committee. Dr. Muscato has worked to bring leading cancer treatments to Boone Hospital and he was instrumental to the development of the new Stewart Cancer Center.

Muscato, Joe

Joe Muscato, MD

“Dr. Muscato is an outstanding clinician and caregiver, but he’s also much more. He dedicates countless hours to serving as a leader, promoting physician collaboration and ensuring the patients of mid-Missouri are receiving the absolute best cancer care possible,” said Jim Sinek, Boone Hospital President. “I am proud to have Dr. Muscato on our team and I have high expectations for his leadership as we continue to expand the Stewart Cancer Center and remain the leading cancer center in mid-Missouri.”

Dr. Muscato attended medical school at the University of Pennsylvania, completed his internship and residency at the University of Missouri and then his Fellowship in Hematology and Medical Oncology at Duke University.

The Stewart Cancer Center was created in collaboration with Virginia and Norm Stewart. While Norm is known for his hall of fame career coaching the University of Missouri men’s basketball team, he is also a cancer survivor and has dedicated many years to fighting cancer. On Jan. 6, Boone Hospital and the Stewarts opened a new inpatient cancer treatment unit with 32 private patient rooms. Other recent Stewart Cancer Center projects include new free lung cancer and skin cancer screenings.

Superb Service from Portal to Post…A Boone Experience

January 23, 2014

from Gary D. Smith as told by his partner, Randall F. Kilgore

Gary D. Smith, of Columbia, shared this story from the eyes of his loved one using the online submission form. Click here to share your story.

On January 6, 2014, my life partner entered Boone Hospital Center to undergo a radical prostatectomy. The day before, one of the coldest days in the New Year, church had been cancelled, and his plans for announcing the impending operation squashed, he settled in at home for the long wait to Monday’s appointment. You see, January 5 was his 61st anniversary of birth, and he was greeting the birthday with joy and a sense of celebration for life and the promise of cure that would come from the delivery of his Stage I prostate cancer.

Dr. Michael Cupp and Gary D. Smith

Dr. Michael Cupp and Gary D. Smith

Gary D. Smith is the Director of Music and Fine Arts at Unity of Columbia. It is there he also uses that “right brain” mentality to oversee the administrative matters of the congregation. His perfect world of “right brain – left brain” was to be temporarily stalled while the New Year brought about the election to have his cancer removed. Gary was to have announced that Sunday morning at the conclusion of the Unity service that he was to be entering Boone Hospital Center for surgery and would be absent from the office and greater community of faith for a brief time. The “winter weather vortex,” as it was being called, hit and hit hard. Monday seemed like a faraway day to come as we waited through the day and witnessed the many cancellations scroll across the screen of our television.

Monday morning arrived early for us, and we departed home for the inevitable event to come. From the moment we arrived at the surgery center, we knew we had come to a safe place. Smiles that early morning were in abundance, and it seemed as if everyone was waiting just for us on our arrival. I anxiously looked around the large, spacious surgery waiting area and saw the looks of many persons just like me awaiting uncertain news, a lengthy hospital stay, perhaps, or worries of weather wrinkling every part of their faces.

Our wait was not long, and Gary was called to the pre-op area where the capable hands of the surgical team met him with warmth and kind, gentle regards. I was called to the area soon enough, and with such respect and hospitality, it gave me a sense of calm and assurance that all was in order. You see, I serve at Truman VA Medical Center as the compliance and business integrity officer, and oversee the integrated ethics program for that health care organization. Needless to say, with my health care experience and professional background, I am generally on high alert to observe processes and listen thoughtfully to the words shared with the patient and their family during such times pre- and post surgery. It was clearly a seamless process. To a person, I could find no one who crossed boundaries inappropriately.

Gary was taken to surgery and thus began my wait. I was called to the telephone numerous times by the circulating nurse, who provided me up-to-date reports of the proceedings of surgery, and the stages at which the surgeon was doing his tender work. There were no complications, and her assuring voice gave me peace of mind and clarity for what was occurring down hidden halls and behind closed doors in exceptionally clean spaces.

When all was done, I was once again greeted with an invitation to “come on back” and meet with the surgeon and receive his report. I give you Michael R. Cupp, M.D., Urologist! We had first met Dr. Cupp in the Summer of 2013 when problems seemed to persist with Gary’s prostate. Enlarged beyond normal margins, it became apparent that something more was happening and focused attention needed to be given. Dr. Cupp, who I had known through my own associations with his practice, but professionally from years of working in the health care community for which Columbia is known. His excellent reputation proceeded him, and I felt good about each and every discussion we had with him regarding options for treatment.

The post-surgery meeting was no different than all of the other appointments we had together attended. You see, Gary and I have been committed life partners for 33-plus years, and such medical decisions are not made independently. Dr. Cupp treated us with the same respect and due diligence any couple would expect when making such important decisions. He came to me and explained the surgery again, what was encountered, why there a prolonged period in the OR and what then to expect after Gary was released from the recovery area to his room. It was, again, the hallmark of the Boone Experience that became very personal and real in the privacy of the consultation room.

Admitted to the South Tower 5th floor, Gary was awake and asking for me before I realized he was out of recovery. A small “glitch” happened in the surgery waiting area while I waited, and the paging system failed to notify me that I “come on back” to see Gary. Apologies were in abundance from several persons, and a flurry of calls to get me to South Tower was suddenly in play when it was fully realized what happened. I made it to the floor and entered the room where, already, Volunteers had delivered the “post” of the day! He had only been admitted early that morning, and there were Boone Hospital Center “e-Cards” to greet him!

The care for the next 48 hours was exceptional, thorough, and clearly another example of the seamless processes of bedside care. Gary is not an “easy patient”, although delightful and charming he can be, his underlying medical problems are centered around Type I diabetes mellitus. On paper, Gary doesn’t look like a diabetic. His excellent, well-managed day-to-day self-care is clearly not the expected norm for someone who has been diabetic as long as he has. It always surprises and astonishes well-schooled, educated health care professionals and providers that he understands often more about his diabetes treatment than what the textbooks say.

2014.1 Gary

Gary at Dr. Cupp’s office for a follow-up visit.

Day of discharge came one day earlier than anticipated. With excellent incision care, pain management and giving the patient reins to manage their diabetes, Dr. Cupp gave his order and once again we were making our way from the post to the portal from which we arrived. The attitude of customer service, hospitality and “come on back” spirit leaves little wonder that, at the end of the day, you know you will be coming back.

A cold, wintry “vortex” on Gary’s 61st birthday provided the perfect platform for a surgery well-planned, in the warmth and comfort of a sunny and bright spot along the eastern edge of Broadway where that place we call Boone rests high overlooking the community below.

Thank you, Boone Hospital Center! Thank you for being that “come on back” sort of place. From portal to post and home again, our Boone experience was exceptional.

Boone Hospital cancer patient named Homecoming honorary captain

October 25, 2013
Lisa Tribble with her family. Her son is a sophomore at Mizzou and her daughter is a Mizzou alumna.

Lisa Tribble with her family. Her son is a sophomore at Mizzou and her daughter is a Mizzou alumna.

A big fan of the Mizzou Tigers, Lisa Tribble of Unionville had long held plans to attend the university’s Homecoming festivities this year.

However, Homecoming is taking on a new significance as Lisa will be named the Homecoming game’s honorary captain, representing cancer patients at Boone Hospital’s Stewart Cancer Center.

A little over a month ago, on Sept. 12, Lisa was diagnosed with plasma cell leukemia.

The diagnosis came after Lisa’s yearly checkup revealed her white blood count was extremely high. At Boone Hospital, further testing determined the problem — cancer.

“Initially, I was stunned,” Lisa said.

With her family by her side and strengthened by her faith, Lisa is working with Oncologist Elangovan Balakrishnan, MD, to defeat her cancer.

“I decided there was no question about this, I will beat this disease!” she said.

Her current treatment plan is to receive three or four cycles of chemotherapy and then have a stem cell transplant.

As she begins her battle, she looks forward to hearing a roar of encouragement from the stands as she is introduced during the first quarter of the Mizzou Homecoming football game.

“What an honor to represent cancer patients and Boone Hospital at Homecoming!” she said. “We are season ticket holders and can feel the electricity in the stands during games and can’t wait to feel that excitement on the field Saturday!”

Sun, Skin and SPF — Prevention and education help fight skin cancer

August 8, 2013

By Pam Jones, RN, BSN

This story was featured in myBoone Health magazine. Click here for a free subscription

More than a million Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer each year. As you head out into the sunlight, remember that although the sun’s rays might feel good on your skin, it is important to wear sunscreen to protect your skin from potential damage.

Pam Jones, RN, BSN

Pam Jones, RN, BSN

As with any disease, prevention and early detection provide the best outcomes.

A common question people have is: What is the best sun protector factor, commonly called SPF, to look for in a sunscreen?

Generally speaking, there are three types of ultraviolet light rays from the sun: UVA, UVB and UVC.

  • UVA rays penetrate the skin deeper and are largely responsible for signs of aging such as facial wrinkles.
  • UVB rays are not as prevalent on the earth’s surface as UVA rays, but are responsible for sunburns.
  • UVC rays are generally not a concern as the ozone layer absorbs these rays.

Ultraviolet radiation damages the DNA of skin cells, and this damage affects the DNA of genes that control skin cell growth. The SPF in the sunscreen tells you how much of the UVB light is being blocked from penetrating your skin. Currently there is no uniform measure of UVA absorption, but using a broad-spectrum sunscreen is thought to protect against UVA and UVB rays.

The higher the SPF, the more UVB rays are blocked. When using an SPF 30, you will get the equivalent of one minute of UV light for every 30 minutes you spend in the sun. For example, one hour in the sun wearing SPF 30 is the same as spending two minutes in the sun without sunscreen.

sunRisk Factors For Melanoma
(American Academy of Dermatology)

  • Two or more sunburns before age 18 or five or more sunburns at any age
  • More than 50 moles on your body
  • Light-skinned individuals who burn easily. People with skin of color do get melanoma, which generally appears on the palms, soles, under the nails, in the mouth or on the genitals.
  • Personal or family history of melanoma
  • People with weakened immune systems

Melanoma Warning Signs
(American Academy of Dermatology)

  • Asymmetry (uneven shape) in a mole or freckle
  • Irregular, scalloped, or poor border along the edge of a mole or freckle
  • A mole or freckle changes color from one area to another
  • A change in the size of a mole or freckle
  • A mole or freckle that is changing or looks different in size, shape or color when compared to other skin markings
  • A mole or freckle that itches, is painful, is bleeding or newly developed on the skin

Skin Cancer Awareness
One in five Americans will get skin cancer in his or her lifetime. Basal cell carcinoma is the most prevalent form, followed by squamous cell carcinoma.

Melanoma accounts for less than 5 percent of skin cancer cases, but is responsible for a vast majority of skin cancer deaths, especially between the ages of 15 and 29.

About one in 50 men and women will have melanoma in their lifetime and it is more prevalent in Caucasian persons but can affect all races. With early detection and proper treatment, skin cancer — even melanoma — is a treatable condition.

Beating skin cancer begins with a visual exam of your skin. People should check the markings on their skin every month or two and have a professional skin check yearly.

Seek assistance from a friend or family member to visually check your back. Any change in the way your moles or freckles look or feel warrants a visit to your health care provider.

Battling colon cancer at 33, Boone employee finds support from colleagues

June 28, 2013

Going into 2013, Nicolle Blacketer knew this year would be a turning point.

She had been accepted into the pre-med program at Florida State. She planned to move from her home in mid-Missouri and begin classes this summer.

Nicolle Blacketter

Nicolle Blacketer works as a staffing coordinator at Boone Hospital. She was diagnosed with stage 4 colorectal cancer in 2013.

But her life suddenly pivoted in another direction after a call from her doctor in early February.

“Cancer happened,” she said.

She had gone to see her doctor for what she thought was a hemorrhoid — a little blood in her stool and minor constipation prompted the visit.

But her doctor was immediately concerned. Further testing confirmed the worst. Nicolle had stage-4 colorectal cancer. It had already spread to her liver and lungs.

The news was an absolute shock.

“It’s almost not real. It’s like, am I really that sick?” Nicolle said. “I kept saying, ‘I’m only 33. This happens to people 50 and over.’”

Nicolle soon began the first of six rounds of chemo intended to push back the cancer. She will have surgery later this year.

The aftereffects of chemo felt “like getting hit by a semi truck,” Nicolle said.

Her family and friends rallied beside her during these difficult times. Her family held a bake sale that raised $900 for Nicolle. Staff members at Boone Hospital Center, where Nicolle works as a staffing coordinator, made t-shirts in recognition of Nicolle’s cancer fight.

Boone employees wear Team Nicolle shirts in support of Nicolle's cancer fight.

Boone employees wear Team Nicolle shirts in support of Nicolle’s cancer fight.

“It’s almost overwhelming how nice and kind people are,” she said.

In May, Nicolle received some good news. Scans showed the chemo was working. It was a welcome victory during a year that’s been far different than she expected.

One thing Nicolle has not lost sight of is her goal of receiving an advanced degree in a health profession. While she wasn’t able to start her pre-med program, she is currently pursuing her masters in psychology.

But first on her agenda is working with her doctors and caregivers to defeat her cancer.

“It’s a struggle and it’s a fight, but I’m more than willing to fight,” Nicolle said. “I’m ready to go, I’m not giving up.”

She encourages everyone to follow the recommended cancer screenings and, if a concern arises, have it checked out.

“Even if you have those little symptoms, you need to get it checked out,” she said. “I almost didn’t get it checked out. What if I hadn’t?”


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