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.

FYI On SPF
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?”


Breast cancer survivor has sights on fitness

May 1, 2013

By Nicky Zimmermann, WELLAWARE Fitness Instructor

In September 2011, Heather Parnell started her new career at the Harris Breast Center at Boone Hospital Center. Six weeks later, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Heather Parnell

Heather Parnell

Heather confessed it was “like a sign from above” that she got a job at a mammography center. In September 2012, her radiation treatments for breast cancer ended and she set her goals to get healthier and lose weight.

Since last November, she has taken two consecutive sessions of Zumba Gold. After the challenge of the group classes, Heather completes three workouts per week at WELLAWARE.

Heather likes the atmosphere of WELLAWARE because it has a wide variety of people and doesn’t feel like you are on display. She feels comfortable that you can “do your thing and leave.”

She has a personal goal of 3,000 steps on the NuStep and recently discovered the Tectrix bike. She feels the workout is more challenging on the upright bike than on the recumbent. She is working on her endurance on the elliptical and treadmill.

Heather is originally from Macon, Mo., and earned her Associates Degree in Business Administration from Moberly Area Community College. Twenty years ago, she moved to Columbia to live with her sister and a friend. Heather met her husband through her roommate and this year they will celebrate their 17th anniversary. They have a nine-year-old daughter and twelve-year-old son.

She enjoys any activity that her kids are doing especially basketball or throwing around a football. She likes to read anything from romance to suspense on her Nook.

Heather is cheery and affable when she enters and exits WELLAWARE. Is it the endorphins or just Heather? From my observations, it is both. At your next mammogram, she is the friendly person who would greet you at the registration desk.


We fought the battle — How Norm and Virginia Stewart beat cancer and discovered a new calling

March 28, 2013

By Jacob Luecke

This story is featured in the Spring 2013 edition of myBoone Health magazine. Click here for a free subscription.

The Tigers were simply off the mark. The packed Hearnes Center crowd was getting nervous.

Norm Stewart’s team was ranked fifth in the nation, riding a 10-game winning streak.

Norm Stewart Collection (CA5854), The State Historical Society of Missouri

Norm Stewart Collection (CA5854), The State Historical Society of Missouri

But here they were, struggling to score against the unranked Kansas State Wildcats. It was Feb. 4, 1989.

At the half, the Tigers walked off the court tied with the Wildcats. They had scored only 28 points. A major upset was brewing.

Coach Stewart had to regroup. In the locker room, his players suggested getting the ball to center Gary Leonard and Mizzou’s big men, who had a major size advantage over Kansas State’s relatively small frontline.

The strategy worked. Leonard was nearly unstoppable, scoring 12 of the Tigers next 22 points. Mizzou built a nine-point lead.

“Leonard pretty much did anything he wanted to,” Kansas State Coach Lon Kruger told reporters after the game.

But the Wildcats fought back, twice cutting Mizzou’s lead to one point. In game’s final minute, Kansas State took possession trailing 69-66.

As the Wildcats worked the court, looking for an open three-point shot, one of Stewart’s Tigers jabbed at the ball, knocking it off a Wildcat and out of bounds.

Kansas State was forced to foul. Mizzou hit its free throws and escaped with a 73-68 win.

“It was a good win, especially for the situation,” Norm told reporters after the game.

It was one of those classic Norm Stewart basketball triumphs. Even when things weren’t going as planned, Mizzou forged together and found a way to survive.

These are the difficult games that pay dividends down the road.

It is the kind of battle that makes a team stronger. Bigger challenges were ahead.

Norm Stewart Collection (CA5854), The State Historical Society of Missouri

Norm Stewart Collection (CA5854), The State Historical Society of Missouri

Change of plans

After the Kansas State victory, the Tigers were on top of the world.

They were the country’s first team to reach 20 wins. They were leading in the Big Eight and ranked third in the national poll — their highest position in seven years.

It was an electrifying time for the team and Mizzou fans across the state.

But while excitement built around his team, Coach Stewart had new concerns at home.

Norm Stewart Collection (CA5854), The State Historical Society of Missouri

Norm Stewart Collection (CA5854), The State Historical Society of Missouri

In days, his wife, Virginia, was scheduled to have a complete hysterectomy. Doctors had discovered a growth. They feared it might be cancer, but wouldn’t know for sure until after the operation.

Virginia was Norm’s college sweetheart, the love of his life, his biggest fan and supporter.

They met at Mizzou. She followed him during his short career in professional sports and was by his side as he found success as a coach.

Now, she might have cancer.

As Virginia was prepping for surgery at the hospital, Norm and the Tigers were on a plane bound for Oklahoma.

Norm Stewart Collection (CA5854), The State Historical Society of Missouri

Norm Stewart Collection (CA5854), The State Historical Society of Missouri

The close victory over Kansas State was a character-builder. But taking on the University of Oklahoma Sooners would be far more difficult. The Sooners had narrowly lost the national championship the previous season. They looked even better this year.

The whole college basketball world would be watching this one.

But Norm never made it to the game. He became dizzy on the airplane and collapsed mid-flight.

Doctors in Oklahoma City thought he might have a bleeding ulcer and sent him back to Columbia.

Although she was heavily medicated, Virginia remembers a basketball assistant coming into her hospital room and telling her Norm was coming back unexpectedly.

“I thought that was strange,” she said.

Back in Columbia, doctors examining Norm discovered a large mass on his colon. Like his wife, he would need surgery to remove the tumor.

After their surgeries, doctors found that Virginia’s tumor was benign. But Norm’s was cancer. Even worse, it had already spread to one of his lymph nodes.

It was great news and awful news all at once. It seemed like one of the most bizarre and dark twists imaginable.

But, like the best Tiger teams, the Stewarts rallied against adversity. They’d find victory yet. Read the rest of this entry »


Colon cancer is dangerous but largely preventable

March 27, 2013

March is national Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and Boone Hospital Center is reminding people that this deadly disease is largely preventable with proper screening.

Colorectal cancer itself is very dangerous and is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Every year, about 50,000 Americans die of colorectal cancer.

While the cancer is dangerous, the good news is that screening techniques, most commonly a colonoscopy, can detect and remove cancer-causing polyps before they become dangerous. Boone Hospital and government health officials recommend that most people have colonoscopies at regular intervals starting at age 50.

A family history of colon cancer is the leading reason why some people are asked to come in for colonoscopies at an earlier age. That’s why it is important to discuss colon cancer with family members and encourage them to go for regular screenings.

Boone Hospital Center’s GI Lab has certified staff with a combined 217 years of experience. They also use the latest colonoscopy technology.

Having a colonoscopy done in a hospital setting offers the quickest access to surgery and other hospital services, should the screening uncover a problem. Boone Hospital’s GI Lab also offers same-day colonoscopy results with a visual report.

For information on how to schedule a screening, call the GI Lab at 573.815.6344.


Boone Hospital recognized for outstanding cancer care

February 28, 2013

Boone Hospital Center has been named among the nation’s leaders for cancer care.

In a new list compiled by Becker’s Hospital Review, the Boone Hospital was one of just 100 hospitals across the nation to be named among the 100 Hospitals and Health Systems With Great Oncology Programs.

The namesakes of the Virginia and Norman Stewart Cancer Center.

The namesakes of the Virginia and Norman Stewart Cancer Center.

“These hospitals are on the cutting edge of cancer treatment, prevention and research, and the Becker’s Hospital Review editorial team selected them based on clinical accolades, quality care and contributions to the field of oncology,” according to Becker’s. “These hospitals have been recognized for excellence in this specialty by reputable healthcare rating resources, including U.S. News & World Report, Thomson Reuters, the National Cancer Institute, the American College of Surgeons, the American Nurses Credentialing Center and CareChex. Each organization has demonstrated a focus on patient-centered cancer care and emphasis on continual innovation in treatments and services.”

Boone Hospital’s recently announced plans to create the Virginia and Norman Stewart Cancer Center. Opening in 2014, the cancer center will include a new 32 bed inpatient treatment unit.

It will also encompass all of the hospital’s cancer-related services, from prevention, to screening, to surgery and everything in between.


Announcing the Virginia and Norman Stewart Cancer Center

February 18, 2013
Boone Hospital Center is excited to announce plans to build the Virginia and Norman Stewart Cancer Center.

The Stewarts are beginning their affiliation with the cancer center as a way to raise awareness and help fight cancer. The former coach of the University of Missouri men’s basketball team, Norm Stewart is the founder of the Coaches vs. Cancer organization.

“For many years, Virginia and I have benefited from the services and care provided at Boone Hospital,” Norm Stewart said.  “It’s a great honor to join our legacy with Boone Hospital. We look forward to working together to enhance cancer care in mid-Missouri.”

The Stewart Cancer Center name will encompass all of Boone Hospital’s cancer services, from screening to treatment and everything in between. The name will also be applied to a brand-new inpatient cancer treatment unit to be constructed this year.

The inpatient unit will be located on the sixth floor of the hospital’s south tower, which opened in 2011. It will include 32 private patient rooms and incorporate the latest in health care design for the comfort and safety of our cancer patients and their families.

Construction on the new inpatient unit is expected to begin in 2013 and cost $7.2 million.

“We are honored to have Virginia and Norm Stewart’s collaboration on this project, which will be nothing short of transformative for cancer care at Boone Hospital,” said Fred Parry, chairman of the Boone Hospital Board of Trustees. “On behalf of the Board of Trustees, we’d like to thank the Stewarts for joining us in this project to fight cancer and improve the health of our community.”

Check boone.org/stewart regularly for updates on construction and events surrounding the Stewart Cancer Center.

cancerrendering

A rendering of the inpatient unit in the Virginia and Norman Stewart Cancer Center


Happy 40th, Kim Stuart — At this milestone, health is the best gift of all

February 4, 2013

By Jacob Luecke

This story is featured in the Winter 2013 edition of myBoone Health magazine. Click here for a free subscription.

Kim Stuart has a birthday coming up and it’s a big one.

On Feb. 3 she turns 40.

It’s a milestone many of us grumble about as it approaches. But for Stuart, 40 has a different meaning.

Kim Stuart

Kim Stuart

“As a woman, you don’t want to be 40,” she said with a laugh. “But the fact that I was not supposed to live this long makes me feel very lucky.”

Kim was 16 when she was diagnosed with leukemia at Boone Hospital Center. Her caregivers thought she might have only days to live. But she pulled through.

A year later, the cancer came back. Her prognosis was even worse. Again, she persevered.

And on it went, a series of illnesses — one after the other — that would hospitalize Stuart for stretches of her teens and young-adulthood.

Now, approaching 40, she’s finally healthy. She’s not taking it for granted.

“I feel very lucky that I am able to live a normal life and take care of my kids and have even basic things like a house and a car,” she said.

So if she’s about to go over the hill, maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Getting there was certainly an uphill climb.

Read the rest of this entry »


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