Back-to-school health isn’t just for kids

Back to school pinterest

The dog days of summer are at their tail’s end and fall is rapidly approaching; families are flocking to Wal-Mart to purchase back-to-school supplies and wardrobes, teachers rush to prepare for the influx of students, and fall health & flu prevention begins.

Each year, around 50,000 people in the United States die from vaccine-preventable diseases according to Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services ( Influenza, pneumococcal pneumonia and hepatitis B, diseases with available vaccines, account for over 250,000 hospitalizations on an average year.

The good news? Medicare covers vaccinations for each of these diseases. Medicaid and CHIP covers the influenza vaccination along with other vaccinations needed for children.

But it’s not just for kids. Influenza claims an average of 36,000 lives a year. People 65 and older make up a large amount of that statistic. The same goes for invasive pneumococcal disease. Of all the deaths caused by the bacterial pneumonia, greater than half are 65 years of age or older.

This fall, schedule a “time-out” from watching fourth-string scrubs play football or visiting shopping rallies at the mall and take the first step. Contact your health care provider or a local clinic to find out more about vaccines and immunizations.


For more information on vaccines and preventable diseases, visit: For more information on what vaccinations are covered by Medicare and Medicaid, visit

Holiday Gifts Could Cause a Kiddo Catastrophe

Christmas is days away; don’t let the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping deter your from considering these essential safety tips. OCH Pediatrician Dr. Christopher Spinelli shares a few holiday hazards caused by common Christmas gifts and gadgets this season.

With Christmas around the corner, everyone is busy buying presents for friends and family.  Before purchasing, don’t forget to consider the small children in your home. In 2010, an estimated 181,500 toy-related injuries (in children under age 14 years old) were treated in hospital emergency rooms in the United States.  


  • It’s very easy for children to choke on small toys and their parts.  Even button batteries used to power gifts given to teenagers or adults could be of danger; these can cause serious damage if swallowed. If you do think your child has swallowed a button battery, don’t wait around! Take your child immediately to the ER for evaluation.


  • Choking on cellophane is also a danger to watch out for; make sure to monitor what happens to the wrappers on CD’s and DVD cases. 


  • Children can also fall off riding toys.  If any of the toys have wheels and they are playing with them in the house, make sure children are clear of the stairs.  Using indoor gates will help prevent children from harm. 

Christmas morning is a time of excitement and wonder, simple precautions such as these will ensure your family’s holiday morning is both magical and safe for everyone involved. Merry Christmas! 

Spinelli 2Christopher Spinelli DO, FAAP, is a pediatrician at the OCH Northside Clinic in Springfield, MO. Dr. Spinelli is also currently a Major in the United States Air Force Reserve. After completing an undergraduate degree from Truman State University, Dr. Spinelli graduated from Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine and completed his Pediatric residency at Keesler Medical Center in Biloxi, MS.

Behavioral Health Focus: What are Neuropsychological Evaluations?

Neuropsychological testing is conducted to determine an individual’s cognitive performance in certain environments. OCH psychologist Annie Powers, PsyD breaks down circumstances in which this type of evaluation is used and shares how each can assist with the following diagnoses:

Diagnosis: Attention Deficit Hyper Activity Disorder (ADHD)

Neuropsychological testing is conducted to determine whether or not a diagnosis exists (in order to guide and direct treatment for the individual). Per testing results, specific recommendations can be made to the child or adult’s school or employer in order to assist in harnessing attention and concentration. Testing may also be used to determine whether or not the individual will be efficient and effective in his or her current environment.

Individuals diagnosed with ADHD may also have a learning disability which could impact their ability to learn new information. Neuropsych testing can determine whether or not an individual meets the American Disability Act standards. Additionally, during neurospcyh testing, emotional components are also addressed (as communication and relationship issues may exist).   

Diagnosis: Dementia

Testing is conducted with individuals to determine whether or not there is a loss in cognitive processes, short-term and long-term memory, visual and auditory memory, and the individual’s ability to learn new information. Testing is also conducted to help determine a more specific diagnosis (verify whether or not an individual’s pattern fits a known pattern for a specific type of dementia such as Alzheimer’s or Vascular dementia).

Diagnosis: Learning Disability

This type of testing is conducted to determine specific areas that a patient may be impaired (auditory or visual processing). It evaluates basic educational skills (reading, math, and spelling) as well as traditional intellectual functioning. Individuals with a learning disability may also have ADHD which will impact their ability to learn new information. As a result, recommendations can then be made to employers, schools, colleges, or for individuals who are pursuing vocational retraining.

Diagnosis: Cognitive Testing

This testing is conducted when there is a question regarding a patient’s  disability or ability to manage their own affairs, make appropriate decisions, remain gainfully employed, determine appropriateness of appointing a guardian, etc.      

Annie Powers, PsyD works at Ozarks Community Hospital in Springfield. She received her education from the Forest Institute of Professional Psychology and completed her residency at Burrell Behavioral Health. To contact Dr. Powers, call(417) 875-4682 – Specialty Office.

Testing listed above is available at Ozarks Community Hospital with Dr. Thomas Blansett, Dr. Stephen Belk and Dr. Jason Glass.  

Ask Beverly: Hot Topic Women’s Health Questions

Let’s face it: visiting the gynecologist isn’t nearly as fun as shopping for a new pair of shoes. But, it is important. All women should make a point to stay on top of their reproductive health, regardless of their age or life stage. Don’t just take our word for it; OCH Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner Beverly Gann helps answer questions you may not know (or want) to ask about you (and your daughter’s) health:

When should I go for my first mammogram? Females should look to schedule their first mammogram around age 40. However, it is important to discuss your family history of breast cancer with your provider, as this may change when you should receive your first mammogram. 

What is the best and safest birth control method for teenagers? The best birth control method is the one your teenager will actually use! From my experience, it seems as if long acting types (birth controls that are not user-controlled) are very popular with young women. Ask your women’s health provider what options are available.

What is the difference between a pap smear and a pelvic exam? A pap smear is a test for cervical cancer. It is sometimes performed during a pelvic exam. A pelvic exam is the internal exam of female organs done for STD testing, menstrual problems, pregnancy and other concerns.

 What do I need to know about STIs? Anyone is able to get a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI). Using condoms consistently will decrease the possibility of contracting an STI during any sexual act.

 What is peri-menopause? Peri-menopause is “the change.” It is the time it takes for the ovaries to stop ovulating (menstruation cycles eventually stop so that a woman can no longer get pregnant). Main symptoms include: irregular periods, problems sleeping, hot flashes, mood changes and low libido.

Normally, peri-menopause occurs in women between the ages of 45 to 55 years. Women are considered “in menopause” or “menopausal” if they have not had a menstrual cycle for 12 continuous months. There are other reasons cycles can stop, so it’s advisable to discuss your cycle with your provider.

How can I prepare my daughter for a women’s health exam? Take her to your annual exam (as soon as you feel she’s old enough to be involved in ‘girl talk’). Bringing her along can help calm her fears. Depending on her or your comfort level, your daughter can step out during the actual exam or remain seated by your head.

 What are the pros and cons of hormone replacement therapy? The pros and cons mostly relate to dose and length of use.  It’s important to discuss your concerns with your provider. Remember, not everyone needs hormone replacement and the general rule is lowest dose for the shortest time.

Beverly Gann, WHNP is certified in women’s health and has worked at OCH since 2002. She has more than 16 years experience working in women’s health. Beverly received her education from the St. John’s School of Nursing and the University of Missouri at St. Louis, Barnes School of Nursing. In 2011, the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce and Springfield Business Journal named her as a local Health Care Champion honoree.

Questions? Contact the Women’s Health Department at Ozarks Community Hospital (417) 837-4079.


Pump up your workout with added push-up power

Push-ups may be a pain, but don’t eliminate them from your workout routine just yet! Not only do they increase upper body strength, but push-ups also reinforce the core including the back, abdominal, and hip stabilizers (if done in full plank position). Push-ups also increase muscle tone which helps burn more calories even when you are at rest. Additionally, they help strengthen the shoulder stabilizing muscles, which can prevent shoulder injuries down the road.

Push-up #1: Push-ups offer all of the benefits of completing a bench press, but also provide additional core stabilization. It requires no equipment and can be modified to any skill level. To perform a full push-up:

  • Your body should be lifted by your arms. Do not compensate with other areas of the body– like using your stomach to lower your body.
  • No swaying of the hips as you perform the push-up. Keep your body in a straight line.
  • Lower slowly to the ground, then use the arms to push back up

Push-up #2: To perform a modified version of the push-up, you have a few options. The first is the most commonly known: perform the push-up but keep your knees on the ground. Keep your hips in line with your body– do not bend at the hips!

Push-up #3: Another option is to hold the plank position without the actual push-up. You are still getting arm and core strengthening with this exercise! You can complete both #2 and #3 to get the full benefit of the push-ups.

Push-up #4: This can be performed for people who can almost complete a full push-up or people who can complete push-ups and want extra strengthening.

  • Start at the full plank position
  • Very slowly lower yourself to the floor– try and count ten full seconds during this exercise
  • Slowly lowering is called eccentric muscle control—muscle strengthening occurs more quickly with eccentric muscle control. So– always complete exercises with a slow and controlled speed for the most benefit!

Push-ups require a strong line from the head to the feet. This requires muscles to work throughout the entire body. Although sit-up and crunches are good for toning the abdominal muscles, maintaining a strong core with all exercises is so important because it mimics what we all do everyday– stabilize our core while lifting, reaching, and moving! It is important to have a strong core to prevent injury during daily work and home tasks.

Make sure that your “plank” position is strong and you feel like someone could push down lightly on your shoulders, hips, or back and you would not break this position.

Now that you know how to execute a push-up, put yourself to the test:

Workout Option #1:

  • Complete three rounds of 10 push-ups or push-up variations
  • 10 box squats (see Kylie’s other blog post “No Excuse Rainy Day Work Out” for information on the box squat!)

Workout Option #2

  • Complete as many pushups/push-up variations as you can in one minute
  • Rest one minute
  • Repeat 4 times


Avoid Stress Eating this Holiday Season

It’s hard to turn down home cooked holiday favorites, but it might be better to resist. The Christian County Health Department reports the average weight gain from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day is about 7 pounds (to burn this off you’d have to walk from Springfield to St. Louis!). Be proactive in your holiday eating habits and read below to find out if you fall victim to stress eating. Content courtesy of the Christian County Health Department

Instead of falling into the “stress eating” habit, try eating and exercising with the idea of health in mind. Exercising serves as a double bonus as it helps you control your weight and relieves your stress at the same time.

 Check out the following “stress eating” assessment to see how susceptible you are to holiday weight gain:

  • When you attend a dinner party to do you feel obligated to accept a second helping to please your host?
  • Are mad dashes to the mall and social events the only exercise you get during the holidays?
  • Do you bake a batch of cookies to have on hand for guests only to eat most of them yourself?
  • Are you the type of person who lets yourself go and splurge on anything you want during the holidays, promising to go on a diet when January starts?
  • Do you feel an obligation to eat every morsel of fattening food you may receive as a gift?
  • Do you sample while you are baking holiday goodies?

Too many yes answers? If so, take steps to improving your stress eating by selecting one area and improving on it. Don’t try to lose weight during the holidays, just try to make healthier choices.

Content courtesy of the Christian County Health Department.

OCH Social Worker Shares Tips for Speaking About Adoption

Chances are, many people you know have been impacted by adoption in one way or another; yet it still remains a complex and sensitive topic. As we round out November and ease into the holidays to reunite with our family and friends, remember these conversation tips for speaking about adoption provided by OCH social worker Regina Smith, LMSW.

Many people have been personally and directly touched by adoption. Others have a loose connection with it. The topic of adoption is found in our literature, music, movies and television shows. Popular media has opened this topic for discussion, however many people may be misguided by the media on how to accurately and respectfully communicate with others about this subject. Language is a powerful tool that is used open or close lines of communication. It is important for us to understand how our language may appear to be uninformed, insensitive. Below are some tips on how to discuss adoption in an accurate, respectful manner: 

  • Avoid Saying: Real parent or natural parent. For example: “Who are her real parents?”
  • Proper Term: Biological parent or birth parent

Reason: The term “real” can be confusing. All parents are “real” people. There is no such thing as an “artificial” or “unnatural” parent. Biological or birth parent is a more accurate description of a person who has genetic ties to the child. 

  • Avoid Saying: “Gave up or given away… for adoption.” For example: “She gave up her baby for adoption.”
  • Proper Term: Made an adoption plan or chose adoption

Reason: The former suggests that there was little or no planning, or that the child was a possession which was tossed out, and never thought of again. The latter more accurately conveys the forethought and planning that was considered by birth parents for their child’s future.

  • Avoid Saying: “Kept or keep… my/your baby.” For example: “Is she going to keep her baby?”
  • Proper Term: Chose to parent or is parenting

Reason: Parenting is an active choice that is a lifelong decision. The former suggests that the child, again, is likened to a possession. I would keep a pair of shoes, but not a child. And, certainly the child doesn’t remain a baby for the rest of their lives. The later is more accurate way of describing parenting.

For more information about adoption:,,

Regina Smith, LMSW is a social worker for the OCH Resolutions unit. Prior to working at OCH, she worked at a private, non-profit adoption agency, both with adoptive families as well as birth families.