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New, Minimally Invasive Treatment Option for Women with Uterine Fibroids

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Illustration of the Acessa probe 
treating a fibroid tumor.

ST. LOUIS – By age 50, nearly 80 percent of US women have uterine fibroids, common benign tumors or muscle growths in the wall of the uterus. According to the Centers for Disease Control, fibroids are the leading cause for hysterectomy procedures worldwide.

Doctors at Mercy Hospital St. Louis can now offer women with fibroids a new, minimally-invasive outpatient treatment option for all fibroids within the uterine wall. Mercy was the fourth hospital in the US and the first in the Midwest to offer this procedure.

Approved by the FDA in Nov. 2012 for women ages 35-50 who are finished bearing children, the AcessaTM procedure uses a technology called radiofrequency ablation destroying fibroids by applying energy through a small needle. It leaves the surrounding tissue unaffected allowing the destroyed tissue to be completely reabsorbed.

Dr. David Levine, OB/GYN with Mercy Clinic Minimally Invasive Gynecology, participated in the clinical trial for Acessa, performed the first cases at Mercy and is now training physicians across the country on the new procedure.

Fibroid symptoms can range widely from no symptoms to heavier than normal menstrual flow and bloating to severe uterine bleeding and pelvic pain, cramping, constipation, nausea and a need to urinate without being able.

"This is the fibroid treatment patients and physicians have been waiting for," Dr. Levine said. “It will change the way women think about fibroid removal since they often live with symptoms rather than have major surgery.”

In traditional fibroid surgery, layers of healthy tissue are cut through to gain access to the tumor or to remove the uterus entirely. This can lead to complications, significant pain and long recovery times. Acessa treats just the fibroids, preserving the normal function of the uterus. Patients typically go home the same day with little pain and are back to regular activities in five days or less.

Mercy Hospital St. Louis, part of Mercy’s east Missouri region, is a 979-bed comprehensive teaching hospital. The 80-acre site houses a nine-level heart and vascular hospital, a cancer center; a comprehensive children's hospital; a surgery center; and a 120-bed skilled nursing center.

Mercy is the sixth largest Catholic health care system in the U.S. and serves more than 3 million people annually. Mercy includes 31 hospitals, 300 outpatient facilities, 39,000 co-workers and more than 2,000 integrated physicians in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has outreach ministries in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. In Mercy’s east Missouri region, services include a 979-bed hospital in St. Louis, 187-bed hospital in Washington, 251-bed hospital in Crystal City and Mercy Clinic, a 570-member multispecialty physician organization.

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Nine Nurses Nominated for March of Dimes Awards

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One of nine Mercy Hospital Jefferson nurses
to be nominated for a March of Dimes' 2013
 Nurse of the Year award, Elena May Plaza
holds newborn Makena Lynns Stanley of Festus.    

CRYSTAL CITY, Mo. – Mercy Hospital Jefferson is proud to announce that nine nurses have been nominated to receive a 2013 March of Dimes Nurse of the Year award. Nominees represent excellence in approximately 20 award categories. Winners will be announced at a special awards gala on Nov. 9 at the Chase Park Plaza in St. Louis.


Mercy Hospital Jefferson nurses who were nominated for the award this year include Randy Bohnert, Debbie Custodio, Angela DeLeal, Brenda Johnston, Tara Messer, Elena May Plaza, Shirley Tucker, Claudia Winebarger and JoAnne Wolo.


March of Dimes honors nurses who exemplify an extraordinary level of patient care, compassion and customer service. Whether serving as health care provider, educator, researcher, volunteer or adviser, nurses play a critical role in advancing the mission of March of Dimes.


We are extremely proud of all our nurses at Mercy Jefferson," said Sheila Julien, chief nursing officer. "These nominees represent the many diverse roles held by caregivers at the hospital, and they exemplify our entire staff for providing compassionate care to our patients every day."


Exceptional nurses employed in the state of Missouri and the Illinois counties of Jersey, Madison, St. Clair, Clinton, Monroe, and Randolph are eligible for the March of Dimes awards.


A selection committee comprised of health care professionals will determine the winners by screening the nomination forms in a blinded review process. Dr. Jan DeMasters, President of the St. Louis Campus of Chamberlain College of Nursing, is chairing the Nurse of the Year committee.


The mission of March of Dimes is to improve the health of all babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. The Nurse of the Year initiative supports this mission while recognizing exceptional nurses throughout the state, celebrating the profession, and creating awareness of the strides made in this growing field. 

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Special Delivery for Expectant Parents in St. Louis

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Slideshow of new Labor & Birth Suites, 
Family Waiting area and Maternity Welcome Center.

ST. LOUIS – Expectant parents in the St. Louis area choose Mercy Hospital St. Louis more than any other hospital when it comes to welcoming their babies into the world. After months of listening to what moms want in a birthing experience, Mercy opened its new Maternity Welcome Center and Labor and Birth Suites on Jan. 28.

The new space totals 75,000 square feet on three floors. The Maternity Welcome Center, with four interview and 12 exam rooms, is located immediately inside the main lobby entrance providing easy access for moms to check in or be evaluated for labor. Two floors housing 31 new Labor and Birth Suites are conveniently located down the hall from the post-partum rooms where moms will spend the remainder of their stay bonding with baby. For moms needing a c-section, six surgical suites along with 11 private pre-op and recovery rooms are also included in the new space.

Through focus groups and social media, moms expressed their preferences for a high-tech and high-touch birth place and Mercy responded in many ways. The design concepts are centered around moms and families offering more space for comfort while at the same time allowing caregivers space to work.

“We are humbled that so many families choose Mercy to welcome their special arrivals,” said Heather Thompson, executive director of women’s services at Mercy Hospital St. Louis. “So we wanted to make sure to ask them for input when we were planning the new space. It has been great to hear their preferences.”

Not only are the spacious suites pleasing to the eye and comfortable for families, they also offer the latest technology for monitoring moms and babies during labor. The fetal monitoring system will allow women to be out of bed while still keeping track of baby’s heart rate during labor. They also have the option of using a multi-head, massaging shower or whirlpool tub to ease labor pains. Other accommodations include a birthing ball in each room, smaller waiting areas closer to birthing rooms, flat-screen TVs with built in DVD players, connection for MP3 players and comfortable sleeping options for birthing partners.                                  

Beyond the physical changes in the new space, Mercy has taken steps to focus on supporting each mom physically, emotionally and spiritually during her labor. All labor and birth nurses were trained by Lamaze International in labor support skills that provide hands-on support for women giving birth. This includes the importance of movement and position changes, massage, hydrotherapy, music therapy and aromatherapy. In addition, as a growing number of women are seeking a low-intervention or natural childbirth, Mercy is prepared to support a woman for whatever she seeks during her birth experience with customizable Mercy Birth Plans.

“Some women want an epidural placed early in labor and others may want a more natural, un-medicated birth,” Thompson said. “With Mercy’s new birth plan women can let us know their wishes from the start.”

Mercy is the sixth largest Catholic health care system in the United States and serves more than 3 million people annually. Mercy includes 31 hospitals, nearly 300 outpatient facilities, 38,000 co-workers and 1,700 integrated physicians in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has outreach ministries in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. In the east Missouri region, Mercy’s services include a 979-bed hospital in St. Louis, 187-bed hospital in Washington, and Mercy Clinic, a 550-member multispecialty physician organization. 


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A New Year, A New You!

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Attendees will be able to get professional weight management advice.

Mercy Women's Services will present a free health forum called “Weight Management: Know Your Choices” from 6-8 p.m., Tuesday Jan. 15, 2013, in the auditorium inside Hammons Heart Institute at 1235 E. Cherokee in Springfield.

Attendees can get motivated to start the new year out being informed with Mercy's weight management team of experts. Adam Pruett, registered dietitian, will share the history of diets, as well as nutritional facts about some popular diets. Kimberly Jacobs, exercise physiologist, will present lifestyle changes that can be made in order to have success in the new year. Christopher Edwards, MD, will share the latest information about bariatric surgery.

The public is invited to bring friends, enjoy the fellowship, and ask questions. No registration is required for this free event. For more information, please call 888-8888 or 1-800-909-8326. Convenient parking will be available north, south and east of the building.

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Be Dazzled at Spirit Girls' Night Out

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Mercy Fort Scott’s Spirit of Women Initiative is hosting the fifth annual Spirit Girls’ Night Out on Monday, November 5 at Fort Cinema at 224 S. 18th St. in Fort Scott. This year’s event, titled “Be Dazzling,” is sure to bring a sparkle to a cool November evening with the girlfriends.

The event is specifically designed to offer women valuable health-related information about nutrition, exercise and maintaining a healthy weight to ward off long-term health problems. In addition to education, women can enjoy free health screenings, chick flicks, dark chocolate, refreshments and the chance to win valuable door prizes.

Although the primary goal of Spirit Girls’ Night Out is to educate women about their health risks, it is the action steps that follow that are the real reward. “These events allow for women to come together in a trusted healthcare environment for information presented in an empowering format,” said Tanya Abreu, President and National Program Director, Spirit of Women Hospital Network. “When you combine this with fun and friendship, women have the power to activate change: change that can positively impact the lives of these women and the lives of their families.”

Health education, health screenings, and fun will be woven throughout the evening to emphasize the importance of awareness of all of the health issues affecting women today. Besides these important educational segments, the night will also include the showing of chick flicks.

Admission is free but tickets are required. Spirit Girls Night Out tickets are available at the Mercy Hospital Registration Desk, the Mercy Medical Plaza at 902 S. Horton, and the Fort Scott Area Chamber of Commerce. Each ticket will be entered in a drawing for door prizes.

Women may choose from one of three movies offered this year:

The Help (PG 13), an Academy Award winning drama about an aspiring author during the civil rights movement of the 1960s who decides to write a book detailing the African-American maids' point of view on the white families for which they work, and the hardships they go through on a daily basis

Joyful Noise (PG 13), a comedy/musical starring Dolly Pardon and Queen Latifah about a gospel singing troupe with a newly appointed director heading into a national competition

Temple Grandin (PG), a Golden Globe winning true story of Temple Grandin, an autistic woman who has become one of the top scientists and highly recognized specialists in the humane livestock handling industry

Doors open at 6 p.m. for screenings and movies start at 7 p.m.

Spirit Girls’ Night Out is organized and hosted by Mercy Hospital, a member of the Spirit of Women Hospital Network. For more information, call Mercy’s Spirit of Women Coordinator at 620-223-8094.

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Mercy's Commitment to St. Charles County

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Mercy Zumbehl Road facility

ST. LOUIS - Mercy made a commitment to residents of St. Charles County to provide more convenient access to its services. The largest symbol to date of that commitment, Mercy Zumbehl Road, opened Sept. 17, at 1820 Zumbehl Rd. The facility includes offices for family and internal medicine, cardiology and cardiac diagnostic services, OB/GYN, imaging and laboratory services.

This new location also marks a first within Mercy serving as a prototype for new facilities in the area and across Mercy’s four states. Elements such as a covered canopy area for drop off and pick up, an open gallery-style waiting area for check in and a central kiosk with access to MyMercy, wider corridors and larger exam rooms were incorporated to make the experience with Mercy as easy and comfortable as possible.

“We are listening to our patients, visitors and co-workers and using what we hear to plan,” said Don Kalicak, regional vice president of development at Mercy. “In the coming months, more Mercy locations are scheduled to open in response to requests for Mercy services closer to home.”

In addition to more locations for pediatricians, primary care and specialty physicians, Mercy’s expansion in St. Charles County will include extended hours in many Mercy Clinic practices. The planning of these Mercy facilities continues with the help of input from community members through community roundtables held in St. Charles, Warren and Lincoln counties.

Mercy’s goal is to enhance health care in St. Charles, Warren and Lincoln counties and to bring services closer to patients and co-workers who live in the area. Approximately 2,200 Mercy co-workers live in the three counties, with some 50 Mercy Clinic physicians currently practicing in nine locations. Mercy also has two urgent care facilities, an imaging center, rehabilitation services, an endoscopy center and a maternal and fetal health center in the region.

Mercy Clinic practices located at 1820 Zumbehl Rd., include:

Mercy Clinic Family Medicine Zumbehl, Ste. 130A

Mercy Clinic Family Medicine Zumbehl, Ste. 130B

Mercy Clinic Internal Medicine Zumbehl, Ste. 120A

Mercy Clinic Heart and Vascular Zumbehl, Ste. 120

Mercy Clinic Women’s Health Zumbehl, Ste. 120

Mercy Clinic is a physician-governed group of more than 1,700 medical providers across Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and, Oklahoma. With access to Mercy’s facilities, electronic health records, telemedicine and each other, Mercy Clinic providers can give their patients the best care available, regardless of the patient’s location. Patients of Mercy Clinic providers can connect to their own health records and health teams anywhere they connect to the Internet. For more information, visit mymercy.net

Mercy is the sixth largest Catholic health care system in the United States and serves more than 3 million people annually. Mercy includes 31 hospitals, nearly 300 outpatient facilities, 38,000 co-workers and 1,700 integrated physicians in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has outreach ministries in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. In the east Missouri region, Mercy’s services include a 979-bed hospital in St. Louis, 187-bed hospital in Washington, and Mercy Clinic, a 460-member multispecialty physician organization. 


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Wellness on Tour May be Coming to a Town Near You!

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Mercy Wellness on Tour will be visiting these Mercy clinics in the coming weeks. The bus offers services in 16 rural Southwest Missouri communities.

Wellness on Tour Schedule 

July 2014:

1    Mercy Clinic – Mountain Grove, Call 417-926-6111
2    Mercy Clinic – Ava, Call 417-683-4045
8    Mercy Clinic – Branson West, Call 417-820-2790
9    Mercy Clinic – St Robert, Call 417-336-5100
14   Partnership Industrial Park Springfield, Call 417-820-2790
16   Mercy Clinic – Ava, Call 417-683-4045
21   Mercy Clinic – Ozark, Call 417-581-3548
24   Mercy Clinic – Mountain Grove, Call 417-926-6111
28   Mercy Clinic - Lockwood, Call 417-232-4560
30   Mercy Clinic – Branson West, Call 417-820-2790
31   Mercy Clinic – Hollister, Call 417-336-4355

August 2014:

4   Mercy Clinic – Mt Vernon, Call 417-466-2001
5   Mercy Clinic – Republic, Call 417-732-5050
6   Community Mammogram Day – Midtown Springfield, Call 417-820-2790
11  Mercy Clinic – Willard, Call 417-820-2790
12  Mercy Clinic – Branson West, Call 417-820-2790
13  Mercy Clinic – St Robert, Call 417-336-5100
14  Branson K-Mart, Call 417-820-2790
18  Mercy Clinic – Strafford, Call 417-736-9175
19  Mercy Clinic – Mountain Grove, Call 417-926-6111
20  Mercy Clinic – Marshfield, Call 417-859-2380
25  Mercy Clinic – Republic, Call 417-732-5050
26  Mercy Clinic - Ava, Call 417-683-4045
27  Mercy Clinic – Shell Knob, Call 417-858-3731
28  Mercy Clinic – Ozark, Call 417-581-3548

Mercy Wellness on Tour Bus services include:

  • Digital mammograms
  • Health risk assessments

The mobile bus allows Mercy to serve more women, including those whose last mammogram was digital and those with breast implants. Annual screening mammograms are recommended for women age 40 and older. Mammograms are the best tool for detecting breast cancer in its earliest, most treatable stage. Nearly 3,000 women annually complete a mammogram on the bus. Many have never had a mammogram or have gone many years between screenings.

Mercy Wellness on Tour mobile bus is an outreach of the Mercy Breast Center, staffed by highly-qualified Mercy health professionals.

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Mercy's First Midwife Birthing Center

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Preliminary rendering of a birthing suite
in the Mercy Birthing Center.

ST. LOUIS – As more women choose unmedicated births, many are choosing home births with midwives. Some women want a home-like birth with a midwife and feel more comfortable near a hospital in the event of any complications, leading Mercy to offer an alternative. The Mercy Birthing Center is the area’s first in-hospital, low-risk birthing center run by certified nurse midwives. Patients are now being accepted.

Each of the four birthing suites in the Birthing Center will resemble a home bedroom with queen-size beds, showers and large tubs for labor. There will also be a central living room area for family members, a kitchen, a space for childbirth classes and a separate clinical area where patients will visit the midwife each month during pregnancy for prenatal visits.

“We listened to the community and found that many women want a home-like birth with support of a midwife,” said Trish Geldbach, vice president of Women’s Services at Mercy.  “While natural births are done every day in our Labor and Birth suites, this new Birthing Center will offer women an alternative to birthing at home with the safety net of medical care an elevator ride away.”

The Mercy Birthing Center physical location is scheduled to open in early September, so pregnant women interested in birthing with a certified nurse midwife at the new Center can call now to begin appointments with a certified nurse midwife.

Throughout pregnancy, care will be provided by certified nurse midwives, who are masters-prepared advanced practice nurses certified by the American College of Nurse-Midwives. In addition to prenatal appointments with certified nurse midwives, there will be natural childbirth classes offered to learn more about the process as well as nutrition and fitness classes.

“We really focus on nutrition and fitness throughout pregnancy so mom is healthy and strong for the labor and birth process,” said Diana Buckwalter, certified nurse midwife and program director for Mercy Birthing Center.

Most mothers and babies will go home with their families four to 12 hours after birth and return for follow-up care a couple days later.

For more information on Mercy Birthing Center, please call 314-251-7955.

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Birthing with Hypnobabies® Offered at Mercy

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ST. LOUIS - Women preparing for childbirth have many options when it comes to learning what to expect during labor and Mercy offers many courses for different birthing plans. One of the newest options available to expecting moms is Hypnobabies®, a six-week, complete childbirth education course using self-hypnosis techniques. The first session begins Thursday, April 17 and will be from 6 to 9:30 p.m., weekly.

The Hypnobabies® Childbirth Hypnosis course helps women create shorter, easier and more comfortable labors by learning, practicing and using self-hypnosis techniques.

A Mercy childbirth educator will screen all moms-to-be who want to participate in this program. Women are fully in tune with their babies during the birthing process and as aware of everything around them as they’d like to be, easily able to communicate with their support team, and completely in charge of their own birth experience.

“We teach moms ‘eyes-open childbirth hypnosis,’” said Heather Comparato, RN, a Mercy labor and birth nurse and Hypnobabies instructor. “This helps allow moms to walk, talk and move around while remaining deeply in self-hypnosis during childbirth.”

The course fee is $325 and includes a Hypnobabies® workbook, CDs and hypnosis scripts to train the inner mind that labor contractions will be felt only as pressure, pushing, pulling and normal baby movements. Expectant moms should begin this program at 20-30 weeks of gestation.

Those interested in the program, should email Heather Comparato at heather [dot] comparatoatmercy [dot] net. For more information, please visit www.mercy.net/birthing-with-hypnobabies.

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Fellowship-Trained Breast Surgeon Joins Mercy

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Dr. Kertrisa McWhite is a fellowship-trained
surgical breast oncologist at Mercy

Mercy continues its focus on cancer care with the addition of Dr. Kertrisa McWhite, Oklahoma City’s only fellowship-trained surgical breast oncologist.

Dr. McWhite brings a decade of experience providing a full range of surgical options to patients battling breast cancer, along with genetic counseling services for women with histories of breast cancer in their families.

She describes herself as a “fixer” and attributes her gravitation toward surgery to that characteristic. She likes surgery because it’s technical, but she also enjoys the emotional support she can offer a patient undergoing a personal procedure like a mastectomy.

“It’s not just surgery,” said McWhite. “It’s a relationship. When you first meet eyes and discuss the diagnosis, something special happens. Breast surgery is so much more personal than, say, a knee surgery. My patients know I’m going to be with them every step of the way. I follow my patients forever.”

In addition to being a “fixer,” McWhite says she sees part of her role as “teacher.”

“I like to help my patients understand their options for dealing with breast cancer,” said McWhite. “It’s my job to inform my patient so she can make the best decision for her lifestyle.”

She earned her Bachelor of Arts in sociology from Yale University, went to medical school at MCP-Hahnemann School of Medicine in Philadelphia and completed her residency at Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch, NJ. She completed her unique-to-Oklahoma City surgical breast oncology fellowship training at the University of Texas Southwestern in Dallas, one of the most prestigious surgical breast oncology fellowships in the U.S.

McWhite joins Mercy breast surgeon Dr. Brian Robert Boggs, who has more than 25 years of general surgical experience, with six years of that dedicated to breast surgery. The surgeons will be supported by an entire team devoted to breast health at Mercy, including Dr. Alan Hollingsworth – a leading clinical researcher in early detection of breast cancer– who serves as medical director for Mercy Women’s Center.

Mercy is the sixth largest Catholic health care system in the U.S. and serves more than 3 million people annually. Mercy includes 33 acute care hospitals, four heart hospitals, two children’s hospitals, two rehab hospitals and one orthopedic hospital, nearly 700 clinic and outpatient facilities, 40,000 co-workers and more than 2,100 Mercy Clinic physicians in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has outreach ministries in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. 




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