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Dr. Auer Joins Mercy Hospital Jefferson

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Melinda Auer, M.D.

CRYSTAL CITY, Mo. – Physicians have to keep up with rapid changes in health care, and that is especially true in the field of obstetrics and gynecology. But one thing always stays the same, says new Mercy Clinic doctor Melinda Auer, M.D.

“Seeing parents’ faces the first time they meet their baby never gets old,” Dr. Auer said. “It’s something patients wait nine months for, to meet this baby that they have created. It is definitely a great experience.”

Dr. Auer joined the staff at Mercy Clinic OB/GYN – Jefferson in August after completing her four-year residency at Metro Health Medical Center and the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio. She earned her medical degree from Saint Louis University.

“I’m originally from St. Louis, so I am a hometown girl,” she said. As a high school soccer player sidelined by knee injuries, Dr. Auer originally considered orthopedic surgery as her specialty before settling on OB/GYN.

“The role of an OB/GYN is to take care of the woman as a whole throughout her lifetime,” Dr Auer said. “Gynecology is care of a woman’s reproductive health and organs, while the role of the obstetrician is care of pregnancy and delivery of infants.”

Advances in medical care have resulted in many changes for how physicians fill patient needs.

“Hysterectomies were actually more common in the past, because now we have other treatments that we can use. I usually like to attempt to medically manage a patient’s symptoms before I jump directly to surgery,” Dr. Auer said. “These days the approaches are more minimally invasive. I tend to at least counsel or attempt a minimally invasive approach on most of the patients I see who need hysterectomies and are good candidates for that type of procedure.”

Instead of an incision that may be six inches long on the lower abdomen, laparoscopic surgery may be completed with two or three incisions about a centimeter each.

“Recovery time is generally much quicker. As long as the patient is feeling well, they generally go home the next day,” Dr. Auer said. “Every day with a minimally invasive or laparoscopic approach, patients tend to feel better, whereas you can hit road bumps with abdominal surgery, not feeling so good one day and then feeling a little bit better the next.”

Physicians must adapt to new recommendations and changes in the rapidly evolving medical field.

“I’ll get a medical journal one month that recommends one approach to a particular medical condition and then the next month it will have a different article saying this is the better way to treat it or approach surgery, so you definitely have to stay on top of your game,” Auer said.

What doesn’t change is the importance of solid physician-patient relationship.

“I really just like to sit down and have a conversation with a patient. The most important thing is developing rapport with a patient and being able to have an open line of communication,” Dr. Auer said. “A lot of times, what gynecologists talk about can be pretty sensitive, so the patient has to feel comfortable enough to open up about those issues.”

Dr. Auer is accepting new patients at Mercy Clinic OB/GYN – Jefferson, and most insurance plans are accepted. For more information or to schedule an appointment call 636-937-1545. Learn more at www.Mercy.net and see Dr. Auer’s profile at http://bit.ly/MercyDrAuer.

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Patient, 105, Gets Homemade Cake and Song from Mercy Doctor

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Dr. Larry Seals honors Lucile Wisterman with a
homemade birthday cake complete with numerals 105.

When Lucile Wisterman celebrates a birthday she can count on Dr. Larry Seals, Mercy Clinic physician, to make a “to-do” over it. For the past six years, Dr. Seals has made a special trip to the grocery store, hand selected Lucile’s favorite flavor, and whipped up a homemade cake for her birthday.

Making the treat even sweeter, Lucile celebrated her 105th birthday on August. 3.

What’s Lucile’s secret to health and stamina? She says, “I was born on a farm where I was taught to work hard and eat healthy foods. We grew plenty of vegetables and fruits in our garden.”

Exercise was part of everyday, too. “I walked 1½ miles to school and worked our horses daily,” she added.  “I never drank or smoked either.”

But Lucile’s humble nature steers her clear of recognition. She touts the care from her family for giving years to her life.

Every day she looks forward to spending time with her grandson, Jack Black, who makes a trip to Fort Scott to visit her and serves her lunch.

It’s obvious her gratitude runs deep. She advises other women, “Stay close to your family. They are the joy in every day.”

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Dr. Larry Seals Earns Five-Star Excellence Award

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Larry Seals, D.O., gives credit to nurses Trina Arndt (left)
and Crystal Roberts for their exceptional teamwork

Dr. Larry Seals, Mercy Clinic Fort Scott OB/GYN, is a baby-delivering rock star. After 30 years in practice – and thousands of beautiful babies delivered into his hands – Seals has earned a Grammy Award of sorts for exceptional patient care.

It’s his attitude, “I try to treat all my patients like I would my family,” that has earned him a Professional Research Consultants, Inc. (PRC) Five-Star Excellence Award for Provider Services and Overall Care. The recognition honors Seals for scoring in the top 10 percent nationally for “excellent” responses in patient satisfaction surveys.

“I’m ecstatic,” Seals said. “This award gives credit to our teamwork. My nursing staff does a great job of treating patients with superb clinical skill and unmatched compassion.”

Seals contributes his practice’s success to being grounded and down to earth.

“When precious life in your hands, it’s important to remain humble and share genuine care for everyone.”

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Mercy Opens Nurse-Resident Learning Center

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Nurse Learning Center

Nurse Learning Center

Newly graduated nurses at Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City now have a way to ease into the profession before they begin working with patients.

Mercy on Monday opened a nurse-resident Learning Center. The first cohort will complete a seven-week orientation at the center before moving up to the hospital units where they will work.

The Learning Center’s goal is to fill the gap between nursing school and professional practice. While there, new nurses, called nurse residents, will learn how to properly document patients’ charts and conduct assessments of commonly seen symptoms and disorders, as well as practice patient care fundamentals such as safe lifting techniques and code responses.

“It just felt like there really is a big gap between being a student nurse and being confident on the units,” said Mary Lawrence, who worked as a health educator before switching to nursing. “We get to really learn things before being thrown out there.”

Starting nursing can be intimidating for new graduates, Learning Center Manager Hope Knight said, but the hardest part is walking into a patient’s room and identifying oneself as a nurse.

“Hopefully, when they’re finished with this they can walk into any room and know, ‘What do I need to do?’” Knight said.

To complement the new approach, Mercy has changed its hiring process for newly graduated nurses. Instead of hiring nurses for specific units and sending them there, all newly graduated nurses will go through the Learning Center and be placed upon completion.

“I hire for Mercy and then we find that good fit,” Knight said.

Nurse-resident Indira Rai-Chaundhury, a former attorney and Air Force officer, found the approach particularly appealing.

“It shows from the very beginning that they’re interested in you staying here,” she said.

Nurse-resident Kristyn Noland stressed Mercy’s commitment to fitting people with the right jobs through the Learning Center orientation.

“I think this is really interesting because it gives you a broader overview of the mission of Mercy, but also gives you an idea of who you are as a nurse,” she said.

Chief Nursing Officer Karyl James worked to implement the Learning Center after researchers found such programs create more competent nurses and reduce turnover.

“Mercy is focused on taking care of the whole person – whether it’s patients or co-workers,” James said. “The Learning Center helps ease new nurses’ anxiety while improving their clinical skills. A confident, well-trained nurse is a great asset to a patient.”

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Cindy Carmichael Appointed Chair of Healthcare Executive Magazine Editorial Board

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Cindy Carmichael

Cindy Carmichael

Cindy Carmichael, chief operating officer of Mercy Hospital Ardmore, has been selected to chair the Healthcare Executive Magazine editorial board.

Healthcare Executive is the official, bimonthly magazine of the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE), a 45,000-member group of healthcare managers.

Carmichael is a fellow of ACHE.

“ACHE has been extremely important in my professional development, and Healthcare Executive Magazine is how I keep up with other members and health care management news throughout the country,” Carmichael said. “I have enjoyed my three years on the editorial board and look forward to continuing the magazine’s success.”

Carmichael’s appointment as chair will last one year.

Carmichael previously was vice president of strategic development for Mercy in Oklahoma. During her six-year tenure, Mercy added hospitals in Ada, El Reno, Tishomingo, Logan County, Watonga and Kingfisher, as well as managing Seiling Municipal Hospital and OSU Medical Center in Tulsa.

Carmichael began her career with Mercy eight years ago in Ardmore as vice president of ambulatory services, where she more than doubled the number of Mercy physicians and spearheaded the transition to electronic health records.

Prior to joining Mercy, Carmichael was CEO of Moore Medical Center and Seminole Medical Center.

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Judy Love Joins Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City Board

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Judy Love

Judy Love

Judy Love, an Oklahoma City native, long-time philanthropist and co-founder of one of the nation’s largest private companies, has been appointed to the Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City Board of Trustees.

Love’s first meeting as a board member will be April 27.

With her husband, Tom, Judy Love co-founded Love’s Travel Stops and Country Stores in 1964. The company, which began with a gas station in Watonga, has grown to more than 340 locations in 40 states. In 2014, Love’s ranked No. 13 on the Forbes’ list of the nation’s largest private companies.

“I have always had a passion for health care, and Catholic health care in particular,” Love said. “I am thrilled to be a part of the good work that Mercy does to improve the lives of Oklahomans.”

Love noted Mercy and Love’s operate in many of the same rural Oklahoma communities and share values.

“Love’s provides jobs, community support and, of course, services to rural Oklahomans,” she said. “Mercy does the same thing in many of the same places.”

Jim Gebhart, president of Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City, praised Love’s appointment to the board.

“Judy Love understands business, health care and service,” Gebhart said. “She will help Mercy meet the challenges that are facing health care providers, and particularly those that are faith-based.”

Judy Love is a graduate of Bishop McGuinness Catholic High School and attended Oklahoma State University, the University of Oklahoma and the University of Central Oklahoma, where she obtained undergraduate and graduate degrees in interior design. She worked full time for Love’s from 1964-75, when she returned to college.

Judy Love currently serves as the chairman of the Love Family Fund and is secretary of Love’s Travel Stops and Country Stores. She currently serves on the boards of the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Allied Arts, Saint Anthony’s Foundation, Catholic Charities and the United Way of Central Oklahoma. She previously was chair of the Bishop McGuinness board and served on the boards of the March of Dimes, Susan Komen Foundation, Oklahoma City Community Foundation and the board of the UCO Foundation.

She currently is the United Way 2015 Campaign co-chair. She was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 2010 and was voted 3rd in the Top 50 Most Powerful Women in Oklahoma City in 2014. Along with her husband, Tom,  she even has been honored by the Vatican: Pope Francis awarded her the Cross of Honor, the highest medal the Catholic church awards to laity, in 2014.

Judy and Tom love have four children and nine grandchildren.

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Mercy Now Offers 3D Mammography

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Dr. Deborah Wadsworth talks about the benefits of 3D mammography.

ST. LOUIS - Two Mercy Breast Center locations in the St. Louis area now offer the latest technology in screening and diagnostic mammography -  3D tomosynthesis mammography.

A 3D tomosynthesis mammogram offers earlier detection of the smallest tumors, thanks to the increased number of views available to the radiologist. It’s available to anyone who requests it, but is especially beneficial for those with dense breast tissue and a family history of breast cancer.

“Because of the multiple images, we’re better able to distinguish between dense breast tissue and a breast tumor,” said Dr. Deborah Wadsworth, breast radiologist and medical director of the Mercy Breast Center in Creve Coeur. “In addition, because there are fewer call backs with 3D mammography we can save patients from that anxiety.”

According to studies, the new technology finds 27 percent more cancers.

Mercy Breast Centers in Creve Coeur (621 S. New Ballas Rd.) and Ballwin (15945 Clayton Rd.) have the new technology. To schedule your annual mammogram, please call 314-251-6300 to make an appointment at either breast center. If you’d like to have 3-D mammography, please ask for it when scheduling.  

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Breast Cancer Luncheon Includes Survivor Salute

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Survivors and friends attend the 2013 Breast Cancer Luncheon.

CRYSTAL CITY, Mo.  – The annual Breast Cancer Awareness Tea Party luncheon returns to Mercy Hospital Jefferson from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 10, in the conference center.

Advanced reservations are required by Oct. 6 for the program, which includes lunch, a guest speaker, take-home materials, along with a tribute and gift for survivors. The online registration form is available at http://bit.ly/BCATea2014.

Partygoers who register for the luncheon and purchase a 2014 T-shirt receive a $5 discount on their shirt and can pick them up at the luncheon from 11 to 11:30 a.m.

The 2014 Breast Cancer Awareness T-shirts are only available through on-line orders. The order form can be found at http://bit.ly/BCAtshirt2014. Long-sleeved T-shirts are $15, and short-sleeved shirts are $12.

T-shirts orders are due by Oct. 1 and will be available for pick-up in the Marketing Department at the hospital on Oct. 7. The shirts are light pink with "Every Ribbon Makes A Difference" art on the center front.

The annual tea party registration fee is $10. For more information call 636-933-8073.

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It’s A BOY! Mercy Birthing Center Welcomes First Baby on Labor Day

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Susan and Sean Ray were the first couple
to welcome a baby in the new Mercy Birthing Center.
Photo courtesy of Amy Meyerott Photography.

ST. LOUIS - While many were celebrating Labor Day with parades, swimming and barbeque, Mercy Hospital St. Louis was celebrating the opening of its new Mercy Birthing Center and its first baby. Susan and Sean Ray of St. Louis welcomed their first baby Theodore “Theo” James on Monday, Sept. 1. The area’s first in-hospital, low-risk birthing center run by certified nurse midwives at Mercy Hospital St. Louis officially opened on Labor Day. 

Susan said she knew she wanted a natural birth. She started a prenatal yoga class and learned about the Mercy Birthing Center from the intructor and doula Christa Stauder.

"When Christa told me about it, I was excited but afraid I wouldn't make it since my due date was on the opening day," Susan said. "I think I willed my body to wait."

Diana Buckwalter, certified nurse midwife and Mercy Birthing Center program director, along with the couple’s doula Christa Stauder were on hand to provide support for Susan throughout the labor and help welcome the baby.

"The experience was terrific. Thought it was more work than I expected, especially the pushing part," Susan recalled. 

Movement is important during labor and even the pushing phase, explained Buckwalter. "Because this was Susan's first baby and because he was a big boy [8 lbs. 10 oz.], he needed to be in the right position."

She explained how midwives help babies spin into the birth canal by moving mom into different positions while pushing - from side to side, squats and more. "There's a lot of motion and movement. Susan was the perfect patient and had the patience throughout her labor to push for three and a half hours before the baby was born."

"The turns and movement were hard, but with each one I could feel the progress and knew I was getting closer," Susan said.

Buckwalter credited Susan, "It was an extremely succesful birth because we worked together."

As for the new space, Susan said the tub was great for labor and after the baby arrived the water feature on the wall was very relaxing. "It was the perfect amount of light and the hum was very calming."

The new space has four birthing suites resembling a home bedroom with queen-size beds, showers and large tubs for labor. There’s a central living room area for family members, a kitchen, a space for childbirth classes and a separate clinical area where patients visit the midwife each month during pregnancy for prenatal visits.

For women planning to welcome their baby at the Mercy Birthing Center, care throughout pregnancy is 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 are childbirth classes offered to learn more about the process as well as nutrition and fitness classes.

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 about the Mercy Birthing Center, please click here.


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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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