November 17, 2016

Expectant mothers now have expanded prenatal care, labor and delivery options at Mercy with the opening of a new midwife clinic. The clinic is led by Leanna Harkess and Dorothy Cleveland Pointer, both advanced practitioners and certified nurse midwives who have a combined experience of more than two decades in midwifery and hundreds of births under their belt.

“The word midwife means ‘with woman,’” said Pointer. “We want to form a partnership with each and every woman to help achieve her pregnancy and healthcare goals.”

Pointer first began her career as a midwife in 2008, when she became part of a small but growing minority of certified nurse midwives. In the last 20 years, the US National Library of Medicine shows that midwife-attended births have more than tripled. Pointer has provided midwifery care in both Oklahoma and Maryland, and is an active member of the Oklahoma Birth Alliance.

Harkess has worn a number of hats in the medical field; first as a critical care nurse, then as a family nurse practitioner. She said she found her true calling more than 15 years ago, when she became a certified nurse midwife.

“For me, midwifery is both a blessing and a ministry,” Harkess said. “We strive to provide women a more natural birthing experience in a hospital setting.”

Both Harkess and Pointer perform births in Mercy’s labor and delivery suites. In addition, they offer pre-and-postnatal care as well as gynecological care and family planning.

Mercy Clinic Midwifery is located on the campus on Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City, in the Plaza building, at 4140 W. Memorial Road Suite 408. For more information, call 405-486-8670.

Leanna Harkess, APRN-CNM

Dusti Pointer, APRN-CNM

Mercy Clinic Midwifery - Mercy Plaza

Media Contacts

Courtney Landsberger
Oklahoma City, El Reno, Guthrie, Watonga, Kingfisher
Phone: 405-936-5766
Cell: 405-326-6574
Twitter: @MercyOklahoma
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November 16, 2016

By Mercy's Courtney Landsberger

It is a goal Debbie Pender, chief nursing officer for Mercy Hospital in Ardmore, has worked toward for years. She was recently named a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE), the nation’s leading society for health care professionals.

“The ability to interact with a network of high caliber leaders is vital to our local hospital and to our community,” said Pender, who has worked as a nurse at Mercy Hospital in Ardmore for a decade. “The distinction shows patients that we are committed to meeting their health care needs both clinically in terms of their actual treatment and professionally.”

In order to be named a Fellow, Pender completed interviews, educational courses and was required to pass an exam – a process that took her more than three years. She is now one of only a few thousand health care executives nationwide with the distinction, and joins two other health care leaders at Mercy Hospital Ardmore with the honor.

“The health care management field plays a vital role in providing high-quality care to the people in our communities, which makes having a standard of excellence promoted by a professional organization critically important,” said Deborah J. Bowen, president and CEO of ACHE. “By becoming an ACHE Fellow and earning the distinction of board certification from ACHE, health care leaders demonstrate a commitment to excellence in serving their patients and the community.”

Pender is the first Mercy chief nursing officer (CNO) in Oklahoma, and the second CNO across Mercy’s four-state service area to earn the distinction of a Fellow. 

Debbie Pender has worked at Mercy Hospital in Ardmore for more than a decade. 

Media Contacts

Lindsey Treadwell
Ardmore, Healdton
Phone: 580-220-6785
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November 10, 2016

The Mercy Health Foundation Fort Scott was awarded a $3,000 grant by the Fort Scott Area Community Foundation to support the 3D mammography upgrade at Mercy Hospital Fort Scott. 

3D mammography is the most advanced method on the market for diagnosing breast cancer. It has been proven to detect cancer cells that might be indistinguishable by 2D mammograms.

As of November 3, patients at Mercy Hospital Fort Scott have the option for 3D mammograms.

3D mammograms produce a higher-quality image, are 28 percent more effective in early invasive breast cancer detection, and reduce the number of false positive recalls. Reducing the number of false positives will not only decrease the number of patients who feel an emotional roller coaster, but will also reduce the number of unnecessary hours and resources spent to obtain the tests, all producing a more positive patient experience.

“Without this technology available in Fort Scott, many patients would need to drive to larger metropolitan areas to obtain the higher-quality screening offered through 3D images,” explained Christi Keating, executive director of patient care services in Fort Scott.

The funds from the Fort Scott Area Community Foundation grant, as well as all other contributions to the 3D Mammography upgrade campaign are paired at 1:1 match by the Mercy Health Foundation Fort Scott. Learn more about the campaign and how to donate here.

Representatives from the FSACF Blake Hudson (left) and Patty LaRoche (right) present Mercy Health Foundation Fort Scott President, Jamie Armstrong, and Secretary, Darcy Smith, with a check for $3,000 to support the upgrade to 3D mammography at Mercy.

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October 21, 2016

By Mercy's Courtney Landsberger

It is estimated that nearly half of women over the age of 40 have dense breasts, which could lead to an increased risk of breast cancer, yet many may be unaware. 

This November, Oklahoma will join the ranks of more than two dozen other states requiring health care providers to inform women if they have dense breast tissue. Following a regular mammogram, a woman will receive a report on her breast tissue composition along with mammography results. 

Lori Wightman, president of Mercy Hospital Ada, found she had dense breast tissue through a similar mandate in Minnesota.

“My mother is a two-time breast cancer survivor, so I’ve always been diligent about scheduling my yearly mammogram,” said Wightman. “Even though I had probably a dozen mammograms in the past, I didn’t find out that I had dense breasts until just a few years ago.”

While dense breast tissue is not abnormal, it can make it more difficult to spot cancer because of how that tissue appears on a mammogram. Sandy Wingard, a mammography technologist for Mercy Hospital Ada, has performed hundreds of mammograms throughout her 25-year career. By her estimates, one out of every four women she performs mammograms on has dense breasts.

“Unless a woman knows she has a family history of dense breasts, the results usually come as a surprise,” said Wingard, who notes that it is impossible to indicate levels of breast density through self-exam or a doctor’s physical exam. “Some women think that because their breasts are firm, they are dense; however, density levels refer to the tissue inside the breast, rather than how the breast actually feels.”

A woman’s breasts are made up of mostly fat and tissue that is held in place by connective tissue. On mammography reports, this tissue appears black, while cancers and masses appear white. Women with dense breasts have a larger amount of connective tissue compared to fatty tissue which also appears white on a mammogram, making it difficult to spot any abnormalities. Although researches aren’t clear what causes high levels of this dense connective tissue, a woman’s level of density can fluctuate.

“There are a lot of misconceptions about dense breasts and a big one is that once you know your density level, it will stay that way,” said Wightman. “I always stress how important it is for doctor’s to have your previous year’s mammogram to compare to the new one.”

In general, breast density tends to decrease the older a woman gets, making young women most likely to have dense breasts. Premenopausal women are also more likely to have dense breasts, as are those who take combination hormone therapy to relieve signs and symptoms of menopause. Lifestyle and genetics can also play a role.

“A good rule of thumb is that if your mother has dense breasts, you probably do too,” said Wingard. “I think this law will be very beneficial in terms of bringing awareness to what breast density means, and giving women more information when it comes to available options.”

The first state to pass a breast density notification law was Connecticut in 2009. Since then, 27 states including Oklahoma have filed similar legislation. While additional screening in Oklahoma is not required, lawmakers hope including these reports will help raise awareness of breast density and open the conversation between a women and her health care provider about additional options. For Wightman, it will also serve as a good reminder to stay on top of yearly screenings.

“Having dense breasts is something that is out of my control, but what I can control is my ability to get an annual mammogram,” said Wightman. “I hope this law will help more women take control of their health and bring awareness about the importance of regular screenings.”

If your mammogram shows you have dense breast tissue, you may consider talking to your provider about whether or not you’ll need additional screening, which can include 3D mammogram, breast ultrasound, or breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The new law will go into effect on Nov. 1. 

For more information on mammograms, download our mammogram guide at: mercy.net/AdaMammo .

Levels of Breast Density

Levels of density are described using results from the Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System (BI-RADs), which are separated into different categories ranging in level from one through four. The levels of density are:

  • Level 1: Almost entirely fatty indicates that the breasts are almost entirely composed of fat, and have less than 25% density. About 1 in 10 women have this result.
  •  Level 2: Scattered areas of fibroglandular density indicates there are some scattered areas of density, but the majority of the breast tissue is nondense. About 4 in 10 women have this result.
  • Level 3: Heterogeneously dense indicates that there are some areas of nondense tissue, but that more than 50% of the breast tissue is dense. About 4 in 10 women have this result.
  • Level 4: Extremely dense indicates that nearly all of the breast tissue is dense. About 1 in 10 women have this result.

*Source: The Mayo Clinic

Who is Most at Risk?

You may be more likely to have dense breasts if you:

  • Are younger. Women in their 40s and 50s are most likely to have dense breast tissue. Your breast tissue tends to become less dense as you age, though some women may have dense breast tissue at any age.
  • Are premenopausal.
  • Take hormone therapy for menopause. Women who take combination hormone therapy to relieve signs and symptoms of menopause are more likely to have dense breasts.
  • Have a family history of dense breasts.

*Source: Susan G. Komen Foundation

Sandy Wingard says one out of every four women she performs mammograms on has dense breasts, like Mercy Hospital Ada president, Lori Wightman.

Mercy Hospital Ada

Media Contacts

Jinger McClure
Ada, Tishomingo
Phone: 580-421-1417
Cell: 580-310-2815
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October 18, 2016

Joplin, Mo. – Mercy Clinic is meeting a growing demand for primary health care in the four-state region by opening a 14,000-square-foot, 30-room family care and convenient-care clinic at 202 E. 50th St.

A ribbon cutting and blessing was Tuesday, Oct. 18 at the clinic, next to the main Mercy Joplin campus. Family care hours will be 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays. Convenient care is expected to be offered from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily beginning in December.

“Mercy has a long history of health care in the region and continues to invest in the Joplin community by expanding services,” said Tracy Godfrey, MD, Mercy Clinic Joplin president.

Family care medical staff includes Dr. Maria Bruce, Dr. Andi Selby and family nurse practitioners Donna Schultz and Amy Buckner.

Mercy Opens 50th Street Clinic Next to Hospital

“I’m proud to be part of Mercy Joplin’s newest facility to provide primary care and family medicine adjacent to our new hospital campus,” Dr. Bruce said. “Mercy has the most amazing and outstanding primary care team. Our practice provides patients an atmosphere of hospitality, respect and trust. We provide the best quality of care our patients deserve – from treatment of acute and chronic illnesses to health promotion and disease prevention, as well.

As primary care physicians, Dr. Bruce and the other medical professionals at the new clinic can connect patients with Mercy’s team of doctors, specialists and other medical staff, providing access to highly specialized care. The clinic team is supported by a full range of diagnostic laboratory and imaging services available onsite or conveniently located next door on the hospital campus.

Mercy is investing about $1 million in capital for furnishings, fixtures, equipment and technology in the clinic.

For more information, call 417-556-3400.

Mercy Opens 50th Street Clinic Next to Hospital (photo 2)

Media Contacts

Todd Nighswonger
Joplin, Columbus, Carthage
Phone: 417-556-2260
Cell: 417-825-7821
Twitter: @JoplinMercy
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September 27, 2016

The Mercy Health Foundation Fort Scott has received a $5,000 grant from the Pacific Life Foundation to support an upgrade to 3D mammography equipment at Mercy Hospital Fort Scott. 

The grant was made possible through a Partner Involvement Program which provides grants to nonprofit agencies where distinguished insurance producers serve on the board or a committee of the agency.  Local Edward Jones agent Jamie Armstrong, Mercy Health Foundation Fort Scott Board President, submitted the grant application.

In January 2016, the Mercy Health Foundation Board initiated a $125,000 fundraising campaign where each dollar donated toward the purchase of a 3D mammography devise would be matched 100 percent by the Foundation.  Through the solicitation of private and public contributions, the goal is to raise $250,000 toward the 3D mammography equipment upgrade.

Every year, about 3,800 women depend on Mercy Hospital Fort Scott for mammograms. With an upgrade from 2D to 3D technology, patients at Mercy will benefit from a 28 percent increase in early invasive breast cancer detection while seeing a 37 percent reduction on false positive recalls.

To make a donation to the 3D mammography fundraising campaign, please visit www.mercy.net/FortScott3DGift or call the Mercy Health Foundation office at 620-223-8094.

Mercy Health Foundation Fort Scott Board Members accept a $5,000 check from Pacific Life Foundation that will help fund a 3D mammography equipment upgrade at Mercy Hospital. Board members pictured are: (L-R) Jared Leek, Bill Michaud Reta Baker, Darcy Smith, Heather Smith, Jamie Armstrong, Steve Buerge, Mark McCoy, Alysia Johnston, and Dr. Larry Seals. Not pictured: Cindy Bowman.

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September 12, 2016

ST. LOUIS - With its second new location in less than a month, Mercy opens a new facility off Butler Hill Road, 4280 Mid America Ln., in South County on Monday, Sept. 12, marking another location making care convenient for patients.

In South County, Mercy’s Butler Hill location is a new nearly 12,000-square-foot building offering Mercy Clinic Family Medicine and OB/GYN practices along with lab services.

Mercy Clinic Family Medicine opens Sept. 12. Dr. Andrew Bryant, family medicine physician, is a graduate of Fox High School returning to South County to care for patients of all ages after earning his medical degree at St. Louis University School of Medicine. He completed his family medicine residency at Mercy Hospital St. Louis.

Mercy Clinic Women’s Health opens Oct. 17, with Dr. Sheila Drnec caring for patients. Dr. Drnec earned her medical degree from Des Moines University in Des Moines, Iowa and completed an OB/GYN residency at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing, Michigan.

“Our commitment to making care convenient for our patients is highlighted once again with the opening of the Butler Hill location,” said Donn Sorensen, president of Mercy’s eastern Missouri region. “It will fill a need in the area where Mercy patients have had to go farther for care as well as provide personalized care from a hometown doctor.”

Mercy Clinic at Butler Hill

Mercy Clinic at Butler Hill is now open.

Media Contacts

Bethany Pope
St. Louis, St. Charles
Phone: (314) 251-4472
Page: (314) 251-6000
Twitter: @mercysaintlouis
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December 17, 2015

Dr. Charles Freeman, center, with the Selsor family.

When Timothy Selsor was born on Nov. 24, his arrival marked a milestone in a tremendous career. He was the last baby delivered by Charles Freeman, MD, following a 30-year career at Mercy Hospital Jefferson.

The son of Carly and Patrick Selsor, Timothy arrived at 7 pounds, 14 ounces and 20 inches in length. Dr. Freeman arrived in 1986 with partner William Snidle shortly after completing their OB/GYN residency at Mercy St. Louis. Over the past 30 years the doctors have delivered an estimated 15,000 babies.

Among those Freeman delivered are Timothy’s older brother Nolan, 6, and sister Reagan, 4.

Dr. Freeman asked for no farewell celebration. He will certainly be missed by his patients and the nursing staff on the third floor at Mercy Hospital Jefferson.

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December 2, 2015

Mercy Hospital St. Louis
was named a Leapfrog Top Hospital.

ST. LOUIS – For the second time, The Leapfrog Group named Mercy Hospital St. Louis to its annual list of Top Hospitals, one of only 98 hospitals across the country and the only in Missouri.

This coveted and respected recognition showcases Mercy’s commitment to Leapfrog’s vision of providing the safest, highest quality health care for consumers and purchasers alike.

“The quality care our co-workers and physicians provide continues to be recognized by various organizations,” said Jeff Johnston, Mercy Hospital St. Louis president. “Our teams’ active participation and commitment to improving patient care and processes at every level helps us continuously make patients’ safety and comfort better.”

Mercy Hospital St. Louis was one of 98 Top Hospitals recognized and selected from hospitals participating in The Leapfrog Group’s annual survey. The list includes:

  • 24 Top Rural Hospitals
  • 62 Top Urban Hospitals
  • 12 Top Children’s Hospitals

The selection is based on the results of The Leapfrog Group’s annual hospital survey, which measures hospitals’ performance on patient safety and quality, focusing on three critical areas of hospital care: how patients fare, resource use and management structures established to prevent errors. Performance across many areas of hospital care is considered in establishing the qualifications for the award, including survival rates for high-risk procedures and a hospital’s ability to prevent medication errors.

“Leapfrog’s Top Hospital award is widely acknowledged as one of the most prestigious distinctions any hospital can achieve in the United States,” said Leah Binder, president and CEO of The Leapfrog Group. “Top Hospitals have lower infection rates, better outcomes, decreased length of stay and fewer readmissions. By achieving Top Hospital status, Mercy Hospital St. Louis has proven it prioritizes the safety of its patients, is committed to transparency and provides exemplary care for families and patients in St. Louis. I congratulate the board, staff, and clinicians of Mercy St. Louis whose efforts achieved these results.”

The Leapfrog Top Hospital award is the latest in a string of recent quality honors for Mercy Hospital St. Louis. It’s been recognized by The Joint Commission with its 2014 Top Performer on Key Quality Measures®, Truven Health as a 50 Top Cardiovascular Hospitals as well as bi-annual Leapfrog “A” grades for patient safety.

The Top Hospital award is given to urban, rural and children's hospitals that publicly report their performance through the annual Leapfrog Hospital Survey and meet the high standards defined in each year's Top Hospitals Methodology

To see the full list of institutions honored as a 2015 Top Hospital, please visit www.leapfroggroup.org/tophospitals.

About The Leapfrog Group 
Founded in 2000 by large employers and other purchasers, The Leapfrog Group is a national nonprofit organization driving a movement for giant leaps forward in the quality and safety of American health care. The flagship Leapfrog Hospital Survey collects and transparently reports hospital performance, empowering purchasers to find the highest-value care and giving consumers the lifesaving information they need to make informed decisions. Hospital Safety Score, Leapfrog’s other main initiative, assigns letter grades to hospitals based on their record of patient safety, helping consumers protect themselves and their families from errors, injuries, accidents, and infections.


Media Contacts

Bethany Pope
St. Louis, St. Charles
Phone: (314) 251-4472
Page: (314) 251-6000
Twitter: @mercysaintlouis
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October 26, 2015

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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