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Standing: Dr. Katherine Hefner, left, and Dr. Staci Niemoth; seated: Dr. Kayce Morton, Tracey Williams and Amanda Hedgpeth
SBJ photo by Jessica Rosa
Standing: Dr. Katherine Hefner, left, and Dr. Staci Niemoth; seated: Dr. Kayce Morton, Tracey Williams and Amanda Hedgpeth

2019 Health Care Champions Provider of the Year: CoxHealth

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With a combined dozen hospitals and urgent care clinics stretching across its 24-county service area, CoxHealth has come a long way from its start in a North Jefferson Avenue duplex in 1906.

The health care provider has grown exponentially over the past 113 years, now employing over 12,500 people in its system, which includes operations for six hospitals and 80-plus clinics in the area. According to the company’s most recent data, in 2017 CoxHealth had more than 1.25 million clinic appointments, 250,918 emergency room, urgent care and trauma visits, and 36,957 surgeries.

“Our whole mission is to improve the health of the communities that we serve,” says Karen Kramer, vice president and system chief nursing officer. “We’re large, integrated and multifaceted, but our roots are deeply embedded in the Ozarks.”

One of the ways CoxHealth intends to better serve patients is by growing its workforce talent pipeline.

Part of that effort is through Cox College, a health sciences institution founded in 1907. In an attempt to attract more students into health care, the college is undergoing a $6.6 million renovation, according to CoxHealth spokeswoman Kaitlyn McConnell. The school this year received Missouri State Board of Nursing approval to increase its maximum nursing student count to 400 from 250, she added.

New development also is in the works for the company’s footprint, as CoxHealth broke ground in May for a new Monett hospital. It’s a $42 million project scheduled for completion in 2021 to replace an existing facility.

To ensure patients are receiving the most up-to-date, specialized care possible, the company has increased access to medical services through telemedicine, McConnell said. Patients anywhere in the state can have a virtual visit with a health care provider for a flat fee, regardless of insurance. She said virtual care technology has been implemented by 25 school districts in the region, allowing students to see a doctor without leaving school.

CoxHealth also utilizes technology for Save My Spot, allowing patients to reserve a time slot at an urgent care or walk-in clinic, allowing them to wait at home instead of a waiting room. Kramer says the health system is focused on making patient care quicker and more convenient via technology.

“The world around us is evolving and one of the main emphasis and changes in health care is having a more consumer-centric focus,” she says.

“We put a lot of emphasis on staying ahead of the game in innovation.”

Aside from its decades of service to patients, CoxHealth also has been a long-standing contributor to the community. For fiscal 2018, officials say the company provided $200 million in community benefit. That included Medicare, Medicaid and uninsured subsidies; CoxHealth Foundation grants, financial contribution and in-kind donations; health professional education and research; and community outreach services.

The health system also features a charity of the month program, which this year has included Diaper Bank of the Ozarks, Isabel’s House and Harmony House. Those are in addition to periodic volunteer events for staff in the community, such as United Way’s Day of Caring.

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