Neosho residents gain surgical options thanks to Freeman Health System

NEOSHO, Mo. — Patients in Neosho now have more options closer to home when they need surgery.

Dale Naden, Neosho Patient, said, “Didn’t know I had it until I had my last surgery, he pointed it out to me.”

Now, Neosho patient Dale Naden can get his hernia surgery close to home.

“We’re excited about having people here who can take care of you.”

Naden and others are benefiting from new surgical options offered at Freeman Neosho.

Renee Denton, Freeman Neosho Chief Operating Officer, said, “It’s very exciting for us to be able to have two surgeons, coming to Neosho to take care of our community. Each surgeon has their own unique specialty their own area of expertise.”

Procedures offered will include breast biopsies and dealing with some upper digestive issues.

Dr. David Baker, Freeman Surgeon, said, “We’re going to offer a full wide range of outpatient surgery, that will include gallbladder surgery, skin lesion excision. We’ll also offer screening endoscopy, colonoscopies.”

The surgical team says the goal of offering those options in Neosho is to make it more convenient for patients to take care of their health.

Dr. Alan Buchele, Freeman Surgeon, said, “We’re able to offer a lot of services here that can be done in Neosho so they don’t have to make the drive up to Joplin. And we’re also able to give them their post op care here, which makes that follow up a little easier and more convenient for them.”


Freeman Medical Focus — Lab Services

JOPLIN, Mo. — You may not think of a phlebotomist as playing a big role in keeping patients healthy. But much of the time, their work drawing blood for lab results is the basis of a crucial diagnosis.

Karen Watts, Freeman Health System, Director Lab Services, said, “So phlebotomist are the people who go around and take blood from patients.”

And that one sample can tell your doctor just about anything.

“We have a fully functional chemistry department that runs the gamut from therapeutic drug levels like making myosin that fight off infections to proponents for people who come in with maybe chest pain, and we have a hematology department that does your CBC so that you know how many red cells you have or how many white cells you have to fight off an infection, we can run pretty much any tests you would need to diagnose and treat a patient.”

It takes 50 phlebotomists to cover normal hospital operations 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And then the pandemic took hold, adding a new element to the job.

“Plus COVID was a huge impact on this staff in the main lab to run the specimens. Most of the specimens for COVID came through the drive thru COVID collection site, then they would come to us to process and either run the tests or to send out to a reference lab, depending on what test was ordered.”


Freeman Medical Focus — Nutrition advice for babies

JOPLIN, Mo. — Federal guidelines have some new nutrition advice for babies – and also reinforces what pediatricians have already been saying.

Dr. Beth Garrett, Pediatrician, said, “I think what’s new is that they’re covering a lifespan and they’re including children including infants in the guidelines.”

And one priority from the U.S. Ag Department and the Department of Health and Human Services is that babies and children shouldn’t have any added sugar in their diet.

“Sugar is in everything. we may think we’re giving our baby, yogurt , baby yogurt, that actually has sugar in it and so sugar can be in a lot of foods we think are healthy.”

Dr. Beth Garrett recommends reading nutrition labels closely.

“High fructose corn syrup I think is the big one that we need to look for. But if you’re not sure – look at the grams of sugar in that and look at the ingredients. If that’s not fruit, then you want to think that’s added sugar.”

The guidelines also stress breastfeeding alone for babies through six months, and only using formula if breast milk isn’t an option. Start other foods at six months and cow’s milk at one year.

“But like peanut butter, eggs, yogurt, and cheese, we want to introduce those foods earlier on so that we train the immune system not to be allergic.”


Freeman Medical Focus — Advancements in cancer treatment

JOPLIN, Mo. — The American Cancer Society estimates that nearly 1.9 million patients will be diagnosed with cancer this year and that more than 600,000 will die from cancer. But the numbers are trending down.

Dr. Matthew D. Miller, Hematology, Oncology, said, “Some people are living far longer than before, with a much better quality of life.”

Some good news from the 2021 Cancer Facts and Figures Report. Dr. Matthew Miller points to improvements across the board.

“That’s kind of a culmination of years and decades of advancements. And that includes some screening advancements, but mostly treatment advancements – improved therapeutics, less toxicity. People are not dying from toxic side effects as they were in years and decades past.”

Even a deadly diagnosis like lung cancer is seeing improvement.

“You can’t get numbers like that without it being many things. And in lung cancer there is less smoking now than there has been – that’s one thing. Screening has been introduced in the last several years that’s lead to more early diagnosis which is the key.”

And the survival rate is better for prostate cancer, colon cancer, breast cancer, often the result of more knowledge and custom treatments.

“Can’t name a cancer without new treatments.”


Freeman Medical Focus — National Kidney Month

JOPLIN, Mo. — March is National Kidney Month, a chance to raise awareness of the different issues patients experience and how they’re treated.

Priscilla Tuuth, Dialysis Patient, said, “All at once I started to swell up, my toes and fingers.”

At first Priscilla Tuuth hoped it would just go away on its own. Instead, she started having trouble breathing and headed to the hospital.

“I was having kidney failure.”

At first, she was able to do peritoneal dialysis at home. But after a few years, that turned into trips to the Freeman Dialysis Center. Three times a week, for more than four hours at a time. The process can be exhausting.

“Sometimes I only have enough energy to drive home.”

Dr. Abdul Nagaria points out there are around 10,000 patients dialysis patients in Missouri alone.

Dr. Abdul Nagaria, Freeman Nephrologist, said, “Kidney disease is common, chronic issues where the kidneys gets worse over time.”

He says early diagnosis and treatment is the key. Diabetes and high blood pressure are the two most common causes.

“The third most common is called glomeral nephritis – a group of conditions where there’s inflammation in kidneys.”

Dr. Nagaria says exercise and eating right are often good strategies to help prevent kidney issues. Something Priscilla Tuuth can’t stress enough. Because once you start dialysis, you’re only other option is a transplant.

Priscilla Tuuth, Dialysis Patient, said, “Dialysis is a lifeline, you can’t ever stop.”


Freeman Medical Focus — Cardiac Rehab

JOPLIN, Mo. — Having problems with your heart can lead to medication or surgery. But for many patients, rebuilding strength and endurance means some time in rehab.

Richard Zaccardelli, Rehab Patient: “The benefits are great because what happened to me was I had high blood pressure and it wore down the muscle in my heart.”

Richard Zaccardelli had an implant eight years ago, a left ventricular assist device. He exercises twice a week at Freeman Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehab.

“Really feel good for the next few days.”

Nurse Paula Ward says the facility is uniquely equipped to make sure heart patients stay healthy while getting healthy.

Paula Ward, Cardiac Pulmonary Rehab, said, “They are able to work out on our exercise machines while being monitored. We have a telemetry system.”

So she can keep tabs on any changes.

“While they’re exercising on our bikes or treadmills – it records their heart rhythm and their heart rate and then if we see anything of concern we can notify their physician.”

Ward emphasizes it’s important for heart patients to make progress while not overstressing the heart.

“The heart is a muscle and just like any other muscle it needs to be trained and conditioned.”

“I know everybody with high blood pressure they need to exercise that heart, it’s very important,” said Zaccardelli.


Freeman Medical Focus — Covid-19 and the heart

JOPLIN, Mo. — Some patients who have recovered from covid-19 may still need to watch out for other health problems, and specifically heart issues.

Dr. Frank S. Kim, Cardiology, said, “The covid-19 and effect on the heart, we’re learning more and more about this on almost a daily basis but what we’ve learned so far is that is a direct impact on the heart.”

Issues can include inflammation and an increased risk of heart failure. In many cases, the worse the covid-19 symptoms, the higher the risk of ongoing issues.

“Patients who are not hospitalized, really didn’t have much of the symptoms, meaning shortness of breath, chest pains, dizzy spells. Also they haven’t had much impact on their respiratory system either – those patients approximately 6 – 7 days after being completely asymptomatic, those patients are able to go back to exercise in a phased manner.”

But patients with extreme cases should take extra time.

“The European guidelines are do not exercise for up to 3 – 6 months.”

You may need an echocardiogram or even a cardiac MRI for a diagnosis.

“But this is not the time to really push yourself – you could really do harm.”


Freeman Medical Focus — Technology and Cardiology

JOPLIN, Mo. — There are more and more options to tackle problems with your heart and cardiovascular system. And technology often plays a big role in the fix.

Dr. Ryan Longnecker, Cardiologist, said, “Technology has advanced so much in the last 20 years in cardiology, it’s really remarkable.”

One change involves a leadless pacemaker.

“Basically as opposed to the usual way of making a pocket in the skin up here and then feeding a lead or two into the ventricle. Now we can actually come from the leg as well.”

Stents have been used to help keep blood flowing for decades, but how they’re used is improved by technology.

“Our ability to deliver stents into the coronary artery where we could not before and had to refer patients to bypass surgery – the stent tech has gotten to where they’re more deliverable. They can go around tighter bends if you will and more calcified vessels.”

Another technological change involves catheters – that’s called a Guidezilla.

“That allows us to get a small catheter further into a vessel to provide more support.”

Even diamond tipped drill tips – long used to clean out calcified arteries, have seen tweaks.

“There is some newer technology with that device, and we have another device that kind of allows us to bore out the arteries. That’s called a CSI device – both of those are pretty neat.”