Fostering : Part 1

By Dr. Robin Dyson.

Fostering“To the world you may be just one person, but to one child, you may be the world.” This child may be your own, if you have been blessed with one. But there are many ways to build a family–fostering is one.

First, a little history about fostering.

In 1853 the New York Children’s Aid Society, led by Charles Brace, started helping homeless children living in the city. Children were gathered up, put on ‘orphan trains’ and brought to the West and South – given ‘free’ to families who would house them. Occasionally, childless couples would take these children in as their own; however, people often exploited these children to work on their farms, factories or as house helpers.

This was not a loving way for children to find a place of refuge. Often, children were separated from siblings, never to be reunited. But this was the catalyst for our current fostering system. By the late 1800s, government agencies began to get involved in the fostering of children. By the early 1900s, children’s needs were considered in deciding placements. Foster families had inspections and were more regulated.

My husband and I began the fostering process four years ago in June 2015.

We were a childless couple, having married at 40. We had tried to start a family the ‘natural way,’ then the ‘fertility assistance’ way, without success. We’d met with an adoption agency and considered that process. We met with another fertility specialist for a second opinion, and tried IVF. And we were exhausted and heartbroken when that failed. We considered being a childless couple, but we both loved children and felt that God had put in our hearts to have a family of our own. I had taken care of several foster children as a physician, and started finding out more about the process from the foster families that I met. These are some awesome families!

My husband and I discussed the idea of not having a baby. I think everyone wants that little cuddle bug you can love and shape from day one.

To foster, you have be open to an age range of children.

FosteringWe were older, and in some respects, we felt that taking a child rather than a baby, would be more like a biological age difference, and people would be less likely to mistake us for grandma and grandpa. We contacted our local fostering agency (in Independence) and began the paperwork process—background checks, medical exams, personal information, why you want to foster and your parenting style, home study. Then we got signed up for fostering classes.

I remember the first day of foster training and my shock: THE GOAL OF THE FOSTERING SYSTEM IS REUNIFICATION OF FAMILIES. Um, what???!!!

I thought it was called ‘foster to adopt.’ We thought fostering was a trial period to see if you wanted to adopt the child—nope! The primary goal of fostering is reunification. Fostering is not designed to find homes for children to live forever, but to find safe loving homes for children while assisting biologic parents to rectify the issues in their lives that brought the child into care. In some cases, children have suffered neglect, drug exposure, physical, and even sexual abuse. These are the most vulnerable children in Missouri. The care they require is unique to them.

I was thinking, this poor child that was neglected or abused that came into care, and they want to put that child back in that situation? Can I even do this? Now, you have to remember that I have seen some horrible things being a physician–a baby shaken to the point that brain is irreparable and it dies, a 2-year-old beaten to a pulp, a baby that was thrown out a window and sustained fractures and permanent brain damage. Clearly, not all children in foster care are returned to situations that cannot be rectified, and those are the children that are adopted so they can have permanency.

Foster training complete.

Once our training was complete, with all the paperwork, we were officially a ‘professional foster family’ and placed on a call list. The call to take a child can come at any time, and you are given an option to take or not take a placement.

When you are licensed, you have a number of ‘open beds’ to dictate how many children you can take. When you get a call, you get very minimal information—number of children, age, and sex, and those may be less than perfectly accurate. You are not told exactly what the situation bringing them into care is, and the children come only with the clothes on their backs. I think one thing to keep in mind is that when the children arrive, they have just been yanked from their homes, as dysfunctional those homes may have been, and the children are in some level of shock.

I see these children at work, and they may be jumping all over the place, hard to handle, talking up a storm, or they may be withdrawn or tearful.

Taking a foster placement.

Fostering: Right before PlacementWhen you take a placement, you open up your lives and home to a myriad of the ‘fostering team.’

This includes, but is not limited to:

  • The fostering parent(s) licensing worker—the one who does your home study, paperwork and got you licensed, this person represents your interest, and usually visits quarterly.
  • The foster child/children’s case worker—who represents the child’s interests, who visits monthly.
  • The Guardian ad Litem—the legal representative for the child’s best interest, who may come once or many times to your home, but should always be at court.
  • The parent liaison—who supervises visits between the child and parent (if the court has authorized visits), and comes at the frequency of visits allowed that parent will attend.
  • Other in-home people may include Behavior Specialists, Therapists, licensing worker’s supervisor, and others.

Your life becomes very busy and scheduled.

You will be going to case meetings where the entire team meets (Family Support Team “FST” meetings), and you will be going to court dates. And in many cases, you have absolutely no control over these and the decisions that are made for your foster child. It may become a roller coaster of emotional highs and lows as you go through this process on your way to reunification with the bio family.

You will also be getting the child caught-up on medical check-ups (twice a year), dental checkups (also twice a year), eye examinations, possibly psychological evaluations, and other specialist visits. Most children that come into a foster home, will not be returning in less than 30 days. But a kinship placement could be found, the parent may have other children in care and the child is moved to that family, the parent may meet all the reunification requirements and start doing part-time care on the road to transition back to the home, or in some cases, the child may become adoptable.

The most important thing to keep in mind, is that a foster family is a safe haven for a child in need, and for whatever period of time they are in that home, the foster parent should focus on loving that child as much as they can.

In Fostering Part 2, I will discuss our personal journey to fostering-to-adopt our children.

Adoption Day

Happy 4th of July from Lee’s Summit Physicians Group

Happy 4th of July from LSPGThe 4th of July is a time for family reunions, fireworks, and barbecues. And many of us look forward to a day off of work to celebrate. This day commemorates the signing of the Declaration of Independence of the United States on July 4, 1776.

On this national holiday, take a step back and cherish your life and the country you live in while appreciating the sacrifices people made to give us that independence.

We hope you enjoy your time off with friends and family. Happy 4th of July from Lee’s Summit Physicians Group.

We hope that you have a safe and happy 4th of July! Be careful with those fireworks.

Red Nose Day 2019

By Rhonda Pfaffly, Referral Coordinator for Lee’s Summit Physicians Group

I’m so happy that it’s almost RED NOSE DAY! Why? Because with the purchase of a red clown nose at your local Walgreens, it can help child poverty all over the world.

Red Nose Day 2019

Red Nose Day funds programs to help children stay safe, healthy and educated. Since 2015, they have raised nearly $150 million dollars and have impacted over 16 million children in America and around the world.

The impact of donations, taken from their website, is:

  • Essential medical services for children have been 13.6 million dollars
  • 146k children with water, sanitation, hygiene access
  • Vaccines purchased $40.3 million dollars
  • 36 million meals served
  • 77,000 homeless children helped
  • 967,000 children received educational resources

Wow!

I first got involved in 2015, the first Red Nose Day, while working at my previous job. My company at the time bought all of us our Red Noses, we wore them all day, took a group picture for our Facebook page and our patients loved it! Many of them also got involved after leaving our office after hearing what a great cause this was.

When I came onboard with Lee’s Summit Physician’s Group, I asked our director if we could participate. No questions were asked when I told them that it was for the children and we have participated in Red Nose Day ever since!

Lee's Summit Physicians Group: Red NoseWe have competitions between our three offices to see who can get the most red noses, take goofy pictures and again our patients love seeing our doctors wearing their noses, especially our little patients.

Be sure to check out our Facebook page, you just might see one our doc’s sporting a cute red nose. Also, watch NBC on May 23rd for the live 5th annual Special and watch the tally of your donations at work with your favorite TV stars, including Kristen Bell, Hugh Grant, Kelly Clarkson to name just a few. They will have stories that will make you cry and then cry from laughing.

Our director, Jody Brown, wrote a blog last year about her personal story of why she is passionate about this cause, and she tells about her time spent in Kenya. It’s truly an inspirational story and another example of why this cause is so important. If you have time, please check it out!

How You Can Get Involved

Red Nose Day is May 23, 2019 and noses along with pens, wristbands and pins can be purchased at your local Walgreens store. You can also purchase online at www.walgreens.com and click on the Red Nose button. They also have a Facebook page, Instagram and Twitter as well as www.rednoseday.org where you can find out more.

Go Red for Women: Heart disease and stroke aren’t just a man’s disease.

By Cindy Aldrige, F.N.P., Provider for Lee’s Summit Physicians Group

Did you know women often have different signs and symptoms of a heart attack than men do? Did you know fatigue, chest pressure, shortness of breath when walking short distances, and inability to tolerate activity can all be signs of cardiovascular disease? Women often don’t have the crushing chest pain that men can have.

Go Red for Women is a cause that raises awareness of women’s heart problems. Organizations like American Heart Association support this worthy cause!

The American Heart Association’s signature women’s initiative, Go Red for Women, is a comprehensive platform designed to increase women’s heart health awareness and serve as a catalyst for change to improve the lives of women globally. It’s no longer just about wearing red; it’s no longer just about sharing heart health facts. It’s about all women making a commitment to stand together with Go Red and taking charge of their own heart health as well as the health of those they can’t bear to live without.

According to the American Heart Association website, 1 in 3 women die of heart disease and stroke each year. So we encourage you to join movement to end heart disease and stroke in women because it’s not just a man’s disease.

Here’s what it means to Go Red:

G: GET YOUR NUMBERS

Ask your doctor to check your blood pressure and cholesterol.

O: OWN YOUR LIFESTYLE

Stop smoking, lose weight, exercise, and eat healthy. It’s up to you. No one can do it for you.

R: REALIZE YOUR RISK

We think it won’t happen to us, but heart disease kills one of three women.

E: EDUCATE YOUR FAMILY

Make healthy food choices for you and your family. Teach your kids the importance of staying active.

D: DON’T BE SILENT

Tell every woman you know that heart disease is our No. 1 killer.

We would be happy to evaluate you and discuss your risk factors here at Lee’s Summit Physicans Group. We see patients ranging in age from 0 to 150 years old. Come have a conversation or see your preferred provider to get smart about women’s heart risks!

For more information, please visit the Go Red for Women website or the Go Red for Women Facebook Page.

Festive, Spooky and More – Darlene Makes it Happen

By Cindy Aldrige, F.N.P., Provider for Lee’s Summit Physicians Group

Ever wonder how the decorations get changed at LSPG?

DarleneThere’s someone that does a lot of work around LSPG, but never gets paid! Darlene Barnard, Dr. Barnard’s wife, was gracious enough to answer a few questions for me. She has been helping our office and the community for many years. She is one of the silent, necessary components that keep LSPG running smoothly. When questioning her about the things she does and enjoys, I learned a great deal!

“I enjoy meeting all of the staff at LSPG. I also like the office building and grounds to be welcoming to the clients & staff of LSPG. Pretty flowers and trees always make me smile, so I like to add some color around the office.

I try to maintain the flower pots at the entry doors festive and inviting. I enjoy the positive comments from kids and adults as they walk in the doors to LSPG.  I offer my input (usually only when asked) about the landscaping of the green areas around the office parking lots!”

Anyone that knows Darlene, knows she likes to garden. She brings her bounty in to share with staff when the season is good.

But holidays would not be the same here without her help!

“I decorate the front desk and waiting areas for Halloween, fall and Christmas. The receptionists and patients enjoy the decor. The decor is inviting and comments on the ghosts, pumpkins, snowmen and Santa are a nice diversion for the clients and families of LSPG. “

DarleneDarlene loves flowers and trees and doesn’t want LSPG to look “institutional” so she loves to add color around the office. She enjoys interacting and watching the children look at the decorations. Often, the decorations open communication with our staff like what they’re going to wear for Halloween, what presents they got for Christmas, and what they like about the holiday season.

And we couldn’t make this an article about her without mentioning her love to walk her two golden retrievers every day. She brought them to meet the staff when they were little and now they’re too big to come inside to say hello. But once in a while, you might see them outside in the car as happy as can be to get some attention!

Photography, loving on her grandkids and being outside (particularly on the BEACH) are some of her other favorite things!

Thank you Darlene for being such a great part of our daily life at LSPG!

Early Christmas at the Healthy for the Holidays Community Health Fair

By Dena Pepple, R.N. for Lee’s Summit Physicians Group

LSPG: Community Health FairWhen is it okay to start Christmas music, shopping, and pictures with Santa? We start seeing red and green sometimes in September. Certainly as soon as Halloween decorations come down, the stores are full of Christmas everything.

In, Lee’s Summit, a big start to the Christmas holiday season started Saturday, November 10th, and our office was there. No, we didn’t have an office shopping spree.  (Not that that’s a bad idea!) What we did do was participate in the Healthy for the Holidays Community Health Fair held in conjunction with the Lee’s Summit Holly Festival Craft Fair.

To be honest, most (if not all) were at the fair for the shopping. With two gyms, a commons area, and several hallways at Bernard Campbell Junior High full of booths, there was plenty to pick from. There was a plethora of clothing, crafts, home décor, jewelry, toys, and more. So, we definitely had some competition.

Our amazing nurses Kate, Missy and Holly were very engaging to those walking by. They were asking if they’ve heard of us, answering questions, talking about our evening/weekend hours, and even reminding parents about flu shots. (This got them a few dirty looks from the kids.) Everyone was pleasant to visit with. (Why wouldn’t they be? They were on their way to shop!)

First Aid Kits

We made first aid kits with the kids, which they loved, and actually many of the older patrons asked about as well. In fact, many of those adults offered up that they used to bring their kids (now grown) to us, or they themselves use our internal medicine office. We let them make first aid kits too. I mean, at Christmas aren’t we all kids at heart?!

Car Seat Safety

With Christmas carolers in the background, we discussed car seat safety with many of our patrons. It seemed that most of the younger parents were up to speed (see what I did there?) on the newest guidelines, which is great. It was interesting for me to talk to the older parents who have kids in their 20-30’s (as mine are) because so much has changed. We know it’s for the best, and life-saving. It is still amazing the difference in car seats, and how much longer the kiddos need to use them since the “olden days.”

Fit-tastic

LSPG: Community Health FairWe also had information about Fit-tastic, a program from the CDC that talks about healthy living and appropriate amounts of exercise, screen time, milk, water, and fruits/veggies for our kids. There was less interest in this, however the handouts were well received. I mean really, who wants to think of fruits and veggies when it’s cookies and candy cane season!

The answer to that first question of when to start thinking “Christmas” is really whenever we want. The spirit was definitely there, and we were part of it. All in all, I think our first involvement in the Lee’s Summit Health Fair/Holly Fair was a huge success. It was fun, we provided some education and put a face to the name of Lee’s Summit Physicians Group and Raintree Pediatrics. We enjoyed a little Christmas spirit!

And, oh, I just happened to win a $20 gift certificate to Jose Peppers. So, early Merry Christmas to me! And to all, “Good Health!”

Did you see us supporting Red Nose Day?

By Jody C. Brown, Director for Lee’s Summit Physicians Group

Lee's Summit Physicians Group: Red NoseYou may have seen the pictures of our staff with their funny red noses on Facebook several weeks ago and just assumed it was because we were trying to entertain some of our patients. While they did get a laugh out of our funny faces, the reason behind the red noses was much bigger than getting a few smiles.

Red Nose Day

“A world free of poverty” is the goal of Red Nose Day. Red Nose Day is a fundraising campaign run by a non-profit organization, Comic Relief Inc., They bring people together to have fun while raising money to change the lives of kids who need it the most. This organization does work in the United States, but also in some of the poorest communities in the world.

Having spent time in three different countries in Africa over the past 15 years, I’ve seen real and deep poverty up close. Poverty is much more than a lack of food, water or shelter. It hits deep in the soul of a person. Poverty can deny a person of their dignity, self-worth and most importantly, security.

In Africa and other developing areas of the world, poverty may look different than what we see here in America. But no matter where it occurs, poverty has many of the same outcomes. Anyone who claims to care about the plight of the impoverished around their neighborhood, or around the world, must take concrete steps to help those who are suffering. We must invest in charities, programs or ministries that do real and lasting work to extend a helping hand. Just feeling bad for those in poverty is not enough.

A Story About Esther

Let me tell you a story about a young girl named Esther. Nearly five years ago, my husband and I, along with our three teenage sons, moved to Kenya, Africa for seven months. Not long after our arrival, we were introduced to Esther. When we met Esther, she was weak, frail and very sick with HIV/AIDS. It was very difficult for us to see a child in this condition. The most difficult thing by far was seeing the fear in Esther’s eyes. It was obvious she knew she was dying.

Why was this precious child in such a dire state? Because the very people entrusted to care for her had failed her and she was quickly running out of time. Esther did not have the medicines she needed, and just as importantly, she was not being given the food and nutrition she needed to make her healthy.

As a last resort, Esther was brought to the Catholic Charities Care Center, a center usually providing support for the elderly. Some amazing nuns took Esther in and quite literally nursed her back to health. Less than two months after first meeting Esther, we were visiting the orphanage where she was from. We were shocked to see her running and playing with the other children. Gone was the frail little girl who could barely stand on her own. The change in her was so significant we had to ask one of the caretakers if that was really her.

Here is what Esther looks like today.

Lee's Summit Physicians Group: Red Nose

This transformation did not happen by accident.

The orphanage where Esther lives is now funded by a group of people who see to the needs of all the children in this home. They no longer wonder if there will be enough food, if there will be money for new shoes or clothes, or if they’ll be able to attend school this year because there isn’t money for school fees or uniforms. This transformation happened because people just like you, and just like me, cared enough to give of their time, talent and money to care for a little girl half way around the world. So give. Find an organization, maybe Red Nose Day, maybe another organization that touches your heart, but give somewhere. Our world doesn’t need superheroes, it just needs people who really care and act on behalf of those less fortunate than themselves.

Recently Launched New Springs Community Clinic is Helping Those in Need.

By Cindy Aldrige, F.N.P., Provider for Lee’s Summit Physicians Group

Cindy Aldrige, F.N.P.Hello! I’m Cindy Aldrige and I’m a Nurse Practitioner (FNP, MSN, APRN) at Lee’s Summit Physicians group. I will be writing here periodically in order to tell our story. There are so many good people that truly care about all our patients here in the office. There are so many stories that happen behind the scenes that are so compassionate that go unnoticed, or that employees don’t want to be recognized for.  Hopefully these stories will be an avenue for us to see the positive in a world full of positive, but that tends to only focus on the negative.

One of my first posts that I was excited to tell about is a new free health clinic here in Lee’s Summit. This facility is for those that may not have health insurance or finances to pay co-pays etc. The efforts of creating this clinic shows, that we have a community that is giving and truly cares about others simply because they are our neighbors. I volunteer my time at the clinic as a way to give back.

New Springs Community Clinic

New Springs Community Clinic

New Springs Community Church, located at 1800 NE Independence Avenue in Lee’s Summit, Missouri has graciously provided space for our clinic, resources and manpower. Pastor Corey McDonald checks in on us every clinic day and in the picture below, he is checking to see the volunteers that have signed up for the day. Dr. Laura Voss (pictured on left) is discussing the things that need to be done before the next clinic day. The clinic was featured in the Lee’s Summit Journal on April 17, 2018!

New Springs Community Clinic New Springs Community Clinic

A Calling

I’ve always had a tugging at my heart that, through the church, we should start providing for the needs of our community/neighbors. This is how healthcare was done from the beginning of time. Families caring for families and churches helping with those needs. I believe God provided me with the education and knowledge and ability to physically, emotionally, spiritually, and psychologically provide for those around me. I have a passion for trying to give back to the community in an effort to thank God for giving me these abilities and opportunities. This is why I choose to volunteer my time at New Springs Community Clinic.

I didn’t get any selfies of me at the clinic because I haven’t mastered the selfie yet! I promise that if you stop by the clinic, I will continue to be there on a rotating basis with the other volunteers helping out in whatever capacity is needed.

New Springs Community Clinic New Springs Community Clinic New Springs Community Clinic

The past two times I’ve volunteered, I was utilized as an RN checking patients in, getting vitals and coordinating rooming efforts, as well as being the phlebotomist (drawing the blood) for those that needed it. I encourage those that have the willingness to come serve with us to sign up on the website so we can get you plugged in for the upcoming months. (You can sign up here.)

Volunteering doesn’t take formal training because there are lots of needs. Having someone look after the children, or set out snacks or to greet people and ask them to fill out some paperwork is a very important part of making this clinic function properly and efficiently.

Other ways to help with the clinic is to donate time, supplies, or money. Our office donates sample medications and formula.

LSPG Gets Involved

Tina Lynn is an LPN on the pediatric side of LSPG and she is always looking for items that the free health clinic can use or that is overstocked at the office to give to those in need. George Kentner, Internal Medicine Supervisor at LSPG, is always looking for opportunities from drug reps to be able to get items donated to the free health clinic as well. Dr. Robb has also done her part in agreeing to be a collaborating physician for the clinic. Jody Brown, Executive Director, has been supportive and encouraging of this office taking part in our community efforts to help those around us.

For more information about New Springs Community Clinic, please visit their website.