The 2020 Household Safety Shopping List

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

Shopping ListThere are many things that you might not think of as helpful to have on hand at home, but for your overall health they are important and might be life saving.

Benadryl (diphenhydramine) – always have Benadryl on hand for an unexpected allergic reaction or bee sting. It can help reduce inflammation and itching.

Neosporin – is an OTC antibiotic ointment that can be used for minor scratches and sores for the first 24-48 hours after an incident.

Vasoline to help with extremely dry patches of skin without the fragrance and chemicals of expensive lotions.

Bandaids – all sizes, you never know what might be happen, always be prepared.

Monistat Cream – it will treat any fungal infection like vaginal yeast, ringworm, jock itch, and athlete’s foot.

Tylenol (acetaminophen), Ibuprofen (motrin), Aleve (naproxen) – each works just a bit differently for aches and pains. If one is not working for you, the other types may work better.

Tums – for those times when food has caused acid reflux/heartburn.

Avoid peroxide – it’s good for getting stains out of light color clothing, but don’t use it on wounds. It can prevent wound healing.

Thermometer – you need to know how serious your illness is. If you have a fever over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, you should not be going to work/school/public places until your fever has been gone for a minimum of 24 hours. Check with your health care provider for further direction.

Sunscreen – make sure it isn’t expired! Expired sunscreen can cause a rash and not work. I get new sunscreen in the spring every year and use a sharpie to put the date on it. My goal is to use it up before end of year. If it’s still there next spring, it gets thrown in the trash depending on the expiration date. (If there is an expiration date… some sunscreens don’t have an expiration date.)

Blood Pressure cuff for those over 40 – Let’s face it, there are effects of aging even if you’re in perfect health. Checking your blood pressure occasionally, in between your annual physicals is best. Arm cuffs are more accurate than the wrist versions in my experience.

Pulse Oximeter (pulse ox) – not mandatory, but they’re a nice tool to determine if breathing is severe/worsening. (Any time you feel shortness of breath, you should seek medical attention regardless of what the pulse ox shows.) Some smart phones have this capability built into them.

Ace Wraps – for injured extremities or for swelling

Ice Pack!!! – This is a must. Ice is good for swelling, but remember to put ice on a towel for 20 minute intervals. Never put ice directly on skin.

Heat Pack/Heating Pad – heat can cause bad burns. If using a heating pad, make sure it’s a newer one that has a timer for automatic shut off after a certain period of time. I seldom use heat for patients, but some find it helps with chronic conditions.

Flashlight (with back up batteries) – not only fun to play tag in the dark with outside, but also very important in the event of power outages.

Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detector – this can save lives. Make sure you have one installed outside of bedrooms, one on every level of the home, near attached garages and placed as the manufacturer recommends. You can contact your local fire department for further information and placement.

Smoke Detectors – don’t take the batteries out because you burn some food! Smoke detectors can also sense heat, so depending on the style and brand, they may be placed in different areas. Local fire departments are trained in specifics and if asked, will help you determine the best placement for the type of smoke detector you have. There area building codes for your area that also make placement recommendations based on safety research.

Fire Extinguisher – make sure you know what type to use. Make sure you know HOW to use a fire extinguisher. (Aim at the base of a fire, not up in air.) Follow the instructions on manufacturing labeling for these products.

Fire Evacuation Plan – every member of the home must know multiple ways to get out of the house and where to meet in the event of a fire. Get low and crawl if smoke fills the home, sleep with bedroom doors closed, and if you suspect a fire, feel the door before opening it – if it’s hot, go in a different direction. Local fire safety classes will give you more information.

Weather Alert Radio – you can set tune these to be as broad or as specific as you want for your area. In a power outage, this can keep you updated on local weather and hazards.

As I’m thinking of keeping your home safe, I could go on and on. The above are basic tools each home should have to stay healthy. I’m sure you can think of others I’ve missed, but reflecting back on my Emergency Room days and working on an ambulance, these are the first to come to mind.

I’ve done a fall risk blog in the past… you can go to this link for other safety ideas in the home. Be prepared and stay safe out there!

Affiliation & Brand Announcement

Community Choice Pediatrics - Affiliation and Brand Announcement

Lee’s Summit, Raintree, and Blue Springs Pediatrics—the three individually named locations of Lee’s Summits Physicians Group’s pediatric practices— are now collectively called Community Choice Pediatrics—An Affiliate of Children’s Mercy.

The new name also reflects a recently signed agreement between the practice and Children’s Mercy Hospital. This new relationship between the practice and the hospital benefits Community Choice’s patients, their parents (caregivers), and both organizations.

Affiliating enables the practice and the hospital to share data, ideas, and best practices. We will work together on quality and efficiency initiatives as well as streamlining processes. All of these collaborations are expected to lead to better care, improved outcomes, and higher levels of customer satisfaction.

Community Choice Pediatrics and Children’s Mercy Hospital will remain separate entities and continue to operate independently. No staff changes will occur at Community Choice Pediatrics because of the affiliation, and patients will continue to see the same provider they currently see, with a few newly added providers!

More information coming soon regarding website, social media, new phone system and portal in the coming weeks!


Announcing our new patient portal powered by Updox!

By Matthew Hornung, Director of Information Technology for Lee’s Summit Physicians Group

Introducing our new Patient Portal powered by Updox!We will soon be implementing a new patient portal system to better serve our patient population! Starting September 1st, we will be sending out sign ups for this new portal where our patients can manage their accounts. They will also be able to request appointments, send messages to our nurses and doctors, and access medical information without having to call our office (such as immunization records or visit summaries.)

Several years ago, we attempted to use another patient portal, but quickly determined that it did not benefit our patients or our staff. It ended up creating more work! We had no choice but to disable that system and wait for a better product to come along. Fortunately, our Electronic Medical Records system provider decided to partner with Updox.

When lab results are published to the new Updox portal, we will assume patients have received them unless we hear otherwise. If, after 2 weeks, patients don’t have lab results from us via a phone call or the portal, they should contact our office. Other correspondence through the portal will be provided on a timely basis, such as visit summaries and appointment notifications.

The patient portal hosted by Updox has a design that makes maneuvering the system a breeze. Below is a link to the patient portal guide. We hope that this new technology makes the patient experience with us easier and faster.

If you are a current patient, please make sure you have an updated email address in our system prior to enabling Updox access. This can be done in person or over the phone when making an appointment.

Download the Updox Patient Portal Guide: Welcome to eMDs Patient Portal Powered By Updox!


Choosing Positivity – Deep Thoughts by Cindy Aldrige, F.N.P.

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

One theme I’ve noticed amid all the COVID stuff is that we’ve lost our ability to choose positivity.

You may not be able to control situations, but you do have a choice on how you respond to them.

Choosing Positivity

  • Turning off the TV
  • Avoiding social media
  • Skipping Google research and going outside to listen to the birds
  • Counting our blessings for what we still have

It’s important to speak positive words and share positive topics around our children and those suffering from severe stress and anxiety. And it doesn’t take money or time to choose to focus on the good things around us.

So many of my patients want to hear someone speak calm words of reassurance and hope instead of just prescriptions for pills and diagnosis. Think how contagious that would be if we all spoke affirming words around each other rather than the negative ones.

Saturday Night Live used to have a series of “Deep Thoughts by Jack Handy”. We could use more of those silly perspectives despite how corny those skits were.

Our attitude has a big impact on our immune system and mental health.

Deep Thoughts by Cindy Aldrige, F.N.P.We need to concentrate on staying healthy in this chaotic world. We should focus on the fact that we were given a gift. The gift was a year watching our kids grow up without the disruption of practices, after school events and carpools. This pandemic started well before we celebrate some major holidays. We’ve had time to learn how to get together safely and to social distance.

Please feed your heart and your brain more positive information and influences. Your health will benefit from it.

Thank you for reading Deep Thoughts by Cindy Aldrige, F.N.P.

We’ll be hosting our very first blood drive on Friday, August 14th at Raintree Pediatrics!

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






We hope these jokes brought a little smile to your face today. Unfortunately, the blood supplies in our country today are no laughing matter.

Raintree Pediatrics Blood Drive - August 14th, 2020There is ALWAYS a need for blood donations, but due to the Corona virus concerns over the last few months, our blood supply is at a critically low point. The American Red Cross alone had to cancel over 2,700 blood drives nationwide resulting in 86,000 fewer donations. And they’re only one of several blood donation centers around the country that have had to cancel blood drives and have dwindling blood donations.

Despite this drop in donations, about 4.5 million Americans will still need blood transfusions this year. These transfusions help patients of all ages: accident and burn victims, organ transplant and heart patients, and many with cancer or other chronic diseases that require some or all parts of donated blood.

One pint of blood can save up to three people’s lives.

Raintree Pediatrics Blood Drive - August 14th, 2020Every two seconds, someone in our country needs a blood transfusion. That’s a lot of blood!!

We will be hosting our very first blood drive on Friday August 14th, 2020 at Raintree Pediatrics. The address is 995 SW 34th St., Lee’s Summit, MO. The Red Cross Donor Coach will be parked in our parking lot from 10am -3pm.

You can get signed up at Just click on this link and search for Raintree. You can pick your donation time from the list of available times.

If you can donate, please do not hesitate! We need to recognize the impact COVID-19 has had on our community and give back however we can. If there were ever a time to give blood, it’s right now! Please consider helping us address this important need.

Tips for donating blood

  • EAT – Eating regularly before your donation will help blood sugar levels stable. Try to eat an iron rich meal before your blood donation. This will help you feeling well during donation. 
  • HYDRATE – Try to drink plenty of fluids the day before, and the day of your donation. We recommend drinking at least 16 oz of water prior to your donation. The more water you drink, the quicker your blood volume levels will normalize. AVOID ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE ONE DAY PRIOR TO DONATION AND THE DAY OF YOUR DONATION. Alcohol can delay your recovery and may even cause you to become dehydrated after your donation.
  • EXERCISE – Avoid any vigorous exercise or heavy lifting the day of your donation. Keeping your body in a rested state is important in recovery after a blood donation. 
  • WEAR – Please try to wear short sleeves or loose sleeves to your blood donation. Something with easy access to your veins.
  • DISTRACT – It is normal to feel nervous before blood donation. Especially if it is your first time.  Bring a book or listen to music to help keep you distracted during your donation.
  • KNOW – Once you have made the decision to donate you must be screened. Although many can give blood there are some restrictions. There is a list of ineligible donors on
  • SLEEP – It is recommended to get at least 7-9 hours of sleep the night before your donation. This will aid in keeping you alert during your donation. 

Safety of the drive is of the highest priority to the Red Cross.

Raintree Pediatrics Blood Drive - August 14th, 2020The Red Cross will be maintaining social distancing of at least 6 feet apart during the drive. Before entering the donor coach, you will have your temperature taken. Any temperature over 99.4 will be asked to leave and donate at another time. All donors and staff members must always wear a mask while in the donor coach.

If you do not have a mask, one will be provided for you. Any donor that refuses to wear a mask will be asked to leave and donate later. Everything inside the donor coach will be thoroughly sanitized after every donation. No drinks or snacks will be allowed inside the donor coach but there will be a snack station available after your blood donation.

Each donation will take between 35 minutes to 1 hour.

COVID-19 Antibody Testing

Each blood donation will have the COVID-19 antibody test. This test indicates if a donor’s immune system has produced antibodies to the corona virus, regardless if they have developed symptoms.

The Red Cross is not testing to diagnose illness, referred to as a diagnostic test. Individuals who believe they may be ill with COVID-19 should not be present to donate until they are symptom free for 28 days. Donors can expect to receive antibody test results in 7-10 days after your donation through the Blood Donor App or donor portal at

Donors must have a successful donation to receive the COVID-19 antibody test results. Per standard donation procedure, only successful donations are sent to the Red Cross laboratory for testing.



About 37% of the population is eligible to donate blood in the USA, but only about 10% actually donate. Please help us increase that number and sign up for our blood drive. Help us refill that “blood bank”. We are “positive” it will be worth it!

Skin Cancer: There is no such thing as a healthy tan!

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

Skin Cancer: There is no such thing as a healthy tan.Do you plan to get a healthy tan this summer? Maybe you will lay out, catch some rays, sunbathe or bask in the sun. Your skin may glow or look sun kissed. You may even call yourself a sun worshiper. These are all positive and pleasing words about tanning, but I promise you, THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A HEALTHY TAN!

Tanning became fashionable in the 1920s and rose to popular heights in the 1960s and 1970s. Its popularity hasn’t slowed down since, and we now have tanning salons/beds that help us get that tan faster. The 60s-70s were my childhood and teenage years. I grew up getting that “healthy” tan, playing outside or laying out.

The Leading Cause of Skin Cancer

Unfortunately, that “healthy” tan that we sought, and still seek, has been found to be the leading cause of skin cancer. As a matter of fact, more people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the USA than all other cancers combined. The majority of these skin cancers (up to 90%) are associated with exposure to UV radiation from the sun and tanning beds. So, today, I would like to shed some light (get it?!) on tanning and skin cancer.

Skin cancer is the abnormal growth of skin cells. It most often occurs on exposed skin, but can occur on any part of the body, including soles of feet, palms of hands and inside the mouth. There are three main types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell skin cancer, and melanoma. Melanoma is the most serious, but thankfully also the rarest of the three types. While these skin cancers are in different layers of the skin and have other variations; the causes, diagnosis, treatment and prevention are similar.

Let me give you some interesting and scary facts about skin cancer.

  1. Skin Cancer: There is no such thing as a healthy tan.One in five people will develop skin cancer by the age of 70.
  2. Five or more sunburns doubles your risk of melanoma.
  3. The annual cost of treating skin cancer in the USA is $8.1 billion dollars per year.
  4. More people develop skin cancer from tanning beds, than develop lung cancer from smoking.
  5. From 1994 to 2014, the incidence of skin cancer rose 77%.
  6. Sand, snow, concrete, and water can reflect up to 85% of sunlight, which intensifies exposure.
  7. Over five million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in the USA each year.
  8. Skin cancer can spread to other organs if not caught early.
  9. Brazil and Australia have totally banned indoor tanning, and many other countries have banned it for people under the age of 18.

Skin Cancer Causes

Ultraviolet exposure from the sun and tanning beds is the number one risk factor associated with skin cancer.  Other risk factors include fair skin, history of sunburns, living in sunny or high altitude areas, skin moles, relatives with skin cancer, previous skin cancers, and exposure to radiation.

Presentation/Diagnosis of Skin Cancer

Skin cancer has many different images. Some are very noticeable, other changes may be tiny.

The more common skin changes/symptoms are as listed:

  1. Scaly, crusty patch of skin
  2. Firm red nodule
  3. Recurrent bleeding, scabbing sore
  4. Pearly, waxy bumps
  5. Flat, scar like lesion
  6. Multicolored spot
  7. Mole changes in color, size, shape or border
  8. Itchy, painful, or fast growing lesion
  9. Dark skin spots in areas not exposed to the sun

The only way to know for sure if you do or don’t have skin cancer is to be assessed by your doctor or dermatologist. ALL SKIN CHANGES ARE SUSPECT! Early detection leads to the best outcomes, so if you see a change, or have a suspicion, SEE YOUR DOCTOR!

Skin Cancer Treatment

Treatment for skin cancer depends on the individual diagnosis, including but not limited to the type of cancer, where it is on the body, is it contained or has it spread.

Treatment can include:

  1. Surgical removal-in office procedure to more complex hospital.
  2. Cryosurgery-freezing the lesion with liquid nitrogen.
  3. Immunotherapy-creams or intravenous therapy that stimulate our own system to fight cancer.
  4. Chemotherapy-drugs that destroy the cancer cells.
  5. Radiation-radioactive waves that destroy the cancer cells.

Prevention of Skin Cancer

Prevent Cancer FoundationThe good news is that skin cancer is preventable. According to the Prevent Cancer Foundation, “skin cancer is the most common cancer diagnosis” and “it is the most preventable cancer.” They go on to say that “protecting your skin during your first 18 years can reduce your risk of some types of skin cancer by 78%.” This is huge!

Here is what you can do to reduce your risk and that of your children:

  1. Avoid tanning.
  2. Use SPF 30 sunscreen year round and use it right-follow the directions correctly (DO NOT USE OUTDATED SUNSCREEN).
  3. Avoid the sun between 10am and 4pm when the sun’s rays are strongest.
  4. Wear protective clothing, especially children (hats, long sleeves, etc.)
  5. Be aware of sun-sensitizing medicines you may be taking.
  6. Check your skin (and your children’s) regularly for suspicious changes.
  7. Early detection, if any changes-DON’T WAIT, see your doctor.

I do see some of the generations younger than me doing this, especially with their children. There are more swim shirts/hats in use, and it seems most are using sunscreen at the pool and outside when playing. There is hope that the facts, statistics, and information in this article will improve into the next decade and generation. There’s still much work to do to guide us from that healthy tan view.

I need to work on it myself as well. I’ve had a lot of “healthy” tans in my lifetime, and I’m still tempted to go for a tan look vs. my pasty skin. However, those tans took me to the dermatologist a few months ago for some spots on my face. I was hoping they were normal age spots, but skin cancer was on my mind. Luckily, the doctor said they weren’t cancerous, but “wisdom spots.” I told him, I don’t care what he called them as long as he didn’t call them cancer! As I look back, wisdom spots may not have been the best description as my years in the sun weren’t wise.

My husband wasn’t so lucky.

Skin Cancer: There is no such thing as a healthy tan.

When I walked into the waiting room looking for him, he sat there reading a magazine with a big bandage on his arm. He, along with many other bandaged patients in the room, was waiting to find out if his procedure had gotten all of the cancer, or if there was more skin cancer to remove. My husband had squamous cell cancer. Thankfully, it was contained and removed. And 18 stitches later, he was cancer free.

Being a child of the 60s-70s, and a football coach his entire adulthood put him in the sun almost daily. We’re now a part of those skin cancer statistics. We will do better in the future, protect our grandchildren from the sun, and have seen the light (get it?!)

There is no such thing as a health tan.

Now more than ever, people suffer from anxiety and depression. We’ve got to pay attention.

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

AnxietyWho hasn’t felt anxious about an upcoming test or interview? Who hasn’t been depressed or sad and cried over a loss or a situation? These feelings are natural, and everyone experiences them.

But when do these feelings actually become something to worry about?

I’m glad you asked!!! Anxiety and depression can be separate concerns, or they can co-exist. Many that have symptoms of both usually confirm one feels more prominent than the other. There is certainly concern that anxiety and depression may be a growing problem for our community with social distancing and change of routine for almost every aspect of life recently. As a connected community member, you can be alert to those around you that may be experiencing these things and intervene.

What to look for:

  • Lack of appetite or eating all the time
  • Insomina (difficulty with sleeping) or sleeping all the time
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Feeling extremely tired/stressed
  • Feeling isolated/distant even in a room full of people or with people around you
  • Not wanting to be socially active like not wanting to go to that party you were invited to, not wanting to spend time with your best friend that you had been connected with
  • No motivation to get out of bed and do the necessities of daily living (showering, grocery shopping, laundry, dishes)
  • Feeling as if there is a weight on your shoulders.
  • Feeling not good enough/inadequate
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or thoughts others would be better off without me here
  • Worry all the time, others often telling you to “stop worrying” about it
  • Feeling like you cant breathe due to stress

If you’ve had thoughts of harming yourself, get help immediately.

Help Me OutThe national suicide prevention hot line is 1-800-273-8255. Even having thoughts without any plan of action need to be addressed by a professional. If you don’t know where to turn for help, get to your closest ER or call 911. Someone is always available and willing to help if you take that first step to reach out.

What about the others that have some of the above mentioned symptoms but aren’t sure if it’s a problem? You can always talk to your medical provider about those thoughts and any concerns. In general, if it’s severe or affecting more than one aspect of life (work, home, social relationships) then it’s probably a concern that you need to address with professional help.

There are treatments and interventions that can be effective without the use of medication.

Sleep routines, eating and physical activity have a huge impact on your mental health. If you are struggling with anxiety and/or depression, I challenge you to eat healthy foods and get daily physical activity. See if some of your symptoms improve. Other interventions like counseling can help many or all of the symptoms improve or disappear. And finally, medication can be prescribed if necessary.

Will treatment take all your problems away? No. But if you can stabilize your body and mind, you will be more capable of handling stressful situations without as many side effects like those listed above.

Stay healthy my friends. If you are struggling with anxiety or stress, please reach out to a friend or neighbor with a text or a call. Stop by to check on someone for no reason at all. We all have to do our part to keep our community healthy in these challenging times.

If you need a health care provider, Lee’s Summit Physicians group would be honored to help you with any medical or psychological needs.

A new phone system is coming this summer!

By Matthew Hornung, Director of Information Technology for Lee’s Summit Physicians Group

New phone system by summer 2020The people have spoken… and we have listened. We will be implementing a new phone system late this summer which will enhance the patient calling experience from start to finish!

There are a lot of new features out there that benefit both you and our organization… and we intend to utilize them. Our current system has been pushed to the limit, and can’t keep up with patient demand. We’ve taken feedback from our patients and used it to choose the best options for a new phone system. The new system will enable better communication and less hold time for our patients.

We are teaming up with a well known provider to ensure that both the implementation and long-term use of the new system benefits everyone.

The new phone system will allow automated callbacks so that you don’t lose your place in line. It also brings new abilities like online chat and better accessibility to our staff. This all boils down to serving you more efficiently. As with all new things, we will most likely go through a brief period of intermittent pains during the installation and initial use of the new phone system. We will be able to get through those challenges quickly.

Always Improving

We’ve been focused on several infrastructure upgrades and enhancements over the last couple years. All of these new technologies serve our growing patient population. Our check-in process has been streamlined using Phreesia, our COVID-19 response has ensured our patient’s health by providing separate entrances, and there are other enhancements we will be adding by the end of summer! (Details to come in a future blog post.)

We hope to be up and running on our new phone system by the end of the summer, and look forward to sharing the new features with you!

What do you do when you find a tick? Get ticked off!

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

Find a tick? Get ticked off!If you find a tick on your skin after being outside, you need to get it off as soon as possible. Don’t leave it in place for someone else to look at.  You can Google, YouTube, or search any reference and there will be information on tick removal. The idea is to pull the tick off intact and not to get the contents of the tick on you. So never squeeze a tick when it’s on you, and don’t mash a tick after it’s off of you.

When you find an attached tick, first clean the skin around the area with alcohol or soap and water.

You will need to find tweezers for tick removal. If it’s a large tick, fingernails can work also. Get down under the tick as close to the skin surface as you can and pull gently using firm, upward pressure. The idea is to not twist or jerk the tick. The goal is to remove the entire tick including it’s head and mouth.

Find a tick? Get ticked off!The CDC has pictures to show you proper technique for removing a tick. Avoid folklore treatment of tick bites like painting the tick with fingernail polish, lighting a match and holding it to the tick, or anything that prolongs the time the tick is attached to you or puts you at risk for other injuries. The longer it’s attached, the risk of disease transmission goes up.

Tick bites can transmit diseases, especially those that have been attached longer than 24 hours.

Generally, symptoms start soon after the tick bite from 2-30 days. Target or bulls eye rashes need to be reported and evaluated by your health care provider. Tick borne illnesses can range from very mild and treated at home with a prescription to severe and needing hospitalization. Rashes, fever, change in skin at the bite site, headache, fatigue, and muscle aches are some of the most common complaints of tick related illnesses.

The prevalence of diseases related to tick bites depends on the geographical area you live in.

Remember to take a shower and check your body for ticks (even tiny ones that are as small as a strawberry seed) after every outdoor adventure. Wear long pants and tall socks when walking through high brush. There are insect sprays that can deter ticks and other insects as well. Ultimately, stay active but stay safe and be quick to get a tick off of you as soon as it’s found!

Fostering Part 3: Giant Leaps vs. Baby Steps

NOTE: Links to articles in this series: Fostering Part 1 | Fostering Part 2 | Fostering Part 3

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

The journey of fostering and adoption that Dr. Dyson and her husband are on is admirable. The process, while time consuming, stressful and emotional, was also a joy filled life changing event for them and their beautiful children. I am so impressed by their openness to share their home, life and most of all love.

Their journey has inspired me to learn more about foster care.

Fostering Part 3There are approximately 440,000 foster youth nationwide with over 13,000 children in Missouri foster care. The average age of foster children is 6 ½ years and the average stay in the foster care system is 20 months.  The good news is that over 50% of foster children are reunited with their family.  Unfortunately, that leaves many children in permanent foster care or waiting to be adopted.

We may not be able to follow in Dr. Dyson’s footsteps, but surely there is something we can do. With one phone call and a thing called “Google” I found there is something every single one of us can do.

First and foremost be kind to ALL children.

Show an interest. Smile at them at the grocery store or McDonald’s drive through. Comment or praise them if you see them do something good. Treat ALL children with respect and true concern for their well being. These tiny actions may be the only positive interactions this child has.

Working as a nurse in a pediatric office, I talk to a lot of foster parents. I try to always thank them for doing foster care. As Dr. Dyson wrote in Fostering Part 1, it is time consuming becoming a foster parent and a lot of work being a foster parent as well. We can be kind and show appreciation to the foster parent also.

There are numerous organizations that assist foster care.

FosterAdoptConnect, Cornerstones of Care, and Central Missouri Foster Care and Adoption Agency are just a few of the groups that work to improve the lives of foster children. We can assist them by donating money, time, or goods (suitcases, clothes, toys, school supplies, etc.) We can host a fundraiser: instead of having a birthday party do a diaper drive.

If you have a special skill, offer your services. You could mentor through Big Brothers/Big Sisters, coach a sports team, offer free haircuts or photography, bake birthday cakes, or teach music lessons. The options are endless with a little creativity!

Foster parents are always needed. If you aren’t ready for that, respite care is another option. Respite care allows you to give a foster parent a break (a few hours to a few days) for appointments, emergencies, or just a good night’s sleep. The organizations listed above can answer your questions about doing foster or respite care.

Lastly, you can adopt a child in waiting.

At any given time, there are over 2,000 children here in Missouri waiting for their adoptive family. Dr. Dyson and her husband did just this. They took a giant leap and created an awesome new family. I am amazed by Dr. Dyson’s journey and proud to be her friend and coworker.

Whether it’s a giant leap or baby steps, there is something each of us can do. I may not be able to travel Dr. Dyson’s exact course, but I CAN and WILL do something to help these foster children and their families. You can too!

John F. Kennedy said, “Children are the world’s most valuable resource, and its best hope for the future.” I wholeheartedly agree. I encourage all of us to use our resources (however big or small) to show every child that they’re important and priceless!