We Together: A Communication of Stormont Vail Health (Feb 22)

Dear Community Partners,

Here are today’s updates:

  • Deb Yocum: Trading Spreadsheets for Alpacas
  • Stormont Vail Provides Charitable Funds for the Geary County Food Pantry
  • “To Your Health” on WIBW-TV Tonight: Mental Health Services
  • Flint Hills Campus Team Featured at Saturday’s KSU Game
  • Baker School of Nursing and Stormont Vail Announce Strategies to Address Nursing Shortage

Deb Yocum: Trading Spreadsheets for Alpacas

Deb Yocum had no idea as a new staff accountant assigned to handle the books of an internal medicine clinic that someday it would evolve into a 35-year career in healthcare administration.

In short order, Deb was hired in 1988 by the physicians of Internal Medicine P.A., which later became Cotton O’Neil Clinic, to be their clinic administrator. Then, in 1995, Deb found herself elbow to elbow with physician leadership of Cotton O’Neil and administrators of Stormont Vail Health, crafting a merger between the two entities.

“That changed the whole landscape of healthcare in northeast Kansas,” Deb says of the two organizations joining.

Deb plans to retire from Stormont Vail Health March 1. She will be honored at a reception from 2 to 4 p.m. Friday, March 1, in the Administration area of the Topeka hospital (second floor, Outpatient Center).

Deb spent many years as the vice president over clinic operations. The past several years, as Vice President, Strategic Development, she has used her skills to oversee large projects, such as bringing Geary Community Hospital and Rural Health Clinic into the Stormont Vail family. She moved to Junction City for nearly a year to lead the integration of the Flint Hills Campus operations into the healthcare system.

One of her latest projects is assisting with the development of future plans for Stormont Vail’s Emporia Clinic – a clinic she helped bring into the system 30 years ago when a physician practice in Emporia asked to join the organization.

“We have never asked any groups to join us. They called and said, we want to join you,” Deb recalls.

When the Emporia clinic first joined as a Cotton O’Neil primary care clinic, it was the farthest away from Topeka off all the clinics. Now, the organization spans across a larger region in eastern Kansas, but still no locations are much more than an hour from Topeka, helping to create synergy between the clinics and hospitals and keeping care close to patient homes.

 “I like fixing things and the mergers were satisfying. They wanted our help and we made it through the paperwork and got it done,” Deb says.

Once Cotton O’Neil and Stormont Vail joined forces, additional recruitment of providers began, adding surgeons and other specialists. Sub-specialty clinics for cardiology, gastrointestinal, diabetes, oncology and others were constructed, providing greater access for patients to the growing number of specialists. Deb played an integral part in the primary care and specialty physician clinic growing from 42 doctors when she joined to more than 500 providers of today.

Other notable projects during Deb’s time at Stormont Vail have been the development of a systemwide electronic medical record, the opening of Express Care urgent care clinics, the development of a mobile clinic to take primary care access to underserved areas, and a review and refinement of patient scheduling and more timely access.

“I get to work with every type of team there is. Getting new buildings done, working with nurses, doctors, the computer experts. I think it’s important to understand everyone’s basic function so you know where they’re coming from,” she said. “I don’t understand all the technical things about computers, but I understand enough to be at the go live and be of assistance.”

The insight Deb brings to projects is because she knows how the system has operated in the past and how it can be better. “That comes from having worked a little in everyone’s areas,” she said. “Everyone tends to focus most on their team, but you’ve got to get them to work together. I like being able to pull teams together for a common goal or resolution.”

Deb has enjoyed her years with the healthcare organization, and in particular the ability to get to know team members as real people. For all of the spreadsheets, budgets and business plans that have been part of her daily life, she’s ready to trade them for her next adventure: developing her own alpaca farm.

The farm is ready. Deb has dogs, cats, chickens, goats and miniature donkeys. This spring, Deb hopes to add the alpacas at her “Alpaca Lunch U Paca Cooler” Farm. And the projects will begin once more.

Stormont Vail Provides Charitable Funds for the Geary County Food Pantry

Stormont Vail Health is pleased to announce a $50,000 commitment to the Geary County Food Pantry. The commitment, made over five years, is in response to the Food Pantry’s capital campaign to build a new facility in Junction City. A check presentation and tour of the current facility was held Wednesday.

Geary County has a food insecurity rate of 13.3%, one of the highest in Kansas according to Kansas Health Matters. As currently constructed, the Geary County Food layout is not conducive to efficient operation, renovation opportunities are limited, and work space is at a premium. The combination of these factors led to Stormont Vail’s decision to support the Geary County Food Pantry’s campaign, and desire to be a part of the solution to providing Geary County with the services and support necessary for the community.

Contributing to the Food Pantry’s campaign to construct a new, specially designed building and helping to strengthen their infrastructure aligns with the Stormont Vail vision to collaborate for a healthier community by making healthy foods the easy choice and ensuring everyone is equally equipped to improve their health.

“To Your Health” on WIBW-TV Tonight: Mental Health Services

In recognition of Black History Month, tonight’s WIBW “To Your Health” segment will discuss the disparities among African Americans in mental health treatment, encourage the community that help is available through Stormont Vail Health with providers that patients can identify with and help to de-stigmatize mental health. Angel Patteron-Tetuan, APRN, and Kenisha Morton, Social Worker, share insights into how they are helping our patients. The segment will air at 10 p.m. on WIBW-TV, Channel 13. The segment will typically repeat at 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. Fridays on 13 News This Morning and be posted on

We are excited for team members of our Flint Hills Campus to be highlighted at this Saturday’s K-State men’s basketball vs. BYU. The team members will get to attend a reception prior to the game and Connie Wagers, Regional Director of Procedural and Ancillary Services, will do a halftime interview to share insights about the great healthcare services our team provides at our Junction City hospital and rural health clinic. In addition, Brenda Mills, vice chair of the Stormont Vail board, will be on hand to receive a game ball as a thank you for her years of service as chair of our board. Thank you to all who will be representing us at this special game – and most important, thank you for all you do for our patients and our communities. We are so glad you get to experience this game day recognition.

Baker School of Nursing and Stormont Vail Announce Strategies to Address Nursing Shortage

In an effort to alleviate the shortage of registered nurses, Baker University School of Nursing, in partnership with Stormont Vail Health, has developed two strategies to meet this workforce need.

First, Baker has developed an accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program that allows people who want to make a career change or advance in nursing but are unable to complete a traditional BSN program to earn their degree in just 14.5 months. Courses are conducted online, and in-person clinicals are offered over long weekends at Stormont Vail Health to decrease the need to take time away from current employment. The first semester in this new program starts May 20, 2024.

In addition, to keep the cost of education within the reach of more future nurses, Baker has reset the tuition for its on-ground Bachelor of Science in Nursing program effective for the fall 2024 semester. The annual tuition has been rolled back to the prepandemic rate of $18,000 ($9,000 per semester) and will be available to both new and current BSN students. This has been done to help the Kansas Nursing Workforce Center reach its goal of filling all available seats in schools of nursing in the state in an effort to increase the number of licensed nurses.

If you would like more information about enrolling in in the Baker accelerated BSN or on-ground BSN, contact Cara Bonfiglio at [email protected] or (785) 354.5850.

We together,

Dr. K

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