Community Health Advocates Feed Deeper Needs of Patients

Community Health Advocates Feed Deeper Needs of Patients

Food insecurity is a common issue among many patients in the Berea area. So is poor nutrition as availability of fresh produce and heart-healthy options at food pantries is scarce.

Saint Joseph Berea community health advocates Christy Begley and Emilee Hood joined forces in a local partnership with Berea Kids Eat and Berea Independent Schools to help pack approximately 209,000 meals for local children as part of the Berea Summer Food Service Program.

With 30% of area children living below poverty level and as many as one in five children experiencing hunger, the Berea Summer Food Service Program provides nutritious breakfast, lunch, snacks and drinks to students as part of the ongoing solution to battle food insecurity and childhood hunger. When the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools to move to a virtual platform in March 2020, the need for meals began earlier than summer break.

“Hunger doesn’t take a break or a vacation,” said Diane Smith, Family Resource Youth Services Center director for Berea Independent Schools. “Being able to help these children eat nutritious meals in the summer and also being able to have contact with the kids in order to continue our relationships means we are helping them grow and develop.”

By volunteering to help pack and distribute meals, Begley and Hood connected with families in the area who may also be in need of other programs offered through grants from Saint Joseph Berea Foundation.

“We treat people physically, but so many people’s needs go deeper than just the cut on their hand or the bellyache or headache they have,” Begley said. “Our goal is to find and treat all underlying needs.”

The meals not only fed students’ hunger, they also aimed to set a habit of eating more healthfully.

“My personal belief is that eating habits start young,” Hood said. “If you are a young child eating terribly, it’s really hard to break that habit when you get older. The summer food program provides nutritious meals to help build better habits.”

Smith said to combat poor nutrition, the program partnered with Grow Appalachia, Berea College Sodexo Dining Services and local farmers to provide fresh produce in every meal.

“It’s been so exciting to see many collaborations being built around the program and its partners and volunteers.” Smith said. “Gaining a newfound love of nutritious food, helping families to become more self-sufficient in raising and harvesting their own food and changing the culture of our diets are all goals we have moving forward.”

With the established partnership, Begley, Hood and Smith hope to continue finding more ways to help each other improve overall health and wellness for people living in Berea and the Saint Joseph Berea service area.

“It fills your heart with joy,” Begley said. “We’re always seeking partnerships and volunteer work so when we volunteer with a partner, we can develop a closer relationship. With that, if there was a problem with a patient who is connected to [Smith’s] school, we are better able to help the family.”

Learn more about the impact the Berea Summer Food Service Program and Berea Independent Schools’ Family Resource and Youth Service Centermake on the community.

Special Delivery

Special Delivery

A new program at Saint Joseph Hospital and Saint Joseph East allows a growing number of patients to skip a trip to the pharmacy on the way home from the hospital by delivering their prescriptions to the bedside.

A program of CHI Saint Joseph Health Community Pharmacy, Meds to Beds is a concierge pharmacy service available to patients on a handful of units at Saint Joseph Hospital and Saint Joseph East, with plans to expand to all inpatients in the future. Individuals who participate in the program receive their prescriptions in their room prior to discharge.

“Some patients find it challenging to visit a pharmacy on the way home because they may lack transportation,” said Marla Whitaker, PharmD, director of pharmacy services for Saint Joseph Hospital and Saint Joseph East in Lexington. “They may have to use a ride-share service or taxi just to get home. With Meds to Beds, a Community Pharmacy employee takes prescriptions directly to hospital rooms, which saves patients time and effort, and helps them comply with their physicians’ orders. It also helps them reduce public exposure during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Already popular with patients, Meds to Beds offers another benefit: Patients can use telemedicine to consult a pharmacist about their prescriptions before they leave the hospital.

For more information about the community pharmacies at Saint Joseph Hospital and Saint Joseph East, click here.

A version of this article originally appeared in the Fall 2020 edition of Spirit of Health. For more stories like this one, subscribe to Spirit of Health magazine today.

Following Our Mission, Guided by Our Vision and Living Our Values

Mission and Values

CommonSpirit Health, the parent company of CHI Saint Joseph Health, recently established new mission, vision and values for the organization. The mission defines who we are and why we exist; the vision sets the course for our future; and the values direct our behaviors as we carry out the work we have been called to do.

Our mission is, “As CommonSpirit Health, we make the healing presence of God known in our world by improving the health of the people we serve, especially those who are vulnerable, while we advance social justice for all.”

As a Catholic health care system, we see our work as a ministry of the Church and one in which we reveal God to others through healing – not through words, but through our actions. The tradition of Catholic health care has always been one of service to the vulnerable, and we believe we have a responsibility to advocate for justice so that all individuals have access to care.

If our mission calls for us to improve the health of people, our vision challenges us to do so for all people. Our vision is, “A healthier future for all – inspired by faith, driven by innovation, and powered by our humanity.”

We receive our inspiration from the work of the faithful that have gone before us. Christ was the great healer and we work to heal as Christ did – in a holistic manner. We strive to find new and creative ways to meet the health care needs of our communities, but never lose sight of human kindness in the delivery of care.

As we bring life to our mission and vision, our behaviors and actions are congruent with our established core values: compassion, inclusion, integrity, excellence and collaboration.

The behavioral characteristics associated with each value are:


  • Care with listening, empathy and love.
  • Accompany and comfort those in need of healing.


  • Celebrate each person’s gifts and voice.
  • Respect the dignity of all.


  • Inspire trust through honesty.
  • Demonstrate courage in the face of inequity.


  • Serve with fullest passion, creativity and stewardship.
  • Exceed expectations of others and ourselves.


  • Commit to the power of working together.
  • Build and nurture meaningful relationships.

Our employees live and work in our communities. These values are not just practiced while they are at work; our employees exhibit these values in all they do, whether that be caring for our patients or assisting their neighbors at home.

The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged us all to be creative in our work and our personal lives. Our employees have gone above and beyond to ensure the safety of each other, our patients and their families, but also our communities. We have become creative and innovative in how we provide care while ensuring our values are not lost in the process. The pandemic has given us an opportunity to think differently about how our values are demonstrated when people are separated from their loved ones.

Many external factors created barriers that were overcome in providing excellent care in a compassionate manner. Through it all, and continuing on today, our humanity shined and our kindness toward each other prevailed!

John Brothers

John Brothers

John Brothers is the Division Vice President of Mission Integration.

Heart Healthy Tips for Seniors

Heart Healthy Tips for Seniors

Living a heart-healthy lifestyle should be a goal at any age, but for seniors in our community, it is especially crucial to prioritize heart health because the risks of heart attack, stroke, coronary heart disease and heart failure increase over time. It’s important for us all to know the beneficial changes to our lifestyle that, regardless of age, can greatly improve our heart heath.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Two-thirds of these deaths occur in people ages 75 and older, according to a 2016 report from the American Heart Association. While advancing age certainly plays a role in heart-related deaths, gender, on the other hand, does not significantly determine the likelihood of having heart disease. Both men and women are almost equally affected by heart disease, so it’s important for all ages and genders to take preventive actions.

Daily physical activity can have a variety of benefits on your physical and mental well-being.

A minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as maintain a healthy weight. You can incorporate physical activity into your day in many ways, whether that includes joining a neighborhood walking club, taking part in a yoga class, or just making physical activity a part of your daily life. Start slowly and increase the intensity of your exercise over time.

A healthy diet is also important to keep your heart healthy. A nutritious diet can help deter high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity, all of which can lead to heart problems. A healthy diet is one that emphasizes nutrient-rich food, such as vegetables, fruits and whole grains, while limiting sweets, sugary beverages and red meat. Additionally, if you drink alcohol, do so in moderation, as too much alcohol can increase your triglycerides, a type of fat found in the blood, which can in turn lead to a heart attack or stroke.

Another way to prioritize your heart health and the health of those around you is by quitting smoking. Smoking not only is linked to most cases of lung cancer, but it also can lead to heart disease. In fact, the American Heart Association reports that almost one-third of coronary heart disease deaths are caused by smoking or secondhand smoke. In addition, people who are exposed to secondhand smoke have a 25-30% higher chance of developing heart disease. However, even older adults who have been lifelong smokers can benefit from quitting. Within the first 20 minutes of quitting, your body will begin to return to normal, with your blood pressure starting to recover, and after you have given up smoking for a year, your risk of getting coronary heart disease decreases by 50%, according to the American Heart Association.

While it’s important to take steps to lead a heart-healthy life, it’s also crucial to know symptoms of heart disease like chest pain, shortness of breath, fluttering in the chest, racing or slow heartbeat, lightheadedness or dizziness. These symptoms can be signs of a much serious problem, and it’s important to find the nearest emergency department if you believe you are experiencing a heart-related issue.

Regardless of age or lifestyle, now is the time to recommit to your cardiovascular health. Doing so can lower your risk of heart attack, stroke, coronary heart disease and heart failure while also decreasing your risk of other health conditions. To learn more about how to safely and effectively care for your cardiovascular health, schedule an appointment with your physician today.

Dr. Richard Blake

Richard Blake, MD

Dr. Blake is with CHI Saint Joseph Medical Group – Cardiology.

Partnership Brings Exposure to Opportunities for Lexington Students

Hannah Woggon

With a grant from Saint Joseph Hospital Foundation, violence prevention coordinator Hannah Woggon teamed up with the Consolidated Summer Enrichment Program during the past two summers to provide educational enrichment and activities to more than 100 students in Lexington.

“Our grant focuses on creating healthy, safe communities in Lexington,” Woggon said. “With a concentration on two neighborhoods, we had it in our grant to create a summer camp, but we decided to partner with the Consolidated Summer Enrichment Program instead of designing a new camp.”

Consolidated Summer Enrichment Program, which has been serving the Winburn neighborhood in Lexington since 2005, is a partnership between Kentucky State University and Consolidated Baptist Church in Lexington. The program offers education in STEM, arts, agriculture and environmental sciences, along with academic enrichments for students who have completed grades kindergarten through fifth grade.

Program director Demetria Blair said the program’s goal is to bridge the gap between the end of the school year in May and the beginning of the next one in August.

“This was an opportunity for our kids to have exposure to things they wouldn’t normally have access to due to financial barriers, transportation barriers, social barriers or a lack of awareness,” Blair said. “We sought to make people aware of these opportunities and provide them with a chance to participate.”

During summer 2019, students visited the Kentucky Horse Park to learn about equine science, learned to cook from culinary professionals and brushed up on their academic proficiencies in science, math, and literacy with help from Fayette County Public School teachers.

Building on the success from 2019’s camp, Blair and Woggon faced a new challenge in 2020 – a global pandemic. In-person lessons and activities moved to a virtual platform so the learning didn’t have to stop.

“COVID-19 made us think more creatively,” Blair said. “Everything was closed but education was not. Our kids needed something to do in the summertime now more than ever. With Zoom, we were able to provide programming to them virtually.”

Woggon said her grant provided materials for parents to pick up every week. The kits included all of the academic, arts and STEM materials students needed to do the activities each week virtually with program volunteers and leaders, including Woggon herself.

“For me, doing the cross-stitching class was amazing,” Woggon said. “These kids loved it. It was so incredible to watch them work and show me their work on Zoom or send me pictures to see if they were doing it right.”

Woggon and Blair said they anticipate doing a mix of in-person and virtual programming for students depending on COVID-19 and safety guidelines for next summer’s camp.

“This year, in particular, had a special meaning because of COVID-19,” Blair said. “Because of Hannah and CHI Saint Joseph Health, we were able to take our homes and make it a playground for not just our kids, but their whole family.”

To learn more about the program, visit the Consolidated Summer Enrichment Program website. For more information about the violence prevention program, and other initiatives, supported by CHI Saint Joseph Health Foundations, visit

Carotid Artery Disease Warning Signs and Prevention

Carotid Artery Disease Warning Signs and Prevention

As a health care provider, one of our main goals is ensuring members of our community receive the best possible medical care. Stroke ranks as number five for cause of death in Kentucky, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. With the high percentage of people with risk factors for stroke and heart disease in southeastern Kentucky, we are establishing a vascular surgery program at Saint Joseph London.

One of my goals as a fellowship-trained vascular surgeon is to work with patients to address health issues before they cause severe problems. One such vascular health issue is carotid artery disease, a condition that affects the carotid arteries – the blood vessels found in the neck.

These two arteries both split to form an internal and external artery and provide the main source of oxygen-rich blood to the brain. In order to constantly provide the brain with the blood it needs, these pathways must remain unobstructed. When they become blocked by plaque buildup, it can lead to carotid artery disease, which is one of the primary causes of a transient ischemic attack (TIA) or a stroke.

Most people have no symptoms of carotid artery disease until they either experience a TIA, which is a temporary blockage of blood flow the brain, and/or a stroke, which is a permanent blockage. While slightly different, both TIAs and strokes have similar symptoms, such as the weakness of an arm or leg on one side of the body, a sudden onset of paralysis, confusion, dizziness, numbness to the face, arm or leg, vision issues, such as loss of vision or blurring, and slurred speech.

Screening for carotid artery disease can identify problems before they reach the point of TIA or stroke. Screening entails a complete medical history looking at risk factors such as smoking, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and lack of exercise. That information, combined with tests ranging from a simple test to listen to the carotid artery for how the blood passes through it to a variety of scans, can help us determine whether a patient has carotid artery disease.

While some risk factors – such as family history and advanced age – can’t be controlled, others can be addressed through lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising more often and eating more healthfully.

It’s important to know the symptoms of TIAs and stroke and seek immediate medical attention if you or someone you know is experiencing those symptoms.

Talk to your physician if you have risk factors for carotid artery disease. To learn more about the vascular surgery program in the London area, call 606.330.2370.

Dr. Sherisa Warren

Sherisa Warren, DO

Dr. Warren is with CHI Saint Joseph Medical Group – Surgery.

Serving Our Communities in Challenging Times

Serving Our Communities in Challenging Times

This year has been challenging for our communities, our state, our nation and our world. The global pandemic has impacted the way we all live, work, and how our health care system has operated during 2020. However, our call to serve our communities remains our focus and purpose within the ministry of CHI Saint Joseph Health.

We live by our mission dedicated to building healthier communities throughout Kentucky. As part of CommonSpirit Health, we have adopted updated mission, vision and values – all with an eye toward improving the health of all people. You can learn more about our mission, vision and values here in these pages. You can also learn about them through our call to serve our communities.

The CHI Saint Joseph Health facilities – Saint Joseph Hospital, Saint Joseph East, Saint Joseph Berea, Saint Joseph Mount Sterling, Saint Joseph London, Flaget Memorial Hospital and Continuing Care Hospital – have partnered with other agencies to address specific needs in their communities, even while dealing with COVID-19.

We are truly integrated within our communities, not just an office or hospital there to care for patients. Our reach goes beyond the walls of our facilities to address the holistic needs of the community.

  • Food insecurity has been found to be a prevalent cause for poor health outcomes. Through a partnership with God’s Pantry Food Bank, community health workers in three communities have been able to address hunger issues with some of our patients.
  • Our Community Health Needs Assessment in Mount Sterling revealed a need for more education about health issues. The team at Saint Joseph Mount Sterling partnered with other health agencies and the local radio station to prepare ongoing messaging and education on important health topics.
  • Parental education through a program at Saint Joseph London serves to empower parents with skills to reduce the incidence of abuse or neglect.

You can read more about how CHI Saint Joseph Health has served our communities by visiting our 2020 Community Benefit Report. We are honored to work across Kentucky to demonstrate our mission of improving the health of the people we serve, especially those who are vulnerable. It is a calling to serve our patients, and our communities, every day.

Preventing Falls Among Older People

Preventing Falls In Older Adults

Falling down is something that we will all do in life – no matter our age. Parents tend to worry often about their young children falling and injuries they could experience, but falls are dangerous not only for young kids but also for older adults.

Falling is one of the leading causes of injury for those 65 and older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC reports that each year, 30 million older adults experience a fall and there are 30,000 deaths as a result of injuries from falling. This is one of the many reasons why it is so important to strengthen your body to help avoid falls, and to be on the lookout for signs of problems to help reduce your chances of falling. 

Falling can result in fractures of the shoulder, forearm, head, hip, spine, leg, ankle and hand, among other body parts causing serious pain for older people. Falls can be caused by tripping over, or slipping on, such things as rugs, slippery floors or bathtubs, stairs or pets. With these causes, you can make changes to eliminate the risks of taking a tumble. For instance, you can reduce your chances of falling by removing rugs or using double-sided tape to hold them down, using non-slip mats in the bathtub, adding handrails to the tub or stairs, and making sure your home is well lit.

But sometimes the changes you need to make are not within the home, but rather, changes to yourself to improve your balance and strength. This can be done through exercise classes or yoga, which require balance. You can also do this in your own home, standing on one foot when performing daily tasks like doing the dishes or brushing your teeth. While these actions seem minor, they are helping you build bone strength. You can also maintain your overall health by walking your neighborhood, jogging, hiking, bicycling and climbing stairs, among other activities.

The food and beverages you consume also can be very important as you age. We are all encouraged to drink eight glasses of water a day, but it’s even more important for those 65 and older, as water can help prevent dehydration, dizziness and falls. Eating foods with Vitamin D, like fish, cheese and eggs, or drinking milk and orange juice regularly, can also help increase muscle strength, decreasing the likelihood of a fall.  

As we age, it’s important to also remember your annual exams, such as an eye examination or your annual physical. During this checkup for older adults, physicians will often monitor heart and blood pressure to look for signs of a problem and screen for osteoporosis to ensure that their bones are not too weak or brittle. You should also be on the lookout for signs of osteoporosis, which include back pain, a stooped posture, loss of height over time and a bone that breaks easily.

In some cases, the medications you take may be responsible for fatigue or causing a fall. If you are experiencing side effects from any medications, it’s important to alert your physician, as the medications could be causing confusion that could result in falls. Talk to your physician about which medication is best for you and your overall health.

If you have previously fallen and suffered injuries, you may be anxious that this could happen again. While your first instinct may be to avoid physical activities that could lead to a fall, it’s important to not limit these activities. By limiting your mobility, you are lessening your movements and increasing your risk of falling. If you are struggling to move around without falling, you may consider a walker or cane that will help assist you.

While falls can be dangerous, it’s important as you age to take the necessary steps and precautions to help avoid serious injuries. By taking safety measures around your home and staying fit and active, you are decreasing your chances of injuries. Talk to your physician about your risk of falls, and steps you can take to help prevent them.

James Rollins

James Rollins, MD

Dr. Rollins is with CHI Saint Joseph Medical Group – Orthopedics.

Nurturing Children Program Teaches Healthier Parenting Skills

Mollie Harris

For Laurel County parents Dakota Mullins and Brittany Baker Mullins, receiving full custody of their 2-year-old daughter, Reighlee, in the same year they both were released from correctional facilities was a victory. They credit the Nurturing Children Program at Saint Joseph London for their 180-degree change.

Since its inception in 2016, the hospital’s Nurturing Children Program has used the evidence-based Nurturing Parenting program to educate parents and community members through awareness, curriculum and skills that establish intolerance of abuse and neglect as the norm through modified behaviors of actions. In-person classes held at Saint Joseph London moved to a virtual platform when the COVID-19 pandemic started and has produced more than 120 graduates, including the Mullins family, with a 91% reduction in the rate of recidivism of abuse and neglect since the beginning of the program.

“Brittany and Dakota both made sacrifices to get this point,” said violence prevention coordinator Mollie Harris. “They both had to be uncomfortable, cut ties – that’s a very isolating, lonely feeling. But they wanted to change. Everything about them, their attitudes, are a 180-degree difference now.”

Harris and Jara Burkhart, program administrative assistant, facilitate classes for women who are pregnant and parents or guardians for children 4 years old and younger as part of a grant provided through the Saint Joseph London Foundation.

“What I like to tell our parents [who say] ‘I’m a parent. I don’t need parenting education,’ is our education course takes you back to the basics of parenting and allows you to forget all of the negative parenting you’ve learned and pass down the good things you’ve learned to your children,” Harris said.

Brittany and Dakota said the classes taught them a lot about proper discipline and what it means to be a good parent.

“I thought spanking your kids as discipline was OK because I was spanked,” Dakota said. “Everything we learned was new to me and really helped break down parenting.”

“I loved their classes,” Brittany said. “I got so much detailed information about stuff I thought I already knew. And Mollie and Jara have always been such great support for us.”

The couple also said they have been enjoying active parenting, taking their daughter to the park, going on a small vacation and getting to spend Saturday mornings watching her favorite cartoons.

Accomplishing something that felt almost impossible at one time, Brittany said the program showed her she could do anything she put her mind to. She earned her peer support certification to help those recovering from substance abuse, just as she did.

“It’s so rewarding to see how far they’ve come,” Burkhart said. “Brittany started this journey when Dakota was still incarcerated, and she took so many steps by herself. And when Dakota was able to come back into the picture, there was no question – they decided to do this program together. It’s seldom you see parents come through this together.”

Know Your Risk

Know Your Risk

When you see your primary care provider, be sure to review your family history, current health concerns and overall lifestyle. This information helps you and your provider understand your risk for certain illnesses, and it gives you both an opportunity to prevent them.

“An example may be the way we evaluate someone in their thirties or forties with a family history of heart disease,” explained Kevin Moore, MD, family physician at CHI Saint Joseph Medical Group –  Primary Care in Bardstown. “For that patient, I will look at their cholesterol and blood pressure levels, but we’ll also discuss exercise, diet and tobacco use, to see what some things are that we can do to affect change.”

Identifying your individual risk factors doesn’t mean those factors have to determine your outcome. You can’t change some risk factors, but many are within your control. These range from lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthy diet or quitting smoking, to staying on top of annual screenings and wellness visits.

“My background as an army doctor helps me teach patients to be resilient,” Dr. Moore said. “I want them to feel confident they can be proactive about their health.”

Virtual visits are now available. Call 844.611.6877 to schedule one today.

A version of this article originally appeared in the Fall 2020 edition of Spirit of Health. For more stories like this one, subscribe to Spirit of Health magazine today.