Generosity That Goes a Long Way

Generosity That Goes a Long Way

All throughout the spring, donors to the foundations met so many needs, both financial and physical, for hospital patients and front-line workers.

There are so many examples. Willett Distillery in Bardstown provided 100 brown bag lunches to Flaget Memorial Hospital every day for three weeks. The Kentucky Castle in Versailles cranked out roughly 300 meals per week for months to feed the staff at Saint Joseph East and Saint Joseph Hospital.

Willett Distillery donation

“The Kentucky Castle is thrilled to be providing meals for essential medical personnel and first responders,” Christie Eckerline, chief operating officer of The Kentucky Castle, said in April. “We hope that the meals we provide will support them to care for the sick and show our appreciation for their sacrifices and selflessness. They are true heroes and we are honored to be able to support them!”

In Lexington, East End Tap and Table delivered 500 meals per week for four weeks to our staff at Saint Joseph Hospital. At Saint Joseph Mount Sterling, staff was blessed with hundreds of meals from Sterling Meadows Mount Sterling.

London-based American Scrub Company, in cooperation with Cherokee, donated scrubs to each of our facilities.

“We appreciate everything that the health care workers have done during this pandemic, and we are honored to be a part of the Saint Joseph Health support system,” said Melanie Hester, director of sales and marketing at American Scrub Company.

Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky Inc. donated 5,000 face shields to Saint Joseph Hospital. And at Saint Joseph East, Advance Auto Parts gave 3M safety kits, gloves, shoe covers and coveralls.

Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky Inc. donation

Distilleries also answered the call. Beam Suntory provided our hospitals with N95 masks, nitrile gloves, gowns, and 60 large bottles of hand sanitizer, equivalent to approximately a month’s supply.

“Beam Suntory is focused on giving back to the communities where our employees live and work,” said Kevin Smith, vice president of Kentucky Beam Bourbon Affairs at Beam Suntory and incoming board chair of the Flaget Memorial Hospital Foundation. “We are grateful to the men and women at CHI Saint Joseph Health and are proud to donate our hand sanitizer to support their efforts.”

Heaven Hill Brands in Bardstown provided Flaget Memorial Hospital with 4,800 bottles of hand sanitizer.

“CHI Saint Joseph Health and Flaget Memorial Hospital are important cornerstones of the Nelson County community in the fight against the coronavirus,” said Max Shapira, president of Heaven Hill Brands. “We have the capacity to address a critical need to combat the coronavirus and we take great pride in providing assistance during a time like this, especially when we know these supplies are going into the hands of our friends, families and neighbors.”

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

COVID-19 Brought Change to Daily Life of ER Nurse

Cassie Maynard, RN

In her five years as a nurse at Saint Joseph Mount Sterling, Cassie Maynard, RN, has not seen anything like the global pandemic that brought life as we know it to a screeching halt earlier this year.

While the same is true for most everyone around the world, Maynard and other health care workers were on the front lines dealing with COVID-19. As an emergency room nurse, Maynard knew the possibilities were high that she would encounter a patient with the novel coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, and that she could be exposed to the illness.

“I was fearful that I would be separated from my family if I became infected,” Maynard said. She thought often of her husband, Rocky, and children, Allen, Connor, Kyra and Easton. She leaned into her faith, and followed the guidance from epidemiologists and the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention.

“Emotionally, I just trusted in God,” she said. “I would wear a mask all the time … showered when I got home, took shoes off at the door … all the precautions I could think of.”

Over time, Maynard has become more comfortable with all the steps she needed to take to keep her, her family, coworkers and community safe. But information about the coronavirus and COVID-19 continues to evolve as scientists and the medical community learn more about it. Maynard said the daily updates provided by CHI Saint Joseph Health help her stay up-to-date on the latest information about COVID-19.

While the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Montgomery County has been relatively low, Maynard said the potential for a surge as summer – and the reopening of many businesses – requires caution. Saint Joseph Mount Sterling has made many adjustments to serving the community, and the ER will look a little different to ensure safety for patients and the community.

Anyone who enters must answer a COVID-19 questionnaire and have their temperature checked. Everyone who comes into the ER is required to wear a mask, and hand sanitizer is readily available. To meet strict social distancing guidelines for the safety of patients, staff and visitors, only patients and a health care support person is allowed in the emergency department.

“We are following all precautions to make our patients as safe as possible,” she said. “Everybody is in a private room; we have a screening station at the door.”

Anyone who comes to the emergency department with symptoms that align with the coronavirus are taken immediately to a special, negative pressure room, Maynard said.

The past four months have brought continual change, and Maynard said that was the biggest challenge, “especially in the beginning. That and the fear of the unknown.”

But she believes she has learned a lot that will help her in the future. “I have learned to adapt and overcome,” she said.

Maynard expects the situation surrounding COVID-19 to continue to evolve, especially as more is learned about the disease and advances are made to treat and prevent it. For now, though, masks, social distancing and proper handwashing are keys to help people stay safe – all the things they are doing in the emergency room. And don’t be afraid to seek emergency care if you need it, she said.

“I would advise people to continue to follow all the CDC recommendations and educate themselves and support one another,” she said.

Happy Birthday, Baby!

Happy Birthday, Baby!

It’s been 10 years since the Women’s Hospital at Saint Joseph East opened, although Joan Morrin, RN RNC-MNN, the nurse manager of women’s care, likes to count the time with a slightly different metric.

“We have delivered 25,126 babies since moving into this building,” Morrin said. “Each one is special!” None of those babies will be able to remember their time in the hospital, but their mothers all do — and many of them keep coming back. “We have lots of parents who tell us, ‘Oh, this is our second or third baby. We love it here,” Morrin said. ”We hear that all the time.”

Truly 24-Hour Care

Since opening in 2010, the 60,000-square-foot facility has expanded the care and services offered to patients year after year, to where it is now able to provide 24-hour care from obstetricians, nurse practitioners, neonatologists and lactation consultants. As the only hospital in the Lexington area dedicated to women’s care, the Women’s Hospital also has maternal fetal medicine services specific for high-risk deliveries and a Level III neonatal ICU that offers state-of-the-art care for prematurely born infants as young as 28 weeks.

Kelly Toponak, RN, is the director of women’s services and the breast care center at CHI Saint Joseph East, and she’s been working in the Saint Joseph Health system since 2002. She loves the sense of community and thinks that’s why the level of care is so special at the Women’s Hospital — and why dozens of the 170 people on staff have been working there since the facility opened.

“Everyone knows everyone,” Toponak said. “It’s almost like Saint Joseph somehow has maintained the small community family hospital but in a larger city. If you have 40-plus people who have chosen to stay here over 10 years, I think that says something to the people in the community.”

Support for Tough Pregnancies

As the years have gone by, the hospital’s care has evolved to address additional health challenges many Kentucky mothers face. The medication-assisted treatment team works with mothers with opioid-use disorders and the new transformation care clinic to provide support and treatment for addiction. The maternal education team offers free classes and seminars about childbirth, lactation and parenting open to all, even mothers choosing to deliver elsewhere.

“I think what sets us apart from any other facility in town is the personalized care that we can give to our moms,” Morrin said. “We have midwives, we have high-risk obstetricians, and we try to really work with the mom and her birth plan to help her succeed and keep both her and baby safe.”

Toponak said that having a stand-alone building really makes a difference. “There’s nothing else that we are focused on,” she said. “Everybody in this building — every one of us — we’re here for mom and baby. We’re not just one floor of the hospital.”And, even in the midst of a health care crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic, the Women’s Hospital has continued to deliver the same high-quality care.

“We’re prepared, and we do have plans in place,” Toponak said. “Because we’re connected to CHI, we have a national network, and decisions are made with the input of so many different doctors. We can tailor those plans locally. It’s pretty amazing how they’re able to do that.”

Jason Adams, president and COO of Saint Joseph East, said the care and technology at the Women’s Hospital will only continue to improve in the years to come.

“I’m so proud of everything our team has accomplished at the Women’s Hospital so far, and I can’t wait to see what the next decade will bring,” Adams said.

To find out more information about our doctors, services and educational programs, or to schedule a tour of the hospital, visit

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

Surviving Summer

Surviving Summer

There’s nothing quite like being outside on a hot summer day — but ending your outdoor fun with a trip to the doctor can quickly put a damper on everyone’s plans. Try these tips to protect your health and well-being this summer.

Stay Hydrated

“Water is one of the body’s most essential nutrients. The body needs more when you are in hot climates and are more physically active. Freeze plastic water bottles, and take them with you for ice cold water all day.” — Claudia Burnett, MS, RD, LD, MLDE, CDCES, Market Manager of Diabetes and Nutrition Care at CHI Saint Joseph Health

Watch Out for the Sun

“Wear sunscreen with a sun protection factor of at least 30 and reapply it at least every two hours. Avoid the sun during peak hours, or between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. If at all possible, cover up with long sleeves, wear a hat and use ultraviolet-blocking sunglasses. And newborn babies should not be in the sun at all, as sunscreen is not recommended for babies younger than 6 months of age.” — Jessica Pennington, MD, CHI Saint Joseph Medical GroupPrimary Care in Berea

Go Outside to Boost Your Mood

“Simply being outdoors expands our world! Just think of how hearing a bird singing, seeing a beautiful garden or listening to children playing can delight and uplift our spirits — especially after days spent indoors for work!” — Sister Janet Carr, CDP, BCC, Manager of Mission Services, Saint Joseph Mount Sterling

Don’t Overheat

“Choose the right clothing for the outdoor activity — lighter colors and wicking fabrics are recommended. Avoid cotton since it traps heat and moisture. Rest frequently in shady areas. Avoid drinking alcohol, soda andcaffeinated beverages.” — Donny Hardy, MD, CHI Saint Joseph Medical GroupPrimary Care in Berea

If an illness or injury interrupts your summer fun, our primary care providers are here for you. Don’t have a primary care provider? Visit

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

Celebrating Our People – Meet Brooke

Brooke Dadisman, RN

Brooke Dadisman, RN, recently experienced one of the more unusual child births in her 16 years as a nurse. In the middle of her shift at Flaget Memorial Hospital’s birth center, she received a call from her brother, a Nelson County Sheriff’s Office deputy, who asked her to walk him through performing an emergency delivery in a parking lot.

“I’ve always had my heart set on moms, babies, maternity care and all of that,” Brooke says. “[That night] when my phone rang, all I could hear my brother say was ‘Are you at work? I need you.’ My dad and brothers are all policemen, so in my mind, I’m thinking someone’s been shot. But he’s like ‘Dispatch called; there’s a lady having a baby in her car.’ I thought, ‘Oh that I can handle.’”

Once the baby cried, Brooke says she could hear a collective sigh of relief. It was business as usual for her. 

“Everyone keeps saying I’m the hero,” Brooke says. “But I’m not. I was just the support person doing what I love, granted it was on the phone. [The sheriff’s deputies] are the true rock stars. I’m very proud of them.”

Brooke says the support she’s received at work, particularly from the fellow nurses on her shift and the doctors, has made them her “second family.”

“I don’t have any sisters, just three brothers,” Brooke says. “My night shift girls are like my sisters to me. We’re all just that close. We support each other. We share our families with each other. Even my boys call my co-workers their aunts. Drs. Hall and Folmar always share their knowledge base and teach us what they know.”

When she’s not delivering babies, Brooke spends time with her husband of 19 years and their three boys. She also volunteers with her sons’ former elementary school to educate children about her job.

“I like going and talking about my job,” Brooke says. “[The kids] know I deliver babies, so I always regret when they ask the question ‘Where do babies come from?’”

“The one question that just knocked me on my butt was this little kid who had a brother or sister who passed away as a baby, and he wanted to know what we do with babies that that’s happened to and if they go to heaven,” she says. “Those types of questions are just heartbreaking. Parents who have lost a baby show so much courage to bring a baby into the world they know they aren’t going to have. It’s beyond words. I find peace knowing I can bring a little bit of comfort to the family.”

Childhood Obesity: Common Risks and Treatments

Childhood Obesity: Common Risks and Treatment

In light of recent COVID-19 social distancing recommendations, many child care facilities and school systems have temporarily closed their doors. Although necessary and effective, these social distancing precautions have inevitably changed the daily routine for most families and, in some cases, reduced the normal amount of physical activity.

In Kentucky, childhood obesity remains a relevant topic of discussion as more than 20 percent of youth ages 10 to 17 have been diagnosed with the condition, according to the State of Childhood Obesity. Kentucky continues to be among the top states for childhood obesity, ranking third nationally. This ranking should not paralyze us in fear, but rather propel us forward to take a stand against this disease and pledge to prioritize the health of Kentucky’s youth.

Childhood obesity is diagnosed when a child has a body mass index (BMI) of equal to or higher than 95 percent of their peers. We use height and weight values to calculate a BMI score. This numerical value is then assigned a percentile based on where it ranks in relation to BMIs of those of the same age and gender.

The most common cause of childhood obesity is a combination of a sedentary lifestyle and an unhealthy diet. In 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that more than 62 percent of youth consumed at least one sugar-sweetened beverage on a given day. Diets that are high in fat and sugar, and contain little nutritional value, can cause children to quickly gain weight.

Furthermore, adolescents who have parents or other immediate family members who are overweight or obese are more likely to develop the condition. In rare cases, the onset of childhood obesity can be caused by an underlying medical condition, such as a hormonal imbalance. Your physician may order a physical exam and blood tests to rule out or confirm this possibility.

Children with obesity have a higher risk of developing several health problems, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, asthma, sleep disorders and joint pain. Early diagnosis and treatment for childhood obesity are key to preventing these and other chronic conditions.

Treatment for childhood obesity includes increased exercise and a change in eating habits by substituting high fat and sugar foods with fresh fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains. The CDC recommends that children engage in at least one hour of physical activity each day to remain healthy. Some easy ways to incorporate exercise into your new social distancing routine can be to play hopscotch in the driveway or take a family walk around the block.

If you or an immediate family member have a history of obesity, your child could be at a higher risk of developing the disease. To make an appointment with a physician to discuss your child’s risk, call 859.263.1280.

Dr. Clair Palley

Clair Palley, MD

Dr. Palley is with CHI Saint Joseph Medical Group – Primary Care.

Celebrating Gratitude, Philanthropy and a Unified Call to Serve

Heroes Called To Serve

March through May represented National Doctors’ Day, Administrative Professionals Day, National Volunteer Week, National Nurses Week and National Hospital Week celebrations — a time to honor and celebrate so many talented and compassionate people. This year’s celebrations were overshadowed by a higher priority: a pandemic of proportions never seen in our lifetime. Our health care professionals provide the best care year-round, but we watched their tremendous dedication, calmness and leadership. Their personal sacrifice in the midst of a pandemic was awe-inspiring.

Stories like that of Dennis Campbell prove this. Campbell was prepared to die of COVID-19, leaving behind a wife and three children. While he fought for his life, doctors at Saint Joseph Hospital offered the 48-year-old an alternative treatment. Within days of receiving hydroxychloroquine, he was at home recovering with his family. In an interview with the Richmond Register, Campbell credited the medicine for saving his life and expressed gratitude for Saint Joseph Hospital.

Providing Light in Darkness

National Volunteer Week celebrations were postponed in April. Our faithful volunteers serve by our side every day, and although it was a tremendous void not to have them in the hospitals, they continued their ministry off-site making pocket prayer quilts and homemade masks, and keeping us in their deepest prayers. From July 1, 2019, to March 10, 2020, we saw 468 volunteers donate 35,854 hours to our hospitals in Bardstown, Berea, Lexington, London, Mount Sterling and Nicholasville. Those volunteers also contributed $95,333 in gifts to the Foundations.

Kathy Mattone, market director of Spiritual Care, said isolation was one of the “most distressing” obstacles facing hospital patients during COVID-19. Mattone and her staff, in partnership with volunteers, quickly found creative ways to provide support and care for those patients who would normally have loved ones visiting.

“We had to find whole new ways to do spiritual care,” Mattone noted. “And a whole new area of parking lot ministry opened up. It just makes you realize that you can’t stop God, and you can’t keep things from happening even though it’s a horrible and impossible situation. So many really incredible stories of faithfulness, perseverance and hope have come out of this.”

The community also came together with the launch of our Emergency Response Fund to meet the immediate needs facing our staff and patients. The needs were tremendous, and the outpouring of support — in the form of everything from generous financial donations to flower deliveries to student-created posters — answered the call.

Learn more about the Emergency Response Fund to provide philanthropic financial resources to our hospitals.

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

The Importance of Routine Vaccinations during the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Importance of Routine Vaccinations during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Across the country, many parents have put routine childhood vaccinations on hold because of statewide stay-at-home orders due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Childhood vaccination rates in the US dropped this spring when compared to the same time frame in 2019, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The decline in vaccination started in March 2020 when a national emergency was declared and many states implemented stay-at-home orders. Many medical offices converted visits to telehealth at that time and so patients did not go into the office for vaccinations.

The significant decline in vaccination puts unimmunized children and some adults at higher risk of acquiring vaccine-preventable diseases, such as measles and whooping cough. When the percentage of people who have received a vaccine decreases below a certain threshold, the community loses a vital protection called herd immunity. Herd immunity is the phenomenon that if enough people are immune to a disease (by vaccination or by natural immunity after having the disease), it is very difficult for the disease to spread through the population. In some way the people who are immunized are providing protection to the people who are not immunized.

Populations most at risk for vaccine preventable disease are young children, the elderly, and those with impaired immune systems. While newborns have immunity to some diseases because of the antibodies they receive from their mothers in the womb and through breastfeeding, this immunity does not last more than one year.

If vaccination rates fall below a certain level, the community is at serious risk of outbreak. Most notable in the past several years has been measles. Just last year, there were more than 1,200 measles cases in 31 states, even though the virus had been declared eliminated in the U.S. in 2000, and most of those cases were among people who were not vaccinated against measles.

Looking ahead to the fall flu season, it will be absolutely imperative to maximize influenza vaccination rates in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the 2018-2019 flu season there were an estimated 4.4 million cases of the flu, 58,000 hospitalizations from the flu and 3500 deaths. If there is a peak of COVID-19 in the fall or winter on top of the already higher rates of illness and hospitalization from the flu, our healthcare system could become overwhelmed with catastrophic consequences.

As uncertain as these times may seem, you can help protect yourself and your community. Be sure to get a flu shot as soon as they become available this fall (usually in September) and if your child has missed routine vaccinations, contact your physician to catch them up as soon as possible. Health care providers are taking extra steps to protect patients, staff and the community from the novel coronavirus. This includes limiting the number of people in offices to allow proper social distancing, requiring everyone in the office to wear a mask and increased disinfecting practices.

To learn more about age-appropriate vaccinations or to schedule an appointment with a physician, visit or call 859.313.2255 to make an appointment.

Dr. Sarah O'Leary

Sarah O’Leary, MD

Dr. O’Leary is with CHI Saint Joseph Medical Group – Primary Care.

Facing Cancer Together

Stephanie Lester

Stephanie Lester, a 42-year-old Spanish teacher at Lafayette High School in Lexington, never expected a cancer diagnosis so early in life. Along with teaching, Lester led group fitness classes that kept her active and healthy. It wasn’t until she discovered a lump in her right breast during a self-exam that she decided it was time to call her physician.

“My annual gynecology appointment wasn’t for another six months,” Lester said. “If I hadn’t been doing regular self-exams, I could have been in a much worse place.”

The tumor was cancerous, and Lester was referred to CHI Saint Joseph Health – Cancer Care Center.

Collaborating for a Cure

The extent of Lester’s cancer surprised everyone involved. She needed an integrated team of skilled specialists to stop the quickly spreading disease.

Lester first underwent a lumpectomy with John Strifling, MD, FACS, chairman of the department of surgery at Saint Joseph East, who discovered Lester’s cancer had affected her lymph nodes.

“The lumpectomy wasn’t sufficient to treat the cancer,” Dr. Strifling said. “She required a lymph node biopsy, and then a bilateral mastectomy to prevent further progression.”

Along with surgery, Lester received chemotherapy, endocrine therapy, radiation and, eventually, breast reconstruction. Throughout her treatment, Lester felt reassured by the team at CHI Saint Joseph Health – Cancer Care Center, including Jessica Croley, MD, medical oncologist, medical director of oncology for the cancer care program, and Brian Williams, MD, radiation oncologist at CHI Saint Joseph Health – Cancer Care Center.

“She tolerated the treatment so well,” Dr. Croley said. “Her positive spirit, her focus on health and a commitment to staying physically active were all important factors.”

Dr. Williams agreed that Lester’s resilience carried her through, as well as the commitment of the staff who came together for her care.

“Stephanie’s positive outcome highlights the wonderful multidisciplinary treatment for breast cancer here at CHI Saint Joseph Health – Cancer Care Center,” Dr. Williams said.

Giving Hope to Others

Now in remission, Lester inspires others with her story. She stresses the importance of reaching out to loved ones during a diagnosis.

“Don’t be embarrassed or afraid of bringing others down,” Lester said. “Have conversations about what you’re going through. It makes the disease seem less scary.”

She also stresses the importance of screenings, which led several of her students’ mothers to receive an early cancer diagnosis.

“A self-exam each month could save your life,” Dr. Strifling said. “Begin mammogram screening at age 40, or earlier if you are at high risk for developing cancer.”

Through our affiliation with Cleveland Clinic Cancer Center, a nationally ranked cancer program, our patients now have greater access to second opinions and breakthrough treatments right here in Lexington.

“The entire staff at CHI Saint Joseph Health – Cancer Care Center was compassionate and attentive to my needs. The relationships I formed there were incredible.”

Time for your annual well-woman exam? Find a provider who offers gynecological cancer screenings at

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

The Road Home

Dr. Crystal Martin

Crystal Martin, MD, took a winding Path to become a family medicine physician. now that she’s caring for patients in her hometown of Lexington, she’s right where she wants to be.

Crystal Martin, MD, says her family claims her interest in science and medicine stems from childhood, but she’s not so sure. She jokes that her pursuit of a career in medicine began with her affinity for comfy attire.

“I went to Bethune-Cookman University intending to major in accounting, but when I learned we had to dress up on Business Wednesdays, I decided to go into science so I could wear scrubs,” Dr. Martin said. “I changed my major to biology.”

Dr. Martin entered medical school at the University of Louisville but left after a year to work as a medical researcher at The University of Memphis. During her time in the workforce, her desire to become a physician didn’t fade, so she returned to medical school. She completed her coursework at the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine and her clinical rotations in the United Kingdom before performing a residency in family medicine at the University of Kentucky.

“It’s gratifying for me when people who are at their most vulnerable seek my advice as a medical professional and want to know what I could do to help them,” Dr. Martin said. “That’s why I chose family medicine.”


Dr. Martin practiced family medicine in Cookeville, Tennessee, for several years after residency before she and her husband decided to return to Lexington. It was more than a hometown homecoming. When Dr. Martin joined CHI Saint Joseph Medical GroupPrimary Care at 1401 Harrodsburg Road, Suite B-160 in Lexington, on Jan. 1, 2020, she returned to a health system she knew well — she’d worked as a medical assistant at Saint Joseph East before beginning her residency.

“My faith is important to me, and I like that CHI Saint Joseph Health has a faith-based foundation,” Dr. Martin said. “Believing in something greater than me helps motivate me each day.”

Helping people in the community in which she grew up is a dream come true for Dr. Martin.

“I’ve encountered people who knew me when I was younger and are proud of me,” she said. “It’s nice to be home where people know me and recognize what I went through to become a physician.”

“I’m here to be a health advocate for every patient who comes to see me.”

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