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Turning Point

The University of Kansas Health System and Turning Point have combined services to offer additional support and a variety of programs and health resources for our patients and their families.

What is Turning Point?

Turning Point has been Kansas City's highly respected patient support organization since 2001. With an array of comprehensive programs, Turning Point educates and supports individuals, families and friends facing a wide variety of chronic physical illnesses such as cancer, chronic heart failure, Parkinson's disease, MS, ALS and diabetes.

Through classes, activities and education, Turning Point helps participants increase resilience so they may live life to the fullest, even while experiencing chronic disease.

Bench to Bedside: Turning Point

Join us as we discuss Turing Point: A Community Resource of The University of Kansas Health System, and how it helps people living with serious or chronic illness, as well as their family and friends, learn skills to manage the illness process, reduce symptoms and increase coping abilities.

Speaker 1: Welcome to Bench to Bedside, a weekly series of live conversations about recent advances in cancer from the research bench to treatment at the patient's bedside and now your host and the Director of the University of Kansas Cancer Center, Dr. Roy Jensen.

Jennifer Klemp: Good morning and welcome to Bench to Bedside. I'm Dr. Jennifer Klemp, Co-Program Leader for the Cancer Prevention and Survivorship Program at the University of Kansas Cancer Center. And today I'm sitting in for Dr. Roy Jensen. And today we have some fabulous guests. Dr Moira Mulhern is a Community Psychologist and the Co-founder of Turning Point and she also serves as their Executive Director. And we also have Courtney Gustafson who is a participant of some Turning Point programs and is here to sort of share some of her experiences with us this morning. Turning Point is part of the University of Kansas Cancer Center and part of the University of Kansas Health System. It's a vital community resource and it really helps people with chronic illness and serious medical conditions cope and deal both with themselves as well as their family and friends. And they can learn skills that really help them to reduce symptoms and increase their ability for coping. They use really innovative educational strategies and services and some unique tools that we'll hear about today to help individuals and their families take charge of their life and their illness and hopefully live their life to the fullest. So Dr. Mulhern, can you tell us a little bit about how you helped co-found Turning Point and what's it all about?

Moira Mulhern: Well, we started Turning Point to fill gaps in support services here in Kansas City. What we found were there were a lot of support groups and a lot of people could get therapy anywhere, but what didn't exist in Kansas City were programs, the time limited skills-based programs that teach people how to manage the stress of an illness, teach their loved ones how to manage the stress of an illness and teach them how to bounce back in the face of whatever comes their way.

Jennifer Klemp: Great. And I think having lived in the community, we've seen a lot of change from some of the programs that you've been able to offer. And what you just mentioned, it's more than just a support group and there's some specific skills that you teach and train as part of your programs. Can you give a little bit of background on some of your key programs or some of those key skills that would be cores to your programs?

Moira Mulhern: Okay. Yeah, the underlying philosophy of all of our programs is resilience and it's a particular resilience model that we use that has 10 facets that we know separate resilient people from non-resilient people. And so all of the programs we offer feed into that resilience model. So we have exercise programs, we have nutrition programs, we have lots of programs on how to cope with the emotional distress, how to lower anxiety, depression and distress related to medical conditions. Not just for the person who's sick but for their entire support system.

Jennifer Klemp: That's great.

Moira Mulhern: Yeah.

Jennifer Klemp: And I recall recently seeing some of the research that you've been able to publish. So how have these programs really impacted some metrics and what does that look like?

Moira Mulhern: Yes. So when we joined the hospital, we were assigned a researcher and we have been collecting data ever since we joined in 2012 and we find that our programs reduce anxiety, depression, and distress at a highly significant level.

Jennifer Klemp: That's amazing.

Moira Mulhern: Yeah.

Jennifer Klemp: Because as we know it's really hard to make change in a short or a longer period of time. So the fact that you're using these techniques and these skills, it sounds like it's really having a good return for the patient and their families.

Moira Mulhern: It is. And these skills that they're learning. They're coming to us because they want to learn some skills to cope better with the illness process, but it transfers to every aspect of their life.

Jennifer Klemp: Absolutely.

Moira Mulhern: So very often we have people telling us they feel better now than they did before they got sick.

Jennifer Klemp: That's great.

Moira Mulhern: Yeah.

Jennifer Klemp: Yeah. I think we could all learn a little bit from some of those facets of resilience.

Moira Mulhern: Yeah. Everybody needs to know that whether they're sick or not.

Jennifer Klemp: For sure. For sure. So if you're just joining us, we're talking today about resources that are offered to patients and families at Turning Point, which is an amazing community resource here in the greater Kansas City area. We also have Alesha Miller who's taking questions from you all out in Facebook land. So if you have a question, please feel free to share that. And we also work under the hashtag #BenchToBedside. So Dr. Mulhern, one of the other things that I think is really unique about Turning Point is that you're not just for cancer and you're not just for adults. So can you talk a little bit more about some of the targets that you work with population wise and then some programs that are for children as well?

Moira Mulhern: Right, so we work with anyone who has a serious or chronic physical illness. So it could be someone with cancer, it could be someone with heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, any chronic physical condition, any serious or chronic physical condition we work with. And we also work with children, primarily the children who have a sick parent or sick sibling or sick grandparent, a sick family member. And we have programs for kids from age four up through the teenage years.

Jennifer Klemp: Great. And it's my understanding as well, you are a part of the University of Kansas Health System, but as a community resource you are sort of like Switzerland. You work with patients regardless of where they're cared for and and where their parents or the loved ones are cared for. Is that correct?

Moira Mulhern: That's correct. We see patients from all over the Metro, any hospital, regardless of what hospital.

Jennifer Klemp: Great.

Moira Mulhern: Where their physician is, they can come to Turning Point and they do.

Jennifer Klemp: And I think that is also unique because I know that sometimes there'll be a support group and patients sometimes feel awkward going to a support group that's at a hospital or a physician's office that isn't where they get their treatment. So your location is where, tell us about where you're located.

Moira Mulhern: We're at 89th and State Line.

Jennifer Klemp: Okay.

Moira Mulhern: We have a beautiful space with meeting rooms and a living room and a kitchen. It's a very comfortable homelike setting.

Jennifer Klemp: That's great. Thank you. And Courtney, as a person who's been able to benefit from some of the Turning Point programs, can you tell us a little bit about your experience and then the experience of maybe your children as well?

Courtney G.: Sure. So we take advantage of pretty much everything that will fit into our schedule because they have such a variety and everything we've taken there, all the classes we've taken have all been exceedingly helpful. So I get my program in the mail about the next two months classes and I start circling and I call them up and schedule my spot because it really is, it is a very warm environment physically, but also just even personally. All the people that work there are very warm, very welcoming. It's a space where when you already have a lot of other challenges happening, you feel very comfortable and you don't sort of have to have that layer of oh well I'm bald today and people might look at me weird. You feel very comfortable because there's other people there, they're going through the same thing you're going through or who have health issues of their own.

Jennifer Klemp: And so how did you first make it to Turning Point? Was it a friend or a Physician?

Courtney G.: Well, so when my mom was going through her cancer treatment, we used to see the brochures in the doctor's offices and whatnot. And I'd always look at them and say, "Mom, we should go to some of these. These look like really good programs." And we never made it. And then fast forward to my cancer diagnosis and then my treatment. And of course the pamphlets were still there. And so I said this time I'm going to go. And I ended up eventually getting there because of my children, as a parent concerned about how this would impact them. I thought, here's looks like a great free resource for my children. But of course I ended up staying for me.

Jennifer Klemp: Sure.

Courtney G.: So I take advantage of as many of the classes as I can too.

Jennifer Klemp: That's great.

Courtney G.: Yeah.

Jennifer Klemp: And some of the things that your kids have been able to kind of experience. What are the things, like if you could pinpoint maybe a specific issue or something that they were struggling with and what helped them through the Turning Point program?

Courtney G.: So you know they offer wide variety, anything from music programs to sort of arts and crafts to sort of play therapy based things. One of the things that's been really nice for us is that it offers us sort of structured environment to kind of come together as a family and experience people there to help us and not just distract us but entertain us and allow us to sort of be ourselves together in a way that's separate from the illness.

Jennifer Klemp: And you can process that experience probably?

Courtney G.: Yeah. And it's a good thing to do together besides just dragging the kids to doctor's appointments and those kinds of things. So they can sort of be a part of the illness without the illness being the main focus. A nice bonding opportunity for us.

Jennifer Klemp: Very good. So I think we have a question that came in. Do you want to? Alesha Miller: We do you have a question. Does it cost money to participate in programs at Turning Point? Jennifer Klemp: That's great.

Courtney G.: Can I take that actually?

Jennifer Klemp: Absolutely Courtney.

Courtney G.: That's one of the best things is that it's all free. And that is such a big relief when you already have things like medical bills and activities that offer just so much at no cost to you at all. That really makes it accessible. And so sorry, you can follow up.

Moira Mulhern: No, you said it really well.

Jennifer Klemp: And how do you make that happen?

Moira Mulhern: Well, we make that happen through philanthropy.

Jennifer Klemp: With a lot of work, yeah.

Moira Mulhern: Yes. Turning Point is donation-based, programs are all free of charge and we rely on donations from our generous donors.

Jennifer Klemp: That's great.

Moira Mulhern: To keep the programs free.

Jennifer Klemp: And do you have any special events that help bring people together, that help you raise money as well?

Moira Mulhern: Well, we have one now.

Jennifer Klemp: Great.

Moira Mulhern: It's in the spring and it's a card party. It's a morning of cards. It's called Bridge of Hope.

Jennifer Klemp: That sounds awesome.

Moira Mulhern: It sounds really nice. Yeah.

Jennifer Klemp: Great. Well good. These shared resources. I think that the nice part about them being free is that it does bring the community together to help support these vital resources. So that's great that you've been around. What's your year now? How many years?

Moira Mulhern: We started in 2001.

Jennifer Klemp: 2001, yeah. That shows you're resilient. That's great.

Moira Mulhern: Yes, we are. We live it.

Jennifer Klemp: Yes. We live what we preach. There's another question that's come in. Alesha Miller: Yes, there is another question. Are there programs that encourage cancer survivors to do strength training or other types of exercise?

Jennifer Klemp: So Courtney, do you want to answer that one?

Courtney G.: I've participated in one. Yes. One of the programs, I think it's called Moving for Life. Is that correct?

Moira Mulhern: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Courtney G.: By Susan Rigger. It's actually tailored specifically for people going through cancer treatment. They're very mindful of things like the possibility of lymphedema and sort of stretching and things like that. So low impact but gets you moving and really helps. And there's also another one I think that's about functional sort of exercise exercise.

Moira Mulhern: Yeah functional exercise, right.

Courtney G.: Right. Yeah.

Jennifer Klemp: And you brought up a really great point, the need for us as medical providers to send patients to places where we know that the people that you have on your staff are trained with patients who may be do have special needs, where they've had their lymph nodes removed or maybe it's a neurological condition or a heart condition. So tell us about kind of the staff that you have and it seems like you have a pretty multidisciplinary staff.

Moira Mulhern: We do. So we have eight staff members but about 100 contract facilitators that have professions elsewhere, in maybe private practice. And regarding the exercise programs, the people who provide the exercise programs have to be trained to work with populations who have limitations like the ones [crosstalk 00:12:13].

Jennifer Klemp: So you can choose from the best from the best.

Moira Mulhern: We do.

Jennifer Klemp: That's great. All right. I think there's another question that's come in.

Alesha Miller: Yes. Are there any Spanish programs?

Moira Mulhern: Unfortunately not currently. There has not been a big demand for Spanish speaking programs, but we would love to do them someday. And actually we did a while back, we had a program on diabetes that was facilitated by a Spanish speaking facilitator.

Jennifer Klemp: And you pointed out ...

Moira Mulhern: But we could do it.

Jennifer Klemp: Your main facility is in Leawood but you're delivering programs across our, what we call the catchment area, but really our region. How are you doing that?

Moira Mulhern: So all we need most of the time is a conference room to do a program. And so we are mobile, we can take Turning Point to any other part of the city. And we do. We go to North Kansas City, we go further South, we go to Lee Summit. And really any place that somebody requests a program.

Jennifer Klemp: Great.

Moira Mulhern: Within this area.

Jennifer Klemp: And Turning Point to go as you said.

Moira Mulhern: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Turning Point to go.

Jennifer Klemp: So it could be in person. And do you ever also do things sometimes by video? Is that something that you've offered in the past?

Moira Mulhern: Well, we've done programs across the State of Kansas through ITV. And we now have seven modules on our website that people can log into and experience a brief version of one of the classes.

Jennifer Klemp: That's great.

Moira Mulhern: And this would be for people who can't get out of the house or who want a refresher or.

Jennifer Klemp: And how do they get to those modules? Because some people like in person, some people like having something to go back to. So how does one find your modules?

Moira Mulhern: So they find the modules by going to our website, And there's a resilience tool box underneath the program icon and it takes you right to them.

Jennifer Klemp: So you just click on that box?

Moira Mulhern: Click on the box and there you go. You have your menu.

Jennifer Klemp: That's great. And how long does a module potentially take some one to take?

Moira Mulhern: Well, there's no real start or finish. It's not like you start and it takes 15 minutes. Jennifer Klemp: Okay.

Moira Mulhern: You have a lot of options of things that you can do within that module. So you can read things, you can listen to tutorials, which are just a few minutes. You can download some of the relaxation exercises.

Jennifer Klemp: Oh great.

Moira Mulhern: Some PDFs. Some other things.

Jennifer Klemp: So really it's sort of self directed. It's build my own journey.

Moira Mulhern: Right. And you can spend as much or as little time there as you need to and get something out of it. Jennifer Klemp: That's exceptional. And did you just recently launch these?

Moira Mulhern: We did, yeah.

Jennifer Klemp: Great. Well, congratulations. That's great.

Moira Mulhern: Just at the beginning of this year. Thanks.

Jennifer Klemp: Very good. And you also do a lot of training, right? So you kind of train the trainer. So across the community I think you've been able to really instill some of those facets, especially of resilience and other of your programs across the community. Is that correct?

Moira Mulhern: Yes.

Jennifer Klemp: Is that something someone could reach out to you and learn more about as well?

Moira Mulhern: Yes, they could. What we do, we do a lot of resilience training. We have actually a number of different training programs on communication, the basis of leadership.

Jennifer Klemp: That's great.

Moira Mulhern: Yeah, we do train the trainer. We'll go out, we have a lot of programs that can help with compassion fatigue and burnout for healthcare professionals. And we've been doing those out in the community as well with not for profits who have...

Jennifer Klemp: Right.

Moira Mulhern: Who have a high risk for compassion fatigue and burnout.

Jennifer Klemp: So really your programs are targeted towards patients, families, children, healthcare professionals.

Moira Mulhern: And corporations.

Jennifer Klemp: Really across the board. That's great.

Moira Mulhern: We go into companies and provide programs too.

Jennifer Klemp: That's awesome.

Moira Mulhern: Yeah.

Jennifer Klemp: Well thank you for sharing.

Moira Mulhern: Thanks for having us.

Jennifer Klemp: This has been really insightful to learn more about Turning Point. And Courtney thank you so much for sharing your personal experience and we hope that you continue to glean benefits from Turning Point.

Courtney G.: I'm glad to be here. I can't say enough good things about Turning Point. I keep asking when they're going to kick me out.

Moira Mulhern: We'll never kick her out.

Courtney G.: But I'll keep coming as long as they'll keep letting me.

Moira Mulhern: We'll keep letting her. Yeah.

Jennifer Klemp: Well, thank you Dr. Mulhern and thank you Courtney. And hopefully you all can join us next Wednesday where you're going to learn about advances in precision medicine right here from Bench to Bedside.

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