Oxford HealthCare “Cooling the Ozarks” combats heat risks for the elderly.

"Cooling the Ozarks" Box Fan Collection

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For the last five years, Oxford HealthCare has led the way in caring for seniors affected by the heat and humidity of an Ozarks summer.

The elderly and those with chronic disabling illness are the most vulnerable to heat-related complications. “Some seniors do not have air conditioning. More commonly though, we find seniors on a fixed income who cannot afford to run it, because of the rising costs of utilities and other expenses.” said Kim Sisk, Executive Director of In-Home Services, the division of Oxford that supports patients on Medicaid. “They scrimp on the AC in order to buy medication or groceries.”

A packet explaining the risks of heat exposure and the importance of hydration is provided along with each fan. The packet includes information on how to recognize the signs of a heat emergency a list of area cooling centers. Oxford Outreach Coordinator Julie Vanvig-Burnell explains, “Fans are just one step in the community education process; our goal is to help seniors stay well during the heat and hopefully to get other services to them if that’s what they need.”

This year, Oxford is joining with the Greene County Senior Citizen’s Tax Fund for a special one-day distribution of box fans to Greene County residents age 60 and over. The fans will be distributed June 24th from 11:00-1:00 at Oxford Healthcare, 1550 E. Sunshine. Fans will be available to the first 200 households. To receive a fan, individuals need to provide verification of age and residence. (For example: driver’s license and current utility bill or phone bill.)

Oxford is also partnering with the Southwest Missouri Office on Aging to provide “Heat and Your Health” education classes at the Senior Centers in Greene, Christian, and Webster counties and to put fans in the homes of homebound seniors. Oxford will provide 100 fans to be distributed to the homebound via the Meals on Wheels program at the following senior centers: Ash Grove, Marshfield, Nixa, Ozark, Republic, Seymour, Springfield Northview, Springfield Southside and Strafford. Fans are currently being distributed in the West Plains area through the Oxford Healthcare.

For more information, please call 1-800-749-6555. Plans are currently underway to expand the program to the Stone and Taney County areas as well.

Since 2009, Oxford has given more than 1,300 fans to needy seniors. Oxford HealthCare, an affiliate of CoxHealth, is celebrating the 40th anniversary of caring for people of all ages in their homes. Oxford offers the highest level of nursing and personal care, physical and occupational therapy, telemonitoring, and Lifeline personal emergency response services. Oxford works with Medicare, Medicaid, VA, self-pay and most private insurance.