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2020 Health Care Champions Top Doctor: Dr. Kayce Morton

Jordan Valley Community Health Center and CoxHealth

Posted online

Long before Kayce Morton had the doctor credentials in front of her name, she knew she wanted to care for children. It started when her sister was born.

“I loved taking care of her and hated it when she was in any kind of pain,” Morton recalls. “From that point on, I always wanted to help kids.”

That young girl was determined to fulfill her desire to become a pediatrician.

“I started working in the hospital as soon as I could, which was when I turned 16,” Morton says.

Her higher education path started with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and biology from Drury University, then she completed the doctor of osteopathy program at Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences. Morton finished up with a pediatric residency through the University of Missouri-Columbia.

She now wears a couple hats in pediatrics. Morton is pediatric medical director for Jordan Valley Community Health Center and a pediatric hospitalist for CoxHealth.

However, her approach is to educate families to help them prevent illnesses and injuries – and to teach them to take control of their own health.

“Although I am taking care of kids, the whole family unit is important to the success of the kids,” she adds.

Morton cites the “simple wins” of helping a parent stop smoking for their family, witnessing a child’s excitement about making healthy food choices or watching a youngster with complex medical problems progress in therapy treatments and hit their goals.

“The longer I have practiced medicine, the more I see the horrible cycle of poverty and trauma, and the difficulties it causes families to be healthy and/or know how to raise healthy kids,” she says. “This has led me to be more involved in various areas other than just practicing medicine.”

Morton currently serves as president of the Greene County Medical Society, chairperson for the Pediatric Hospital Medicine Clinical Course 2022 and communication chair for the American Academy of Pediatrics, Missouri chapter.

In the past year, Morton advocated for Springfield City Council’s passage of the Tobacco 21 initiative that moved the legal age for purchasing tobacco products to 21 from 18 years old. And on a statewide level, she worked to gather signatures and inform Missourians about the benefits of expanding Medicaid. The legislation passed in the August primary election, and it’s scheduled to take effect in mid-2021.

“I don’t know if I would say I’ve championed health care, but I do believe I find opportunities and use them to the best advantage for my patients and their families,” Morton says.

Earlier this year, that meant adjusting the way care was given during the coronavirus pandemic. Pediatric patient visits were down at Jordan Valley and CoxHealth, she says.

“We didn’t want to miss any patients if they needed to be seen because maintaining normal healthy care is important,” Morton says, particularly of her Jordan Valley patients. “Our pediatric staff rallied contacting patients; we embraced and increased our telehealth visits.”

For those who couldn’t get on Zoom calls with doctors or or did not have dependable Wi-Fi internet, she says the Jordan Valley medical team made phone calls to check in on patients, refill their medications on time and provide needed resources.

“Our team did such a great job, and the parents were very thankful for this service,” Morton says.

Colleague Dr. Jim Blaine credits Morton’s leadership in the Greene County Medical Society for helping prepare the community for COVID-19.

“Kayce was instrumental in encouraging the passage of the Springfield mask mandate ordinance,” Blaine says. “Many COVID cases will be avoided as a result of the Springfield City Council’s political courage.”

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