Healthy food is important, but purchasing it isn’t always financially feasible, especially for families on limited budgets. To help support those who need help obtaining foods that are low in sugar, salt and fat, CoxHealth is launching its sixth annual Pack the Pantry healthy food drive, and the community is invited to participate.

“There are a variety of serious health challenges facing our community, including obesity, heart disease and diabetes,” said Glenda Miller, CoxHealth collaborative care coordinator and food drive organizer. “Through donations to local pantries, we want to support those who need some extra help obtaining the food necessary for a heart-healthy diet.”

Monett’s donations will benefit Monett Community Kitchen. Food donated in Springfield will be provided to Crosslines, Branson’s food donations will be send to pantries operated by Christian Action Ministries. Additionally, food collected in area clinics will benefit a variety of local charities.

The food drive began November 27, and runs through December 15. In Monett, residents can bring their donations to the information desk at the main entrance of the hospital

Some suggested items include no-sugar-added applesauce, 100-percent-fruit cups, low-sodium or “no salt added” canned vegetables, reduced sodium spaghetti sauce, tomato paste, brown rice, whole wheat noodles, canned chicken and dried beans.

Virtual visits

Getting well just got cheaper: now until February 28, patients who are treated for flu-like symptoms via CoxHealth’s DirectConnect virtual visits can be seen for only $20. This flat fee is available to anyone who needs to be treated for issues such as fever, chills, cough and aches, regardless of insurance. Simply use plan code FLU20 when starting the visit.

“We want to help patients get well in convenient ways, and stop the spread of illness by helping them stay at home when possible,” said Dr. Mark Costly, medical director for CoxHealth’s Regional Services. “Hopefully this offer will help spread the word that if someone has a computer or smart device, they can have their visit without even leaving home. Cameras make it possible to diagnose patients the same as if they were in an office.”

In addition to its convenience, DirectConnect also helps reduce the spread of illness and is simple to use. Anyone wishing to be seen by a healthcare professional simply goes to After filling out some initial information — such as name, birthdate and phone number — a CoxHealth Patient Navigator is sent the request for care. The navigator talks to the patient to determine the type of care required, and contacts the provider to join the patient in their virtual room.

A few minutes later, a provider logs on and sees the patient via webcam before making a diagnosis. If a prescription is needed, it is sent to a pharmacy and the patient can use his or her health insurance benefits just like when obtaining a prescription in a traditional office setting.

For more information about DirectConnect, call 417-269-TMED.