Nick Timmons Endowed Professorship in Suicide Prevention Research

The past two years, through the Nick’s Voice Fund, “Fore the Kids” has devoted its resources to enhancing a school-based mental health initiative between Children’s Mercy and the Blue Valley School District as well as hosted the Nick’s Voice Community Report, a public forum featuring experts in pediatric developmental and behavioral sciences from Children’s Mercy and the Blue Valley School District.

Pediatric Psychologist Endowed Professorship Position at Children’s Mercy Kansas City

Through the Nick’s Voice Fund, proceeds from the 2018 tournament allowed for the creation of the Nick Timmons Endowed Professorship in Developmental and Behavioral Sciences. This endowed fund supports a new position to be used by the Division of Developmental and Behavioral Sciences to enhance research efforts to prevent suicide and treat anxiety, depression and mood disorders in the adolescent population. The first of its kind at Children’s Mercy, this endowed professorship position will allow the hospital and “Fore the Kids” to further enhance all efforts to address pediatric and adolescent mental health in our community.

The Division of Developmental and Behavioral Sciences is comprised of 52 child psychologists, 8 developmental pediatricians, and 7 child and adolescent psychiatrists. In collaboration with the Children’s Mercy Research Institute and Department of Pediatrics, we seek to expand upon existing suicide prevention clinical and research programs. The professorship will  include community educational presentations and teaching/supervision of medical and psychology trainees through the hospital’s APA-accredited psychology internship, psychology and developmental-behavioral pediatrics fellowships, pediatric residency program, and psychology practicums.

In 2018, the Children’s Research Institute received $150 million from the Hall Family Foundation and the Sunderland Family Foundation. This funding is supporting the construction of a new 375,000 square foot research building (anticipated completion August, 2020), as well as extensive investments in faculty, staff, and programs, all dedicated to pediatric research. We have mature collaborations with more than 50 hospitals and academic institutions worldwide, and strong ties with regional partners such as the University of Kansas, University of Kansas Medical Center, University of Missouri-Kansas City, and Stower’s Research Institute, which provide a rich research environment and support for continued professional development.

About the Nick Timmons Endowed Professorship

  • We have created a new position focused on seeing children AND researching and publishing the findings on how we can prevent suicide
  • This will assist with the almost 2,000 referrals/month and help us educate parents and the community on findings for prevention
  • This position is endowed and will forever be held at Children’s Mercy, in Nick’s name
  • All publications and the title of the position will hold Nick Timmons name and be always referenced
  • Endowed positions are high honors in academic medicine and make the position highly sought in recruitment
  • Annual reports will be sent to the donor family on findings and developments by the position leader, in perpetuity

Professorship Qualifications

  • Psychologists with an academic record in suicide related research
  • position will entail clinical care, research, and program development
  • an earned PhD or PsyD in clinical psychology or counseling psychology from an accredited college or university
  • a completed APA-approved internship
  •  license eligibility in Missouri and Kansas
  • a record of funded research and scholarly publication commensurate with an academic rank of Associate or Full Professor. Consistently ranked among the nation’s best children’s hospitals, Children’s Mercy integrates innovative clinical care, research and academic advancement to transform outcomes for half a million children in Kansas City and across the globe.

Fore The Kids Founding Story

In 2005, Jordan Paden checked into Children’s Mercy at 11 years old knowing something was wrong. 4 ½ months later she was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. Jordan would end up in and out of the hospital for years to follow. The Paden family had been close with Nick and Jake’s owners, Kevin Timmons and Doug Watkins. After visiting Jordan in the hospital, Timmons discovered how bored she was sitting in the bed all day long. He also discovered how difficult it was for her to stay caught up in school. It was then that Fore the Kids would begin a partnership with the children’s hospital to help raise funds for new laptops that both patients and doctors could use.

As the years passed, the need for new technology would grow. Fore the Kids switched from laptops to iPads, providing one for every long-term bed in the hospital. They started a dog therapy program. They opened “Leo’s Place”, a playroom for childhood cancer patients, as well as a sports medicine clinic in southern Johnson County. And in 2015 and 2016 Fore the Kids raised over $980,000 to purchase three much needed fully equipped ambulances for the hospital.

Today our mission has shifted from technology to mind. For years the topic of suicide and depression for school-aged children has been so taboo and terrifying to talk about, but the fact of the matter is, suicide is the second leading cause of death in the united states for anyone between the ages of 10-24. More teenagers die from suicide than cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza, and chronic lung disease, COMBINED.

The “Nick’s Voice” fund was created in 2017 to support the behavioral sciences department at Children’s Mercy that specializes in depression, anxiety, and mood disorders. 2017 helped bring 19 new social workers to the Blue Valley School District that began their work directly with students at risk of suicide, but who might not need immediate hospital attention. The goal is to help Children’s Mercy shorten their wait list for mental health needs and ensure that our children are getting the care they require. We hope to create a dramatic effect on the suicide rates in the Kansas City area for young people.

Serial Killer Loose in Johnson County

Serial Killer Loose in Johnson County

Written by Dr. Mike Artman, Senior Vice President and Head of Pediatrics at Children’s Mercy


I’m here to tell you that there is a serial killer on the loose in Johnson County.

This killer strikes every 4-5 days. Every 4-5 days someone dies at the hands of this killer.

In the first nine months of this year[2017], January through September, he has taken 63 lives in Johnson County. Some of you may know some of these victims – they are our children, teens, and young adults.

What’s more, we know the identity of this serial killer – his name is suicide.

So instead of suicide, if we knew there was an individual wandering the streets of our community randomly killing our children at the rate of 1 or more each and every week, we would be outraged. We would be shouting for help from the rooftops. There would be a very intense and loud call to action.

So why aren’t we clamoring to put a stop to this killer called suicide? Why are we silent? Where is the outrage? Why are we ignoring this threat to our children and family members?

I think there are two reasons: one, we are ashamed. There is still a stigma associated with depression, anxiety, mental illness and ultimately taking one’s own life. Two, it’s a very complex issue without simple solutions. But we have to start somewhere, and that start is right here, right now, today.

Thanks to the courage of Kevin Timmons and his family, we are all engaged in this effort. Your contributions and proceeds from today’s event will go to fund a pilot project between mental health experts at Children’s Mercy and the Blue Valley School district to develop a school-based approach to suicide prevention. We are still working on the details, but it will involve social workers, psychologists, and psychiatrists in the schools and accessible by telemedicine. We envision a multifaceted approach that combines education and access to mental health professionals with a single focus to prevent suicide. And this is just the beginning. We will learn from this pilot project so we can scale up these efforts and make a meaningful and sustained impact on this epidemic locally, regionally and beyond.

Today everyone can be a part of our call to action – please donate today.

In Memory of Leo Andrew Scott

In January of 2015, our world was devastated by the lost a great man. A native of Kansas City, Leo was many things to many people but the roles he cherished most in his lifetime were those attached to his family and friends. He was at his core: a son, a brother, a husband, a father, a grandpa, an uncle and a friend. Leo was the kind of person that everyone loved to be with.

Many hearts were broken when we found out that Leo had an aggressive cancer which would take him from us in only a few short months.

Before his passing, he would spend many days on the golf course. There wasn’t a day that went by where he didn’t stop at Nick and Jake’s in Overland Park, thus honoring him the title of “mayor” for the restaurant. Leo played in the Fore the Kids golf tournament every year. Which is why his family and friends came together to form a sponsorship in his name for the tournament. It was then that the idea for “Leo’s Place” formed. A playroom at Children’s Mercy for kids fighting cancer. Being such a playful man himself, it just made sense.

He radiated warmth and made everyone he met feel valued and special. He always managed to have fun and make people laugh. He was sincere in everything he did and courageous in all endeavors. If he were here today, he would wish for each of you two things: peace and love. The Nick and Jake’s and Fore the Kids family misses him dearly, but we know with each year, he is watching over the golf tournament, cheering everyone on!

Fuzz Therapy at Children’s Mercy Hospital

Two of the newest members of the Children’s Mercy staff are bringing to the hospital their special brand of what cartoon characters Calvin and Hobbes called “fuzz therapy.”

Hunter and Hope, adorable Golden Retrievers, are on the job at the Adele Hall Campus and Children’s Mercy South (respectively), delivering comfort, cheer and day-brightening tail wags to help patients on their road to recovery.

The Child Life Facility Dog team: Missy Stover (standing); Hope and her primary handler, Allison Bowring (left); and Hunter and his primary handler, Aimee Hoflander (right).

Furry Companions

Hunter with Rachel, a 15-year-old who has been “best buds” with Hunter since he started working on 4 Henson/Hall in June.

Now that dream is a reality.

Hunter and Hope were trained at Canine Assistants, an Atlanta-based organization that provides service dogs to individuals and facility dogs to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and pediatric hospitals across the country. Missy and Amanda Woelk, also of Child Life, visited Atlanta about a year ago and were impressed with what they saw. (Hunter and Hope are owned by Canine Assistants but work here under contract.)

Hope works primarily at Children’s Mercy South, bringing smiles to patients like 9-year-old Lauren. “We got to go to the hospital and see the dogs work their magic,” Missy said. “We really feel like our kids would benefit, the way theirs do.”

Therapy dogs are credited with helping to meet patients’ physical and emotional needs, including taking their minds off their pain and problems, reducing anxiety and promoting shorter recovery times.

As 10-year-old Atlanta patient’s testimonial perhaps sums up best what a therapy dog can do for hospitalized youngsters: “He turned my frown upside down.”

Hope with Ahmed Abdelmoity, MD, Chief-Section of Epilepsy and Neurophysiology, a strong supporter of the Facility Dog program. Hunter’s primary handler is Aimee Hoflander of Child Life; they are assigned mainly to Hem/Onc/BMT on the Adele Hall Campus. Hope’s primary handler is Allison Bowring, also of Child Life; they are assigned primarily to the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center at Children’s Mercy South.

“These guys are full-time employees,” Missy said. “They come to work every day (Monday-Friday). However, one thing we would like employees to understand is that they are still in training mode. They are amazing dogs, but we still have a lot of work to do with them. We’ve been taking it slow, easing into it to make sure the dogs are comfortable in their environment.”

Ground Rules

The guidelines Child Life is asking employees to observe when they encounter Hunter and Hope are less restrictive than with some service dogs. Often people are asked not to pet or interact with service dogs that are working for people with disabilities to avoid distraction.

“We want employees to be able to pet Hunter and Hope,” Missy said. “Obviously, we want our patients and families to do most of the petting, but staff and anyone else who come in contact with them are welcome to say hello.”

Here are other guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Ask permission from their handlers before you pet Hunter or Hope.
  • Sanitize your hands before and after touching the dogs. Their handlers carry hand sanitizer at all times.
  • The handlers closely monitor the dogs’ diet, so please do not offer treats or people food.
  • Hunter and Hope can be handled only by their primary handlers or backup handlers who have received training.
  • Please don’t ask to take photos or “selfies.”
  • Although they are very kissable, we want to discourage “kisses” in the hospital environment.
  • If you allergic to dogs or are otherwise uncomfortable around dogs, please let the handlers know.

“Please keep in mind that when you see them, Hunter and Hope are working and probably on their way to spend time with patients,” Missy said. “Although we welcome employees to interact briefly with the dogs, we don’t want to take time away from patients. We’re asking employees to make it short and let the dogs get on their way.”

Hunter, Hope, Aimee and Allison with “Buddy,” a bronze sculpture in the garden of the Lisa Barth Chapel created by Kansas City artist Tom Corbin and given to the hospital by James B. Nutter Sr. and his wife Annabel earlier this year. The sculpture is a memorial to the Nutters’ deceased daughter, Nancy, who was a dog lover who owned eight dogs, one of which was Buddy, whom the sculpture was named after. Children and families at the hospital often visit Buddy to find consolation when they aren’t able to be with their pets at home. Read more about Buddy.

Requesting Visits

In their primary service areas of Hem/Onc/BMT and the South Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU) and Epilepsy Clinic, nursing approval is all that is necessary to arrange a patient visit. Hunter and Hope have limited availability for visits in other units (excluding the ICN and PICU) by connecting with the Child Life specialist assigned to your unit and submitting a consult through PHRED. Signed parental consent is required and the patient must be free of isolation precautions.

Research Plans

One of the ambitions for the Facility Dog Program after the canines are acclimated is to document their impact.

“We’re really excited to do some research on how these dogs benefit the kids, determine if their hospital experience is better because of the dogs, and measure outcomes that can be attributed to having therapy dogs available,” Missy said. “We also would like to do research on benefits for our staff … for example, if an employee has had a really bad day or difficult conversation with a family, it would be a great research opportunity to see if the therapy dogs can help.”