Vaccines Save Lives 

It’s hard to fully appreciate how vaccines have changed the world of modern medicine. The fact is, vaccines have helped save millions and millions of lives. On a global scale, health organizations work diligently to distribute vaccines to poorer countries. Thanks to increased access to the measles vaccine internationally, the annual death toll from this disease fell from almost 600,000 in 2000 to just 122,000 in 2012. However, vaccine-preventable diseases, such as measles, mumps, and whooping cough, are still a threat. They continue to infect U.S. children, resulting in hospitalizations and deaths every year. Outbreaks of preventable diseases occur when many parents decide not to vaccinate their children. In the year 2000, the endemic spread of measles was considered to be eliminated in the United States but is now on the rise. If children are not vaccinated, they can spread disease to other children who are too young to be vaccinated or to people with weakened immune systems, such as transplant recipients and people with cancer. When we vaccinate children, we not only protect other children, but family members, friends, and grandparents. Immunizations are not just for children. Protection from some childhood vaccines can wear off over time. You may be at risk because of your age, health, or lifestyle. All adults need immunizations to help prevent them from getting and spreading serious diseases. For instance, all adults need a seasonal flu vaccine every year. A study done by the CDC showed that the influenza vaccine saved 40,000 lives from flu-related deaths during the nine-year period from 2005-2014. Every adult should get the Tdap vaccine once if they did not receive it as an adolescent to protect against pertussis (whooping cough), and then a tetanus/diptheria booster shot every 10 years. You should talk with your doctor if you feel you should be exempt from these vaccinations. A recurrence in the rise of outbreaks of infectious diseases in the U.S., such as measles, can be traced to those traveling to the U.S. from other countries, but the CDC feels the real culprit is misinformation about vaccines. Anti-vaxxers take advantage of social media and the internet to stoke public resistance to vaccines. The World Health organization named vaccine hesitancy among the top 10 threats to global health in 2019. To help spread this message and to counter misinformation, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine created a website (see below) displaying overwhelming evidence that vaccines are safe. The American Medical Association sent a letter to top executives at Amazon, Facebook, Google, Pinterest, Twitter, and YouTube urging them to do more to stem the proliferation of health-related misinformation. For credible information about the safety of vaccines, talk to your doctor or visit: www.cdc.gov  or sites.nationalacademies.org/BasedOnScience/vaccines-are-safe/

The Schmidts’ – Leaving a Legacy

The Schmidt’s love Bear Lake and have spent summers on the shores since they were first married. Liz was diagnosed with a kidney disease and while visiting Bear Lake they travelled to Logan 3x a week for dialysis, consuming much of their energy and vacation time.

The Schmidt’s approached BLMH’s Administrator at the time, Rod Jacobson, about what it would take to establish the life-saving treatment at the smaller county-owned facility. After doing some research, Rod learned a new Dialysis Center would cost in excess of $500,000, an amount way beyond the Hospital’s ability to finance. When Ted and Liz have told the bad news their response was “could you do it if money was not the issue?".  After careful consideration and in light of the fact that several other Bear Lake residents were travelling long distances for dialysis, the Hospital Board of Trustees authorized the endeavor.

Within a year, Bear Lake Memorial Hospital had a fully functioning Dialysis Center and Liz Schmidt received her summer dialysis treatments at BLMH for several years. Since the beginning of the Dialysis Center literally, hundreds of patients have had their lifesaving treatments performed counting up to over 130,000 hours in the last 13 years. Even after Liz's passing, Ted continues to share their story and show support to this community. All of this made possible in one of the smallest and most caring dialysis center in the country... at the Bear Lake Memorial's Dialysis Center, Ted and Liz Schmidt made it a reality.

Want to share your story with us? Please call 208-847-0963 or email Julie.Nelson@blmhospital.com

Award Winning Home Health in Patient Satisfaction

Bear Lake Memorial Hospital’s Home Health earns 2018 SHPBestTM “Premier Performer” Patient Satisfaction Award   Montpelier, IDBear Lake Memorial Hospital’s Home Health has been recognized by Strategic Healthcare Programs (SHP) as a “Premier Performer” for achieving an overall patient satisfaction score that ranked in the top 5% of all eligible SHP clients for the 2018 calendar year. The annual SHPBest™ award program was created to acknowledge home health agencies that consistently provide high-quality service to their patients. The 2018 award recipients were determined by reviewing and ranking the overall satisfaction score for more than 2,500 home health providers. With the largest HHCAHPS benchmark in the nation, SHP is in a unique position to identify and recognize organizations that have made patient satisfaction a priority and have been rewarded for their efforts with high marks on the HHCAHPS survey. “SHP is proud to present the SHPBest awards to our top-performing customers. We commend these organizations for their continuous focus on delivering the highest quality of care to their patients”, said Rob Paulsson, President of SHP. Strategic Healthcare Programs (SHP) is a leader in data analytics and benchmarking that drive daily clinical and operational decisions. Our solutions bring real-time data to post-acute providers, hospitals, and ACOs to better coordinate quality care and improve patient outcomes. Since 1996, SHP has helped more than 7,000 organizations nationwide raise the bar for healthcare performance.  “Our home health team is dedicated to providing the best environment for employees and patients to promote healing at home,” says Home Health Director Shauna Dawes, “and this recognition validates the level of care and compassion we offer.  Our team couldn’t be more proud to represent Bear Lake Memorial Hospital in leading satisfaction through Home Health services.” Read more about the SHPBest awards program, including methodology and award recipient lists at https://www.shpdata.com/home-health/shpbest-hhcahps.  

Summer Safety 101

Bear Lake winters can be long and hard.  The excitement of spring and summer brings with it a desire to get out of the house and be more active.  By following a few main safety tips, summer can be an enjoyable, safe time. Stay Hydrated. The standard recommendation is to drink 6-8 glasses of water a day.  If you spend a fair amount of time in the sun, you may want to drink even more to avoid dehydration.  Don’t just depend on your body to tell you when you’re thirsty because as you age, you become less aware of your thirst.  Be proactive in staying hydrated. Sodas, coffee, and especially alcohol won’t work as good alternatives for hydration.  Water, sports drinks, and juice are the best. Don’t Stay Out for Too Long. If you are in extreme heat, you should keep your plans for outdoor activities reasonably short. Do not spend all day in the sun. After a couple of hours, plan to take a break.  You don’t always feel the effects of the sun in the exact moment, but it can build to something dangerous if you aren’t careful how much time you spend outside on hot days. Keep Sunscreen Where It’s Readily Accessible So That You Will Remember to Use It. If you carry a bag or purse, keep your sunscreen in it at all times.  If you don’t, stick your sunscreen in your care or anywhere else you can think of where you will be likely to have it when you need it.  You will need to reapply if you get wet, sweat, or stay outdoors for a reasonable amount of time. Check the Side Effects of Your Prescriptions. Some medications make people more sensitive to the sun.  Make sure you know if your prescriptions mean you need to take extra precautions.  Some common prescriptions you will need to be aware of that can increase sun sensitivity are: Antibiotics such as Doxycycline, Tetracycline, and Ciprofloxacin; Antidepressants such as Doxepin and other tricyclics: Antihistamines; some blood pressure drugs such as Hydrochlorothiazide, Aldactazide, and Diltiazem; many cholesterol drugs, diuretics, chemotherapy drugs, and NSAIDS such as ibuprofen. (This is not a comprehensive list.  Check with your doctor about your medications.) Use Air Conditioning If You Have It Making sure you are comfortable in your home is worth the price of air conditioning. If you don’t have it, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program may help if the cost is prohibitive.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

What is Mental Health? Mental Health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being.  It affects how we think, feel, and act as we cope with life.  It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices.  Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood through adulthood. What are Mental Illnesses? Mental illnesses are serious disorders which can affect your thinking, mood, and behavior.  They may be occasional or long-lasting.  They can affect your ability to relate to others and function each day.  Mental disorders are common; more than half of all Americans will be diagnosed with a mental disorder at some time in their life.  But there are treatments.  People with mental health problems can get better, and many of them recover completely. Why is Mental Health Important? Mental health is important because it can help you to: Cope with the stresses of life                           Be physically healthy Have good relationships                                    Make meaningful contributions to your community Work productively                                              Realize your full potential How can I improve my Mental Health? Stay Positive                                                Practice gratitude Be physically active                                    Connect with others Learn to manage/eliminate stress           Get enough sleep Get help to develop coping skills              Meditate Volunteer                                                      Grow a flower or vegetable garden Learn relaxation technics                           Let go of grudges and bitterness Learn to manage anger                               Practice “Mindfulness” technics   Resourced from https://medlineplus.gov/mentalhealth.html        

BLMH is Top 20 in the Nation

Bear Lake Memorial Hospital Named as 2019 Top 100 Critical Access Hospital  Bear Lake Memorial Hospital in Montpelier, ID scored in the Top 100 Critical Access Hospitals (CAH) in the United States by iVantage Health Analytics and The Chartis Center for Rural Health. This recognition is regarded as one of the industry’s most significant designations of performance excellence. Bear Lake Memorial is one of over 1300 Critical Access Hospitals surveyed nationally. This is the third year in a row the hospital has received this recognition additionally in 2018 they ranked as a Top 20 CAH by the National Rural Health Association.   “In an era of increased complexity and uncertainty, Top 100 hospitals have established themselves as a bellwether for rural provider performance,” said Michael Topchik, National Leader of The Chartis Center for Rural Health. “Top 100 status is a real indicator of how proactive these hospitals are when it comes to pushing for performance improvement in areas such as quality, outcomes, patient safety, market share and finance.”   Measurements like these reinforce Bear Lake Memorial’s high standards of quality healthcare and their vision of being most caring to the visitors and residents of the Bear Lake Valley and surrounding areas.    

April is Stress Awareness Month

Everyone has stress. Sometimes we have short-term stress, the kind that hits us when we get lost while driving or when we are late for an appointment. Even everyday events, such as dealing with difficult family members, or making time for errands can cause stress. This kind of stress can make us feel worried or anxious. Other times, we face long term stress, such as facing a chronic illness, dealing with death, divorce, or financial troubles. This kind of stress can affect your health on many levels, and can be a contributing factor in depression. Research shows how stress triggers changes in our bodies and makes us more likely to get sick. It can worsen problems we already have and can play a part in the following issues:
  • Trouble Sleeping
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Lack of Energy
  • Heart Problems
  • Lack of Concentration
  • Anger
  • Stomach Cramping
  • Skin Problems (Hives)
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Weight Gain or Loss
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Neck and/or Back Pain
  • Asthma/Arthritis Flare-Ups
Stress Reducers - The first step is to recognize when you’re feeling stressed. The next step is to choose a way to deal with your stress. One way to choice the event o thing that causes the stress—but this is not always possible. We have to learn to change how we react to stress. There are many ways we can reduce stress levels. Some of then include: Fine time to relax: It’s important to take time for yourself and unwind. This may include a hot bath, listening to soothing music, or reading. Sleep: When the body is well-rested, the defense systems works better. Try to get 7-9 hour of sleep each night. Eat Right: Fuel up with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and proteins. Avoid caffeine and sugar. Talk to Friends: Friends can be good listeners. Finding someone who will listen freely without judging does a world of good. Get help from a professional: Talk to a therapist for help navigate stresses. Write down your thoughts: Just put your feelings to paper as a release. Set Limits: Figure out what you can really do. There are only so many hours in a day. Plan your time: Planning ahead is one single most effective ways to reduce stress from the demands on our time.  

March is National Nutrition Month

March is National Nutrition Month Everyone has heard the phrase, “You are what you eat.”  That phrase has never been more important than it is today, given the variety of snack foods and fast-food diets.  National Nutrition Month, which is celebrated in March, is an excuse to step back and take stock of what we are really eating.  “Mindful” eating is important.  Some people find it helpful to keep a food journal and are often shocked at the number of empty calories, or the wrong kinds of calories being consumed in a day. Make a meal plan and make sure it’s balanced; include healthy carbs, proteins, and fiber.  Allow yourself some cheat days every now and again. Why is it important to have a “National Nutrition Month?”  Hopefully, it promotes healthier living.  A country with healthy citizens is bound to be more productive, and a productive economy is always good news, all around.  The more a healthier diet is promoted, the greater the chance for healthy lifestyles for all ages. Healthier eating does not mean compromising on your love for food.  It means adopting a more balanced approach instead.  Ingredients in your favorite recipes can be substituted for healthier options, such as substituting yogurt for sour cream. You can find an ingredient/food substitution list at www.heart.org. The internet is full of useful sites to help you make better-informed nutrition choices.  Some of those sites are: www.choosemyplate.gov www.eatright.org www.nutrition.gov www.healthierus.gov www.diabetes.org www.heart.org www.usda.gov   With the hope of combating childhood and adult obesity in America (both on the rise), sound nutritional information and practices become ever important to the well-being of our citizens and economy.

2019 Top 100 Critical Access Hospital

Bear Lake Memorial Hospital in Montpelier, ID scored in the Top 100 Critical Access Hospitals (CAH) in the United States by iVantage Health Analytics and The Chartis Center for Rural Health. This recognition is regarded as one of the industry’s most significant designations of performance excellence. Bear Lake Memorial is one of over 1300 Critical Access Hospitals surveyed nationally. This is the third year in a row the hospital has received this recognition additionally in 2018 they ranked as a Top 20 CAH by the National Rural Health Association. “In an era of increased complexity and uncertainty, Top 100 hospitals have established themselves as a bellwether for rural provider performance,” said Michael Topchik, National Leader of The Chartis Center for Rural Health. “Top 100 status is a real indicator of how proactive these hospitals are when it comes to pushing for performance improvement in areas such as quality, outcomes, patient safety, market share and finance.” Measurements like these reinforce Bear Lake Memorial’s high standards of quality healthcare and their vision of being most caring to the visitors and residents of the Bear Lake Valley and surrounding areas.

Having Sleeping Issues?

Sleep Apnea Sleep Apnea, the repeated stopping and starting of your breathing while you sleep, can be a serious risk to your health. Untreated sleep apnea has been linked to high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, liver problems, and possibly even dementia. Sleep Apnea Facts Sleep apnea affects up to 18 million Americans. People with sleep apnea can stop breathing as many as 30 times or more each night. Often a spouse or family member is the first to notice signs of sleep apnea in someone. The condition affects about 4 percent of middle-aged men and 2 percent of middle –aged women. Men, in general, suffer from sleep apnea more often than women. Children can also have sleep apnea. Sleep apnea in children has been linked to attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. (ADHD) Some studies suggest that sleep apnea runs in families. People with sleep apnea are three times more likely to be involved in motor vehicle accidents. People with sleep apnea sometimes fall asleep unexpectedly during the day, such as while talking on the phone or driving. Risk factors for sleep apnea include being overweight and having a large neck. Losing even 10 percent of body weight can help reduce the number of times a person with sleep apnea stops breathing during sleep. Smoking and alcohol use increase the risk of sleep apnea. Continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, is the most common, noninvasive treatment for moderate to severe sleep apnea. If you think you may have sleep apnea, lifestyle changes such as losing weight, avoiding alcohol before bedtime and quitting smoking can help. A primary care physician can refer you to a specialist to be evaluated for sleep apnea. Most of the time, a sleep test, or polysomnography, is conducted overnight at a sleep center.  If you are wary of spending the night in a strange bed and being hooked up to an array of equipment, then you can ask your doctor about possibly doing a home test.