Eat Right for Your Sight

It wasn’t just your mother telling you to eat carrots for better vision. People have known for centuries that certain foods can be good for your eyesight, including 16th Century Spanish explorers who carried chili peppers on voyages to help with night vision. Your mom and the explorers were smart: those chili peppers contained beta-carotene, vitamins C, E and B6, and folic acid, and the carrots had carotenoids and antioxidants. A diet rich in these nutrients may reduce the risk of developing macular degeneration and slow the progression of the disease in those already diagnosed. The easy part of eating for eye health is learning which kinds of foods are best, foods like salmon, eggs, corn, blueberries, peppers, and leafy green vegetables.    Age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, is a common eye condition and a leading cause of vision loss among people age 50 or older.  It causes damage to the macula, a small spot near the center of the retina and the part of the eye needed for sharp, central vision, which lets us see objects that are straight ahead.  In some cases, the disease advances slowly and vision loss does not occur for a long time.  In others, the disease progresses faster and may lead to loss of vision in one or both eyes. Age is a major risk factor for AMD.  Other risk factors include:
  • Smoking-smoking more than doubles the risk
  • Race-AMD is more common among Caucasians than African-
  • Americans or Hispanics
  • Family history and genetics-People with family history are at a higher risk
Lifestyle does make a difference.  Avoid smoking, exercise regularly, maintain normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and eat a healthy diet rich in green, leafy vegetables and fish.   Researchers at the National Eye Institute tested whether taking nutritional supplements could protect against AMD.  They found that daily intake of certain high-dose vitamins and mineral can slow progression of the disease in people who have intermediate AMD, and those who have late AMD in one eye.  Studies showed that a combination of vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, zinc, and copper can reduce the risk of late AMD by 25%. Other supplements help as well. The list published by the National Institute of Health includes: 500 milligrams of vitamin C 400 international units of vitamin E 80 milligrams of zinc as zinc oxide 2 milligrams of copper as cupric oxide 10 mg lutein and 2 mg zeaxanthin  

Top 100 in the Nation Two Years in a Row

Bear Lake Memorial Hospital in Montpelier, ID was recently named one of the Top 100 Critical Access Hospitals in the United States by iVantage Health Analytics and The Chartis Center for Rural Health. This is the second year in a row the hospital has gotten this recognition. BLMH is one of only three hospitals in Idaho that have received this ranking. Bear Lake Memorial scored in the top 100 of Critical Access Hospitals on iVantage Health Analytics’ Hospital Strength INDEX®. The INDEX is the industry’s most comprehensive rating of rural providers. Each hospital is measured across eight pillars of strength: Inpatient Share Ranking, Outpatient Share Ranking, Cost, Charge, Quality, Outcomes, Patient Perspectives, and Financial Stability. “It’s more important than ever that rural hospitals proactively understand and address performance in the areas of cost, quality, outcomes and patient perspective. iVantage’s INDEX was designed to serve as this industry model,” said Michael Topchik, national leader of the Chartis Center for Rural Health. Recognitions like these reinforce the high standard of quality healthcare the hospital provides and will continue to provide to the citizens of the Bear Lake Valley. Hospital Administrator, Dennis Carlson states, “This achievement is very gratifying and validates our daily commitment to providing the best health care possible to our community while maintaining an efficient and effective facility.”   See data directly from Beckers Hospital Review at  

March is National Colon Cancer Awareness Month

  • It is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death.
  • Colorectal cancer affects men and women equally, and people of all races and nationalities.
  • Anyone can get colorectal cancer.
  • The lifetime risk of being diagnosed with colorectal cancer is about one in 20.
  • The 5-year relative survival rate for Stage 1 and Stage II colon cancer was 90%; the 5-year survival rate for patients diagnosed at Stage III was 70% and Stage IV was 12%.
  • Colorectal cancer usually develops slowly over a period of 10 to 15 years.
  • Colorectal cancer rates in the US vary widely by geographic area. Contributing factors include regional variations in risk factors and access to screening and treatment.
  • Compared to whites, all other racial/ethnic groups are less likely to have colorectal cancer found in the early stages.
  • Colorectal cancer incidence rates have been declining in the US since the mid-1980s, due to increased awareness and screening.
  • Often, those who are diagnosed with colon cancer have experienced no signs or symptoms associated with the disease.
  • Currently, only about two-thirds of people aged 50 or older, for whom screening is recommended, report having received colorectal cancer testing consistent with current guidelines.
  • While most people diagnosed with colon cancer have no family history of the disease, those with a family history of the disease should begin screening at an earlier age.
  • People with a parent, sibling, or offspring with colorectal cancer have 2 or 3 times the risk of developing colon cancer compared to those with no family history of the disease.

When a relative is diagnosed at a young age or if there is more than one affected relative, the risk of developing colorectal cancer increases to three to six times that of the general population.

  • The risk of colorectal cancer increases with age; 91% of cases are diagnosed in individuals 50 years of age and older.
  • While rates of colon cancer have been declining among adults 50 years and older, incidence of colorectal cancer is increasing among adults under age 50.
  • Between 1998 and 2007 colorectal cancer cases have dropped steadily in adults over 50, but they increased by more than 2% each year in younger adults – as much as 4% for rectal cancers, and 3% for colon cancer.
  • Younger adults were more likely than older adults to be diagnosed with late-stage cancers.
  • People in their 30s were about 30% more likely than other age groups to be diagnosed with cancers in stage III or IV.

About 72% of cases of colorectal cancer in young people arise in the colon and about 28% in the rectum. According to the American Cancer Society, men and women should begin screening for colon cancer at age 50.

For more information follow this link:  

New Medicare Cards Coming in 2018

58 million Medicare beneficiaries will receive new Medicare cards beginning April 2018.  CMS hopes to have all of the cards mailed by April 2019.  You do not need to do anything to have the card mailed to you.  As long as Medicare and Social Security have your current address, the card will automatically be mailed to you.   Don’t be concerned if you don’t receive your card the same time as your spouse or your neighbor receives their card.   The new cards will have a new Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) and will consist of 11 letters and numbers, which are “non-intelligent, “ meaning they have no connection to any personal information about you, such as date of birth or where you were born, etc.   It is hoped that assigning beneficiaries a new random number will help alleviate identity theft and Medicare fraud. It is important to note that your coverage or benefits will not change and that your Medigap (supplemental) insurance will not be affected. As is expected, scams relating to the new card are already surfacing.  According to the Justice Department, the number of identity theft cases for people over 65 was 2.6 million in 2014.  Each year, the numbers go up.  Here are three common tactics scammers are  using: Rip-off artists call beneficiaries and tell them they can speed up the process of receiving a new card so the Medicare recipient won’t have any trouble when they go to a doctor’s office or hospital.  Scammers then ask the beneficiary for their personal information, such as bank account number, social security numbers, etc.  (Your old Medicare number will be good until December 31st, 2019, and you won’t be denied services because you don’t have your new card.) You get a phone call saying that you will receive your new card as soon as you pay.  Hang up!  The new card is free. Scammers pretending to be from CMS call you and say they don’t have the correct information on you and need it to mail you the new card.  You’re told you will lose benefits if you don’t give the information. Remember:  MEDICARE OR SOCIAL SECURITY WILL NEVER CALL YOU ASKING FOR INFORMATION. THEY ALREADY HAVE YOUR INFORMATION.   DO NOT GIVE OUT ANY PERSONAL INFORMATION OVER THE PHONE TO ANYONE UNLESS YOU HAVE INITIATED THE PHONE CALL. For questions about Medicare-related subjects, call the local SHIBA agent, Kim Hulme at 208.847.0949.  

Escape to a Healthier You Conference

The month of January prompts many to prioritize their health and Bear Lake Memorial Hospital has put together an event to help promote just that. Escape to a Healthier You is designed to educated attendees on relevant health concerns and help break up the long winter’s in Bear Lake. The event will be held at Bear Lake Middle School Auditorium at 1 pm – 5 pm. Tickets for the event are sold out. But if there is anyone unable to attend please find someone to use them or call Julie Nelson at 208-847-0963 so they can be given to those on a waiting list.  There is no assigned seating and saving of seats is not permitted they will be available on a first come, first serve basis. There will be a limited amount of book signing vouchers (two books per voucher) handed out as attendees arrive, so plan accordingly. Doors will be open to the public at 12:30 pm. Parking will be in the tabernacle lot unless needing wheelchair accessibility, then use the auditorium entrance from 6th Street.  The 7th Street parking is designated for presenters and volunteers of the event.   The Keynote speaker is Elizabeth Smart who will be addressing the audience at 4:00 pm. Many are familiar with her story but here’s an excerpt from her website, “The abduction of Elizabeth Smart was one of the most followed child abduction cases of our time. Elizabeth was abducted on June 5, 2002, and her captors controlled her by threatening to kill her and her family if she tried to escape. Fortunately, the police safely returned Elizabeth back to her family on March 12, 2003, after being held a prisoner for 9 grueling months. Through this traumatic experience, Elizabeth has become an advocate for change related to child abduction, recovery programs, and National legislation. Elizabeth triumphantly testified before her captor and the world about the very private nightmare she suffered during her abduction, which led to conviction.” Other presenters are from the Bear Lake Memorial Hospital staff and they include: Dr. Nicholas Packer discussing Women’s Health Concerns, Dr. Trevor Jacobson talking on Mindfulness, Dr. Clay Campbell presents on Patient’s Responsibilities, and before the Keynote Speaker Shaun Tobler MSW, LCSW will talk on Coping with Life’s Challenges. Attendees will receive a tote, a presentation booklet, and many free give away items, as well as snacks and water. Several drawings will be held throughout the day including giving away several of Elizabeth’s book “My Story”, chocolates, potted plants, and the final prize of the day will be a $200 Amazon Gift Card. Members of the committee for the Healthier You Conference are excited for this sold out event and hope those in attendance will find the information invaluable.

Bear Lake Memorial’s Weight Loss Program

Many struggle with carrying excess weight. It can affect everything in one’s life. . .  from sleeping, to mobility, preventing quality time with family and more. The daily stresses one faces can take you down a path of bad habits, hopelessness, and giving up on ourselves. Bear Lake Memorial Hospital recently added a weight loss program to assist community members with reaching their weight loss goals. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention over 2/3 of Americans are considered overweight or obese. Obesity can contribute to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and/or Stroke, gallbladder disease, joint issues, sleep apnea and breathing problems, and even mental illness (clinical depression, anxiety, etc.)   The weight loss program is designed to support individuals in the creating a lifestyle of health through consults with physical therapy, counseling services, and dietician support. There are also surgical options that greatly increase the chance of long-term weight loss. With a 70% success rate the Gastric Sleeve surgery, performed by Board Certified Surgeon Joseph Podany, is available through most insurances but can be paid privately if needed.  The national cost for Gastric Sleeve surgery is around $12,600. The Sleeve is a permanent alteration to the stomach, which means part of it is removed completely. With that removal the hormones that produce the feeling of hunger are reduced as well. To get started on the process, attending a free FREE Weight Loss Seminar to introduce you to the process and answer any preliminary question. The next seminar will be held on January 15th.but additional seminars are held bi-monthly. Register by calling 208-847-1110. Then there is a FREE follow up consult appointment where the patient’s health history will be reviewed and assess their eligibility for surgery. A membership to Absolute Fitness Center will be available for six months during the program. They will also go through a goal-setting session with the program coordinator. Every surgeon and facility has a slightly different approach to the weight loss surgery process but the end result speaks volumes to the impact and increased quality of the patient’s health and life.   The lifestyle consults and program coordinator is with the patient every step of the way. Success is possible and Bear Lake Memorial Hospital hopes to be there for you and your weight loss needs.

Fall Prevention

Falls are a common danger facing people as they age, and for seniors, a fall can be really bad news.  A new study shows the importance of avoiding that first fall. The findings, published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, showed that more than half the seniors who went to the emergency room because of a fall either had additional falls, had to be hospitalized, or died within 6 months. According to the National Council on Aging, every 11 seconds an older adult is seen in an emergency department for a fall-related injury.  However, by becoming educated and taking a few precautions, many falls are preventable. The National Council on Aging gives 6 basic tips for preventing falls:  
  1. Find a good balance and exercise program
Look to build balance, strength, and flexibility.  Find a program you like through a local agency or through the internet, and enlist a friend.  
  1. Talk to your health care provider
As for an assessment of your risk of falling.  Share your history of recent falls.  
  1. Regularly review your medications with your doctor or pharmacist
Make sure that one of the side effects of your medication isn’t an increased risk of falling.  Take medications only as prescribed.  
  1. Get your vision and hearing checked annually and update your eyeglasses
Your eyes and ears are key to keeping you on your feet.  
  1. Keep your home safe
Remove tripping hazards, increase lighting, make stairs safe, and install grab bars in key areas.  It goes without saying that avoiding icy walkways, and wearing the right footwear is essential to preventing falls in the winter.  
  1. Talk to family members
Enlist their support in taking simple steps and keeping your home safe. Falls are not just a Senior issue.

Flu Season in Full Swing

National Flu Awareness Week Flu
  • The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death.
  • People of every age, including people in good health, are at risk of flu.
  • Influenza can cause illness & sometimes severe disease in persons of any age.
  • Flu causes millions of illnesses, hundreds of thousands of t1ospita1lzatlons and thousands or tens of thousands of deaths each year in the United States.
  • Although a majority of hospitalizations and deaths occur in people 65 years and older, even healthy young children and younger adults can have severe disease or even die from influenza.
  • Over 100 pediatric deaths from influenza were reported to CDC last season.
  Flu Vaccinations
  • An annual flu vaccine is the best way to protect against this potentially serious disease.
- Flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctor visits, missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations. - Flu vaccination also may make your illness milder if you do get sick. - Getting vaccinated yourself protects people around you, including those    who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness, like babies and young children, older people, and people with certain chronic health conditions.
  • Despite the unpredictable nature of the flu, you should know:
- You need the 2017-2018 flu vaccine for optimal protection against the flu this season because: o Flu viruses are constantly changing, and this season's vaccines have been updated to protect against the viruses that surveillance data indicate will be most common this flu season o  A person's immune protection from vaccine declines over time so annual flu vaccination is needed for the best protection
  • It takes about 2 weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body that protects against influenza virus infection.
  • While seasonal flu outbreaks can happen as early as October, flu activity is usually highest between December and February, though activity can last as late as May. As long as flu viruses are circulating, it's not too late to get vaccinated, even in January or later.
  • With flu activity increasing & family & friends planning gatherings for the holidays, now is the time to get a flu vaccine if you haven't been vaccinated yet this season. A flu vaccine can protect you & your loved ones from the flu.

#GivingTuesday M-R-I for Y-O-U

Many may think an MRI machine is just a piece of equipment, but it’s so much more. It can be a LIFESAVER. An MRI scan can help diagnose cancer, strokes, aneurysms, spinal issues and other injuries. “A patient came in for an MRI on her shoulder due to severe pain,” recalls an MRI technician. “I noticed an abnormal area in her lung and brought this to the radiologist’s attention. The patient was diagnosed with lung cancer. I was told by the radiologist I saved her life because we caught the cancer early.” At Bear Lake Memorial Hospital we have access to a mobile MRI machine, however, it is a shared resource between several hospitals and is only here 1 to 2 times per week. There are often waiting lists to receive an MRI with our current setup, which forces urgent out of the area trips to get an MRI scan. This limited access makes it difficult for our community to receive the best care. Purchasing an MRI is an investment in us.  It is an investment in our community. It is an investment that we cannot delay.  This is an M-R-I for Y-O-U. Your generous contribution to purchase an MRI machine can be made as a one-time investment or it can be structured as a periodic, recurring donation that you can modify at any time. Because Bear Lake Valley Health Care Foundation is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, your gifts are tax deductible. Please use the enclosed donation card and return envelope to send in your gift or go online to and click “Donate Now”

Brake for Breakfast Success

Bear Lake Memorial Hospital kicked off Breast Cancer Awareness Month with their annual Brake for Breakfast event on Wednesday, October 4th. Car after car proceeded through the nursing home driveway to receive their goodies. Brake for Breakfast is a regional event co-sponsored with The Hospital Cooperative in Pocatello.  With the help of hospital auxiliary volunteers, 1200 bags were given out containing information about mammograms and breast cancer along with a light breakfast. Some informational items were generously donated by the Susan G. Komen Affiliate of Idaho/Montana. Another success to celebrate includes Bear Lake Valley Health Care Foundation and the Hospital Auxiliary purchasing a new bus for the Nursing Home and Assisted Living residents. An open house for the public will be held October 19th from 5– 6:30 pm to view the new bus and see the recently built employee/patient patio on the south end of the hospital. Donors will be recognized that evening. Bear Lake Memorial wants to remind the people of Bear Lake Valley that prevention is the best protection and to get your mammogram. An appointment can be made by calling 208-847-1630.