7 Ways to Boost Your Immune System

Your immune system includes T cells, which attack other, illness-causing cells. They’re able to “remember” an invader, then defend against it better later. When you are older, you make fewer T cells, and most vaccines require new T cells to work. Not only do you make fewer T cells, but the ones you have don’t communicate with each other as well as they once did. Follow the medically recommended suggestions below to help strengthen your immune system. Get a flu vaccination An annual flu vaccination can reduce your risk of infection by 40 to 60 percent. It can take up to two weeks for the flu vaccine to be effective. The vaccine works by stimulating your immune system to create antibodies, which can protect an infection. The flu virus changes from year to year, so you’ll need to repeat the vaccination each year. Eat a Healthy Diet Eating a healthy, nutrient-rich diet is another way to boost your immune system so that it can fight off viruses. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables promotes a healthy immune system. Avoid sugars, fat, and processed foods. If you feel that you’re not getting enough nutrients, ask your doctor about taking a vitamin supplement. Get Active Exercise increases blood circulation and has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body. Aim for 30 minutes three days a week. Lower Your Stress Level Chronic stress can affect your immune system, decreasing its effectiveness. Chronic stress lowers your immune system response. Get Plenty of Sleep Sleep deprivation also reduces the effectiveness of the immune system. Sleep becomes more important with age because it also helps improve brain function, concentration, and memory. Maintain a Healthy Weight Being physically active and eating a healthy diet can help you maintain a healthy weight and can help reduce inflammation. Spend Time Outdoors Vitamin D helps strengthen the immune system. Spending time outdoors allows your body to convert vitamin D from sun exposure. You may want to take a supplement if you don’t spend enough time outdoors.

Masks Matter!

Here are FIVE myths about mask-wearing! With the outbreak of the worldwide pandemic of COVID-19 there has been a lot of confusion and controversy about the use of masks to slow the spread of the disease. It is easy to see where the confusion came from, as in the beginning, the CDC was recommending we did not have to wear masks and they were to be saved for health care professionals and first-line responders. However, with emerging information and data this far into the pandemic, we can now separate fact from fiction about the use of masks as a defense against the disease. The following information is from the Cleveland Clinic and debunks the most common myths surrounding the use of masks during this pandemic. Myth #1: Wearing a cloth mask is no use. Wearing a homemade cloth face mask is an easy way you can help protect others in your family and community. Covid-19 is thought to mainly be spread through viral droplets that come out of people’s nose or mouth when they cough, sneeze or talk. Cloth masks act as a barrier to keep large droplets from spewing out and into the air, allowing someone else to breathe them in and become infected. Studies show that cloth masks reduce the number of microorganisms that someone releases into the air. Myth #2: If I’m not sick, I don’t need to wear a mask. Many people can be infected and not show any symptoms. These people unknowingly pass on the virus to others when they cough, sneeze, or talk. Because we don’t know for sure who is infected, it is safest for us all to wear masks. It’s an act that contributes to the greater public good. Myth #3: If I wear a mask, I don’t need to social distance or stay home. Masks are just one piece of the strategy for preventing the spread of coronavirus. It’s important to follow all of the recommended steps including practicing proper social distancing ( 6 feet apart), not gathering in large groups, washing hands, and not touching your face (unless, of course, you have washed your hands.) Myth #4: My mask just needs to cover my mouth A mask should cover your mouth and nose. It should be snug, but comfortable and you should be able to breathe without restriction. Myth #5: Wearing a mask will make me sick. Social media is rampant with posts that promote the idea that wearing a mask can cause you to rebreathe the carbon dioxide you exhale, and it will make you sick. This is false information and is very unlikely to happen from wearing a cloth mask.

Volunteer of the Year, Scholarships, Thrift Store Changes & other Hospital Auxiliary Updates

Typically, volunteer appreciation is celebrated with a banquet in April, but due to COVID-19 restrictions and precautions Bear Lake Memorial Hospital wants to now acknowledge its Auxiliary and volunteers for their efforts this past year. There are over 100 volunteer who serve in various capacities throughout the hospital and within the Auxiliary. Each volunteer has been given certificates of appreciation. There are 13 individuals who have donated over 500+ hours of their time and four individuals with over 1000 hours.  There was a total of 27,650 combined volunteer hours for 2019-2020. The volunteer members award the honor of Auxiliary Volunteer of the Year to an individual whom auxiliary members vote as being the best representative of their organization during the past year. This year is Taelor Crockett. She has donated countless hours to the auxiliary on behalf of the community members. She is often found helping at events and in the Auxiliary’s Thrift Store. She has been with the organization for 5 years and donated countless hours of her time. This year the group chose two high school scholarship winners. The scholarships are based on the students overall volunteering experience throughout their high school career. Lily Richardson from Cokeville High School and Linda Wilkes from Bear Lake High School have each been awarded $1000 to further their education. The Thrift Store has been closed because of the risk posed to the public and the volunteers, but has now reopened with special donation hours. Appointments must be made for any furniture or large donations by calling 208-847-4445. Otherwise bagged and boxed donations will be accepted Tuesday through Saturday 8am – 3pm. No Mattresses/Box Springs, TVs, or broken items are accepted. Estates and yard sale donations must be carefully sorted prior to donating. The property is under surveillance and no dumping is permitted. Regular store hours are Wednesdays– Fridays 10am through 5pm and 10am – 2pm Saturdays. Everyone is asked to wear a mask to protect everyone that works and shops at the Thrift Store. The Thrift Store provides Christmas vouchers and care totes for all the schools including Cokeville.  The Christmas vouchers allow families in need to receive merchandise from the Thrift Store.  The Care Totes provide warm clean clothes to children in need who are identified by their teachers. The Auxiliary supports the hospital’s health care foundation by providing volunteer workers for their activities including the Salmon BBQ & Run, Raspberry Days Booth/Parade, County Fair Booth, the Golf “Fore” Health tournament, and any other activity needing workers. They continue to provide comfort care to Bear Lake Memorial’s patients and residents by helping fall risk patients, giving social and spiritual support for the lonely, giving transportation to doctor’s appointments, picking up medication and groceries, and assisting with bingo games. This group also assists the hospital, skilled nursing facility, and manor by providing a cafeteria cashier, daily snack cart, assistance with medical records, patient feeding assistance, music therapy and social engagement. They provided calendars for the Brake for Breakfast Breast Cancer Awareness Event in October, tray favors and Christmas stockings to residents at the nursing home and manor, provided breakfast for the Golf “Fore” Health tournament.  Their biggest event the annual Snowball Dance fundraiser held in February. Money raised at this event benefits the hospitals ER renovations and MRI Suite coming in 2021.  Their efforts are and will always be appreciated. If you are interested in being a part of this organization, please contact Lott Crockett at 208-847-4445.

Tools to Thrive During COVID

We are living in unique times. Amidst social distancing, abundant information (good and bad) about the coronavirus, and changes in our daily living patterns, the greatest toll can be on our mental well-being. For social people, not being able to connect with friends and loved ones in the usual way can erode feelings of well-being and interfere with one’s sense of security. Connecting with others and creating healthy routines are important steps to take to help stay on top mentally. Connect With Others— Normally, Americans spend 2.5 hours per day watching television and only half an hour per day socializing. Because of the pandemic and social distancing orders, even less time is spent socializing so it is important to find other ways to connect. Phone calls, texting, social media, emails, and video chats are all ways of keeping in touch with others. Try taking a walk around your neighborhood. It’s possible to chat with neighbors from a distance and still feel connected. Even if you think your situation is fine, there may be someone who could benefit from hearing from you. It’s the connections we make with others that enrich our lives and get us through tough times. Try to spend at least one-half hour a day connecting with others. Create Healthy Routines Studies show that people with more daily routines have lower levels of distress when facing problems with their health or negative life events. When it comes to diet, sleep, and exercise, having good, strong routines is linked to improved mental and physical health By creating routines, we organize our days in such a way that taking care of tasks and ourselves becomes a pattern that makes it easier to get things done without having to think about them. We don’t all have the same schedules or responsibilities and some of us struggle with certain parts of daily life more than others, so it is important to create a routine that’s right for you. All healthy routines should include eating a nutrition-rich diet, exercising, and getting enough sleep. Your routine may not look the same every day, but establishing a pattern will help keep you motivated and grounded. If your schedule is non-existent and you don’t really have a routine, start small. Pick one small thing each week to work on. It could be adding something new and positive, or cutting out a bad habit. Small changes add up. Think about things you do during the day that aren’t so healthy and swap them for better behaviors. For example, if you feel sluggish in the afternoon and usually reach for a sugary snack for a pick-me-up, try going for a walk to get your blood pumping and endorphins flowing. Make time for the things you enjoy, even if it’s just 15 minutes a day. Little habits are key to strong mental health.

Top 20 Award give to BLMH in Quality

Bear Lake Memorial Hospital in Montpelier, ID was recently named one of the Top 20 Critical Access Hospitals for Best Practices in Quality out of over 1300 facilities in the country by The National Rural Health Association.  Bear Lake Memorial Hospital has been recognized as one of the Top 20 Critical Access Hospital in the past and is being recognized again this year for achieving success in Quality. This premier hospital performance rating is based on the rank across the five categories of Hospital Compare Process of Care measures. Those measures include Timely and Effective Care, Complications and Deaths, Unplanned Hospital Visits, Psychiatric unit services, and Payment/Value of Care.   Hospital Administrator Michael Blauer states “Providing the highest-quality care has always been a priority for Bear Lake Memorial Hospital.  We are proud that our efforts are reflected in the data the National Rural Health Association reviews and we are pleased to receive this highly-regarded recognition.” The NRHA is a national nonprofit membership organization with more than 20,000 members. The association’s mission is to provide leadership on rural health issues. NRHA membership consists of a diverse collection of individuals and organizations, all of whom share the common bond of an interest in rural health.   “NRHA is committed to ensuring our members have the best information to manage their hospitals,” says Brock Slabach, NRHA membership services senior vice president. “We’re pleased to recognize the accomplishments of these rural hospitals.”

Stress Can Be Necessary and Your Friend – Wayne Brown, MSW, LMSW

"Very often I hear people saying, ' just want to have a stress-free life'. This got me to thinking about that and what it would actually mean. For myself I think if I had a life that was stress free it may not be all it is cracked up to be. Some of the reasons are, there is often stress present in my life is due to deadlines, important obligations, wanting to perform well or the identified need of getting something thought to be beneficial in place. All of these and a number of other stress provoking things in my world are a big part of what gives my life purpose, meaning and value. I believe that if you are living a life that has purpose, meaning and value to you, it is going to come with stress. I also got thinking that often times we are confronted with stress that is caused by change. Sometimes these changes are desired and sometimes change is brought upon us by some specific situation or occurrence. We either accept and adapt to these changes or we reject and resist them. The results can be a beneficial one of learning and growth or one that at the least causes irritation and discomfort. Sometimes stress no matter the source can be crippling and cause us significant impairment to our way life. I understand that not all stress is the same and neither are the people experiencing them. I merely got thinking about how I respond to stress and how my own perception about stress and even change influences how it affects me. When I thought again about the statement, 'I just want a stress-free life'.  I think it gives stress a bad name, stress serves a purpose. Is it the pain from resisting the stress or not having a way to cope with it that I find the most unpleasant? Like the author Charlotte Kasl said, 'It is our attachment to be free of pain that creates suffering'. I found a great TED talk video by Kelly McGonigal who talks about something very similar with stress as the focus, instead of pain. How much of our resistance to stress is creating our suffering, not the stress itself? Please if you would like to hear what I believe contains some of the answers check out her talk and hear what Kelly McGonigal has to say about stress." Wayne Brown MSW/LMSW Kelly McGonigal TED Talk - Link

Healthy Coping Strategies During COVID-19

1. Gather healthy supports around you - family in person or friends that build and uplift through phone calls, texting, or social media. 2. Limit the amount of negative news you are consuming. This includes limiting contact with friends or family who believe the world is coming to an end and want you to be as freaked out as they are. 3. Look for and repost positive uplifting/hope building posts on social media. 4. When you hear of a positive act of kindness talk about it. 5. Manage up yourself and your colleagues. We deal with infectious diseases every day. Use CDC guidelines for social distancing and hygiene. We as health care workers, of all people in our society should know how to deal with this issue. 6. Do positive coping activities that don’t put you or others at risk. a. Exercise – we live in a sparsely enough populated area that you can maintain “social distancing” without having to stay in your home. Get out, take a walk, remember why you chose to live in this beautiful valley. b. Mindfulness: Meditation, guided imagery, Heartmath, Wheel of Awareness – See attachment on next page. Insight Timer App downloadable on either Android or Apple Apps store for free. 7. Good Resource from NAMI – National Alliance on Mental Illness. https://www.nami.org/getattachment/Press-Media/Press-Releases/2020/COVID-19-and-Mental-Illness-NAMI-Releases-Importan/COVID-19-Updated-Guide-1.pdf?lang=en-US 8. If you normally eat out, continue to support our local businesses that are offering drive up or pick up services. They still have families to support. You can do so and still be safe. WHEEL OF AWARENESS: Dr. Daniel Siegel, M.D. www.drdansiegel.com • Go to Resources tab • Wheel of Awareness – fill in email and name. He won’t send more than about 3 emails and then it will stop. • Download/listen to Full-Length Wheel of Awareness (30 minutes)

Coronavirus Hospital Precautions

We are working in cooperation with state and local health departments to ensure we are safely handling the community health care needs. We are receiving daily official updates regarding Coronavirus (Covid-19) with screening and testing instructions, as well as guidance on limiting the spread of infectious diseases. To protect residents, patients, and staff from any unnecessary exposure, Bear Lake Memorial is limiting visitor access to the hospital, nursing home, assisted living center, and clinics. This includes, effective immediately (March 14th), implementing a controlled entry system to screen ALL patients/visitors/staff for ANY respiratory symptoms. Visitation will only be permitted for specific circumstances. Signage will be posted on campus to help direct traffic during these restrictions. In addition to the in-person screenings, the hospital is strongly encouraging appointments and visitors to call ahead for ANY chemotherapy, dialysis, outpatient, radiology or lab services. There are additional screenings and clinic workflow processes for patients with fever, cough and recent travel (last 14 days) or direct contact with anyone else who has traveled into areas of concern. Contact phone numbers are listed at the end of this article. We are also closing the Auxiliary’s Gift Shop and Thrift Store until further notice. This means there will be NO thrift store donations accepted. Additionally, the cafeteria area will restrict public access and ONLY be providing meals to residents, patients, and staff members. This will help eliminate any unnecessary visits from the public. We are asking for the community’s cooperation and understanding that these processes may change as further official updates and instructions are received. Additional changes may be put in place as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). We appreciate the community’s patience and understanding as we implement these precautionary measures. Please look for additional updates in the newspaper, on the radio, and on our website (www.BLMHospital.com) and here on social media.   Main Desk – 208.847.1630 Skilled Nursing Facility – 208.847.4441 Manor Assisted Living – 208.847.2400 Emergency Department – 208.847.4439 Bear Lake Physician’s Clinic – 208.847.1110 Bear Lake Family Care Clinic – 208.847.4495 Dr. Campbell’s Office – 208.847.3847 Visiting Physician’s and Ortho Clinic – 208.847.4359 Laboratory – 208.847.4422 Chemo/Dialysis – 208.847.4325

Colorectal Cancer Risks and Prevention

If you are 45 or older, you should start getting screened for colorectal cancer. Your doctor is the best source for knowing what type of screening is best. If you have a strong family history of colorectal cancer or other types of cancer, you should let your healthcare provider know. Risk factors for developing colorectal cancer: Body weight- Being overweight or obese increases the risk for colorectal cancer. Try to maintain a healthy weight and avoid weight especially around the midsection. Smoking- Long-term smoking is linked to an increased risk of colorectal cancer, as well as many other cancers. Diet- A diet high in red meats (beef, pork, and lamb) should be avoided. Also, avoid processed meats such as sausages, hot dogs, and lunch meat. Eating meat grilled at a high temperature is also linked to an increase in risk for colorectal cancer. Alcohol- Several studies have found a higher risk of colorectal cancer with increased alcohol intake, especially among men. Prevention Physical Activity- Increasing your level of activity lowers your risk of colorectal cancer and polyps. Moderate activity lowers your risk, but vigorous activity might have an even greater benefit. Diet-Overall, diets that are high in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains have been linked with a lower risk for colorectal cancer, as well as other types of cancer. Vitamins- Some studies suggest that taking a daily multi-vitamin containing folic acid, or folate, may lower colorectal cancer risk. Other studies have shown that magnesium and calcium are beneficial in lowering risk. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs- Many studies have found that people who regularly take aspirin or other NSAIDs, such as Ibuprofen and Naproxen, have a lower risk of colorectal cancer and polyps. However, aspiring and other NSAIDs can cause serious or even life-threatening side effects, such as bleeding from stomach irritation or stomach ulcers, which may outweigh the benefits of these medicines for the general public. Yet, for some people in their 50s who have a high risk of heart disease, where low-dose aspiring is found to be beneficial, the aspirin may also have the added benefit of reducing the risk of colorectal cancer.


Every 34 seconds someone dies from heart and blood vessel diseases, America’s  No. 1 killer. Given this fact, it’s important to learn all you can about heart attack.  For example, you should know the warning signs of heart attack so you can get help right away. Some heart attacks are sudden and intense, but most start slowly with mild pain or discomfort. Here are some signs that could signal a heart attack:
  • Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest which  lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, your back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
  • Other signs, such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
How can I reduce my risk for a heart attack? Even if you already have heart disease, there is a lot you can do to improve your heart health.
  • Don’t smoke and avoid second-hand smoke.
  • Eat a healthy diet that’s low in saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium.
  • Get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week.
  • Control your blood sugar if you are diabetic
  • Treat high blood pressure, if you have it.
How high blood pressure can lead to a heart attack The excess strain and resulting damage from high blood pressure causes the coronary arteries serving the heart to slowly become narrowed from a buildup of fat, cholesterol and other substances that together are called plaque.  This is known as atherosclerosis.  As arteries harden with plaque, blood clots become more likely to form. When an artery becomes blocked due to plaque or blood clots, the blood flow through the heart muscle is interrupted, depriving the muscle of oxygen and nutrients.  The damage that occurs is called a heart attack. High blood pressure is known as the silent killer because it typically gives no symptoms until damage is done to the heart and arteries.  High blood pressure can also damage the blood vessels in your brain, causing a stroke, as well as causing damage to your kidneys and eyes.  Lifestyle changes can help lower blood pressure and lower your risk of heart disease.  Consult your doctor for ways you can avoid this killer disease.