Importance of Brain Health

The only constant about your brain is that it’s always changing.  Even after we have reached maturity, our brain continues to change.  These changes are sometimes referred to as “brain plasticity.”    Our experiences, habits, and the information we receive all have a part in the changes taking place in our brain.  New experiences and knowledge greatly contribute to keeping our brains working, developing, and learning. Sometimes we become concerned by changes in our brain.  We lose our keys and forget people’s names.  While some of this is attributed to changes in our brain, lapses in memory can also be caused by certain medications, lack of sleep, and other factors such as excessive alcohol. The brain is like a muscle and when we use it, we feel better. There are lifestyle habits that are not only good for our body but also our brain.  Here are some suggested activities that are good for the aging brain:
  •  Get Moving---A daily walk is one of the easiest ways to keep moving.  However, any activity that gets your heart pumping for 30 minutes most days is good for your body and your brain. Being active is associated with lower risk of brain issues.
  • Know your blood pressure---High blood pressure can have serious side-effects on your brain health.  If your blood pressure is high, make necessary lifestyle changes, including medication if recommended, to get it under control
  • Get adequate sleep---Inadequate sleep affects the memory center of the brain.  A good 7 or 8 hours of sleep is recommended for good health.
  • Discover a new talent----When you learn new things, you engage your brain.  Picking up a new hobby, learning a new language, reading, word puzzles, and a plethora of other activities keep the brain in good shape.
  • Pick up the phone----Stay connected with your family and friends.  Science has shown that engaging in social activities is good for the brain.  Cook dinner and invite someone over.  Volunteer or join a group.  Find ways to associate with other people.
  • Eat up----Eating a healthy diet is extremely beneficial not only to our bodies but also our brains.  Some foods, like strawberries, blueberries, and broccoli are considered power foods for the brain. 
 Information provided by

Do You Suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?

Portrait of businessman closing eyes while working late at night on black background with copy space As the seasons change from fall to winter, many people find themselves experiencing symptoms of the “winter blues.”  Prone to simply brush these symptoms off as just being in a “funk”, many people think they just have to “tough it out” and wait for the sun to shine more brightly again.  What these people may be experiencing is a form of depression called “seasonal affective disorder“(SAD).  In most cases, seasonal affective disorder symptoms appear during late fall or early winter and go away during the sunnier days of spring and summer. Symptoms may start out mild and become more severe as the season progresses.   Symptoms specific to winter-onset SAD, sometimes called winter depression include:
  • Irritability
  • Tiredness or low energy
  • Problems getting along with other people
  • Hypersensitivity to rejection
  • Heavy “leaden” feeling in the arms or legs
  • Oversleeping or having trouble sleeping
  • Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
  • Weight gain
Experts believe that a drop in serotonin, a brain chemical that affects mood, might play a role in SAD.  Reduced sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin that may depression. Some of the factors that increase your risk of SAD include: Being female    Women experience SAD more than men, but the symptoms tend to be more severe in men. Family History  People with family members who suffer from depressive disorders are more likely to be affected by SAD. Having previously been diagnosed with depression or bipolar disorder. Symptoms may get worse during the winter months. Living far from the equator  SAD appears to be more common in people who live far from the equator Treatment can help prevent complications, especially if you seek treatment before your symptoms get bad.   You can seek help from your family care provider.  In addition, you can try the following: Make your environment sunnier and brighter  Open blinds and trim heavy tree branches away from windows. Get Outside  Even if you’re worried about the slick roads and sidewalks, you can sit on a bench at the park or on your porch. Exercise regularly  Exercise helps relieve stress and anxiety and it helps raise serotonin levels. Take a trip  Even if it’s not a trip to a sunnier climate, getting out of the house seems to help many people who suffer from SAD.      

BLMH CEO Receives Star Garnet Award

RodJacobsonThe Idaho Hospital Association presents Rod Jacobson with the Steven A. Miller Star Garnet Award on October 10, 2016 at their Annual Conference in Sun Valley.

Rod has exemplified outstanding leadership in the pursuit of healthcare excellence throughout his career at Bear Lake Memorial Hospital (BLMH). He began his career at the facility in December of 1978 as a lab technician. Throughout his career at BLMH, he has been a visionary and progressive leader, always striving to improve himself, the organization, and the community; thus greatly impacting the health of this Idaho community in countless ways. He obtained his master’s degree in human resources management in August 1980 and resigned from his duties as a lab technician to take on the mantle of CEO in 1983. From day one, Mr. Jacobson has conveyed a leadership style of vision, excellence, compassion, and integrity. Under his direction, a staff of 254 employees and 1o4 volunteers has developed the “count on us to care” culture whose vision going forward is to be “The Most Caring Hospital on Earth.” Bear Lake Memorial Hospital is a 21-bed critical access hospital in southeast Idaho that serves Bear Lake County and the surrounding areas. A small-town facility has become “The Little Hospital that Can,” offering state-of-the-art equipment, skilled and dedicated physicians and staff, a friendly and caring environment, and the center of health for the community. Throughout his career as CEO he has always looked for ways to exceed expectations, strive for excellence, and meet the needs of the patients, their families, and the community in a compassionate and professional manner. His personal mission statement is “I will only promise what I can deliver and I’ll always deliver more than I promise.” He has been a man of his word in living up to that statement as he always delivers more than he promises. Numerous projects and advancements have been initiated throughout Mr. Jacobson’s career as CEO. Expansion and growth has been a mainstay of his vision, including a major remodel project in 1997 which allowed for an updated lab, cafeteria, and a new physical therapy department. In 2006 the 35-bed skilled nursing facility was remodeled to include 10 new private patient rooms. The following year, an assisted living center was acquired and remodeled to accommodate 24 more of the aging population in the valley in a beautiful, home-like setting. In 2015 this same assisted living center was remodeled to accommodate 30 resident rooms and a large activity room. Programs and facilities have been added to meet the needs of the community, such as home health, mental health, dialysis, orthopaedics, a sleep lab, women’s health, and fitness and weight management. Another hospital remodel was initiated in 2012 with a HIPAA compliant entry/reception area, expanded physical therapy department, and the addition of the Auxiliary’s gift shop “The Sunshine Corner.” This was not the end of his vision. In April 2014, hospital construction began again...beautiful modern, state-of-the-art, new private patient rooms that have the ability to allow family members to stay with the patient in a private setting, a nurses’s station that includes private physician portals, two ICU rooms in a private area, one new OR room, a new labor & delivery room with a jetted tub, a nursery, ample storage, a private med room, and a comfortable private waiting room for patient families. Mr. Jacobson’s vision of growth continues as the hospital is now implementing chemotherapy and mammography services. The hospital received awards and recognition for EHR compliance in 2012 under his direction and has since successfully adopted EHR in the nursing home as well as the hospital. Due to his sound fiscal planning, revenues of nearly one million in 1978 have increased to over 32 million as of the end of 2015. The ability to grow with the needs of the community involves two vital arms of Mr. Jacobson’s visionary leadership. One, the development and encouragement of both the hospital Auxiliary and the Bear Lake Valley Health Care Foundation. These entities provide the fund raising and volunteer support that allows for expansion projects, new equipment, and health fairs and screenings for the community. A population that is very poor monetarily has caught the vision of giving back in so many ways for the betterment of all. One example would be the Auxiliary’s Thrift Store which was established in 1998 under the somewhat skeptical direction of the CEO. Always willing to think outside the box, he gave the go-ahead to a project he was not sure was a winner. Today the volunteer run thrift store nets an average of $5,000 per month, provides a means for even the least affluent members of the community to contribute to the growth of the hospital (either through donations of goods or shopping) and has become a key hub of goodwill for the Bear Lake Valley. The Health Care Foundation and the Auxiliary have funded over five million dollars of hospital growth and continue to thrive under caring and progressive leadership at Bear Lake Memorial Hospital. The second arm of Mr. Jacobson’s visionary leadership is the development of his “Grow Your Own” program. This is an education opportunity program for advancing the healthcare careers of individuals in the community and keeping them with the organization after their training is completed. Long-time employees now include former dairy farmers, a car salesman, an insurance agent, a science teacher, housekeepers, CNAs, and students from the high school’s medical careers class, all who have obtained their education and training and now serve in such capacities as radiologists, physical therapists, director of nursing, ultrasound technician, and a respiratory therapist. Recruitment and education of qualified and caring staff has resulted in an environment of dedication and loyalty to each other and to the community. Thanks to the dedicated leadership of Mr. Jacobson, Bear Lake Memorial provides outstanding, big-league healthcare in a small-town “treat you like family” environment. He has lent his visionary leadership skills to numerous other boards and projects during the course of his career at the hospital. He served as chairman of the Idaho Hospital Association Board of Directors. He has been instrumental in developing a healthy community through his service in the Lions Club, Rotary Club, the Mosquito Abatement Board, and also assisted in the establishment of the National Oregon/Californian Trail Center in Montpelier. Because of his love for youth and his desire to see them succeed, he has donated countless hours working with Bear Lake Little League baseball for years. He organized and oversaw 24 years of the biggest All-Stars Baseball Tournament in Idaho. He was influential in growing the Allinger Parks organization to improve and expand city parks (while personally and proudly serving as maintenance man and chief sprinkler repairman). Probably the most notable, he served for 10 years as a scoutmaster for the Boy Scouts of America graduating 21 Eagle Scouts under his leadership. Mr. Jacobson is an administrator who has demonstrated vision and determination without end. He has spent countless hours preparing to leave this latest expansion as a legacy of the most caring hospital in the world, and patient rooms that reflect that goal in every detail. Not only has he been a leader for those at Bear Lake Memorial Hospital, but he’s been a leader in the healthcare field. He is an inspiration and role model to his peers. He has made an impact on anyone who has come in contact with him through his strong leadership abilities. This father of four, grandfather of 10, avid fly-fisherman, advocates for the betterment of mankind, makes a difference every day in the lives he touches and will do so for years to come thanks to his insightful, caring and progressive leadership.

3-D Mammography Coming Soon

Mammography-back2The Bear Lake Valley Health Care Foundation and the Bear Lake Memorial Hospital Auxiliary have started fundraising for a mammography suite at Bear Lake Memorial Hospital. It is estimated that a new digital 3D mammography machine and suite renovations will cost just over $400,000. We will be one of two 3-D machines in Idaho. Plans are to secure the equipment in the Fall of 2016 and take appointments in November. Currently, the only mammography services available to the residents of Bear Lake Valley is a mobile unit that comes once each month. For the past twenty years, this service has been provided by Portneuf Medical Center. While Portneuf Medical Center has been good to work with and very accommodating, the fact is that one day per month does not fit all schedules. The mobile unit that we have been using has equipment that is outdated and will be discontinued in the near future. This will leave Bear Lake Valley with no local mammography services. Idaho women are among the Nation’s lowest obtaining annual mammography screenings. Bear Lake County is ranked 34th out of the 44 counties in Idaho. Bear Lake Memorial Hospital feels confident that making this service available on a full-time basis could significantly increase the number of women getting their annual scans performed. History shows when a neighboring hospital opened their in-house mammography unit their utilization more than doubled. Let’s work together to catch breast cancer early!

Just Keep Swimming . . . Water Safety

Water Safety In a recent survey conducted by the Red Cross Organization, almost half of the adults surveyed say that they have had an experience where they nearly drowned, and one in four know someone who has drowned.  Over 90% of families with young children will be in the water at some pint this summer, and 48% of those plan to swim in a place with no lifeguard. With so many planning to be near or in the water, it is important to follow basic water safety rules and become informed.  Here are some common guidelines: PRACTICE WATER SAFETY
  • Always swim with a buddy: do not allow anyone to swim alone.
  • Ensure that everyone in the family learns to swim well by enrolling in certified courses.
  • Never leave a young child unattended near water and do not leave them with another child. Avoid distractions when supervising young children and always stay within arm’s reach.
  • Have young children wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets.  Staying safe around water doesn’t mean having kids wear water wings!
  • If you have a pool, secure it with appropriate barriers. Many children who drown in home pools were out of sight for less than five minutes.
  • If a child is missing, check the water first.  Seconds count in preventing death or injury.
  • Have appropriate equipment, such as reaching or throwing equipment, a cell phone, and life jacket.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.  Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine
  • Wear sunscreen with a minimum SPF factor of at least 15. This should be higher for young kids.
  • Be weatherwise!  Always check local weather conditions before departure.  If you notice dark clouds, rough or changing winds, or a sudden drop in temperature, get off the water! Getting caught in rough waters can quickly become a dangerous situation.  Pay attention and use common sense when deciding whether or not to go out.
  • If caught in a thunderstorm on open water, stay low in the middle of the vessel.  If there is lightning, disconnect all electrical systems and stay clear of all metal objects.
  • Always tell someone of your travel plans.  Tell them where you will be and give them a timeframe for when you will be back.
  • Make sure ALL passengers are wearing U.S. Coast Guard approved life vests. The majority of drowning victims are the result of boaters not wearing their lifejackets.
  • Operate at a safe speed at all times and be courteous to other recreationists.
  • Make sure more than one person on board is familiar with all aspects of your boat. If the primary handler is injured or incapacitated in any way, it‘s important to make sure someone else can follow the proper boating safety rules to get everyone back to shore.
Using common sense and following a few safety rules can help ensure that your summer is fun and disaster free.    

To Sleeve or Not Sleeve? – Weight Loss Surgery

Dr. Joseph Podany - General Surgeon
New Hope Weight Loss Clinic 208-847-1110
Being a Fellow of the American Board of Abdominal Surgery and a General and Bariatric Surgeon, people come to me with the perception that surgery is a risky decision that should be avoided at all costs. But when it comes to treating obesity, the benefits far outweigh the negative long term effects obesity places on an individual. Obesity has a major effect on a person’s quality of life such as immobility, high blood pressure leading to heart disease, and diabetes. With both the LapBand and Gastric Sleeve procedures, there are risks involved, but these procedures are both performed laparoscopically, which means the incisions are fewer and much smaller than in past techniques with abdominal surgeries.   Some additional advantages of these procedures include: They both promote weight loss through restricting the amount of food that can be eaten at one time. The process of the digestion system is not altered and will continue to function normally.  There are differences that can help make the choice between LapBand vs. Gastric Sleeve. First, the cost on average for a LapBand procedure is around $16,000 while the Gastric Sleeve is around $12,600. Another thing to consider is the LapBand is reversible and adjustable. While on the other hand, the Gastric 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.  While both have success rates of approximately 40% weight loss after two years, the LapBand does initially have a slower weight loss rate than the Sleeve.   To get started on the process the patient would need to schedule a consult appointment with their physician/surgeon. Then, they would want to contact their insurance about payment options and coverage. Note, some facilities offer cash price discounts which could result in a quicker pre-surgical process. At the consult appointment, they will review the patient’s health history and assess their eligibility for surgery. They will also go through a mental and physical health assessment. A goal setting session with the nurse and registered dietitian may be required as well. 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.

Volunteer for the Health of It!

Donating time or resources benefits both the giver and the receiver. Studies have shown that giving releases similar chemicals to when you eat a great meal or falling in love. Other benefits include: Developing new skills and experiences (especially if you have been out of the workforce for a while), keeps the mind and body active and occupied warding off effects of age, and finally can make you feel wealthier and like you have more time. No one ever regrets time spent serving others. Though giving often goes unrecognized, those that freely share their talents with others see that being acknowledged and praised isn’t why they do it.   Patience and kindness go a long way in helping others. Through serving others, we gain understanding; we concentrate less on our own short comings; and we have more opportunity to grow as individuals. Here are a couple ways you can start:
  • Reach out to organizations that interest you. It will be easier to relate to those involved and stay motivated in different projects if you genuinely care about the cause.
  • Start out slow! It’s easy to burn out with too much involvement. Attend meetings or groups as an observer first. It’ll be easier to volunteer when you truly understand where the need is and how you can help.
Service is simple. It can be challenging to get motivated but like many things it takes time and practice to develop.  For opportunities and more information about volunteering locally contact Lott Crockett, Director of Volunteer Services for Bear Lake Memorial Hospital at 847-4445 or apply online at

Allergies or a Cold?

Joe-UsePresented by Joe Dayton, Physician Assistant Bear Lake Family Care Clinic 208-847-4495 or Cokeville Clinic (307) 279-5852 You’ve got a cough, runny nose, and congestion.  Do you have allergies or is it a cold?  Sometimes it can be hard to tell because the symptoms of colds and allergies can be very similar.  Although cold and allergy symptoms can be much the same, the causes are very different.  The information below may be helpful to determine if you are simply fighting a cold or if allergies are your problem. Colds – Colds are caused by many different viruses.  When your body begins to attack the virus, the effects of this immune response are common symptoms of a cold, such as congestion and coughing.  You may also develop fever, aches, and pains. Colds are contagious and you can pick them up when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or shakes your hand.  Your immune system fights off a cold in a couple of weeks, at the most, and then you should stop having symptoms. Prevention and treatment of colds:  To prevent cold symptoms, try to prevent the cold-causing virus from entering your system.  Keep your distance from people who have colds and wash hands often.  If you have a cold, cough or sneeze into a tissue or your sleeve, where the germs can dissipate and die, to prevent spreading the virus to other people.  There is no cure for a cold, but over-the counter cold medication can be helpful. It is also helpful to rest and get plenty of fluids. Allergies- Allergies are caused by an overactive immune system.  For some unknown reason, your body mistakes particles such as dust or pollen for germs, and then attacks them. Your body releases a chemical known as histamine, which is what happens when you are fighting a cold.  This usually causes swelling of nasal passages, coughing, runny nose, and sneezing. Itchy eyes are also a common symptom of allergies, but rarely a symptom of a cold.  Allergies do not cause aches and pains as the cold virus usually does.  Allergies are not contagious, but some people may inherit a tendency to develop them. Prevention and Treatment:  Try to avoid substances you are allergic to, called allergens.  Avoid going outside on days when pollen is high, and re-wearing clothes worn outside.  Common allergens include: pollen, mold, animal dander, and dust mites.  There is no cure for allergies, but symtpoms can be significantly controlled.  Treatment may include the use of over-the-counter allergy meds to prevent symptoms (i.e. Claritin, Zyrtec, Allegra), antihistamines to treat current symptoms, nasal spray steroids, decongestants, and/or allergy shots. Avoid use "Afrin" or "4- way" types nasal sprays as these can actually worsen symptoms when used regularly. If you tend to get a chronic “cold” that develops suddenly and at the same time each year, you may actually have a seasonal allergy.  Usually, a physical examination can determine which condition you have.