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.

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:


  • 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.



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.


Do you suffer from Migraines?

Crane-UsePresented by Dr. Peter Crane, buy Family Medicine
Bear Lake Family Care Clinic 208-847-4495

If you suffer from migraine headaches, you are not alone.  Between 12 and 16 percent of people in the U.S. experience migraines.  Migraine headaches are three times more common in women than in men. Migraines may happen only once or twice a year, or as often as daily.

Migraines can be classified as “classic” or “common.” Classic migraines start with a warning sign, called an aura.  About 20 percent of people with migraines experience this before a migraine.  The aura may include flashing lights or bright spots, zigzag lines, changes in vision, or numbness or tingling in the fingers of one hand, lips, tongue or lower face. Auras can also cause temporary muscle weakness and even changes in speech.  Symptoms of aura typically last five to 20 minutes and rarely last more than 60 minutes. The headache occurs soon after the aura stops. Common migraines do not start with an aura.  Common migraines start more slowly than classic migraines and they usually last longer.  The pain of common migraines may be only on one side of your head.

Other symptoms of migraine can be: intense throbbing or dull aching on one or both sides of your head, nausea or vomiting, blurred vision or blind spots, pressure behind one or both eyes, being bothered by light or noise, feeling tired or confused, feeling cold or sweaty, stiff or tender neck, and lightheadedness.

Migraines can be triggered by a number of factors which include: stress, menstrual periods, physical exertion, fatigue, lack of sleep, hunger, certain foods, smells such as perfumes,  and some  medications. Doctors also believe that changes in the level of a body chemical called serotonin can be a trigger for migraine headaches. People who have frequent migraines may benefit by keeping a “headache diary”, which can be used to determine what triggers a migraine and what treatment or course of action helped to relieve it.

Treatment for migraine depends upon the frequency, severity, and symptoms of your headache. There are two types of medicines for migraine treatments.  One type focuses on stopping the headache from becoming severe and relieving the pain.  This type of treatment is most effective if medication is taken when the signs of migraine first appear.  Preventative treatment includes medicines that are taken on a regular basis, sometimes daily, to reduce how often headaches occur.  Talk to your doctor about which type of medication is best for you.

In addition to taking medication, you can do some things at home to help manage migraine pain.  Try putting a cold compress or cloth over your eyes, forehead, or on the back of your neck. You can also try massaging your scalp, using a lot of pressure.  Lying down in a dark, quiet room is also beneficial to many migraine sufferers.


BLMH launches TeleHealth initiative to support ICU patients

040114 telehealth12Bear Lake Memorial Hospital in launching a new service by contracting with Intermountain Healthcare to provide an extra level of support to critically ill patients in BLMH’s Intensive Care Units. With the implementation of TeleHealth Technology, a secure interactive audio and video system, critical care patients and their caregivers now have 24/7 support from the Critical Care TeleHealth Center located at Intermountain’s Supply Chain Center in Midvale, Utah.


Experienced critical care doctors and nurses serve as a second set of eyes, supporting local physicians and nurses to proactively round on, and monitor the vital signs and data of, critically ill patients. This program also allows BLMH’s staff to consult with critical care specialists through cameras and audio links in both ICU rooms, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


Dr. Bill Beninati, the Medical Director of Intermountain’s Critical Care TeleHealth Program states, “We work directly with the bedside medical team to determine the appropriate course of action for each patient, serve as real-time clinical decision support, ensure best practices and consistency of care in a high-stress environment, and provide a safety net for bedside staff and patients.   If a patient needs to be transferred, we’ll work with your doctors and nurses to help prepare the patient for the smoothest transfer possible.”


This service has been implemented in other rural hospitals and will add no additional costs to those being cared for in the hospital’s ICUs. TeleHealth will help avoid the inconvenience and high costs of emergency transfers while providing direct access to the big-city specialists.


BLMH CEO Rod Jacobson adds, “We want the community to know we are capable of caring for them and their loved ones at all levels and I feel the new service will increase our abilities to be the Most Caring Hospital on Earth.”


The TeleHealth system is set to go live on Thursday, June 2, 2016. The first post-surgery ICU patient is scheduled for mid-June. Bear Lake Memorial Hospital and its staff are looking forward to utilizing this critical care service for all of their ICU patients.

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