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CEO Viewpoint: From Better to Best

Keith Gnagey, CEO

Keith Gnagey, CEO

This is not your average healthcare CEO article. I won’t trot out numbers, stats and confusing lingo. I’ll only use the word “metrics” once, and instead of looking back, I’m going to tell you what Teton Valley Health Care plans to accomplish in 2015 as we work toward becoming the one of the best rural hospitals in the U.S.

In 2015, you can look forward to online access to your medical records, treatment plans and prescriptions through the implementation of our new patient portal. Through this portal, you’ll also be able to tell us how you’d prefer to receive messages, when you need prescription refills and reminders for follow-up care. Online payments and a review of your prior bills will also be available.

We’ll respond to your needs by adding services that make sense for our community. Currently, we can all benefit from 24/7 consultations with University of Utah Health Center stroke and burn specialists through our portable telemedicine robot. In the New Year, we’ll add tele-adolescent psychiatry and hopefully tele-oncology. We also want to add new clinic service lines, such as dermatology.

You’ll see interior changes in our clinics and hospital as we continue to press ahead with our design goal to reflect a healing environment for our patients, their families and friends. Changes will include a more natural design theme and room renovations that will make navigation easier for patients and providers.

We’re also determined to provide more services at a “one-price-covers-all” cost. This is difficult for hospitals because everybody is physically different and many times when a surgeon or physician has begun a procedure, other issues are discovered that need to be taken care of.  For now, you can check out our new bundled pricing for colonoscopies and upper GI screenings at tvhcare.org. We’ll add more of this type of pricing throughout 2015.

Similar to the saying that good things come in small packages, I believe that Teton Valley is fortunate to have a small hospital that offers impressive medical and nursing staff, round-the-clock emergency care, a menu of carefully selected services and technology that rivals or exceeds the capabilities available at some larger hospitals.  After giving numerous tours of our facility to outside hospital leaders, specialists and providers from large healthcare organizations, I’ve learned to anticipate their expressions of surprise and some envy when they see – for example – our X-ray and surgical suites, laboratory equipment and digital mammography room.

What services, changes and improvements do you want to see at your community hospital? Let us know by calling me at 354-6355, email info@tvhcare.org or comment on our Facebook page. TVHC tweets, pins, FBs and blogs, too, in an effort to continually offer access and information for everyone.  We invite you to be a part of moving TVHC from better to the very best.

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Good Choice, Bad Choice: Things that go THUMP in the night

Ann Loyola

Ann Loyola

Anyone can come up with at least one thing that wakes them up in the middle of the night. Barking dogs, thunderstorms, nightmares and so on.

I recently had an unusual wake-up call at 5:15 a.m. when I opened my eyes to a sudden painful scrunching in my left chest area. Not wanting to disturb the peaceful slumber of the two cats and husband beside me, I told myself to breathe calmly, deeply, and (hopefully) continuously. I soon felt a mighty thump in my chest, a release of the squeezing feeling and a burst of warmth flowing to the ends of my toes and fingertips.

So I rested there for about an hour, telling myself to relax relax relax, there was nothing to be concerned about, no need to elbow my husband or nudge the drooling cats off the side of the bed. After all, it was highly unlikely that I was having a heart attack of any type because – well – because I don’t have heart attacks. Then I started ticking off the facts of my basic profile:

  1. I’m 54. Certainly old enough.
  2. Overweight? Check.
  3. Exercise regularly? No.
  4. Family history of heart disease? Yes.
  5. Any chronic issues that could negatively impact my heart? Yes, lupus can affect heart tissue.

That’s five out of five. What would an intelligent person do at this point of realization?

I decided to ignore all of the medical information about heart attack symptoms that I know very well because I’m a healthcare marketer so it’s my job to tell people to get immediate medical assistance if there’s even a miniscule chance that they’re having a heart attack. I fell into the high percentage pool of people who think that it would be terribly embarrassing to call 911 or be driven to the ER, only to discover that the problem was a panic attack or heartburn. After all, what could be worse: dying of a heart attack or having a doctor tell you that you’re not having a heart attack? Ummm …

Anna Gunderson PA-C chastised me gently but thoroughly during my clinic appointment at 10am that morning, reminded me that “time is muscle” and that I should have come to the ER via driver or ambulance, and by the way, shouldn’t I know better?

At the end of the day, my lab tests, an EKG and chest X-ray indicated that I hadn’t suffered a cardiac event. My rheumatologist suspected pericarditis brought on by systemic lupus. While I felt somewhat relieved, I was also smacked with the reality that I could have a heart attack and that in fact, many of my friends and acquaintances could have a heart attack at any moment and need to have their lives saved by the very people with whom I work.

I’m making a donation today to our hospital foundation’s campaign to raise funds to buy a Zoll defibrillator unit for our ambulance and a cardiopulmonary DASH monitor for our E.R. I discovered that last year alone, our current E.R. DASH monitor system assisted 126 people in cardiac distress and almost 500 people with respiratory ailments.

Please consider supporting this campaign for acquiring this essential equipment and who knows? It just might save your life.

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Global issues, local impact: infectious disease preparedness

 

Keith Gnagey, CEO

Keith Gnagey, CEO

The three-pronged media surge about enterovirus D68 (EV-D68), influenza and Ebola has heightened awareness about the presence of infectious diseases and the methods of preventing the spread of those infections. Information is a good thing. Of course, becoming a victim of any of the three would not be a good thing.

Whether you believe the dangers of these viruses are overhyped or not, you should know that locally, Teton Valley Health Care stays current with global and national health concerns and makes every effort to share up-to-date treatment and prevention recommendations with our community and our staff.

Training for all employees who could have contact with a potential Ebola patient has already begun. In virtually every way, our clinical personnel know and follow preventive measures as part of their regular routine. With a deadly infection like Ebola, extra care must be taken in terms of information gathering, hazardous material disposal and decontamination. In the unlikely event that TVHC would have contact with an Ebola patient, we would certainly render initial care and then follow protocols to transfer the patient to an appropriate facility.

Rural hospitals and clinics such as ours are not immune to the health issues of our world. Although we may not have to worry about an onslaught of guinea worm, we do need to be prepared for diseases that have the ability to travel to and spread among our population, in addition to the contagious illnesses that sprout from within our community such as giardiasis, influenza, and chicken pox. The unfortunate resurgence of some childhood diseases such as pertussis and German measles are also potentially deadly illnesses for which we must be prepared.

As a community, we should take every viable opportunity to defend ourselves against diseases. This includes becoming informed from reliable sources, getting proven vaccinations and following the basics: wash your hands often and thoroughly, cover your coughs and sneezes, and stay home if you’re sick.

 

At Teton Valley Hospital, we have a visitor restriction policy in place. At both clinics and our hospital, face masks and hand-cleansing stations are posted at each entryway. We’ve increased the number of facility cleanings and our admissions employees clean their patient area stations after encounters.

We continue to offer free pulse-oximetry tests for anyone who is concerned they – or their children – may have EV-D68. Flu shots are available for $25 although most insurances do cover flu and other vaccinations.

If you need vaccinations or medical treatment but can’t afford it, please contact our financial counselor at (208) 354-6331 about our financial assistance plans and charitable care availability. Whether or not you choose to have medical services at our clinics or hospital, we can also help you understand your health insurance policy so you get the full benefits of your coverage.

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