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Diapers, allergy pills, condoms and more now available via medical vending machine at Teton Valley Hospital

Medical Vending Machine

Access this medical vending machine 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at Teton Valley Hospital.

A new type of vending machine has been installed in the public entry way of Teton Valley Hospital. It doesn’t contain the usual fare of candy and soda pop. Instead, people can push the buttons to get Infant Tylenol, oxygen tank nasal cannulas, over-the-counter allergy pills and much more.

After tallying between 10 to 15 requests per month for urgent (but non-emergency) medications and supplies every month, the nursing staff at Teton Valley Hospital recognized a community need for a 24/7 dispenser. The Community Foundation of Teton Valley agreed and contributed a grant award of $2,500 toward the purchase of the $4,300 unit. Teton Valley Hospital Foundation kicked in an additional $1,500 with Teton Valley Hospital paying for inventory and installation.

One local mother shared the story of her one-year old awakening at 2 a.m. with an ear infection. After discovering that she didn’t have any infant pain relievers, she ended up driving to a friend’s home to get the medication. Other people have stories that include night-time drives to pick up diapers, stretch bandages, teething medications, and wound dressings from friends and neighbors.

“Our current selection is based on what people seem to ask for the most, usually in the middle of the night. By law, our nursing and medical staff aren’t permitted to give over-the-counter supplies, yet we want to help people avoid checking into the ER for a condition that’s relatively simple to fix,” says Angela Booker, TVHC chief nursing officer.

Inventory items include:

  • Oxygen tank tubing
  • Anbesol
  • Children’s diapers
  • Anti-acids
  • Bandaging
  • Condoms
  • Contact lens rinse
  • Adult incontinence pads
  • A selection of pain relievers

More items will be added or replaced based on demand. The machine accepts cash and credit cards.

“It can be frustrating to realize that a vital item is missing from your medicine cabinet, especially at a time when all of the stores are closed,” said Booker.

We appreciate the financial support from the Community Foundation of Teton Valley and our hospital foundation. People have already made purchases from our machine and have given us good feedback.

If you have a suggestion for a vending machine item, send an email to Teton Valley Health Care at info@tvhcare.org.

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Doc Talk: Got sunscreen?

By Kristen Coburn, C-FNP

Kristen Coburn head shot

Kristen Coburn, C-FNP

It’s shaping up to be another hot week here in the valley. Forecasters are predicting temperatures in the 80s and 90s and plenty of sunshine … what more could we ask for on a holiday weekend?

If you plan on spending time outdoors enjoying the sun, catching some of the Independence Day activities, or even doing yard work, make sure you drink plenty of water and take care of your skin.

Sunscreen is one of the best protections against damaging ultraviolet (UV) radiation. There are two types of ultraviolet radiation: UVA and UVB. Ultraviolet radiation is part of the electromagnetic (light) spectrum that reaches the earth from the sun. It has wavelengths shorter than visible light, making it invisible to the naked eye. Ultraviolet A (UVA) is the longer wave UV that causes skin damage, skin aging and may cause skin cancer. Ultraviolet B (UVB) is the shorter wave UV ray that causes sunburn, skin damage and may cause skin cancer.

Skin Cancer Facts

 

Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is a measure of a sunscreen’s ability to prevent UVB and UVA from damaging the skin. Here’s how it works: If it takes 20 minutes for your unprotected skin to start turning red, using an SPF 15 sunscreen theoretically prevents reddening 15 times longer or about 5 hours. Most sunscreens with an SPF of 15 or higher do an excellent job of protecting against UVB (with many brands also touting UVA protection) however, it may be overly optimistic to rely on 5 hours of continuous protection after one application.

Another way to look at it is in terms of percentages: SPF 15 filters out approximately 93 percent of all incoming UVA/UVB rays. SPF 30 keeps out 97 percent and SPF 50 screens out 98 percent. These numbers may seem like negligible differences, but if you are light-sensitive or have a history of skin cancer, those extra percentages will make a difference. And as you can see, no sunscreen can block all UV rays.

Be aware that there are problems with the SPF model: First, no sunscreen, regardless of strength, should be expected to stay effective longer than two hours without reapplication. Second, “reddening” of the skin is a reaction to UVB rays alone and tells you little about what UVA damage you may be getting. UVA radiation is more detectable over time, showing up as pre-aging of the skin via wrinkles, discolorations, and coarse texture. Plenty of damage can be done without the red flag of sunburn being raised.

Who should use sunscreen?

Anyone over the age of six months should use a sunscreen daily. Even those who work inside are exposed to ultraviolet radiation for brief periods throughout the day, especially if they work near windows, which generally filter out UVB but not UVA rays.

Children under the age of six months should not be exposed to the sun, since their skin is highly sensitive to the chemical ingredients in sunscreen as well as to the sun’s rays. Shade and protective clothing are the best ways to protect infants from the sun.

What type of sunscreen should I use?

Which sunscreen you choose depends on how much sun exposure you’re anticipating. In all cases we recommend a broad-spectrum sunscreen offering protection against both UVA and UVB rays. Many after-shave lotions and moisturizers have a sunscreen (usually SPF 15 or greater) already in them, and this is sufficient for everyday activities with a few minutes here and there in the sun. However, if you work outside or spend a lot of time outdoors, you need stronger, water-resistant, beachwear-type sunscreen that holds together on your skin. The “water resistant” and “very water resistant” types are also good for hot days or while playing sports, because they’re less likely to drip into your eyes when you sweat. However, these sunscreens may not be as good for everyday wear. They are stickier, don’t go as well with makeup, and need to be reapplied every two hours.

When shopping for sunscreen, consumers should look for The Skin Cancer Foundation’s Seal of Recommendation, which is awarded to sun protective products that meet stringent criteria for safety and effectiveness.

Despite recent claims about sunscreen safety, consumers should rest assured that sunscreen products and specifically the ingredients oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate, are safe and effective when used as directed. Of course, some people may be allergic or sensitive to the ingredients. In those instances, a healthcare professional can help recommend alternatives.

Sunscreens should be considered a vital part of a comprehensive sun protection regimen that includes seeking shade, covering up with clothing including a wide brimmed hat, UV-blocking sunglasses, avoiding tanning and UV tanning booths.

Kristen Coburn, FNP is a family practice physician who sees patients at Driggs and Victor Health Clinics. She also provides aesthetic treatments including free consultations, Botox and physician-recommended skincare products at Teton Valley Hospital’s Aesthetics Clinic

This article orignally appeared in the Teton Valley News.

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