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Hospital renovations include new exam rooms, specialty clinic

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Driggs Health Clinic has expanded its clinic space with the addition of 6 new exam rooms, a shared physicians’ office and renovated echo-cardiology stress testing room. The new area is located inside the east entrance of Teton Valley Hospital, replacing a physical therapy rehabilitation space that was relocated closer to in-patient rooms. The expansion was needed to accommodate growing clientele for specialty services such as cardiology, neurology, and pain management.

Cardiologists Dr. Patrick Gorman, Dr. Blake Wachter and Dr. Douglas Blank travel from their practices in Idaho Falls to hold regularly scheduled clinic hours in the new space. Neurologist Dr. Brad Talcott, also from Idaho Falls, has added dates to his local schedule in response to patients’ requests. Dr. Marc Porot offers a minimum of 5 days per month to visit with patients about pain management.  Echo-cardio technicians from University of Utah Hospital and from Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center provide rotating appointment dates.

“We anticipate adding more specialties in the near future in direct response to patient requests and our community’s level of need,” says Keith Gnagey, CEO for Teton Valley Health Care.

“Teton Valley is fairly isolated and it can be especially hard to drive out of town during the winter. I would rather have one doctor make the trip from Idaho Falls than have 20 local residents make the trip.”

Teton Valley Health Care is entering phase two of a project to update and refresh the appearance of the facility. Phase One started with the refurbishing of the Driggs Health Clinic reception area followed by a total makeover of the Medical Imaging suite that included a new digital X-ray and fluoroscopy unit.  In spring, the Aesthetics exam area was completed and now, after three months of construction, the specialty clinic has opened.  Phase Two will bring about completion of hospital patient room updates, hospital hallway re-flooring and renovation of the laboratory clinical area.

“I avoid giving timelines for projects such as these because facility improvements depend largely on the financial health of our organization. TVHC doesn’t own the hospital bricks and mortar, the County retains ownership of the building. It’s our responsibility to maintain and improve the property for our community and that’s one reason for setting these renovation goals,” said Gnagey.

The Teton Valley Hospital Foundation provided $75,000 in funding for this project.

TVHC invites everyone to come and visit the new specialty clinic during a Community Open House scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 2 from 5-7 p.m. Appetizers will be served along with a chance to win raffle prizes including $50 gift cards to Peaked Sports or The Wardrobe Company. Please contact Ann Loyola at (208) 354-6301 or for more information. As always, full hospital tours are available throughout the week.


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.


The doctors are in: Teton Valley Health Care contracts with Intermountain emergency physicians

A trip to the E.R. is never something to look forward to but if the need arises, be assured that you’re in good hands if you have to make a weekend visit to Teton Valley Hospital’s E.R. or Driggs Health Clinic. Teton Valley Health Care has contracted with Intermountain Emergency Physicians to provide physicians onsite 24/7 throughout the weekend. The doctors will also see patients during the Driggs clinic’s Saturday and Sunday business hours.

Intermountain Emergency Physicians, also known as IEP, is made up of 12 physicians with over 140 years of combined ER experience between them. IEP is based in Idaho Falls, currently serving Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center, and now, Teton Valley Hospital. Some members of the group also work at Madison Memorial Hospital and Bingham Memorial Hospital. Eleven members of the group are currently board-certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine with one board eligible physician awaiting his certification notification.

Currently, Physician Assistants and Family Nurse Practitioners provide hospital ER care during weekdays in conjunction with TVHC physicians. For weekend coverage, TVHC had previously contracted ER care with a national staffing group. When it was time to renegotiate that agreement, CEO Keith Gnagey was pleased to discover a regional emergency care group.

“We already have a strong relationship with the IEP doctors through our shared patient care with EIRMC. These physicians know our valley, our facility and they’ve worked with our staff. All of this translates into great patient care,” said Gnagey.

When asked why Teton Valley Hospital needs to contract weekend ER coverage, Gnagey responded that TVHC would have to hire several additional doctors to be able to cover the weekend shifts and that the overall ER experience levels, EIRMC knowledge, and number of providers available through the relationship with IEP makes that a better alternative for providing care to our patients.

Dr. Eric Maughan, IEP physician, said he is “excited to be a part of this new agreement. Teton Valley Hospital is a great facility with excellent staff and impressive diagnostic capability. As physicians who were born and raised in Southeastern Idaho, we’re proud to be able to serve the community on a more local, personal level.”

For further information, please call Ann Loyola, director of Marketing and Public Relations at (208) 354-6301 or email


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