I’ve been practicing medicine in Teton Valley for more than 15 years. I’ve had the pleasure of being a family physician for many of you, and I’ve enjoyed watching your families grow. I want what’s best for you and your family, whether or not you choose me as your provider. What’s best for your family is often what’s best for mine, and when a patient asks me “what would you do if it were your child/parent/friend?” I tell them the truth.
I vaccinate. My kids are vaccinated, as are my wife and I. I recommend all my patients who are of proper age and health get immunized against several diseases that once were commonplace in the United States. The measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine is one of them. We declared measles eliminated from this country in 2000, but the incidences of disease have increased in recent years.
So far this year we have seen over 100 cases of measles spread across 14 states in this country. The majority of those (92 percent) are related to an outbreak linked to theme parks in California including DisneyLand. The 102 cases just in the month of January puts us on track for exceeding the record number of cases (644) we saw in all of 2014.
While we’ve yet to see a case of measles this year in Idaho, we still need to protect ourselves, our families and our community from it.
What’s the big deal about measles?
Measles is highly contagious.
On average, a person with measles will spread the disease to 18 other unvaccinated people, compared to an average of 2 for Ebola and less than 2 for influenza. Measles can spread even when no symptoms are present (4 days before and after a rash appears). It is spread through the air via droplets from sneezes or coughs and can linger on surfaces for up to two hours.
Measles can be deadly.
Complications from the initial viral infection of the measles can lead to hospitalization and even death. Ear infections and pneumonia are the prevailing complications, and encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) can also result. If a person with a compromised immune system comes in contact with the virus, risk is even higher.
An MMR vaccine is more than 95% effective.
The MMR vaccine is provided in two doses, one at age 12-47 months and the next when the child is 4-6 years old. It is the best defense against catching measles, mumps or rubella. You can also choose to add varicella to the vaccination, (MMRV), which vaccinates against chickenpox. While no vaccine is 100% effective, MMR and MMRV are our best options for preventing measles, mumps, rubella and chickenpox in our children and in the children who attend school and/or play with our children.
Herd immunity doesn’t work if the herd isn’t vaccinated.
The basic principle of herd immunity is that if enough people are vaccinated (immune) to a disease, those who are too young or sick to get the vaccine themselves will be protected. Some may argue that not vaccinating their child isn’t such a big deal because the majority of children and people are vaccinated. But there’s a tipping point in herd immunity where if even a small percentage of the community is not immune (unvaccinated) it puts the entire community at risk.
The takeaway here is that I hope you, like I do, will vaccinate yourself and your children against these diseases that are now making appearances in our country despite having been wiped out at one point or another.
Talk to your healthcare provider if you have questions, and understand the potential consequences to your family and to the community as a whole based on your decision to vaccinate or not.
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 firstname.lastname@example.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.
It was 10 a.m. October 19Sunday morning when my daughter Hanna and I decided to fulfill our shared goal of kayaking at String Lake. Our family has visited String Lake many times for short hikes and picnics and we’ve always been envious of people who were out on canoes, SUPs, or kayaks on this translucent fairy-tale of a lake.
Only a couple months ago Hanna had said to me “Mom, are we really going to let another summer go by without kayaking on String Lake?” That put a burr under my saddle that finally resulted in action, though by now we were firmly into pre-winter season.
I announced our intentions to the male side of our family and my husband, who already had a tee time at Targhee Village, responded less than enthusiastically as he went out the door with his golf bag though he did promise to be back by 1 p.m. to head over Teton Pass. My teenage son assured me that we’d have fun without him and that he intended to remain glued to his laptop playing an addictive monster vs. monster game rather than go outside on a crystal clear day in the Tetons.
Using my best mother skills, I cajoled him into coming with us by being alternately threatening and heart-broken. Just as I was about to remind him that I could die at any moment from any number of horrific medical crises, he closed his laptop and pledged his participation.
I had the rental kayaks, lunch bags, beverages and kids all ready to go when my husband came back early (early!) from golfing and off we went, toward adventure, beauty and timeless family moments. Ten minutes into the drive, no one was speaking to each other due to a few snippy remarks about what a wet, rotten, freezing cold time we were all going to have. In other words, someone really wanted to finish his golf game.
In silence, we finished the 90-minute drive arriving at the beach at 2:30 p.m. Suddenly, it became clear that we were not driving to our doom. The Cathedral Peaks were reflected like etchings on the water which sparkled and beckoned us to float upon it. So we did.
By Tony Hochstetler from Fort Collins (String Lake Panorama – Explored)
Some people toss around adjectives like popcorn and we all become tired of the hyperbole. Was that bologna sandwich really fabulous? Does her salon hair color really look absolutely incredible?
I’m here to tell you that String Lake was magical that afternoon. Depths of different shades of green. Shadows of fish bursting under us. The hush of the mountains and crackle of red-gold autumn leaves in the breeze. The sound of our teenagers laughing as they rowed their double seated kayak together.
My husband and I floated upstream, taking in the views and occasionally dipping an oar to swing us to another perspective of the range or the beach or the kids. The word “lucky” was said a few times.
I believe that everyone needs these moments out in nature. There’s a power in wild waters, mountains and greenery that heals and redefines us. The Palmer family drove home that day feeling closer, content, and lucky.
Disclaimer: This blog discusses my personal wellness goals and is in no way a soapbox to tell anyone else how to eat, exercise and/or live their lives.