By Dr. Nathan Levanger, DO
Outdoor adventure season is in full swing here in the valley. Whether it’s a day trip to the Wind Cave up Darby Canyon or an overnight camp-out in the Alaska Basin, our options are seemingly endless when it comes to hitting the trails.
Our high elevation, combined with long sunny days and stretches of temperatures in the 70s, 80s and 90s can pose some risk for unprepared adventure seekers.
Regardless if you plan to go for an hour or a day, it’s important to make a few key preparations.
First, always bring water on your trips. In warm months, hikers/bikers/climbers/runners should drink approximately one gallon of water per day, but that can vary based on your individual needs. In direct sunlight and with physical exertion, your fluid/electrolyte loss can happen faster than under cooler conditions. Sweat evaporates instantly in dry climates like ours, so it’s important to pay attention to any signs your body might need hydration. If hiking with children, pay attention to the water in their water bottles to make sure they are drinking enough and at an appropriate frequency. Ditto for dogs. Don’t plan on finding sufficient watering holes for dogs to lap up; bring water for the pooches and remember that dogs are exerting energy while wearing fur coats. Also be aware that dogs may not stop to drink water at a creek or pond if their human partner is bike riding or running at a steady pace. You may have to stop and relax before your dog feels that he can take a break and lap up some water.
Second, dress in layers and loose-fitting, lightweight clothing to avoid heat exhaustion. Seek out shaded areas when hiking, and avoid sunburns. Also, if you are taking any medications, ask your doctor whether the medications could make you more susceptible to heat exhaustion or sunburn.
Third, bring a friend or family member along for the trip and avoid strenuous activity in the middle of the day, when the sun and heat are at their highest points.
Generally, by the time you are thirsty, you’re already somewhat dehydrated. To avoid this, drink 1/2 to 1 quart of water or electrolyte drink for every hour you hike.
Although most instances of dehydration are mild or moderate and can be easily resolved by drinking fluids, severe dehydration can also occur. Signs of a serious problem include little or no urination, extreme dry mouth and skin, confusion, rapid heart-beat and unconsciousness. Severe dehydration is a medical emergency.
Like any good Scout, you need to be prepared. Water, sunscreen, good shoes, weather outlooks, and good directions should form the basis of every summer outing.
Dr. Nathan Levanger is a family practice physician offering patient care at Driggs Health Clinic located in Driggs Idaho.
This article originally appeared in the Teton Valley News.More
I’m approaching my two year anniversary with the hospital and the hospital just passed its 75th year anniversary. This is the perfect time to share the latest news about our hospital and clinics and talk about some of the changes we have seen.
It’s been a busy two years, with a lot of positive growth and change. For those of you who have visited recently, you will have seen a number of physical changes. We have a new X-ray unit and fluoroscope along with a completely remodeled X-ray room. Our lab draw room has a new adjustable draw chair (courtesy of the Teton Springs Foundation) plus new paint and cabinets. We have repainted and re-furnished the Driggs Health Clinic waiting area. Our Victor clinic has a new ramp. The exterior of the hospital has been spruced up with plants and mulch to replace the gravel. The OR will be painted this weekend.
There are some less visible changes as well; a new ice machine for patients, a pharmacy hood allowing us to support chemotherapy, a new OR bed, and new OR lights. These are not just cosmetic changes; these are investments in your County-owned building. We continue to maintain and improve the hospital, extending its life and making it a more valuable asset for you. Thank you to our Hospital Foundation, multiple charitable groups, the TVHC employees, and others for helping to fund these items.
We’ve added new service lines for cardiology, expanded pain management, general surgery, orthopedics, and neurology. More and expanded offerings are coming this year. Telemedicine is in use; we have been supporting tele-psychiatry, and we just added tele-burn and tele-stroke. These telemedicine additions enable patients to stay here and get care from experts who are based at the University of Utah Health Center and other larger hospitals. We’ve built good working relationships and formal affiliations with UUHC, and with our regional hospitals that enable better pricing on things we buy (by buying jointly), expand the service lines we offer, and improve clinical quality.
We’re focused on our clients and patients. We have required all staff to take training on how to improve their customer service skills. The painting and improvements have been chosen carefully to reflect a standardized design and color palette to offer an atmosphere that is soothing and healing. We’ve achieved a higher, measurable level of accuracy and speed in our patient billing. Your comments and suggestions have generated a number of these process improvements.
We continue to help people understand how to get insurance under the Affordable Care Act and enrolled over 129 families in health insurance. We have increased our outreach to the Hispanic community by employing more bilingual staff and offering awareness programs and materials that focus on their needs. We’re also reaching out proactively to our community with a Community Paramedic Program, providing preventive care to patients in their homes. We are working with Fire on this program to maximize the use of local resources. We’ve also announced to the Ambulance Service District that we would jointly bid with Fire for the next contract to provide ambulance service in the county. By working together we can maximize our training and capabilities, while not increasing our cost to the taxpayer.
Many people were worried when hospital leaders and the Board of County Commissioners agreed to convert the hospital from a county operation to a private non-profit. As we have demonstrated, we have kept the doors open, increased the services we provide, continued to invest and improve in the building that the county still owns. We publish operational statistics and community reports on our website for public review. Our IRS-990 (think of that as the 1040 tax form that a non-profit files) is now complete and will be posted on our website. On that form, you’ll see a list of TVHC’s charitable expenditures that have been made on behalf of our community.
Teton Valley Hospital first opened its doors May 7th 1939. Seventy-five years later, we have a terrific facility, great staff and a strong, supportive community.
Thank you for continuing to show the spirit that built TVHC so many years ago. As always, we welcome comments and suggestions. Please reach out to me at email@example.com or 208-354-6355.More