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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 208-354-6355.
Skin Cancer: The facts
• Skin cancers are common in our community due to our high altitude
• Changes in moles or wounds that do not heal require medical attention
• Prevention is important; if you work or play outside, sunblock is critical and should be reapplied every two hours
• These cancers don’t go away, they only get worse, and are harder to treat when ignored
Q. What is the largest organ in the human body?
A. The skin
Dr. George Linhardt
Your skin covers a large surface area and is subject to scrapes, cuts, sun, snow, hot sidewalks and spills of all types. It’s important that we don’t overlook our skin when considering our overall health.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, and living in a high altitude, sunny environment puts us at a greater risk. Other risk factors include:
Sun exposure – spending a lot of time outdoors
Blistering sunburns – if you experienced several blistering sunburns as a child or teen
Skin color – if you have fair skin, blond, red or light brown hair, blue eyes or freckles
Artificial tanning – if you use tanning booths, beds or sunlamps
With all that we know about what can cause skin cancer, gone should be the days of baby oil , a book, and a day in the sun.
While there are several kinds of skin cancer, these can be divided into three common types:
Basal cell cancer – This type of cancer is locally aggressive, meaning if you leave it alone, it will just get bigger. It may not spread to other organs but may be become more and more difficult to treat, becoming unsightly, bleeding and disfiguring. Local excision (conservative surgical removal) is the usual treatment. Depending on the location, other approaches may be used such as medication or freezing with liquid nitrogen. These cancers may appear as chronically flaking skin or a sore that will not heal or constant bleeding.
Squamous cell cancers are more aggressive and can spread to other parts of the body and lymph glands. They can appear as a non-healing or bleeding ulcer. They may have a ridge around the center that is raised. A low volcano may be a good analogy of what these look like. Unlike the basal cells, the surgery needs to be more aggressive with a larger margin clear edges) around the specimen. The skin cancer and the surrounding edges may be checked at the time of the surgery with a frozen section (immediate analysis) or await the final definitive examination. It is important not to ignore these as they can grow in locations that may make treatment very difficult and disfiguring as well as life threatening. Sometimes plastic and reconstructive surgery is required to properly treat these cancers.
Melanoma is the third type of skin cancer and is becoming more prevalent. It is usually dark , and irregular. A crushed black berry on the skin is a good description. It is often raised above the level of the skin, various shades of color. It is can be seen on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. Any dark moles in these areas are reason for serious concern. Melanomas can be slow growing or rapidly spread and cause death. They can spread to the lymph nodes under the arm or in the groin. They can be found on the trunk as well as the arms and legs. They are categorized as to how thick they measure under the microscope as well as what levels of the skin they penetrate. Deeper and thicker melanomas require the lymph nodes to be evaluated as well.
Dr. Linhardt is a general surgeon offering services weekly at Driggs Health Clinic and Teton Valley Hospital. To learn more about Dr. Linhardt, please click here or www.georgelinhardtmd.com.
If you read my last blog about “Polarity” (and if you haven’t, you really should) then you know that I had signed up for a workshop to learn about champion thinking, and hopefully develop the tools to get out of my own way as I continue my journey toward wellness.
The group was small which made it difficult for me to hide from facilitator Christine Heilman, PhD. I was the only non-athlete in attendance, and the only person dressed in business-casual instead of jeans and a knitted cap. In other words, I was well on my way to finding excuses to excuse myself.
Being a mind-reader, Christine promptly began our session with some uncomfortable statements about people who isolate themselves from progress through self-limiting beliefs and self-doubt. She said that everyone is seeking ways to enrich the quality of their lives and that she would review basic mind-set tools for accomplishing that.
For the next hour, we did some group exercises, engaged in discussions, and learned about ACE: A = Attitude, C = Concentration, E = Execution (as in “get it done” not as in “let it perish”). I came away from the workshop feeling that I had learned something valuable and no, I won’t go into a bunch of details about the training because you should contact Christine and put yourself in her mind-reading gaze.
Do you like sayings? I sure do. Do you like mangling famous quotes unintentionally? Me, too.
It’s better to receive an honest slap than a false kiss.