All Posts tagged teton valley health care

Vaccination advice from a doctor, father, husband and son

Chad Horrocks, MD

Chad Horrocks, MD

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.

Neither MMR nor MMRV cause autism.

The argument that vaccines cause autism is false. Much of the vaccine-autism argument is based on a 1998 article published in the medical journal The Lancet. However in 2010 that article was discredited and The Lancet retracted the piece.

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.

Here’s to a healthy 2015 for all of us.

Dr. Chad Horrocks is a family practice physician offering fulltime family medical care at Driggs Health Clinic. To make an appointment call (208) 354-2302 or visit tvhcare.org to learn more about Teton Valley Health Care.

This article originally published in the Teton Valley News.

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Hospital presents county with check for $19,537

Bob Benedict presents check

Teton County Commission Chairman Bill Leake, right, accepts a check from Teton Valley Health Care, Inc. Board Chair Bob Benedict during a county commission meeting in January 2015.

During a regular meeting of the Board of County Commissioners Monday, Jan. 26, Teton Valley Health Care leaders presented a check for $19,537 for the county coffers.  The payment comes as part of a lease agreement of the hospital facilities between the county and TVHC, Inc. and represents 5 percent of TVHC’s net operating profit for fiscal year 2014, which ended Sept. 30, 2014.

Commissioner Kelly Park noted the significance of the moment by reflecting that several years ago, our county was “at risk of losing our community hospital” due to serious financial challenges.

The irony of the situation was not lost on Bob Benedict who currently serves as Chair for the TVHC Board of Directors. Bob was a County Commissioner during the hospital crisis when the BOCC took over the governance of the facility and supervised the subsequent restructuring of hospital administration and the business model.  Over two years ago, TVHC moved from a county-owned business to a private nonprofit healthcare organization, effectively protecting the county from hospital financial liabilities and removing the burden of tax support from residents.

Bob expressed gratitude for Teton County taxpayers who helped pass two supplemental levies in 2008 and 2010 to boost TVHC out of near bankruptcy, saying that TVHC has survived due to community support.

CEO Keith Gnagey provided updates on other contractual terms including the annual lease payment of $70,000 and an agreement that TVHC maintain and improve the county-owned plant each year by investing in repairs and new equipment.  The amount required per that equation in FY 2014 was $416,149.25. Year-end audited financials showed that TVHC made over $751,000 in improvements or 180 percent of the requirement.

“It was absolutely my pleasure to give this check to our county and to have the opportunity to thank our taxpayers and everyone who worked so hard to make this possible,” said Bob Benedict after the BOCC meeting.

“Every year presents new challenges for rural hospitals, both anticipated and unanticipated,” adds Gnagey.  “We hope that we’re in a position next year to again present a check to Teton County.”

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Help us keep broken hearts beating

Ann Loyola

Ann Loyola

Do you prefer to have a heart that keeps beating? If not, keep surfing because what I have to say is of no interest to you.

Let’s get straight to the heart of the matter: warm-hearted people joined our Hospital Foundation campaign to raise over $38,000 for a new Zoll defibrillator for our local ambulance service. This is a vitally important unit to support emergency cardiac care. Thank you to everyone who helped us achieve this portion of our Keep it Beating fundraiser. You are truly and I don’t mean the candy.

If you have a soft spot in your heart for Emergency Rooms (and really, who doesn’t? Especially if you have young children) you can shore up your investment in life by donating toward the purchase of an additional cardiac monitor for our ER. Different from the Zoll defibrillator that rides in the ambulance, the cardiac monitor hums along right next to our ER patient, transmitting vitals to the central nurses’ station for continual supervision. It’s a good thing. It follows your heart, among other essential organs like lungs.

Our goal is to have this type of monitor next to each ER exam bed and we just need one more to reach the goal, so we’re coming to you with heart in hand. Consider making a donation of any amount to help us heal broken hearts.

Well, this is kind of a fun exercise using the word “heart” in multiple ways but if I go too far with this, you may get heartsick and exit in a heartbeat, which would be heartless of you.

Instead, open your heart and join in the kind of campaign that everyone with a heart should care about: Keep it Beating.

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