All Posts tagged teton valley health care

Becoming Rubilicious: My Wellness Journey

Rubi-family

Rubi, Colby and Mario Valdez

I was born and raised in Rupert, Idaho. When I was 19 my family moved to Phoenix, Ariz. I moved to Driggs when I married Mario, my best friend and the love of my life.

We moved around for the first few years of our marriage because of my husband’s work. Then we had our son Colby, now 8-years-old. He is full energy, excitement and jokes. He is a very happy, healthy boy.

In the last several years of my life I have begun to reflect on my health and how to improve it and become healthier. It’s not that I am not healthy, but I have struggled with my weight for most of my life so it has been more of, “that’s just who I am.” Through the years, I have realized “yes that is who I am, but I don’t have to be PHAT (Pretty Hot and Thick); I can be PHAT (Pretty Hot and Thin).

Two summers ago I started riding my bike around victor with my son. I also was able to ride my bike from Victor to Driggs all in one ride. I was walking the bike path every day as well. I started to get stronger and I had more energy but was still unable to lose weight. I became very discouraged and disappointed in myself and all the work I was doing while getting no results.

At the start of last summer I didn’t do much, but then I told myself “the past is the past and out with the old and in with the new.” I was not going to let the past rain on my parade. So I started up my journey where I left off, just without the bike rides, and I started to eat less. To my surprise the weight started to fall off — I lost 43 pounds, HA-AY! (If you could have seen me, I was dancing my happy dance).

I want a lifestyle change, not a quick fix

Then, I hit my first plateau and gained 14 pounds back because I stopped exercising for most of the winter. As the snow kept falling, I started to work out somewhat at home w using videos, my treadmill and some free weights.

Now that the weather is nice (Summer is finally here now, right?) I can go out and walk again, but I wanted to step it up this time.

I joined Crossfit (what was I thinking? Oh, that’s right, I wasn’t thinking when I joined Crossfit)!

Actually – like many others here in Teton Valley and across the country, I really love Crossfit.

With a renewed motivation and a fitness routine in place, I have set up some goals for myself for my weight loss journey.

They include:
Long Term Goal – Lose 100 pounds and go to Hawaii in a bikini, LOL.

Rubi_ColorVibe-Run

Rubi, celebrating at the ColorVibe Idaho Falls finish line in her homemade tutu!

Smaller, short-term goals:

  • Doing a 5K (check! I did a ColorVibe run in Idaho Falls in May!) I plan on doing the Tin Cup Challenge run later this month!
  • Eat right and aim to lose 6 pounds per month

My real motives for losing weight are to be healthy and avoid illnesses and live to see my son grow. I want to be able to go on outings with my family and have fun without having to stop and rest every 10 minutes. I want a lifestyle change, not a quick fix.
 
I’ll keep you updated about my wellness journey through this blog, and I hope it will provide some inspiration for someone out there to kickstart their own path to wellness.

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.

More

Doc Talk: What is hantavirus and how can you avoid it?

Dr. Nathan Levanger

Dr. Nathan Levanger

With the weather warm and the sun shining, now is the time of year for cleaning up the yard, decluttering the house, and digging into old boxes and attics to make space.

While this summer cleaning is music to garage sale lovers’ ears, you can sometimes get more than you bargained for when you finally get to that corner of boxes in your basement or barn.


In Teton Valley, it’s common to find evidence of rodents taking up residence in your long-forgotten possessions, and this can put you at risk for a very serious illness: Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS).


As of April, 639 cases of HPS had been reported throughout the U.S. this year, with Idaho, Wyoming and Utah reporting 21, 11 and 33 incidences respectively. HPS is more common in rural areas, and it can be fatal.

Transmission
The virus is transmitted to humans most commonly when we breathe in air contaminated by the virus, which is carried by mice, including deer mice common to this area as well as white-footed mice, cotton rats, and rice rats. We are susceptible to breathing in tiny droplets of the virus when we disturb droppings, urine or nesting materials of infected mice. We can also contract HPS if we are bitten by an infected rodent or by eating food contaminated in some way by the virus. It is important to note, however, that not every mouse is infected with HPS.

Risk factors

  • People are more likely to contract HPS if they:
  • Open and clean long unused buildings or sheds
  • Houseclean, particularly in attics and other low-traffic areas
  • Have a home or work space infested by rodents
  • Have a job that involves exposure to rodents
  • Camp, hike or hunt in the wilderness

Symptoms
The Centers for Disease Control reports that symptoms of HPS can develop between 1 and 5 weeks after exposure to fresh urine, droppings or saliva of infected rodents. Early symptoms include:

  • Fatigue, fever and muscle aches, especially in the larger muscle groups such as the thighs, hips and back
  • Headaches, dizziness, chills, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain

Late symptoms, which can occur 4 to 10 days after the initial phase of the illness, include coughing and shortness of breath.


The loss of breath is caused by the lungs filling with fluid, which can be fatal. As well, blood pressure will begin to drop and ultimately organs will begin to fail. The Mayo Clinic reports the mortality rate for the North American variety of HPS at more than 30 percent.

See your provider if you experience any of the symptoms above or if you suspect you may have contracted hantavirus.

Treatment
Treatment can include hospitalization and assisted respiration through intubation or mechanical ventilation. In rare cases, blood oxygenation may also be used.

Prevention
The best way to stay free of hantavirus is to minimize contact with rodents in your home, workplace or campsite. You can do this by sealing up holes inside and outside of your home to keep rodents out, trapping rodents around your home to reduce their population and taking precautions when cleaning rodent-infested areas.
These precautions are:

  • Wear disposable gloves
  • Wet down dead rodents and areas where they have been with alcohol, household disinfectants or bleach.
  • Follow that by disinfecting the area with a mop or sponge
  • Wear a respirator if you are cleaning heavily infested areas

For more information on HPS visit http://www.cdc.gov/hantavirus/hps/index.html

Dr. Nathan Levanger is the Chief of Medical Staff at Teton Valley Health Care. He specializes in family medicine and sees patients at Driggs Health Clinic and Teton Valley Hospital. Call (208) 354-2302 to make an appointment.

More

Healthcare bills are confusing

Keith Gnagey, CEO

Keith Gnagey, CEO

When it comes to making improvements in our billing process, our most valuable resources are our patients and their families. Concerns, complaints and suggestions from our patients have led to changes throughout our entire business cycle including changes in our processes, staff training, and software changes. We get patient complaints for less than one percent of all bills we send out, but we know that doesn’t help if you are the one with a billing issue.

If at any time you or someone you know has a question about their Teton Valley Health Care bill, please be sure to give us a call or send an email or letter requesting assistance. While it may feel therapeutic to turn to your neighbors or Facebook friends, we appreciate direct communication otherwise we won’t know about the problem and can’t fix or answer the concern.

Here’s an overview of how our billing cycle works, along with definitions of different billing terms.

When we send the first statement after a patient visit, it’s a detailed list of services. Every statement thereafter is a summary of the balance remaining, not a detailed list. We believe this provides patients with necessary data, but it doesn’t overwhelm patients by repeating the same details multiple times. If you ever need a detail for any of your visits, we’re happy to provide that for you along with any assistance in understanding the details.

We don’t send a statement for a service until the claim has been processed by the patient’s insurance. This helps to ensure that a patient is only billed for the amount they owe TVHC and that any insurance issues (eligibility, deductibles, and coverage terms) are dealt with before we ask you for payment. We do everything we can to provide a correct claim to your insurer immediately after the care is rendered. We want to see the insurer quickly and correctly process the claim as much as the patient does. If we’ve received incorrect billing information (this is why we always ask for your insurance information when you check in), if the insurance doesn’t process the claim correctly, if the insurance company needs additional information such as accident verification data, or if there are any other problems with the claim, it can take several months for the insurer to process and pay for the claim.

You’ll know when your insurance has processed your claim when you receive an Explanation of Benefits (EOB) that shows what you may still owe after your insurance has paid for any covered services. If you disagree with your EOB, you should contact your insurance provider for clarification. Most claims (bills) are sent to the insurance company and processed by the insurance company within 3 weeks of the date of service, so you should expect a TVHC bill 3-4 weeks after your visit.

Once the patient’s claim is processed by the insurer, or if the patient is uninsured, we send out the first statement with a list outlining the provided services. We then call each guarantor (the person listed as responsible for payment) within two weeks of that first statement to ensure that the statement was received, that it’s correct, and to see if there are any questions regarding the statement. This is not a “collections call”; it’s a courtesy call from our billing office offering to help you with any questions about your bill. If the statement is received and correct, we offer to accept payment immediately (we do accept most major credit cards).

We continue to reach out to the guarantor by phone and in writing (at least monthly) until the balance is paid or a payment plan is established. We work with patients who are unable to pay their bill by offering payment plans, assistance in applying for insurance, or through our financial assistance program. However, if a patient or guarantor doesn’t respond to our letters or calls, or fails to make necessary payment, we refer the person to a collection agency after 120 days. This is an action of last resort.

In addition to your hospital or clinic statement, you may also receive statements from other providers such as radiologists and pathologists. Multiple statements and potentially multiple explanations of benefits from insurance companies can complicate the process.

We want our patients and their families to be as satisfied as possible with our care and we’re available to help you navigate the statements, instructions and explanations that you may receive. We want to hear from you.

 

Contact us via email or phone.

Keith Gnagey, CEO: 208-354-6355

Traci Prenot, CFO: 208-354-6340

Beverly Park, Revenue Cycle Manager: 208-354-6323

Laura Piquet, Director of Quality Services: 208-354-6302

More