Colorado

Local Hospitals Help Return Gillette Man Home

When Christopher Lauck of Gillette, Wyo., mixed CLR (Calcium, Lime, Rust remover) with bleach this past summer, the result was life-threatening. The 32-year-old coal mine equipment operator went into respiratory failure after breathing in the fumes.

Respiratory failure occurs when there isn’t enough oxygen passing from the lungs into the body’s bloodstream, which creates the potential to critically harm the body’s organs like the heart and brain. In Lauck’s case, he was rushed to a local hospital and put on a mechanical ventilator to help him breathe. After about a month at the hospital, he was transferred to Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Hospital for continued care. He was still on a ventilator.

“While the ventilator plays a critical, life-saving role, it was important to get Christopher removed from it as quickly and safely as possible to avoid complications,” says Dr. Gary Pearson, Medical Director of Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Hospital. “He had received prolonged mechanical ventilation, which requires specialized medical assistance in being weaned off of it.”

At the hospital, an interdisciplinary respiratory failure team created a personalized plan of care with Lauck and his family members that was tailored to his complex, medical needs. The team used proven clinical practices, evidence-based research, and the latest technology to help remove Lauck from the ventilator within two weeks.

“The physicians and medical team were very thorough and provided excellent care,” Lauck says. “I felt good about the treatments and felt at home.”

Soon after Lauck was removed from the ventilator, he was transferred to Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital. He began participating in physical, occupational, and speech therapy. He relearned how to perform daily activities such as walking, eating, dressing – and his favorite, competitive shooting.

“My therapists found out I enjoyed competitive shooting, so during therapy, I began using a laser to shoot at targets,” Lauck says. “It was a really positive experience and helped me to see that I was going to be able to return back to doing the things I enjoyed.”

Lauck returned home at the beginning of September. He has since returned back to work, competitive shooting, and spending time with his friends.

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What to Pack for a Hospital Stay

Whether you are a patient preparing for an inpatient hospital stay, or someone who’s loved one unexpectedly finds themselves in a hospital, having the right things for a hospital stay is important. Packing the right items will help make your stay less stressful and allow you to focus on your recovery.

Below you’ll find a summary of suggested items to pack for a hospital stay.

Clothing

  • 5-6 outfits of loose fitting pants and tops
  • Undergarments
  • Sweater or jacket
  • Supportive pair of athletic shoes with non-skid soles
  • Night clothes (gown, robe, pajamas)

Toiletries

  • Soap, if you prefer a certain brand
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash & dentures
  • Comb, brush, shaving supplies & cosmetics
  • Deodorant, lotion, perfume, & aftershave

Miscellaneous

  • Insurance cards & medical information
  • Eyeglasses & hearing aids
  • Incontinence pads (if needed)
  • Pillow, blanket
  • Family pictures
  • Laundry basket or bag

Click here to download a printable version of this checklist

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Understanding Influenza: 5 Facts to Know this Flu Season

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the 2017-2018 flu season was one of the worst. Understanding Influenza – how it’s spread, how to prevent it, and the symptoms of the flu – can help keep you, and your community healthy this winter. Below are five flu facts to know as we enter flu season.

Can a flu shot give me the flu?

The Influenza vaccine is safe and cannot give you the Flu. It takes 2 weeks to build up your immunity, so you can contract the flu before developing the antibodies.

How is the flu spread?

Influenza is a contagious respiratory virus that spreads when you are exposed to an infected person that coughs or sneezes. It can also be spread by touching your nose, mouth or eyes after touching a surface with the virus on it.

How can I prevent the flu?

There are several things you can do to keep yourself flu-free! The most important step you can take is to get a flu vaccine each year. You can also help prevent getting the flu by frequently using hand sanitizer or washing your hands. Try to avoid touching your nose, mouth or eyes. Avoid spreading the flu by covering your coughs/sneezes and by staying home if you are sick. Additionally, be sure to keep surfaces in your home clean.

What are the symptoms of the flu?

Symptoms usually start 1-4 days after exposure and usually come on suddenly. You are most contagious in the first 3-4 days after the illness starts. However, you can infect others before you are symptomatic and up to a week after becoming sick.

Flu symptoms can range from mild to severe. They can include fever, headache, fatigue, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, sore throat, cough and chills. Seek medical care for any worsening symptoms.

What is the treatment for the flu?

Rest, pain relievers and extra fluids will help to lessen your symptoms. While antibiotics are not effective for the flu, there are prescription antiviral medications that can help to lessen the symptoms and shorten the duration. But, they must be started within 48 hours after onset.

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Resources for Caregivers

There are only four kinds of people in the world. Those who have been caregivers. Those who are currently caregivers. Those who will be caregivers, and those who will need a caregiver.” – Rosalyn Carter

Caregivers often hide in plain sight. They make up a substantial portion of the United States population. In the US alone, there are over 40 million unpaid caregivers for adults over the age of 65. We tend not to realize the strain put on an individual who cares for a loved one. Instead, we see only the selflessness with which they provide care. Unfortunately, there’s often more going on than we recognize.

Caring for a loved one can be overwhelming, particularly when providing care for a spouse. It’s important to understand and utilize the resources available to you as a caregiver. Here are some great resources for caregivers:

VA Caregiver Support

If you provide care for a veteran, the Veterans Administration has a number of resources available to you. Services offered include mentoring, diagnosis-specific tips and guidance. Additionally, help is available to care for your loved one so that you have time to care for yourself. Many of these services are provided at no cost.

Diagnosis-specific Support Networks

Many organizations offer online support networks for patients and caregivers, focused on specific diagnoses. These support networks typically have segments dedicated to the unique needs of caregivers. Some of the organizations offering these support networks include:

Local Support Groups

Hospitals often host support groups on a variety of topics. Some are diagnosis-specific. Others focus directly on caregivers. It can be quite helpful to connect with individuals who have had similar experiences to yours. Contact your local hospital to find out what support groups they host and when they meet.

An empty lantern provides no light. Self-care is the fuel that allows your light to shine brightly.” – Unknown

As a caregiver, it’s important not to neglect yourself. The resources above offer support so that you can care for yourself, too. Additionally, you may speak with your healthcare provider for more resources. Remember, taking good care of yourself is part of providing care to another!

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Employee Health Elevated

Local Hospital Elevates Health of Employees
to Same Level as Patients

With holidays around the corner, this usually means stress and bountiful delicious treats. Local hospital offers convenient yoga classes for their employees and their families free of charge.

Mandie Schake is an occupational therapist at Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital. After extensive training she has received her certification to instruct yoga. She wanted to give back to her co-workers that, like her, give so much of themselves to their job of caring for others. Schake said, “As health care providers we tend to put our bodies at risk for injury when working with patients, and the mental/emotional strain is significant in our respective fields.”

Lamar McBride, CEO of Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital and Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Hospital wanted to support his passionate patient caregivers. “All our staff gives physically, mentally and emotionally to their positions.” He wanted to provide bimonthly classes to his staff free of charge. “I want to provide for our employees because it is important to provide an outlet for self-care It is my way to say ‘thank you’ for the care provided to our patients and each other. Every position in our hospital is demanding. It is important for our overall health and well-being to control the effects of stress and take time for ourselves.”

Yoga provides a path that allows you to care for your body, mind, and heart as a whole; be more aware of your body and how you use it in your daily life; while potentially giving you strategies to deal with life’s challenges off of your yoga mat via decreased stress levels. Schake has a different focus each month to provide many resources to the staff.

Deb Campbell, Director of Therapy Services at Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital and Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Hospital is participating in the classes after not having done yoga in numerous years. When asked if it was intimidating, Campbell replied, “It can seem intimidating at first, but once you are in the class you realize it is not at all. The instructor adapts the movements to everyone’s level.” She boasts the convenience of the classes being held at lunch or after work in the hospital as, “Having it at work is incredibly convenient. I don’t have to plan extra time into my day.” Campbell reports having a clearer mind and has increased energy.

Schake hopes to open classes to the public in the future, but is focusing on providing for her peers through the end of this year. She encourages all experiences levels and body types to attend and explore the benefits of body, mind and spirit.

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How to Spot a Stroke

Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States suffers a stroke. Every four minutes, someone dies.

Stroke is the fifth-leading cause of death in the United States, responsible for about one out of every 20 deaths.

As many as 80% of strokes may be preventable. But if someone is suffering a stroke, one of the most important factors is time. Knowing the signs of stroke, and what to do in that situation, could save a person’s life.

All you need to remember is F-A-S-T.

F: Face Drooping

Look at the person’s face. Does one side droop? Do they feel numbness on one side of their face?
Action item: Ask the person to smile. Is their smile lopsided or uneven?

A: Arm Weakness

Does the person feel numbness or weakness in one arm?
Action item: Ask the person to raise both arms above their head. Are they able to lift both arms? Does one arm drift downward?

S: Speech Difficulty

Is the person making sense when they speak? Are their words slurred?
Action item: Ask the person to say a simple sentence, like “The sky is blue.” Can you understand what they say?

T: Time to Call 9-1-1

If any of these symptoms are present, call 9-1-1 immediately. Tell the operator you think someone is having a stroke. Do this even if these symptoms disappear. Time is critical, so it is important to get them to the hospital right away. Be sure to note the time when the symptoms appeared.
Action item: Call 9-1-1!

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Outdoor Enthusiast Returns
to the Great Outdoors

Local Hospitals Return Outdoor Enthusiast to the Outdoors

From mountain biking to hiking to camping, 51-year-old Marty Wood of Lusk, Wyo., spent much of his free time enjoying the outdoors. When he wasn’t racing down the sides of mountains on his bike, he took on another thrilling and challenging task, being a high school principal.

This past April, however, Wood began experiencing heart attack-like symptoms. After being taken to a local hospital for initial healthcare treatment, Wood found out that he had a dissecting aortic aneurysm. He was transferred to Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Hospital in May where he continued to receive healthcare treatment.

“A dissecting aortic aneurysm is a serious and uncommon condition in which the large blood vessel branching off the heart tears,” explains Dr. Gary Pearson, Medical Director at Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Hospital. “This causes blood to surge through the tear, causing the layers of the vessel to dissect or separate.”

Wood was unable to speak when he first arrived due to his condition, so the nurses devised a code system for him so that he could communicate with the staff. “They gave me a voice I didn’t have,” Wood says. “Therapy taught me how to eat and drink again, but the compassion from the staff gave me hope.”

Wood is one of numerous patients who have received treatment at Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Hospital. “Patients are our passion,” Pearson says. “We understand that each patient’s situation is unique, so we work alongside each patient and family to devise a specialized healthcare treatment plan that will work best for them.”

After a few weeks of therapy at the long-term acute care hospital, Wood was transferred to Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital for rehabilitation. “I was completely dependent when I arrived back in May. When I came to the rehabilitation hospital, I began to gain my independence back,” he says. “The staff gave me dignity and respect. They all believed in me and my recovery.”

When Wood arrived at Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital, he suffered from paralysis, low levels of oxygen in his blood, and kidney failure, all caused by the dissecting aortic aneurysm. He received physical and occupational therapy at the hospital to help regain strength and use of his muscles so he could re-learn how to walk independently and perform daily activities like eating and brushing his teeth.

“The staff got to know me for who I was before my condition,” Wood says. “They learned about how much I loved biking and the outdoors, so they incorporated that into my therapy, having me run through the mud and ride a bike. I was fighting every step of the way on the road to recovery and the staff was fighting right alongside me.”

Wood was released from Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital back in July. He now is independent with the use of a front-wheel walker and hopes to be back on the mountains enjoying the outdoors soon.

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Physical Therapy and Respiratory Failure

Physical therapy can play an important role in many patients’ recoveries. And this holds true for patients who are on ventilators as well.

Studies have shown that early movement in patients on ventilators – like sitting, standing, and even walking – can provide better recoveries.

Physical therapists can help patients on ventilators begin moving as soon as possible. This may include progressing from arm movements to sitting on the edge of the bed to even walking down the hall. This is all while the patient is still on a ventilator.

If it doesn’t sound like an easy feat, it’s because it’s not. It requires determination from the patient. Often, it also requires the help of several healthcare professionals to ensure the patient’s safety.

But, it’s worth it.

Every step the patient takes – literally and figuratively – provides for a better chance of recovery.

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3 Tips for Keeping Yourself Flu-Free

It’s that time of year again…flu season. With the constant risk of catching the virus, educating yourself can be the key to being flu-free.

The flu typically is spread when someone who has it coughs, sneezes, or talks. Droplets from his or her mouth spread to the mouths or noses of people nearby. Additionally, you can catch the flu from touching an object that has flu germs on it, and then touching your mouth or nose.

Once flu germs get inside the body, they go to the respiratory system. There, they attach to those cells, essentially turning them into more flu germs. That’s when your immune system begins to fight back. It does so by creating two different proteins that attack the virus – cytokines and chemokines. Cytokines multiply to help fight off the virus. Chemokines create white blood cells (called T cells) to help fight against the virus, as well.

Eventually, the fever that comes along with the flu is your body’s way of killing off the virus.

As it turns out, many symptoms you feel from the flu aren’t the virus itself. Rather, it is your immune system working to fight it off.

While it’s great that your body has the ability to fight the flu, the best defense is always prevention. To keep yourself flu-free, try these 3 tips:

  1. Get a flu shot. This vaccine is the number one way to keep the flu out of your body.
  2. You’ve heard it before, and you’ll hear it again: wash, wash, wash your hands. When you wash your hands, you wash flu (and other) germs away, limiting your risk of catching them.
  3. Last, keep the surfaces clean in your house to help remove any flu germs.
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Wash the Germs Away

We’ve heard it all before – wash your hands often, especially during flu season. But does hand-washing really keep you from getting sick?

The short answer is, yes!

Washing your hands with soap can kill bacteria and viruses that are spread through individuals or objects such as door knobs. When you don’t wash your hands, little actions, such as touching your mouth, nose, or eyes, can put you at risk almost immediately for an illness, providing the germs access to enter your body.

What is interesting to note, however, is that washing your hands with warm water doesn’t kill any more germs than washing with cold water.

In fact, recent studies have shown that the temperature of hand-washing water doesn’t affect the amount of germs being washed away. The only time that a certain water temperature would kill more germs is if the water was boiling (212 ℉), in which case, it would burn and damage your hands.

So what’s the most effective way to wash your hands?

  1. Wet your hands with water.
  2. Pump soap to a cupped hand.
  3. Lather and rub your hands vigorously for about 20 seconds. Be sure to get in between fingers.
  4. Rinse all soap off of hands.
  5. Dry your hands well with a towel. Germs can be more easily transferred to and from wet hands.
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