News/Blog

Lois Van Mark

After spending months in the hospital, Lois Van Mark came to NCLTAH for ventilator weaning.

Lois Van Mark was enjoying her new job as the State Executive Director of Farm Service Agency. The 62-year-old from Torrington, WY is the fourth generation operating her family’s no-till dry land wheat farm in southeast Goshen County. An art major in college, Lois enjoys painting, drawing and making crafts. But that was all about to be put on hold.

Lois hadn’t been feeling well for about a year when she admitted to the local hospital in Torrington for edema and worsening cellulitis. Worsening acute respiratory failure during her stay required a transfer to Regional West Medical Center in Scottsbluff, NE. Lois now required a ventilator, tracheostomy and feeding tube. For a three-month stretch, Lois doesn’t remember a thing.

That’s when Lois transferred to Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Hospital. Her pulmonologist at Regional West Medical Center and her family felt NCLTAH could provide the best care for Lois.

Lois weaned from the ventilator while at NCLTAH. But the prolonged stretch of unconsciousness, paired with her time on a ventilator left Lois physically weak. Lois would need more rehabilitation to regain her strength. Her family chose to remain close and admit Lois to Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital.

At NCRH, Lois learned how to stand and walk again. “The therapists were so encouraging, patient and always smiling,” Lois recalls. “My recovery was influenced by God, prayers, and family support. Dr. Pearson, Dr. Walker, the nurses and aides were all so helpful!”

“Both Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Care and Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital were wonderful experiences,” Lois adds.

Her rehabilitation complete, Lois discharged home using only a walker. “God has put me on this earth for a reason,” Lois states, “and I take every day as it comes.” Lois is excited to be back at her job and back to painting, drawing and crafts.

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Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Hospital Welcomes New CEO

Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Hospital (NCLTAH) is proud to welcome Blake Sims, MSHA, MBA, as its new Chief Executive Officer. Blake is an experienced operations leader with a proven track record of success.

Prior to joining NCLTAH, Blake worked for large complex healthcare organizations in Texas and Nevada. During that time, he developed expertise in operational management, productivity and process improvement projects, infection prevention, capital construction project management and strategic planning.

“I am honored to join this team of highly trained clinicians providing the most compassionate care to patients, who are often dealing with incredibly complex medical issues. Their passion for quality care is astounding,” said Blake.

“This hospital was the first in Colorado to receive recognition for the care of patients in respiratory failure. The passion of the caregivers for being the best at what they do is not only a driving force in our community, but throughout the state. I’m so lucky to be able to support this amazing team.”

Blake earned a master’s in health administration and a master’s in business administration from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. While at UAB, he also completed certificates in health care finance and gerontology. Blake is a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives, the Colorado Association of Healthcare Executives and Upsilon Phi Delta National Academic Honor Society. An active community member, Sims has served on a number of boards and is an alumnus of Leadership Amarillo & Canyon (Texas).

Blake and his wife, Melanie, have three young children. He loves the outdoors, especially running and all forms of cycling. Blake has finished thirteen Ironman triathlons, including Ironman Boulder on two occasions.

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Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Hospital Welcomes Hospitalist

Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Hospital is proud to welcome Dr. Sami Mitri as its new Hospitalist.

Dr. Sami Mitri has joined Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Hospital

Dr. Mitri is a board-certified internal medicine physician.

Dr. Mitri completed a residency at McLaren Greater Lansing Hospital in Lansing, Michigan where he also had a private practice.  He earned his medical degree from Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine in Parker, Colorado. Dr. Mitri also received his bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of Michigan along with his Master of Science in Biology.  He is a member of the American College of Osteopathic Internists, American College of Physicians and the American Osteopathic Association.

Not only a dedicated and experienced physician, Dr. Mitri also has a passion for teaching and lecturing at colleges and universities.  He is passionate about delivering the highest quality and compassionate care to our hospitalized patients.

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Shelly Walter

Shelly works as an RN in Loveland

Shelly Walter, 54, spent much of her free time enjoying the outdoors. She was an avid rock climber, skier, and travel enthusiast. When she wasn’t spending time outdoors or with her family, she worked as a registered nurse in Loveland, Colorado.

Over a few days, Shelly began experiencing fevers, followed by memory loss. She admitted to a local hospital. There, she received treatment for acute hypoxic respiratory failure and an influenza B infection. Shelly then transferred to Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Hospital for follow-up treatment.

During her stay, Shelly’s condition continued to escalate. She endured additional complications including toxic shock syndrome, acute cardiomyopathy, dysphagia, protein calorie malnutrition, and anemia.

“My illnesses were great, but my support was even greater,” Shelly says. “From the very beginning, the staff was positive, compassionate, and encouraging. They treated me like a family member. They got to know me on a personal level, figuring out how much I love the outdoors. And so they incorporated the outdoors into my therapy. Even on my difficult days, they knew how to make me smile and kept my spirits high.”

After a few weeks of treatment at NCLTAH, Shelly transferred to Northern Colorado Rehabilitation Hospital. “Even there, I was still valued as a family member,” Shelly says. “The dietitian and nutrition manager customized my nutrition plan to accommodate my vegetarian lifestyle. And with the rehabilitation, they focused on not just the physical aspects, but the emotional and mental aspects of it, as well.” Shelly discharged a week later, able to independently walk out of the facility.

Shelly was able to make her family’s annual camping trip to Leadville, Colorado this year. While there, she biked more than 25 miles. “I believe that whatever life throws at you, you have to stay positive and enjoy every moment you can,” she says. “Thanks to my family and the rehabilitation I received, I am back doing the things I love with the people I love.”

After discharge, Shelly biked over 25 miles at her family’s annual camping trip

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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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