health care

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Avian Flu Confirmed in Domestic Birds in Canyon County

Posted By on Tue, Jan 20, 2015 at 12:32 PM

The Idaho State Veterinarian has confirmed that several cases of avian flu were detected in Canyon County. Officials determined that several wild waterfowl had been infected and, in turn, spread the avian flu to falcons in a non-commercial flock. Additionally, some chickens in Canyon County tested positive for the virus.

"Both the H5N8 and H5N2 strains of HPAI confirmed in Idaho have previously been identified in incidents in backyard domestic poultry and wild fowl in other northwestern states," wrote State Veterenarian Dr. Bill Barton in a press release. "It is critical that backyard flock owners and poultry producers take every opportunity to prevent contact between domestic birds and the wild waterfowl that carry the avian influenza virus."

All of the surviving birds were reported to be in quarantine. The testing was triggered by a number of cases of avian flu being confirmed in Oregon, Utah and California. Investigators previous confirmed avian flu among wild ducks in Gooding County.

Barton urges Idaho bird owners to be diligent in keeping them apart from wild waterfowl to prevent infection.
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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Mumps Confirmed in Boise, Tied to University of Idaho Outbreak

Posted By on Wed, Jan 14, 2015 at 2:19 PM

Officials at the Central District Health Department have confirmed two college-aged individuals with the mumps. CDHD says the latest cases, which now total 16, are tied to a recent mumps outbreak at the University of Idaho.

"Although no vaccine is perfect, receiving two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine is the best way to protect yourself against becoming ill,” said Sarah Correll, Staff Epidemiologist with the Central District Health Department. 

Mumps can be spread through a sneeze, cough or direct contact with saliva. Symptoms, which can include swelling behind the ear, fever, body aches, headaches and decreased appetite, generally appear 16 to 18 days after exposure. 

CDHD provide vaccines, including the MMR (mumps, measles and rubella) vaccine to children. The first dose of the MMR vaccine is recommended for children are 12- to 15-months old, followed by a second dose when they are 4-to 6-years old.
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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

More Than 70,000 Idahoans Use Your Health Idaho to Select Health Insurance

Posted By on Tue, Dec 16, 2014 at 11:22 AM

Your Health Idaho, the Gem State's health care insurance exchange, has reported that in the first month of open enrollment, nearly as many Idahoans have signed up for health insurance plans through the service as signed up in 2013.

Between Nov. 15 and Dec. 14, 74,689 Idahoans purchased health insurance - either as new applicants or those renewing their coverage - through the exchange. In 2013, 76,000 Idahoans signed up using, the federal government-run health insurance exchange website. Open enrollment through Your Health Idaho continues through February 15, 2015.

"There is a huge demand for health insurance in our state," Your Health Idaho Executive Director Pat Kelly wrote in a press release. "We are pleased so many Idahoans have already found a health insurance plan that fits their needs."

Those interested in purchasing insurance taking effect Jan. 1, 2015, must have selected a plan by Saturday, Dec. 20, and payment for the plan must be received by Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2014.

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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

$250K in Affordable Care Act Funding Goes to Rural Idaho Medical Centers

Posted By on Tue, Dec 9, 2014 at 12:12 PM

For rural Idaho medical centers, a little money goes a long way. Tuesday morning, Idaho Health and Human Services announced that it will invest $252,625 in 11 such medical centers for chronic disease management, preventive care and the use of electronic health records to report quality data, through Affordable Care Act funds. 

"This funding rewards Idaho health centers that have a proven track record in clinical quality improvement, which translates to better patient care, and it allows them to expand and improve their systems and infrastructure to bring the highest quality primary care services to the communities they serve," wrote Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell in a press release.

Health centers receiving funds are being recognized for performance in electronic health record reporting, improvement of clinical quality and health care center leadership.

In Idaho, 12 Health and Resources Administration-supported health care centers provide care to approximately 140,000 patients.

The health centers receiving funds include:

Adams County Health Center Inc., in Council

Benewah Medical Center in Plummer

Boundary Regional Community Health Center, Inc., in Bonners Ferry

Community Council of Idaho, Inc., in Caldwell

Community Health Clinics, Inc., in Nampa

Dirne Health Centers, Inc., in Coeur d'Alene

Glenns Ferry Health Center, Inc., in Glenns Ferry

Health West, Inc., in Pocatello

Upper Valley Community Health Services, Inc., in Saint Anthony

Valley Family Health Care, Inc., in Payette
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Saturday, October 18, 2014

St. Luke's Hospital Trains Staff for Ebola

Posted By on Sat, Oct 18, 2014 at 2:37 PM

St. Luke's preps for an unlikely Ebola outbreak in Idaho. - KTVB
  • KTVB
  • St. Luke's preps for an unlikely Ebola outbreak in Idaho.

Experts say an outbreak of Ebola in the United States is unlikely—and doctors say it's even more unlikely that the virus could make its way to Idaho. But it's not impossible. 

So St. Luke's Health System is preparing for the remote chance through staff training, establishing protocols  and equipment preparation, according to KTVB

The training includes establishing what questions to ask patients and what to do in a quarantine situation. They've created a buddy system for their HAZMAT suits, to make sure the suits are worn properly and have no holes or tears. St. Luke's has a network of clinics, but the training is reaching them all.

The health care provider has already spent $300,000 on supplies that would combat a potential Ebola outbreak here—including gowns, masks and powered ventilation goods. Even more money has gone into training.

"We feel we are ready," Chief Quality Officer Dr. Barton Hill told KTVB. "We are continually getting additional areas identified. There is a whole continuum of steps that need to be in place. Points of access can include clinics, people who come to the front desk of a hospital, or people who come to an emergency department. There are over 125 clinics across the various St. Luke's sites so you can imagine there is a tremendous amount of work to get those people up to speed and ready to go."

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Vaughn Ward (Remember Him?) Bringing 'Medical Tourism' to Idaho

Posted By on Tue, Jul 29, 2014 at 9:32 AM

The phenomenon known as "medical tourism" has pumped millions of dollars into the Argentina, Brazil and Costa Rican economies as Americans head south of the border for cheap cosmetic surgery. Low-cost dental procedures in Mexico and India have also attracted medical tourists.

And now, North Idaho wants a piece of the action, particularly targeting Canadians.

This morning's Coeur d'Alene Press reports that Northwest Specialty Hospital in Post Falls is teaming up with the Coeur d'Alene Resort to bundle special deals for Canadians who are heading to Kootenai County for medical care. Hospital officials said the Canadian customers are heading south "due to long wait times for procedures" near their homes. And according the U.S. Department of Commerce, medical tourism from the Canadian market is expected to grow by nearly a third in the next several years.

"We're giving Canadians the ability to move to the proverbial front of the line to access our outstanding heath care," said NWSH CEO Vaughn Ward.

And yes, that's the same Vaughn Ward who famously imploded in 2010, when while running for Idaho's 1st Congressional District in a mistake-riddled campaign he plagiarized speeches and called Puerto Rico a country.

Lately, Ward has been the chief executive of the Post Falls private hospital and recently accepted a position as regional vice president for United Surgical Partners International in Scottsdale, Ariz.

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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Temporary Reprieve for St. Luke's in Saltzer Merger Mess

Posted By on Sat, Jul 26, 2014 at 11:01 AM

Officials at St. Luke's Health System cheered the news Friday when the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said St. Luke's could hold onto the Saltzer Medical Group ... at least, temporarily.

Just last month, U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill said that St. Luke's needed to start dissolving its ownership of Saltzer, following his January ruling that indicated St. Luke's was in violation of antitrust laws.

But St. Luke's immediately appealed, and the 9th Circuit granted a stay on Winmill's ruling, saying it would expedite a full hearing on the issue and move it to the front burner of the appeal's court's calendar "at the earliest possible date."

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Monday, July 21, 2014

St. Al's CEO is Promoted to West/Midwest Executive Vice President of Parent Company

Posted By on Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 3:20 PM


Sally Jeffcoat, the woman who has been at the helm of St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center since 2009, is being promoted to take over as executive vice president of the west/Midwest group of St. Al's parent, CHE Trinity Health, with executive oversight of hospitals in Idaho, Oregon, California and throughout the Midwest. She won't be leaving Boise. A statement from St. Al's said Jeffcoat will be commuting from her Boise home.

In May 2012, Boise Weekly sat down with Jeffcoat (BW, Citizen, "Sally Jeffcoat," May 16, 2012) to talk about her employees (nearly 5,000) and how many people walk through St. Al's doors each year (approximately 300,000).

"I see it as a sacred thing—the opportunity to live our mission, caring with dignity. I get a little philosophical about it at times and I take it quite seriously," Jeffcoat told BW. "I think it's really important to interact with as many people as possible. And part of that is being a faith-based organization. I hope that at least once every day somebody feels that I bring God's presence into the room with me."

Meanwhile, Rodney Reider, current President of St. Al's, will be assuming the role of CEO. Reider has been in the position of President since 2010.

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Saturday, June 28, 2014

I Scream, You Scream, Ice Cream Recalls

Posted By on Sat, Jun 28, 2014 at 12:00 PM


There's no such thing as a good month for a recall, but a few days before the Fourth of July couldn't be any worse for a an ice cream recall.

Nestle is pulling 10,000 cases of its 14-ounce Chocolate Peanut Butter Haagen-Dazs Ice Cream because the containers were mislabeled. The product did not say it contains peanuts, which can pose problems with people who struggle with allergies. The recall affects 14-ounce cartons of ice cream with a best-by date of May 13, 2015.

This latest incident comes on the heels of another ice cream recall, when Rite Aid pulled hundreds of 16-oz. pints distributed under the Thrifty brand name.

Those recalled pints contained pistachio ice cream; however, the ice cream was inadvertently placed in containers labeled as being Mint ‘n Chip. Again, the recall was to protect people with nut allergies.

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Friday, May 30, 2014

CDC: Jump in Measles Cases is Cause for Alarm

Posted By on Fri, May 30, 2014 at 9:26 AM

It's only May, but the nation's health officials say this year's number of U.S. patients with measles has already surpassed levels not seen since before the turn of the 21st century.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday that 288 cases is the largest number of cases in the first five months of the year since 1994, and this year's outbreak is a "wake-up call" for immunization.

Nearly all of this year's cases have been linked to importations from at least 18 countries, and half of the cases have been associated with the Philippines, where a large outbreak has been ongoing since October 2013.

In December 2011, Boise Weekly chronicled the growing number of Idahoans, particularly in Idaho's panhandle, who have been pushing back against immunizing their children (BW, News, "Idaho's Epidemic of Fear," Dec. 14, 2011).

"You need to stop using the word immunization. We don't say immunization. Vaccines don't immunize anything," Ingri Cassel, president of Vaccination Liberation lectured Boise Weekly.

But in the nearby Lake Pend Oreille School District, nurse Dana Williams told BW that she remains perplexed by the number of parents who have opted out of having their children immunized.

"This is stupid," she told BW. "There's absolutely no reason for these exemption rates. We're going to end up with something bad happening here."

And Cynthia Taggart, public information officer for the Panhandle Health District told BW, "It's a mind set. We have had vaccination opponents here for many, many years. It goes way back."

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