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Molly Dahlgren

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Memorial Community Hospital & Health System

2018 Annual Report

The Mission of Memorial Community Hospital and Health System is to partner with our community to heal, nurture and promote wellness. MCH&HS has been a proud part of the community for many years.

MCH 2018 report

In a healthcare landscape that is riddled with change and challenge, the organization has had to adapt and evolve over the years, but one thing has remained consistent–our commitment to ensuring that our patients receive personalized and high quality care.

The 2018 annual report shares some of the milestones that the team at MCH&HS has been able to accomplish in the last year.

pdfDownload the 2018 Annual Report


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Memorial Community Hospital & Health System Receives $279,062 Grant From Helmsley Charitable Trust X-Ray Initiative

[Blair, NE] | Patients at Memorial Community Hospital & Health System will soon benefit from studies using the latest in x-ray technology made possible through a grant from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust’s Rural Healthcare Program.

The Helmsley Charitable Trust has awarded Memorial Community Hospital & Health System $279,062 for a digital upgrade of the main radiology room and a digital panel for the second radiology room, part of a $14.2 million initiative to upgrade x-ray technology at 50 rural hospitals in the Upper Midwest.

"We are grateful for the support from the Helmsley Charitable Trust,” said Manny Wolf, Memorial Community Hospital & Health System President and CEO. “The grant will provide us with the ability to deliver the safest and highest quality radiologic services for our patients. In addition, the updated system at the main hospital campus also allows for Memorial Community Hospital & Health System to offer enhanced diagnostic abilities in our soon to open new Cottonwood Clinic in Tekamah."

Walter Panzirer, a Trustee for the Helmsley Charitable Trust, said the initiative represents the organization’s latest multi-site initiative to improve the quality of healthcare available to rural residents in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska and Wyoming.

“Our goal has always been to improve access to exceptional medical treatment for those who live in rural America,” said Panzirer. “To that end, rural hospitals need to remain viable and have the latest equipment to ensure their patients can receive essential, quality healthcare services locally. This initiative is just one of many that strives to improve healthcare outcomes throughout the Upper Midwest.”

Panzirer said critical access hospitals in the seven-state region are hampered by outdated equipment. Over the last four years, the Helmsley Charitable Trust’s Rural Healthcare Program has awarded more than $30 million in grants to 82 hospitals in the Upper Midwest to purchase state-of-the-art computer tomography (CT) scanners.
The Helmsley Charitable Trust’s latest initiative addresses out-of-date x-ray technology that underserves patients and jeopardizes the health of physicians and x-ray technicians, according to Panzirer.

The $14.2 million in grants will allow replacement of a total of 87 pieces of equipment, including: 32 fixed x-ray devices with an average age of 16 years; 48 portable x-ray devices with an average age of 28 years; two fixed fluoroscopy devices averaging nine years; and five portable C-arms with an average age of 16 years.
“With one particular grant to a rural North Dakota hospital, the trust is replacing an x-ray device that has been in service since 1967,” Panzirer said. “Technology has advanced so much, even over the last decade, that these grants, allowing for the purchase of advanced x-ray devices, will provide incredible benefits for medical workers and their patients for the foreseeable future.”

About the Helmsley Charitable Trust

The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust aspires to improve lives by supporting effective nonprofits in health and select place-based initiatives. Since 2008, when Helmsley began its active grantmaking, it has committed more than $2 billion for a wide range of charitable purposes. Helmsley’s Rural Healthcare Program funds innovative projects that use information technologies to connect rural patients to emergency medical care, bring the latest medical therapies to patients in remote areas, and provide state-of-the-art training for rural hospitals and EMS personnel.

To date, this program has awarded nearly $390 million to organizations and initiatives in the Upper Midwest states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, Minnesota Iowa and Montana. To learn more, visit

pdfDownload a copy of this article 

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Memorial Community Hospital & Health System (MCH&HS) welcomed the first baby born in 2019, with the birth of Gus Franklin Johnson on January 15th.

Read the Pilot-Tribune article 

pilot tribune

The son of Heidi and Jordan Johnson of Tekamah, Gus was welcomed into the world at 4:27 p.m. by Dr. Sandra Baumberger. He was 7 pounds, 4ounces and 20 and a half inches long.

mch new year baby

Blair Volunteer Fire and Rescue continued an annual tradition, donating a gift basket to the family of the first New Year baby. Blair Volunteer Fire and Rescue members Randy Backman, Brenda Jenny, Bob Tichota and Fire Chief Joe Leonard included many baby essentials in the basket such as a a carbon monoxide alarm and a handmade blanket.

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Memorial Community Hospital & Health System Receives Trauma Designation

(Blair, NE) – Memorial Community Hospital & Health System in Blair recently received a Basic Level Trauma Center designation from the Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS).

This designation requires certification, and all nurses and providers must obtain additional education and training leading to a higher quality of care.

A site visit was held in October 2018 at which time a trauma center medical provider and nurse reviewed patient charts, facility, processes and resources in the Emergency Department at MCH&HS. With this designation, all ER providers are required to have ATLS (Advanced Trauma Life Support) and all ED nurses are required to have continuing education hours that are trauma related. Nurses also must have TNCC (Trauma Nurse Core Course).

The Basic Level Trauma Center designation is valid for four years. During the four year period, the DHHS will monitor MCH&HS’s compliance by requiring the facility to report data to the Trauma Registry and participate in regional trauma care performance improvement meetings.

Many MCH&HS staff members were recognized as playing an integral role in receiving this designation which was led by Trauma Medical Director Dr. Maurice Birdwell, and Trauma Nurse Coordinator Keala Roy. The local EMS volunteers and MCH Board of Directors were also commended for their efforts.

pdfDownload the Press Release 

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Read the Latest Issue of Aspire Magazine, Fall 2018

Aspire is the free community magazine of Memorial Community Hospital & Health System (MCH&HS).  

Each issue highlights select services and members of the MCH&HS team, introduces new initiatives, celebrates our community, and offers you some helpful health tips.

 aspire fall 2018 thumbnail

In This Issue 

Continuing Growth: Strategic planning process, new Tekamah Cottonwood Clinic, and addition of medical staff leads growth efforts

Community Spotlight: New Tekamah Clinic Coming Soon 

Employee Spotlight: New Faces Joining MCH&HS Staff 

Feature Articles: 
Flu Vaccination Is Important, pg. 4
Oncology Locally, pg. 4
Save our Antibiotics: Prevent Unnecessary Use, pg. 5

Events & Updates:
Rummage Sale Success
Tree of Life Campaign
2nd Annual Baby Expo
MCH&HS Holiday Celebration Thursday, December 13th, 4-7pm

pdfDownload the Fall 2018 Issue

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UNMC's Simulation in Motion Nebraska Program Provides Free Training to Local EMS, Critical Access Hospitals

Emergency medical service providers and nurses from the local area working with the University of Nebraska Medical Center Simulation in Motion Nebraska program (SIM-NE) conducted emergency medical training on Wednesday, October 3, 2018 at Memorial Community Hospital and Health System in Blair, NE which is hosting the training.

SIM-NE truck 1

The free training is conducted with a 44-foot-long, customized truck that provides a mobile, real-life training experience designed to enhance life-saving skills for those in rural areas. The trucks were launched in June 2017 to be stationed in Scottsbluff, Norfolk, Kearney and Lincoln with training taking place in surrounding rural communities. The idea is about bringing training to those associated with rural emergency medical service agencies and rural critical access hospitals in their home location rather than having learners travel to larger cities for training. This allows the simulations to be team-based as learners train side-by-side with the people they normally work with during a response.

The customized trucks, funded by a $5.5 million grant from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, feature dual slide-out room extensions, a simulated emergency room and ambulance, as well as high-tech, computerized mannequins that talk, breathe, have heartbeats, and can react to medications and other actions of the learners.

Each mobile unit is outfitted with supplies to recreate a realistic environment for learners including supplies, pre-programmed computerized medical and trauma scenarios; monitors that display vital signs of patient simulators; audio and video recording/playback capabilities and mock drugs.

The grant has funded the program operation for three years with 100 percent funding in the first year, 66 percent funding in the second year and 33 percent funding in the third year. Private funding, partnerships, fee for services, and state and federal grants will be sought to sustain the project during and after the grant funding period ends in November 2018.

pdfDownload a copy of this article »

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Congratulations to Lori Titus, Patient Access Rep, Therapy Services

MCH caringkind2018

MCH&HS has awarded Lorilee Titus the "Caring Kind" Award.

Lori consistently goes "above and beyond" to provide excellent customer service with a personal touch. She makes all patients that stop at her desk feel cared for and "part of the rehab family." She makes extra calls to patients, will assist patients to their cars, hold an umbrella during pouring rains, and gives extra attention to all our patients.

Thank you, Lori, for your dedication to MCH&HS!

pdfDownload a copy of this article »


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Memorial Community Hospital and Health System in Blair, NE announced a new physician will be joining their health system.

Thielen  photo

Dr. Paula Thielen will join MCH&HS in September 2018. She is currently practicing at Banner Medical Group in Ogallala, NE.

Dr. Thielen received her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Xavier University in Cincinnati, OH and her medical degree from the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Medicine (UNMC).
She completed her residency at UNMC in Family Medicine. Dr. Thielen is Board certified in Family Medicine and has a strong interest in and focus on women's health and maternity care. She is experienced in C-Sections and minor office procedures.

In her free time, Dr. Thielen enjoys cooking, reading, spending time on physical fitness and with her dog, Indy. She also enjoys musicals, plays and the ballet. One of her favorite things to do is visit the Henry Doorly Zoo. Upon her arrival, Dr. Thielen will reside in Blair.

pdfDownload a copy of this article »

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Blair Pediatrician Busting Vaccine Myths

JillReelMD web

By Jill Reel, MD
MCH&HS Blair Clinic Pediatrician


Immunizations are an incredible innovation to prevent deaths.

I almost died from the measles when I was a baby before the vaccine was available. I had measles and developed pneumonia. Luckily, I survived because I had an excellent pediatrician who recognized the complications. There are still measles outbreaks and recently 17 children died from a measles outbreak. This can happen easily when vaccine rates go down. Annually, 1.5 million children die from vaccine-preventable diseases. Vaccines are encouraged, but myths surrounding vaccine discourage parents from getting their children vaccinated. I practice scientifically proven and evidence-based medicine and I push hard for parents to get their children vaccinated on time because I know it could save their child's life.

During my pediatric intern year Haemophilus Influenzae Type B (HIB) meningitis was an epidemic. We weren't vaccinating children until 15 months, at that time, but the majority of children getting HIB were under 15 months. We did spinal taps, several every night, in the winter months. The following year we started vaccinating at 2, 4, and 6 months and now we rarely see HIB meningitis. I also had a big beautiful 4 month old baby with Streptococcus Pneumonia Meningitis and he had pus pockets in his brain and was thought that he would be deaf, blind and mentally handicapped.

It is not a good idea to delay vaccines as many of the things that we vaccinate for are even more deadly to babies and younger children. Also, everyone should have a Tdap as an adult. The Tdap is a vaccine that prevents tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough). We still have deaths every year from whooping cough, especially in babies. Lastly, everyone should get their Flu vaccine every year as soon as they come out, usually in September. Influenza kills 100-200 children a year and it can kill very healthy children and adults as well as the young and the old.

Here are five key facts about immunizations:

1) Immunization with vaccination is the safest way to prevent disease. (Vaccines produce immunity similar to natural infection without the serious risk of death or disability related to natural infection.)

2) It is always best to get vaccinated even if you think the risk of infection is low. (Deadly diseases that seem to have been eradicated have a way of coming back when vaccine rates drop.)

3) Combined vaccines are safe. (Giving vaccines in combination and several at the same time have been proven to boost the immunity to each component of the vaccine and reduce the number of shots and discomfort for the child.)

4) There is no link with vaccines and autism. (There is no scientific evidence to link the MMR vaccine and autism. This has been proved repeatedly in multiple studies.)

5) If we don't vaccinate, deadly diseases will return.

I strongly encourage vaccinations as they help save lives. It is a proven fact!

For further information: or

pdfDownload a copy of this article »

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MCH&HS Earns Designation 

Memorial Community Hospital and Health System (MCH&HS) has earned the designation of a Safe Sleep Hospital Champion as part of a Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services initiative.

Jackie Moline, maternal/infant health program coordinator, division of public health, presented a certificate to the hospital Wednesday morning.

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services worked with the Nebraska Hospital Association, the Nebraska Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Nebraska Perinatal Quality Improvement Collaborative to launch the Nebraska Safe Sleep Hospital Campaign. The campaign provides evidence-based education to parents of newborns as well as birthing hospital staff.

"Providing consistent training and education on safe sleep for all hospital personnel caring for children under a year old ensures the same safe sleep message is shared with parents of more than 26,000 babies born in Nebraska every year," Moline said. "An increase in safe sleep awareness will result in more babies sleeping in safe environments and reaching their first birthday."
To earn the designation, MCH&HS took the Safe Sleep Campaign pledge, developed a Safe Sleep policy, educated hospital personnel on Safe Sleep recommendations and practices and provided evidence-based Safe Sleep education.

"MCH recognizes the importance of quality and patient safety," said Angie Livingston, MCH&HS inpatient lead, who accepted the certificate on behalf of the hospital.

MCH&HS is the 37th hospital — out of 38 — to earn the designation since September. Ten other hospitals have pledged to become Hospital Champions.

pdfDownload a copy of this article 

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Nebraska Hospital Association Foundation announces health care career scholarship recipients

LINCOLN, NEB. — The Nebraska Hospital Association Research and Educational Foundation (NHAREF) is proud to announce the recipients of the 2018 Graduate Studies Tuition Aid Program and the Undergraduate Health Care Career Scholarship Program.

Congratulations to Natalie Uhing, Memorial Community Hospital & Health System, Blair (Aureus Medical Group scholarship)

Natalie Uhing ED Clerk Tech 8.1.15 


In an effort to address the ongoing health care professional shortage, the NHAREF is assisting future industry leaders in their efforts to pursue a degree in health care or further their education through two scholarship programs — the Graduate Studies Tuition Aid Program and the Undergraduate Health Care Career Scholarship Program. The scholarship programs can also encourage Nebraskans to remain in the state as they establish their careers in health care.

"The NHAREF is pleased to award scholarships to hospital employees who have selected to focus on a health care career. This year's awardees represent the commitment to advance their learning to enable them to provide direct patient care or to offer the many support services hospitals utilize," Nebraska Hospital Association President Laura Redoutey said. "We are honored that so many applied for these scholarships. We wish all of our student employees well as they pursue their educational dreams."

Four additional scholarships were offered this year due to a generous donation to the Health Care Career Scholarship Program from FocusOne Solutions and Aureus Medical Group. These scholarships assist students who are working toward a career to improve the health and well-being of Nebraska's communities. Dan Nordstrom, Business Development Executive at FocusOne Solutions, says, "Aureus Medical and FocusOne Solutions are committed to helping NHA members by supporting Nebraska nurses to achieve their educational and career goals at NHA member hospitals."

Nebraska's hospitals are proud to support these outstanding students who will keep our quality of care among the best in the nation.

Recipients of the 2018 Graduate Studies Tuition Aid Program:
• Emily Colyer, Children's Hospital & Medical Center, Omaha (Aureus Medical Group scholarship)
• Suzanne Day, Boystown National Research Hospital, Omaha (FocusOne Solutions scholarship)
• Brett Eggleston, Callaway District Hospital, Callaway
• Kristianna Farley, CHI Health St. Francis, Grand Island
• Christina Flaata, Brodstone Memorial Hospital, Superior
• Dawn Friesel, Nemaha County Hospital, Auburn
• Dayle Harlow, Fillmore County Hospital, Geneva
• Sarah Huettner, Columbus Community Hospital, Columbus
• Alisha Obando, Chadron Community Hospital, Chadron
• Sara Rybacki, Community Hospital, McCook

Recipients of the 2018 Undergraduate Health Care Career Scholarship Program:
• Marcy Aldana, CHI Health St. Mary's, Nebraska City (FocusOne Solutions scholarship)
• Amanda Barnes, Webster County Community Hospital, Red Cloud
• Bethanie Bates, Box Butte General Hospital, Alliance
• Jeanne Hansen, Dundy County Hospital, Benkelman
• Arthur Martin, CHI Health Lakeside, Omaha
• Elizabeth Maschmann, Brodstone Memorial Hospital, Superior
• Neil Schmedding, Children's Hospital & Medical Center, Omaha
• Natalie Uhing, Memorial Community Hospital & Health System, Blair (Aureus Medical Group scholarship)
• Jordin Wasson, Tri Valley Health System, Cambridge
• Andrea Wilder Wilson, Jennie M Melham Memorial Medical Center, Broken Bow
• Taylor York, Regional West Medical Center, Scottsbluff

FocusOne Solutions is a provider of managed services solutions and vendor management software to help hospitals nationwide streamline the staffing process and achieve a higher level of performance. They serve as the point of contact to source high quality staff. FocusOne is dedicated to helping outstanding health care professionals take the next step forward in their careers.

Aureus Medical Group is a national leader in health care staffing—and a Nebraska-based company—that brings more than 30 years of success to connecting hospitals with skilled and dynamic health care professionals seeking rewarding career opportunities. Aureus Medical Group is proud to play a vital role in the future of quality health care by providing assistance to students pursuing advanced degrees in their chosen health care field. Aureus Medical is a sister company of managed services provider FocusOne Solutions.

For more than 90 years, the Nebraska Hospital Association has been the unified voice for Nebraska's hospitals and health systems. The Association offers collaborative leadership, assisting its members to provide comprehensive care to their communities, improving the health status of those communities. For more information, visit the NHA website at

Download the Press Release »

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MCH&HS 2nd Annual Baby Expo

Saturday, September 22, 2018

9 am - 12 noon
Bagby/Gentry Conference Rooms
810 N. 22nd Street, Blair

For information, call Molly at 402-426-1464.

Meet our L&D physicians and pediatrician!

  • Prize Drawings
  • Giveaways
  • Tours
  • Vendors
  • Food

pdfDownload the flyer »

babyexpo2018 thumb 

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Did you miss out on Mammos, Muffins & Mimosas in July? Well, we have another fun event planned for you Ladies in August!

Mammos & Moscatos

Thursday, August 16th, 2018
5:00 to 7:00 p.m.
Diagnostic Waiting Room
810 N. 22nd Street, Blair

Schedule your 3D mammogram today and join us for a Moscato and an appetizer! Appointments are required for mammograms, but if you have already had your annual exam, we'd still love to have you stop by and enjoy a refreshment.

pdfDownload the invitation »

mammos thumb2

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Memorial Community Hospital & Health System Staff Attended the Studer Leadership Conference

Members of the MCH&HS team attended a leadership conference on June 6th in York, NE. The conference was geared towards medical staffs and focused on leadership, engagement, quality, and patient safety.

Shown above are Dr. Jill Reel, Patty Smith, Jamie Kellogg, Keala Roy, Marilyn Appleby, and Laura Fisher.



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MCH&HS President and CEO, Manny Wolf, Receives FACHE Credentials

American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) Board of Governors has granted Manny Wolf, President and Chief Executive Officer of Memorial Community Hospital and Health System Fellowship of the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE).

ACHE is the leading professional society for healthcare leaders. Fellow status represents achievement of the highest standard of professional development. The credentialing system is multifaceted and involves academic preparation, healthcare management experience, ACHE tenure, passing the Board of Governors Examination in Healthcare Management, continuing education, references, and community and civic involvement. Fellows are also committed to ongoing professional development and undergo recertification every three years.

Manny Wolf 336x427 Ms. Wolf, who has been a member of ACHE for four years, is now privileged to use the FACHE credential, which signifies board certification in healthcare management and ACHE Fellow status. The American College of Healthcare Executives is an international professional society of more than 30,000 healthcare executives who lead hospitals, healthcare systems and other healthcare organizations. ACHE is known for its prestigious credentialing and educational programs.


pdfDownload the Press Release »

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West Nile Virus

West Nile virus (WNV) is a mosquito transmitted disease that can infect humans, birds, horses and other mammals. In humans WNV can cause a mild flu-like illness, or may cause no symptoms at all. In some cases, especially among the elderly, WNV can cause serious neurological diseases like encephalitis or meningitis.

The Culex tarsalis mosquito is found throughout Nebraska and more prevalent in western Nebraska .Larvae of Culex mosquitoes develop in standing water, especially in rural locations and adult mosquitoes will fly several miles in search of a blood meal.

Since its arrival in Nebraska in 2002, Nebraska has reported a total of 3,736 persons with WNV (68 in 2017) placing our state's rate in the top five nationally. For the current 2018 WNV season, through a well-established protocol of trapping and testing mosquito pools, surveillance will begin the last weekend in May and go through the end of September.

Most people who are infected with WNV either have no symptoms or experience mild illness such as fever, headache and body aches before fully recovering. Some persons may develop a mild rash or swollen lymph glands. Most people who become infected will get better on their own. If illness does occur, symptoms generally appear within 3 to 15 days of being bitten by an infected mosquito.

Spooner Annette

According to Annette Spooner, BSN, RN, Infection Prevention at MCH&HS, "Prevention strategies are key to avoiding West Nile Virus and its complications that could adversely affect our elderly population especially."

West Nile virus can cause encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), meningitis (inflammation of the membrane around the brain and spinal cord), and acute flaccid paralysis (a polio-like syndrome) in which muscles become very weak or paralyzed. Symptoms may include: headache, high fever, stiff neck, confusion, coma, tremors, convulsions, and muscle weakness or paralysis. Intensive supportive therapy includes hospitalization, IV therapy, airway management and prevention of secondary infections. At its most serious, WNV can cause permanent neurological damage and death.

Those over age 50 (especially those over 65) are at the greatest risk for complications and should take precautions from June through October:

  • Use insect repellant containing DEET when spending time outdoors. This is an important action to reduce the chances of getting bitten by an infected mosquito
  • Wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts, particularly between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are active
  • Avoid shaded, bushy areas where mosquitoes rest
  • Limit outdoor activity, especially at dusk when mosquitoes are most active

Mosquitoes lay eggs in standing or slow moving water. Standing water can accumulate in unused tires, cans, unused pools and pool covers and other receptacles that collect water. Dump water from containers after it rains to eliminate breeding areas. Mosquitoes will also enter homes through broken screens and open windows and doors. Keep mosquitoes out of the house by fixing broken screens.

"Taking preventative measures to avoid mosquito bites and eliminate pools of standing water around your home is much easier and cost effective than dealing with the Illness caused by the virus and its complications", said Spooner.

Contact your health care provider if you have concerns. If symptoms of high fever, confusion, muscle weakness, and severe headaches occur, see your doctor immediately.

pdfDownload a printable version of this article »

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MCH&HS Emergency Department Receives Nebraska's First Air Medical Transport Button

The Emergency Room at Memorial Community Hospital and Health System recently received the first Air Medical Transport button in Nebraska.

This button allows ER staff to dispatch a helicopter when staff are too busy to call due to patient care. It works via a phone line, notifying the helicopter dispatch center that a helicopter is needed. Dispatch then has the helicopter take off; during flight they call for pertinent patient information. This new process frees up staff to continue with patient care.

The button is located in the nurses' station and is simple to use. "This new technology allows us to make the patient experience even safer, especially when seconds count," said ER Manager, Keala Roy.

Nebraska is the second state in the nation to have this equipment. MCH&HS was chosen due to the proximity to two helicopter bases; one in Fremont and the other in Omaha. The first hospital to receive one in the country was a facility in Idaho. "We are very excited to trial this new technology in our ER," said Roy.

Keala Roy
Shown above near the Air Medical Transport button
is Keala Roy, Emergency Department Lead at MCH&HS.

pdfDownload a copy of this release.




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Read the Latest Issue of Aspire Magazine, Spring 2018

Aspire is the free community magazine of Memorial Community Hospital & Health System (MCH&HS).  

Each issue highlights some select services and members of the MCH&HS team, introduces new initiatives, celebrates a valued member of the community, and offers you some helpful health tips.

 AspireThumbnail spring2018

In This Issue:

Employee Spotlight: Keeping Care in the Family
Featuring Katie Petersen, RN on the MCH&HS Med-Surg Floor

Community Spotlight:  All About The PEOPLE
Honoring Dee Sylvis and Her Commitment to the Washington County Community

Feature Articles:

  • How Better Mammography Became A Reality At MCH&HS
  • MCH&HS Patients and Staff Enjoy New Equipment in State-of-the-Art Operating Room
  • Colonoscopies Save Lives: 5 Ways to Reduce Your Risk for Colon Cancer

pdfDownload the Spring 2018 Issue

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Stroke is the third leading cause of death in America and the No. 1 cause of adult disability. However, 80% of strokes are preventable; you can prevent a stroke!

What is a stroke?

A stroke or "brain attack" occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery (a blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the body) or a blood vessel (a tube through which the blood moves through the body) breaks, interrupting blood flow to an area of the brain. When either of these things happens brain cells begin to die and brain damage occurs.

When brain cells die during a stroke, abilities controlled by that area of the brain are lost. These abilities include speech, movement and memory. How a stroke patient is affected depends on where the stroke occurs in the brain and how much the brain is damaged.
For example, someone who has a small stroke may experience only minor problems such as weakness of an arm or leg. People who have larger strokes may be paralyzed on one side or lose their ability to speak. Some people recover completely from strokes, but more than 2/3 of survivors will have some type of disability.

Stroke Risk Factors

Anyone can have a stroke. But your chances for having a stroke increase if you meet certain criteria. Some of these criteria, called risk factors, are beyond your control and include things such as being over age 55, male, African American, Hispanic or Asian/Pacific Islander, or having a family history of stroke.

Other stroke risk factors are controllable. High blood pressure, atrial fibrillation (irregular heart beat), high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, excessive alcohol use (more than 2 drinks per day for men, one drink a day for women), and obesity are the risk factors over which you can exert control.


An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and, since brain tissue cannot be regenerated, prevention of a stroke is by far the best treatment.

1. Know your blood pressure. Ideal blood pressure for most people is less than 140/90 less for certain high-risk patients.
2. Find out if you have atrial fibrillation.
3. If you smoke, stop.
4. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation.
5. Find out if you have high cholesterol
6. If you are diabetic, make sure your diabetes is controlled.
7. Exercise.
8. Enjoy a lower sodium (salt), lower fat diet.
9. Know the Symptoms of Stroke.

The National Stroke Association received the Presidential Proclamation recognizing May as National Stroke Awareness Month in 1989. The goal of this annual campaign is to ensure that all Americans understand they can save a life by knowing about stroke risk factors, prevention, symptom recognition and acting F.A.S.T. to treat stroke.

To know the symptoms of stroke, think F.A.S.T.:

F = FACE Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
A = ARM Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
S = SPEECH Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Does the speech sound slurred or strange?
T = TIME If you observe any of these signs, it's time to call 9-1-1.

pdfDownload a copy of this article »


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Ticks bother Nebraskans every spring and summer largely due to the increase in outdoor activities such as trail running, hiking, camping and Morel mushroom hunting that take place in prime tick habitat. Ticks are blood feeders and have the potential to cause some serious diseases in both people and pets. Ticks can be active all year round, but May and June are regarded as high tick season in Nebraska. Nebraska's Department of Health and Human Services receives reports of tick borne disease every year.

pdfDownload a Printable Version

The two most common ticks found in eastern Nebraska this time of year are the American Dog Tick, Dermacentor variabilis, and the Lone Star Tick, Amblyomma americanum.

The American Dog Tick, also known as the Wood Tick, is the most common tick in Nebraska and is found throughout the state. The American Dog Tick can transmit Rickettsia a bacteria that causes Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) and Francisella tularensis the agent responsible for Tularemia.

The symptoms of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever are a dark rash and a fever appearing 5 to 10 days after a tick bite. It can lead to severe illness and hospitalization. RMSF can be cured with antibiotics, but only if treatment begins immediately. "Symptoms of RMSF are severe headache and high fever and a few days later a rash begins on the wrists and ankles," says Dr. Jill S. Reel, Pediatrician in the Blair Clinic.

The symptoms of Tularemia include high fever and/or skin ulcer at site of bite. An ulcer may be accompanied by swelling of regional lymph glands in armpit or groin. Tularemia can be treated with antibiotics in the first few days of symptoms.

The Lone Star Tick (Amblyomma americanum) is a smaller tick found in southeastern Nebraska and can be a carrier of Ehrlichiosis (Ehrlichia chaffeensis). Symptoms generally appear five to 10 days after a tick bite and include fever, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, nausea and occasionally a rash. If left untreated symptoms progress and may lead to hemorrhage of internal organs and renal failure.

Ticks have the ability to feed and remain embedded for several days (7–10) if undisturbed. The longer the tick remains attached, the more likely it will transmit pathogens, if infected. Scientists believe that no infection will occur if the tick is removed within 24 hours. "So after being outdoors check for ticks daily," Dr. Reel says.

Lyme disease is a rarity in Nebraska, and contracting the disease in Nebraska is highly unlikely. Most reported cases of Lyme occur when patients have been traveling in the northeast and upper Midwest, but cases have been reported all along the coastal areas of the United States.


  • Perform regular, full body, tick checks on your person and children, and if possible, shower within two hours of coming in from outdoors. On people, American Dog Ticks are most often found on the head and around the ears. In addition to these areas, Lone Star Ticks can be found under armpits, around waist, behind knee and in groin area.
  • Remove ticks before they get a chance to transmit disease.
  • Wear long pants, tucked into white socks for quick detection and removal.
  • Put outdoor clothes in the dryer on high for 30 minutes to kill ticks on clothing. Ticks will survive the wash cycle and can easily escape the laundry hamper and seek out a host.
  • Protect your pets with a flea guard and perform regular tick checks. Ticks are most often found on the dog's head, in and around the ears, neck, armpits and between the toes. Use pointy tweezers to remove them, collect and discard ticks in a way they cannot escape.
  • Remove embedded ticks as soon as possible using pointy tweezers, grasping the tick as close to the skin's surface and pulling straight outward with steady, even pressure. Don't twist or jerk the tick; this may cause its mouthparts to break off and remain in the skin. After removing the tick, disinfect affected skin with rubbing alcohol and keep the tick for iden¬tification.
  • Right now, the most effective insect repellent on the market is still DEET. Depending on the situation, DEET provides 2-8 hours of protection. It has broad spectrum activity and is effective against mosquitoes, biting flies, midges, chigger, fleas and ticks. Products with higher percentages of DEET will protect for a longer period of time, but anything over 30 percent does not offer greater protection and is unnecessary. "The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends not using over 30% DEET in children and I recommend washing off the DEET before bed," Dr. Reel says.

If you have symptoms or concerns related to tick borne illness don't hesitate to make an appointment with your Healthcare provider.

Spooner Annette Jill Reel MD
Annette Spooner, BSN, RN CIC
Infection Prevention
Jill S. Reel, M.D.
Blair Clinic
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