COVID-19 FAQ: How to Keep Schools Open

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Many months have passed since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States. However, there are still unknowns surrounding COVID-19 and what its effect will be moving forward. Tri-County Health Care, Wadena-Deer Creek Schools and Sourcewell hosted a community town hall to answer questions from the public. Topics addressed included how influenza differs from COVID-19 and how to keep schools open this year.

Tri-County Health Care COVID-19 Coronavirus Schools Reopening Germs Hand Hygiene Masks

What are the differences between COVID-19 and influenza?

Ben Hess, M.D.: The main symptoms of COVID-19 and influenza are similar. Nobody can look at a patient and tell if they have one or the other. That is why we must do testing to sort through it and find an answer. We have quite a few treatments that are effective for the flu.

The main difference is that COVID-19 is more dangerous than the flu. If you look at the statistics, the flu kills around 30,000 Americans every year. We have already lost 180,000 to COVID-19.

How can people prepare for the flu season? Will this flu season be different this year?

Dr. Hess: Both the flu and COVID-19 are spread through droplets. That means the measures people are taking to protect themselves from COVID-19 will be effective at limiting the spread of the flu. These mitigation efforts include social distancing, wearing a mask and practicing good hand hygiene.

Another way to prepare is to get the annual flu shot. It will be important because if a patient is showing symptoms and has had the flu vaccination, it will be easier for the provider to determine the illness. If a patient presents with a fever, muscle aches, runny nose and sore throat and have had a flu shot, the suspicion that it’s COVID-19 is much higher.

In a typical year, I recommend getting the flu shot in October or November for this region. However, with COVID-19 active in the community, it’s more important to get it sooner.

What will school look like this year?

Wadena-Deer Creek School District Superintendent Lee Westrum: We plan to keep the schools open and students in the classroom, but we know we will likely have to shift between the three learning formats described below, depending on the COVID-19 data in our community. We’re also offering distance learning as an option for any family who wishes to choose a more consistent schedule as part of a full-time, at-home learning model.

When students are in school, we will follow the Minnesota Department of Health guidelines to mitigate risks associated with the spread of COVID-19. Our safety protocols include:

  • Physical distancing of individuals in classrooms and common areas, and visual reminders for physical distancing
  • Face coverings for all staff and students in our buildings
  • Handwashing with soap and/or hand sanitizer in each classroom
  • Limited sharing of supplies.
  • Increased daily and weekly enhanced cleaning and disinfecting
  • Increased circulation of outside air into buildings due to our advanced HVAC system

What happens to the learning model if there is a surge of COVID-19 cases in the area?

Lee Westrum: The three learning models in our safe learning plan include in-person learning, hybrid learning and distance learning. These three learning formats may shift depending on COVID-19 data in our community. The state of Minnesota has put together a system to help guide schools about what learning model to use. This system is based on the number of positive COVID-19 tests per 10,000 people in the county over a two-week period. Our district plans to discuss shifting models at these positive case levels:

  • 10 positive cases per 10,000: Students in grades 7-12 would shift to hybrid learning. Elementary students would remain in school.
  • 20 positive cases per 10,000: All students shift to hybrid learning.
  • 30 positive cases per 10,000: Students in grades 7-12 shift to distance learning. Elementary remains with hybrid learning.
  • 50 positive cases: All students shift to distance learning.

How can the community help keep our schools open with in-person learning this year?

Lee Westrum: The main factor in keeping our students in school is by keeping our community COVID-19 infection rates low. We all agree we want our kids in school. It’s important for our parents and community members to be partners with the school on this. That means committing to mitigation efforts at home and in the community. By making this commitment, it will allow us to keep our infection rates low and help us achieve our goal of providing an excellent education while maintaining a safe environment for everyone.

Is it still important to flatten the curve?

Joel Beiswenger, President and CEO: The original concept of flattening the curve was to make sure health care systems didn’t get overrun with the virus. The efforts allowed time for training on how best to care for patients and to acquire personal protective equipment. Now, it’s important to flatten the curve to manage community spread and allow our schools to maintain in-person learning. It’s the same concept with a different perspective on it.

Dr. Hess: When you’re dealing with a virus like this, it has the potential for exponential growth. It only takes a few cases to turn into hundreds or thousands. We’re always flattening the curve, but now we’re focused on doing it to avoid a large-scale shutdown. It’s how we keep our schools and businesses open this year.

Tri-County Health Care COVID-19 Coronavirus Hand Hygiene Schools Reopening Social Distancing Face Masks

 


Community Partnership is Key to Schools Reopening

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Six months have passed since area students sat down for classes inside their schools. The COVID-19 pandemic left communities and school districts scrambling to plan ways to provide education. Next week, students will be returning to the classroom with new plans in place. Community partnership is key to area schools reopening.

Area school districts like Wadena-Deer Creek have developed a partnership with Tri-County Health Care and Sourcewell to provide a safe and effective learning experience. Parents and the community will have significant roles to play in keeping kids in school moving forward.

COVID-19 Tri-County Health Care germs

What will school look like this year?

Staff at schools are excited to get students back in the building this year. The Minnesota Department of Health and Minnesota Department of Education have guided several changes to procedures for the upcoming school year. Tri-County Health Care also offered a team of professionals, including providers, to review the plan and provide recommendations on key components. The goal is to have students back in school as much as possible. However, it is likely that there will be a shift in learning formats depending on COVID-19 cases in the community.

Changes at Wadena-Deer Creek:

  • Cleaning protocols: There are new daily and weekly cleaning procedures within the schools. Additional custodial staff will be cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces throughout the day.
  • Student screening: Parents need to check temperatures and look for any COVID-19 symptoms before sending their children to school. Even if there is a slight fever, school districts recommend keeping children at home. Schools expect a higher than average absence rate and will work with parents.
  • Social distancing: Students will be socially distanced to the extent possible when they are in school. There will also be different procedures when coming to and from school. This year will have designated drop zones and entrances for staff and different age groups of students. Lunchtime will also look different – there will be no self-serve option and instead, food will be put together for students. 
  • Face masks requirement: The best way to keep everyone as safe as possible inside the classroom is to wear face masks. Students are allowed to take masks off when eating and drinking, in physical education class and outside while social distancing. Teachers are encouraged to take students outside to give them a chance to take masks off and get fresh air.
  • Hand hygiene: There will be regular handwashing with soap plus hand sanitizer in each classroom.
  • Air circulation: The advanced HVAC system will provide increased circulation of fresh air in the buildings.
  • Limiting bus capacity: Buses will run at 50 percent capacity. Wadena-Deer Creek appreciates families that stepped up and volunteered to bring their kids to and from school to help achieve this mitigation effort.

The importance of wearing a mask

Wearing face masks is the most crucial component in keeping students safe. It will be mandatory and a key to allowing students to continue in-person learning. Wadena-Deer Creek encourages families to teach children the importance of wearing a mask. Additionally, children should practice wearing them before the school year begins.

“It’s really important for our parents to be partners with the school on this. We need our parents to talk to their kids about wearing masks,” said Wadena-Deer Creek Superintendent Lee Westrum. “We’ll do our part at the school. Our teachers do a great job of educating our kids and this topic will be no different. We will be front and center in working with our kids to drive home the importance of masks.”

The highest risk situation for spreading the virus is large indoor gatherings. In-person learning falls under this category. There have been health concerns about wearing masks and Tri-County Health Care’s Chief Medical Officer, Ben Hess, M.D., assures parents they are safe for children.

“Masks can be stuffy, uncomfortable and take time to get used to,” Dr. Hess said. “But I want to stress to parents that masks are very safe. There are very few, if any, medical exceptions that will affect their ability to breathe well.”

Community mitigation efforts are crucial

The importance of community partnership in mitigation efforts like social distancing, wearing a mask and hand hygiene remains key for schools reopening. Everyone agrees in-person learning is the best way for students to receive their education.

This year, there will be state mandates where schools must transition away from in-person learning if the number of COVID-19 positive tests in the county increases. The model is based on positive tests per 10,000 people in a two-week period.

Wadena County has remained within the range for in-person learning but has seen an uptick of positive cases in the last two weeks. On August 17, the county had 30 positive cases. That number went up to 49 over the next two weeks.

COVID-19 Tri-County Health Care germs

For students to remain in school and not move to a hybrid in-person/online or fully online curriculum, it is critical for the community to keep positive cases low. A partnership from the community to practice mitigation efforts will be key to allowing the reopening of schools.

“We’re all concerned that if we don’t follow these rules when kids are back in school, we will see the virus quickly spread through the community,” Dr. Hess said. “We will be watching that closely and doing what we can to help the schools.”

Helpful links to learn more about how to prevent the spread of COVID-19:

Tri-County Health Care

Wadena-Deer Creek Schools

Sourcewell

Minnesota Department of Health

Minnesota Department of Education


Medicare Wellness Visits: A Time to Assess Your Health

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Annual Medicare Wellness Visits are an essential step toward taking control of your health. At these visits, you work closely with your provider to develop or update a personalized prevention plan. This plan helps to prevent disease or disability based on your current health and risk factors. There are several important things to know about Medicare Wellness Visits.

Medicare Wellness Visits Tri-County Health Care

What is a Medicare Wellness Visit?

Medicare Wellness Visits (MAW) include an assessment of your health by answering questions with your provider. Afterward, you will develop a plan to help you stay healthy and get the most out of your visit.

“These visits are a time for you and your provider to talk about preventive measures to alleviate any future problems,” said Rose Lorentz, an adult geriatric nurse practitioner at Tri-County Health Care. “We’ll review your medications, current problems, and develop a plan to help you stay well.”

What to expect during your Medicare Wellness Visit?

Your provider will ask you to fill out a questionnaire as part of your visit. The information will help in developing the personalized prevention plan.

Other portions of the visit include:

  • Height and weight measurement check
  • Blood pressure check
  • Assessment of risk factors and identifying the need for any further tests or screening
  • Review and update lists of providers and prescriptions
  • Review signs of cognitive impairment
  • Screening schedule set-up for appropriate preventive services (as needed)

What will this cost?

For patients with Medicare Part B coverage, this annual visit is covered. However, if additional tests or services are performed during the same visit, you may have to pay coinsurance. Other tests or services are not covered under preventive benefits.

It is important to note that these visits differ from an annual physical. Medicare does not cover routine physical examinations.

Medicare Wellness Visits Tri-County Health Care

How can I prepare for my visit?

Tri-County Health Care has made a change to this process. Before your visit, we will call you to complete all the components necessary for billing this as a MAW. This streamlined process includes screening questions and helps save you time from filling out paperwork.

There may have been a delay in these visits due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it is still essential to meet with your provider. Call 218-631-3510 to schedule your appointment.

“A Medicare Wellness Visit is an opportunity to partner with your provider to create a plan that works for you,” Rose said. “We need your help in making this plan a success.”


Sports Physicals Remain Important

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The pandemic has thrown off the schedules of area sports. The future may be unclear for athletes excited to get back on the playing field. However, sports physicals remain important to ensure athletes are ready to jump back into action when competition resumes.

Sports Physicals Remain Important Tri-County Health CareBefore school begins, it’s a good idea to schedule a sports physical to be ready for the season. Tri-County Health Care’s clinics offer these examinations. Cleaning, disinfecting, and screening procedures ensure it’s safe to come in for a visit.

  • Patients are screened for COVID-19 exposure and symptoms
  • Patients, visitors, and staff must wear face masks while inside the building
  • Exam rooms are cleaned and disinfected between patients

Why are sports physicals important?

Minnesota requires sports physicals before participation, and it helps determine if it’s safe to start a new sport or season.

During these examinations, a provider will determine if the individual is in good health, measure physical fitness, and learn about current and past injuries. They can also advise on how to protect yourself from injury while playing a sport.

Sports Physicals Remain Important Tri-County Health Care

What happens during a sports physical exam?

A sports physical may vary depending on the provider and the individual. However, it will always include reviewing medical history and a physical exam.

A medical history will include information about the patient’s health, medical problems, and medications, and family health.

The physical exam is like an annual check-up but will relate to playing sports. A provider will look at the health of the lungs, heart, bones, and joints. These are all important areas when participating in sports. An exam may include:

    • Measuring height and weight
    • Checking blood pressure and pulse
    • Testing vision
    • Examination of the heart, lungs, belly, ears, nose, and throat
    • Checking joints, strength, flexibility, and posture

The provider may also ask about diet and the use of drugs, alcohol, and supplements.

Schedule your sports physical today!

Tri-County Health Care is here to support local families, school districts, and athletics. Call 218-631-3510 to schedule a sports physical at one of our clinic locations.


Benefits of Having a Family Medicine Provider

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Dr. Julie Meyer Tri-County Health Care patients benefits of having a family medicine provider Who do you call when you’re feeling sick, experiencing pain, or have a rash? For many people, it’s their family medicine provider. There are numerous benefits to choosing and staying with the same provider. Nicole Blasius began seeing Julie Meyer, M.D. when she was nine years old. She has personally experienced the benefits of having a Family Medicine provider.

Nicole has developed a great relationship with Dr. Meyer over the years. Through injuries, illness, and now caring for the whole family, the patient-provider relationship grew and blossomed. The value of having a trusted family medicine provider is so great that Nicole now drives over two hours to see Dr. Meyer for appointments.

“We love her commitment and dedication to us,” Nicole said. “She really pays attention to the details and takes the time to listen to our concerns and makes sure everything is taken care of.”

Family Medicine providers often care for the whole family. Finding and using the same provider can have great value. Here are a few of the benefits of having a Family Medicine provider.

Family Medicine providers offer a trusting relationship

When a provider sees a patient from prenatal care into adulthood, a long-lasting relationship is built. Family Medicine providers can treat a wide range of medical conditions. Therefore, they can be your primary care provider at any point in your life.

Dr. Meyer also specializes in obstetrics. That often means she cares for the mother and then cares for the baby after the birth. It’s about building a relationship that lasts a lifetime.

“It brings great satisfaction to me to see them grow, develop, and prosper,” Dr. Meyer said.

They learn you and your family’s history

Because Family Medicine providers treat a patient throughout their life, they have a high understanding of their medical history. This is valuable when making accurate diagnoses and monitoring changes in health screenings.

Family history can aid in:

  • Assessing the risk of certain diseases
  • Recommending changes in diet or other lifestyle habits
  • Recommending medications or treatments
  • Determining which diagnostic tests to order
  • Determining the type and frequency of screening tests
  • Identifying conditions that might not otherwise be considered
  • Identifying family members at risk of developing certain diseases
  • Assessing the risk of passing conditions on to your children

More than just an annual exam

Annual exams may help diagnose conditions, but the care from your Family Medicine provider doesn’t end there. One of the benefits of having a Family Medicine provider is having them to help navigate chronic medical issues like diabetes, heart disease, asthma, arthritis, and many more.

For example, Dr. Meyer has experience in treating a wide range of conditions with her pregnant patients. That can help save the patient time and stress by managing the issue at a regular appointment.

“I can help with those conditions and still take care of the patient, so they don’t have to spend time going to see a specialist,” Dr. Meyer said.

The numbers support seeing the same provider

Why is it important to have a primary care provider? Through routine check-ups, primary care can catch serious problems early in the process. As a result, adults in the U.S. who see a provider have 19 percent lower odds of premature death than those who only see specialists for their care.

Additionally, seeing your primary care provider can also save you money. One study showed people who have a provider save 33 percent on health care over their peers who only see specialists.

Ready to grow with your family

As Tri-County Health Care’s newest Family Medicine provider, Dr. Meyer is excited about providing care for patients in the area.

For Nicole, she’s relieved to be able to continue to see Dr. Meyer both in-person and through Video Visits. She plans to utilize a combination of the two services as her family continues to grow with Dr. Meyer.

“I loved growing up, having babies, and continuing our relationship with her support the whole way,” Nicole said. “She’s never put me in a situation where I felt uncomfortable and is always willing to listen and makes sure everything is addressed whether it’s in Wadena or on a Video Visit.”

Dr. Julie Meyer Tri-County Health Care Wadena Hospital Benefits of having a family medicine provider

About Dr. Meyer:

Julie Meyer, M.D. graduated from Perham High School and completed medical school at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Meyer has always been interested in biology and even strongly considered veterinary medicine because of her love for animals. She ultimately chose family medicine because she enjoys talking to her patients and developing a strong connection. This is important to providing high-quality patient care.

Dr. Meyer and her husband, Mark, have three sons and live on a hobby farm with 40 rabbits, 15 sheep, 3 cats, and 2 dogs. The farm helps fulfill her passion of caring for animals. She enjoys volunteering in 4-H and helping her youngest son compete at various rabbit shows around the state. Other interests include singing in the church choir, accompanying various groups on the piano and flute, playing volleyball, working in her flower gardens, and traveling to state parks.


Addiction Relief: Reaching 12 Months of Sobriety

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Finding relief for addiction can be one of the most difficult challenges for a person. When Stacy Eckhoff walked into the Wadena Clinic in early March, it was a time for celebration. Another box checked off – 12 months of sobriety.

Her provider, Laura DuChene, M.D., and RN Health Coach, Shelley Glenz, were full of smiles when she came in for her appointment. Tears of happiness were shed. Hugs were shared. Stacy received a card, certificate, and flowers. Everyone celebrated her proud accomplishment. Stacy is the first patient in Tri-County Health Care’s suboxone program to reach 12 months of sobriety.

Suboxone is a prescription medication used to treat those addicted or dependent on prescription or illegal opioids. The medication works by blocking opioids from affecting the brain, cutting down on cravings, and helping ease withdrawal symptoms.

“I’m really proud that I’ve reached a point in my life where I don’t need substances to fulfill my happiness,” Stacy said. “It started out one day at a time. Now it’s one month at a time. It’s a normal thing for me.”

Addiction Relief: Laura DuChene, M.D., patient, and Shelley Glenz, RN Tri-County Health Care

Taking the first step

The road to recovery was not a straight path. Substances controlled her life while depression and anxiety made sobriety seem impossible. One day, Stacy woke up and decided she was tired of the roller coaster and wanted to take control of her life.

Not content with the care she had received elsewhere, Stacy made an appointment with Dr. DuChene at Tri-County Health Care. She explained her background, troubles, and goals and they developed a plan. This included:

  • Routine visits with Dr. DuChene
  • A RN Health Coach to offer ongoing support and accountability
  • Suboxone education monitoring
  • Recommendations for community support programs
  • Chronic pain education

At first, Stacy was nervous about how many people were involved. She changed her mind when support from her care team turned out to be the most helpful part of the process.

“The accountability is the main thing for me. It prevents me from slipping or backpedaling. I don’t want to do that,” Stacy said. “I’ve been getting out more and going to meetings. I’m staying in touch with my doctor and care coordinator better than what I have in the past.”

Looking forward to the future

12 months of sobriety is a great achievement. However, it’s not the end of the road. Stacy knows that but is celebrating the moment.

One of her favorite hobbies is making crafts at home. She enjoys crocheting, making blankets, and coloring. Focusing on enjoying these activities was a major help at the start of her journey.

Stacy’s goal is to stay sober, and to get out into the community more often. While she is a shy person, attending community support programs has helped her achieve this goal. She recommends anyone struggling with addiction to reach out for help. Tri-County Health Care answered the call in her time of need.

“They have heart here. I’m amazed they remember my story every time I come in. They listen and care even when I make mistakes,” Stacy said. “Stay positive, call your doctor or coordinator, start going to meetings and talking to people. When you don’t talk is when you end up in trouble. There’s always somebody out there who will listen to you. The biggest thing is to never give up on yourself.”

Addiction Relief: Laura DuChene, M.D., hugs patient for reaching 12 months of sobriety.

Finding addiction relief with suboxone

In 2018, Tri-County Health Care offered its providers the option to take training for this new form of treatment. In addition to Dr. DuChene, John Pate, M.D. and Heidi Olson, M.D. also completed this training. Prior to this, patients in the area seeking this treatment had to drive up to an hour away for this service.

Suboxone is designed to ease symptoms of withdrawal. “It works twofold,” Dr. DuChene said. “One, it cuts down on cravings and takes away the withdrawal symptoms. Two, if the patient takes suboxone and then tried to take an opioid, the opioid isn’t going to do a darn thing.”

The suboxone program has seen many patients experience success. Reducing the withdrawal symptoms is a major step in overcoming addiction. This, along with the support system, helps people transition to a different way of life.

“It’s very rewarding to see patients leading healthy lifestyles in every way,” said Shelley Glenz, RN Health Coach. “We see their activity level and involvement in community increase, and quality of life improve.”

Tri-County Health Care is here to help

To learn more or make an appointment, call 218-631-3510 and ask about the suboxone program, or visit TCHC.org. Shelley will provide additional information about addiction relief and help set up a plan.

“We want people to know we’ll meet them wherever they’re at and develop a plan from there,” Shelley said. “There’s no judgment. We’re here to help patients regain control of their life.”

***DISCLAIMER: This took place prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Providing Guidance During a Crisis

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Joel Beiswenger accepts a Certification of Congressional Recognition from Eighth District Congressman Pete Stauber. When the COVID-19 pandemic came to Minnesota, every day brought stress and uncertainty. School districts rushed to put together plans for the rest of the year. Local businesses wondered what it meant for their future. Community members looked for guidance. Tri-County Health Care remained dedicated to making sure its patients could still safely receive the care they needed. At the same time, there was also an important opportunity to use expertise and provide guidance during a crisis.

Tri-County Health Care knew it was time to be a leader for the communities it serves. On July 12, Eighth District Congressman Pete Stauber commended the organization for its leadership throughout the last five months. Stauber’s visit to Wadena was part of a gratitude tour dedicated to recognizing local businesses for their service to the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Masking Initiative Supports Communities

One step in limiting the spread of the virus involved making masks widely available to communities. The Centers for Disease Control recommends wearing cloth face masks in public settings where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. For example, this can include grocery stores and pharmacies. The masks help prevent people from spreading the virus to others.

Tri-County Health Care worked with area sewing clubs and volunteers to make homemade masks for health care workers and congregate living facilities. Additionally, it purchased 15,000 masks from a local business to give out to area communities. Tri-County Health Care distributed the masks at drive thru events in Bertha, Henning, Ottertail, Sebeka, Verndale, and Wadena.

Guidance for Local Businesses

A state shutdown led to nervous business owners now facing the challenge of figuring out how to operate in these times. That meant researching how to properly reopen to their customers in a safe manner.

Much of this was new to the public, of course, so Tri-County Health Care offered its experience and provided guidance on reopening during a crisis. Providing directions on social distancing, using personal protective equipment, and cleaning procedures helped businesses safely reopen sooner.

“I’m so impressed with Tri-County Health Care and the leadership role you’re taking in the community,” Stauber said. “Helping our small businesses is critical and by giving them the opportunity to open sooner, it helps them stay viable and open in the community.”

Supporting Area School Districts

School districts quickly shifted and sent students home for online learning. All of a sudden, schools were facing new challenges in their education process.

At this point, Tri-County Health Care’s providers, technical staff, and infection prevention experts stepped in to help provide guidance on new systems and procedures in a crisis.

Stauber Commends TCHC’s Leadership

Part of Stauber’s stop was to commend Tri-County Health Care by presenting the entire staff with a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition for “outstanding and invaluable service to the community.”

After that, Tri-County Health Care President and CEO, Joel Beiswenger, thanked Stauber for assistance during the crisis. The organization continues its work with Stauber and other policy makers to help drive conversation in Washington D.C. Two main topics include rural health care and broadband.

“I appreciate your staff’s input on what we need to do and I’m very happy with the relationship we have built and continue to build,” Stauber said.

Tri-County Health Care is committed to improving the health of the communities we serve. We’re dedicated to being your trusted partner for life. For more information, visit TCHC.org or call 218-631-3510 to schedule an appointment with a provider.

Community mask initiative Tri-County Health Care Guidance during a crisis


6 Reasons to Use the MyChart App

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With every passing year, more tasks are being completed online. Ordering food and paying your bill can now be done from the palm of your hand. If it’s that easy for those tasks, you should be able to take control of your health care in the same way. This is not only possible, but has never been easier, with the MyChart app. We compiled a list of 6 reasons to use the MyChart app.

Access Your Medical History

Reasons to use the MyChart app

MyChart is a secure and free online tool that connects patients electronically to portions of their medical record. Access to this health information is granted to users who have registered with their clinic or hospital. All users need is an internet connection and access to a computer, smartphone, or tablet.

With this service, you may view and track your medications, allergies, immunizations, and medical history.

Stay in touch with your Care Team

Communicating with your provider and clinic staff is as simple as sending an email. MyChart is secure so the information stays private and is documented in your medical record for future reference.

View Your Test Results

No more waiting by the phone to hear about results from lab and imaging tests. Instead, you are notified through email or text message right when your test results are accessible and ready to view in MyChart.

Manage Care for Your Loved Ones

We know caring for your loved ones is very important. With MyChart, you’re able to manage care for your

children or an elderly relative. You will have access to many of the same features as your own account to ensure they are getting the care they need.

Make a Payment

Save on time and the hassle of writing a check. Another one of the reasons to use the MyChart app is having the ability to make a payment easily right from your smartphone or computer.

Monitor and track your health

A useful feature is the ability to record daily health readings such as weight, glucose, or blood pressure. This helps you and your provider track chronic conditions such as diabetes, asthma, COPD, and congestive heart failure.

How do I sign up?

There are many more features to help take charge of your health using the MyChart app. Explore how you can utilize this service by signing up today. The easiest way to sign up for MyChart is to ask your provider about it at your next visit. We will take care of everything and ensure your account is ready to use.

You may also visit the MyChart Signup page to create an account.

Visit TCHC.org to learn more about MyChart, or call 218-631-3510 to schedule an appointment.

Reasons to use the MyChart app

 


Summer Safety Tips for the Whole Family

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Summer is full of fun outdoor activities. Exploring a park, taking the boat out on the water, or grilling in your backyard are all exciting ways to get outside. It’s also important to take special precautions throughout the summer. Be prepared for the heat with these summer safety tips for the whole family.

Drink plenty of water this summer

Increased thirst, fatigue, weakness, and dizziness. All of these are symptoms of heat stroke and exhaustion. In the summer months, it’s very important to drink plenty of water to maintain good overall health and prevent heat-related illnesses. Daily fluid intake varies between people and is based on age, sex, pregnancy, and breastfeeding status. The Centers for Disease Control offers these tips.

In addition to keeping yourself hydrated, children and elderly people are at an increased risk for dehydration. Be sure to check on everyone, young and old, to make sure they are drinking enough water

throughout the summer months.

Summer Safety Tips for the Whole Family

Plan activities when it’s cooler outside

When you’re planning for an outdoor workout or summer activities for the kids, avoid the middle of the day. The sun is at its hottest during the middle of the day, typically from noon to 4 p.m.

Take advantage of cooler mornings or plan to enjoy your outdoor activities during the evening.

Protect your skin from the sun

There are times when you may not be able to avoid the sun. You may be gardening or mowing the lawn, or the kids may be running through the sprinkler. It is very important to protect all exposed skin to prevent damage. Sun damage can increase the chances of developing skin cancer.

It’s recommended to apply a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 before going outside. It’s also important to reapply every two

hours, and after swimming. Don’t forget to put sunscreen on the nose and ears!

As effective as sunscreen is, protective clothing is even better (and doesn’t wash off while swimming!). If possible, wear lightweight clothing and a hat for maximum protection from the sun.

Watch out for those pesky bugs!

While the summer months are great for getting outdoors in Minnesota, it also means the return of annoying insects. Be sure to protect yourself against insects like ticks, flies, and mosquitoes by wearing appropriate clothing. This includes covering exposed skin with long-sleeved shirts and long pants.

The CDC recommends using insect repellent with at least 20 percent DEET. This will protect against a wide variety of insects. Remember to allow time for sunscreen to dry before applying repellent.

One specific type of insect to be aware of is ticks. There are a dozen different types of ticks in Minnesota. There are ticks that spread different diseases, including Lyme disease.

Summer Safety Tips for the Whole Family

Prevent food poisoning in the summer heat

It’s always fun to fire up the grill and cook for friends and family in the backyard. In the summer heat, there is an added emphasis on food safety. Here are tips to help prevent food poisoning when cooking and serving outside:

  • Keep hands, cooking utensils, and food preparation areas clean
  • Keep raw meat and their juices away from other food – never reuse items that touched raw meat
  • When cooking, use a thermometer to determine whether food has reached the appropriate temperature to destroy harmful bacteria. Safe temperatures: beef or pork – 145 degrees; ground meats – 160 degrees; poultry – 165 degrees
  • Keep food cold by serving it over ice. Bacteria thrives in food between 40-140 degrees. Whether the food is hot or cold, it should not be left out more than two hours at room temperature – or one hour if outside and it’s 90 degrees
  • Eat cooked leftovers within four days

There is no shortage of fun in the summer. Tri-County Health Care suggest following these summer safety tips. If you’re feeling ill or in need of medical attention, we are here for you! Our Emergency Department, ReadyCare, and eClinic offer care without an appointment. Call 218-631-3510 to schedule an appointment with one of our expert providers today!


Delivering Expert Care for the Whole Family

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Family is a very important part of everyone’s lives. Whether it’s parents, siblings, aunts and uncles, or nieces and nephews, we always want the very best and for them to live happy and healthy lives. Tri-County Health Care’s newest provider takes delivering expert care for the whole family to a new level.

Delivering Expert Care for the Whole Family

Julie Meyer, M.D., a graduate of Perham High School, recently moved back to the area to be near her parents and siblings who live in New York Mills, Perham, and Ottertail. While one reason was to spend more time with her family; another was to meet a whole new one.

For Dr. Meyer, her patients become family. While she specializes in obstetrics, women’s health, and pediatrics, her expertise ranges from taking care of pregnant mothers and their babies, all the way to geriatric care.

A defining moment for her career in Family Medicine was the day she delivered a baby who happened to be a great grandchild of one of her other patients, who ended up passing away that same day. She went from delivering the baby to being by the bedside of the great grandmother as she passed away.

This is just one example of Dr. Meyer delivering expert care for the whole family, something she takes great pride in.

“What happens is I see a mother who is pregnant and deliver her baby, then provide care for the baby, and pretty soon I’m seeing the rest of the family, including her husband, sisters, mother, grandmother and father, aunts, and uncles,” Dr. Meyer said. “It really blossoms into a full spectrum of family care and that part is very fulfilling to me.”

Dr. Meyer comes to Tri-County Health Care after being a top family practice and obstetrics provider at Carris Health in Willmar for nearly two decades. In March, she was named a Top-5 finalist for the 2020 Family Physician of the Year by the Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians.

At Tri-County Health Care, primary care providers plan to be there for their obstetric patients through every milestone. These include the planning stage, pregnancy, delivery, postnatal care, and beyond. Dr. Meyer puts a high value in being there for her patients through it all. It’s very rare for her to miss a delivery.

“I make it a high priority to come in for my own deliveries and my patients appreciate that,” Dr. Meyer said. “I chose to come to Tri-County Health Care because I have a passion for obstetrics and I look forward to providing high quality care to my patients.”

Another benefit of Dr. Meyer’s obstetrics experience is that she provides care on a wide range of health issues. For example, she is able to help her obstetric patients with issues including asthma, diabetes, gestational diabetes, blood clots, and hypertension, without needing to consult specialists. This saves time and reduces stress for expecting mothers.

Dr. Meyer is excited about her return to the area and looks forward to providing top notch care for patients. She is now accepting new patients. Please call 218-631-3510 and ask for an appointment with Dr. Meyer today!

Delivering Expert Care for the Whole Family

About Dr. Meyer:

Julie Meyer, M.D. graduated from Perham High School and completed medical school at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Meyer has always been interested in biology and even strongly considered veterinary medicine because of her love for animals. She ultimately chose family medicine because she enjoys talking to her patients and developing a strong connection. This is important to providing high quality patient care.

Dr. Meyer and her husband, Mark, have three sons and live on a hobby farm with 40 rabbits, 15 sheep, 3 cats, and 2 dogs. The farm helps fulfill her passion of caring for animals. She enjoys volunteering in 4-H and helping her youngest son compete at various rabbit shows around the state. Other interests include singing in the church choir, accompanying various groups on the piano and flute, playing volleyball, working in her flower gardens, and traveling to state parks.


Busting Myths About Coronavirus In Summer

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Summer is here and people are looking to escape to the outdoors after staying inside during the winter months and while avoiding the Coronavirus. The warm weather has also led to misinformation regarding how the virus is spread, prevented, and even cured.

At Tri-County Health Care, we highly recommend looking to the experts for accurate information regarding prevention and mitigation of the virus so you and your family can enjoy all that summer has to offer.two children cycling in suburbs of Johannesburg amidst the Coronavirus lockdown

MYTH: The Coronavirus can be transmitted through bug bites

According to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), there is no evidence to support claims that the virus spreads through horseflies, mosquitoes, or ticks.

While these insects are not carriers of the Coronavirus, they can still spread other diseases such as Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis, West Nile Virus and many more. Remember to take precautions to reduce the chance of getting sick from tick or mosquito bites. Check yourself carefully for ticks after being outdoors, make sure window screens are not damaged to keep mosquitoes out, and wear an EPA-registered insect repellent.

The primary route of transmission for the Coronavirus is through droplets generated when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks. Transmission is also possible by touching contaminated surfaces and then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth before washing your hands. That is why it is important to frequently use good hand hygiene during this pandemic.

MYTH: Sun and climate have an effect on the Coronavirus

There are a number of theories regarding sun and temperatures reducing the spread, or even preventing and curing the virus.

There is currently no evidence that the heat and humidity of summer will limit the spread of the virus without the continued use of public health measures like social distancing and mitigation.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), countries with various climates have reported cases of the virus which means exposure to extreme temperatures does not protect you from the virus. It also means the virus isn’t likely to go away in the summer months.

Sunbathing is a good way to relax, but won’t help protect you from or cure the Coronavirus! As a friendly reminder, be sure to protect your skin from the sun this summer.

Woman alpinist wearing a medical mask and helmet, shows a victory sign with both hands. Concept of Coronavirus (Covid-19) restrictions being eased and people returning to outdoor activities.Trust the experts

Tri-County Health Care continues to work with the Minnesota Hospital Association and follows guidelines set by the MDH and CDC. It is important to stay up to date on any changes during this pandemic to ensure you are practicing the best mitigation strategies to help slow the spread of the virus.

As a reminder, these strategies include social distancing, good hand hygiene, covering your cough, wearing a face mask, and avoiding travel when possible.

See your provider for any health care needs

At Tri-County Health Care, we know your health is essential and your safety is a top priority. We continue to execute meticulous cleaning and safety procedures to ensure you are able to meet with your provider for any of your health care needs.

It’s also very important to not delay care and to immediately seek medical help if you have a life-threatening injury or illness. Tri-County Health Care is designated as a Level IV Trauma Center and our expertly trained staff have advanced training in life support, trauma, stroke, and advanced cardiac care and are available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.

Whether you think you may have been exposed or are sick with the virus, or just need to meet with your provider for an annual appointment, we are here for you! Please call 218-631-3510 to set up an appointment today!


Reminding Men to be Proactive About Their Health!

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June is Men’s Health Month and all across the globe men are being encouraged by friends, family and health care providers to be proactive about their health. It’s important for men to take preventive measures to protect themselves from illness and disease through regular screenings, health care visits, exercise, proper diet and nutrition and living a healthy lifestyle.

national men's health awareness month celebrate in june, poster or banner design

Father’s Day is right around the corner and now is a great time to remind men and everyone with someone special in their life to participate in Men’s Health Month. Here are tips for men to live a healthy and happy life.

Prioritize Prevention – See your provider today!

Men neglect taking care of themselves and according to a study from the Centers for Disease Control, schedule visits and screenings with their health care providers half as often as women. These visits are important for early detection of diseases which could save them from life-threatening illnesses.

Regular screenings include physical exams, blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose and prostate checks and blood tests. The benefits of earlier screenings are even more important for members of high-risk groups or those with a family history of disease.

Make an appointment for yourself, your husband or father, or other men in your life. Make a day of it and go out for lunch afterward!

Maintain a healthy diet

Start by taking simple steps! Skip the super-sized meal and say yes to a healthy lunch. Add a variety of foods to your plate to ensure you’re getting all the necessary vitamins and minerals required for a healthy diet. Eat at least one fruit and vegetable at every meal and commit to lean proteins like turkey, fish, and chicken; high fiber foods like beans, oats, and avocados; and whole grains like brown rice, whole wheat bread, and pasta.

Men's health with male patient having consultation with doctor or psychiatrist working on diagnostic examination in medical clinic or hospitalLive an active lifestyle

Find an activity you enjoy and do it regularly. Whether it’s gardening, walking the dogs, playing a sport or chasing around kids or grandkids, get active and make a habit out of it. According to the CDC, regular physical activity helps improve overall health, fitness and quality of life while reducing the risk of chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and many types of cancers.

Avoid smoking and alcohol

There are many links from smoking to heart disease, lung disease, cancer and strokes. Likewise, with drinking alcohol, excessive use can lead to high blood pressure, cancer, liver disease and psychological problems.

Making a commitment to quit smoking and limit of alcohol consumption are two steps to improving your overall health.

Manage the stress in your life

Life can be stressful. Stress related issues may occur from several sources that may include both work and personal life. No matter the source, stress can affect health and increase the risk of heart disease, depression, and other health issues. It is important to identify the sources of stress and find ways to eliminate or reduce anxiety surrounding them. One first step is making sure to balance your work life with hobbies and down time.

Tri-County Health Care is here to help! Please call 218-631-3510 to schedule an appointment today.


Breast Milk Depot Offers Convenient Way to Donate

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When Stacy Kinnen, of Bemidji, began researching a way to donate a surplus of her breast milk, the Minnesota Milk Bank for Babies (MMBB) directed her to Tri-County Health Care’s Milk Depot. The Milk Depot, which opened in January, sent its first shipment to the milk bank last week and will be scheduling another in the near future after Stacy drove an hour and a half to donate 1,500 ounces of milk.Breast Milk Donor Stacy Kinnen stands next to Sarah Reidel, OB supervisor along with a cart full of breast milk she donated to babies in need.

This milk is vitally important for premature and sick babies, who are more vulnerable to infections if they are fed formula. Research from the United States Food and Drug Administration shows that preterm babies fed human milk from screened donors have fewer infections, less severe complications and shorter hospitalizations, allowing families to be reunited sooner. There are also times when a mother is unable to produce enough breast milk to feed her baby. When this happens, donor milk can provide the benefits necessary to help babies grow and thrive.

That is why Tri-County Health Care’s partnership with the MMBB is a valuable asset for mothers looking to donate their extra breast milk to share their gift with an infant in need.

“The mothers are thrilled to make a difference because they all can relate to the fear of having a sick or ill baby when they’re pregnant or giving birth,” said Sarah Riedel, Tri-County Health Care OB Supervisor, RN, BSN, IBCLC, CPST. “They take pride in doing what they can to help mothers with premature or sick babies and aid them during a stressful time.”

Tri-County Health Care’s Milk Depot is the most northern location in central Minnesota, making it convenient for mothers to make a donation. There have been inquiring donors from as far as Thief River Falls, which is two and a half hours away.

The first shipment of donor milk was recently sent to the milk bank and a second isn’t far behind after Stacy’s donation. People are invited to call Sarah with any questions regarding how they can donate to the milk depot.Angel Flight pilot received breast milk donation from Tri-County Health Care to take back to the Minnesota Milk Bank For Babies.

“I thought when we opened, it would be mothers in our area looking to donate. Now we have donors driving hours to be able to support these babies in need,” Sarah said. “Any mothers interested in donating can call me with questions. I am more than happy to help them through the process.”

What is the donation process?

  1. To sign up to be a donor, contact the Minnesota Milk Bank for Babies at mnmilkbank.org, email info@mnmilkbank.org or call 763-546-8051.
  2. Complete a verbal screening. You will speak to the donor coordinator and answer some health and lifestyle questions. You will talk about your diet, pump patterns and overall health.
  3. Complete a written screening form. All donors will complete a written application that asks for details about their health and household. Once the completed documents are signed and received, MMBB will contact your provider for approval.
  4. MMBB will cover the cost of blood testing and arrange this for you. You may have the test done at Tri-County Health Care. Call 218-631-3510 to make an appointment.
  5. Once approved, you will receive a Donor ID. This means you are ready to drop off milk. Contact Tri-County Health Care’s lactation consultant, Sarah Riedel, RN, BSN, IBCLC, CPST at 218-632-8741 to set up an appointment to drop off your frozen milk or if you have any questions.