Flu Season is Near: Why You Should Get a Flu Shot Today

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By: Amy Severson, FNP, APRN

Have you gotten your flu shot for this upcoming winter season? Influenza, otherwise commonly known as the flu, is a potentially serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and even death.

flushot1The Center of Disease Control (CDC) states:

  • Between 1976 and 2007, flu-associated deaths ranged from 3,000 – 49,000 people.
  • In recent years, 80 – 90% of flu-related deaths occurred in people 65 years and older.
  • Flu vaccine is recommended for nearly everyone starting at 6 months of age.
  • If an expectant mom gets a flu shot during pregnancy, the vaccine also helps protect her baby during its first six months of life.

Flu activity typically begins in the fall months and peaks in January and February, though depending on the season, it can last until May. The CDC recommends getting an annual seasonal flu vaccine to best prevent getting the flu, and not spread it to others. The more people get covered, the less flu we will see in our communities.

A lot of patients ask me, “When is the best time to get a flu shot?”

Since it can take one to two weeks for the flu vaccine to become effective, it’s best to get vaccinated in the month of October if possible. Though Federal Health Officials say it’s better to get a shot anytime, then skip the vaccine altogether.  For the 2016-2017 season, CDC recommends getting a flu shot, and not the nasal spray flu vaccine. Unfortunately, CDC studies found in the past few years, FluMist hasn’t protected against certain influenza strains as well as the flu shot. For this reason, FluMist will not be available this season until more studies are conducted to figure out the reason why this is.

Get your flu shot disease ill illness healthy health doctor

Why bother with getting a flu shot?

The Center for Disease Control states that a flu vaccine can reduce the risk of getting the flu by 50 – 60% when given at the optimal time. So do yourself and your neighbor a favor, and get a flu shot this fall!

Upcoming Area 2016 Flu Shot Clinics:

Tri-County Health Care will be hosting a Flu Shot Clinic at each one of our clinics in the month of October. Pre-registration is encouraged, but not required. Refreshments will be served.

Ottertail: October 14 – 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. 218-367-6262

Wadena: October 18 – 7 – 8:30 a.m. 218-631-1100

Henning: October 19 – 7 a.m. – 6 p.m. 218-583-2953

Verndale: October 24 – 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. 218-445-5990

Sebeka: October 26 – 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. 218-837-5333

Wadena: October 27 – 5:30 – 7 p.m. 218-631-1100

Bertha: October 28 – 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. 218-924-2250

To get more information about these upcoming clinics click here.


Amy Severson, APRN, CNP

Amy Severson, APRN, CNP


About the Author: Amy has worked for TCHC for the past 14 years, the last nine years at the Henning Medical Clinic.  She feels privileged to work in the town she was raised in, and take care of families she’s known her whole life. She lives with her husband Eric on East Battle Lake with their three children; Ethan, age 14, Emma, age 12, and Elliot, age 8.  In her time away from the clinic, you’ll find her at Ottertail Central football games and supporting the Henning Hornets in volleyball and basketball.  She also is the head of the youth group at her church.





The information and opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of the author, and are not designed to constitute advice or recommendations as to any disease, ailment or physical condition. You should not act or rely solely upon any information contained in these articles without seeking the advice of your personal physician.

The Health Benefits of Sleep

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By: Amy Severson, FNP, APRN – Henning Clinic

Amy Severson, FNP, APRN

Amy Severson, FNP, APRN

Sleep is more important than many people think. You may not think about why you sleep, but we can likely agree that most of the time sleep makes us feel better. When we get a good night’s rest, we feel more alert, more energetic, happier and better able to function. When we do not get enough sleep, we may feel tired, sluggish or irritable.

Sleep is one of the first things to go when people feel strapped for time. Many people view sleep as a luxury, but when your body is sleep deprived, it goes into a state of stress. In this state, the body’s functions are put on high alert, causing an increase in blood pressure and a production of stress hormones. Sleep is the time for your body to fix the damage caused by stress, ultraviolet rays or other harmful exposures.

While a good night’s sleep is no guarantee of good health, too little sleep can affect your overall well being. When you are sleep deprived, you generally feel slow‐moving and more vulnerable to picking up illnesses and not being able to fight them off. The potential, long‐term health consequences of inadequate sleep often go unnoticed; however, if sleep deprivation continues long‐term, research has shown a connection to things like lower immunity, heart attacks, strokes and diabetes. Although many researchers are just beginning to document the connections between adequate sleep and good health, most agree that high‐quality sleep may be as important to your health and well‐being as good nutrition and exercise.


In addition to health risks, studies also link people’s lack of sleep with obesity. One study has found that the lack of sleep may be the biggest contributor to childhood obesity. Sleep deprivation has been thought to influence the balance of the body’s hormones that affects appetite. Many experts would agree that a good night’s sleep is one strategy in controlling or losing weight.

Sleep is an individual thing. While the amount of sleep needed can vary from person to person, most people need at least seven hours every night and research shows that kids do better with at least 10 or 11 hours of shut‐eye each night.

Here are some tips to help you rest more peacefully at night:

 Try to go to bed at the same time every night.

 Limit your caffeine intake.

 Don’t exercise right before bed.

 Use your bed for sleeping – not working, playing games or talking on the phone. Train your bed to associate your bed with sleep.

People who get the sleep they need, not only feel better, but also increase their chances of living longer, healthier, more productive lives.


Amy with her beautiful family.

About the Author: I have worked for TCHC for the past 13 years. The first five years, I floated between the rural clinics in Bertha, Sebeka and Ottertail, and started full time in Henning, my hometown, in the summer of 2007. For the past eight years I have been privileged to work in the town I was raised and care for families I have known all my life. I live with my husband Eric on East Battle Lake. We have three children: Ethan, age 13, Emma, age 11, and Elliot, age 7.

The information and opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of the author, and are not designed to constitute advice or recommendations as to any disease, ailment or physical condition. You should not act or rely solely upon any information contained in these articles without seeking the advice of your personal physician.

My Personal Journey – Mental Health Awareness Month

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Guest Blog By: Jode Freyholtz-London, Executive Director – Wellness in the Woods

Did you ever have to write an essay in school, maybe 2nd grade about “what I want to be when I grow up”? If I recall… this was 50 years ago….. mine was something like being a teacher or a nurse, a position appropriate for women in the rural part of Minnesota I grew up in. Life didn’t exactly work out the way I had planned at the age of 7. In fact I didn’t attend college until I was 40+ years old. I certainly didn’t write having a mental health crisis into that essay.

I have never left central, rural Minnesota and consider this part of the world my lifelong home. In 2005 after spending most of my career working to support people who live with a mental health diagnosis, I became the person who had to seek services. My introduction to depression, anxiety and eventually the “title” of Post Traumatic Stress Disordered person was Sept 18th, 2005 when after an initial phone call to the crisis line, I drug myself into my local TCHC clinic to visit with my most wonderful, life-saving nurse practitioner, Amy Severson. She took the time to actually ask me what was happening in my life and not just look for “what was wrong with me”.

The total lack of light and joy in my life at that point led me to thoughts of suicide, hopelessness and fear of an unknown future. This experience, which I now believe was a learning opportunity gave me the knowledge and perception to live life on the “other side of support”. I was fortunate to have a group of colleagues in the mental health field to guide me into a path of recovery. Their care and compassion along with prayers of support, phone calls, handholding and plenty of hugs, partnered with professionals that made the way though the darkest moments bearable.

Jode advocating on the Hill in 2014

Jode advocating on the Hill in 2014

In May, mental health awareness month, we celebrate what recovery means to the 61.5 million people or 25% in the US who live with a mental illness. We know from recent needs assessments that people in our community do not seek treatment because of the stigma and fear surrounding the label of “mentally ill” and so suffer for years in their own internal pain. It is our responsibility as a “caring” community to be courageous enough to reach out to our neighbors and family members, to say the uncomfortable words associated with emotional struggles and highlight the story of what living in recovery can mean in the lives of those who find the support needed to move forward.

Jode’s Bio: She is the founder and executive director of Wellness in the Woods and has worked in the non-profit, human services field for over 30 years. She has experience as a mental health practitioner, an employment specialist, program coordination in chemical dependency and supported employment programs, advocacy, crisis response and stabilization, certified peer specialist, QPR instructor and wellness trainer.

*If you are one of the millions struggling with depression or other life issues, visit our website at http://www.tchc.org/service-psychiatry to see the resources we have available at Tri-County Health Care. We want to help you feel better. Click www.tchc.org or call 218-631-1100 to make an appointment with one of our qualified providers.