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

, , , ,

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.

Concussions: Not Just for Athletes

, , , ,

Many of us hear about concussions daily and probably see something about them on the national news. While concussions can be scary, it doesn’t mean we should wrap ourselves in bubble wrap and just sit on the couch.


What is a concussion?

A concussion is a traumatic brain injury. It occurs when the brain strikes the inside of the skull.

It’s important to:

• Beware of the danger of concussions

• Know the symptoms

• Understand they can happen to anyone

• We can make sure football and hockey players have up-to-date helmets and that our athletes/ children are learning proper hitting and tackling techniques.

• We can educate coaches, parents and athletes about concussions, their symptoms and the importance of early diagnosis.

Who can get a concussion?

While concussions are most likely to happen in contact sports, it’s important to remember that anyone can get a concussion. In Minnesota, it isn’t unheard of that someone gets a concussion from slipping on the ice and hitting their head on the ground.

Any blow to the head, some of which can seem harmless can cause a concussion.

  • falling off a ladder
  • falling in the bathtub
  • tripping on a rug

Possible Symptoms: 


While anyone can get a concussion, it’s important to remember that no concussion is the same. People react differently and there’s no set timeline saying how long a concussion will last.

Next steps:

• Plenty of rest

• Limit participation in sports, playing video games, watching TV or socializing excessively

• Develop a “Return to Normal Activities” plan after acute symptoms improve

• Follow recommendations of healthcare professionals

Symptoms of a concussion can sometimes be difficult to detect so if you think you may have suffered a concussion, let your doctor know right away. The best way to treat a concussion is to rest your brain. If you return to normal activities too soon and your symptoms return, your brain is letting you know it is still injured and needs a break. By not letting your brain heal completely, you are putting yourself at risk for long term brain injury and increasing your risk for future concussions. Bottom line: Don’t “play through the pain” as this may have serious long-term consequences.

Dr. Folkestad

Dr. Folkestad


About the Author: Dylan Folkestad, MD, is a Family Medicine Physician at our Henning Clinic. He received his Doctor of Medicine Degree from the University of Minnesota and completed his resident at HealthEast’s St. John’s Hospital in Maplewood, MN. Dr. Folkestad lives near Miltona with his wife and two children. In his free time, he enjoys the outdoors and helping with his family farm located near Bertha, MN.

The Health Benefits of Sleep

, , ,

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 cancer diagnosis story…

, , , , ,

By: Deb Miller

Deb and her family.

Deb and her family.

This April, I had a suspicious mammogram at TCHC that was followed immediately by an ultrasound. Two days later I had a biopsy done at TCHC and three days later I got the results of the biopsy that showed I had triple negative breast cancer. I am so thankful for the knowledgeable staff at TCHC and how quickly they took care of me. Because this is a more aggressive type of breast cancer, the providers I work with at the Henning Clinic and my family strongly encouraged me to get a second opinion at a breast cancer center. I spent the week of April 27th in the Twin Cities with appointments at Virginia Piper Breast Center and Minnesota Oncology and started chemo the first week of May. By the time I am done, I will have a total of 16 chemo treatments, followed by surgery and possibly radiation.

“God’s Got This” is something I have always believed, and a promise that our family has clung to in the last 3-½ years. In October of 2011, our daughter-in-law Leanne was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was 26 years old and pregnant with their first child. She was a young woman with an amazing faith in God and she lived her 2-½ year cancer journey totally trusting that “God’s Got This.” God continually showed our families in countless ways that he would provide what we needed for each day of that journey. Leanne was always ready to share her faith and the promise that “God’s Got This” with those she met. The last time that Leanne was at our home was Easter, April 20, 2014. I was diagnosed this year on April 20th, which was exactly 11 months after she went to heaven on May 20th, 2014. While it seemed almost impossible that we could be going through this again so soon, I also knew that I had no better example of how to live my cancer journey than Leanne and there was no doubt, “God’s Got This”!

Deb with her co-workers wearing the t-shirts they had made for a fundraiser to help her offset her medical expenses.

Deb with her co-workers wearing the t-shirts they had made for a fundraiser to help her offset her medical expenses.

I have worked for Tri-County Health Care since 1994 at the Henning Clinic in Lab and X-ray. After my diagnosis, I found out that Amy Severson and my co-workers at the Henning Clinic had arranged a fundraiser. I showed up at work one day and they were wearing these “God’s Got This” t-shirts they had made. I can’t even put into words how special that was to me. I work with the best people and their support means the world to me. They have been with me through all the ups and downs of the last 3 ½ years and they are like my second family.

Words of wisdom to give to newly diagnosed? You will be inundated with information at a very emotional time. Take someone with you to your appointments so you have a second set of ears to listen to everything. Ask them to take notes. It’s ok to get a second opinion, you want to be as informed as possible and then choose the provider you feel the most comfortable with. For me, once my treatment plan was in place, it was very overwhelming to think about how many months all this was going to take. I do my best to take one day at a time, be thankful for the blessings of that day and with my family, friends and God by my side, I will get through this.