Deadline Extended for exhibitor applications for the annual Rotary Health Fair!

The Homer Kachemak Bay Rotary Club in partnership with South Peninsula Hospital invites exhibitors to apply for booth space at the 36th annual Rotary Health Fair. The purpose of the fair is to promote individual wellness, share health information and to educate and encourage in healthy lifestyle choices. The Rotary Health Fair invites exhibitors to provide learning centers to educate and encourage active involvement in learning about health and wellness.

The fair is November 2, 2019 from 7:30am to 1 p.m. ​at the Homer High School, and the deadline to apply for booth space has been extended until September 14th.

Applicants, please read the following documents:

Invitation to Apply 2019

Standards for Rotary Health Fair Exhibitors 2019

Apply online here.

For more information, please send an email to rotaryhealthfair@gmail.com, or call the Health Fair Hotline at (907) 399-3158.

 

 

Living Well Alaska: Self-Management workshops for adults with ongoing health conditions

The next series of Living Well Alaska workshops for adults with ongoing health conditions and their family or caregivers will be on Wednesday evenings, 4:30pm – 6:30pm from September 18th-October 23rd.  Living Well workshops were developed by Stanford University to focus in a fun, interactive group setting on staying as healthy & active as possible even while living with chronic conditions like arthritis, diabetes, pre-diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, obesity, and any health condition that requires long term self-management.

The cost for the entire 6-week series is $40, and assistance is available.  Contact PeggyEllen Kleinleder at (907) 235-0311 for more information and to register!  Put the life back in your life!

Measles – Vaccination is the best prevention; call ahead if you have symptoms.

Vaccination with the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine continues to be our best defense to keep measles from spreading. Make sure you and your family are up-to-date with the MMR vaccine – contact your healthcare provider if you or anyone in your family is unsure of their immunization or needs the MMR vaccine.

Anyone can get the MMR vaccine completely free-of-charge at Homer Medical Center during their normal walk-in clinic hours on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 5:00 – 8:00PM at 4136 Bartlett Street.

If anyone thinks they might have measles, they should call their health care provider or local public health center immediately. It’s important to get care quickly, but people should call first and not go directly to the doctor’s office, clinic or school.

Measles often starts with a fever (as high as 104° F), cough, runny nose, red eyes and sore throat. A rash follows that usually starts on the face and spreads to the rest of the body.

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) has confirmed a single case of measles in a teenager from the Kenai Peninsula. Read the full press release here.

For more information and recommendations on vaccination, prevention and treatment for measles visit the DHSS Measles page here.

View and download this 2-page flyer with information on free vaccination at HMC and other local resources, as well as general measles information.

 

 

Radio Frequency Ablation (RFA) Alternative Pain Therapy

Although there are many causes of back pain, one of the more common is facet arthritis. The facet joint provides stability to the vertebral column of the back and the facets in the lower back often develop debilitating back pain. One might experience pain with rising from a sitting position or from riding in a car. Bending forward can cause severe aching.

One of the treatments for this type of back pain is radiofrequency ablation (RFA), which addresses the nerve that transmits the pain.  By stunning this nerve, the pain can be stopped for up to a year, until the nerve regrows back to the facet joint. RFA is a minimally invasive procedure that uses imaging (CT scanner) to help a physician in placing a needle right to the site where the nerve approaches the facet joint. After appropriate numbing, the tip of the needle is inserted and used to heat a small area of the nerve tissue. After 90 seconds, the nerve is stunned and no longer transmits any pain until it regrows. RFA patients experience almost immediate relief and remarkably most do not need a retreatment for at least a year.

It is quickly becoming a preferred treatment because it is so helpful for the patient’s pain relief, has minimal risk, reduces the use of pain medication, and requires little to no down time for recovery. The procedure is now offered by Edson Knapp, MD, board-certified radiologist at SPH, and is covered by most insurances.

Because there are many causes of back pain your doctor may require that you have an MRI of your back prior to having this treatment. It is important to understand what is causing your pain so as to receive the correct treatment. In addition to RFA, South Peninsula Hospital offers a complete and holistic approach to help you with your back pain. Ask your primary care doctor if you might be a good candidate for RFA, or call the hospital’s imaging department at 235-0362 to learn more.

Edson Knapp, MD
Interventional Radiologist and Medical Director at South Peninsula Hospital’s Imaging Department
Fellowship Trained in Oncologic Imaging and Interventional Radiology
Board Certified in Radiology

Wildfire Smoke and your Health

Here are a few tips for your health as the southern peninsula gets more smoke from the Swan Lake fire:

The biggest health threat from smoke is from fine particles. These microscopic particles can get into your eyes and respiratory system, where they can cause health problems such as burning eyes, runny nose, and illnesses such as bronchitis. Fine particles also can aggravate chronic heart and lung diseases.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, these populations are at greatest risk from wildfire smoke:

  • People who have heart or lung diseases, like heart disease, chest pain, lung disease, or asthma, are at higher risk from wildfire smoke.
  • Older adults are more likely to be affected by smoke. This may be due to their increased risk of heart and lung diseases.
  • Children are more likely to be affected by health threats from smoke as children’s airways are still developing and they breathe more air per pound of body weight than adults do.

If you are healthy, you’re usually not at a major risk from short-term exposures to smoke. Still, it is a good idea to avoid breathing smoke if you can help it and use common sense. If it looks smoky outside, it’s probably not a good time to mow the lawn or go for a run. And it’s probably not a good time for your children to play outdoors.

Use these links for additional health information related to smoke:

Here are some smoke prediction sites to help with planning activities and decision making:

Sports Physicals Day at Homer Medical Center

Homer Medical Center is offering free sports physicals at a one-day clinic on Saturday, July 20, 2019 for high school students who need a physical for participation in school sanctioned activities.  Appointments are not required, and exams are offered from 10am-4pm at the Homer Medical Center clinic on Bartlett Street.  Exams are offered free of charge by providers from Homer Medical Center.

Parents are asked to complete the History Form and if applicable the Special Needs Supplemental form and bring this entire document with them to the clinic.
Pre-participation exam form (PDF)

All students must bring or wear loose fitting shorts for the screening.

If students are unable to attend, they can make an appointment for an annual wellness exam and a sports physical form will be filled out as part of the wellness exam. In most cases this will be at no cost to a patient with insurance.  Those without insurance and who do not make the free sports physical day can make a sports physical appointment on a regular clinic day at a cost of $52.00 less a 25% discount for a total of $39.00 to be paid at time of service.

Please contact Homer Medical Center at (907) 235-8586 for additional information.

Measles in Homer is Preventable

The following editorial was written by SPH Chief of Staff  Giulia Tortora, MD and originally published in the Homer News on  June 5, 2019.

In 1989, I spent two months working in a hospital in Tanzania, Africa. While I worked in that small village, where no vaccines were available and care options were limited, I was shocked to discover that the main disease that killed children was measles. Not malaria. Not malnutrition. Measles. Watching any child die of a preventable disease is heartbreaking.

Measles vaccination rates have declined, and the outbreak in the U.S. is both serious and terrifying. The likelihood of seeing it in Alaska is very high, and we need to prepare to face the consequences of this public health nightmare.

There is a great deal of controversy about vaccinations, mostly due to misinformation that started with a study in 1998 by Anthony Wakefield that postulated a connection between the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism. It has since been proven both falsified and inaccurate. There have been many studies since then that disprove that link. But misinformation is rampant, and this causes people to make unfortunate decisions — decisions that will cause deaths in our community.

Here are the facts: getting two doses of measles vaccination confers 97% immunity. Any adult born before 1957 is considered immune. If there is no laboratory evidence of immunity in adults, a booster should be given.

Children should routinely be vaccinated with the MMR initially at 12 to 15 months of age, with a second between age 4 and 6.

There are different Centers for Disease Control recommendations for travel, and for any outbreak, with infants being vaccinated earlier, and adults receiving boosters.

Measles is one of the most infectious viruses known. With exposure, nine out of 10 unimmunized people will contract the disease, by way of droplet contact. The virus remains infectious for two hours after a person is in an area. That means that if you enter an elevator 2 hours after someone with measles sneezed in that elevator, you can get the disease.

Measles starts with a high fever (as high as 105 degrees), then feeling sick, coughing, having a runny nose and getting red eyes. After that there are spots that occur in the mouth, and then a rash, which comes on about 14 days after exposure. It is a spotty rash, and it spreads from the head to the trunk, then to the lower extremities. A person is infectious for the four days before the rash starts. There are rare cases in which the rash does not appear.

The people who are most at risk for complications are children under age 5, adults over age 20 and pregnant women. There is no effective treatment, but getting immunoglobulin infusions can decrease the complication and death rate. If exposed, vaccination as soon as possible can decrease your risks, preferably within 3 days of exposure.

There is one other little known aspect to measles infection: it has been shown that a measles infection changes your prior ability to fight infection for up to three years. That means that the immunity that you have built up from prior exposures or immunizations is no longer present. It is a side effect that is only seen with measles.

My hope is that we move towards better immunization coverage to protect our community. Additional reliable information on Measles is available on the CDC website. You can look into this in any of the medical clinics in town, and at the public health department. If we can keep one person from getting sick from this, it will be worthwhile. If we can keep one person from dying, that will be a victory.

– Giulia Tortora, MD

Media advisory on measles from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services National Institutes of Health

Homer Steps Up! 2019 Community Walking Challenge Results!

The community walking challenge Homer Steps Up! 2019 has come to an end!

We not only reached our community goal of 100 million steps together in the month of May – we reached 110 million steps!

The winning teams are The City of Homer Team with a team score of 311,756 (actual total steps of 16,835,327 between 54 members!) and the M&M&M’s – a team of staff & families from Paul Banks Elementary School with a team score of 347,125 (actual total steps of 3,818,374 between 11 members).

Thank you to all the teams who participated, and everyone who participated as an individual stepper – we will see you next year!

Visit us on Facebook @homerstepsup for pictures and more!

Ryan Smith named CEO of South Peninsula Hospital

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Board of Directors of South Peninsula Hospital, Inc., announced Tuesday, May 14, their selection of Ryan Smith for the position of Chief Executive Officer. Smith currently serves as CEO of Memorial Hospital of Converse County in Douglas, Wyoming. During his nearly eight years there he successfully created a clinically integrated provider network, oversaw the addition of a 25,000 square foot freestanding medical office building, and markedly improved patient satisfaction and employee engagement.

Prior to Memorial Hospital, Smith was the CEO of Central Peninsula Hospital (CPH) in Soldotna for five years, during which time he led a $50 million dollar expansion, nearly tripled gross patient revenues, resulting in a positive operating and net income, and negotiated a 10-year hospital lease and operating agreement with the Kenai Peninsula Borough. While at CPH he was the Chair of the Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association, awarded “Grassroots Champion” by the American Hospital Association in 2009, and named Soldotna Chamber of Commerce “Person of the Year” in 2010.

Smith started his healthcare administration career right at South Peninsula Hospital in Homer where he served as Chief Financial Officer from 1996-1998. From 1998 to 2002, he was Chief Financial Officer for Life Point Hospitals, Inc, and served as CFO at Salt Lake Regional Medical Center from 2004-2005.  He spent his first ten years in healthcare with the Hospital Corporation of America, working his way up through several positions to a leadership position in the finance department.

David Groesbeck, SPH Board President, says the board is excited for this opportunity for SPH and the Homer community. “Mr. Smith is a talented CEO. His references speak to extraordinary talents, his record speaks for itself, and his familiarity with Alaska and the Kenai Peninsula will prove invaluable. We are fortunate that his desire to return to Homer aligns perfectly with our organization’s needs and goals. He is a proven leader with the right experience, vision and commitment to lead us forward.”

Smith earned both a BS in Accounting and an MBA from The University of Utah in Salt Lake City. He will arrive to Homer in August to begin the position full time, but will be involved in upper level administration before then. Noel Rea, named interim CEO in April, will remain on until Smith’s arrival.

Safe Sitter 1-Day with CPR for students entering grades 6-8

The next Safe Sitter 1-Day Essentials with CPR at South Peninsula Hospital is scheduled for Friday, August 9th, 2019 from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm.  Registration, including the program fee of $50.00 (scholarships available upon request!) is required by August 5th – please contact wellness@sphosp.org or call the South Peninsula Hospital Health & Wellness Department at (907) 235-0970 to register and for more information.  Further details, including class location, will be shared with you upon registration.

Does your 6th-8th grader feel ready to stay home alone, watch their brothers and sisters, or babysit for younger children? Then maybe it’s time for Safe Sitter®. Safe Sitter® is for young teens in grades 6-8 who are ready to learn the skills they need to care for themselves and younger children.

In addition, Safe Sitter® teaches young teens life and business skills, so that they know how to be prepared, be responsible, and be considerate whether they are babysitting or doing odd jobs for family, friends, or neighbors.

You’ll have fun. You’ll learn a lot. And at the end of the day, you can proudly say, “I am a Safe Sitter®!”