Your Checkup

  • Flu Activity Increasing in Ohio; Still Time to Get Flu Shot

    by Haley Thomas | Dec 13, 2017



    Flu Activity Increasing in Ohio; Still Time to Get Flu Shot

    CDC says flu vaccination among pregnant women low, putting them, babies at risk

    COLUMBUS – Flu activity in Ohio is increasing. During the week that ended Dec. 2 which is the most recent data available, there were 92 flu-associated hospitalizations in Ohio and 257 hospitalizations since the start of the season. That is above the five-year average for this time of year and significantly higher than the 19 flu-associated hospitalizations during the same week last year and 83 hospitalizations for the season.

    It’s not too late to get a flu shot, and the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that everyone six months and older get one as soon as possible as it is the best protection against seasonable flu viruses. It takes about two weeks for a flu shot to take full effect. Flu activity traditionally begins to increase in October and can last as late as May, with cases typically peaking between December and February.

    CDC says that despite the benefits of flu vaccination, roughly three out of five people in the U.S. have not been vaccinated this flu season and roughly two out of three pregnant women have not received a flu vaccine yet this year.

    “Pregnant women and their young infants are at high risk for serious complications from the flu,” said Dr. Clint Koenig, Medical Director of the Ohio Department of Health. “CDC, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American College of Nurse-Midwives, and the American Academy of Family Physicians recommend flu shots for all women who are or expect to be pregnant during the flu season.”

    Flu surveillance data in Australia where flu season is winding down suggests that this year’s vaccine has been significantly less effective against one circulating flu virus strain, influenza A(H3N2). However, CDC notes that vaccine effectiveness measured in Australia may not be predictive of what will happen in the U.S.

    “No vaccine is 100 percent effective but there are many reasons to get a flu vaccination,” Koenig said. “Flu vaccination prevents millions of illnesses and tens of thousands of flu-related hospitalizations each year in the U.S. A study published earlier this year in a pediatric journal shows that flu vaccination can significantly reduce a child’s risk of dying from influenza.”

    Symptoms of influenza can include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Although most people fully recover from the flu, some experience severe illness like pneumonia and respiratory failure, and the flu can sometimes be fatal. People who think that they may have the flu and are pregnant, have an underlying medical condition, or who are extremely ill should contact their healthcare provider immediately. Flu vaccines are offered by many doctor’s offices, clinics, health departments, pharmacies and college health centers, as well as by many employers and some schools.

    While vaccination provides the greatest protection against the flu, other effective ways to avoid getting or spreading it include: washing hands frequently or using alcohol-based hand sanitizer; covering coughs and sneezes with tissues, or coughing or sneezing into elbows; avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth; and staying home when sick and until fever-free for 24 hours without using fever-reducing medication.

    More information about influenza and flu activity in Ohio is available at www.flu.ohio.gov.


  • Influenza Season Begins in Ohio; Ideal Time to Get Flu Shot

    by Cody Klinker | Oct 18, 2017

    Flu vaccination best protection against illness and missed work or school

     

    COLUMBUS – With the arrival of flu season, the Ohio Department of Health is recommending that all Ohioans six months and older get a flu shot now. Flu activity traditionally begins to increase in October and can last as late as May, with cases typically peaking between December and February.

     

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the best protection against seasonal flu viruses. Flu vaccines have been updated this year to better match circulating flu viruses.

     

    “Flu vaccination can help keep you from getting sick, missing work or school, and prevent flu-related hospitalization and death,” said Sietske de Fijter, state epidemiologist and ODH bureau chief of infectious diseases. “The more people who get vaccinated help protect others, including older adults, very young children, pregnant women, and people with certain long-term health conditions who are more vulnerable to serious flu complications.”

     

    Symptoms of influenza can include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue.

     

    “If you are sick with the flu, stay home from work or school to prevent spreading it to others,” said de Fijter

    Although most people fully recover from the flu, some experience severe illness like pneumonia and respiratory failure, and the flu can sometimes be fatal. People who think that they may have the flu and are pregnant, have an underlying medical condition, or who are extremely ill should contact their healthcare provider immediately.

     

    Flu vaccines are offered by many doctor’s offices, clinics, health departments, pharmacies and college health centers, as well as by many employers and some schools. While vaccination provides the greatest protection against the flu, other effective ways to avoid getting or spreading it include: washing hands frequently or using alcohol-based hand sanitizer; covering coughs and sneezes with tissues, or coughing or sneezing into elbows; avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth; and staying home when sick and until fever-free for 24 hours without using fever-reducing medication.

    CDC recommends that healthcare providers administer prescription antiviral medication as a second line of defense as soon as possible to patients with confirmed or suspected flu who are hospitalized, have severe illness, or may be at higher risk for flu complications.

    More information about influenza and flu activity in Ohio is available at www.flu.ohio.gov.

  • Van Wert County Hospital Welcomes New General Surgeon

    by Cody Klinker | Sep 28, 2017
     
    VAN WERT, Ohio – Van Wert County Hospital welcomes Jeremy Stoller, M.D., as a general surgeon. Stoller joins Thomas Conte, MD in Suite 401 of the Van Wert Health Center, which is located at 140 Fox Road, Van Wert, Ohio.  Dr. Stoller is board eligible in General Surgery and specializes in a wide range of procedures.
     
    “We are so pleased to welcome Dr. Stoller as an essential addition to our medical staff and to the community,” said Jim Pope, President and CEO of Van Wert County Hospital.  “We are proud to be a hospital with a hometown feel that provides a growing roster of specialists who treat patients right here in our own community.”
     
    Dr. Stoller received his Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Toledo.  He also completed a six-year general surgery residency at the University of Toledo, which included a dedicated research year in surgical education.
     
    Dr. Stoller welcomes new patients to his office and accepts most insurance plans.  To schedule an appointment, please call 419-238-4909.



  • Fentanyl, Cafentanil, and Cocaine Drive Increase in Drug Overdose Deaths in 2016

    by Cody Klinker | Aug 31, 2017

    COLUMBUS – Ohio’s opioid epidemic continued to evolve in 2016 with stronger drugs driving an increase in unintentional overdose deaths, according to a new report released by the Ohio Department of Health (ODH). The report shows a sharp rise in overdose deaths involving the opioid fentanyl, the emergence of more deadly fentanyl-related drugs like carfentanil, and indications that cocaine is now being used with fentanyl and other opiates. The report also contains some promising news – the fewest prescription opioid overdose deaths since 2009.

    “The continued increase in opioid-related deaths reaffirms that we still have much work to do, but Ohio is seeing important progress in reducing the number of prescription opioids available for abuse and prescription-related overdose deaths,” said Dr. Mark Hurst, medical director of the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and interim medical director of ODH. “This progress is significant because prescription opioid abuse is frequently a gateway to heroin and fentanyl use later on.”



    Overdose deaths increased from 3,050 in 2015 to 4,050 last year, and fentanyl and related drugs were involved in 58.2 percent of them. By comparison, fentanyl was involved in 37.9 percent of overdose deaths in 2015, 19.9 percent in 2014, 4 percent in 2013 and 3.9 percent 2012. Illegally produced fentanyl can be hundreds of times stronger than heroin, and carfentanil and other related drugs can be even stronger.

     

    With the emergence of carfentanil in 2016, the fentanyl-related drug was involved in 340 overdose deaths, most of them during the second half of the year. The number of cocaine-related overdose deaths increased from 685 in 2015 to 1,109 in 2016 – a 61.9 percent increase. Of cocaine-related overdose deaths, 80.2 percent also involved an opiate, and 55.8 percent involved fentanyl and related opiates in particular.

     

    Of all unintentional drug overdose deaths, the percentage of prescription opioid-related deaths declined for the fifth straight year in 2016, and the number of such deaths declined 15.4 percent from 667 in 2015 to 564 in 2016, the fewest since 2009. Opioid prescribing in Ohio declined for a fourth consecutive year in 2016, according to the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy. Between 2012 and 2016, the total number of opioids dispensed to Ohio patients decreased by 162 million doses or 20.4 percent. There was a 78.2 percent decrease in the number of people engaged in the practice of “doctor shopping” for controlled substances since 2012.



    This progress corresponds with efforts to reduce the prescription opioid supply available for diversion and abuse by stepping up law enforcement efforts, working with medical professionals to establish opioid prescribing guidelines, and empowering prescribers and pharmacists to prevent opioid abuse using Ohio’s prescription drug monitoring system, the Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System (OARRS).



    Ohio is investing about $1 billion each year to help communities battle the scourge of drug abuse and addiction at the local level, including significant funding to help address treatment, prevention and law enforcement. Those resources include:

    • Helping communities purchase the life-saving drug naloxone
    • Investing in specialized drug courts that link offenders with treatment
    • Providing safe, stable housing to help drug-addicted Ohioans recover
    • Increasing funding for individuals needing addiction and behavioral health treatment
    • Enforcing Ohio’s drug laws to prevent the illegal distribution of powerful synthetic opioids

    Ohio’s new two-year state budget includes an additional $170 million to support local and state efforts to combat opioid abuse and overdose deaths. At this year’s State of the State Address, Gov. John R. Kasich asked the Third Frontier Commission to provide up to $20 million to help bring new scientific breakthroughs to the battle against drug abuse and addiction. The Third Frontier Commission approved this request in May and will announce the first funded projects in December.



    The state also is surging resources into communities hardest hit by Ohio’s opioid epidemic.



    The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services will receive up to $26 million a year during the next two years through the federal 21st Century Cures Act to help fight Ohio’s opioid epidemic at the state and local levels. The funding will help support medication-assisted treatment; prevention; screening, brief intervention and referral to treatment; recovery supports; workforce devel­opment; and addressing secondary trauma among first responders (EMS personnel, firefighters, law enforcement, etc.).



    ODH has been awarded a four-year federal grant totaling $6.6 million to combat prescription drug overdoses. ODH has awarded grants to 14 high-burden counties to implement comprehensive prescription drug overdose prevention programs focusing on coalition development, healthcare prescriber education and healthcare system changes for safer opioid prescribing practices, and increasing access to the opiate overdose reversal drug naloxone.



    In addition, members of the Governor’s Opiate Action Team have met with local leaders in 20 Ohio communities that have the highest burden of drug overdoses to ensure that communities are mounting a coordinated response and taking advantage of the tools and resources that the state has made available. Promising local practices were identified during these visits and have helped inform the development of an updated Action Guide to Address Opioid Abuse as a resource for Ohio’s communities.



    The complete ODH report on 2016 drug overdose deaths is available here. A detailed list of Ohio’s comprehensive efforts combatting opioid abuse and overdose deaths is here.

  • Van Wert North breaks ground

    by Cody Klinker | Aug 28, 2017
    Kirsten Barnhart, DHI Media News Editor

    Wednesday, August 02, 2017 12:03 AM


    VAN WERT – The groundbreaking for Van Wert Health North, a new outpatient and ambulatory facility that Van Wert County Hospital announced in May, took place Monday morning.

    The 19,000-square-foot center will be located in Towne Center, directly east of Goodwill, and will allow patients access to a walk-in clinic, family medicine, physical medicine, rehabilitation, occupational health, a specialist clinic, laboratory, and imaging services all at a more affordable cost.

    “There’s a couple of reasons why this going to be great for the whole area: it’s high visibility and it’s really accessible,” said President and CEO of Van Wert County Hospital Jim Pope.

    The facility will be near U.S. Route 30, U.S. Route 127 and Marsh Road where it will be able to be visible by a large amount of people from any direction.

    “It is owned by the hospital, but it is not a hospital-based service,” noted Pope. “That means we can bill at a lower rate to patients and we can work with patients too.”

    “The cost of health care continues to rise,” continued Pope. “We asked ourselves, ‘What can we do to create an environment where patients can come and get health care in a moderately affordable environment?’”



    Pope noted that the hospital chose to make the facility a walk-in clinic rather than an urgent care to keep costs low. A walk-in clinic can treat a lot of the same things a urgent care can, while being more affordable.

    One of the most major services that Van Wert Health North will offer is the region’s largest open MRI. The MRI will feature a 1.2-tesla advanced high-field magnet, which is the strongest open air scanner available. The MRI will be able to accommodate patients up to 600 pounds and will be more convenient for doctors and patients.

    “If you’re claustrophobic at all, this open MRI just gets rid of all of that,” said Pope. “It just takes that fear from you.”

    Pope noted that the difference in this MRI and other MRI’s in the area is quality.

    “It’s like looking at abstract art versus a picture,” said Pope of the new MRI’s quality.

    Surrounding area hospitals have magnets that are .6-tesla. Van Wert Health North’s MRI will show much clearer scans that will allow for doctors to see the photo with much higher visibility.

    “Their magnet is abstract art, our magnet is a picture,” noted Pope. “The doctor doesn’t have to use their imagination, they can read it, they can see it, they can point it out to you.”

    The facility is currently out for bid but construction is expected to begin within the next few weeks. The plan is to have the facility open by June of 2018.

    The hospital hopes to continue growing with renovation plans for the Van Wert County Hospital in the future. Pope stated that the hospital has seen positive growth at the current facility noting that the percent of those who use the hospital and are likely to recommend it has grown 8 percentage points since last fall.

    “This whole concept of what we’re creating for the patient is an affordable, but high-tech environment, very visible, very accessible, and very affordable,” said Pope. “We want to be the first choice for health care within the region.”

    Those involved in the “first dig” during the ground breaking were Stacy Adam, Executive Director of the Van Wert Area Economic Development Corp, Dr. Wray, Chief Medical Officer of Van Wert County Hospital, Gary Clay, President of the Board of Trustees of Van Wert County Hospital, Jim Pope, President and CEO of Van Wert County Hospital, Dr. Hoehn, Chief of Staff of Van Wert County Hospital, Jerry Mazur, Mayor of the City of Van Wert, and Todd Wolfrum, Chairman of the Van Wert County Commissioners.