Health notes: Tractor Club plans caravan to help fix cleft lips, palatesA group of Northland tractor aficionados is planning a caravan to put smiles on children’s faces.
By: John Lundy, Duluth News Tribune
A group of Northland tractor aficionados is planning a caravan to put smiles on children’s faces.
The North Shore Tractor and Equipment Club will start the 23-mile ride at 10 a.m. on Sept. 14, beginning at 2507 Lauren Road in Lakewood Township. That’s the home of Gerald Sundberg, who led a similar caravan last year. That caravan involved only six tractors, Sundberg said, but it was before the club had formed. This year, he’s expecting 20 to 25 participants.
The event is a fundraiser for the Smile Train Foundation, which pays to fix children’s cleft lips and palates, mostly in Third World countries. The tractor drivers are asked to solicit money, Sundberg said. The suggested donation is 50 cents per mile, or a total of $11.50. But one couple already has given $250, enough to pay for the surgery for one child, he said.
Last year’s caravan raised $800, and close to $1,500 already has been raised this year, Sundberg said.
If you’re interested in participating or donating, you can call Sundberg at (218) 525-4133 or e-mail him at email@example.com.
Taking on the flu in Ely
“Shot and a beer” Friday is one of the ways Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital uses to encourage employees to get vaccinated against flu.
The Ely hospital and a Burnsville nursing home were highlighted on Wednesday as the Minnesota Department of Health touted the efforts of its FluSafe program to get health-care workers vaccinated.
During the 2012-13 flu season, 219 of the state’s health-care facilities participated, and 177 of those achieved vaccination rates of at least 70 percent, said Kristen Ehresmann, director of the department’s infectious disease division.
“This is really an important way that hospitals and nursing homes can actively work to protect their patients,” Ehresmann said.
Ely-Bloomenson has participated all three years of the program’s existence, said Kim Garrett, the hospital’s infection control and employee health coordinator. More than
70 percent of the hospital’s employees participated in the first year, more than 80 percent in the second year, and 91 percent last year, Garrett said.
The hospital provides vaccinations as early as Sept. 1, and it makes them available around the clock for the sake of employees who work nights or weekends, Garrett said. On one Friday in October, it provides a keg of root beer to help employees who get a flu shot celebrate.
Last year, more than 70 percent of the state’s hospitals participated, but just over 30 percent of the state’s nursing homes, the Health Department said.
Nursing homes in the middle
Minnesota nursing homes get a ‘B’ and Wisconsin nursing homes a ‘C’ in a nonprofit group’s assessment of the nation’s nursing-home care.
“The intent of this report is to applaud those states that provide quality resident care while encouraging additional accountability for those that score poorly,” Brian Lee, executive director of Families for Better Care, wrote in a cover letter to the report released this month. It’s the first state-by-state summary of care in the nation’s 15,543 nursing homes, the agency said.
The report looked at categories such as direct-care staffing, percentage of facilities with deficiencies and above-average health inspections.
Minnesota ranked 18th overall. Its nursing homes were the best in the Great Lakes region, the report said, and ranked among the nation’s best in obtaining above-average inspections in spite of “middling” staff hours.
Wisconsin ranked 25th overall, and just behind Minnesota in the Great Lakes region. Its nursing homes hire more professional nurses than most states, the report said, but more than 90 percent of its nursing homes were cited with at least one deficiency.
Alaska ranked first and Texas 51st among all the states and the District of Columbia.
You can see the report at www.nursinghomereportcards.com.
Health at the fair
It features sculptures made of butter and batter-dipped, deep-fried candy bars on a stick, but the Minnesota State Fair offers a couple of nods to health as well.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota will offer visitors to its booth a voucher for one free doctor visit with its telehealth service, Online Care Anywhere. The voucher, a $45 value, has to be used by Nov. 30. All you have to do is get your photo taken in front of screen that will allow you to show where you’d rather be instead of in a doctor’s waiting room. The idea is that if you go the telehealth route, you don’t have to be in the waiting room, hanging out with other sick people. Blue Cross/Blue Shield is at Underwood Street and Judson Avenue on the fairgrounds.
Over at the Minnesota Department of Health booth, the featured topic is ticks and mosquitoes and the nasty diseases they cause. You also can play the “Wheel of Health” game and take home a free anti-smoking poster. It’s in the Education Building, just north of Dan Patch Avenue on Cosgrove Street.
The fair opened today.
A leg up in nursing
Grants are available to help
Duluth-area students take the Red Cross nurse assistant training program, the agency announced.
Students will learn skills to become certified nurse assistants, an entry level to a health-care career, a Red Cross news release said. The grants, also offered in St. Paul and St. Cloud, are made possible by Walmart’s Global Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative.
To learn more, call (612) 872-3259.
CDC offers travel guide
If you’re planning to travel internationally, you might check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Yellow Book.” The 2014 edition of the book, which is updated every two years, was released earlier this month, the CDC said.
Although there is an actual book with yellow covers, all of the information is available online. It’s at www.cdc.gov/travel.
Awards and accreditations have been coming in for area health-care organizations:
To receive the award, the hospital had to demonstrate it followed specific guidelines for heart attack care and met certain performance standards 90 percent of the time over a two-year period, an Essentia news release said.