by Mary Rains
Mille Lacs Health System

Just a simple twenty seconds could save a person a couple weeks in bed this winter. Cold and flu season has begun and the best way to decrease the chances of being bedridden with a bad virus or bacterial infection is to practice good handwashing. Dec. 4-10 is National Handwashing Awareness Week.

Sixty five percent of all adults and children don’t wash their hands regularly. Those are the people touching grocery carts, doorknobs, and various other surfaces. And if they are sick, others will be too if a little time isn’t spent washing hands frequently during the day.

National Influenza Vaccination Week is Dec. 4-10 and it’s time to get real about the flu and the flu shot. If you get your news from around the Internet, you know there are many theories (and some not true) about the topic. If you want solid information, visit reliable news sources and do your homework.

For instance, just because flu has already started appearing in the state does not mean it’s too late for a flu shot. And just because a person is healthy and isn’t typically bothered by illness or viruses doesn’t mean that’s a reason not to get the vaccination.

Here are some myths (and facts) about flu and flu shots.

Myth: I don’t need the flu vaccine. I’m a healthy person and I hardly ever get sick.

Willis Schlegel, 82, from Pierz, is in the Mille Lacs Health System ambulance garage, getting fake blood applied to his shirt and mouth. Halloween is over and this isn’t for fun. Schlegel  ̶  acting as a patient with an unnamed, possible highly infectious disease  ̶  is helping MLHS with their regional disaster drill.

On Nov. 1, MLHS participated in the drill, held on the Onamia campus and in conjunction with 19 other regional hospitals, local public health, and county emergency managers. The drill was in real-time and involved an “unplanned” situation needing an emergency disaster response.

Mille Lacs Health System held its Annual Shareholders’ Meeting on Thurs., Nov. 10. At the meeting, Vice President of Medical Affairs Dr. Tom Bracken gave the medical affairs and staff report. New providers Kathy Halbert, C.N.P., and Beth Twite, P.A., were introduced. Dr. Bracken also noted that MLHS has a new visiting Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Michelle Kimman.

November is National Caregivers Month, and Mille Lacs Health System has some tips for you if you are one of the 600,000 people in Minnesota who care for parents, siblings, spouses or other family members either in your home or theirs. According to the CDC, unpaid caregivers provide an estimated 90% of the long-term care for those needing either full-time or part-time assistance. Caregivers report having difficulty finding time for one’s self, managing emotional and physical stress, and balancing work and family responsibilities. The stress becomes even more acute when a loved one is coming home from a health event that has put them in the hospital. But in January of 2017, a new law to help caregivers will be taking effect in the state.

Targeted violence isn’t a topic that’s pleasant to discuss, but it’s a reality in the world we live in, and it can happen anywhere. Being prepared, in case it does happen, was the presentation Special Agent Joseph Malhoit from the F.B.I. gave to 65 community members on Oct. 12th on the Mille Lacs Health System Onamia campus.

Malhoit began by saying that his whole presentation is based on the main concept of situational awareness, and then mental preparation for the “what if” that might ensue.  “If you take away nothing else today, remember to trust your instincts if you think someone is acting ‘off,’ and then ask yourself what you would do if a situation ‘breaks bad?’”

FluSafe is a Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) program that recognizes Minnesota hospitals and nursing homes for high influenza (flu) vaccination rates among their health care personnel.

Mille Lacs Health System received a red ribbon from the MDH for being a hospital with an 86% flu vaccination rate amongst all employees for 2015/16, showing a commitment to protecting patient health.

Mille Lacs Health System will be holding flu shot clinics in the month of October. Appointments are recommended for efficiency, but walk-ins are also welcome. Call 320-532-3154 to schedule.

9 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. (unless otherwise noted)
Mon., Oct. 3
Fri., Oct. 14
Tues., Oct. 18
Fri., Oct. 28

Wed., Oct. 5
Mon., Oct. 10
Fri., Oct. 21
Mon., Oct. 24

Tues., Oct. 4 (1-4:30)
Thurs., Oct. 20 (9-11:45)

Tues., Oct. 4 (9-11:45)
Thurs., Oct. 20 (1-4:30)

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and it’s a time where women should be thinking about how to decrease their risks and get their mammograms. There are 2.5 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S., which proves that early diagnosis and better treatments are helping more women to survive. Still, the statistics are there to show that it’s the second most common cancer among women.  One in eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetimes.

Men can get breast cancer, too. Approximately 2,100 cases will be diagnosed each year. But because men don’t think they can get breast cancer, their survival chances are lower, due to the fact that they wait so long to get it checked out.

Underwire bras and compression garments do not cause breast cancer.