• Influenza season vigorous, widespread in Minnesota – AAHS encourages residents to get flu shot

    Minnesota experienced an early start to the 2012-13 influenza season and is now seeing vigorous, widespread activity. The first case of influenza confirmed by the Minnesota Department of Health Public Health Laboratory was very early this year – in October. In many years, the first confirmed case is not seen until Thanksgiving or early December.

    Typically widespread community transmission is eight to 10 weeks after the first case, which is happening now with this year’s flu season.

    The past several influenza seasons (since 2008 and excluding the pandemic) have been mild so we are not accustomed to seeing higher levels of seasonal influenza activity. The amount and severity of influenza varies from season to season; this year we are having a severe seasonal influenza year, which happens every so often.

    One of the reasons why we are seeing more influenza this year may be because one of the predominant circulating strains is the H3N2 strain of the virus. In years in which H3N2 is the predominant strain, we typically see more severe cases of illness, particularly in the very young and the elderly, and more cases overall.

    “We’re encouraging people to still call in and get their flu shot,” said Janae Olson, Appleton Area Health Services marketing and community relations manager. “We are also asking everyone to wear a mask and use hand sanitizer if you are experiencing flu like symptoms and need to come to our facility, and to wait until symptoms are gone to visit residents in our care center.”

    Since the start of the flu season this year, nearly 600 people have been hospitalized for laboratory-confirmed flu.

    The first flu-related death of the season in Minnesota was a man in his 60s who had underlying health problems. The most recent flu-related death was 14- year-old Carly Christenson, who died last week from the flu at Children’s Hospital. The St. Louis Park high school freshman, who had received a flu shot, was in good health until Christmas Eve, when her parents brought her to the hospital.

    The Minnesota Department of Health officials say the current vaccine is wellmatched to the circulating strains of flu. The vaccine is not 100 percent effective for everyone who gets it, but the Health Department says it is the best defense available against the flu.

    It’s not too late to get a flu shot, and still highly recommend for the very young, the very old and those with compromised immune systems.

    Other ways to prevent the flu include regular hand washing with soap and water or use of an alcoholbased hand sanitizer. Practice
    good “cough hygiene” by coughing into your elbow or a tissue, and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

    Children under age 2, adults age 65 and older, people with chronic health conditions, compromised immune systems, and women who are pregnant or have delivered a baby within the last two weeks are at a higher risk for complications. Health officials urge that these people seek medical care for the onset of flu symptoms, so they can be prescribed an anti-viral medication if indicated.

    Unfortunately, it’s not just the flu making people sick. Hospitals and clinics are seeing a spike in bronchitis and other upper respiratory infections.

    Influenza disease can be a gateway for secondary infections; you can have primary influenza pneumonia but more common is a secondary
    bacterial infection causing pneumonia or other complications.

    The best advice is to wash your hands, get plenty of rest, eat right and stay away from those who may be sick.

    What is influenza (flu)?
    Influenza is a contagious respiratory disease that can be prevented by immunization. It is not the same as the “stomach flu.” Flu is
    caused by a virus that attacks the nose, throat, and lungs and antibiotics are not effective against it. It can cause mild to severe illness and at times can lead to death.

    What are the symptoms of flu?
    Influenza symptoms come on quickly in the form of fever, dry cough, sore throat, headache, extreme tiredness, stuffed-up nose, and body aches. These symptoms can be severe and put you in bed for several days.

    How is the flu different from a cold?
    A cold generally stays up in the head while the flu brings body aches, fever, and extreme fatigue. A person with a cold will usually keep up his or her normal activities, while someone with the flu will often feel too sick to do so.

    Is the flu vaccine safe?
    Yes. This year’s flu vaccine is made in the same way as past flu vaccines. Flu vaccines have an excellent safety record – with an average of 100 million doses used in the U.S. each year.

    Can you get the flu from the flu shot?
    No. Some people do get mild flu-like symptoms for a short time after being vaccinated, but this is a sign that your body is responding to the vaccine and giving you protection. It is not the flu. Also, because there are many cold viruses cir-

    What if you think you have the flu?

    • Stay home if you are ill.
    • Rest and drink lots of fluids.
    • Antibiotics will not help a person recover from the flu, because flu is caused by a virus, not by bacteria.
    • Children often need help keeping their fever under control. Follow your child’s doctor’s instructions.
    • Take your child to the doctor or the emergency room if he or she:
    • Breathes rapidly or with difficulty
    • Has bluish skin color
    • Does not drink enough and becomes dehydrated
    • Does not wake up or interact with others
    • Is so irritable that he or she doesn’t want to be held, or
    • Gets better only to become sick again, with fever and a more severe cough
    • If you are concerned that something does not seem right with your child, call your doctor or clinic. culating in the fall, it is possible that a person could be infected and become ill at the same time they receive the flu vaccine.


    What can you do to protect yourself and others?

    • Get vaccinated.
    • Avoid being exposed to others who are sick with a flu-like illness.
    • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, or cough or sneeze into your sleeve.
    • Clean your hands often – with soap and water, or a hand sanitizer.
    • Take special care to protect infants. Try not to expose them to large crowds when flu is in your community, and avoid close contact between the baby and family members who may be sick.
    • Do not share drinking cups and straws.
    • Clean commonly touched surfaces often (door knobs, refrigerator handles, phones, water faucets).
    • Do not smoke around children.


    Article courtesy of The Appleton Press

  • Appleton Area Health Services Welcomes Stacey Weinkauf to the Senior Leadership Team

    I am pleased to announce an addition to our senior leadership team, Stacey Weinkauf. Stacey is a dedicated RN with nearly 15 years of experience within the rural critical access hospitals and on January 24, 2013, Stacey will join our team as the hospital director of nursing (DON).

    In 2008, Stacey joined the team at the Madison Hospital as an RN. In 2009, she was promoted to the patient care coordinator, responsible for staff education, discharge planning, employee scheduling and infection control. During this time, Stacey took on a dual role as interim DON. In 2011, she was once again promoted to IT Clinical Specialist responsible for overseeing the facilities’ plans for meaningful use, discharge planning and UR.

    Prior to joining the team in Madison, Stacey worked as an RN at the Milbank Area Hospital for six years and Stevens Community Medical Center for five years.

    Stacey obtained her associates degree in nursing from Sisseton-Wahpeton Community College in Sisseton, SD. She comes to us with rave reviews from fellow co-workers and I’m very much looking forward to the experiences she will bring to our facility.

    “I am excited to work with all of the friendly employees and community members,” says Stacey. “I look forward to joining the AAHS team and contribute to the success of the facility.”

    Stacey and her husband, Dale have been married for 20 years and have four children – Dominic (19), Deven (16), Derek (13), and Mackenzie (12). She enjoys spending time with family, watching her kid’s sporting events, gardening, and has a love for horses.

  • Broesder Joins Appleton Area Health Services Leadership Team

    Broesder was born and raised in rural Appleton and attended grade school in Appleton and high school at LqPV.

    Dawn joined the leadership team at Appleton Area Health Services in October of 2012, taking on a dual role of activities director and social services representative. She is excited to come back and work with the residents of AAHS, not only because Appleton is her home town, but because of the great reputation AAHS has in the long term care field.

    Broesder attended Minnesota State University Moorhead where she obtained her BS degree in health services administration.

    During her high school years she worked as a dietary aide at AAHS, then as a certified nursing assistant in the care center.  After her deployment to Iraq in 2009, she came back to the Appleton Community and worked as the human resources director at AAHS.  During that time she used her college education to become a Licensed Nursing Home Administrator.  She most recently worked at the Willmar Care Center as their Administrator.

    Broesder is also an active member of the national guard and VFW Post 1403 in Benson and is also a certified notary for Swift County.


  • New Procedure Now Available at Appleton Area Health Services

    Dennis P. Weigel, M.D. from Heartland Orthopedic Specialists out of Alexandria, performed the first knee arthroscopy in October at Appleton Area Health Services (AAHS). Although this is the first procedure in Appleton, Weigel is very experienced; performing several thousand procedures in his career. Weigel travels to AAHS each month.

    Arthroscopy is a non-invasive, same-day surgical procedure in which a joint (arthro-) is viewed (-scopy) using a small camera. Arthroscopy gives doctors a clear view of the inside of the knee. This helps them diagnose and treat knee problems.

    Technical advances have led to high definition monitors and high resolution cameras. These and other improvements have made arthroscopy a very effective tool for treating knee problems. According to the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine, more than 4 million knee arthroscopies are performed worldwide each year.

    “Our first patient was very happy with the results of the procedure and care from the staff throughout the process,” says Jeffrey Cook, CEO at Appleton Area Health Services. The patient explained how it was very convenient to have the procedure done close to home and be treated like family. Prior to having the procedure, the patient was experiencing an extreme amount of pain and limping. Now, four weeks after the procedure, the patient has completed therapy and tells us she was back to feeling normal after just two weeks.”

    Knee arthroscopies are covered under most insurance plans. If you would like to learn more, please give Appleton Area Health Services a call at 320.289.2400.

    About Dennis P. Weigel, M.D.
    Weigel joined the United States Army Reserve following medical school and served as a Major in the United States Army Reserve Medical Division. In addition, he pursued advanced training in orthopedic surgery as part of his residency at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. Weigel’s specialty is general orthopedics with an interest in adult hip and knee reconstruction and sports medicine.

  • Thank You

    The team at Appleton Area Health Services would like to take a moment to thank all of you, our customers for your trust and confidence in allowing us to serve your healthcare needs. We’re committed to our promise – we’re here for you.

    Enjoy a safe and happy thanksgiving this holiday season.

  • National Rural Health Day – November 15

    National Rural Health Day is Thursday, November 15, 2012. Rural communities are wonderful places to live and work, which is why nearly 59.5 million people call them home. These small towns, farming communities and frontier areas are places where neighbors know each other, listen to each other, respect each other and work together to benefit the greater good.

    Today more than ever, rural healthcare facilities struggle daily as declining reimbursement rates and disproportionate funding levels make it challenging to serve small communities. National Rural Health Day is an opportunity to “Celebrate the Power of Rural” by honoring the selfless, community-minded, “can do” spirit that prevails in rural America. It also gives us a chance to bring the unique healthcare challenges that rural citizens face to light – and showcase the efforts of rural healthcare providers, State Offices of Rural Health and other rural stakeholders to address those challenges.

    Please consider making a donation to the Appleton Area Health Services’ (AAHS) Foundation in honor of National Rural Health Day. Your support makes it possible for AAHS to enhance the health of our community and sustain our mission. We are currently raising funds to create a spa room for the residents in our care center.

    Warm Regards from the AAHS Foundation Board.

    Make a Donation

  • November is National Home Care Month

    Is there a healthcare hero in your life?  Each November home health agencies celebrate National Home Care month to honor healthcare workers from a variety of disciplines, such as nurses, home health aides, homemakers, clinicians and therapists that have gone the extra mile and made a positive impact on the lives of those who are under their care.  It takes a special people to work in the home healthcare field and we’re proud of our team at Appleton Area Health Services.

    So what is Home Care exactly? Home healthcare comes in the form of skilled nursing and other health care services that are physician ordered and performed in the home by someone with special training including: registered nurse, licensed practical nurses and therapists.  Home healthcare can specifically benefit seniors by keeping them in familiar surroundings, as well as relieving the burden of the primary caregiver.

    The Appleton Area Health Services’ Home Care Team consists of 10 team members that provide care to 53 clients in a 20 mile radius of Appleton. In the past year, our team has made a total of 7,451 visits. If you would like to learn more about this service, please contact Cindy Maras at 320.289.2400.

  • October is National Physical Therapy Month

    In October, the American Physical Therapy Association wants you to know the many ways physical therapists and physical therapist assistants can help improve your quality of life by restoring and improving your ability to move.

    If you are one of many people who experience low back pain, for example, a physical therapist can help. If you have had a running injury or want to maintain your ability to run as you age, a physical therapist can help. If you are experiencing Bell ’s palsy, diabetes, frozen shoulder or pelvic pain, to name a few conditions, a physical therapist can help.

    In many cases, a physical therapist can work with you to manage or eliminate pain without medication and its side effects. A physical therapist will examine you and develop a plan of care using treatment techniques to promote your ability to move, reduce pain, restore function and prevent disability.

    If you are looking for an evidence-based, cost-effective, conservative approach to health care, then physical therapy may be right for you.

    Big Stone Therapies began providing therapy services to the Appleton community on May 1, 2012. We are so very thankful to all the people who have had a part in this transition; especially to the community. We are grateful and humbled that you would put your faith and trust in us by allowing us to care for you.

    We look forward to continuing to grow our involvement in the Appleton community. If you would like to schedule an appointment at AAHS, call 289.1580 and ask to make a therapy appointment.

    — Neil Feist, Big Stone Therapies Clinic Manager at AAHS

  • Did you know October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month?

    October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is an annual campaign to increase awareness of the disease. While most people are aware of breast cancer, many forget to take the steps to have a plan to detect the disease in its early stages and encourage others to do the same.  The best way to fight breast cancer is to have a plan that helps you detect the disease in its early stages. Call AAHS at 320.289.1580 to schedule your mammogram appointment on October 10 or 24.