Hospital News

Health Center Chatter-Timely Topics from BCHC

Allergy season is here and with it the sneezing, congestion and itchy eyes that send many people searching for relief. But the truth is, one of the best ways to decrease the symptoms of seasonal allergies is to avoid the pollen which causes them in the first place.
Pollen can come from trees, grass, and weeds, each present in the air at different times of the year. It can cling to clothes, hair, and pets then find its way into your system causing symptoms.
So here are 12 simple tips to avoid pollen and decrease allergy symptoms:
1. Take your shoes off. Reduce your pollen exposure indoors by encouraging family members to leave their shoes at the door.
2. Change your clothes. Clothing and hair are pollen's two favorite ways to hitch a ride. After playing or working outdoors, change your clothes before tracking pollen through your home, especially your bedroom.
3. Prioritize your bedroom. You spend several hours each day in your bedroom. Keep this environment as pollen-free as possible. Don't store dirty clothes in your bedroom.
4. Wash your hair. Before bed, wash your hair to remove pollen that may have settled there during the day. This will prevent pollen from rubbing off onto your pillow and bothering your allergies all night.
5. Bathe pets. Your pet's fur can be a pollen carrier. During high pollen counts, bathe pets more frequently and don't allow them in your bedroom.
6. Keep windows closed. Operate your air conditioning or heating system year round. It can act as a filter. Keep doors and windows closed to lock out pollen.
7. Switch filters. Make sure to switch out filters in your furnace and air conditioner as often (or more often if it helps) as the manufacturer recommends.
8. Recirculate air. In the car, avoid continuously pulling more pollen into your vehicle by setting the air conditioner to recirculate air.
9. Stay indoors. Check the daily pollen count and stay inside as much as possible when pollen counts are high. Typically, hot, dry, windy days and the morning hours between 5 and 10 are when outdoor pollen counts are highest.
10. Don't hang clothes or linens out to dry. They can collect pollen and mold.
11. Get help. Ask someone else to do jobs such as dusting, vacuuming, raking leaves, and mowing that can increase exposure to your known allergens. If this isn't an option, wear a mask while doing these tasks.
12. Avoid irritants. Cigarette smoke, house dust and harsh cleaning chemicals can add to already irritated allergies making symptoms worse. When possible, avoid these and consider using baking soda and vinegar for cleaning.
These tips can be a good start. I also recommend over-the-counter medicine such as Claritin, Zyrtec or Allegra as well as a nasal spray such as Flonase or Nasacort to help minimize allergy symptoms. (Check with your Primary Care Provider before starting a new medication.)
If you're still struggling with symptoms, the next step is to get a referral from your Primary Care Provider at Boone County Health Center. They can refer you on to see me at the Allergy and Asthma Clinic offered monthly in Albion.

I will evaluate you, determine your specific allergies and make personalized recommendations to improve your quality of life. You may even be a candidate for allergy immunotherapy, in which I create a vaccine just for you, based on your exact allergies.
To get a referral from your Primary Care Provider to see me, call 402-395-5013.

Health Center Appoints New CFO

Rita Liss is appointed new CFO at Boone County Health Center.

March 20, 2017
Boone County Health Center (BCHC) has appointed Rita Liss new Chief Financial Officer (CFO). Liss will replace Tanya Sharp who will transition to Chief Executive Officer (CEO) as Victor Lee retires.

Liss joined BCHC in 1987, serving as Business Office Manager. She was responsible for managing BCHC finances as well as performing several Human Resources and Payroll tasks. As BCHC saw tremendous growth over the years, Liss brought on current members of the administrative team to fulfill the growing Payroll and Human Resource needs. This allowed her to focus primarily on the BCHC financial services operations.

In 2005, Liss was promoted to Senior Staff Accountant, taking on the coordination of audit procedures, gathering of benchmark data, and the creation of monthly and quarterly reports. She also began assisting the CFO in the yearly budget preparations.

"I have a tremendous amount of respect for Rita's expert knowledge of the Health Center's finances," said current CFO Tanya Sharp. "She has been key in managing things behind the scenes. In her new role as CFO, now Rita will have the opportunity to oversee BCHC finances on the front end."

Liss received her Diploma of Professional Accounting from the Lincoln School of Commerce. She is a 2013 graduate of the Nebraska Hospital Association's Leadership Institute and a member of the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) and Healthcare Management Systems users group.

"The Health Center is a great place to work, and I'm excited for the chance to serve as CFO," Liss said. "Many of the tasks will be similar to what I've already been doing for years. It feels like a natural transition for me, and I'm excited and eager for this new chance to serve the Health Center." Liss will begin her new role as CFO July 1, 2017.

New VP of Clinic Services

March 7, 2017
Upon the retirement of Bonnie Kosch, Boone County Health Center (BCHC) appointed Tammy Reigle as the new Vice President of Clinic Services. Kosch served BCHC for 13 years and is looking forward to more time with her children and grandchildren in retirement.

"Bonnie was an excellent supervisor," said CEO Victor Lee. "I'm confident Tammy's positive attitude and vast knowledge base will make for a smooth transition into her new role as Vice President of Clinic Services."

Reigle has a Bachelor's degree in Healthcare Informatics from Western Governors University. She joined BCHC in 1993 as a medical assistant. Over the years, she has worked as a receptionist, in patient accounting, transcription, and as a clinical nurse.

In 2011, Reigle became the project manager for the entire facility's transition to electronic medical records. Since then, she has served as project manager for several projects focused on quality measures, most recently including the Patient Centered Medical Home.

Reigle is known for her incredible ability to handle a large work load with a smile. She is the 2015 Caring Kind Award recipient at BCHC, and is well-loved by her fellow employees. Due to her vast knowledge and years of experience, Reigle is the go-to person for a variety of computer and operational workflow questions throughout BCHC. Many of her project management tasks will stay with her as she transitions into her role as Vice President of Clinic Services.

"I'm looking forward to this new and exciting way to serve Boone County Health Center. It's a wonderful place to work, and I'm grateful to be a part of the team," Reigle said. She and her husband live in Albion and have four children and two grandchildren.

Opportunity to Impact Local Healthcare

The Boone County Health Center (BCHC) is offering patients and their families the opportunity to be a part of the new Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC) in order to continually improve the patient experience at BCHC.

This comes as BCHC moves toward a Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH) certification, which places the highest interest on quality care as well as keeping the patient at the center of their healthcare.

The Council will consist of 12 people from the BCHC service areas of Boone, Antelope, Greeley, Western Madison, Nance, and Wheeler counties in Nebraska. There will be an application and selection process to ensure the council consists of at least 30% male and at least 30% female members with two representatives from each age group ranging from 17 years of age to 65 plus years of age.

PFAC will give individuals the opportunity to assist in helping BCHC establish patient and family-centered care priorities. This will improve patient experiences and further strengthen communication and collaboration between healthcare providers, patients, and their families.

This is an excellent opportunity for individuals to have an input on their local healthcare. Volunteers will be asked to serve a minimum of a two-year term. Quarterly meetings will be held, and council members will have the chance to candidly share their experiences and perspectives in relation to their healthcare at BCHC. A PFAC representative will then convey the positive thoughts and constructive criticism resulting from the meeting to a BCHC representative.

Those interested in becoming a PFAC volunteer can pick up an application at the hospital front desk. Applications are due back to the hospital by February 28th. In early March, all applicants will be invited to an informational meeting about PFAC. BCHC employees and their spouses are not eligible to participate in PFAC.

Patient & Family Advisory Application Form

Patient & Family Advisory Council Information Sheet

Health Center Implements Nurse Navigators

Jessica Jacobi and Mary Hellbusch are BCHC Nurse Navigators.

February 14, 2017
The Boone County Health Center (BCHC) has added Nurse Navigators Mary Hellbusch and Jessica Jacobi who will be working closely with doctors and nurses to help patients navigate their healthcare.

The Nurse Navigators will answer questions, help patients understand doctors' orders, and let them know if they're due for an important follow-up.

"Our goal is to help patients have better health now," explained Nurse Navigator Mary Hellbusch. "Good, continued maintenance of ongoing illnesses can help patients live a healthier life and avoid hospitalizations or readmissions."

Vice President of Clinic Services Tammy Reigle said, "Our focus has always been on our patients and helping them get healthy. By implementing Nurse Navigators, we're trying to help prevent patients from getting sick in the first place."

The Nurse Navigators are just one aspect of BCHC's focus on offering The Total Experience: personalized patient care, improved health, and lower healthcare costs.

"We want to offer a personalized patient experience, which leads to improved patient health. When your health is better, your healthcare costs are naturally lower," said Reigle. "Recent shifts in healthcare insurance compensation put greater focus on quality of care over quantity, so it's a win-win for everyone."

The Nurse Navigators have just begun reaching out to patients. Right now, their focus includes patients who have recently been seen in the Emergency Room and those who have been diagnosed with diabetes.

"So far our patients have loved it. We've gotten a really great response when we call," said Nurse Navigator Jessica Jacobi. "The patients like to know we're taking care of them."

Over time, the Nurse Navigators will continue to broaden their list of patients. However, anyone interested in the Nurse Navigator services now can call Mary at 402-395-3197 or Jessica at 402-395-3124.

Nebraska NEST Birthday Babies Sweepstakes
Nebraska Newborns Have a Chance to Win $529 for College Savings

February 6, 2017
In recognition of 150 years as a state, this year Nebraska is celebrating its Sesquicentennial. As part of the celebration, certain programs have been created, including the Nebraska NEST Birthday Babies sweepstakes.

Every child born in 2017 who is a Nebraska resident - whether born in Nebraska or out of state - is eligible to enter the sweepstakes. Each winner will receive $529 deposited in a Nebraska Educational Savings Trust (NEST) 529 college savings account. Winners will be drawn each month for a total of 12 winners.

"We're happy to help the Nebraska State Treasurer's Office spread the word about their Nebraska NEST Birthday Babies sweepstakes," said Carolyn Grey. "This is a great opportunity for our local families."

Boone County Health Center (BCHC) will provide basic instructions on how to enter the sweepstakes to each family who has a child born in 2017 at BCHC. Entry into the Nebraska NEST Birthday Babies Sweepstakes requires only simple contact information and does not create a NEST account. It only enters the child for a chance to win $529 towards their future education.

NEST is a tax-advantaged 529 college savings plan that makes saving for college simple and affordable. To learn more about setting up a NEST 529 college savings plan, visit

Hospital Announces 2017 Gala

February 1, 2017
The 2017 Boone County Health Center Gala will be held Saturday March 18 at the Event Center in Albion starting at 5 p.m.

This year's Gala will have a 1950's-60's theme. Guests will enjoy a diner-style meal and be entertained by Streetside, a 50's-60's a 'Capella group. Poodle skirts and leather jackets will no-doubt be all the rage as guests are invited to dress in traditional 50's-60's style.

"This is a great opportunity for couples to enjoy a fun date night out, with a unique twist, right here in Albion," said Foundation Director Aprill Murphy.

Funds raised at this year's Gala will support the formation of a Certified Wound Care Team. Denee Kunzman, RN, WCC, is Wound Care Certified by the National Alliance of Wound Care and Ostomy. Kunzman sees as many patients as possible, but the need for wound care in our service area is so great that many patients still have to drive to Columbus or Norfolk on a weekly basis for long-term treatment.

"A wound can range from a surgery incision to a severe burn or cut. Each wound is very different and requires individualized care," explained Kunzman. "Having a team devoted to an expertise in wound care will ensure each wound can be properly treated close to home, improving our patients' quality of life and saving them both time and money."

Kunzman will be instrumental in forming the Certified Wound Care Team at Boone County Health Center, which will consist of medical provider, Dr. Kohl, along with other BCHC medical professionals. "There are so many aspects that go into a wound healing: nutrition, treatment plans, dressings, and an interdisciplinary approach. Having a Certified Wound Care Team will allow us to provide top-of-the-line wound care for our patients."

Tickets for the Gala are on sale now for $50 per person. Guests can reserve a table which seats eight for $450. Attendees are encouraged to purchase tickets soon, as only a limited number will be sold.

Tickets can be purchased by calling the Foundation office at 402-395-3252 or from Foundation board members: Greg Sander (St. Edward), Bob Diessner (Spalding), Connie Mescher (Albion), Wilma Rankin (Newman Grove), Tracy Yosten (CedarRapids), Susan Kallhoff (Elgin), Julie Jarecke (Fullerton), Ken Kurtenbach (Lindsay).

Retirement Announced, New CEO Appointed

Newly appointed CEO,
Tanya Sharp

Retiring CEO
Victor Lee
ALBION, Nebraska (January 30, 2017) - The Boone County Health Center(BCHC) Board of Trustees appointed Tanya Sharp as the next Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at Wednesday afternoons board meeting. This comes as current CEO Victor Lee announces his retirement effective June 30, 2017.

Under Lee's 17 years of award-winning leadership, BCHC has seen tremendous growth, including the expansion of the Hospital wing and new medical clinics at Fullerton, Elgin and Spalding. BCHC has flourished under Lee's direction, while managing to operate debt free for the past nine years.

"I expect a seamless transition as Tanya moves into the CEO position," Lee said. "As our CFO for the past two years, Tanya has gained a great understanding of hospital financials as well as our mission at Boone County Health Center. She is a very driven person and has an excellent vision for ongoing growth moving forward."

Sharp has over fifteen years of experience in finance and over ten years of healthcare administration experience as both a CEO and CFO. This includes five years as CEO at a 25 bed hospital and rural health clinic similar to BCHC in North Dakota.

"I'm grateful for the opportunity to serve Boone County Health Center as the new CEO," Sharp said. "It's so important to keep healthcare in the rural setting, and I believe my strong background in finance will help maintain the financial stability BCHC has enjoyed under Vic's leadership."

Sharp received her Bachelors of Science from Minnesota State University-Moorhead in Healthcare Administration and is currently pursuing her Masters in Healthcare Administration from Bellevue University. She is a 2015 graduate of the Nebraska Hospital Association Leadership Institute and now serves as a mentor to other healthcare executives enrolled in the program.

She is an active member of the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) and Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA). On a local level she serves as a Parent Advocate for the preschool program at Boone Central.

Sharp is originally from Nebraska City. She lives in Albion with her husband Mike and their four children. "We moved back to Nebraska, because we want our kids to be raised in a small, rural setting like we were, with good Nebraska values such as honesty, loyalty, responsibility and hard work," explained Sharp.

As CFO at BCHC, Sharp has had the opportunity to collaborative with Lee in an administrative role for the past two years. She has also built strong relationships with providers, employees, community members, and the entire administrative team at BCHC, creating an environment which lends itself to a seamless transition.

Sharp's vision for continued growth at BCHC includes an increased use of telemedicine, more patient options for paying hospital bills, and an emphasis on enhanced access to healthcare in the communities served by BCHC. Her focus will remain on providing quality care with positive outcomes close to home. Sharp will move into her position as CEO on July 1, 2017.

Health Center Chatter-Timely Topics from BCHC

Better Outcome, Lower Cost for Surgery
Could you have a better experience if you choose to have surgery at Boone County Health Center (BCHC) verses going to a larger city? According to a study by Dr. Andrew M. Ibrahim of the University of Michigan Center for Healthcare Outcomes and Policy, the answer could be yes.

Dr Ibrahim's study found critical access hospitals similar to BCHC had lower rates of serious complications (6.4% verses 13.9%). According to the study, when costs were compared, patients at smaller hospitals actually paid an average of $5,980 less per surgery than those at larger hospitals.

In his study, Dr. Ibrahim compared data for four common types of surgery: appendectomy, cholecystectomy, colectomy, and hernia repair. Did you know all these procedures can be performed at BCHC in Albion?

Dr. Schneider is the general surgeon at BCHC. He comes to Albion on the first three Mondays of every month to do surgery. Dr. Schneider is known for his kindness and patience. He has a reputation for explaining things in a way that make sense to his patients.

BCHC offers family-centered care from pediatrics to geriatrics. Unlike larger surgery centers, which only offer surgery, you can have your appointments before, during, andmafter surgery right here at the Health Center. No bouncing around from place to place.

Until recently, little research had been done on the outcome of surgery at smaller, critical-access hospitals like BCHC. However, Dr. Ibrahim's study findings might not come as a surprise to the patients who have experienced the special TLC you receive at a rural hospital.

When you're a patient at BCHC, you aren't just a number. You are our friend and our neighbor. We care about you and have a special interest in making sure your surgery has a positive outcome. And as Dr. Ibrahim's study suggests, our outcomes reflect that.

It just makes sense to have your surgery locally where statistics suggest you will have a better chance of receiving lower costs, fewer complications, and ultimately better outcomes.

New Therapist at Boone County Health Center

ALBION, Nebraska (January 16, 2016) - Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner Kathy Schindler recently joined Boone County Health Center (BCHC) in Albion. She received her Masters in Social Work from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and her specialty is working with rural residents.

"The Mental Health Department is excited to welcome Kathy to our team," said Gina Baker, LIMHP. "Her expertise in mental health and her knowledge of the needs of rural patients creates a perfect and effective addition to our department."

Schindler grew up on a ranch near Valentine, Nebraska, and she now lives in rural Elgin with her husband, Leroy. Schindler explained, "Having been a rural resident all my life, I have a good knowledge of issues that rural communities face."

She is well-adept at helping a variety of rural patients with issues such as marital problems, anxiety, depression and parenting. Schindler is also very experienced with grief counseling. One of her favorite areas to counsel is with women's health issues including domestic violence.

Schindler comes to BCHC from Asera Care Hospice in O'Neil where she was a medical social worker and grief counselor. She has also served as a counselor at Midwest Country Clinic in O'Neill.

"Gina and I have been long-time friends. I'm excited for the chance to work together," Schindler said. She sees patients on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays at the Boone County Health Center's Mental Health Department. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call the hospital.

PHOTO CUTLINE: Kathy Schindler, LIMHP has joined the Mental Health Department at Boone County Health Center.

CarePartners Find Free Resources for Alzheimer's Patients

December 22, 2016
CarePartners, a team at Boone County Health Center which offers support for Alzheimer's patients and families, is happy to announce a grant which is available from the Alzheimer's Association.

This grant provides a free one-year membership and accompanying jewelry device(s) for the Medic Alert + Safe Return (MASR) Program. All Nebraska residents diagnosed with Alzheimer's and/or their family care partners can receive this grant.

The MASR Program offers help for those who wander or have a medical emergency. No matter when or where the person is reported missing, the MASR Program provides 24-hour assistance.

To receive the grant, applicants must fill out the MASR enrollment form and mail it to the Alzheimer's Association Nebraska Chapter office in Omaha. To get the form, visit and click "Financial Help" or call Val Slizoski at the hospital.

This program is free of charge to Nebraska residents, thanks to the generosity of Valmont Foundation and the Omaha Rotary Club. Applicants are encouraged to submit their forms as soon as possible.

The CarePartner's team cares about patients and is pleased to bring updates on opportunities such as this. For more information on CarePartners, patients are encouraged to ask their Primary Care Physician at Boone County Health Center.

New Faces at the Health Center

November 16, 2016
Mondays at the hospital can be a very busy time. Patients pour through the doors for lab draws, x-rays, different specialty clinics, and the emergency room. Now patients will be greeted by the friendly faces of new volunteers Wilma Rankin and Mary Kay Ternus.

"We're so excited to have these ladies as volunteers," said Lead Receptionist Jamie Wright. "Mondays are very busy at the hospital, and we're confident their presence will have a positive impact on patient safety and satisfaction."

Volunteers will play a key role in making sure emergency room patients get immediate attention. They will also help patients into the building and direct them which way they need to go.

Patient privacy is a top concern at Boone County Health Center. All hospital volunteers have privacy training.

Free Books for Kids at Clinic Check-Ups

Valero employees Valerie Thieman, Jolynn Groeteke, Sheila Carder along with BCHC Social Worker Valorie Slizoski showcase new kids books for the Reach out and Read program at the Health Center.

November 9, 2016
According to a First Five Nebraska study, 42% of children in Nebraska will start kindergarten at risk of failing in school. Up to 61% of children in the Boone County Health Center (BCHC) service area will enter kindergarten one to two developmental years behind. Research indicates reading to children at an early age is a crucial way to overcome these grave statistics.

In response, BCHC has begun a Reach Out and Read program. Each child who is a patient at any BCHC clinic will receive a brand new, age-appropriate book at their well-child checkup from six months through five years.

"Some kids don't have the ability to have a book. We are hoping to create an equal playing field, so all kids have the opportunity to live in a home where reading is promoted," said Valorie Slizoski, BCHC social worker and Reach Out and Read project coordinator. "If they attend every well-child checkup, by the time they are five they will have nine books in their home. When the books are already in the home, it makes it easier for parents to promote reading."

The Reach Out and Read program doesn't just give the child a book. It actually takes that one step further. "Our staff has undergone special training to help patients know how to get the kids interested in reading," said Slizoski.

Providers will teach parents how they can talk about the pictures and ask the child questions about the story. Providers will give parents simple tips and tricks to start their child down a path of loving books.

As part of the Reach Out and Read program, waiting areas in the BCHC hospital, clinic, and satellite clinics will also be stocked with a variety of children's books. "Every step of the way, we want to send the message that reading is important," said Slizoski.

Funding for the Reach Out and Read program is provided by a generous grant from Valero Renewables. At their 2016 Valero Texas Open, Valero Renewables raised $10.5 million. "In keeping with tradition, this money will be delivered to all U.S. locations where Valero has major operations, ensuring that funds raised here will return to our community," said Andy Roberts, Valero Renewables plant manager.

A local Valero Renewables employee nominated BCHC for grant eligibility. "Our process, from start to finish, is driven by employees and reflects the respect they have for agencies making the most impact on children's lives each year," said Roberts at the check presentation in October where seven local charities received a total of $30,000. "In other words, they chose you because of your efforts and success in your mission."

Every year 5,000 children are cared for at BCHC and its satellite clinics. Through the generosity of Valero Renewables and the commitment of BCHC staff, these children will now have access to the books they need for years to come.