Category Archives: Health Tips

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) – What you need to know

Ringgold County Hospital, an affiliate of MercyOne, continues to closely monitor the international situation concerning COVID-19. COVID-19, originally referred to as 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCOV), recently discovered in Wuhan, China. Cases of COVID-19 are appearing across the globe, and we are monitoring the virus to help keep our communities healthy.

At Ringgold County Hospital, we are following guidance provided by the CDC and Iowa Department of Public Health to screen patients for symptoms including fever and respiratory signs as well as the patient’s travel history and exposure to those who have traveled. If a person is found to have symptoms and travel history, Ringgold County Hospital will isolate the patient and alert the Iowa Department of Public Health to coordinate testing. 

If you begin to experience symptoms and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or if you live in or have recently been in an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19, call your primary care provider before coming in.

What are COVID-19 symptoms?
Coronaviruses are respiratory, meaning most people who have a Coronavirus will have a cough, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, and fever. 

In 80% of patients, COVID-19 causes only mild cold symptoms. The elderly, and those with pre-existing medical conditions appear to be more vulnerable to the virus.

If you begin to experience symptoms and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or if you live in or have recently been in an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19, call your primary care provider (contact Mt. Ayr Medical Clinic at 641-464-4470) before coming in.

How do people get Coronavirus?
COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person, similar to the flu – through the air from a cough or sneeze of someone who has the virus.

It may be possible a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object which has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. 

How can we prevent the spread of COVID-19?
To help prevent the spread of all viruses, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends:

  • Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick.
  • Covering your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others.
  • Covering your nose and mouth with a tissue or the inside of your elbow when you cough or sneeze.
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth. 
  • Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.

Should we wear facemasks to prevent COVID-19?
The CDC now recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain like grocery stores and pharmacies. This is to protect others from the risk of getting infected. Learn more about cloth face masks.

If you are sick with COVID-19 or suspect you are infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, follow the steps below to help prevent the disease from spreading to people in your home and community:

  • Call ahead before visiting your doctor
  • Stay home except to get medical care
  • Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home
  • Wear a facemask
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes
  • Clean your hands often
  • Avoid sharing personal household items
  • Clean all “high-touch” surfaces everyday
  • Monitor your symptoms

10 ways to manage respiratory symptoms at home – print instructions

Additional Information
More information about the spread of COVID-19 in Iowa can be found on an IDPH website dedicated to the outbreak. Iowans can also call 2-1-1 to get answers to questions about COVID-19. The hotline is staffed 24/7. For the latest CDC guidelines, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.

Diet Affects Colon Health

Katie Routh, Dietitian

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of death in cancers that affect men and women. The colon is the final part of your digestive tract. Since it’s part of the digestive system, the food you eat is an important factor in the health of your colon. Do you want to keep your colon healthy? 
• Eat a nutrient-dense diet
• Include more fiber-rich foods

Eating a nutrient-dense, high fiber diet not only keeps the walls of your colon strong, but it can also prevent hemorrhoids or pouches in your colon. Katie Routh, Ringgold County Hospital dietitian adds, “It also may prevent colon polyps, and potentially, cancer.” A typical American diet is low in nutrient density with larger portions of processed meats and refined grains, such as breads and cereals. “Our mid-western diet tends to be lower in nutritional value,” says Katie.

Fiber-rich foods, like fruits and veggies, whole grains, nuts and seeds, are also more nutrient-dense.
And the fiber keeps you regular and controls the amount of bacteria in your colon. “The nutrients in those foods also may be beneficial in preventing digestive diseases as well as other chronic diseases, such as diabetes, and help you manage your weight,” says Katie. When increasing fiber in your diet, do it gradually, and drink plenty of water.

Know Your Numbers and Have a Clear Vision for 2020

Bruce Ricker, D.O. recommends taking preventative steps to improve your long-term health

There’s an old saying that “Hindsight is 2020!” In the year 2020, health care professionals can almost predict the future as well. “Understanding your blood pressure and cholesterol numbers can prevent serious conditions in the future like heart attacks and strokes. We do routine exams and encourage everyone to know their numbers,” says Mount Ayr Medical Clinic physician Bruce Ricker, D.O. “It’s just like changing the oil in your car. Preventative maintenance means it will last longer. The same goes for our health.”

Although most adults these days know the dangers of being overweight, or smoking, or drinking too much, not everyone sticks with the lifestyle modifications that are required to make a lasting change. “A great start is tracking your numbers,” says Dr. Ricker. “Even better is working with a health coach. It’s free for Mount Ayr Medical Clinic patients and can be invaluable. We used to tell people about their numbers, and they’d understand the importance of keeping track of their sugars, blood pressure, and cholesterol. But over time, they would migrate back to their old habits. With a health coach, they stay on track. If someone is checking up on you, you’re not as likely to cheat.” Dr. Ricker added that he’s convinced the biggest reason for the improvement in his diabetes patients is the health coaches. “I’ve been preaching the same thing for years. But these coaches are like personal trainers. They keep people accountable. They make sure you’ve filled your prescription or are keeping a food log. And they provide support groups and counseling. I’ve seen huge progress compared to what we’ve seen in the past.”

According to Dr. Ricker, an important number that every adult needs to know is “30”. Exercising for 30 minutes a day, every day, is just as critical as eating a healthy diet. “In rural communities, many of us grew up on farms where the work was all done by hand. Now farming requires less physical activity.” He’s glad to see many younger people placing more emphasis on staying fit to be healthy. “I see lots of people running in 5Ks, using the hiking trails, and even using the hospital hallways for walking. It doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. It just has to become a part of your daily routine.” A balanced diet that is primarily plant based is another good predictor of long-term health. Dr. Ricker admits that it’s sometimes difficult to find a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables in rural areas, especially during the winter. “But in many ways, we’re blessed. People can raise vegetables in their own gardens and freeze to eat year-round!” Knowing your numbers, eating well, and exercising often aren’t new concepts in healthcare. But they’re great reminders of what to focus on in 2020. 

Call to make an appointment for your annual physical and better understand your numbers 641-464-4470 and check out these free wellness tools.

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Awareness Month

During Brain Injury Awareness Month, Ringgold County Hospital is focused on preventing Tramatic Brain Injuries (TBI) caused by a bump, blow, or injury to the head. Roughly 50% of trauma related visits to the Ringgold County Emergency Room in 2018 were due to motor vehicle accidents, some involving TBI. Although not all head injuries result in a TBI, it is important to be evaluated by a health care provider if you experience common symptoms like headache, dizziness, blurred vision, or difficulty concentrating. Severity of injury may range from a mild, short-term change in mental status or consciousness to an extended period of unconsciousness or memory loss after the injury. Concussions are the most common form of TBI, and are considered a mild injury. 

There are many ways to reduce the chances of a traumatic brain injury. Be sure to:

  1. Wear a seat belt every time you drive – or ride – in a motor vehicle
  2. Minimize distractions while driving and put your phone away
  3. Use caution while driving in adverse weather conditions – slow down and brake sooner
  4. Choose not to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs – arrange another ride
  5. Make living and play areas safer for children
    •  Install window guards to keep young children from falling out of open window
    •  Use safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs when young children are around
  6. Wear a helmet, or appropriate headgear, when you or your children:
    • Ride a bike, motorcycle, snowmobile, scooter, or use an all-terrain vehicle
    • Play a contact sport, such as football, ice hockey, or boxing
    • Use in-line skates or ride a skateboard
    • Bat and run bases in baseball or softball
    • Ride a horse
    • Ski or snowboard
  7. Prevent falls for older adults:
    • Talk to your doctor to evaluate your risk for falling, and ask them about specific things you can do to reduce your risk for a fall
    • Ask your doctor or pharmacist to review your medicines to see if any might make you dizzy or sleepy – this should include prescription medicines, over-the counter medicines, herbal supplements, and vitamins
    • Have your eyes checked at least once a year, and be sure to update your eyeglasses if needed
    • Do strength and balance exercises to make your legs stronger and improve your balance

 

 

The Great American Smokeout

Quitting smoking isn’t easy. It takes time, and a plan. You don’t have to stop smoking in one day. Let the Great American Smokeout event on November 15 be your day to start your journey toward a smoke-free life. You’ll be joining thousands of smokers across the country in taking an important step toward a healthier life and reducing your cancer risk. Plus, the American Cancer Society can help you access the resources and support you need to quit.

Quitting smoking improves health immediately and over the long term – at any age. You can increase your chances of success with help. See your healthcare provider at the Mount Ayr Medical Clinic, or call Quitline Iowa, a FREE service for Iowans to connect with a coach. 1-800- QUIT NOW (1-800-784-8669). Or visit quitlineiowa.org.