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State investigation finds expired supplies, improper cleaning techniques at old MRH clinic

An investigation by Colorado’s public health agency last year found some of Memorial Regional Health’s practices weren’t in line with regulations meant to protect the health and welfare of patients.

According to a July Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment investigation obtained by the Craig Press, MRH was using expired supplies, had improper cleaning and storage techniques inside patient rooms, and had patient records out in the open and easily accessible to the public.

The Craig Press attempted to identify some of the unnamed employees interviewed in the report, but MRH declined to identify anyone in the state’s investigation.

CDPHE’s investigation said it found the facility failed to ensure instruments for patient use were cleaned according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

“Manager #2 stated staff were not following processes and procedures for cleaning instrumentation to include cleaning instruments in general surgery room and then carrying them uncovered to staff offices,” the investigation said.

CDPHE said they also observed staff at the clinic using too much, or double the amount of enzymatic solution used to clean instruments.

CDPHE found there were some expired supplies still in use.

“The facility failed to ensure expired patient care supplies were removed from patient care areas and not available for immediate use by staff for patients during the initial tour of the facility,” their investigation said.

Those supplies may have been several years old.

“Examples of expired supplies included multiple blood collection tubes with pink, purple, green and yellow tops with expiration dates from 2018, intravenous catheters of different sizes which had expired from 2017, multiple normal saline 10 milliliter (mL) flushes which had expired 1/1/19,” the CDPHE investigation said.

CDPHE said the facility “failed to ensure single-use medications were not used for multiple patients and were discarded after each patient use.”

During the inspection of the facility, an observer said they found in a locked medication cabinet two bottles of single use medication, Xylocaine and Bupivacaine, opened and used when they should have been discarded.

“Further observations of the general exam room revealed an open bottle of ammonium lactate 12% moisturizing lotion, an open tub of Vick’s Vapo-Rub ointment, an open tub of aquaphor ointment, and an opened bottle of Dakin’s solution (a solution used to prevent and treat infection of the skin and tissue) which according to the label was single-use only,” the investigation found.

CDPHE said they found patient health records out in the open for anyone to read.

“Based on observations, interviews and document review, the facility failed to provide safeguards against unauthorized use of patient record information and protected health information,” CDPHE said in their report.

When an observer entered a family practice area accessible to other patients, they found several patient records out and in the open on a physician’s desk.

“An observation of a provider’s office located near the family practice exam rooms was conducted,” CDPHE said. “The providers office had two doors leading into hallways where patient exam rooms were located. Both doors were noted to be open immediately prior to and during the observation. Observations revealed patient information on the desk of physician assistant (PA) #12, with patient information observed face-up, uncovered and unsecured. Five patient records were observed on the desk. The records included visible names, dates of birth, medical histories, lab work and tests such as radiology and electrocardiogram (EKG). The observation also revealed patient information on the desk of provider #5, and in a file tray on top of the filing cabinet located next to the desk, with information observed face-up, uncovered and unsecured. Approximately 20 records were observed on the desk and filing cabinet of provider #2. The records included visible names, dates of birth, medical histories, lab work and tests such as radiology and EKG,” CDPHE said. “…During the entire observation, patients and families were noted to use the public hallway outside of the providers office. After the observation ended, the doors to the Providers Office remained open and the office unoccupied by staff.”

MRH brought in their own accreditation organization to do an inspection in early October after CDPHE conducted their observations. The company, The Compliance Team, didn’t find anything deficient.

“Their survey, one month later, found zero deficiencies,” said Jennifer Riley, vice president of MRH.

MRH CEO Andy Daniels said The Compliance Team’s inspection showed MRH had corrected any deficiencies.

“All of the noted deficiencies from the DHHS inspection conducted on August 1, 2019, were restricted to the 785 Russell Street location. All noted deficiencies were immediately corrected,” Daniels said in an email. “A validation survey was completed by our accreditation body, The Compliance Team https://thecomplianceteam.org shortly after DHHS submitted their report to CMS. The Compliance Team validated that all issues identified within the DHSS report were completely resolved and our patient care practices were in compliance, safe, and comprehensive.”

MRH also came up with a corrective action plan addressing each infraction, which was submitted and accepted by CDPHE. The corrective action plan included educating staff on updated protocols for suboxone and incident reporting, as well as training for staff to properly clean tools, schedule and monitor patients. 

In an interview with Peter Myers, an information officer for the health facilities division of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, confirmed the investigation was conducted by their department for the first time in Craig, and the deficiencies they found were against regulations.

“Those are deficiencies which are areas where the clinic was not following regulations and they were cited by our investigator,” Myers said.

As far as what comes next for MRH, Myers’ office plans to conduct a follow-up inspection and had not done so as of Christmastime.

“As far as the next step in the process, once we approve the plan of correction, we do perform another visit,” Myers said. “Depending on the severity of the deficiencies, we’ll either go back on site to see the facility, or we’ll do a documentation review on-site to ensure they put in place what they said they were going to put in place. That has not been conducted yet.”

Longtime Craig Parks and Recreation director Dave Pike looks forward to retirement

He doesn’t have an official last day — or any concrete plans for what he’ll do next — but Craig’s Parks and Recreation Director Dave Pike will probably be fly fishing and riding wherever the water takes him once he retires sometime early in 2020.

“I’m going to take a little time off and do a little traveling,” Pike said in an interview Thursday. “I’d like to come back to Craig next summer and I would like to spend my summers in Craig.”

It seems family comes first for Pike, whose immediate family lives in Hayden.

“I have family in Fort Collins, my brother and sister, who both live in Fort Collins,” Pike said. “I’m gonna go back there this spring and visit, stay with them this spring and then kind of play it by ear. I don’t have any concrete plans, but I do love Craig in the summer. I love Craig in the summer and fall. There’s no better place around. I would like to take a break from the winters here. I’ve lived in Colorado all my life. I’ve never lived anywhere else.

“A break from winter wouldn’t hurt my feelings,” Pike added. “I still like to go out and snow machine. I still ski from time to time, but a break from the winter wouldn’t hurt my feelings a bit.”

Pike is set to retire after some 23 years on the job.

“I started in parks and recreation in 1984 with Fort Collins parks and recreation,” Pike said. “Then in 1988, I went to Monte Vista, Colorado and became their parks and recreation director and was there for eight years. That was until 1996. I’ve been here ever since.”

In those 23 years, Pike has accomplished a lot, namely a boat-load of cash in state and federal grants for city parks and other amenities. Pike said those grants include the Breeze Park grant from Great Outdoors Colorado for $200,000 with a $50,000 match, a Safe Routes to School sidewalk project grant worth $183,000, a CDOT Highway Enhancement grant to pave the Ridgeview Trail worth some $205,000, a Colorado Division of Local Affairs grant to update Craig’s parks, recreation and trails master plan worth $57,750 with a $19,250 match, a grant from Great Outdoors Colorado to develop Craig’s nearby Elkhead Reservoir for $200,000 with a $50,000 match, a CDOT highway enhancement and Great Outdoors Colorado grant for the construction of a pedestrian and bicycle trail worth $302,000 with a $50,000 match, a Department of Local Affairs Energy Impact grant for a 20-Year parks, recreation, trails and open space master plan grant worth $36,000 with a $12,500 match, and a Great Outdoors Colorado grant for Woodbury Park development worth $37,500 with a $47,425 match.

“I got grants for trails, grants for Breeze Park,” Pike said as he tried to remember all the grants he’s helped acquire for the city. “A lot of people don’t know, but the city was able to secure a Great Outdoors Colorado grant for Elkhead Reservoir back when it was enlarged. A vast majority of those improvements at the boat ramp area were done with the grant I was able to get. I think that was a quarter-million-dollar grant. With that grant, we were able to build those restrooms down there. We built the boat ramp and built the parking lot, put up some of those picnic shelters. That was a big deal. Now it’s taken off since then. State parks has done a great job of managing it and making it nicer. State parks helped with all that too. They were doing it in conjunction with the money I had. It was a joint effort.”

In an interview Thursday, City Manager Peter Brixius said he and other city staff are sad to see Pike go.

“He will be sorely missed,” Brixius said. “Dave has been a real partner in the management team for the past 23 years. We’re not anxious to see Dave go, but we understand.”

In a late revelation Thursday, Brixius said they will likely make an offer to Ryan Dennison, who works underneath Pike as the parks and recreation manager.

Brixius said he and city staff received and reviewed more than 90 applications for Pike’s replacement, but only interviewed six – one of them being Dennison. Other applicants included well-qualified persons from Wyoming, South Dakota, Missouri, Utah and Alaska, Brixius said.

“He came in and blew us away. He interviewed really well,” Brixius said of Dennison. “…He showed that he had that innovative spark we’re looking for.”

Pike made no qualms he was gunning for Dennison.

“I feel pretty confident if Ryan were to get that job, we’d be leaving the department in good hands and the rest of my staff would all be intact,” Pike said. “They’re all great.”

Brixius said they hope to retain Pike’s services for an upcoming river initiative.

“We expect to see Dave around here quite a bit after he retires,” Brixius said. “We might look to Dave to help us out with a special project. He’s got all the depth and experience and connections. That could be a real benefit to the city. “

That special project will probably involve a diversion structure on the Yampa River to attract a host of whitewater enthusiasts who pass through Craig every summer. The project meets the criteria for a donation from the newly-formed Yampa River Fund endowment, according to the fund’s manager, Andy Baur.

“I’d like to help the city somehow get that Yampa River diversion project off the ground and started,” Pike said. “That’s kind of a pet project of mine, but it’s going to take some time and effort and obviously a lot of money. I would like to help with that when I retire. It could really be a draw to Craig. We always talk about diversifying our economy and I think one of the ways we do that is with outdoor recreation. These whitewater parks have been built in several locations throughout the state and the region and every one of them is a smashing success. There’s no reason to think ours wouldn’t be as well. We have rafters all summer long coming through Craig – all summer long. Some of the best rafting is in our back yard at Dinosaur National Monument. When these folks grab their permits and go down there and enjoy that, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be stopping in Craig and enjoying some of the things we have to offer as well.”

Pike hopes the community remembers him as someone who made the area’s park and sports amenities better for generations to come, and for helping make Whittle the Wood —which just celebrated its 20th year — one of the greatest events in the state of Colorado.

On behalf of he and his family, Pike also wanted to thank the Craig and Moffat County communities for being so supportive over the years, “especially when my son Cory passed away.”

“It’s been a hell of a ride,” Pike said.

Red Cross seeking Moffat County volunteers for free disaster training

American Red Cross of Western Colorado will be training Moffat County volunteers on disaster cycle services, psychological first aid, and more during sessions Saturday, Aug. 24, according to a news release from the organization.

“Have you ever heard of the five Initial Actions?” the Red Cross asks in its release. “If we are asked to respond to a disaster, such as a wildfire, typically these are the first five actions we take or activities we are planning for: sheltering, feeding, staffing the emergency operations center, damage assessment and public affairs and fundraising. There are many moving parts when these actions take place and we need your help to do it.”

The Red Cross is seen as the primary disaster relief agency in many rural counties throughout the nation.

“In many counties, Red Cross is looked to as the primary agency to provide mass care services to community members that have been impacted by disaster,” the release said. “If there are evacuations and a need for sheltering, we will be notified, and we need your help to be successful. We need to ensure that we have volunteers trained so we can respond quickly and efficiently.” 

Josh Stewart, the Red Cross’ volunteer recruitment manager in Colorado and Wyoming, said local Red Cross volunteers have dwindled over the years.

“We are thrilled to offer this training in Moffat County,” Stewart said. “We have gone through some attrition over the last few years and we need to build up our team in the area. These trainings provide the perfect starting point for any community member that is interested in becoming part of the Red Cross mission to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.  While we have some great folks in this part of our territory, we do absolutely need more volunteers. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you’re interested in signing up.”

For more information about training or volunteering with the Red Cross, contact Stewart at 970-242-6646 or joshua.stewart@redcross.org.

Yampa River flow slowing in Moffat County, but mosquitoes sticking around with moisture

It was raging at more than 10,000 cubic feet per second and still hasn’t relinquished much of the low-lying areas of Craig, but the Yampa River’s baseflow continues its drop after peaking June 23.

According to United States Geological Survey data, the Yampa River’s June run was a torrent — rising up to 10 feet on the river gauge below Craig. The Yampa River is now flowing at a slower, but still a quicker pace than normal at a little more than 3,000 cubic feet per second.

“The snow is melting and will continue to melt and then we’ll be done with the runoff,” said Erin Light, an engineer with Colorado’s Division of Water Resources. “We’re certainly way at the tail end of the runoff. But some of that runoff is still coming off. Also the snow at the lower elevations is soaked into the ground and creating an underground source of water in the Yampa — a higher baseflow. So I do think we will see a higher baseflow because of all the moisture.”

This time last year, the Yampa River in Craig was but a trickle — about 225 cfs on July 13, 2018, according to USGS data. But Light said there’s nothing in that data suggesting residents of the Yampa Valley should be worried.

“I’m not seeing anything alarming given the weather we’ve had over the last six months seeing these flows this high,” Light said. “Yeah, it is substantially above normal, but we also had a slow warming up, a slow runoff, and a very high water year. So, this is not alarming to me in any way.”

Some residents were alarmed when a mosquito tested positive for West Nile virus early this month — a product of the high water sitting across much of the area. City and county officials soon began their yearly ground and aerial spraying for mosquitoes, including Friday in Maybell and possibly into Monday, July 15.

Adam Tucker, a pilot whose Mountain Air Spray company has flown the skies above the Yampa Valley for decades, said they are using Perm-X 3030, a common adulticide for mosquito control.

“It’s permethrin,” Tucker said of the pesticide’s active ingredient. “It’s widely used. They make clothing with permethrin in it.”

According to a 2011 amended registration found on the Environmental Protection Agency’s website, Perm-X 3030 can be toxic to aquatic organisms in bodies of water when runoff occurs. The EPA advises to not apply Perm-X 3030 over bodies of water and to properly dilute treatments in aerial applications to .0007 pounds per acre.

Tucker said his company follows the EPA’s guidance closely in this area.

“The chemicals are all regulated by the EPA and the EPA says they’re safe at the levels we’re using them,” Tucker said Thursday. “They’re labeled for the exact uses were doing.”

Jesse Schroeder, Moffat County’s weed and pest director, said he will continue to communicate with residents about the days and times of vector control operations.

“That’s the purpose of our public service announcements on this is to let the folks know what the application times are going to be, so they can choose to be inside,” Schroeder said Thursday. “We want to give them enough headway to do that.”

In the EPA’s amended registration for Perm-X 3030, the agency said the treatment is highly toxic to bees on blooming crops.

Beth Conry, the former president of the Colorado State Beekeepers Association, said residents and their governments often overreact to increased mosquito presence in an area and end up killing more than just mosquitoes.

“We think that spraying will fix this problem, but it really doesn’t,” Conry said. “It creates a lot of problems.”

Conry said larvacides are a good alternative to killing adult mosquitoes with pesticides. She said if adulticiding is used, spraying at night or later in the evening is better to spare pollinating insects like bees.

Schroeder said his agency is doing that in their treatments.

“That’s another reason we apply late in the evening to avoid as much of that as possible because the bees go home at night,” Schroeder said. “We do take all of that into consideration. We want to save the bees too.”

Tucker said the real public health concern isn’t the chemicals used to control mosquitoes — it’s the mosquitoes whose diseases kill almost a million humans across the globe every year.

“The thing to keep in mind is the mosquito is the public health issue,” Tucker said. “It’s always the mosquito, not the chemical.”

Craig City Councilors weed through new marijuana ordinance

Municipal voters in Craig could have three marijuana questions on the November ballot after city councilors hashed out much of the city’s new marijuana ordinance late Tuesday night.

Among the highlights of the new proposal are a 5% sales tax and 5% excise tax on marijuana in Craig that councilors will use to fund Moffat County Libraries’ Craig branch and the Museum of Northwest Colorado for a period of five years, after which any new city council can appropriate the additional tax dollars at their discretion.

The taxes narrowly passed a 4-3 vote with councilors Andrea Camp, Paul James, and Steve Mazzuca dissenting.

The sales and excise taxes are in addition to existing local and state taxes on marijuana sales in Colorado.

Councilors also decided to ask the marijuana ballot question of voters in two separate parts:
• Should retail sales through dispensaries be allowed in Craig?
• Should all other areas of marijuana business be allowed in Craig, including warehousing, courier operations, manufacturing, growing, and testing?

A third ballot question will ask voters whether the proposed sales and excise taxes should be passed.

According to City Attorney Sherman Romney, if the ballot questions are approved by voters, Craig’s marijuana ordinance would be finalized and voted on by city council.

“City council would still have to pass it after the election; do a first reading and second reading,” Romney said. 

Licenses

Councilors started their license discussion with the idea that four licenses be allowed for each area of marijuana business in Craig, though James did not exactly concur with fellow council members on that number.

“I think the market will dictate how many will be successful,” James said.

Councilors ultimately decided the city would begin by allowing residents to apply for three licenses for each area of marijuana business in Craig. Applications fees for the licenses would be non-refundable. If an application is denied, the city would keep that money to help offset the cost of ongoing operations and enforcement.

Zoning and hours of operation

Councilor Chris Nichols made many of the marijuana motions Tuesday and was first to suggest allowing just retail sales inside many of Craig’s business zones — including the city’s commercial zone, both industrial zones and both mixed use zones.

Council passed the retail sales zones unanimously, but Nichols was the only dissenting vote for allowing the other areas of marijuana business into the same zones to include Craig’s agricultural zone for larger marijuana operations.

Council also determined that marijuana businesses be kept at least 800 feet from parks, residences, schools, child care facilities, and churches. Potential operation hours in Craig would be from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Security, background checks, shopping local

Councilors at first were torn on whether to require background checks, though City Manager Peter Brixius and Craig Police Department’s Jerry DeLong told council they didn’t think it was needed.

“I’m suggesting we don’t,” Brixius said of the city conducting extensive background checks. “I’m suggesting we find whether they’re a legal resident of the United States and go from there.”

Chief DeLong agreed.

“For us to do the same background check as the state does, no,” he said when asked if he thought his office needed to do additional background checks.

Councilors also decided not to require a portion of any retail operation’s marijuana be grown locally.

Lastly, despite reservations from both DeLong and Capt. Bill Leonard, councilors declined to require offsite video surveillance recording to deter burglaries.

“I just don’t think we should be forcing businesses to be paying more money,” James said.

Taking in all the sights: Fuller Center Bike Adventure spruces up Craig as part of national cycling ride

Every year, Jeff Bracken sees a little less of the world.

So to raise awareness and fight back against the Usher Syndrome Type 2 that’s taken much of his sight and hearing, Bracken, 33, of Shelbyville, Kentucky, joined the Fuller Center Bike Adventure across the United States, which made its way through Craig this week.

“I want to get this in before I lose more and I can’t see,” Bracken said.

Bracken has been traveling with the Fuller Center riders since May 24 along the ride through much of the American west this summer. The route takes riders on a loop that stretches from Glacier National Park in Montana to northern Arizona. A network of churches, schools, homes, and volunteers help house the riders so they can do work projects for those in need at each stop.

A second wave is scheduled to arrive July 9 in Craig.

Vicki Burns and Neil Folks settle down after feeding some 30 riders with the Fuller Center Bike Adventure Tuesday, July 2.
Clay Thorp/Craig Press

Vicki Burns and Neil Folks of Craig both helped set up 13 different work sites for the group across the city.

“We have 13 different projects lined up, whether it’s trimming trees or mowing a lawn,” Burns said Tuesday at a welcoming picnic for the rider’s arrival. “…we have a roof repair, plumbing repair.”

Susan Pratt and Libby Bauman trim the bushes outside a local church in Craig.
Clay Thorp/Craig Press

Burns said the group will also be washing church windows and generally helping to “clean things up around town.”

Bracken, the tallest among the group of riders, had no problem Wednesday washing the high windows of a local church in Craig.

California’s David Erquhart, 64, is a support driver for the group. He said the trip so far has been different than his usually vacations across the nation.

“We’ve been across the country dozens of times, but never 80, 100 miles a day,” Erquhart said, adding the slow journey makes the trip and the people along the way something to remember.

“You get to see a lot of cool things and meet a lot of nifty people,” Erquhart said.

Erquhart pointed out Bracken — at six feet, two inches — despite his partial blindness, typically leads the group of about 30 riders through the mountains.

“He’s normally at the front of the pack,” Erquhart said.

Which is quite a feat as Bracken was forced to relinquish his driver’s license due to his poor eyesight.

“I miss a lot of scenery,” Bracken said. “I can see in front of my face. It’s like looking through two toilet paper rolls. I have to pay attention to the white line.”

David Erquhart eats at a picnic in Craig’s City Park Tuesday, June 2 with fellow riders from the Fuller Center Bike Adventure.
Clay Thorp/Craig Press

But Bracken can’t always lead the group, especially when riding through a busy metropolitan area.

“If it’s a busy town, I’ll just follow someone,” Bracken said.

Bracken said he took up biking as a way to remain independent after surrendering his driver’s license. He hopes to give hope to others with his condition.

“Find ways to adapt,” was his message to others with his condition. “Take charge of your life and live it to the fullest… I adapted so I could live life to the fullest.”

Yampa River levels falling after wet spring, summer

After several weeks of rising water on the Yampa River, homes near the waterway might see drier river banks soon as river level continues to fall.

“We had a big snow year,” said Jim Pokrandt, community affairs director for the Colorado River District. “Then we had a cool, wet spring even into summer as you saw in Steamboat with their snowfall.”

Officials say much of the snow in Steamboat Springs and other highland areas of the Yampa Valley hasn’t melted yet. So, unless there’s a series of exceptionally hot days, the Yampa River should stay steady.

“Unless we get a couple of real warm days, it might release some of that water,” said Brian Romig, lead water administrator for Colorado’s Division of Water Rescources Division 6 in Moffat County. “But from what I see, it should continue going down.”

Water officials say the Yampa peaked June 23 and has been steadily falling ever since.

“It’s been coming down slowly but surely,” Romig said.

Craig City Manager Peter Brixius has also been monitoring the situation.

“The flow is dropping,” Brixius said.

Brixius said this year’s Yampa was raging on the first day of summer compared to last year.

“The Yampa has great flow this year, almost triple what the mean was last year,” Brixius said.

That standing water has caused some mosquito issues in Moffat County. At least one mosquito tested positive for West Nile Virus near the South Beach boat ramp in Craig. No official human cases of West Nile Virus have been reported anywhere in Colorado yet, but officials want residents to be proactive in protecting themselves during the peak mosquito feeding times of dawn and dusk.

Moffat County’s weed and pest workers announced this week that spraying for mosquitoes will take place Tuesday, July 2 and Wednesday, July 3 either in early morning or early evening, as weather permits.

Though it breeds mosquitoes, much of that water has made things green up at ranches across the Yampa Valley as cows and other livestock are having their fill of the foliage.

“It’s been a great year, especially compared to last year,” Romig said. “Farmers are happy. Farmers and ranchers seem to be a lot happier this year.”

Mosquito tests positive for West Nile virus in Moffat County

A mosquito caught by Moffat County’s weed and pest control division has tested positive for West Nile virus.

Jesse Schroeder, the county’s weed and pest control manager, said a mosquito caught near the South Beach Boat Ramp about five miles south of Craig tested positive for the virus.

“It’s the only positive we’ve had this year,” Schroeder said.

Schroeder wants residents to be aware know there may be West Nile-carrying mosquitoes buzzing around Moffat County.

“There are some positive mosquitos in the area,” Schroeder said.

In an email from Kari Ladrow, the county’s interim public health director said there have been no human cases of West Nile Virus this year.

“According to the CDC, as of June 11, there have not been any confirmed or probable cases of West Nile Virus Disease in humans in Colorado this year,” Ladrow said. “In 2018, there were a total of 96 of neuro and non-neuro invasive West Nile Virus disease cases in humans in the state of Colorado which sadly resulted in three deaths.”

Schroeder said it’s always good to avoid going out during early morning and late evening hours without covering up or using bug spray. And until the cold comes back later this year, folks should be aware.

“We run the risk until the killing frost,” Schroeder said. “Anytime the mosquitos are out, until it’s cold enough that they’re done for the year, they’re a potential vector.”

Ladrow also included the following tips for residents to control area mosquito populations:

  • Find and eliminate their breeding sites – standing water. Mosquitoes lay groups of eggs on the surface of water in rain barrels, bird baths, tin cans, old tires, car bodies, cisterns, roof gutters and any other containers that hold water.       
  • Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers.        
  • Clean pet water dishes regularly.        
  • Change the water in bird baths at least once a week.

Ladrow said residents can use the following tips to keep mosquitoes from biting you or the ones you love.

  • Use EPA-approved repellents that include active ingredients such as DEET, picaridin, IR. 3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus.        
  • Apply repellents sparingly, only to exposed skin. Saturation does not increase efficacy.        
  • Wear light-colored, loose fitting clothing, and long sleeves and pants, especially at dawn and dusk.        
  • Avoid applying repellents to portions of children’s hands that are likely to have contact with eyes or mouth. Avoid using repellents on wounds or irritated skin and wash repellent-treated skin after coming indoors.

Ladrow said not everyone will show common symptoms if infected with West Nile.

“About one in five people infected with West Nile virus develop symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches and fatigue,” Ladrow said. “Sometimes the virus can lead to more serious complications such as meningitis and encephalitis. If symptoms occur, contact your health care provider right away.”

Specialty clinic for miner health available June 24, 25 in Craig

National Jewish Health’s Miners Clinic of Colorado will hold its 2019 annual screening clinic in Craig on Monday, June 24 and Tuesday, June 25 at Memorial Regional Health Medical Clinic, 785 Russell St.

This year’s team will include Dr. Cecile Rose, professor of medicine at National Jewish Health and medical director of the Miners Clinic of Colorado; Dr. E. Brigitte Gottschall, an associate professor of medicine and outreach physician for the Miners Clinic of Colorado; Richard Kraus, a physician assistant and case manager; Wendy Vonhof and Dymond Ruybal, both program coordinators for NJH; and Lauren Zell-Baran an NJH epidemiologist.

In 2018, NJH’s team at the miner’s clinics screened hundreds of miners and found a substantial percentage of those screened had respiratory abnormalities that needed further investigating.

Screenings include vocational concerns such as dust diseases of the lung, black lung in coal miners, silicosis, emphysema, and industrial bronchitis, as well as high blood pressure, heart disease and sleep apnea.

Uranium industry workers are also screened for kidney disease and lung cancer.

NJH said almost 100 miners from the Western Slope had lung abnormalities last year.

“Of the nearly 200 people screened on the Western Slope in 2018, 81 were found to have respiratory abnormalities — including abnormal chest x-ray, decreased oximetry testing, and/or decreased lung function — and were referred for further evaluation and testing,” NJH said in a statement. “In 2018, we found that 134 had non-respiratory abnormalities including high blood pressure, chest pain concerning for heart disease, symptoms suggestive for sleep apnea or were current smokers in need of smoking cessation assistance.”

The average age of miners seen is often older, but NJH said ages vary.

“The average age of miners clinic participants is 71, but their ages range from under 40 to over 80 years old,” NJH said. “Around 75% are retired and/or disabled, while 25% are currently employed.”

Miners referred for additional testing at the clinic run the gamut of aboveground and underground mining operations.

“Of the miners referred for further evaluation and testing due to abnormal respiratory screening results, approximately one-third reported having worked in a surface mine, one-third underground, and one-third reported having worked in both surface and underground mines,” NJH said.

Miners may not show respiratory symptoms early on, which is why NJH advises getting screened for peace of mind.

“Anyone exposed to mine dust is at risk for developing dust-induced lung disease,” NJH said. “Early changes of dust-induced lung diseases are often first visible on a chest x-ray without the miner having any respiratory symptoms. Early detection of dust-induced lung disease is important as it could provide an opportunity for a miner to move to a less dusty job. This will decrease the risk for future loss of lung function and disabling respiratory symptoms. We make referrals for more in-depth medical diagnostic testing if a miner does have screening findings of early work-related lung disease.”

For more information, call 303-270-2609, or toll-free at 1-877-255-LUNG (5864) or visit https://www.nationaljewish.org/treatment-programs/directory/prevention/miners-clinic.

Moffat County health officials see increase in certain sexual diseases

Moffat County is showing a sharp increase in gonorrhea cases after years of declining incidents of the sexually transmitted disease.

According to data presented by public health officials to Moffat County Commissioners at a special meeting Monday, June 17, there were 12 cases of gonorrhea, a spike from zero cases last year and about a handful in each of the three years prior to 2017.

The county also continues to battle chlamydia, having reported 30 cases in 2018. The total is up from 21 cases in 2017 and about 30 cases in each of the three years prior to 2017.

Moffat County had one case of syphilis and one case of HIV in 2018, according to the data.

Flu comprises much of the work done by public health nurses in the three-county area of Moffat, Routt and Jackson Counties. Farrah Smilanich, public health and nurse manager for Northwest Colorado Health, offers 34 off-site flu clinics to keep the population vaccinated in the three-county area.

“How often is that used?” asked Commissioner Don Cook of the flu clinics.

“When school starts… and in flu season it’s really busy,” Smilanich said.

Moffat County regularly sees flu spikes in mid-December and late February, and each is often a different strain of the virus. The data show some 300 hospitalizations for the flu across the state during each spike.

Smilanich said there were seven hospitalizations reported in Moffat County related to the flu for the 2018-2019 season.

Smilanich also updated commissioners on rabies and tuberculosis. She said this last quarter there were three suspected cases of TB in the three-county region she serves. She warned residents against taking in wild animals like raccoons or bats to avoid exposure to rabies and the need for expensive shots to cure it. She said a woman in Routt County caused a stir after at least 20 people had to be found and tested when a woman took several seemingly abandoned baby raccoons into her home. 

She said residents who come into contact with bats could catch rabies.   

“If you cannot catch that bat and have it tested for rabies, you need to be vaccinated for rabies,” Smilanich said.

Measles was also on Smilanich’s list. She said Colorado’s lone measles case in 2018 is one too many and can usually be prevented when a population achieves a 90% vaccination rate. While Moffat County has an official measles vaccination rate higher than 90%, Smilanich said when the state’s personal exemptions allowing someone to opt out of vaccinations are accounted for, Moffat County’s measles vaccination rate is lower.

“When you really dig into it, I think when last I looked it was around 80%,” Smilanich said, adding the county needs to achieve that 90 percent vaccination rate to have herd immunity.

“If 90% of us are immune, then the chances of us passing something along to someone can’t be vaccinated, like some infants and immuno-compromised people, are lower,” Smilanich said. “So, our rates are getting better. We’re working on that.”