All posts by Jason Glogau

Ken Walsh

Ken Walsh and his wife, Helen, live in Powell, WY. They have two sons Kenny, 25, and Cole, 23. Ken is a lease operator in the oilfield. He has taken care of two facilities and over 70 wells which included gas collection for the pipeline to Billings, MT. Ken loves all things outdoors. The Walshes have horses and Ken is a hunter. He is fortunate to be able to take multiple weeks off for hunting, including backcountry guide pack trips.

One April day, Ken began having difficulty breathing. He had Helen take him to the local ER in Powell. He was life-flighted to Wyoming Medical Center (WMC) in Casper. At WMC, Ken was intubated, but eventually discharged home after two weeks. He continued to do great until July rolled around.

On July 18th, Ken suffered a stroke. In need of rehabilitation, Ken was provided the choice of several skilled nursing facilities in the Big Horn Basin area. Ken’s brother, an ER physician, recommended Elkhorn Valley Rehabilitation Hospital in Casper. A physical therapist friend also recommended EVRH. When Ken saw that EVRH ranked in the top 10% of rehabilitation facilities in the nation, he made his decision. After ten days at the Billings Clinic, Ken transferred to EVRH. He arrived with little to no use of his right side and completely dependent.

After two weeks, Ken began to experience issues breathing. Doctors at EVRH sent him to WMC to address the increased oxygen needs. Placed on a BiPAP and 15L of oxygen, Ken began to worry. “I thought that was the end,” he recalled. “I didn’t think I was going to make it.” But his respiratory status stabilized at WMC and he transferred back to EVRH.

“Knowing what I know now, I am really glad I came [to EVRH]!” Ken said. “Dr. Mohr and Dr. Swan have invested a lot of time seeing me and I was a challenge. I pushed myself but couldn’t breathe. After adjusting and adding medications, I can breathe better and I can push myself to strengthen my body because I have lost so much.”

‘The staff and therapy have helped so much, even though it took me pushing myself to the limits,” Ken continued. “They are the ones that got me better. They are my heroes. It has been tough with COVID and not seeing friends and family, but it is better to be here and make the best of it. Be open-minded. I have improved so much!’

‘The care the docs give…they care. The care I got is overwhelming and it’s amazing that a person can be treated that well. I wouldn’t trade my stay at EVRH for anything! The staff is incredible. No doubt. Even though EVRH is over 250 miles from home it is worth it!”

Success to Ken is not defined in what you can do, but how you get it done. “I might do things differently now, but I still get the same results. It might take me longer, but I still strive for success no matter how hard the task. I can eat with my hand now and I couldn’t before. I can walk now, and I couldn’t before. My goal is to go hunting again this year and get a deer and hopefully an elk.”

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Jessica Caves

At 21-year-old, Jessica Caves had her whole life in front of her. That was particularly true when Jessica held her 9-month-old daughter, Olivia. But then one day, she couldn’t do that anymore when her extremities went numb and her face began to tingle. Jessica’s mother brought her to the ER at Wyoming Medical Center.

In the week that followed, Jessica underwent multiple tests. Physicians diagnosed her with Guillian-Barre syndrome. Jessica began treatments, including four MRIs and five days of IVIG treatment. Upon completion of the treatment protocol, Jessica transferred to Elkhorn Valley Rehabilitation Hospital.

For Jessica, the first week at EVRH, as well as her stay at Wyoming Medical Center, were hard to recall. She only recalls “faint memories” of these first two weeks. What she does remember, is a persistent struggle with why this happened. The symptoms appeared “out of the blue” and that bothered Jessica.

Over time, the “why” became less important as Jessica’s recovery progressed. Part of her healing involved regaining her ability to eat. When she arrived, Jessica’s facial numbness resulted in left side facial paralysis. Eating was extremely difficult. Jessica’s initial diet consisted mostly of yogurt.

Vibrant and motivated, Jessica is a beautiful person and spirit, all around. That served her rehabilitation well. Her hard work and will to recover, combined with the support of her loving family and the clinical excellence of the EVRH staff, led to incredible progress. After eight weeks, Jessica discharged home with her daughter and family.

Jessica applauded her “goofy, silly, and fun” therapists, Jessica T. and Katie B., who made it “a lot easier to connect” as a patient. She also credits her family for their support, especially her mother and daughter who visited frequently. Jessica looks forward to bonding, reading books, preparing bottles, and changing diapers — all the things a mother loves to do.


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Elkhorn Valley Rehabilitation Hospital was named one of the top rehabilitation hospitals in the US by UDSMR for 2019

Elkhorn Valley Rehabilitation Hospital Recognized as One of the Top 10 Percent of Inpatient Rehabilitations Facilities in the United States

Elkhorn Valley Rehabilitation Hospital (EVRH) is pleased to announce that it ranked in the top 10 percent of 868 inpatient rehabilitation facilities (IRFs) that qualified to be ranked in the IRF database of Uniform Data System for Medical Rehabilitation (UDSMR) for cases discharged between January 2019 and September 2019.

“We are honored for this recognition on behalf of our staff, that works hard to provide our patients the best possible rehabilitative care,” said Connie Longwell, CEO of EVRH. “The nurses, therapists, physicians, and case managers work together with one common goal in mind – for our patients to return to their homes at the highest level of independence possible. What makes our team so special is their caring approach and ability to connect with and motivate the people we serve. Our team understands that our patients and families are going through challenging times, both physically and emotionally. The team is able to bring a high level of compassion and commitment to work with them every day, and our patients and families feel that.”

The rankings were determined by using UDSMR’s program evaluation model (PEM), a case mix-adjusted and severity-adjusted tool that provides facilities with a composite performance score and percentile ranking drawn from nearly three-quarters of all IRFs in the country. UDSMR’s PEM Report Card uses the indicators of efficiency and effectiveness contained in the Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility Patient Assessment Instrument (IRF-PAI), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ reporting tool for the Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility Prospective Payment System (IRF PPS). The goal of the PEM Report Card is to recognize high-performing facilities for their delivery of quality patient care that is effective, efficient, timely, and patient-centered.

“EVRH has earned this award since opening its doors in 2008 (12 years). We strive to deliver this higher level of care as our standard and we consider it a privilege to serve Casper and the surrounding area with excellent care and quality outcomes. EVRH is the only free-standing IRF in the State of Wyoming,” Longwell says.

“To recognize the efficient and effective care it provides to its patients, we are pleased to present this award to Elkhorn Valley Rehabilitation Hospital,” said Troy Hillman, Manager of the Analytical Services Group at UDSMR. “As the creator and caretaker of the nation’s largest database of rehabilitation outcomes, and with over thirty years of experience and data, UDSMR continues working with the industry to establish best practices. The PEM Report Card has served as a tool for identifying and recognizing high-performing facilities, working with them to learn how they provide efficient and effective care, and sharing what we learn with others to elevate the performance of all. We look forward to working with Elkhorn Valley Rehabilitation Hospital and the other top-performing facilities across the country that rank in the top 10 percent to improve care in all inpatient rehabilitation facilities.”

This is the thirteenth year that UDSMR has issued these awards. The PEM Report Card was developed as part of a proactive solution to the Institute of Medicine’s 2006 recommendation to Congress that every Medicare provider be reimbursed on a pay-for-performance basis. The data used for this report was based on nine months of 2019 data, drawn from both Medicare and non-Medicare patients. The results were weighted and combined into a single composite score, and each facility was assigned a percentile rank from 0 to 100 relative to the other qualifying IRF subscribers in UDSMR’s database. The resulting distribution of the facility PEM scores for UDSMR’s IRF subscribers exhibited a normal distribution.

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Tammy Wuertley

Tammy Wuertley suffered a traumatic brain injury when she was struck by a passing truck in a hit-and-run accident.

“On August 10, 2019, I was walking across the street in the very early, dark morning, when I was hit by a passing truck that had never stopped. I fell and landed on the hard pavement. Although I was hit on my right side, I fell on my left side, hitting the back of my head against the cement, causing my brain to scatter through my skull, swell and bleed. I lost consciousness and was emergently transported to the Wyoming Medical Center Emergency Department by ambulance. Interesting way to describe this, right?

After an examination by the hospital’s physician and undergoing a CT, I was diagnosed with a “left subdural hematoma with significant midline shift” and was immediately taken to the operating room. I underwent a decompressive craniotomy surgery by the neurosurgeon, Dr. Warren. Following the surgery, I was admitted to the intensive care unit at the hospital.

I do not remember any of this event. I have read my medical records and talked to my family, my friends, and those who visited me at the hospital. Evaluations and testing of my cognitive and neurological functions (taken by my medical providers), revealed neurological deficits and made it very clear that I suffered from a traumatic brain injury (TBI) as a result of this hit and run accident, and that I would need extensive speech, occupational and physical rehabilitation treatment to help these deficits. The fall injured my brain primarily in the front and temporal lobe areas. The frontal lobe controls the cognitive part of your brain, including common daily life functions, memory ability, attention span, problem solving, reasoning abilities, organization functions, and your personality. The temporal lobes control language comprehension, as well as our verbal memory and ability.

Following my discharge from the Wyoming Medical Center on August 21, I was transferred to Elkhorn Valley Rehabilitation Hospital in Casper, where I stayed and received two weeks of physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. I was unable to walk much and spent the first week in a wheelchair. I had rib fractures and nerve damage in my left foot, a scarred head from my surgery and other bruises. I confused a lot of words and had a lot of difficulty carrying on a conversation, and with writing. I worked hard at my therapy, and after one week, my wheelchair was taken away from me. I was walking. I was not allowed to watch any television, use my cell phone or do anything else that would interfere with my attention span and other deficits. As a result, my attention span ability, language use, writing, and conversation skills dramatically improved.

After two weeks at Elkhorn, I was then transferred to Quality Living Inc., (QLI) located in Omaha, Nebraska. This is a well-known medical rehabilitation center that specializes in traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, and other neurologic injuries. Its primary goal is to get patients back to their normal lifestyle way of living. I spent six weeks there, 20 hours away from home, and lived in a house on QLI’s campus with six men and one other woman, all of us battling with our own injuries. We all became so close and like a family. Every day Monday through Friday, we all participated in our own treatments from 8:00 – 11:00 am, then ate lunch together, and then went back to our treatments from 1:00-4:00 p.m. We ate dinner together and attended things together. I spent several hours each day receiving speech therapy, vocational rehabilitation therapy, physical therapy, and daily living skills. On the weekends, we did activities such as yoga, shopping, visiting restaurants and event went to a rock climbing gym on a Saturday. I was given the opportunity to drive with an instructor, cook dinner for myself and housemates, as well as do my own laundry and chores — just to make sure I was still able to do that! I was released and returned home on October 26.

I am so glad and happy to be back home! On November 4, I returned to work as a paralegal, part-time, but plan on being back full-time at the end of January. My employer and co-workers at The Spence Law Firm, and my boss, Jason Neville, have been extremely kind and good to me throughout this entire ordeal, and I am so excited to return to them! Everyone from my former employer, Williams Porter Day & Neville, were also and still are, so supportive and helpful for me.

Although I went through extensive treatments for my TBI, I still have cognitive deficits that I am still working on. I still have sore ribs and symptoms from my foot injury. I use a lot of tools to help my brain, such as taking things step-by-step, relying on visual aids and recording devices to help me remember things, and keeping complete calendars full with every appointment, event, and schedule that I participate in every day. I ask for written and oral instructions whenever possible. I create checklists, take a lot of notes, and write myself reminders. I also keep calendars to track long-term assignments, due dates, chores, and daily activities. The calendar is also kept on my phone and sends me reminders so I remember what I am doing! The best thing is that the majority of my brain injury symptoms will make great recovery within a year.

This entire event has changed my life. I am grateful to have made it this far in what is normally considered a short time when you think of the injuries I received. I am thankful for life. I tend to look more at the optimistic things and ignore things that are not so great. I work hard. I take it easy when I need too. I still research and study a lot about the effects a TBI can cause. I am more careful. I eat much better, I exercise daily, I play board games. I participate in events and activities that increase my brain’s thoughts and abilities. I keep in touch with my former housemates at QLI. I adore, love and appreciate all of my family and friends. I received so much support from everyone while I was going through my medical treatment, and still do! And to all of the LAW members – thank you so much for the wonderful gifts and for thinking and praying for me! I truly believe that all of the support I received from everyone truly helped me make it through this and I am forever appreciative and thankful!”

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Jim Hinton

A letter recently received from Jim Hinton, a former patient:

Elkhorn Valley Rehabilitation Hospital,

Tuesday, June 18th, marks 6 months since my “simultaneous bilateral knee replacement” surgery. I wanted to take this time to thank everyone at Elkhorn for the excellent care I received after my surgery. After all the research I did before surgery, I thought I could do my rehab at home on my own. Boy was I wrong! I am so glad the staff at Avista Adventist Hospital in Louisville, CO convinced me to spend a week at Elkhorn. During that week, I was setup for success getting my rehabilitation started, and in continuing my rehabilitation to this day.

There were lots of places I imagined spending Christmas week and Christmas day, but a rehab hospital never occurred to me. Still, I was well cared for during that week, and I wasn’t discharged until you all were sure I was ready.

My knees still hurt a little, but the important thing is the knee joint pain is completely gone. Most of the pain now is from scar tissue, but I still work on that, exercising and massaging. Six months from now, I hope almost all the pain will be gone. We’ll see. Still, after everything, I’d do it all again. It wasn’t near as bad as I had imagined while researching the surgery.

I’m still not ready to hike to the top of Laramie Peak yet..maybe next summer. For now, it’s nice to be able to go to the grocery store, and not be in agony by the time I get back to my car.

Again, thank you to all your staff at Elkhorn Valley.

James “Jim” Earle Hinton
Casper, Wyoming

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Rudy Garza

Rudy Garza (pictured with his wife, Gloria) suffered a stroke while visiting Casper, WY from his home in Philadelphia, PA.

Rudy Garza and his wife, Gloria, were visiting Casper, WY when he suffered a stroke. Treated at Wyoming Medical Center, Rudy and Gloria were determined to get back to their home in Philadelphia, PA. Unfortunately, Rudy’s condition simply didn’t allow an immediate return home on a plane. After four days, Rudy transferred to Elkhorn Valley Rehabilitation Hospital for inpatient rehabilitation.

“When we arrived [at EVRH] we were very scared,” said Gloria. “We aren’t from here, and we were dealing with a medical condition that we were unfamiliar with. My husband is not a trusting person, and it takes time for him to build trust with people professionally. My husband never feels safe, but he felt safe here.”

Rudy echoed his wife’s reflection on their arrival. “I’ve been in countless hospitals, both military and civilian,” he said. “Usually, it takes time to build trust with the staff, but not here. I have felt cared for since day one.”

The staff at EVRH shared the Garza’s determination to help them return to the City of Brotherly Love. They got to work immediately on getting Rudy healthy enough to fly home.

“From the day we arrived, I felt like he was taken care of medically, psychologically, and emotionally,” Gloria noted. “The entire staff was focused on his success. Everyone from the administration, food service, housekeeping, therapy, and nursing was dedicated to his healing.”

With everyone working as a team, Rudy was able to heal quickly. Gloria recognized the impact this interdisciplinary approach had on Rudy’s recovery. “Food service did an amazing job and they cared about his healing and well-being,” she stated. “The nurses cared for my husband, but would also ask me if there was anything I needed. The pharmacy staff has worked tirelessly to make sure all of our medications are organized for when we go home. Respiratory helped us get set up with a CPAP. Therapy worked as a team and did a remarkable job in helping him recover.”

“We’ve been to hospitals all over the world and not one has been as dedicated to holistic care as Elkhorn is,” Gloria added.

Rudy added, “Everyone who interacted with me was kind and caring. I was able to go to therapy with an open heart.”

After 23 days, Rudy made enough progress to return home to Philadelphia. “I’ve gotten what I came for, and so much more,” Rudy said. “I feel confident going forward, and I know that I’m only going to get better from here.”

“This place has been a Godsend,” Gloria added, “and we are thankful He parked us here.”

The Garzas made a lasting impact on the staff at EVRH, as well. “I’ve personally never heard kinder words about this hospital and the staff,” said Gabriella Aragon, one of Rudy’s physical therapists. “I’m incredibly proud to work here, and I feel very privileged to have gotten to know [the Garzas].”

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Elkhorn Valley Rehabilitation Hospital was named one of the best rehabilitation hospitals in the nation

Elkhorn Valley Rehabilitation Hospital Among Nation’s Best…Again!

Elkhorn Valley Rehabilitation Hospital has been named in the top 10 percent of inpatient rehabilitation facilities in the United States for the 11th year in a row. The hospital’s care was cited as being patient-centered, effective, efficient and timely.

“We are honored to be identified as one of the best inpatient rehabilitation facilities (IRFs) in the United States and the only free-standing IRF in Wyoming,” says Connie Longwell, CEO of Elkhorn Valley Rehabilitation Hospital. “[This achievement] underscores our tireless commitment to helping our patients return to their greatest level of independence and daily living activities. Our team is devoted to the patients in their care, [they] work hard to create a family-like atmosphere, and create a personalized approach to helping each person throughout their recovery.”

Elkhorn Valley Rehabilitation Hospital was ranked in the top 10 percent among 868 inpatient rehabilitation facilities nationwide by the Uniform Data System for Medical Rehabilitation (UDSMR), a non-profit corporation that was developed with support from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research. The UDSMR maintains the world’s largest database of rehabilitation outcomes.

“Through UDSMR, we collaborate with our peers throughout the United States to share information and establish best practices for patients,” says Dr. Ryan T. Swan, Medical Director of EVRH. “This recognition for the 11th consecutive year is a testament to the exceptional care our staff brings every day to meet the rehabilitation needs of Wyoming’s citizens.”

“To provide the highest level of rehabilitative care available in the United States to our own community and surrounding communities is truly rewarding,” Longwell says. “This means our family, friends, and colleagues don’t need to leave the area to receive the best care available.”

Elkhorn Valley Rehabilitation Hospital provides specialized rehabilitative services to patients who are recovering from or living with disabilities caused by injuries, illnesses, or chronic medical conditions. This includes, but is not limited to, strokes, brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, orthopedic injuries, cerebral palsy, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease.

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Ellen DeFrank

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Ellen DeFrank suffered multiple strokes affecting her left side.

Ellen DeFrank, 57, moved from Arkansas to Casper, WY to be closer to her family. Six months later, Ellen suffered a stroke while visiting her brother and sister-in-law. While sitting on their couch, Ellen suddenly couldn’t lift her head. Her speech had become slowed and slurred. Ellen recalls her face did not droop, which often accompanies the slurred speech. But she and her family knew something wasn’t right and called 9-1-1.

Ellen was taken by ambulance to Wyoming Medical Center where the Primary Stroke Team delivers the best and fastest stroke treatment possible. Imaging of Ellen’s brain showed multiple strokes affecting her left side. In fact, many “old” and “new” strokes were found. This could explain Ellen’s nagging headaches and dizziness over the last few years.

After three days at Wyoming Medical Center, Ellen transferred to Elkhorn Valley Rehabilitation Hospital. This began her 16-day journey in acute inpatient rehab. Ellen’s rehab focused on her global left-sided weakness and word-finding difficulty.

Like many stroke survivors, Ellen experienced post-stroke depression. Ellen was reluctant to leave her room and enter the world of rehab. “Afraid that no one would understand her speech,” Ellen struggled with the desire to go home and with her family’s desire for her stay and recover. In Ellen’s own mind, she “didn’t make sense and sounded different.” In fact, she would often feel her mouth to make sure it was moving. On Ellen’s 3rd day at EVRH, she went to the cafeteria, where another patient assured her she was understood. Coupled with the reassurance of her EVRH clinical team, this paved the way for Ellen’s emotional and physical recovery.

Ellen continues her stroke recovery with outpatient therapy at EVRH.

During her stay at Elkhorn Valley, Ellen received physical, occupational and speech therapy. Always humble throughout her stay, Ellen credits speech therapy “for giving her a voice,” and physical therapy for “teaching her to walk.” Although Ellen is a petite 4’11”, she “felt like 6’0 when walking around Elkhorn Valley.” She would simply say “morning” to everyone she would encounter, as “good” was hard to say. Her philosophy is that a smile and a “morning” makes a potential bad day good.

Ellen is very proud to have achieved all her therapy goals while at Elkhorn Valley. During her stay, Ellen’s philosophy was (and still is), “always follow through and don’t stop!”

Ellen also enjoyed an early birthday celebration during her stay. She was thrilled to escort her family to EVRH’s South Day Room for this special occasion. She reports “no limping, walking normal and straight,” – definitely reason to celebrate.

While she still wants to “talk better without pause and delay,” Ellen is doing exceptionally well upon discharge and attends EVRH outpatient therapy.

Ellen is happy to be home with her family – enjoying their conversations, watching movies and walks in the neighborhood. She would also like to remind all that “not every stroke is the same.” Please do as Ellen and her family did and call 9-1-1 at the first signs of a stroke.

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What to Pack for a Hospital Stay

Whether you are a patient preparing for an inpatient hospital stay, or someone who’s loved one unexpectedly finds themselves in a hospital, having the right things for a hospital stay is important. Packing the right items will help make your stay less stressful and allow you to focus on your recovery.

Below you’ll find a summary of suggested items to pack for a hospital stay.


  • 5-6 outfits of loose fitting pants and tops
  • Undergarments
  • Sweater or jacket
  • Supportive pair of athletic shoes with non-skid soles
  • Night clothes (gown, robe, pajamas)


  • Soap, if you prefer a certain brand
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash & dentures
  • Comb, brush, shaving supplies & cosmetics
  • Deodorant, lotion, perfume, & aftershave


  • Insurance cards & medical information
  • Eyeglasses & hearing aids
  • Incontinence pads (if needed)
  • Pillow, blanket
  • Family pictures
  • Laundry basket or bag

Click here to download a printable version of this checklist

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Understanding Influenza: 5 Facts to Know this Flu Season

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the 2017-2018 flu season was one of the worst. Understanding Influenza – how it’s spread, how to prevent it, and the symptoms of the flu – can help keep you, and your community healthy this winter. Below are five flu facts to know as we enter flu season.

Can a flu shot give me the flu?

The Influenza vaccine is safe and cannot give you the Flu. It takes 2 weeks to build up your immunity, so you can contract the flu before developing the antibodies.

How is the flu spread?

Influenza is a contagious respiratory virus that spreads when you are exposed to an infected person that coughs or sneezes. It can also be spread by touching your nose, mouth or eyes after touching a surface with the virus on it.

How can I prevent the flu?

There are several things you can do to keep yourself flu-free! The most important step you can take is to get a flu vaccine each year. You can also help prevent getting the flu by frequently using hand sanitizer or washing your hands. Try to avoid touching your nose, mouth or eyes. Avoid spreading the flu by covering your coughs/sneezes and by staying home if you are sick. Additionally, be sure to keep surfaces in your home clean.

What are the symptoms of the flu?

Symptoms usually start 1-4 days after exposure and usually come on suddenly. You are most contagious in the first 3-4 days after the illness starts. However, you can infect others before you are symptomatic and up to a week after becoming sick.

Flu symptoms can range from mild to severe. They can include fever, headache, fatigue, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, sore throat, cough and chills. Seek medical care for any worsening symptoms.

What is the treatment for the flu?

Rest, pain relievers and extra fluids will help to lessen your symptoms. While antibiotics are not effective for the flu, there are prescription antiviral medications that can help to lessen the symptoms and shorten the duration. But, they must be started within 48 hours after onset.

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Resources for Caregivers

There are only four kinds of people in the world. Those who have been caregivers. Those who are currently caregivers. Those who will be caregivers, and those who will need a caregiver.” – Rosalyn Carter

Caregivers often hide in plain sight. They make up a substantial portion of the United States population. In the US alone, there are over 40 million unpaid caregivers for adults over the age of 65. We tend not to realize the strain put on an individual who cares for a loved one. Instead, we see only the selflessness with which they provide care. Unfortunately, there’s often more going on than we recognize.

Caring for a loved one can be overwhelming, particularly when providing care for a spouse. It’s important to understand and utilize the resources available to you as a caregiver. Here are some great resources for caregivers:

VA Caregiver Support

If you provide care for a veteran, the Veterans Administration has a number of resources available to you. Services offered include mentoring, diagnosis-specific tips and guidance. Additionally, help is available to care for your loved one so that you have time to care for yourself. Many of these services are provided at no cost.

Diagnosis-specific Support Networks

Many organizations offer online support networks for patients and caregivers, focused on specific diagnoses. These support networks typically have segments dedicated to the unique needs of caregivers. Some of the organizations offering these support networks include:

Local Support Groups

Hospitals often host support groups on a variety of topics. Some are diagnosis-specific. Others focus directly on caregivers. It can be quite helpful to connect with individuals who have had similar experiences to yours. Contact your local hospital to find out what support groups they host and when they meet.

An empty lantern provides no light. Self-care is the fuel that allows your light to shine brightly.” – Unknown

As a caregiver, it’s important not to neglect yourself. The resources above offer support so that you can care for yourself, too. Additionally, you may speak with your healthcare provider for more resources. Remember, taking good care of yourself is part of providing care to another!

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How to Spot a Stroke

Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States suffers a stroke. Every four minutes, someone dies.

Stroke is the fifth-leading cause of death in the United States, responsible for about one out of every 20 deaths.

As many as 80% of strokes may be preventable. But if someone is suffering a stroke, one of the most important factors is time. Knowing the signs of stroke, and what to do in that situation, could save a person’s life.

All you need to remember is F-A-S-T.

F: Face Drooping

Look at the person’s face. Does one side droop? Do they feel numbness on one side of their face?
Action item: Ask the person to smile. Is their smile lopsided or uneven?

A: Arm Weakness

Does the person feel numbness or weakness in one arm?
Action item: Ask the person to raise both arms above their head. Are they able to lift both arms? Does one arm drift downward?

S: Speech Difficulty

Is the person making sense when they speak? Are their words slurred?
Action item: Ask the person to say a simple sentence, like “The sky is blue.” Can you understand what they say?

T: Time to Call 9-1-1

If any of these symptoms are present, call 9-1-1 immediately. Tell the operator you think someone is having a stroke. Do this even if these symptoms disappear. Time is critical, so it is important to get them to the hospital right away. Be sure to note the time when the symptoms appeared.
Action item: Call 9-1-1!

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3 Tips for Keeping Yourself Flu-Free

It’s that time of year again…flu season. With the constant risk of catching the virus, educating yourself can be the key to being flu-free.

The flu typically is spread when someone who has it coughs, sneezes, or talks. Droplets from his or her mouth spread to the mouths or noses of people nearby. Additionally, you can catch the flu from touching an object that has flu germs on it, and then touching your mouth or nose.

Once flu germs get inside the body, they go to the respiratory system. There, they attach to those cells, essentially turning them into more flu germs. That’s when your immune system begins to fight back. It does so by creating two different proteins that attack the virus – cytokines and chemokines. Cytokines multiply to help fight off the virus. Chemokines create white blood cells (called T cells) to help fight against the virus, as well.

Eventually, the fever that comes along with the flu is your body’s way of killing off the virus.

As it turns out, many symptoms you feel from the flu aren’t the virus itself. Rather, it is your immune system working to fight it off.

While it’s great that your body has the ability to fight the flu, the best defense is always prevention. To keep yourself flu-free, try these 3 tips:

  1. Get a flu shot. This vaccine is the number one way to keep the flu out of your body.
  2. You’ve heard it before, and you’ll hear it again: wash, wash, wash your hands. When you wash your hands, you wash flu (and other) germs away, limiting your risk of catching them.
  3. Last, keep the surfaces clean in your house to help remove any flu germs.
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Physical Therapy vs. Opioids

Who among us hasn’t suffered the nuisance of a minor pain now and then? Usually, we can find quick relief with over-the-counter medications. But for those with chronic pain, stronger painkillers like opioids may be prescribed.

Americans have increasingly been prescribed opioids – painkillers like Vicodin, OxyContin, Opana, and methadone, and combination drugs like Percocet. The use of these prescription drugs has quadrupled since 1999, although there hasn’t been an increase in the amount of pain Americans report.

In 2012, health care providers wrote 259 million opioid prescriptions. That’s enough for every adult in the United States to have a bottle of pills.

In response to this growing opioid epidemic, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released opioid prescription guidelines recognizing that opioids are appropriate in certain cases such as cancer treatment, palliative care, end-of-life care, and in certain acute care situations – if properly dosed. But for other pain management, the CDC recommends non-opioid alternatives such as physical therapy to cope with chronic pain.

Physical therapy is a safe and effective way to treat long-term pain. Physical therapists can provide evidence-based treatments that help not only treat the pain, but the underlying cause of the pain. They can provide exercises that focus on strength, flexibility, posture and body mechanics. Strengthening and stretching parts of the body that are affected by pain can decrease the pain, increase mobility, and improve overall mood.

So before agreeing to an opioid prescription for chronic pain, consult with your physician to discuss your options for a non-opioid treatment.

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About Ernest Health

Elkhorn Valley Rehabilitation Hospital is part of Ernest Health. Ernest Health provides specialized medical and rehabilitative services to our patients through our rehabilitation and long-term acute care hospitals. We treat patients who often are recovering from disabilities caused by injuries or illnesses, or from chronic or complex medical conditions.

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Guiding Principles

As our Guiding Principles state, we promote a healing and nurturing environment where everyone is treated with dignity and respect. We are first and foremost passionate patient caregivers and team members, connected at our core by the treatment needs of our patients.

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Our Leadership Team

Our leadership team brings extensive healthcare experience to Elkhorn Valley Rehabilitation Hospital. We invite you to meet them and learn more about why they are passionate about healthcare.

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Community Commitment

At Elkhorn Valley Rehabilitation Hospital, we are committed to being good neighbors and responsible corporate citizens in the Casper community.

We do this through not only the healthcare services we provide, but through our philanthropic efforts.

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