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Wishek Hospital


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Take Action and Know the Cost

To all insurance policy holders:  Before agreeing to large ticket items ordered by your provider, check your insurance policy book or call your insurance company (phone number located on the back of your card) to inquire if your plan will help cover the cost.  Sometimes, getting payment on a claim will require preauthorization for anything over and above your office visit, like specialized testing, procedures, injections and pharmaceuticals.  Since you are the policy holder, you have the right to your insurance information that could save you from having to pay out of pocket.  Take the first step in knowing what your insurance will cover and don’t wait for your medical facility to check for you.  It could save you money in the long run. 


The Affordable Care Act: Get Coverage Today

Although the ObamaCare Affordable Care Act was signed into law in 2010, the health plan initiative is projected to be fully implemented in 2015.  For those who have obtained ObamaCare, or for those who do not have a form of health insurance yet, here are some details to take into account at the start of this new year.


  • If you are enrolled in a 2014 ObamaCare Marketplace plan, your coverage ended December 31, 2014.  This is true no matter what date your coverage began in 2014.
  • To continue health coverage this year, you can renew your current health plan or choose a new plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace website ( until February 15th, 2015.
  • If you don't have health coverage during 2015, you may have to pay a penalty.  The fee in 2015 has increased to 2% of your income or $325 per adult/$162.50 per child (whichever is higher).

For further information, or to apply for healthcare coverage, visit


Winter Safety Tips for Kids

The American Association of Neurological Surgeons listed winter sports as one of the top 10 causes of sports-related head injuries among children under the age of 15.  Thanks to the American Academy of Pediatrics, here are some general tips that can help parents keep their children safe during snowy activities.

Sledding.  Use a slope made of compact snow that is clear of all debris, tree branches and rocks.  Children are at higher risk when they lay flat on sleds, so be sure that every child sits up with their feet out in front of them.

Snowmobiling.  The leading cause of snowmobile-related deaths are head injuries. Therefore, it is imperative that all riders and drivers wear helmets while snowmobiling. Children younger than six years should not be riding on snowmobiles. Additionally, children 15 years of age or younger should not be allowed to operate snowmobiles.

Frostbite.  The key to preventing frostbite is wearing multiple thin layers. Use a thermal base layer (long johns, socks, turtleneck), followed by a middle layer (1-2 shirts, sweater, pants), and an outer layer (coat, boots, gloves, hat). Parents should set reasonable time frames for their children to be outdoors and encourage indoor breaks to avoid getting too cold. 

This information has been provided by Safe Kids Grand Forks, Altru Health System.  For more safety tips, visit


Bone Health

A bone density test can diagnose osteopenia (low bone density), and osteoporosis (a disease that causes bone tissue loss). The lower your bone density, the greater your risk of breaking a bone.  The Wishek Hospital and Clinics recently purchased a new bone density machine.  Lisa Swarts, Xray technician, and Aubrey Atkins, NP, offer their knowledge of how this machine can help patients understand their own bone health. 

A bone density test can help you and your healthcare provider:

  • learn if you have osteopenia or osteoporosis
  • predict your chance of breaking a bone
  • check the status of your bone density
  • find out how well an osteoporosis medicine is working

      Earlier this year, The Hologic DXA Scan Bone Density Machine was delivered to the Wishek Hospital.  Funds for this much-needed, high-quality machine had been budgeted to replace a unit that was at least fifteen years old.
      “The DXA Scan has become the gold standard of measuring bone health, and we have it right here in our community,” says Aubrey, who came from a nursing department that put a heavy emphasis on bone health.  “Our new bone density machine allows easy access to a non-invasive screening method to help improve the health of people in Wishek and the surrounding area.”  The DXA has many enhancements that will better benefit patients. 

  1. More efficient storage.  An image can be retrieved via computer rather than paper records.
  2. Less time.   A bone takes less than a minute to scan, as opposed to five minutes with the old machine.
  3. Better results.  The new machine produces a clearer image and results come back within 24 hours. 
  4. Additional scans.  As well as scanning hips and backs, the DXA also scans forearms
  5. Less radiation.  Minimizing radiation exposure from six minutes to 60 seconds is better on the body.

     According to Aubrey, providers usually order a scan for patients who have high risk factors including family history, low vitamin D or calcium deficiencies.  Those who are over the age of 40 should also get a scan every 24 months.  Gender and ethnicity can also play in to deficiency levels.  “The older you get, the higher your risk becomes, especially in females,” says Aubrey.  Generally, women stop producing calcium around the age of 30 and their bone density is affected by estrogen levels, pregnancies, and menopause later in life.  
      “In all these years, I have only scanned one or two males,” commented Lisa.  “I would like people to know that this is not just a women’s test.  It is good for men to bring this up during their annual exams as well, especially depending on your past medication intake and health history.”

Thing to help you gain bone density:

  • Dairy products
  • Vitamin D supplements
  • Weight-bearing and aerobic exercises
  • The WHC physical therapy department

      Factors that decrease bone density in males and females include steroid use, remedies for irritable bowel syndrome, crohn’s disease and cancer, as well as smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.   Getting a bone scan would also be necessary if you have lost one to two inches in height throughout your life.  Back pain, along with height loss, could be an indication of small compression fractures in the spine that have occurred over time, and is worth mentioning to your provider.    
      Both Aubrey and Lisa encourage all patients to ask their providers if they qualify for a bone density test during their next visit.  “Deficiencies differ in everybody.  The bone density machine will help determine whether or not to treat it,” says Aubrey.  Many insurances will also help cover the cost.
      Lisa explained her vision for this new machine, “What we need here is to get younger people in before they start losing bone density.  We have so many patients who come who already have osteoporosis/osteopenia when we could have done more preventative work.  We have a new machine, and my hope is that people take advantage of this.” Along with Lisa, Jo Vilhauer, Stephanie Holt and Sheila Brosy are additional technicians who have been trained on the DXA machine.

Information was also adapted from the National Osteoporosis Foundation website.



Staff Swaps Coffee Breaks for Workouts

Worktime coffee breaks are good for a lot of things, including eye relief from the computer screen, chatting with coworkers and stretching your legs.  Some Wishek Hospital and Clinics employees do all three during their morning and afternoon workout sessions. 

The idea of exercise during the workday came from a women’s health conference in Bismarck this fall that inspired several WHC staff members.  One of the breakout sessions featured a demonstration of exercises that can be done in the office.  Jackie Weigel, a WHC transcriptionist and medical records clerk, attended the session and her interest was piqued.  “I thought it would be a good idea to use our coffee break time for exercise.”  The 15 minute mid-morning and mid-afternoon allotments posed a fitting time to schedule regular workout sessions.

When Jackie returned to the office, she shared what she had learned with her coworker, Georgine. With permission from their supervisors, the two started their coffee break workouts.  “Others saw what we were doing and asked to join,” recalls Jackie.  Now, the group that meets in the Wishek Clinic basement has up to eight women who work out together.  Jackie sees it as a simple way to get fit in these winter months.  “It doesn’t take a lot of time.  We sit too much during the day and need to get our minds and muscles doing something else.”  The group has added exercises, swapped some out and are constantly challenging themselves. 

As well as some determination, “Sticking to it takes other people to encourage and hold you accountable,” commented Jackie.  For these ladies, their regular exercises have become a group effort and builds comradery over something besides work.  “It’s fun as well as a good time to visit with coworkers.”  She testifies that just 30 minutes a day doesn’t seem like a lot, but if they do the exercises right, they often walk away hurting.  But it’s a good hurting. 

Along with the physical benefits, Jackie finds that these workout breaks are a boost for mental focus and office morale, backing up the numerous studies that show exercise improves productivity levels.   “It gets our minds more active while working.”  Jackie says exercise has a similar effect on her as caffeine.  “It helps wake me up a bit and be more alert throughout the rest of the workday.  The exercising really is a good ‘pick-me-up.’”

Try some of these coffee break office workouts with your coworkers

  • Running in place
  • Jumping jacks
  • Arm exercises
  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Leg lifts
  • Calf raises
  • Push ups
  • Sit ups
  • Planks

If you are a Blue Cross Blue Shield member, you can earn up to $250 a year by tracking your physical activity, diet, and water intake throughout the week.  Go to to sign up and start gaining points.