Flu Recognition and Prevention

The Flu Hits Hard This Season, Take Preventative Measures

Influenza, or the flu, is a serious illness that can land you in the hospital – and also kill you.  In Ventura County, at least 16 people have died in flu-related cases as of Jan. 11 this flu season, which typically runs from October through March.  Health officials say that one strain, Influenza A H3N2, is making the flu season more severe this year.

Some people are especially vulnerable, including those with serious medical conditions, people with compromised immune systems, very young children, and those 65 and older.  This year however, the flu is also hitting younger people more than usual.  One theory is that older people probably had a viral illness at some point previously that is similar to H3N2 and they have partial immunity, while young people were not exposed previously and do not have immunities.

5 Major Symptoms

“Everyone should be aware of the five major symptoms of influenza,” says Dr. Stan Frochtzwajg, Community Memorial Health System’s Chief Medical Officer.  “They are fever, headaches, cough, sore throat and muscle aches.  This is when physicians render the diagnosis of the flu.”

Without three or more of those symptoms, it’s hard to diagnose the flu.  Having at least three and a physical examination corroborating the history can lead to a “presumptive” diagnosis, but if you see your doctor, they can also take a nasal swab for a definitive diagnosis.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is advising doctors to treat flu patients with a presumptive diagnosis so that treatment can start right away.

Vaccination and practicing good health and hygiene habits can go a long way to preventing you from getting the flu, says Dr. Frochtzwajg.

5 Prevention Tips

  1. Avoid close contact with other people who are sick.  Stay home from work and don’t send sick kids to school.  Don’t even run errands!
  2. Cover your mouth and nose with tissue when coughing or sneezing to help prevent the spread of germs.
  3. Keep clean!  Washing your hands often helps protect you from germs.  Use soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub.  Also avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth and spreading germs.
  4. Help improve your immune system by getting plenty of sleep, eating a balanced diet, staying well hydrated, and avoiding fatigue and stress!
  5. Get vaccinated!  Vaccinations can be effective through February.  Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after you have been vaccinated.  These antibodies protect you against infection with the viruses that are in the vaccine.  Even though the vaccine this year is less effective on the flu strain that is going around, it can help lower the seriousness or intensity of your illness if you get the flu.  Some protection is better than no protection at all!

When You Have The Flu

If you do get sick, you can see your doctor, but health officials would like people to avoid a trip to the hospital emergency room unless symptoms are severe or you are in an at-risk group.  ER physicians can’t really do much more than your own primary care doctor (of course there are some exceptions).  If you are in doubt, please call your doctor, advises Dr. Frochtzwajg.

Over-the-counter medicines like acetaminophen and ibuprofen can ease the fever and muscle aches.  Antiviral drugs can help, too.  Antivirals are prescription medicines that are not available over-the-counter.  They can make a case of the flu milder and shorten the time you are sick, and may also prevent serious flu complications.  It’s recommended that antiviral medications be started within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms to be most effective.  Again, talk to your physician.

Finally, Dr. Frochtzwajg emphasizes that a healthy lifestyle helps people avoid the flu and heal faster if they do get sick.  It’s never too late to eat healthier, get more sleep and exercise, and take steps to lower stress levels.  Your body will thank you all year round!

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Community Memorial Hospital First in Ventura County to Offer Innovative WATCHMAN Procedure

Community Memorial Hospital is the first in Ventura County, and among the first in California, to offer patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation (AF) an alternative to long-term, blood-thinning warfarin medication with the newly approved WATCHMAN Left Atrial Appendage Closure Implant.

“The WATCHMAN device has proven to be extraordinarily helpful in the prevention of stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF),” said Dr. Ishu Rao, Director of Electrophysiology Services at Community Memorial Hospital.  “With this minimally invasive procedure, we can eliminate the need for blood thinners in patients with AF who have high risk features for stroke.  The CMH program has been growing since its inception in August 2017, and patients have already experienced the benefits of discontinuation of their blood thinners.  We expect the WATCHMAN to become a key tool in our management of patients with atrial fibrillation.”

For patients with AF who can take warfarin but seek a non-drug alternative, the WATCHMAN Left Atrial Appendage Closure Implant is an alternative for reducing their risk of AF-related stroke.  The WATCHMAN Implant closes off an area of the heart called the left atrial appendage (LAA) to prevent harmful blood clots from the LAA from entering the blood stream and potentially causing a stroke.  By closing off the LAA, the risk of stroke may be reduced and, over time, patients may be able to stop taking warfarin.

The most common treatment to reduce stroke risk in patients with AF is blood-thinning warfarin medication.  However, long-term warfarin medication is not well tolerated by some patients and carries a significant risk for bleeding complications.  Implanting the WATCHMAN is a one-time procedure that usually lasts about an hour.  Following the procedure, patients typically stay in the hospital for just 24 hours before discharge.

Click here to watch the WATCHMAN procedure animation and learn more about device implantation and function.  If you think you or someone you know might be a candidate for the WATCHMAN, ask your cardiologist or primary care physician to refer you to the Electrophysiology program at Community Memorial Hospital for a consultation.

 

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Community Memorial Health System Centers for Family Health Earn National Recognition for Patient- Centered Care

Eleven of Community Memorial Health System’s Centers for Family Health have earned special “Patient-Centered Medical Home Recognition” status from a national non-profit health care organization for using evidence-based, patient-centered processes that focus on highly coordinated care and long-term relationships between clinicians and patients.

The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) announced the new recognition in late December 2017 for the 11 Centers for Family Health located Ventura, Fillmore, Santa Paula, Oxnard, Port Hueneme, Oak View and Camarillo, and Midtown Medical Group in Ojai.  The Centers for Family Health and Midtown Medical Group provide a wide range of health care services, from Urgent Care to Women’s Health and many more.

“The CMHS Centers for Family Health are proud to have received the Patient Centered Medical Home recognition again in 2017,” said Dr. Anthony Russell, Chief Administrative Officer of Ambulatory Medicine for CMHS.  “This achievement highlights the exemplary care we are able to provide our patients while also decreasing costs.  We strive to make a difference for the patients in the communities we serve, and I would like to congratulate everyone involved in achieving this recognition.”

The NCQA is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to improving health care quality which accredits and certifies a wide range of health care organizations.  The NCQA’s Patient-Centered Medical Home is a model of primary care that combines teamwork and information technology to improve care, improve patients’ experience of care, and reduce costs.  Medical homes foster ongoing partnerships between patients and their personal clinicians, instead of approaching care as the sum of episodic office visits.  Each patients’ care is overseen by clinician-led care teams that coordinate treatment across the health care system.  Research shows that medical homes can lead to higher quality and lower costs, and can improve patient and provider reported experiences of care.

To earn the recognition, the Centers for Family Health and Midtown Medical Group in Ojai demonstrated the ability to meet the program’s key elements, embodying characteristics of the medical home.  NCQA standards aligned with the joint principles of the Patient-Centered Medical Home established with the American College of Physicians, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Osteopathic Association.

To learn more about the Community Memorial Health System Centers for Family Health or Midtown Medical Group, please visit http://cfh.cmhshealth.org/.

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Cancer Resource Center Nurse Navigator Honored with Daisy Award

Community Memorial Health System is proud to announce our 2017 3rd Quarter DAISY Award winner – Debra Lawry, RN!

Created in 1999, the DAISY Award is a very special recognition that honors extraordinary nurses who demonstrate clinical expertise, provide skillful, compassionate care, and go above and beyond for patients and family members.

Every day, Debra Lawry holds the hands (literally and figuratively) of patients who have just been diagnosed with cancer.  In her role as Cancer Patient Nurse Navigator at the Community Memorial Health System Cancer Resource Center, Debra guides patients through the diagnosis, treatment, and cancer recovery processes, and serves as a vital source of education, support, and friendship along the way.  She goes above and beyond for her patients, often attending appointments with them and spending extra time ensuring they feel truly supported on their cancer treatment journey.

Many patients have called Debra their “angel,” and have said they aren’t sure how they would have gotten through treatment without her.  But it’s not just patients that she impacts on a daily basis.  Debra is always willing to provide her co-workers with education or moral support and works hard to broaden her knowledge so she can provide the latest and most accurate information to patients and coworkers.

Debra was honored by health system leadership, physicians, and her peers last week with a celebration at Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura.  Please join us in congratulating her on this incredible achievement and thanking her for her service to our patients!

If you would like to nominate an extraordinary nurse from Community Memorial Health System for providing exemplary care, please visit our DAISY Award nomination page by clicking here.

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16th Annual Nightingale Ball Brings Motown Uptown Back for a Special Evening in Ojai

CMHS kicked off December with the 16th Annual Nightingale Ball on Friday December 1st at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa.  The “Motown Uptown” themed event brought the glitz, glamour and energy of the iconic Motown era to the Ojai Valley Community Hospital Foundation’s signature winter fundraiser.

Upon arrival, guests posed for photos alongside a vintage Ford Mustang and walked the red carpet where many were greeted by the Supremes! The dinner program included Motown hits performed by RamFunkshus, multiple live performances by the Got Rhythm Dance Company, and a very special rendition of the Temptations hit “My Girl” sung by Dr. Jim Halverson and Dr. Ken Hartenstein.  A special Motown dessert of Cream Puffs was served, topped with authentic Sanders Hot Fudge Sauce shipped especially for the event all the way from Detroit!

A very special Thank you to our 2017 Nightingale Ball Chairs, Committee, Event Sponsors, and everyone who attending and made the evening a success!  Click here to see the Motown Uptown photos!

 

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Community Memorial Health System Thomas Fire Update

Air Quality Updates and Precautions for Ventura County Residents

Information about air quality across Ventura County and recommended precautions can be found on the Ventura County Air Pollution Control District website at http://www.vcapcd.org/Forecast.aspx .

Ojai Valley Community Hospital Facility Update

Ojai Valley Community Hospital and its Emergency Department are secure, fully-functional, and accepting patients.  The movement of our patients on Wednesday night was a precautionary measure – no mandatory evacuations were ordered and the campus remains safe at this time.  We will provide an update once plans have been finalized to return patients to OVCH and our adjacent skilled nursing facility.  If you have a question regarding an upcoming appointment or scheduled procedure at OVCH, please call 805-646-1401.

Community Memorial Hospital Facility Update

Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura is completely operational and secure.  For questions regarding appointments or upcoming procedures at CMH, please call 805-652-5011.

Community Memorial Health System Outpatient Clinics Update

The following CMHS outpatient clinics are closed until further notice:

  • Ojai Multi-Speciality Clinic
  • Ojai Midtown Medical Group
  • Oak View
  • Main Street, Ventura
  • Midtown Medical Group, Ventura

San Buenaventura Urology and our outpatient clinic on Ashwood in Ventura are open and seeing patients.

If you have an upcoming appointment at any of our outpatient clinics, or have questions about available providers in your area, please call 805-652-6353.

For additional updates related to the Thomas Fire, please visit our Facebook page or http://www.cmhshealth.org/media/thomas-fire/.

 

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Community Memorial Hospital First in Ventura County to Offer Innovative WATCHMAN Procedure

Community Memorial Hospital is the first in Ventura County, and among the first in California, to offer patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation (AF) an alternative to long-term, blood-thinning warfarin medication with the newly approved WATCHMAN Left Atrial Appendage Closure Implant.

“The WATCHMAN device has proven to be extraordinarily helpful in the prevention of stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF),” said Dr. Ishu Rao, Director of Electrophysiology Services at Community Memorial Hospital.  “With this minimally invasive procedure, we can eliminate the need for blood thinners in patients with AF who have high risk features for stroke.  The CMH program has been growing since its inception in August 2017, and patients have already experienced the benefits of discontinuation of their blood thinners.  We expect the WATCHMAN to become a key tool in our management of patients with atrial fibrillation.”

For patients with AF who can take warfarin but seek a non-drug alternative, the WATCHMAN Left Atrial Appendage Closure Implant is an alternative for reducing their risk of AF-related stroke.  The WATCHMAN Implant closes off an area of the heart called the left atrial appendage (LAA) to prevent harmful blood clots from the LAA from entering the blood stream and potentially causing a stroke.  By closing off the LAA, the risk of stroke may be reduced and, over time, patients may be able to stop taking warfarin.

The most common treatment to reduce stroke risk in patients with AF is blood-thinning warfarin medication.  However, long-term warfarin medication is not well tolerated by some patients and carries a significant risk for bleeding complications.  Implanting the WATCHMAN is a one-time procedure that usually lasts about an hour.  Following the procedure, patients typically stay in the hospital for just 24 hours before discharge.

Click here to watch the WATCHMAN procedure animation and learn more about device implantation and function.  If you think you or someone you know might be a candidate for the WATCHMAN, ask your cardiologist or primary care physician to refer you to the Electrophysiology program at Community Memorial Hospital for a consultation.

 

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Thomas Fire – Update on CMHS Facilities

Ojai Valley Community Hospital & Continuing Care Center Update

At midnight last night, Community Memorial Health System made the decision to transfer the majority of our patients at Ojai Valley Community Hospital and our adjacent skilled nursing facility.  Although the fire never directly affected OVCH, the fire department advised us that the situation across the Ojai Valley was very fluid, and a shift or increase in the winds could impact our facilities.

At the time, plenty of transportation and assistance was available, so we made the decision to move our non-ambulatory patients.  A total of 48 patients were transferred to Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura and are resting comfortably.  27 patients remain safely at Ojai Valley Community Hospital.  Our skilled nursing facility (The CCC) has been completely vacated at this time.

Currently, Ojai Valley Community Hospital and its Emergency Department are fully operational.

CMHS Centers for Family Health Update

The following CMHS Centers for Family Health locations are closed until further notice:

Ojai Multi-Speciality Clinic

Ojai Midtown Medical Group

Oak View

Main Street, Ventura

Ashwood, Ventura

Midtown Medical Group Ventura

San Buenaventura Urology

If you have an upcoming appointment at any of these locations, or have questions about available providers in your area, please call 805-652-6353.

For additional updates throughout the day, please visit the Community Memorial Health System Facebook page.

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Thomas Fire – Update

Community Memorial Hospital Status

Currently, Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura has not been affected by the Thomas Fire and is safe and secure.  No evacuations have been initiated.

If you have a question regarding an appointment or scheduled procedure at Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura, please call 805.652.5011.

Ojai Valley Community Hospital Update

The Ojai Valley Community Hospital campus is also safe and secure.  No evacuations at this location have been initiated.

If you have a question regarding an appointment or scheduled procedure at Ojai Valley Community Hospital, please call 805.646.1401.

CMHS Centers for Family Health

The following CMHS Centers for Family Health locations may be affected:

Ojai – Midtown Medical Group and Multi-Speciality Clinic

Oak View

Ashwood Street, Ventura

Main Street, Ventura

Santa Paula

Fillmore

If you have an upcoming appointment at any of these CFH locations, please call 805.652.6353.

 

Please visit our Facebook page for additional updates throughout the day.

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Ojai Valley Community Hospital Receives National Recognition for Excellence

Today, on National Rural Health Day, Ojai Valley Community Hospital announces that it has been recognized by Chartis Center for Rural Health/iVantage Health Analytics and the National Organization of State Office of Rural Health (NOSORH) for Overall Excellence in the categories of Patient Satisfaction and Outcomes, reflecting top quartile performance among all rural hospitals in the nation.

“We remain dedicated to serving the residents of the Ojai Valley,” said Haady Lashkari, Chief Administrative Officer, Ojai Valley Community Hospital.  “This achievement underscores the commitment of our physicians and staff to providing outstanding patient care.  We are proud to be recognized among the top quartile of rural providers in the nation.”

The rankings are determined each year using iVantage Health Analytics’ Hospital Strength INDEX, the industry’s most comprehensive and objective assessment of rural hospital performance.  In partnership with NOSORH, iVantage Health Analytics has developed a data-driven program designed to identify excellence across a broad spectrum of indicators relevant to hospital performance and patient care.  The Hospital Strength INDEX captures performance metrics for all rural and Critical Access Hospitals.  Leveraging data from public data sources, INDEX aggregates data from more than 50 individual metrics into three major categories and eight pillars to derive a single strength overall rating for each facility.

Michael Topchik, national leader of the Chartis Center for Rural Health, said, “It’s great to recognize these top performers who are excelling in managing risk, achieving higher quality, securing better outcomes, increasing patient satisfaction, or operating at a lower cost than their peers.”

The National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH) was established in 1995 to assist State Offices of Rural Health in their efforts to improve access to, and the quality of, healthcare for America’s 61 million rural citizens.  The Chartis Group is a comprehensive advisory and analytics service dedicated to the healthcare industry.  Chartis provides strategic planning, value-based care, advanced performance, informatics and technology consulting services, and decision support tools to the country’s leading healthcare providers.  A subsidiary of The Chartis Group, iVantage Health Analytics (iVantage) is a leading provider of healthcare analytic and performance management analytic tools.

Please join us in congratulating the physicians, staff, and administrators at Ojai Valley Community Hospital on this outstanding achievement!

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