Category: Blog

As winter begins, so does the increased threat of respiratory infections, and one virus that demands our attention is Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). This RSV vaccine is critically important for specific vulnerable groups: seniors and infants or children below the age of two.

Here’s a rundown of the most important RSV vaccine info you should know.

Understanding RSV and Its Seasonal Threats
RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, is a respiratory virus known for causing lower respiratory tract diseases, particularly pneumonia. Its prevalence peaks during the cold winter months, spanning from November through March. This seasonal pattern intensifies the need for awareness and proactive measures.

Protecting Vulnerable Populations
The RSV vaccine serves as a crucial shield against severe symptoms and complications, especially for seniors and infants/young children.

“Taking this vaccine decreases the chance of getting RSV and seriously lessens the severity of the virus for those who get it,” explained Dr. Matthew Felber, primary care physician at Pender Community Hospital and Medical Clinics.

Notably, the most severe cases have been observed in those under two years of age, as well as in individuals over 60. This makes vaccination imperative for these demographics. Pregnant women are also encouraged to receive the vaccine to provide protection to their infants.

Eligibility and Vaccine Administration
Currently, the RSV vaccine is limited to seniors, infants/young children, and pregnant women. Pender Medical Clinic administers the vaccine to pregnant women and infants/young children, while the Apothecary Shops in Pender and Wisner offers RSV vaccination services to individuals over the age of 60.

Understanding Side Effects
“While the RSV vaccine is generally well-tolerated, individuals may experience mild side effects like fatigue, muscle pain (especially at the injection site), and headaches,” Dr. Felber shared. “However, these effects typically subside within a few days.”

Pregnant women considering whether to get the RSV vaccine to protect their infant should be aware of a slightly increased risk of preterm labor and are advised to receive the vaccine between 32 and 36 weeks of pregnancy.

Taking Action
RSV is a common and potentially severe respiratory infection that affected more individuals, particularly infants and the elderly, than COVID-19 in the previous year. The RSV vaccine stands as a frontline defense, protecting vulnerable populations and contributing to the overall health and well-being of the community.

For those looking to get the RSV vaccine or to schedule a vaccine for a loved one, setting up this appointment is the first step. Whether it’s to receive the vaccine or to discuss any concerns with a healthcare provider, taking proactive measures is crucial in safeguarding against this virus.

Seniors (those age 60 or above) can call the Apothecary Shop is Pender at (402) 385- 3350 or Wisner at (402) 529-3550 to schedule a vaccine appointment, while pregnant women and those with infants can call Pender Medical Clinic at (402) 385-3033 for an appointment.


Pulmonary Rehab Q&A

We recently caught up with Bancroft resident Sondra Bennett, age 62, who successfully completed the pulmonary rehab program a few years ago at Pender Community Hospital. Here’s what she had to say about the benefits of PCH’s pulmonary rehab program:

How did you learn about pulmonary rehab at PCH?

I had some lung issues and had been in the hospital, and needed to be on oxygen, so my pulmonologist brought it up to me because they thought I could benefit from it.

Why did you choose pulmonary rehab at PCH?

It’s closest to where I live and it sure beat going to Norfolk. I had had good results at Pender before, and I’m glad I went. For one thing, I really like the therapists over there – they made you feel really comfortable. I never felt pressured and they taught me a lot of different ways to handle my shortness of breath. They’re very positive, very compassionate.

Can you describe a typical session at PCH’s pulmonary rehab program? 

It was usually an hour – they did my vitals, then my exercises, including breathing ones. They let me work at my own pace: If I needed to stop midway, they were okay with that. They even did the exercises with me – I really enjoyed our time together and I still use all those things today that they taught me because it does make a difference.

What challenges did your team help you work through? 

I had to learn how to cope with being on oxygen – all of the sudden, things were so different. When I first heard about the program, I thought “Great! I’ll give it a shot,” but when it came down to it, the day before, I thought it was going to be a waste of time. Then I got there and really enjoyed it – it was worth the time!

Would you recommend the program to others? 

Oh, yes – go for it! What do you have to lose? You’ll come out of there feeling better about yourself. I learned new techniques – for me, I was so short of breath, but learned how to control that – and that this was not the end of the world. 

How has your life improved after pulmonary rehab? 

I learned different ways to control my breathing and I learned to accept this as my new normal; I am thankful for every day when I wake up.To learn more about PCH’s expert pulmonary rehab services, talk to your primary care provider or visit our Cardiopulmonary Services page.


With PCH Cardiac Rehab

Research indicates that cardiac rehab reduces participants’ death rate by as much as 30% when compared to non-participants – and that the biggest factor in determining rehab participation is the strength of the recommendation made by the patient’s physician. 

Larry Rogers is glad he took his doctor’s suggestions seriously to participate in Pender Community Hospital’s cardiac rehab program.

“I had some heart issues; I had a vessel that was 95% blocked, so they put a stent in and that’s when my doctor told me about Pender’s cardiac rehab program,” Rogers, age 62, explained. 

Cardiac rehab can help patients experiencing: 

  • angina
  • coronary artery disease
  • heart attack or other cardiac events
  • heart surgery and procedures
  • cardiovascular disease

Cardiac rehabilitation has been proven to lower the risk of death and health complications for patients who have experienced a cardiac procedure or event, and also increases the likelihood of returning to an active lifestyle. Another key factor as to why heart health providers advocate for cardiac rehab: It significantly reduces hospital readmission for cardiac patients.

What A Cardiac Rehab Plan Looks Like at PCH

Cardiac rehab plans at PCH typically range from three to six weeks and offer a full range of rehabilitative services, education and support to alleviate symptoms and help people heal – and also to prevent future problems by strengthening a patient’s body and improve their quality of life. Most participants also report that cardiac rehab improves their mood and mental health. 

To create an effective, customized rehab plan for each patient, PCH’s skilled rehabilitation team collaborates with a variety of specialists and staff, including primary care providers, cardiologists, behavioral health and nutrition specialists and social services professionals. 

The cardiac rehab team examines each patient’s progress throughout the plan, and makes adjustments as necessary in nutrition, sleep and activity levels, as well as continuously monitors how the patient is managing stress and living with their condition. Each plan is designed to improve heart health while also improving strength, conditioning, and general well-being. 

The cardiac rehab therapy team also provides patients with the resources and support they need to succeed, including providing educational information about their condition’s risk factors, lifestyle adjustments, tobacco cessation and stress management techniques. 

Cardiac Rehab Worked for Rogers

Rogers said that he especially appreciated PCH’s flexibility; Rogers, who is a farmer in Lyons, experienced his cardiac event in the spring of 2021 – right as he was getting ready to plant.  

“Pender was very good to work with; I needed to plant, and their flexibility was awesome,” said Rogers, who commended the cardiac rehab team on working around his schedule. 

For example, the PCH rehab team recommended that Rogers watch educational videos while he was exercising, which allowed him to double up on what he wanted to accomplish in rehab while still meeting the timeframe for planting at his farm. 

“Everything was great, the nutrition and the exercise program,” said Rogers. “They work with you on everything; it’s a very good program. Everyone was fantastic to work with, and they really keep your spirits up. And they’re very good at telling you where need to be and how to get there.” 

Rogers says that after rehab, he pays much closer attention to his diet, which has helped him lose weight, and keep it off.

“If you listen to what they say, you’re going to be okay,” said Rogers.To learn more about PCH’s expert cardiac rehab services, talk to your primary care provider or visit our Cardiopulmonary Services page.

Virtual, In-Person Options Open to All

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 6.6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease. By 2050, this number is projected to rise to nearly 13 million.

Each person with the disease inevitably needs some type of help. Whether you provide daily caregiving, participate in decision making, or simply care about a person with Alzheimer’s disease – caring for someone with dementia demands a lot.

Get to know other people who truly understand.

Pender Caregiver Support Group
Pender Community Hospital has partnered with the Nebraska chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association to create the Pender Caregiver Support Group for local friends, families and caregivers of people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

“PCH saw the need for support and education for our families who are helping their loved ones through their journey with dementia, memory loss and Alzheimer’s,” said PCH therapist Krista Roeber, PLMHP/PLMSW.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, according to the Mayo Clinic; the disease is a progressive neurologic disorder that causes the brain to atrophy, which results in the decline in thinking, behavioral and social skills that affect a person’s ability to function independently.

At this time, there is not a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, which is believed to have contributed to the deaths of more than 120,000 people in 2019, according to the association. Formed in 1980, the Alzheimer’s Association is considered the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research.

PCH’s support group, which is facilitated by trained staff, is designed to provide dementia caregivers, including friends or family, with a support system that allows for:

  • the exchange of practical information and possible solutions
  • learning about available resources
  • a discussion of issues, concerns, and coping methods
  • sharing feelings and needs from the caregiver’s perspective

“We hope that those who attend the group meetings are able to leave with some education and support through the disease process,” said Roeber. “For anyone who is thinking about joining us, please feel comfortable and know that we are all learning together.”

Support Group Dates and Times
Virtual Meetings
Second Wednesday of each month
4:30-5:30 p.m.

In-person Meetings
Second Friday of each month at Pender Community Hospital
9:00-10:30 a.m.

To register, contact Krista Roeber at (402) 385-1897 or krista.roeber@pchne.org.

If you need assistance in finding respite for your loved one while attending the support group, please reach out to Krista Roeber at (402) 385-1897 or krista.roeber@pchne.org.

Additional Resources

Visit alz.org/nebraska to learn more about caregiver programs and resources.

To further extend your network of support, visit the Alzheimer’s Association’s online community ALZConnected at alzconnected.org. It’s a free online community for everyone affected by Alzheimer’s or another dementia.

Get back to what moves you

Dr. Justin Deans adds to our orthopedic team, specializing in anterior hip replacement procedures

Hip replacements are the most common and long-lasting joint replacement, often with life-changing results that help people move better, feel better and get back to doing the things they enjoy.

At Pender Community Hospital, our skilled orthopedic teams provide customized treatments and solutions to help people relieve pain and regain mobility. To add to our full range of orthopedic services, PCH is pleased to welcome Dr. Justin Deans who specializes in anterior hip replacement procedures—an innovative alternative to traditional, or posterior, hip replacement.

Why a hip replacement?

As people age and accumulate more mileage on their hips, it’s common for arthritis to develop and become more painful—and even debilitating. Pain while walking, severe limping and avoiding activities they once enjoyed are common reasons why people choose to have a hip replacement procedure. When joints are replaced with a synthetic counterpart, functionality returns without the pain, and people can reclaim their mobility and quality of life.

Dr. Justin Deans

Welcome Dr. Justin Deans

Pender Community Hospital is excited to welcome Dr. Justin Deans, a fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon who specializes in adult reconstruction and joint replacement surgery. After completing a fellowship in New York City, Dr. Deans returned to the Midwest and now provides customized treatments and orthopedic solutions to patients at PCH.

“As a physician, I want to help people,” Dr. Deans shared. “As an orthopedic surgeon, I get an incredible opportunity to see the results of treatments or procedures that we determine as provider and patient. I’m motivated every day seeing patients move in ways they didn’t think were possible and return to the lives they love.”  

Anterior hip replacement procedures

Unlike a posterior hip replacement, anterior hip replacement procedures are done from the front of the body. Dr. Deans offers this innovative procedure to patients at PCH where it’s closer for them and their families. Advantages of the minimally invasive procedure can include:

• Faster recovery time and less pain
• No need to cut tissues or detach tendons
• More immediate support and joint functionality
• Fewer restrictions after procedures
• Lower risk of hip dislocation after surgery

Patients who carry excess weight or have pelvic or femur issues may not be good candidates for an anterior hip replacement.

“Hip replacement procedures can change lives,” Dr. Deans shared. “When I see a patient walk in effortlessly for a follow-up appointment, and they could barely get around when I met them, it reinforces my decision to practice orthopedic medicine. I’m humbled to be able to help people regain not only their ability to move, but also their confidence. And it’s rewarding to see them with a renewed approach toward life.”

Get back to what moves you

Over 300,000 people in the United States have hip replacement procedures annually. Dr. Deans and our skilled orthopedic teams provide comprehensive, customized care—from consultation to complete recovery—right here where it’s closer for patients and families. To learn more joint replacement procedures or other orthopedic solutions, call 402-385-4090 or visit pchne.org/movebetter.

Recovery can be a long and winding road after an accident, illness or injury. Sometimes patients need specialized care to reclaim skills they once used in day-to-day living. At Pender Community Hospital, occupational therapists customize care and utilize a wide range of treatments to help people of all ages live more complete, productive and independent lives. PCH occupational therapist Haley Haymart explained the importance of this lesser-understood therapy—and how occupational therapists, patients and providers partner to establish goals that give patients the tools they need to live confidently at home, work or at school.

What is occupational therapy and how does it work?
“Occupational therapy is a holistic approach to healthcare,” Haley explained. “Therapists address clinical conditions, habits, routines and access each individuals’ occupation and activities.” After a thorough evaluation, occupational therapists customize treatments and draw from a number of resources, from finding interventions or making home modifications to utilizing technology advancements, that help patients reach their goals.

Goal getters
Therapists and patients establish goals—and no goal is too small—to help individuals live more successfully and independently. Tasks may include relearning life skills including how to eat, get dressed, use the restroom or pay bills. Therapists may also recommend modifications in the home or workplace so patients can live easier and return to their jobs.

Occupational therapy is for all ages
Older adults may receive occupational therapy services to restore balance, help prevent falls or learn how to adapt to using a wheelchair. OT is also common for people with joint and mobility issues or for those experiencing cognitive challenges. Younger patients may see an occupational therapist to learn how to hold a pencil or respond more confidently in social situations. Using innovative treatments, advanced technologies and modification techniques, therapists customize care to help patients live happier, healthier lives.

Occupational therapy is different than physical therapy
Haley illustrates the difference between occupational and physical therapies by using a favorite saying. “Physical therapy helps a ballerina learn to walk again. Occupational therapy teaches the ballerina to dance again.” Beyond the physical demands of recovery—where strengthening and exercising the body helps its function—occupational therapies help people master everyday tasks and activities that often make life more meaningful.

Why Pender Community Hospital?
According to Haley, the real benefit to occupational therapy at PCH is the continuum of care. “If we see you as an inpatient, the same therapist will transition care and see you as an outpatient to further assist you with meeting important goals,” she shared. Haley is especially proud of the compassion the PCH therapy team shows to each patient they partner with for care. “Everyone here is treated like family.”

Call for care or learn more
If you or someone you love needs help to recover daily skills—or rediscover a more confident and independent life—talk to the occupational therapy team at Pender Community Hospital. Call 402-385-2026 with questions or contact Haley directly at 402-385-1853.

Haley Haymart, OTD/OTR/L

Regular mammograms are the best defense against breast cancer.

About one in eight women in the United States will develop breast cancer in her lifetime, and nearly 85% of breast cancer diagnoses occur in women with no family history of the disease.

Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among American women, and in 2021, it’s estimated that around 30% of newly diagnosed cancers in women will be breast cancers. Also this year, an estimated 43,600 women nationally are expected to die from the disease. Yet even with such alarming statistics, many women delay—or avoid entirely—regular mammogram screenings that could protect their health and save their lives.

Why mammograms
Mammograms are imaging tests used to screen for breast cancer and in short, they are women’s best defense to detect breast cancer early. 63% of breast cancer cases are diagnosed before they spread, thanks largely to mammography and in these instances, there is a 99% survival rate. While the threat is very real, early detection means there is a greater likelihood to beat breast cancer, and an increased probability that the treatment used to fight cancer will be less radical and painful.

Life begins at age 40—so do mammograms
The American Cancer Society recommends women start getting mammogram screenings at age 40, with yearly mammograms ages 45 to 55. After age 55, women may switch to having the screening every two years or continue getting mammograms annually. Talk to your provider at regular wellness exams to determine what is right for you. If you have a history of breast cancer in your family, tell your primary care provider; he or she may recommend you start routine mammograms at a younger age.

It’s easier than many expect
The test is simple. During a mammogram, the breasts are gently compressed, one at a time, so the mammographer technician can capture clear, accurate x-ray images that would show indications of cancer or other concerns. During the short process, you will need to change positions from time to time, and while the pressure is uncomfortable for some, many have no issues at all. Even for those who are a bit more sensitive, technicians are very accommodating, understanding and frankly, really good at their jobs. They use techniques to customize the process so women of all shapes, sizes and comfort levels—both physical and psychological—can get the important imaging necessary to protect their health.

Approximately 20 minutes and you’re done
While mammograms aren’t often at the top of people’s favorites lists, the screening doesn’t take long and is practically over before it begins. A mammogram usually takes about 20 minutes—a small time investment to protect something as valuable as your health—and maybe even your life.

Early detection can win the race against cancer
While the statistics and seriousness of cancer diagnoses are rather overwhelming, there is encouraging news. The overall death rate from breast cancer has decreased by 1% per year from 2013 to 2018. This decline is very optimistic and is thought to be a direct correlation to both the advancements of treatments and earlier detection of cancers through mammogram screenings.

  • If you’ve already blown out 40 candles – or more – on your birthday cake, give yourself an important gift: Schedule your annual mammogram. Early detection is critical to beat against breast cancer. Please visit our calendar to see when our healthcare providers are available to see patients.

Help Keep Pender Community Hospital & Medical Clinics Healthy

As we continue to navigate the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important we all do our part to keep our community safe and healthy – and one way we can do that is through masking.

While masks are no longer required in all establishments, Pender Community Hospital & Medical Clinics still requires everyone to wear a mask while inside our facilities to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and other infectious illnesses. We ask that patients and visitors bring their own mask to wear as we are once again experiencing shortages of essential Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Masks are a proven strategy to reduce the spread of illness, along with other measures such as hand hygiene, physical distancing, covering coughs/sneezes, and vaccinations. For illnesses like COVID-19 that are spread through airborne droplets from your mouth and nose, a mask reduces the dispersion of these droplets—and as a result reduces the spread of infectious diseases.

Masks are a proven strategy to reduce the spread of illness, along with other measures such as hand hygiene, physical distancing, covering coughs/sneezes, and vaccinations. For illnesses like COVID-19 that are spread through airborne droplets from your mouth and nose, a mask reduces the dispersion of these droplets—and as a result reduces the spread of infectious diseases.

And while it’s important to take precautions in all settings, it’s especially essential in healthcare facilities where this is a higher risk of spread – both from people who are sick with these illnesses and to people who are more vulnerable to them because they are immunocompromised. By requiring masks in Pender Community Hospital & Medical Clinics, we are helping protect our patients and our staff to ensure the best and safest possible care. Masking, while it may seem inconvenient, is an easy yet effective way to protect those around you. So next time you arrive at Pender Community Hospital & Medical Clinics, please remember to mask up – it’s for the health of our community.

Beat the Rush: Back-to-School Physicals

Summer break means long lazy days, life at a slower pace, and the past school year seems to be but a memory. Yet, the clock is ticking on the new school year. Make back-to-school a breeze by scheduling your child’s wellness physicals at one of our medical clinics. 

All children develop differently, both physically and mentally. Wellness appointments track physical and mental growth, screen developmental progress, and provide crucial vaccinations to protect your child from serious diseases. Therefore, wellness physicals are a great way to gauge your child’s overall health and development. 

As children age, they should be seeing their primary care provider for an annual checkup. These exams include a physical checkup and time to discuss topics like your child’s sleep, safety, and growth stages. As your child matures, wellness visits provide an opportunity to talk to your primary care provider about additional resources and services available to help your child grow up healthy and happy.

Annual wellness visits also create an opportunity to build relationships between your family and your primary care provider, which is an essential step for your child’s future. A team approach to family health is the best approach. Plus, insurance typically covers yearly wellness visits, so take advantage of the preventative care your child needs and deserves by calling one of our medical clinics to schedule your child’s checkup today.  

Pender Medical Clinic: 402.385.3033
Bancroft Medical Clinic: 402.648.7606
Beemer Medical Clinic: 402.528.3288
Emerson Medical Clinic: 402.695.2453

Know Before You Go
What Your Child Should Expect at their Wellness Physical:

  •  Height and weight measurements
  • Growth milestones and how they compare with appropriate growth charts
  • Developmental milestones
  • Vital signs, including blood pressure and heart rate
  • A urine specimen may be collected 
  • Eating and exercise habits discussion
  • Vaccinations

What You Should Bring to the Appointment:

  • Physical Form for School/Sports, if available and necessary
  • Family medical history
  • List of allergies
  • Questions you or your child have

So, don’t delay! Get your child in for care and start the new school year off with a clean bill of health. All of our primary care providers are currently welcoming new patients.

It’s happening! Summer is nearly here and soon fun in the sun will be in full swing. The longer days mean more opportunities to go outside to enjoy the weather–but as fun as summer is, there’s nothing fun about skin cancer. Before you head out to hike, swim, garden or enjoy summer sports, remember to protect your skin from harmful rays that can lead to skin cancer. 

Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the nation, yet most cases are preventable. Skin cancer can be disfiguring and lead to expensive medical bills. Get to know your skin so you can notice changes that may indicate a problem. Discuss changes of moles or areas of your skin with your primary care provider. If you have a lesion for more than four weeks and it changes color or grows, call your provider and have it checked. Early detection is critical to treat–and beat–skin cancer. 

To better understand and detect skin cancer, learn the three most common forms: 

Squamous cell. Usually caused by sun exposure, squamous cell skin cancer appears on different parts of the skin. Squamous cell is a wart-like growth with a rough surface and a depression in the center. This type of skin cancer can also develop sores that stay open for weeks.

Melanoma. The most dangerous form of skin cancer, melanoma is very deadly. Melanoma looks like a new mole but with a more unusual appearance. The mole may have uneven, ragged edges with shades that range from tan to black. The biggest indicator of melanoma is if the mole is constantly changing.

Basal cell. Caused by sun exposure, basal cell skin cancer will look like a reddish patch on the skin that itches more than hurts. It is a growth with an undefined border and could be red, pink or white. Basal cell spots can become open sores that bleed or crust without closing for many weeks. 

Soak up the fun–not the sun
Of course, don’t let fear prevent you from enjoying lovely weather. There are so many health benefits to getting outside and becoming more active. Simply learn what to do–and what to avoid–and enjoy your moments in the sun safely!

Sun Exposure Facts:

  • There’s no benefit to getting a base tan. Getting a tan before serious exposure to the sun does NOT provide protection against increased risk of skin cancer.
  • There’s no such thing as a healthy tan. Tan skin is damaged skin. Even without a sunburn, tanning still damages the DNA in your skin. The more you damage your skin, the greater the risk of skin cancer. In other words, tanning causes skin cancer. 
  • EVERYONE needs sunscreen. The daily use of an SPF 15 sunscreen can reduce squamous cell carcinoma risk by 40 percent and the risk of melanoma by 50%.
  • Direct exposure to the sun? Use sun protection factor (SPF) 30 or higher. People out in direct sun should wear an SPF 30 or higher, applied 30 minutes prior to exposure and re-applied every two hours.
  • Sunscreen is not just for a day at the beach. Sun damage happens whenever you are outside. If you’re doing yardwork, watching a baseball game or simply enjoying summer reading on the patio, the sun is just as damaging and dangerous. Wear sunscreen whenever you’re outside. 
  • Indoor tanning is not safer. Just one indoor tanning session can increase the risk of developing skin cancer; the risk of melanoma increases by 20%, squamous cell carcinoma by 67% and basal cell carcinoma increases by 29%.
  • Protection beyond sunscreen. There are other ways to protect yourself from the sun–wear sun hats, coverings, long sleeves and stay in the shade to help reduce the risk of skin-damaging tanning and sunburn.

Discuss your skin with your primary care provider 
If you have questions about your skin or a spot, please contact your healthcare provider to schedule an appointment.
Again, early detection is critical to treat–and beat–skin cancer. 

Everyone under the sun needs protection
It’s easy to overlook these basic reminders but remember: a tan today could mean skin cancer in the future. Take a little extra time to apply–and reapply–sunscreen and use it every time you’re outside. Don’t miss a day; don’t miss a spot. You’ll appreciate the time you took to keep your skin healthier, more youthful looking and help prevent a very serious, even deadly, cancer.  

1 American Academy of Dermatology indoor tanning fact sheet. Accessed April, 2018.

In the past few months, information on the health effects of e-cigarettes and vaping have been in the news. As of November 13, 2019, 2172 cases of lung injuries related to e-cigarettes and vaping have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). With all of this information, what are the most important things for you to know about this nicotine product?

Created as an alternative to tobacco products, e-cigarettes are mechanical devices that deliver a dose of nicotine. Vaping occurs when you inhale the aerosolized solution released with these devices. It has become a multibillion dollar industry in the U.S., with more than 450 brands on the market. Often, people who are trying to quit smoking turn to this solution to decrease their use of, and risks related to, tobacco. Although most states prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes to youth under the age of 18, teen use is steadily rising.

Here are the facts on e-cigarettes:

  • They go by many names, such as e-cigs, vape pens, e-hookah, e-cigars, mechanical mods and pod systems.
  • They come in many forms and can resemble cigarettes, cigars, pipes, flash drives or pens. These devices can be used to deliver other drugs, such as marijuana.
  • The nicotine solution used is often flavored, such as fruit, candy and bubble gum, making it appealing to kids. Kids who use e-cigarettes are much more likely to smoke traditional cigarettes.
  • Although the solutions contain fewer toxic chemicals than cigarettes, e-cigarettes still contain harmful and cancer-causing chemicals, such as formaldehyde, lead and acrolein. These chemicals are addictive and can cause irreversible lung damage. E-cigarettes have an especially negative effect on kids because their brains are still growing.
  • The most popular e-cigarette used by teens is the JUUL. In the form of a flash drive, a single JUUL pod contains high levels of nicotine—roughly the same amount of nicotine as one pack of cigarettes.
  • Research shows that smokers are actually LESS likely to quit if they are using e-cigarettes. No conclusive data supports the claims that e-cigarettes are helpful to quit smoking.

For more information on e-cigarettes, go to the CDC website:

There are a lot of mixed messages out there about what vitamins women need-or don’t need. It’s a confusing and highly personalized topic, but there are a few basic guidelines that can work for nearly everyone. In many cases, women don’t need vitamin supplements because they are getting what they need from their diet. In other cases, it’s advisable to have some extra support. As always, talk to your doctor before starting anything new, and when you do, ask if any of the following suggestions might be right for you:

Under 40: Women who are under 40 may need extra iodine. For those who are considering becoming pregnant, you may want to take folic acid.

Between 40 and 50: If you’re between 40 and 50 you are likely experiencing perimonopause or menopause and may need to take iron supplements. Iron is important for a number of reasons: It helps give you energy, supports red blood cells, and speeds wound-healing, to name a few.

Over 50: Older women are at an increased risk for developing osteoporosis, which means weaker bones and an increased risk for fractures. Women over 50 should take additional calcium and vitamin D for bone health if recommended by her doctor. Older women may also benefit from more B vitamins, which can improve health and help prevent conditions that primarily impact women over 60.

Over 70: Women over 70 need even more vitamin D, so be sure to confirm with your doctor that you are getting enough. 

Pregnant and breastfeeding moms: Pregnant and breastfeeding women should also ask their doctor about additional vitamins they may need. These usually include increased amounts of iodine and folic acid. 

Remember, your doctor knows best. Don’t trust an internet search with something as important as your health. If you’re wondering what vitamins to take-or if you have any questions about your health at all, make an appointment with a provider at Pender Community Hospital today by calling 402-385-3083.

More than a year after COVID-19 was officially declared a pandemic in the U.S. we are now seeing a glimmer of hope on the horizon. A return to normalcy–or some form of it–appears within reach. And that is due in large part to the continued distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations.

The COVID-19 vaccine, like any medical decision, is one we each must make based on what’s best for our health and aligns with the recommendations of our healthcare providers. But wading through the ocean of information on the vaccine to make that decision can be daunting.

To help break down the details of the COVID-19 vaccine, Dr. Matt Felber, Pender Community Hospital & Medical Clinics Physician is sharing helpful information to clear up misconceptions and explain why it’s a safe choice for most people to make.

“Vaccines in general are very safe,” Dr. Felber said. “They’ve been around for decades and have saved millions of lives and prevented a lot of diseases so well that people don’t even remember them. They’re an important part of society’s well-being and healthcare.”

When it comes to the COVID-19 vaccines and the perception that they were developed too quickly to be fully safe, Dr. Felber notes that they were still required to pass the same rigorous testing protocol as other vaccines. Due to the urgent need for them and the funding provided for the research, they were simply able to move through the development and testing process much more rapidly.

“Most vaccine trials have 5-10,000 volunteers in their trials. These vaccines had over 100,000,” he explained. “Because so many people had COVID it made it easier to get volunteers for the study and there was a great amount of funding invested into them, which helped accomplish the testing more quickly than other vaccines. In my opinion, the COVID-19 vaccines are very safe.”

Currently, there are three vaccine variations available–from Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson. None of them contain any live virus, so they can’t make you sick with COVID-19.

Both Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are mRNA vaccines, which teach cells to make a protein that triggers an immune response against COVID-19. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is an adenovirus-based vaccine, in which the COVID-19 virus spike protein is added to an adenovirus to generate an immune response.

“Research on the technology used for the Johnson & Johnson vaccines has been studied for more than 10 years,” Dr. Felber shared. “An Ebola vaccine approved for general use last year uses the same technology. It just wasn’t as widely known until now.”

Besides the accelerated timeline of their development, there are other questions and rumors that have arose about their safety. Dr. Felber shares that most of the extreme negative side effects that people may be anxious about simply aren’t true. 

“There is no live virus in these vaccines, and there is no evidence they will alter your DNA,” he said. “The same goes for causing miscarriages or that they’re harmful to pregnant or breastfeeding women. Unless you have an allergy to a component of the vaccine, they are generally safe for the majority of the adult population.”

In Dr. Felber’s opinion, the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccines far outweigh the risks.

“Of course, you should always ask your healthcare provider if you are uncertain about getting the vaccine,” he said. “But overall, these vaccines seem very safe. And research shows that the immunity they provide increases with time. By getting vaccinated you help keep yourself, your family and your friends safe.”

Know your risks of diabetes–and get help to manage or avoid the disease

The fourth Tuesday of March is National American Diabetes Association Diabetes Alert Day –a day to understand the seriousness of the disease that over 30 million Americans have.

Diabetes is when blood sugar, or blood glucose, is too high and insulin, a hormone in the body, is unable to transport glucose to the blood or cells. In addition to gestational diabetes which is brought on by pregnancy and usually resolved after birth, there are two main types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes–formerly called juvenile diabetes–is when the pancreas doesn’t make insulin the body needs. People with type 1 diabetes need insulin, injected via shot or through a pump, for the rest of their lives to manage their health. Type 2 diabetes, usually diagnosed when people are older, is when the body can no longer respond to insulin as it should. Unlike type 1 diabetes, people with type 2 diabetes can manage the severity of the disease or even prevent the disease through healthy lifestyle choices. And with seven million people living with the disease who don’t know it, use Diabetes Alert Day as a “wake up” call to evaluate your health–and the health of those you love. If you’re at risk, take the American Diabetes Association risk assessment survey and talk to your primary care provider.

Diabetes Education at Pender Community Hospital
At Pender Community Hospital, experts help patients manage diabetes and maximize their health. From education about the disease’s impact on the body, to tools and resources to help patients prevent long-term problems, Stacie Petersen, Registered Nurse (RN), Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES) and Clinical Health Coach, explained how the team personalizes care to help people live their healthiest lives. She urges people to use the resource for education–and ongoing support after the course.

The comprehensive services of Pender Community Hospital Diabetes Education include:

  • Help with all aspects of care. From help with medication, monitoring blood sugars, to suggestions on diet and exercise, care is personalized to each person. “I provide education on healthy eating, activity, monitoring blood sugars, medications including starting injections, problem solving, healthy coping, and risk factor reduction,” Stacie said. “I train people to monitor blood sugars and start insulin or other injectable medications, instruct people how to use continuous glucose monitors and am able to assist with insulin pump adjustments/issues.” Stacie said the team also follows up after education plans are complete to make sure patients were successful if adjustments and changes were made to their care protocol.
  • Connecting patients to additional resources and assisting with patient referrals. The Diabetes Education team stays current on the latest resources to help patients. “I can assist patients with referrals for various services they require. I also serve as a “bridge” for people with diabetes and their health care provider to address various diabetes-related issues,” Stacie said.
  • One-on-one education. “We do individual face-to-face sessions here at Pender Community Hospital,” Stacie shared. “We have a formal curriculum that we follow and use reputable materials that are approved by the Association of Diabetes Care and Education Specialists.”
  • Personalized education for patients and their families. “The sessions are patient-driven and are individualized to each person,” said Stacie. “They are interactive, and I encourage family members to attend. Attendees receive printed resources, discharge instructions, contact information, and a follow-up phone meeting is set after education. I encourage them to call if they have any questions and concerns.”
  • Help setting health goals. Educators work with patients to set individualized goals, based on their priorities. The team focuses on seven key self-care behaviors during sessions: healthy eating, an active lifestyle, monitoring blood sugars, guidance for taking medication, problem solving, healthy coping and reducing risks.

What should you know about Pender Community Hospital & Medical Clinics Diabetes Education?

  • Accredited Diabetes Education program through the Association of Diabetes Care and Education Specialists. Having an accredited program is a notable accomplishment for a smaller healthcare system. This accreditation allows the facility to provide structured, quality formal education that meets the national standards required for diabetes education. PCH also has a diabetes educator who has met the criteria to become a Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist. This certification means she possesses comprehensive knowledge and experience in diabetes prevention and management.
  • Available through telehealth. PCH also does diabetes education via telehealth. Patients have two-way interactions with a Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist from the comfort of their homes using a smart-phone, computer, tablet or other electronic device with audio and visual capabilities.
  • On-staff clinical dietitian. A registered dietician provides nutrition consultations and services are covered by Medicare, and most insurances, for people with diabetes. Appointments are scheduled by PCH health coaches.
  • Health Coaches. Health coaches are registered nurses who help patients with their diabetes management. At Pender Medical Clinic, health coaches can help patients during and after clinic appointments.
  • Covered by most insurance plans. Diabetes education is a covered benefit under Medicare and most insurance plans but patients are encouraged to check with their insurance providers.
  • A referral is needed. Ask your primary care provider for a referral to diabetes education from PCH.

Call for more information.
Stacie urges anyone interested in diabetes education to speak to their health care provider or contact her directly at 402-385-1956 with questions.

Infectious diseases have always been part of life. And, like generations before us, we will get through the recent health crisis if we all work together. As we all continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers, health experts and physicians are emphasizing the importance of wearing masks to slow the spread of this highly contagious virus.

“Wearing a mask is one of the simplest things we can do to help decrease the spread of COVID-19 and, quite honestly, save lives,” said Dr. Cole Reha, Pender Community Hospital Medical Director. In addition to other precautions like frequent hand washing and staying socially distant, Dr. Reha added, “If everyone wore a mask when in areas where social distancing is difficult, such as indoor places, it would decrease the risk of virus transmission. This is a simple act that can protect yourself and others right here in our community.”

Physicians, researchers and public health experts have spent long hours helping those infected who need advanced care, but many people may be carriers of the virus and not even realize it. Masks reduce the spread of COVID-19 by containing respiratory droplets–invisible to the naked eye–that are released each time we talk, cough, sneeze or sing. By wearing facemasks whenever we’re in public, studies have proven that we can help slow the spread to help keep our family, friends and our community safe.

When should you wear a mask–and who should wear one?
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone over the age of two wear masks in public settings, or when spending time with people who don’t live in our same household. Wearing masks indoors has become a mandate in many areas. Even outside, in highly populated areas, wearing a mask and staying socially distant–at least six feet from others–greatly helps control the spread of aerosols that could contain the virus. People with developmental disabilities, mental health conditions or other special health considerations should speak with their providers for guidance about wearing masks.

What’s the proper way to wear a mask?
Wash your hands before–and after touching your mask. For the best protection, masks should cover your chin, mouth and nose and can be looser-fitting–as long they are secure–so they’re most effective and you’re less tempted to touch your face to reposition your mask too often.

What types of masks are available?
There are many types of masks available and researchers have conducted in-depth studies about the effectiveness of the different styles and types. And while common sense says that some coverage is better than nothing, there are some masks that are better at containing respiratory droplets.

  • Medical or surgical masks are most often worn by healthcare workers. They vary in grades and styles, depending on the level of protection the user requires. They are disposable and often made from non-woven fabrics like polypropylene, and create a barrier between medical professionals and the people they treat.
  • Hygienic masks are not intended for healthcare workers, but the fibrous structure helps the wearer contain droplets emitted when they speak, cough or sneeze. These disposable masks can be reusable when accompanied by a quality certificate, but they are usually discarded daily, or if they become compromised or soiled.
  • Fabric masks when worn correctly, create barriers making it harder for droplets to be emitted, but it’s important to choose the right material for the best level of protection. Choose fabric masks made from tightly-woven fabrics, think of the material of bed sheets for example. Stretchy materials or fabrics that can be seen through are not the best choice. Masks with vents or valves are also not recommended and may do more harm than good.

The impact of COVID-19 is already staggering and it could be many months before we fully understand the long-term health effects on our community, and our country. To everyone who has been so supportive of our Pender Community Hospital medical professionals, we thank you most sincerely for your kindness. Thank you also to everyone who is already wearing masks. You are making a tremendous difference to people you don’t even know–and we urge everyone to do the same.

Heart disease is the silent killer, but what if you could know if you are at risk before something serious occurs? Calcium scoring is a simple CAT scan that detects plaque levels in the heart. The build-up of calcium and fat causes calcified plaque, which narrows arteries, closes off blood flow to the heart, and causes coronary events, or heart attacks. With a quick test, your physician can see potential problems, even if you have no symptoms at all.

A calcium scoring is a very advanced method to detect heart disease in its very earliest stages, but the test itself is very simple. Once patients receive a referral from their primary care provider, they are sent to the radiology department for the simple, 15-minute screening. There is no lengthy prep or diet restrictions; technicians place electrodes on the patient’s chest and he or she lays down on a table. The non-invasive scan calculates the patient’s risk of developing coronary artery disease by measuring the amount of calcified plaque in the coronary arteries.

“A calcium score is one of the most useful assessment tools to check for a patient’s risk for heart disease,” said Dr. Matthew Timm, medical director and primary care physician at Pender Medical Clinic.

“Calcium scoring measures the amount of calcium in the blood vessels of your heart. If the score is very low, a patient’s risk of heart disease is minimal.” Dr. Timm added. “Patients with higher scores meet with their physicians to decide what to do next. We may advise certain lifestyle changes, determine if medication is the best course of action, or refer them to a cardiologist for advanced testing.”

“For people with a family history of heart disease, the test can be a very worthwhile investment to detect blockage and problems early, when they’re most easy to remedy,” Dr. Timm continued. “It can provide great peace of mind for people concerned about their potential risk.”

Here is an example of calcium scoring results:

Zero: No plaque. This score shows that your risk of heart attack is low.

1 – 10: Small amount of plaque. A score of 1 to 10 indicates that your chance of having heart disease is less than 10 percent and your heart attack risk is low.

11-100: Some plaque.Your doctor could recommend some treatment, in addition to suggesting lifestyle changes. This score indicates that you have a moderate chance of a heart attack and mild heart disease.

101 – 400: Moderate plaque. This score indicates that you do have heart disease and plaque may be blocking an artery. It also shows that your chance of having a heart attack is moderate to high. Your health care provider will likely want to start some course of treatment and take more tests. 

Over 400: Large amount of plaque. A score of over 400 indicates that you have more than a 90 percent chance that plaque is blocking one of your arteries and your chance of heart attack is high. Your health care provider will want to start a treatment plan, order more tests, and will likely refer you to a cardiac specialist. 

Even people who are physically active, maintain a healthy weight, and have no other risk factors may be candidates for a calcium scoring because so much of cardiac health hinges on family history and hereditary. Heart disease is extremely common but catching it early, and when it’s most treatable, could save your life.

For more information about calcium scoring, make an appointment with your primary care provider or message them via your patient portal. 

Heart disease doesn’t discriminate; it can lead to heart attacks for both men and women. Interestingly though, the warning signs often vary for the two genders. Men’s symptoms are often more telltale – much like how people experiencing heart attacks are depicted in films or on television shows. Women’s symptoms are not always as obvious and often seem more indicative of the flu or another illness. Thinking chest pain is the obvious indication of an attack, women often delay their decision to seek medical attention, a misconception that that leads to more fatalities. Know the signs – and the differences – that can help keep everyone safe.


Chest discomfort: Usually in the center of the chest, often heart attacks involve discomfort that lasts more than a few minutes, or pain that goes away and comes back. Symptoms can vary from uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain.

Pressure that spreads to arms, shoulders, back, neck, or jaw: Pain or discomfort isn’t isolated to the chest area. Be mindful of aches in either or both arms, your back, neck, jaw, shoulders, or stomach.


Head pain: Pain that signals a heart attack can start in the jaw or head. Some heart attack sufferers have also reported that they felt tooth pain or headaches, but had no chest pain at all.

Overwhelming and unusual fatigue: Often combined with shortness of breath, some women experienced extreme tiredness, often for days. While it may seem like a typical illness, this can be a sign of a far more serious problem.

Nausea and vomiting: Feeling sick to your stomach could actually be a sign of something much more serious than a common bug. Also be mindful of indigestion, burping, and reflux.

Light headedness, dizziness or sweating: Often combined with shortness of breath, women who have suffered heart attacks have reported that, even with no pain in their chests, they felt very dizzy, had slight heart flutters, and broke out in a cold, clammy sweat before they sought help.

Know the signs and don’t ignore symptoms that could be a signal of something more serious. If you are unsure if you should be checked or have questions, we encourage you to call one of our nurses at Pender Community Hospital or in one of our clinics. Our skilled team will guide you on the steps to take and are here to help. As always, in any emergency, call 911.