Car seat inspection leads to national recall

As one of our six certified child passenger safety technicians, Taryn Gallinger ensures babies are safely strapped in before leaving Wyoming Medical Center. But an inspection she did this summer likely helped protect babies far beyond our walls.

In May, an expecting mother walked into The Birth Place looking for help with her infant car seat – something just didn’t seem right. Gallinger, a certified nursing assistant, followed the woman to her car and, sure enough, the seat’s back end wouldn’t click into the base. No matter how many times Gallinger tried, she couldn’t get it to latch.

“That told me that something was definitely wrong,” Gallinger said. If there were an accident, the front latch would hold, but the back end would likely swing forward, slamming into the front seats.

Gallinger warned the woman not to transport her baby in that seat. She offered the woman another seat and suggested she take the defective one to Casper Fire Station No. 3. Perhaps they could help return it and ensure it would not be resold to someone else, Gallinger told her.

A couple of weeks later, Gallinger ran into the woman again at the Birth Place, this time with her new baby. The young mother thanked Gallinger for her help.

It wasn’t just her car seat that was defective, the mother said, but the entire design.   All such car seats were removed from the store’s shelves, and the defect led to a national recall of that model.

Gallinger hopes the story will motivate others to get their car seats inspected.

“That inspection not only protected patients here,” Gallinger said, “but it protected everyone who would have went out and purchased that particular car seat.”

WATCH THIS: Taryn Gallinger presents an infant car seat safety checklist in the below video.  Remember: When in doubt, call Wyoming Medical Center at 577-7904 for a professional car seat inspection.

Car seat safety guide, birth to age 13

Child Passenger Safety Week started Sunday and continues through Sept. 21. It’s a good time to remind readers that car seats are not just for newborns. Crashes are the most prevalent cause of death for children younger than 12.

Wyoming Medical Center ‘s Safe Kids of Central Wyoming program offers these guidelines for choosing a seat for your children:

* Birth – 12 Months
Your child under age 1 should always ride in a rear-facing car seat. There are different types of rear-facing car seats: Infant-only seats can only be used rear-facing. Convertible and 3-in-1 car seats typically have higher height and weight limits for the rear-facing position, allowing you to keep your child rear-facing for a longer period of time.

* 1 – 3 Years
Keep your child rear-facing as long as possible. It’s the best way to keep him or her safe. Your child should remain in a rear-facing car seat until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, your child is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness.

* 4 – 7 Years
Keep your child in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the forward-facing car seat with a harness, it’s time to travel in a booster seat, but still in the back seat.

* 8 – 12 Years
Keep your child in a booster seat until he or she is big enough to fit in a seat belt properly. For a seat belt to fit properly the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should lie snug across the shoulder and chest and not cross the neck or face. Remember: your child should still ride in the back seat because it’s safer there.

* National Seat Check Saturday is 10 a.m. to noon Sept. 21 at White’s Mountain Motors. Come for a free child car seat safety inspection and to check that yours is installed correctly.

* WMC’s Safe Kids of Central Wyoming will install and inspect child safety seats free of charge.  We will also provide infant car seats to parents who cannot afford one. To arrange a check, call Pam Evert, Safe Kids & Safe Communities program director at (307) 577-7904.

One lucky police chief

Thank you to Evansville Police Chief Zachary J. Gentile for the kind words in this morning’s Casper Star-Tribune.

In a letter to the editor, Gentile wrote about the great emergency care he received at Wyoming Medical Center. He also wrote touching messages to his family, friends and emergency services comrades. The whole letter is worth a read, and it is included below.

We are happy to see you on the road to recovery, Mr. Gentile.

Here is Gentile’s entire letter-to-the-editor, courtesy of the Star-Tribune:


On July 25, I was taken to the Wyoming Medical Center where emergency surgery was performed. I am now well on the road to recovery and back at work. I take this opportunity to thank so many people who were there for me and my family during this time. Starting with the Evansville Fire Department who got me to the hospital on time for Dr. James Anderson and his crew to perform the surgery that kept me alive. If anyone is wondering if we have a top-notch hospital, staffed by professionals, wonder no more. They are the best. The nurses in the intensive care unit and the surgery ward will always be in my prayers.

I am humbled that the news media thought it important enough to report on my dilemma. To all those who called, visited and sent cards and flowers thank you so very much. To my good friend and mayor of Evansville Phil Hinds and my police family I thank you for all that you did for me and my family during this time.

As for family I would not have survived without my wife Liz, daughter Christy, and son Zack Jr. They were my strength during all of this, pushing me to do what the doctor ordered. To say I am one lucky guy is the under statement of the century. Once again thanks to all of you and it is great to be back.

— Zachary J. Gentile

The case for delaying your flu shot

flu shot

Since August, bright neon signs have popped up in the parking lots of Casper supermarkets and pharmacies: “Flu shots here today!”

Not so fast, says Dr. Mark Dowell, an infectious disease doctor at Wyoming Medical Center and Rocky Mountain Infectious Diseases.  Getting flu shots this early probably won’t protect you against Wyoming’s typically late-starting flu season.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does recommend starting the vaccinations now, local factors should influence the timing, said Dowell, who also serves as Natrona County’s Health Officer.

Dr. Mark Dowell is an infectious diseases physician at Wyoming Medical Center and the Natrona County Health Officer.
Dr. Mark Dowell is an infectious diseases physician at Wyoming Medical Center and the Natrona County Health Officer.

“When you apply our local flu patterns over the last – well, I’ve been here 21 years – it doesn’t make sense to start giving flu shots this early. At Wyoming Medical Center, we are recommending that we start flu shots on Oct. 1 and not earlier,” he said.

Wyoming’s flu season doesn’t generally start until January. In the last several years, our flu seasons have started as late as February, March or April. The flu shot is good for four to six months, but its effectiveness decreases over time. Therefore, people who have already gotten their flu shot will probably not have the strongest immunity by the time Wyoming’s flu season rolls around.

“As we age, it’s less effective anyway. So if someone who is 65 years old gets a flu shot too early, they may not have any protection when the actual flu season hits,” Dowell said.

Dowell, along with d’Ann Miller, nurse practioner in employee health at Wyoming Medical Center, recently met with The Pulse to answer a few questions about the 2013-2014 flu shot.

What does this year’s shot protect against? 

d'Ann Miller is a nurse practioner in employee health at Wyoming Medical Center.
d’Ann Miller is a nurse practioner in employee health at Wyoming Medical Center.

Each year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention selects three flu strains most likely to cause illness in the coming season. Each of those goes into the flu shot.

This year, one of the strains in the shot is the H1N1 virus, d’Ann Miller said.  That strain caused widespread sickness and some deaths in 2009, including in Casper.

“We are predicting once again H1N1 could be around and we are protecting once again against it,” Miller said. Unlike other flu strains that typically infect the very young and very old more frequently, H1N1 hit young adults the hardest.

Who should get a flu shot? 

The CDC recommends that everyone six months and older get a flu shot, particularly people who are very young or very old or who may suffer from other chronic illnesses.

“Pregnant women can get the flu shot, and they are also at higher risk if they get the flu because they have two lives at stake,” Miller said.

“It’s very important to get the shot because we shed the virus before we even know that we are sick.”

When should I get the shot?

In October or November, but not before if you live in Wyoming, Dr. Dowell said.

The shot lasts between four to six months, but is strongest after two to four weeks. Its effectiveness decreases with time after that first 2- to 4-week period when your body is building its immunity. Wyoming Medical Center requires all 1,300 of our employees to get flu shots and will administer them between Oct. 1 and Nov. 20.

If you put off getting the shot until December, you should still get one. If the season comes in late January or in February, March or April like it has the last several years, you’ll still be protected.

Why would businesses offer the shot August and September if it likely won’t be effective when our flu season rolls around?

“I think it’s a market-driven issue,” Dowell said. “I really don’t like it. I don’t want to take business away from the retail areas, but I think they could stall a little bit.”

What if I got my flu shot in August? Should I get another one?

No. There’s no data to show that it would increase your protection. Plus, getting two flu shots so closely together could increase the chance of adverse side effects such as a sore arm or fever.

“It’s not worth it and it’s never been proven that a second shot would actually protect you more in a particular season,” Dowell said.

“Just wait it out and live your life. Take the same preventative measures that you always take in the winter against influenza: Cover your face if you are coughing, wash your hands and be smart about it. That hasn’t changed.

“Just don’t get your shot so early next year. Wait until October. “

Get your flu shot

While Wyoming Medical Center recommends that people wait until October or November to get their flu shots, the important thing is still that you get them. Here are a few options on getting yours:

* Women’s Expo: Wyoming Medical Center will give flu shots to the first 100 visitors to our booth at the Women’s Expo Oct. 4-5 at the Casper Events Center. Adult shots will be administered for the discounted price of $28. We will also be giving free health screenings and health fair screens for discounted prices.

* Sage Primary Care clinic: Sage Primary Care, 1020 S. Conwell St., will provide a flu shot clinic for non-Sage patients from 8 a.m. to noon Oct. 12. Cost is $28. Sage patients can ask for the shot at scheduled appointments.

* Casper-Natrona County Health Department public clinics: Public flu immunizations for people ages 6 and older will be 2:45 to 6:45 p.m. Oct. 14, Oct. 21, Oct. 28, Nov. 4, Nov. 18, Nov. 25 and Dec. 2 (depending on vaccine availability) at the Casper Senior Citizen’s Center, 1831 E. Fourth St. Cost is $20.

Concussion Monday: How does a concussion happen?

Visual of what happens to your brain when you get  concussion
What really happens when you suffer a concussion?

As part of our ongoing Concussion Monday series, we developed a graphic to help people understand what really goes on in the ‘ole noggin when one suffers a concussion.

The Pulse is participating in #ConcussionMonday, an initiative started by Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center to raise awareness about concussion and traumatic brain injury on social media. Hospitals and medical centers across the country use #ConcussionMonday on Twitter to link to education and reminders about concussion prevention.

Read our past Concussion Monday posts below:

Monday 3: What parents should know 

Monday 2: Neurologist Dr. David Wheeler talks symptoms and treatments

Monday 1: A high school coach’s guide to recognizing concussions

Our south parking garage is now open

security workers south parking
Ross Stewart and Kathy Hourt were two of our security folks who worked to minimize visitor and patient disruption when the south parking garage was closed. They manned the garage entrance to direct drivers to alternate parking areas.

Our south parking garage, which has been closed since Monday morning, is now open to visitor and patient parking.

Wyoming Medical Center appreciates the public’s cooperation with our alternate parking plans over the last few days. We also would like to thank our staff who worked tirelessly to minimize disruption to visitors and patients.

We’d like to especially thank our security personnel who spoke with drivers at the south entrance and directed them to alternate parking lots and who parked hundreds of visitor and patient cars through our valet service.

“They did a fantastic job,” said Stephen Dyer, head of security at Wyoming Medical Center. “They caught nearly every visitor and basically walked them anywhere they needed to go. The valet workers not only parked hundreds of cars, but escorted patients to their destinations as well. I think everyone stepped up and did a really great job.”

Finding my ideal weight: Back on track

I fell off the wagon.  My husband and I took a long weekend road trip over Labor Day weekend, and while I had the best intentions, things just didn’t pan out quite like I envisioned.  I wasn’t quite off the rails, but I definitely didn’t watch my food as closely as the Ideal Protein plan requires.  I do like that the plan is restrictive because it’s easy to figure out what you can and can’t eat and there’s no calorie counting.  But flexible, this plan is not.

: This divine meal at a downtown Omaha restaurant surely contributed to my moderate weight gain two weeks ago.  See those potatoes?  They were sooo good.
This divine meal at a downtown Omaha restaurant surely contributed to my moderate weight gain two weeks ago. See those potatoes? They were sooo good.

When I arrived back at work last Tuesday morning, I seriously considered canceling my standing 5:15 p.m. appointment.  I’d just get back on track and weigh in again this week.  I was afraid of what the scale was going to show me, but I was also afraid that one week would lead to two, and then I might never go back and never reach my goal.  Even worse, the 20-plus pounds I’ve worked hard to lose would make their way back.  I knew I had to go and own up to my weekend.

Not surprisingly, I had gained weight.  I was confident that the weight that went on quickly would come off quickly, though, and was proud of myself for getting right back on the diet.  Meanwhile, I struggled with how I could blog about my failure.  So … I didn’t.

I didn’t think anyone would notice, but in the last several days, a handful of people asked me how I did this week and wondered if they missed my blog.  It’s nice to know that people are rooting for me, but I also knew that meant that I had to come clean this week.

Fortunately, I’ve fully recovered from my weekend of sin.  Not only did I lose the weight I gained last week, but I lost a few more just for good measure.  Despite one off week, I’m still averaging just over 3.5 pounds of weight loss per week.  And the best news of all is that after just seven weeks, I’m on the downhill slide to my goal!

I don’t condone “cheating” on a diet like this, but I do think that there’s something to be said for giving in to your cravings every now and again.  Life is all about balance, after all.  Falling off the wagon is a valuable lesson I’ll put in my weight-loss toolbox.

If you are interested in finding your ideal weight using Ideal Protein call the WMC Weight Management Program at (307) 577-2158.

My Ideal Tracker – Week 6-7

Pounds lost this week: 4

Pounds lost so far: 26

Pounds to go: 12

Power tip: It’s OK to fall off the wagon – just get back on!

Finding my ideal weight

Mandy Cepeda is the senior manager of community development at Wyoming Medical Center and contributor to The Pulse.  After graduating from the University of Wyoming, she started her career as a copy editor at the Casper Star-Tribune over 10 years ago.  While she decided journalism was not for her, she married one of the photographers, Dan, in 2006. They enjoy a lovely life together with their pound-puppy mutt, Maddie.  

WMC’s south parking garage closed until Thursday morning

On Sunday, Wyoming Medical Center staff noticed new cracks in the center-section floor of our south parking structure. The structure was previously evaluated by structural engineers who felt the cracks were merely cosmetic. With the appearance of these new cracks, we have decided to err on the side of safety and close the parking garage to all vehicles.

We expect the garage to be closed until Thursday morning. In the meantime, we will install 20 steel shoring posts along the interior walls of the parking structure. The garage will open after these supports are in place.

We would like to assure the public that the garage is structurally sound and was evaluated this morning by a structural engineer. There is a remote danger of falling concrete, which is the reason for this precaution.

In the meantime, we have established these parking protocols for visitors and patients.

  1. South Link Closure Flyer (1)Parking is available in the lot on the corner of First and Conwell Streets, kitty corner from the hospital.
  2. Parking is also available in the new parking structure on the west side of the hospital, with access from Jackson Street. Please be aware that there is no public access from the garage to the hospital and you will need to walk around to the ER entrance on Second Street.
  3. Valet parking is available for patients and visitors who are unable to walk from Conwell or the new parking garage. Use the entrance in front of the Emergency Room entrance off of Second Street for this option.
  4. We ask that you do not park in the lots reserved for McMurry Medical Arts building patients.
  5. Pedestrian-only access is available through the south garage for visitors who park along the side streets south of the hospital. Please be aware that elevators will not be available to visitors or patients, but the stairways will be open to the main floor.
  6. If you require wheelchair access, please use the valet parking service at our ER entrance on Second Street.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and ask for your patience as we resolve this issue. We are closing the structure out of an abundance of caution, and we will work quickly to reopen the structure to patients and visitors.

Thank you for choosing Wyoming Medical Center.

Concussion Monday: What parents should know about concussion

By Dr. Ania Pollack, neurosurgeon at Wyoming Medical Center

The opening of a new school year means not only books and classrooms but also an explosion of athletic activities. The types soccerof contact and collision sports which are available to kids at much younger ages are growing in school sponsored events. There should be no surprise that we are also seeing a significant increase of head concussions affecting our children.

In fact, it has been estimated that about 700,000 concussions per year occur in children ages 1 to 19. Concussions have doubled for children ages 8 to 13 and have increased more than 300 percent for 14- to 19-year-old.  These statistics are for the concussions that are confirmed by hospitals and do not include at least 40 percent more concussions that are not reported.

Beginning sports in the elementary schools exposes our kids to 6 or 7 more years of potential injuries leading to the scary statistic of 68 percent of children having at least one concussion by the time they enter high school.

The most important part of concussion awareness is the recognition of its symptoms. These include:

— severe headache

— difficulty concentrating or suffering from loss of memory, slow decision making, a total lack of focus, or the inability to recall normal routine

— dizziness, vertigo, difficulty with balance

— unequal size of pupils

— nausea and vomiting

— blurred vision

— irritability and emotional outbursts

— slurred speech

— disrupted sleep patterns

If you notice any of these symptoms in your child, especially in light of a recent trauma, seek immediate medical attention. Why?  Because the brain is the most important organ in your body and it can be severely affected by concussions that may cause acute and/or long term injuries.

The most talked about injuries are subdural and epidural hematomas or any other type of brain bleeding that unfortunately has taken lives of young athletes every year. It can be detected by a head CT and appropriately treated by a neurosurgeon.

Other injuries are more subtle, but still rob our children of normal brain function such as attention, memory, multitasking and may lead to behavioral and personality changes. Unfortunately concussions are a part of our everyday life, but dealing with them promptly and correctly will help minimize potential short and long term problems.

Dr. Ania Pollack is a locums neurosurgeon at Wyoming Brain and Spine Associates, 1020 E. Second St., in Casper. Email or make an appointment by calling (307) 266-2222.

This article was originally published in the For Your Kids’ Health e-newsletter, a project by Wyoming Medical Center and Natrona County School District. Find more articles and health tips for children of all ages by clicking on For Your Kids’ Health from The Pulse’s homepage.


Are your children’s immunizations up to date?

By Suzey Delger, NCSD nursing coordinator

immunizationThe Natrona County School District school nurses would like to remind parents that immunizations are required by the State of Wyoming upon entry into kindergarten. Parents must provide a current immunization record and children’s shots must be up-to-date within 30 days of enrollment or the first day of school – or by Wednesday, Sept. 18.

Beginning on the morning of Sept. 18, children who have not provided proof of the Wyoming requirements for immunization cannot come to school. School nurses are not able to access the Wyoming Immunization Registry so it is important for parents to provide the most current immunization record available.

The requirements for incoming kindergarteners and students new the district are below. If your child met the requirements in kindergarten, he or she likely won’t need more shots until the seventh grade.

Required  immunizations, K-6

* DTaP (Diptheria/tetanus/pertussis):    5 doses

* IPV (Polio): 3 to 4 doses

* Hep B (Hepatitis B):  3 doses

* MMR (Measles/Mumps/Rubella):  2 doses

* Varicella (Chickenpox): 2 doses or verification from parent that child has had the chickenpox in the past

Seventh-grade student must show proof of receiving a Tdap (Tetanus/diphtheria/acellular pertussis) by 7 a.m. Sept. 18.  We want to be certain that students are well protected for pertussis  –  also known as “whooping cough” — which can be a debilitating disease. Shots are available at your primary care provider or the Casper-Natrona County Health Department  by calling 253-9340.

For high school students, especially seniors who will be attending college or trade school next year, Meningococcal or Gardisil immunizations are both highly recommended, though not required at NCSD. Many universities now require these immunizations. Call the Casper-Natrona County Health Department at 253-9340 or your private health care provider for more information.

Although your child may not need these shots right now, be aware that flu shots are usually available in October by the Casper-Natrona County Health Department. Flu shots are not required, but are highly recommended for all children.

If you have any questions about any of this information, please contact your school’s nurse.


Suzey Delger is the nursing coordinator for Natrona County School District.  Information for this article was taken from For Your Kids’ Health, a project by Wyoming Medical Center and Natrona County School District. Find more articles and health tips for children of all ages by clicking on For Your Kids’ Health from The Pulse’s homepage.

Construction Update: Fall 2013


Work is really ramping up on our new West Tower. The number of workers is expected to double this fall as the work load increases.

Over the summer, Haselden Caspar/Pope JV completed the structure steel and backfilled the foundations. Crews completed all the underground piping for the kitchen and have finished the concrete floors. Permanent roofs were laid in late August and September, allowing for interior finish work to move forward at full speed.

Inside this fall, workers will be framing walls allowing electrical, mechanical and plumbing systems to be placed. Drywall will go up, creating finished rooms and work spaces.

Medical centers have unique and specialized specifications, requiring unique and specialized contractors. Crews are now working on these systems including including medical gases and vacuum piping above ceilings and in walls; steamed and chilled water lines; a pneumatic tube system installed by Swisslog; nurse call, security, telecom wiring; and elevators to be installed beginning in early September.

Outside, the brick facade will be inlaid, moving from the east to west. You’ll also see windows, finished brick and metal wall panels installed as the building encloses. Site grading and concrete will begin shortly as the lay of the land will become clear to all passing by.

Siemens is now working to calibrate and test the first MRI unit as construction crews complete finishes throughout the remainder of the building. Windows, cabinets, countertops and finished doors are being installed. It will open to patients in October.

The West Tower will open next spring, providing 98,000 feet for state-of-the-art medical care, 28 private surgical rooms, a new mother-baby unit with 10 private rooms taking up an entire floor and more services devoted to patients and their families.


Entrance (first floor)
• Curbside canopy for drop-off
• Valet parking
• Easy access from Second Street
• Double the size of existing area, seating for 145
• New kitchen and dining areas
• Accessible patio area
• Wide variety of food, including enhanced salad bar
Meeting Space
•  Seats up to 80 classroom-style
•  Private dining board room

Main Lobby (second floor)
• Coffee shop for visitors and staff
• Direct connection to West Parking Garage, Support Services building and Central Tower
Gift shop
• Volunteer office
• Shelled space for future wellness center
• Large, quiet area
• Accepting of all beliefs and traditions
• Chaplain offices
Admitting Area
• 5 private admitting areas
• Financial advisor office

Mother-Baby Unit (third floor)
• Entire floor devoted to mothers and babies
• Family waiting area
• 6 labor and delivery rooms
• 10 mother-baby suites
• Dedicated operating room for C-section patients
• Large windows

Orthopedic & Spine Unit (fourth floor)
• 28 private patient rooms
• Family waiting area
• Rehabilitation gym
• Shell space available for future rooms, including bariatric patient rooms

MRI Building
• Inpatient and outpatient
• Approximately 5,000 square feet
• Direct connections to current hospital and new West Tower