Don’t Wreck The Holidays campaign reminds people not to drink and drive

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At our “Don’t Wreck the Holidays” campaign, we took this photo of all of the Natrona County emergency vehicles that could respond in drunk driving crash including a WMC ambulance, an Air Methods Wyoming Life Flight helicopter, a Casper Fire/EMS fire truck, the Natrona County Coroner’s vehicle and vehicles from Natrona County Sheriff’s Office.

On Nov. 18, WMC Safe Communities kicked off its drunk driving campaign, “Don’t Wreck the Holidays,” at Casper College.

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Casper College Criminal Justice students created these snowmen displays to remind people that “buzzed driving is drunk driving.”

Thank you to our moving panel of speakers: Mike Reed from the Governor’s Council on impaired driving who spoke about how communities can work together; Deborah McLeland, mother of one of the eight University of Wyoming cross-country runners killed by a drunk driver in 2001; WMC Emergency Room doctor Lonnie Teague ; and Natrona County District Attorney Mike Blonigen. Also thank you to Conner Washburn, a Casper College Criminal Justice student, who emceed the event.

The “Don’t Wreck the Holidays” campaign is a partnership between WMC Safe Communities; Casper College Community Criminal Justice department; the Natrona County Sheriff’s Department;, MADD; Wyoming Department of Transportation; Casper, Evansville and Mills police departments; and Natrona County Coroner’s Office.

December is a particularly dangerous month for drunken driving crashes. From 2007 to 2011, 29 percent of deaths in December car crashes involved drivers with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 760 people died as a result of drunk driving-related crashes during December 2011.

“While everyone knows that driving a vehicle or riding a motorcycle while impaired seriously jeopardizes your safety and the safety of others on the road around you, we still see far too many lives lost each December,” said Sgt. John Becker of the Natrona County Sheriff’s Department.

Watch for our materials around Natrona County through the New Year and remember that buzzed driving in drunk driving. Follow these steps to ensure holiday celebrations don’t end in tragedy:

* Designate a sober driver before the celebrations begin, or plan another way to get home safely at the end of the night.

* If you are impaired, call a taxi, phone a sober friend or family member or use public transportation. You can also ask servers and bartenders at bars and restaurants for a Safe Ride voucher for a free taxi ride home.

* Be responsible. If someone you know is drinking, do not let that person get behind the wheel.

* If you see an impaired driver on the road, contact law enforcement. Your actions may save someone’s life, and inaction could cost a life.

Pam EvertPam Evert is the Safe Communities Program Director for WMC Safe Kids and Safe Communities. She has worked for WMC more than 21 years and is committed to improving community health in any way possible.

Help us welcome our ‘Thanksgiving’ baby

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Our Thanksgiving baby, Parker Camp, was born at 6:57 a.m. Wednesday to Kristin and Dallas Camp.

Help us welcome Wyoming Medical Center’s Thanksgiving baby to Casper.

While a baby wasn’t born on Thanksgiving proper, Parker was born to Kristin and Dallas Camp at 6:57 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 27. She’s wearing her turkey baby cap donated to The Birth Place a couple of weeks ago.

We are still looking for whoever crocheted these caps. (Click here for the full story.) If you think you might know our anonymous donor, please let us know.

We hope to post photos of babies wearing their Christmas-themed caps, so stay tuned!

We are thankful for the Kelly Walsh student council

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Kelly Walsh students Roy Cady-Kimble (left) and Tom Ladd (right) kneel with breast cancer survivor Sharon Gunyan in her home last week. Students delivered turkey dinners to cancer patients to help them celebrate Thanksgiving.

This Thanksgiving, we at Wyoming Medical Center are thankful for the Kelly Walsh student council!

This summer, the council raised $34,000 for WMC Foundation’s Angel Cancer Care Program with its Trojan Trek. Last week, students helped us deliver Thanksgiving meals to 23 Casper cancer patients.

The Angels feel blessed by the partnership we have forged with these students. It started last spring when I was asked to talk to the student council about the Angels program. The students were planning their second annual Trojan Trek — a cancer awareness relay that positions walkers on the track 24 hours-a-day throughout the month of June. Walkers collect pledges, and the students wanted the money to help local cancer patients so they could see how the project impacted their community. They chose to donate their money to the Angels. The $34,000 the students and community members raised through Trojan Trek will help us provide wigs, gas cards, groceries and much more to Wyoming cancer patients.

I’m happy to say that our partnership has not ended. Last week, 17 council students helped the Angels deliver a turkey and a roasting pan filled with Thanksgiving fixings to 23 cancer patients across Casper. Students chatted with patients, checked in on them and made sure that they did not need anything else.

That’s what our Angels do.  They are the wings of cancer patients while they go through their treatment so they can focus on getting better.

Fundraising is a talent that the students of Kelly Walsh possess and something they do a lot of for many organizations here in Casper.  The partnership with the Angels is one that brings joy according to student Roy Cady-Kimble. Usually, the students just see the monetary side of it – delivering checks to the groups they are helping. But delivering the Thanksgiving meals let them interact with real people who benefitted from the students’ hard work, he said.

Delivering meals is just one way that the student council has impacted the Angels program and the patients we serve.  But it is an experience that I hope they hold onto as they make their way in this world.  Their smiles and youthful energy bring hope to many.  They bring joy and encouragement.

This partnership is one that brings gratitude to the Angels.  At this time of Thanksgiving, we are thankful that they believe so unrestrainedly in what the Angels do.  We are thankful for youth who want to give back, who want to be the good that they see in the world.

About the angels

The Wyoming Medical Center Foundation’s Angels Cancer Care program serves hundreds of Wyoming cancer patients every year offering emotional support and financial assistance with wigs, gas cards, transportation and more. To learn more or to make a donation, call (307) 577-4355 or visit our website.

For more on this story, read Elysia Conner’s article in the Casper Journal.

JillianJillian Riddle is the volunteer coordinator for Wyoming Medical Center and the Angels Cancer Care coordinator with the Wyoming Medical Center Foundation. She is a native of North Carolina with a love for the outdoors. She has one daughter, Princess Petunia Pants, and an awesome husband.

The Turkey Chef: How cancer helped Casper man rediscover the joy of food

Larry Bockman fills his plate at the Masterson Place November potluck, hosted by the Wyoming Medical Center Foundation's Angels Cancer Care Program. Bockman taught himself to cook after his taste buds when haywire from chemotherapy.
Larry Bockman fills his plate at the Masterson Place November potluck, hosted by the Wyoming Medical Center Foundation’s Angels Cancer Care Program. Bockman taught himself to cook after his taste buds went haywire from chemotherapy.

He stuffed the turkey with apples and cinnamon, rubbed it with oil and seasoned it with rosemary. He smoked it for 3 ½ hours. He made giblet gravy with boiled egg and cornbread dressing with leeks and celery, just like his Arkansas-raised mother made at Thanksgiving.

Chemotherapy wrecked Larry Bockman’s taste buds so he taught himself to cook. He experimented with spices and focused on flavor. He cooked treats for the staff of Rocky Mountain Oncology: Tater tots and jalapeno slices wrapped in bacon, berry tarts with wafer cookies and ricotta cheese, meatloaf with green pea mousse.

On Nov. 13, he cooked for the guests of the Masterson Place, a home away from home for out-of-town patients of Wyoming Medical Center and Rocky Mountain Oncology. He volunteered to smoke the turkey for WMC Foundation’s Angels Cancer Care Program which hosts one potluck dinner there a month. For guests such as Marie Richter, it was a chance for an early Thanksgiving without the worry of planning it herself. Richter and her husband have stayed at Masterson Place since July while her husband goes through chemo treatments. They drive home to Thermopolis on the weekends.

“Each week, they give us the same room. It feels like we’ve come home whenever we get here,” said Richter, who went to the potluck alone while her husband recovered from surgery at WMC. She ate her turkey and cornbread stuffing with Deborah Surat, a veteran from Riverton. The women had never before met.

“The food is delicious and the company is nice,” Surat said. “It feels homey.”

The purpose of these dinners is to establish community among the patients and families served at Masterson Place, said Jillian Riddle, Angels program coordinator at Wyoming Medical Center.

Marie Richter of Thermopolis, at right, sits with Deborah Surat of Riverton, during the Masterson Place Thanksgiving potluck on Nov. 13.
Marie Richter of Thermopolis, at right, sits with Deborah Surat of Riverton, during the Masterson Place Thanksgiving potluck on Nov. 13.

“It’s amazing to watch strangers in crisis — those facing surgeries, injuries and cancer treatments — bond over a meal.”

Bockman has cooked for the Angels’ potlucks for about seven months. As a cancer patient himself, he knows what it’s like to be unsure about what’s coming and the comfort of a good meal. Cooking, he says, gives him purpose and occupies his mind.

He moved back to Wyoming about three years ago after decades of logging in Washington and Alaska. His family spent 45 years in Encampment, and his brother got him a job hauling oil in Glenrock.

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Patricia Anderson of Riverton goes through the potluck line at the Masterson Place. She came to Casper to support her friend Palmer Mattson, shown in back, who had a doctor’s appointment with cardiologist Dr. Adrian Fluture. Mattson has stayed at the Masterson Place many times, but never during one of the Angels’ potlucks. “I think it’s wonderful,” Palmer said. “It’s convenient for people who don’t have a lot of money, it helps them out.”

He noticed he couldn’t do as much as he used to. One day, he climbed to the top of the 22-foot oil tanker and couldn’t catch his breath. He heard water sloshing around in his chest. His doctor said his lung was full of fluid and admitted him to Wyoming Medical Center.

There, his doctor broke the news the X-rays had confirmed: Bockman had cancer.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” he responded.

Cancer had killed his mother just a few months earlier. It killed his dad in 1978 when nothing could be done. Doctors told his dad to go home so he could die there.

Bockman was diagnosed with two forms of cancer. The first was B-cell lymphoma and spots covered his back, hips and right arm bone. He started chemotherapy at Rocky Mountain Oncology and spent 10 days at WMC to stop his lungs from leaking.

Isaac, 2, Natalie and Landon Bluemel share an early Thanksgiving meal with guests of the Masterson Place. Landon is a medical student in surgery in the University of Wyoming residency program. He and his family are staying in the Masterson Place while in Casper.
Isaac, 2, Natalie and Landon Bluemel share an early Thanksgiving meal with guests of the Masterson Place. Landon is a medical student in surgery in the University of Wyoming residency program. He and his family are staying in the Masterson Place while in Casper.

“I enjoyed the hospital. I really did. You’re there because you’re sick, you don’t need to make everybody else miserable by complaining,” he said. “I had the best nurses. There was nothing that I asked for that they wouldn’t get for me.”

In between chemo treatments, when all he could do was rest on his couch, Bockman watched television. He got to liking some of the shows on The Food Network and discovered that he could find recipes for everything they cooked on the internet. He started piddling in the kitchen of his 38-foot camper, where he lives. He pulled his smoker from his shed and smoked meats — briskets, ribs, chicken. He moved to harder dishes and threw out whatever he didn’t like. After a life of eating in great greasy diners and in logging camps with fantastic home-style cooks, he rediscovered a love of food.

Bockman’s second type of cancer — Follicular lymphoma, a mass growing in his abdomen — didn’t respond to chemotherapy or 26 radiation treatments. He’s on a special cancer drug and plans to undergo a T-cell transplant in Denver. He’ll monitor it and do what he can, but there is no cure for his case, he says.

“It’s going to kill me eventually, there is no doubt about it. I’m a realist. I’ll be 64 in February and I’ve traipsed all over the mountains, all over the woods. I’ve broken hands, cut myself with chainsaws, broke my back a couple or three times. You know, just everyday life. When I was young, I thought I was 10 foot tall and bullet proof. I’m paying for that past life, I guess. What the heck,” he said.

“But I’m so blessed with the treatment available now. I will bide my time and try to do good.”

And he’ll cook.

This Thanksgiving, he’s letting his niece cook for him.  But he’ll be back in his camper’s kitchen soon enough, mixing up something for the ladies at Rocky Mountain Oncology and the families and patients at Masterson Place: Homemade sausage and brats, white chocolate chip macadamia nut cookies, a Tuscan soup that is to die for.

Olivia Schuler, known at the Masterson Place dinners as the Littlest Angel and official greeter, enjoys a turkey leg almost as big as her head.
Olivia Schuler, known at the Masterson Place dinners as the Littlest Angel and official greeter, enjoys a turkey leg almost as big as her head.

About the angels

The Wyoming Medical Center Foundation’s Angels Cancer Care program serves hundreds of Wyoming cancer patients every year offering emotional support and financial assistance with wigs, gas cards, transportation and more. To learn more or to make a donation, call (307) 577-4355 or visit our website.

About Masterson Place

The Masterson Place serves thousands of patients every year. At a cost of $40 per night with both short- and long-term rooms, it is a comfortable refuge for those who need it most. Each room has a small eating area, microwave and refrigerator. Through contributions, the Wyoming Medical Center Foundation continues to make significant upgrades to the Masterson Place each year.

For reservations or more information, contact the Masterson Place at (307) 237-5933 or visit our website.

To make a donation, contact the Wyoming Medical Center Foundation:

1233 E. Second St.
Casper, WY 82601
(307) 577-2973

Holiday Square and the Reindeer Run warms the spirit

Thank you to all who braved the cold on Sunday for our Reindeer Run and Holiday Square celebration. Runners raised $7,380 for Wyoming Medical Center Foundation’s Angel Cancer Care Program, more than twice what was raised last year.

Hunter Davila and Amanda Beaver won the individual race. Team winners were Regan Diller, Kramer Hirz, and Dan Uresk. Team “12 Days of Christmas” won best costume.

It all started with a 5K run that brought 294 adults, kids, strollers and dogs out to support the Angels.  It ended with a countdown to zero as the 73,000 christmas lights flicked on shorty after 5:15 p.m.

By Friday, 150 Reindeer Run registrations had been collected. That number doubled on race day. The race began at 4 p.m. with walkers and runners dressed and bundled up for the chilly temperatures. Hot chocolate and cookies were provided to the racers as they finished the race and joined the growing crowd of Casperites enjoying their own hot chocolate and cookies served by the Salvation Army.

The Salvation Army volunteers (Robert King, John Potter, Tara Robbins, Asten Hejke, Debbie Mestas, Isabel Garner and Juan Paz) served hot chocolate and cookies to visitors at the 2013 Holiday Square tree lighting ceremony.
The Salvation Army volunteers (Robert King, John Potter, Tara Robbins, Asten Hejke, Debbie Mestas, Isabel Garner and Juan Paz) served hot chocolate and cookies to visitors at the 2013 Holiday Square tree lighting ceremony.

A special thank you to the Salvation Army who joined ranks with the City of Casper and Wyoming Medical Center and other sponsors in this year’s Holiday Square celebration.  They served 2,000 cups of hot chocolate and gave away 1,000 cookies during the annual event held in Conwell Park.

In this short video, the holiday crowd grows in anticipation of the countdown to turning the lights on for the 2013 Holiday Square tree lighting ceremony.

See below for pictures from the Reindeer Run prior to the lights coming on.

 

Team Run for God: Jackie McDonald, Brena and James Short, April Crow, Maria Parkinson, Chris Whetham ans Carola Cowan
Team Run for God: Jackie McDonald, Brena and James Short, April Crow, Maria Parkinson, Chris Whetham ans Carola Cowan
The Tannenbaum Trotters picture
Sandy Hoppe, Jessie Boodleman, Megan Smith, Phylicia Nieft
Jenn Schmidt, Angie Mehrens, Abby Holwegner
Reindeer Run team picture
Whitney Grant, Sara Urban, Jennifer Pruitt, Kylee Loutas, Echo Smith, Kristen Getter, Drew Barton
Reindeer Run Team Antlers photo
Team Antlers: Lori Dahlke, Louise Jaskowak, Terri Arnell

Reindeer Runners and walkersReindeer Runners Reindeer Runners

Safe Communities offers turkey prep safety pointers

free range turkeyAccording to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in six Americans  will get sick from dangerous food borne bacteria this year. The holiday meal and its preparation is the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving celebration and safe food handling in the kitchen is a very important part of the holiday.  To keep your friends and family safe from food poisoning there are certain steps that everyone should know:

 

DO …

DO ask all kitchen helpers to wash their hands using warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after handling food.

DO keep turkey in its original wrapping, refrigerated until ready to cook.

DO defrost a frozen turkey by refrigeration or cold running water.

DO allow one day for every 5 pounds to defrost in the refrigerator.  In a cold water bath, change the water every 30 minutes.  A 20 pound turkey will take 12 hours to defrost in cold water and should be cooked immediately after thawing.

DO use a meat thermometer to check if turkey is done.  The turkey should cook until the internal temperature reaches a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees F.

DO remove the stuffing immediately after the turkey is cooked.

DO store the turkey and stuffing separately.

DO store leftover turkey in the refrigerator and use within 3-4 days.

DO store leftover stuffing and gravy in the refrigerator and use within 1-2 days.

 

DON’T…

DON’T defrost a turkey at room temperature. Bacteria can multiply to unsafe numbers on outer layers before inner layers have defrosted.

DON’T leave an uncooked thawed turkey out of the refrigerator longer than 2 hours.

DON’T partially cook the turkey one day and continue roasting the next day.

DON’T prepare food if you are sick or have any nose or eye infection.

DON’T leave leftovers out on the counter longer than 2 hours.

DON’T store leftover stuffing in the turkey.

DON’T re-freeze a completely thawed uncooked turkey.

DON’T stuff turkeys as it makes it difficult for the internal temperature to reach 165°F within a safe period of time. If you must stuff your turkey, stuff it lightly before cooking and leave room for the oven to cook the interior of the turkey and stuffing.

 

Pam EvertPam Evert is the Safe Communities Program Director for WMC Safe Kids and Safe Communities. She has worked for WMC more than 21 years and is committed to improving community health in any way possible.

Fall Dessert: Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Here’s a great fall recipe.  My daughter and I enjoyed making these on a recent weekend. We found them delicious with 1/2cup versus 3/4 cup brown sugar in the recipe.

Pumpkin-Oatmeal-Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup quick-cooking oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup canned pumpkin
1-1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
 

Directions:

  1. Halloween and baking for The Pulse 025In a bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla.
  2. Combine the flour, oats, baking soda and cinnamon; stir into creamed mixture alternately with pumpkin.
  3. Fold in chocolate chips.
  4. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto greased baking sheets.
  5. Bake at 350° for 12-13 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool.

Yield: 4 dozen.

Recipe adapted from Taste of Home

How a rare Evansville murder almost took – then saved – the chief’s life

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Evansville Police Chief Zachary Gentile poses at his desk recently. While investigating a rare Evansville homicide in July, he suffered a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm. He credits staff at Wyoming Medical Center for saving his life — and for catching the cancer he didn’t know he had. (Photo by Dan Cepeda Photography)

It’d been a long night and Zachary Gentile lay down almost as soon as he hit his front door.

A rare homicide had pulled Gentile and his Evansville officers out of bed just after midnight on July 25. A 21-year-old man allegedly shot another man in the parking lot of Taylor’s Sports Bar, and the officers worked the case for 12 straight hours. At noon, Gentile decided they needed a break, and he took his folks to lunch. His stomach started to hurt soon after arriving home.

“The pain was just astronomical. So, I went into the bathroom and I am sitting down and the pain got to the point where I could not breath, OK?” said Gentile, Evansville police chief. “I fell down, hit my head and cut my eye. My wife called the EMTs.”

Sometimes, Gentile jokes that he must have landed in the witness protection program to find himself in Evansville. He grew up in New York City, retired from Miami’s Metro Dade Police Department after 24 years, and came to Wyoming 15 years ago to take the chief job.

But he will tell anyone that asks that his care at Wyoming Medical Center rivals the care he would have gotten in cities 10 times the size of Casper.  The medical team here saved his life, he says, no two ways about it.

“I have run into a couple of nurses that were there. They are just amazed that I am actually back to work. They told me my condition is mostly discovered in an autopsy,” he said.

“So, yeah. I do feel thankful. It obviously was not my turn to go yet. I don’t know why I did not chip in, but here I am. And I am glad.”

***

Gentile bypassed the WMC emergency room for an immediate CT scan. His doctor and nurse noticed an 6-centimeter rupture in his aorta. Gentile didn’t have time to report back to the Emergency Room and wouldn’t survive an emergency flight.  Emergency staff called Dr. James Anderson who responded within five minutes to meet Gentile in surgery. Gentile’s aortic artery had ruptured, and he was bleeding into his abdomen.

A healthy aorta branches into smaller arteries, carrying blood to the kidneys, abdomen and legs.
A healthy aorta branches into smaller arteries, carrying blood to the kidneys, abdomen and legs.
An aneurysm forms when part of the aortic wall weakens and bulges out like a balloon. When an aneurysm ruptures, as in Zachary Gentile's case, it bleeds into the abdomen.
An aneurysm forms when part of the aortic wall weakens and bulges out like a balloon. When an aneurysm ruptures, as in Zachary Gentile’s case, it bleeds into the abdomen.
An arteriogram of a healthy aorta (left) compared to an aortic aneurysm.
An arteriogram of a healthy aorta (left) compared to an aortic aneurysm.

“ER staff caught it and recognized that it was life threatening. If they did not catch it, who knows what would have happened,” Gentile said.

The aorta is the body’s largest artery, about the circumference of a garden hose. It carries oxygenated blood directly from the heart to the kidneys, abdomen and the lower body. A healthy artery is smooth inside allowing easy flow of the blood.

For years and without him knowing it, the lining of Gentile’s aorta had been growing weaker – a condition that likely ran in his family. His aorta bulged outwards like a balloon, stretching the walls and weakening them further. His blood pressure dropped, but he displayed no outward symptoms. At 170 pounds, he could have stood to lose a few pounds, but which of us couldn’t?

Then his phone rang shortly after midnight on July 25. His blood pressure almost certainly rose as he and his officers investigated the shooting at Taylor’s Bar, putting more pressure on his weak aortal walls. By the time he lay down for his nap, the walls could no longer withstand the pressure. His aorta ruptured.

“Murder is not something that happens in Evansville very often. Chief does a good job and he takes his job very seriously. I’m sure his blood pressure was elevated,” Anderson said.

Within about 20 minutes of Gentile’s arrival at WMC, Anderson was in the operating room with his patient. Gentile had suffered a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm – a condition that is fatal if not immediately treated.

There are two ways to fix an aortic aneurysm, Anderson said. One is with a catheter inserted into two small incisions in the groin and threaded through the artery. Doctors place the graft inside the aneurysm using X-ray guidance. That wasn’t an option for Gentile.

“When the aneurysm is ruptured and the patient is bleeding to death, you don’t have time to get there with a catheter. You just open them up and put a clamp on the artery and sew the graft inside,” Anderson said.

The national survival rate for ruptured aortic aneurysms is about 50 percent, said Anderson who sees 8 to 10 such cases a year. When the patients get to the emergency room with a blood pressure, Wyoming Medical Center surgeons save about 95 percent of them.

That’s an advantage of having a community hospital with expertly trained specialists and subspecialists so close to where we live, Anderson said. In emergencies, patients recover more often when they are treated within a few minutes to a few hours following trauma. If patients must be transported to another hospital – especially in Wyoming where the next trauma center might be hours away and out of state – the delay in care increases the chances of death or a longer, more difficult recovery.

“There’s not many things we can’t take care of right here. Basically, we are so far from anywhere else that if we don’t take care of it here, they don’t do well,” Anderson said. “The hospital recognizes that if we make sure we provide the highest quality care that is available, people will come to see us. We as surgeons have committed to that.”

***

Gentile woke up the next day in the Intensive Care Unit. He considers himself lucky to be back at work, and knows how close he came to being Evansville’s second fatality that day.

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Zachary Gentile poses under the insignia of the Evansville Police Department. He is now back to work after doctors removed his kidney. (Photo by Dan Cepeda Photography)

He likes to tell people about the care he got at Wyoming Medical Center because he thinks it’s an asset the community is fortunate to have.

“I tell you what, those people in the Intensive Care Unit never left my side. I had one nurse assigned to me, and if I wanted something, they were there. I never had to use my call button because they were always there asking me if I was okay, checking on me, making sure I had my medications on time,” he said.

“I had to walk three to four times a day before they would let me go home. They were not pushy, but they let you know that, ‘Hey. You got to get your dead butt out of that bed and start walking, Jack, or you’re not going home.’ They treated me with respect and I appreciate that.

“As far as your cleaning folks, three to four times a day they were in there. The food was actually good. It really was. When you ordered it, it was up there and still hot.”

Gentile has since lost 35 pounds and makes sure he keeps his weight under 145. Because he’s had one aneurysm, he has a 10 to 15 percent chance of developing another. Doctors will monitor him at least annually for the rest of his life.

Getting to the hospital in time obviously saved Gentile’s life. It also probably caught his cancer and gave him more time with his three grandchildren.  In the process of all the tests, doctors spotted a mark on his left kidney. His doctor told him it was probably cancerous and the kidney should come out.  He recently underwent that procedure at Wyoming Medical Center.

“Well, you know, it is like the bad thing that happened to me was the ruptured aorta. But if I did not get it, I would have never known about this; so eventually, I would have died from it. One way or the other, bad things happened for good reasons.”

So what about that rare Evansville homicide, the stress of which likely started this medical odyssey? Did Gentile get his man?

“Of course we did,” Gentile said. “He goes to trial in December.”

Know your risk

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm is often called a “silent” problem because it rarely causes symptoms. It’s often found by healthcare providers conducting other tests. The aneurysm could create a pulsatile abdominal mass – a pulsating in your stomach that you can feel, usually in people who are not overweight. Your doctor should be able to feel this and can easily diagnose the aneurysm with an ultrasound.

Anyone can develop this type of aneurysm, but certain factors increase the risk:

  • Having a family history
  • Smoking
  • Having high blood pressure
  • Having a blood vessel disease in another part of the body
  • Being over age 55 for men and 65 for women

Symptoms of a ruptured aneurysm

A ruptured Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm is a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment. Call 911 if you:

  • Have severe abdominal or back pain
  • Your blood pressure drops noticeably

anderson-james-md

Dr. James Anderson is board certified in general surgery and vascular surgery. He has worked in Casper for 33 years, 25 of which he was the only board-certified vascular surgeon in Wyoming.

Medical School: University of Colorado School of Medicine, Denver
Internship: University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, General Surgery
Residency: University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, General Surgery

Practice: Wyoming Surgical Associates, PC

419 S. Washington St., Suite 200
Casper, WY 82601
(307) 577-4220

Adding to the herd: WMC gets two new ambulances

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Ambulances_eagleWyoming Medical Center’s herd of animals grew by two today — an eagle and a bear. Look for them in mid-December when they hit Casper streets.

All of WMC’s ambulances are now emblazoned with critters found in Wyoming including bighorn sheep, horses, a mountain lion, a mule deer, an elk and a moose. Another animal is added to the herd whenever a new ambulance joins the fleet. The eagle and the bear will replace our buffalo ambulance and the last of our white models.

“We choose animals found in Wyoming to honor the wildlife that we have here in the state, “ said paramedic Eric Evenson.

Our fleet of 10 ambulances responds to more than 7,000 calls every year and each emergency vehicle must be maintained to top performance. We replace one to two ambulances each year to keep the fleet available for calls.

Believe it or not, some people still don’t see or hear these emergency vehicles when they are traveling to a scene, so our eagle and bear ambulances have special, low-frequency horns. These horns will cause vibrations in the vehicles ahead, allowing the sound waves to penetrate the cars instead of curve around them.

Keep an eye out for the newest members of our herd — and please make way if you spot them behind you, lights and sirens flashing.

For more: Watch our bighorn sheep in action and see photos of our other herd animals in ‘BEST PAINT SCHEME EVER’: A Belgian YouTuber is our ambulances’ biggest fan.

Decoding Diabetes: A case for regular screenings

Bryce-StewartDSC_0360_050-1
Bryce Stewart, a laboratory information specialist, demonstrates Wyoming Medical Center’s new glucose meters. He caught his own type 2 diabetes when volunteering for a test in a training session and now advocates for diabetes screenings.

About four years ago, Bryce Stewart was teaching a class of nurses how to use the hospital’s glucometers, devices that measure the concentration of glucose in the blood. He volunteered his own finger.

Though he hadn’t eaten anything that morning, his fasting blood sugar came back at 250. His normal range should have been between 60 and 95.

“I had no idea my sugars were running that high. It was kind of a shocker that day. Kind of a happy accident,” said Stewart, a laboratory information specialist at Wyoming Medical Center.

“I was slowly becoming a diabetic and I didn’t know it.”

By volunteering his finger, Stewart’s type 2 diabetes was caught. He manages it through pills and lifestyle, but doesn’t have to inject himself with insulin. He believes his story is a good lesson in the advantages of early detection.

“People used to have yearly doctor’s visits and they don’t anymore. Doctors would find things like diabetes. I’m a big proponent of screening tests,” Stewart said.

Stewart also oversees the bedside blood glucose monitoring system used at Wyoming Medical Center. We recently switched to the Accu-chek Inform II glucometers to better monitor blood glucose levels of diabetic patients.

The new meters give results in 5 seconds for the bedside, allowing caregivers and patients to make instant decisions about medication and care. They wirelessly upload results to the patient’s electronic medical record every 10 minutes so they are visible to all caregivers.

“This helps prevent swings in their glucose levels and this is very important to us and our patients,” Stewart said. Since adopting the new system three weeks ago, WMC providers have administered about 7,000 blood glucose tests at patient bedsides.

As a diabetic himself, he understands the importance of keeping track of glucose levels. And, he wants to remind readers to get your yearly screenings – for diabetes and a host of other health conditions. Talk to your doctor, or take advantage of local health fairs. He admits that he had skipped a couple of the health fairs before the accidental test uncovered his diabetes.

“People need to keep an eye on it because it sneaks up you,” he said.

 Health Fair Lab Draws

Wyoming Medical Center’s Professional Laboratory Services offers health fair blood draws on any week day, including the diabetes A1C screen.

Walk-ins are welcome from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday at two locations:

* McMurry Medical Building at 419 S. Washington, Suite 201

* Sage Primary Care at 1020 S. Conwell St.

Fasting is not required unless requested by your physician and pricing is competitive with other health fair screenings. Payments will be collected at the time of the blood draw.

To schedule an appointment, call 577-2365 or visit our laboratory page to see what other health fair and wellness screenings we offer.

WMC Diabetes Care Center

If you have diabetes or are at risk of developing it, our nationally recognized Diabetes Care Center can guide you through all types of the diesase – type 1, type 2 or gestational. We offer Individualized meal planning, glucose monitoring instruction, foot screening and much more.

Anyone with pre-diabetes, diabetes or impaired glucose tolerance is welcome. Please contact your physician to coordinate services.

Wyoming Medical Center also offers a series of diabetes education classes to help people live with the disease and to help prevent type 2 diabetes from developing in high-risk patients.

For high risk patients, our Diabetes Prevention Program has shown that simple lifestyle changes can decrease the chance of developing diabetes by 58 percent. Our program lasts 12 weeks and has been shown to improve blood sugars, reduce weight and decrease or delay the development of Type 2 diabetes among those with pre-diabetes.

For more information, call 577-2592 or visit the center’s webpage.

Decoding Diabetes is a weekly series focusing on education, prevention and tips for living with the disease. Find it on The Pulse each Thursday. Past stories include:

Nov. 14: What you should know for World Diabetes Day