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Smiles fly high at Eagle Lake Camp PDF Print E-mail
Written by Holyoke Enterprise   

Ethan Schneller is all smiles on the trampoline, one of the many activities that Eagle Lake Camp brought to First Baptist Church of Holyoke this week. Eagle Lake Camp “on location,” based out of Colorado Springs, returned to Holyoke for the second year. Over 100 campers from ages 7-12 are spending Monday-Friday, June 29-July 3, with about 25 staff members compromised of camp counselors, program coaches and a site director. One of the staffers is Holyoke’s own Zach Roll, who is excited to be back in his home territory for camp this week.

Days are jam-packed with everything from skits to Bible studies to games. Outdoor activities include the trampoline, a giant water slide, a climbing feature, Gagaball, nine-square, archery, tie-dying, obstacle courses and more. Holyoke is the fifth week in a 10-week traveling stint for this Eagle Lake staff. There are multiple groups traveling the U.S. to host camps, and this group travels primarily in Colorado.  

—Enterprise photo

Holyoke Enterprise July 2, 2015

Fireworks light up the 4th PDF Print E-mail
Written by Holyoke Enterprise   

Know the difference between legal, illegal fireworks

Holyoke is celebrating Independence Day with its annual fireworks show, coordinated by Holyoke Volunteer Fire Department, Saturday, July 4, southeast of Holyoke City Park at approximately 9:30 p.m.

Along with the fireworks show, Holyoke Church of Christ is offering free ice cream, popcorn and bottled water to enjoy while watching the fireworks from the church parking lot at 105 W. Sheunemann St. They will start serving around 8 p.m.

Holyoke Police Department reminds everyone a good rule of thumb about fireworks: If fireworks explode or leave the ground, they are illegal in the City of Holyoke and in Colorado.

Some examples of legal fireworks are cylindrical and cone fountains, ground spinners, torches and colored fire, dipped sticks and sparklers, snakes and glow worms, trick noisemakers and certain other novelties.

Examples of some common fireworks that are illegal are cherry bombs, rockets of any kind including bottle rockets, mortars, M-80s, firecrackers and Roman candles.

Holyoke City Ordinance 9.80(a) states, “It shall be unlawful for any person, partnership, firm, company, association or corporation to offer for sale, expose for sale or sell, or have in his possession with intent to offer for sale or sell, or to use or explode any fireworks in the municipality.”

The penalty can be up to $300 and court costs.

On average, 240 people go to the emergency room every day nationwide with fireworks-related injuries in the month surrounding the Fourth of July holiday, said the police department.

Sparklers are responsible for the highest number of injuries at 31 percent, with burns being the most common injury.

To put it into perspective, water boils at 212 degrees, wood burns at 575 degrees, and glass melts at 900 degrees. Sparklers, however, burn at 1,200 degrees.

Fireworks also cause an average of nearly 20,000 reported fires per year nationwide.

If anyone has questions of legal versus illegal fireworks, contact Holyoke Police Department at 970-854-2342.

Holyoke Enterprise July 2, 2015

Patient satisfaction is MMH goal PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brenda Johnson Brandt   

Patient satisfaction is the primary goal for Family Practice of Holyoke Medical Clinic. Steps being taken toward that goal were summarized at the June 23 meeting of East Phillips County Hospital District Board.

A Lean Six Sigma team within Melissa Memorial Hospital and the clinic have been working on strategies for this goal and collecting data for six months.

Hospital Administrator John Ayoub introduced the LSS team at last week’s board meeting. They include Sheila Robinson, team leader and clinic manager; Heather Kellan, clinic front office supervisor; John Durbin, back office liaison to the team; Melissa Mayden, information technology/data person; and Deaun Carpenter, provider.

Ayoub explained that Lean Six Sigma is a statistical-based methodology that shows changes made and results that came because of those changes.

With regard to the medical clinic, he said they want to make sure that patients have access to the health care providers. He pointed out that the providers work hard. They’re not asking them to work harder but to work smarter — to change the process being used.

“We want to make sure we don’t negatively impact the quality of care,” Ayoub emphasized.

Citing the May 26 board meeting where a number of community members expressed displeasure with clinic procedures, Ayoub said that the clinic schedule for May wasn’t available even at the end of April.

“I take full responsibility,” said Ayoub, adding that he thinks that’s what escalated the concern in community members’ minds.

What’s important to note is that the scheduling-ahead issue has been remedied. Ayoub said they are now scheduling 60 days out and hope to make that 90 days out soon. The ultimate goal is to get to 120 days out for scheduling with specific providers.

Robinson reiterated that appointments are being scheduled 60 days out, through mid-August.

Ayoub cited that part of the issue is that a number of providers are working hard to do other things in addition to seeing patients in the clinic — all significant outreach for the hospital and clinic as a whole.

In particular, he mentioned Carpenter’s Wednesday Coumadin clinics that draw 30-40 patients each time. Other extra duties include wound-care clinics, nursing home visits, diabetes education, participation in surgery and walk-in clinics.

Introducing the Lean Six Sigma concept, Robinson explained it’s an efficient way of solving problems or doing new things. LSS solutions are lean, customer-focused, money-focused, staff-focused and well-managed.

Keeping on track with the clinic study, Robinson cited the five phases are to define, measure, analyze, improve and control.

They’ve defined that providers should see more patients, and the LSS team will continue to look at progress and make changes, will review data for improvement, and will continue to control stable processes and try new things as well.

The LSS team identified that customers get value when they have enough face time with a provider, get timely results on diagnostic tests and get a correct and understandable bill.

On the other hand, value is destroyed if customers have to wait, there are no call-backs, no test results, no prescription refills or rude treatment.

Addressing “where to go from here,” Robinson said they will work through what Carpenter has labeled time bumps.

This will be in an effort to increase capacity through improved scheduling, improved workflow and support of providers. Additionally they will look to increase providers’ capacity to see patients to increase number of patient visits per year.

Kellan reported on changes that have been implemented to push for patient satisfaction.

Previously, the regular schedule accommodated 13 patients per day per provider. With no-shows, the average was 9.5 per day. Patients would arrive up to 10 minutes late, causing the remaining schedule to be delayed.

Now, patients are asked to arrive 15 minutes early to check in, the schedule is more flexible to allow room for continuity, and the average wait in the lobby is reduced to approximately 15 minutes.

Walk-in clinics are now on a structured schedule rather than on a first-come, first-served basis. Previously, patients would arrive in groups and have extended wait times, and there were times that not all patients could be seen.

Now, with the structured walk-in clinic schedule, extended wait times have been eliminated, and the clinic still accommodates 16-20 patients per day.

Another change in the walk-in clinics is that they’re telling people who the walk-in provider will be for each particular day’s clinic.

In terms of becoming more productive, Kellan said they sat down with providers to assess visits and determine necessary appointment lengths rather than scheduling every standard appointment as a 30-minute visit.

The front office is asking more questions when scheduling in order to assess the potential time needed for the appointment. Kellan emphasized that they’re definitely not trying to diagnose but are simply assessing the time needed with the provider and saving time by getting crucial information in advance of the appointment.

For instance, she said for an X-ray order, they need to know which finger on which hand. So they do ask a lot of probing questions, but in no way do they diagnose.

They’re looking to obtain notes for follow-ups as well as immunization records prior to visits and to screen patients to determine if labs/X-rays are needed so orders can be obtained.

Additionally, Kellan said front-office staff are sending electronic telephone messages to the back office staff to reduce the time spent on the phone. They’re also being mindful of patient privacy when reviewing paperwork.

From the back-office perspective, Durbin cited the nursing checklist that has been established for better efficiency. The big one is the huddle each morning to go over each provider’s schedule for the day.

Rooms are stocked with supplies daily, and the nursing staff communicates with providers about tests that they can do and prep work they can finish to assist providers with patient care.

Communication between the front and back offices has improved tremendously as a result of prioritized changes in procedures.

Robinson noted that nurses also need to ask questions of patients calling in, in order to determine the length of appointment required. “That’s how we become more productive.”

Mayden reviewed data for each provider that is charted to determine where changes need to be made. She referenced the days to third next available appointment. One person may call in and get a slot from a recent cancellation, so that’s not realistic in terms of how long they had to wait to get an appointment with a provider.

The data that is kept is the third caller and the time element involved in getting the next available appointment. Standard third next appointment is six days, but they’re shooting for three to five days for the third next available appointment.

Mayden shared statistical analysis graph reports for each provider on days to third next appointment, appointments scheduled and canceled, appointments kept and number of no-shows. These reports are run each week, she added.

She cited the overall impact when providers are on vacation or continuing medical education.

Carpenter noted that in the clinic, they’ve added a reading room for viewing digital images from the diagnostic imaging department so that providers don’t have to go clear across the facility to the lab for those results. That’s saved time.

Additionally, other people are doing paperwork, logging the testing that was done at appointments so that providers don’t have to do that themselves.

Board members asked questions concerning privacy and staff capability of completing paperwork. Kellan emphasized that the front office staff takes face-to-face patients in a more secluded area if they’re visiting about more sensitive information. By phone, they’re not identifying patients by name so that others in the vicinity could overhear private information.

Carpenter assured that the paperwork done by others involves logging details of testing completed to record that it indeed did happen at that appointment, and it is certainly within their scope of capability.

Carpenter cited the discouragement that she and other providers felt after learning about the community comments at the May board meeting.

She emphasized that she wants to meet the criteria cited but certainly with good patient care. She said she’s had variable results ranging from days that she’s caught up to days that she’s way behind in charting. She’s trying some new things — some are working, others are not.

She described several “time bombs” that happen on a typical day — situations that play havoc in a structured schedule. She added that she wishes everyone could walk through a standard day with her to have a better awareness of the types of things that impact a provider’s schedule.

Responding to Carpenter’s question about the goal for the providers, Ayoub cited the strategic plan. He added that most of the work they’ve been doing with Lean Six Sigma has centered on making providers more productive by changing processes so they can see more patients without compromising quality care and without overworking them any more than they already do.

Holyoke Enterprise July 2, 2015

County adopts Right to Farm and Ranch policy PDF Print E-mail
Written by Darci Tomky   

Phillips County Board of Commissioners adopted a Right to Farm and Ranch policy and a conflict resolution process following a June public hearing regarding a resolution that was recommended by the Phillips County Planning Commission.

The policy said that ranching, farming and other agricultural operations in Phillips County are necessary for the continued vitality of the county’s history, economy, landscape, open space, lifestyle and culture. Agricultural lands and operations are worthy of recognition and protection.

Because of that, landowners, residents and visitors must be willing to work together.

For instance, people must accept the activities, sights, sounds and smells of ag operations as a normal and necessary aspect of living in a county with a strong rural character and a healthy ag sector.

On the other hand, landowners must follow obligations set by state law and county regulations to maintain and control their property and operations.

The resolution recognizes that the changing nature of land use and demography in Phillips County has increased the incidence of conflicts between ag operators and visitors/residents of Phillips County and has begun to threaten the economic viability of agricultural operations.

According to the resolution, the board of county commissioners will attempt to:

1. Conserve, enhance and encourage ranching, farming and all manner of agricultural activities and operations within and throughout Phillips County where appropriate.

2. Minimize potential conflicts between agricultural and nonagricultural users of land in the county.

3. Educate new rural residents and long-time agricultural operators alike to their rights, responsibilities and obligations relating to agricultural activities.

4. Integrate planning efforts to provide for the retention of traditional and important agricultural lands in agricultural production as well as the opportunity for reasonable residential and other development.

Additionally, the adopted Dispute Resolution Regarding Agriculture Operations outlines the process used to resolve conflicts between or among landowners and/or residents regarding ag activities, operations or practices in Phillips County.

The Phillips County Board of Adjustment will serve as a mediation panel to hear grievances and will make recommendations to resolve conflicts.


Purchases, contracts approved

As reported at their June 30 end-of-month meeting, the board of commissioners approved several purchases and contracts.

The purchase of a 1989 Chevrolet bucket truck from the City of Holyoke has been approved at a price of $5,000.

Approval was given for a quote of $11,200 from the City of Holyoke to move all the overhead electrical lines on the east side of the fairgrounds underground.

Commissioners said they contracted with Ensminger Construction to finish leveling the parking area at the southwest corner of the fairgrounds. They are preparing the ground so custom harvesters can park heavy equipment there.

An annual contract for $10,500 was approved with Tyler Technology for maintaining the county courthouse servers. The board also contracted with New Age Electronics to monitor daily backups.


Other business

In other business in the month of June, commissioners:

—approved closing the county landfill July 3-4.

—noted the county fairgrounds RV park hosted the Red Dale Wagon Train campers with approximately 55 units at the site June 22-26. The group also used the Event Center for activities throughout the week.

—signed a letter of support for recertifying the Northeast Colorado Enterprise Zone.

—noted the county weed and pest manager contacted NKC Railway to spray noxious weeds on their right of way this summer.

—noted the county purchased and planted 14 new trees at the fairgrounds to replace trees that did not survive the winter.

Holyoke Enterprise July 2, 2015