Using ER Wisely Can Help Keep Costs Down

FAIRBURY – Increasing health care costs are a concern to many, and wise use of the health center emergency room is an important aspect of keeping health care costs down.

“The health center emergency room is not a cost-effective place to get routine health care,” said Judy McGee, chief nursing officer at Jefferson Community Health & Life in Fairbury. “Very ill and critical patients will be prioritized for care ahead of anyone with routine, non-life threatening problems. In addition, emergency room care is very expensive.”

It is important that a patient be seen in the emergency room if they have any of the following symptoms:

  • Chest pain or signs of heart attack or stroke
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Pain that is uncontrollable
  • Severe shortness of breath
  • Allergic reaction to a sting or bite, or medication reaction
  • Poisoning
  • Unexplained stupor, drowsiness, or disorientation
  • A major injury, fall or possible broken bone
  • Trauma, such as a car accident
  • Uncontrollable bleeding
  • High temperature (over 103 degrees)
  • Laceration that needs stitches when the physician’s office is not open

“We provide the needed care for every patient who comes to our emergency room. It is important to understand that we also must prioritize care in the emergency room. If you come with something that is not life-threatening, and we have another patient whose concern is life-threatening, care will be prioritized to the patient with emergency needs,” McGee said.
There are also many medical needs which are not life threatening and can be handled appropriately at your physician’s office during regular office hours. Some of these might include:

  • Flu symptoms
  • Sore throat, cold, cough, fever
  • Rash, lumps, bumps, minor burns
  • Cuts where bleeding is controlled
  • Animal bites
  • Bee stings, insect bites
  • Sprains, strains
  • Earaches
  • Headaches
  • Sores that don’t heal or changes in growths

For the safety of our customers and staff, the inner door of the ER vestibule is locked when the area is not staffed. If you need emergency assistance when the door is locked, please pick up the phone in the vestibule. It will automatically ring the nurses station and they will assist you.

If you are in doubt about whether you should come to the emergency room with any specific symptoms, please feel free to call Jefferson Community Health Center at (402) 729-3351. We are glad to help you determine the best place to receive care for your current health need.

Jefferson Community Health & Life Fairbury Clinic is a family medicine clinic offering all types of preventative care, care for non-life threatening illnesses and injuries, in addition to physicals, pre-natal care and regular followup visits. Four board certified family medicine physicians and two certified physician assistants provide quality care. Same day appointments are available Monday through Friday for urgent health needs. To make an appointment at the Fairbury Clinic, please call (402) 729-3361.

Prenatal Education Class to be Offered April 29

A Prenatal Childbirth Education class will be offered in April at Jefferson Community Health Center for all expectant parents. The class will meet on Saturday, April 29, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Jefferson Community Health & Life.

The cost of the class is $35 per couple, which includes a free copy of the book “What to Expect the First Year.” The class is open to all expectant parents. Instructor for the course is Erin Starr RN.

The class will include information on changes which occur during pregnancy, knowing when you are in labor and what to expect, breathing, relaxation and other coping techniques, selecting your support team, pain relief measures, birth plan, recovery following delivery, newborn procedures in hospital, breast feeding basics and more.

Pre-registration is required. For more information or to pre-register, call Erin Starr RN at Jefferson Community Health & Life at (402) 729-6889.

Salad Festival Set for May 18

FAIRBURY — The Spring Salad Festival of the Jefferson Community Health & Life Auxiliary will be held on Thursday, May 18, at the Fairbury Elks Club. The Salad Festival is a fund-raiser for the JCH&L Auxiliary which has been a community event since 1965.

“The Salad Festival has a long history in our community, and has been a wonderful fund-raiser for the JCH&L Auxiliary,” said Lana Likens, director of public relations at Jefferson Community Health & Life. “It is also something that has provided wonderful food and fellowship, and our community has enjoyed.”

The salad festival will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tickets will be $6 in advance, and $6.50 at the door. Advance tickets will be available at several local businesses in May.

The Spring Salad Festival is the main fund-raising event of the auxiliary. The auxiliary provides scholarships to students entering medical fields, provides Christmas gifts for residents of the Gardenside long-term care at Jefferson Community Health & Life, and provides volunteer help at JCH&L in a variety of projects.

Anyone interested in more information about the auxiliary or the salad festival should contact Lana Likens at (402) 729-6855.

Youth Swim Offered by Burkley Fitness Center – April 17

Jefferson Community Health & Life Burkley Fitness Center will offer a youth swim event on Monday, April 17, for youth in grades 1 through 6.

The lifeguarded swim gives youth the opportunity to swim from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. without a parent or guardian present. The event is free for members, and $3 per youth for non-members.

Registration is limited. Pre-registration is required by calling the Burkey Fitness Center at (402) 729-6139.

Alzheimer’s Caregivers Support Group to Meet March 27

The Alzheimer’s Caregivers Support Group will meet on Monday, March 27, at 6:30 p.m. in Jefferson Community Health & Life’s Small Conference Room.

The program will be a webinar, “Living with Alzheimer’s: For People with Alzheimer’s.” This training from the Alzheimer’s Association answers many questions a person diagnosed with Alzheimer’s (and their family members and caregivers) may have. How do I plan for the future? Where can I get the help I need? This three-part program will help navigate this chapter of your life.

Easiest access will be by parking in the H Street parking and entering through the JCHC Main Entrance. Follow the lobby signage to “Hospital.” The meeting rooms will be to the left. The Small Conference Room is the second door.

The Alzheimer’s Caregiver’s Support Group meets monthly. It is open to those who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, their caregivers and family members.

The group is designed to provide an opportunity anyone interested to share their experiences with Alzheimer’s Disease. There is no cost, and no pre-registration.

For more information, contact Lana Likens at Jefferson Community Health & Life at (402)-729-3351.

Progressive Ag Safety Day Plans for 20th Year in Jefferson County

FAIRBURY – It’s all about the safety of our area children. That’s why a group of Jefferson County residents representing several agencies and organizations have worked together for nearly 20 years to offer Safety Days for area youth. They know the numbers: statistics from the National Children’s Center for Rural Agriculture Health and Safety show that every three days a child dies in an agriculture-related incident, and every day about 33 children are injured in agriculture-related incidents.

Progressive Ag Safety Day will celebrate its 20th year in Jefferson County with the annual Progressive Ag Safety Day set for Thursday, Aug. 3. With an average of 100 participants each year, Safety Day has reached nearly 2,000 participants in its 19 years of serving our area.

Many businesses and organizations have supported Safety Day – and a few have been part of the core planning team since the first Safety Day was offered in 1998: Nebraska Extension in Jefferson County, Fairbury FFA, and Jefferson Community Health & Life. Jefferson County Farm Safety 4 Just Kids became the organizational entity in the early years of the program. Jefferson County emergency services and law enforcement have participated by staging a mock accident since the early years.

The first Farm Safety Day was held in Jefferson County in 1998. Similar types of programs were starting in many areas, and Extension Educator Bob Stritzke thought it was important for the safety of the children of Jefferson County. He contacted Lana Likens, director of public relations at Jefferson Community Health Center, and the Fairbury FFA chapter, and planned an activity-filled day to put an emphasis on farm safety. The team utilized resources from the national organization Farm Safety 4 Just Kids.

The committee grew after the first year, and soon a local chapter of Farm Safety 4 Just Kids was formed to plan, organize and host Safety Day. A few years later the partnership was expanded, and the Safety Day became an official Progressive Agriculture Safety Day. The Progressive Agriculture Foundation now provides goody bags, t-shirts, liability coverage, and training for the Safety Day coordinator.

Gary Shinn, a Fairbury farmer, has been a long-time planning team member and was Safety Day coordinator for a number of years. He said it was his son Jarrod who sold him on the value of Safety Day.

In one of the early Safety Days, Jarrod, 3, attended as a preschooler. One of the sessions was electrical safety by Norris Public Power, which demonstrated the danger of electrical lines, and stressed the importance of being aware of the location of overhead lines and whether equipment would contact the wires. Several months later while riding with his dad combining, Jarrod saw some electrical wires and questioned his dad.

“Are you sure we can get under there, dad?”

Shinn said he knew it was significant that Jarrod remembered that – and was watching for the potential hazard at the age of 3. “It was pretty neat,” Shinn said.

Jarrod, now 22, participated until he was old enough to be a volunteer, and then volunteered throughout high school through the Fairbury FFA.

The mission of a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day is simple: to provide education, training and resources to make farm and ranch life safer and healthier for children and their communities.

The local committee often gives parents this important message: “We cannot accident-proof any child, but we certainly hope the lessons learned at Progressive Ag Safety Day provide a great foundation for making wise decisions and good choices.”

“Jefferson Community Health & Life is proud to be a part of this community safety initiative,” said Likens, who has served as coordinator for eight years, and been a part of the committee since the first Safety Day.

Educational sessions offered throughout the years have included many agriculture specific topics – which are beneficial not only to children who live on farms, but also to any child who may visit a farm, the county fair, or any other agricultural-related location. Sessions have included safety regarding livestock, farm equipment, grain, anhydrous, chemicals, hidden hazards on the farm, and more.

Sessions have also covered topics beneficial to all children – whether or not they live or visit farms, such as: sun safety, healthy lifestyles, seatbelt safety, insects, Diggers Hotline, fire safety, electrical safety, stretching, reaction times, lawn mower safety, internet safety, propane safety, safety around pets, dealing with being home alone, firearm safety, ATV safety, weather, water safety, disaster preparedness and more.

“Each year we try to have a few agriculture-related topics and many topics appropriate for all children,” Likens said. “We rotate topics from year to year and demonstrate them in different ways so if children participate year after year they can learn about many different topics, and some of the same topics in new and different ways.”

Stritzke said he is glad Safety Day has continued for the area’s children – and knows there’s always more work to do.

“Certainly we’ve exposed some kids to potential hazards. We’ve raised awareness for parents, too, in many cases – of safety issues and things that need to be taken care of,” Stritzke said. “It’s all about creating awareness and helping people to take their time, pay attention and think about what could go wrong.”

Stritzke himself has a scar on his ankle from a PTO accident that happened when he was a child. He has taught PTO safety several times to reinforce to children and adults how quickly an accident can happen, and the importance of following safety guidelines.

Safety Day would not be entering its 20th year in Jefferson County if it were not for the support of many local businesses, organizations and individuals throughout the years, Likens said.

“While I won’t try to name them all for fear of leaving someone out, we want to thank everyone who has helped to keep Safety Day progressing and able to provide safety education for our area’s children,” Likens said. “It has been a tremendously successful community partnership.”

Jefferson County Rescue Receives Hometown Heroes Funds

Hometown Heroes FundFAIRBURY – Jefferson County Rescue was awarded $231 for the community’s participation in last summer’s Nebraska Community Blood Bank Hometown Heroes blood drive campaign. Jefferson Community Health & Life exceeded its blood drive goal, collecting 33 units, and earning funds to support first responder equipment and training.

The 16 communities that participated in this summer’s Hometown Heroes campaign collected a total of 900 life-saving units of blood. These Hometown Hero communities helped ensure a stable blood supply this summer and Nebraska Community Blood Bank awarded more than $5,000 to be used toward community projects.

The Hometown Heroes campaign – held each summer– encourages Nebraska Community Blood Bank communities to host blood drives during the summer months, a time when the need for blood donors is great. Blood drive sponsors that meet collection goals can earn up to $1,500 toward funding a project within their community. Learn more about our Hometown Heroes campaign at or contact Jami Kassebaum at (402) 486-9406.

Nebraska Community Bloodbank is the blood supplier for Jefferson Community Health Center, and other facilities in six counties throughout southeast Nebraska.

Photo—Jami Kassebaum of Nebraska Community Blood Bank presents a check to Fairbury City Administrator Collin Bielser, right. Chad Jurgens CEO represents Jefferson Community Health & Life.

Jefferson Community Health & Life Offers Blood Screenings

Complete blood profiles will be offered by Jefferson Community Health & Life weekday mornings April 17-21.

Blood profiles appointments will be offered each morning beginning at 6 a.m. at the outpatient clinic area at Jefferson Community Health Center, 2200 H St. The screening will be available by appointment only. A limited number of appointments will be available. Please make your appointment early!

Fasting is required prior to the blood screening. Confidential reports will be mailed to participants.

The complete blood profile will cost $45 and includes:

n Comprehensive Metabolic Profile and Lipid Profile – This group of tests tells about heart, liver, kidney and sugar levels in the blood. The cholesterol is fractionated into low- and high-density levels, and gives the person’s coronary heart disease risk.

n T4 — Basic screen for thyroid function.

n Hemagram – This is a blood count telling the number of white blood cells and red blood cells. It also tells the hemoglobin level.

The PSA screening is not available with this screening.

The profile report includes explanations of each factor which may be considered higher or lower than normal. Anyone with concerns about their screening is encouraged to schedule an appointment with their personal family physician to discuss the results.

Since this is not a physician-ordered exam, it is not covered by Medicare or other insurance, and results are not sent to a physician. Payment will be collected at time of service. Cash and checks will be accepted for payment.

This screening is private pay only. If you want a complete blood profile which would be covered under an insurance preventative care option, you must have a physician-ordered screening, separate from this event.

The $45 rate is a considerable savings to patients compared to the regular costs of this type of complete blood profile, said Lab Manager Dan Reikofski.

To make an appointment for the blood profile, call Jefferson Community Health & Life Outpatient Services at (402) 729-6851.

JCH&L Named Among Top 100 Critical Access Hospitals

Top 100 Critical Access Hospital 2017FAIRBURY, Neb. — For the third time, Jefferson Community Health & Life has been named a top 100 critical access hospital in the United States according to iVantage Health Analytics and The Chartis Center for Rural Health. The Top 100 were announced in February at the National Rural Health Association’s Policy Institute.

Jefferson Community Health & Life scored in the top 100 of critical access hospitals (CAHs) on the iVantage Strength INDEX™ in 2017, and also made the Top 100 list in 2014 and 2015. The INDEX is the industry’s most comprehensive rating of U.S. acute care hospitals, and the only one to include the country’s 1,300 CAHs. Click here to view the Top 100 list for 2017.

JCH&L was also named one of the nation’s 2016 Performance Leadership Award winners by the iVantage and the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health. JCH&L was recognized for overall excellence in finance Performance Leadership Award 2016and in patient satisfaction.. The rankings were determined by the Hospital Strength INDEX®, the industry’s most comprehensive and objective assessment of rural hospital performance. In partnership with NOSORH, iVantage Health Analytics has developed a data driven program designed to identify excellence across a broad spectrum of indicators relevant to hospital performance and patient care. The Hospital Strength INDEX captures performance metrics for all rural and critical access hospitals. The release of the Top 100 critical access hospitals expands on research presented as part of the 2017 Rural Relevance Study: Vulnerability to Value from the Chartis Group.

“These recognitions affirm that our emphasis on quality, performance and satisfaction are making a difference to the community we serve and to our health center. It is because of the work and care of our staff, physicians and board, and the support of our community that we are able to meet and surpass the benchmarks for recognition,” said Chad Jurgens, JCHC chief executive officer.

While many rural hospitals struggle financially nationwide, this recognition is a reminder that JCH&L has been able to remain financially strong, and continues to provide the technology that modern health care facilities require. JCH&L just changed its name to reflect a new Commitment to Health and emphasize its role of inspiring a lifetime of health for area residents. JCH&L completed a major renovation project in 2015 to offer private patient rooms and renovate ancillary service areas.

Jefferson Community Health & Life was previously named as a Top 100 critical access hospital for 2014 and 2015. JCHC is one of 10 Nebraska Critical Access hospitals to be recognized for 2017. Other Nebraska Critical Access Hospitals named to the Top 100 CAH list are: Antelope Memorial Hospital, Neligh; Avera St. Anthony’s Hospital, Ellendale; Box Butte General Hospital, Alliance; Brodstone Memorial Hospital, Superior; Community Hospital, McCook; Community Medical Center, Falls City; Howard County Medical Center, St. Paul; Memorial Health Care Systems, Seward; Sidney Regional Medical Center, Sidney. More information on the iVantage Top 100 index can be found at

Youth Swim Offered by Burkley Fitness Center

Jefferson Community Health & Life Burkley Fitness Center will offer a youth swim event on Friday, March 10, for youth in grades 1 through 6.

The lifeguarded swim gives youth the opportunity to swim from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. without a parent or guardian present. The event is free for members, and $3 per youth for non-members.

Registration is limited. Pre-registration is required by calling the Burkey Fitness Center at (402) 729-6139.