HEALTH BRIEFS: March 18, 2014

Plague, hantavirus season upon us

The Mesa County Health Department is warning residents to avoid exposure to hantavirus and plague as they begin spring cleaning projects and start getting out with their animals.

Precautions are especially important while cleaning homes, sheds, cabins, barns or other areas where mice or mouse droppings are present. Both hantavirus and plague can be dangerous and deadly diseases.

Hantavirus is caused by a virus that is carried primarily by deer mice. The infected rodents excrete the virus in their urine, droppings and saliva. People are infected by inhaling airborne particles of the virus or by direct contact with rodents, their droppings or nests.

Health officials recommend a number of tips:

■ Open doors or windows to provide good ventilation for 30 to 60 minutes before cleaning out structures. Avoid stirring up dust by watering down areas with a mixture of 1 part bleach and 10 parts water. Wear gloves.

■ Rodent-proof buildings by plugging holes or other mouse entryways.

■ In rural areas, conduct year-round rodent control using traps or poisons, or hire a professional exterminator. Don’t wait until the mouse population spikes.

■ Keep indoor areas clean, especially kitchens. Store food in rodent-proof containers. This includes pet, livestock and bird food. Properly dispose of garbage in sealed containers.

Plague is carried by fleas that live on rodents such as mice, squirrels, chipmunks and prairie dogs. Their fleas can jump onto dogs or cats, thus infecting those animals or carrying fleas into the home.

■ Avoid handling dead animals.

■ Keep pets out of rodent burrows or from playing with dead animals. This includes keeping cats from hunting potentially sick rodents.

■ Avoid feeding rodents. Keep food, pet food and bird feed in rodent-proof containers.

■ Talk to a veterinarian about flea control for pets and signs and symptoms of plague in animals.

Delta hospital cuts re-admissions 20%


The Colorado Hospital Association and the American Hospital Association, in partnership with Health Research and Educational Trust, announced last week that Delta County Memorial Hospital succeeded in reducing patient re-admissions by 20 percent.

The achievement meets one of the goals of the hospital’s Partnership for Patients program, the hospital said in a news release.

Unplanned hospital re-admissions exceed $17 billion annually billed to Medicare, according to the news release.

“Colorado Hospital Association believes it is important to recognize the accomplishments of Colorado’s high performing hospitals for their leadership in health care quality and safety,” CHA HealthBeat Today wrote.

More than 30 other Colorado hospitals also achieved the 20 percent reduction in re-admissions goals.

Delta County Memorial Hospital also recently released its 2013 surgical site infection rate data, which showed an infection rate of 0.3 percent, which is much better than the national average.

The national average for surgical site infection rates is around 2.5 percent, the hospital reported.

Comfort Keepers named to top 100 list


Colorado Biz Magazine ranked Grand Junction-based Comfort Keepers among the top 100 woman-owned companies in Colorado.

It is the first year Comfort Keepers was recognized by the magazine. The ranking is based on year-end revenue growth.

Comfort Keepers has provided in-home and nursing services to seniors and veterans on the Western Slope since 2004.

In August 2013, it opened its second office in Englewood. 

Now 10 years old, the company provides in-home assistance and nursing to seniors, allowing them to remain in their homes living life based on their own comfort and choices.

Comfort Keepers grew from a locally owned franchise with only one owner and a single caregiver to Grand Junction’s premier provider of home health care services with more than 130 caregivers providing more than 7,200 hours of service each month totally over 86,400 hours of service.

College cuts hours to limit health costs


ASPEN — Colorado Mountain College is limiting part-time staff hours to limit health care costs under the new federal health care act.

The school has only 112 full-time faculty members across 11 college campuses in western Colorado, and about 600 part-time professors. However, about two dozen professors will be affected because many classes have not been filled.


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