Cherokee Nation citizen Stacie Guthrie receives a flu shot from licensed practical nurse Sharon Morton at the Gadugi Health Clinic in Tahlequah, Okla. JAMI CUSTER/CHEROKE PHOENIX

Influenza hits CN but vaccines still available

Nationwide, during the week that ended on Jan. 12, 4.6 percent of patient visits reported to the U.S. Outpatient Influenza-like Illness Surveillance Network were due to influenza-like illness. This percentage is above the national baseline of 2.2 percent. CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL By Jan. 12, the Centers for Disease Control reported that the flu had reached 48 states and influenza activity remained elevated in the United States. CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL To help fight against influenza and inform people about the virus, Dr. Jorge Mera, of Cherokee Nation Health Services, provides a presentation on Jan. 18 in Tahlequah, Okla. TESINA JACKSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Nationwide, during the week that ended on Jan. 12, 4.6 percent of patient visits reported to the U.S. Outpatient Influenza-like Illness Surveillance Network were due to influenza-like illness. This percentage is above the national baseline of 2.2 percent. CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL
BY TESINA JACKSON
Reporter
02/01/2013 08:01 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – With more than 230 people testing positive for influenza within the Cherokee Nation, officials say tribal health clinics have vaccines available and urge people to get one.

Flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by viruses. It causes mild to severe illness, and at times, leads to death. Some people, such as older people, young children and people with certain health conditions, are higher risks for flu complications.

“The flu is a virus and viruses are very, very smart you might say,” Dr. Roger Montgomery, CN medical director, said. “They change themselves every year and try to morph themselves so they can have a better success of causing illness. And there are also different strains out there, and so the CDC tries to come up with an idea of what strains of virus will cause illness each year and the vaccine has three different kinds of strains of virus in it.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, this flu season has produced a high outbreak with more than 3,600 people hospitalized since October, most of them older than 65, and at least 20 children’s deaths.

By Jan. 12, the CDC reported the flu had reached 48 states and activity remained elevated. On average, 5 percent to 20 percent of the population gets influenza. This season, it’s hit more than 30 percent.

According to the Oklahoma State Department of Health, flu season began on Sept. 30. Since then there have been more than 500 related hospitalizations and eight related deaths in the state.

There are three types of flu viruses: A, B and C. Types A and B cause the epidemics that have up to 20 percent of the population sniffling, aching, coughing and running fevers. Type C also causes flu, but its symptoms are less severe.

The Type A virus constantly changes and is spread by infected people. Type B flu may cause a less severe reaction, but occasionally it can still be harmful. Type C viruses are milder than type A and B. People generally do not become extremely ill from them and they do not cause epidemics.

The flu usually starts suddenly and may include fever or feeling feverish/chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue and tiredness. Some people have vomiting and diarrhea, though it’s more common in children.

Some complications caused by flu are pneumonia, dehydration and worsening of chronic medical conditions such as heart or lung disease, asthma or diabetes. Children may get sinus problems or ear infections.

“The deaths that you see reported are not really from the virus itself. They’re from the super-imposed illness that occurs after they’ve had influenza that causes them to develop respiratory failure and pneumonia,” Montgomery said.

The flu spreads by droplets released by coughing and sneezing. Occasionally touching something with a virus on it and then touching the mouth or nose may cause infection. People with the flu can spread it to others up to about six feet away.

“That’s why we emphasize if you’re out there going to work, going to public places, touching objects that other people touch don’t take your hand and rub your nose without first washing your hands thoroughly and wash them frequently,” Montgomery said.

People with flu are contagious and can infect others beginning one day before getting symptoms. Adults remain contagious up to seven days after getting sick, and children can remain contagious even longer.

“If you came in contact with the person who had the flu, you’ve contracted the virus,” Dr. Sohail Khan, of CN Health Services, said. “Within two days you will start to develop symptoms, and the important thing to remember is that you can be infectious for the next five to seven days.”

The best way to prevent the flu is vaccination. The vaccination rate for the American Indian/Alaskan Native population is 29 percent, according to Indian Health Services.

“I think as a group, because the prevalent of diabetes is so great, that it’s just recommended broadly that all Native Americans be vaccinated,” Montgomery said.

According to WebMD, the vaccine is highly effective for preventing the flu, though not 100 percent. People can get the flu despite getting vaccinated, although it’s usually less severe and resolves quicker. According to the CDC, vaccines given this year appear to be about 62 percent effective overall. Of people who got the flu, 32 percent were vaccinated.

“It can either completely eliminate you from having any symptoms at all or it can, the word we use is, attenuate,” Montgomery said. “It can lessen the severity of the duration of symptoms that you have.”

There are two types of vaccines: the shot and nasal spray. The shot is contains a dead virus that’s given with a needle. The shot given in the muscle is for people older than 6 months, including healthy people and people with chronic medical conditions. The shot given below the skin is for 18- to 64-year-olds.

The nasal spray vaccine contains live, weakened viruses. It’s for healthy people ages 2 to 49 who are not pregnant. Neither vaccine causes the flu.

It takes about two weeks for antibodies to develop that protect against infection for the entire year. Flu vaccines will not protect against illnesses caused by other viruses such as the common cold.

If positive for flu, there are antiviral drugs that can be used to treat the illness.

“The main one that most people have heard about is called Tamiflu,” Montgomery said. “It’s most effective if you start it within 48 hours of the onset of your symptoms.”

Annual vaccination is recommended for everyone regardless of past vaccination status or flu infection. Vaccination should begin in September or as soon as the vaccine is available and continue throughout the flu season, which can last as late as May.

To view a CN Health Services flu presentation, visit http://legislative.cherokee.org/StreamingEvents.aspx
and click on influenza presentation.

tesina-jackson@cherokee.org


918-453-5000, ext. 6139

About the Author
Born in Dayton, Ohio, Tesina first started working as an intern for the Cherokee Phoenix after receiving the John Shurr Journalism Award in 2009. Later that year, Tesina received her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., and in 2010 joined the Phoenix staff as a reporter.    

In 2006, Tesina received an internship at The Forum newspaper in Fargo, N.D., after attending the American Indian Journalism Institute at the University of South Dakota. She also attended the AIJI summer program in 2007 and in 2009 she participated in the Native American Journalists Association student projects as a reporter. Tesina is currently a member of NAJA and the Investigative Reporters & Editors organization.
TESINA-JACKSON@cherokee.org • 918-453-5000 ext. 6139
Born in Dayton, Ohio, Tesina first started working as an intern for the Cherokee Phoenix after receiving the John Shurr Journalism Award in 2009. Later that year, Tesina received her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., and in 2010 joined the Phoenix staff as a reporter. In 2006, Tesina received an internship at The Forum newspaper in Fargo, N.D., after attending the American Indian Journalism Institute at the University of South Dakota. She also attended the AIJI summer program in 2007 and in 2009 she participated in the Native American Journalists Association student projects as a reporter. Tesina is currently a member of NAJA and the Investigative Reporters & Editors organization.

Health

BY STAFF REPORTS
03/26/2015 08:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Four of Cherokee Nation’s health centers, W.W. Hastings Hospital and the tribe’s entire Health Services have been deemed “Certified Healthy” by the Oklahoma State Department of Health. The Vinita Health Center, Three Rivers Health Center in Muskogee, Redbird Smith Health Center in Sallisaw and Wilma P. Mankiller Health Center in Stilwell were recently selected among 1,700 winners of the Certified Healthy Oklahoma award for 2014. The designation for maintaining a healthy campus for employees is administered by the state, Oklahoma Academy, state chamber and Oklahoma Turning Point Council. “I believe it is important as a health department to set the example of making healthy choices,” Health Services Executive Director Connie Davis said. “If we can create a work environment that not only encourages but supports these important changes in our lifestyle, then we have made a real impact on ensuring healthy generations to come.” Employees take advantage of fitness rooms, daily exercise and diet and nutrition classes offered at each of the sites. The tribe’s Early Childhood Unit was also recognized as “Certified Healthy” for providing a healthy nutrition policy for staff and Head Start children. The awards are given annually in six categories: businesses, restaurants, schools, campuses, early care and education and congregation. “All of us are aware of the high costs associated with unhealthy habits, and because our employees work in the health care setting, it’s vital that the workplace be conducive to living a healthy lifestyle,” Brian Hail, W.W. Hastings Hospital CEO, said. “Having this recognition from the Oklahoma State Department of Health demonstrates our commitment to our employees’ well-being and our dedication to the vision of healthy communities for this and future generations.” The CN maintains an onsite health center to treat sick employees, the Gadugi Clinic, and employees and CN citizens have free access to the Male Seminary Recreation Center in Tahlequah, which offers a gym, weights and weekly boot camp, yoga and Zumba classes. “The Certified Healthy Oklahoma Program is a free statewide recognition program showcasing organizations and communities that are committed to making the healthy choice the easy choice,” Julie Dearing, manager of the Certified Healthy Oklahoma Program, said. “Oklahoma truly has a vision of creating healthier places to live, work, learn, play and pray. We are challenging all Oklahomans to eat better, move more and be tobacco-free, as well as implement policies to create healthy environments throughout our state.” For more information on Health Services, call 918-453-5657.
BY STAFF REPORTS
03/16/2015 08:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – After spending nearly two months in West Africa helping fight the Ebola virus, Cherokee Nation citizen and registered nurse Dana Hayworth returned to work at the CN W.W. Hastings Hospital in early March and was greeted with a reception to welcome her back. Hayworth, of Claremore, is a commander for the U.S. Public Health Service and volunteered to serve in Liberia, one of the most severely affected countries in West Africa. She spent 59 days between December and February with the Monrovia Medical Unit, providing clinical care for health care workers who may have contracted the Ebola disease while fighting it. She provided intravenous hydration, medication, blood products and nutrition to workers on the front line. “Going to Liberia was a rare chance to experience a different country and culture, while at the same time being part of the U.S. Public Health Service’s worldwide effort to contain Ebola,” Hayworth said. “Like our Native people, the Liberian people have a lot of strong ties to culture, customs, family and community. They took care of each other. It was awesome to see their resiliency in the face of this horrible disease.” Ebola spreads through human-to-human contact, with an average fatality rate of 50 percent. Symptoms range from sudden fever, fatigue and muscle pain to impaired kidney and liver function, according to the World Health Organization. Hayworth returned to Oklahoma in early February and spent 21 days at home with limited contact before returning to work March 2. Hayworth has been employed at Hastings Hospital for 10 years and works in the occupational therapy department. “We’re very glad to have Dana back safely, and we’re looking forward to putting her back to work and implementing some of the things she learned in Liberia,” Hastings CEO Brian Hail said. “We can’t train our staff on the types of conditions she was working in, so the experiences and the knowledge base that she has brought back to us is invaluable for working with people in a truly underserved population.” Hayworth said she plans to use her experience by preparing the CN on steps to fight Ebola in the chance that the virus should ever reach northeast Oklahoma. Two other CN citizens working in the Monrovia Medical Unit also joined Hayworth. Lt. Cmdr. Julie Erb-Alvarez, an epidemiologist at the U.S. Public Health Service Oklahoma City area office, and Capt. Kevin Brooks, a pharmacist from White River, Arizona, played key roles in the unit as well. The U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Commissioned Corps is an elite uniformed service with more than 6,800 full-time, public health professionals serving the most underserved and vulnerable populations domestically and abroad. The U.S. Public Health Service is one of the seven uniformed services and is the only committed to protecting, promoting and advancing the health and safety of the nation. Officers often serve on the front lines in public health emergency and crisis situations both foreign and domestic including 9/11, Anthrax attacks, the 2010 Haiti earthquake and Superstorm Sandy.
BY STAFF REPORTS
03/14/2015 04:00 PM
CHEROKEE, N.C. – Cherokee Indian Hospital management would like to feature Native American art in the public areas of its new hospital opening Oct.14 and is seeking artists to provide art for the facility. CIH will consider for purchase original works by Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Cherokee Nation and United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee artists as well as other federally recognized Native American artists. Artwork will be selected and placed based on content, style and cost. Distinctive Art Source will accept all artists’ submittals on behalf of Cherokee Indian Hospital and will present all submitted artwork to the art committee for consideration. The submittal deadline is April 17. The mission of the Cherokee Indian Hospital Art Committee is to create pride and ownership by providing a variety of culturally significant, healing art mediums, inside and outside the facility. Research has determined that art can help reduce stress and offer the possibility of improved patient outcomes when the art is patient appropriate. Based on research the CIHAC is also requesting artwork that reflects the EBCI history, cultural and contemporary presence. Art can include but is not limited to recognizable figurative, landscape and garden scenes that represent the local geography and topography. Landscapes should be full color spectrum and sunny. Abstract artwork and artwork depicting dark shadows, cloudy or dark skies will not be considered. Woodwork, clay, stone, basketry, masks, beadwork, pottery, paintings, prints, shell carvings, glasswork, oil paintings, acrylic, pastel, watercolor, mosaic tile, photography, fabric, metals, mixed media, and interior and exterior sculpture will be considered. All artists will be notified of selection status on or near June 2015. Submittals from artists who were not selected will be returned at this time if return instructions and postage is included with their submission. Submittal forms may also be picked up from Megan Donham at the Hospital Construction office in Cherokee. For more information about required criteria, acceptable mediums, eligibility and submittal instructions, please visit <a href="http://www.distinctiveartsource.com/wp-01/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Call-to-Artists-Cherokee.pdf" target="_blank">http://www.distinctiveartsource.com/wp-01/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Call-to-Artists-Cherokee.pdf</a>. Artists may also call Jody Bradley at 828-497-9163, Ext. 6207. The Cherokee Indian Hospital is owned and operated by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians through the Cherokee Indian Hospital Authority since 2002. It serves approximately 10,000 enrolled members with inpatient, outpatient, emergency, dental, and pharmacy services, to name a few. CIH is accredited through the Joint Commission and recognized as a Level 3 Patient Centered Medical Home. The hospital has provided services to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians for more than 75 years.
BY STAFF REPORTS
03/01/2015 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – There will be an Oklahoma Blood Institute blood drive from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on March 3 at the Cherokee Nation W.W. Hastings Hospital in the Support Services Conference Room near Urgent Care. Blood donors will receive a donor T-shirt for their contributions. If they chose to reject the shirts, the funds designed for the T-shirt will go to the Global Blood Fund, which is a nonprofit organization that provides safe blood services in developing countries. Donors will also receive free health screenings and donor reward points, which are redeemable online for merchandise and gift certificates. A photo identification is required to donate at OBI blood drives. Participants must be 16 years old or older to donate. Participants who are 16 years old must provide a signed parental permission form and weigh 125 pounds or more to donate. Those who are 17 years old must weigh 125 pounds or more, and those 18 and older must weigh in 110 pounds or more to donate. For more information or to schedule an appointment, email <a href="mailto: tcrites@obi.org">tcrites@obi.org</a> or visit <a href="http://www.obi.org" target="_blank">www.obi.org</a>.
BY JAMI MURPHY
Reporter
02/27/2015 08:00 AM
TULSA, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen Tyler Moman and his wife Destiny said they were “blessed with two miracles” on Jan. 7 when Rylie Dawn and Haylie Reece – a set of monoamniotic twins – were delivered at 28 weeks and 6 days in gestation at St. John Medical Center. The difference between monoamniotic twins and other twins are that monoamniotic twins share the same amniotic sac and placenta. This means umbilical cords can easily tangle or kink as the twins grow in the womb. Monoamniotic twins are rare and have a 50 percent birth survival rate, Tyler said. Destiny said the twins must be monitored closely because as they grow in the womb they can strangle one another with their umbilical cords. “With mono-mono twins, at 24 weeks they always want to start monitoring you because about 24 weeks is when the babies start getting their growth spurt and start moving around more often, and they want to keep an eye on their heart rates,” she said. “Because the babies’ cords can knot or wrap around each other’s throats and strangle each other or cause harm between the two, which is kind of what started to happened with my two.” Tyler said Destiny started having problems as the babies’ heart rates dropped on Jan. 6 while being monitored at the hospital. The Grove couple welcomed the babies early the next morning. At birth Rylie weighed 3 pounds and Haylie was 2 pounds, 10 ounces. Both babies had to be on oxygen and feeding tubes. Destiny said they were also in isolation early on, monitored every few hours and still have a long way to go but are much improved. Other problems the girls may face is a “slower development of growing.” “At a year old they might look 6 months old or something or a little smaller, but then again there’s been twins that have grown tremendously compared to, you know, most twins,” Destiny said. Both babies have heart murmurs, but Destiny said those are expected with premature babies. Most often murmurs remedy themselves with medication and growth. “Rylie now weighs 4 pounds, 15 ounces. She’s been off oxygen now for 6 days (as of Feb. 9). She still has her VSD (ventricular septal defect – a hole in the wall of the heart between the bottom two chambers) but that’s normal for her. They say hers is so small it might close on its own in her first year,” Destiny said. “So Rylie has knocked out three of her milestones. She can breath on her own, keep her own temperature and is over 4 pounds.” Destiny said Haylie now weighs 4 pounds, 10 ounces, and like her sister, is off the oxygen tube but still uses a feeding tube. “She is keeping her own temperature up also. They both have almost outgrown their preemie clothes. They both have been taken off their Prolacta (human milk-based nutritional product) and are now on a different fortifier that gives them 24 extra calories. My milk gives them only 20 calories…They no longer have a pic line in anymore so no more IV fluids,” she said. “They get a vitamin once a day. They should be off their caffeine soon. They both still have their feeding tubes but they moved them to their noses so they can nipple feed. They will keep those in till they can take 50 percent of their feedings and then they will take them out.” She said the girls are getting better and stronger every day and she cannot wait until they can go home. A Go-Fund Me Crowdsource fund has been established to raise funds to allow Destiny to stay at the hospital, as well as car seats tailored for premature babies. Visit <a href="http://www.gofundme.com/k48zww" target="_blank">www.gofundme.com/k48zww</a> for more information.
BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
02/23/2015 09:30 AM
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – While state leaders remain steadfastly opposed to a Medicaid expansion offered under the federal health care law, some of Oklahoma’s 39 federally recognized Native American tribes are exploring opportunities for a federal waiver that could mean health insurance for about 40,000 low-income uninsured tribal citizens. Oklahoma Health Care Authority CEO Nico Gomez said talks are underway about seeking an expansion of the state’s Insure Oklahoma program to include some of the estimated 80,000 Native Americans in Oklahoma without health insurance. Gomez estimated as many as half of those tribal citizens could qualify for the program, depending on where the income threshold is set. Although still conceptual, Gomez said the idea would involve the tribal citizen paying a portion of the health insurance premium, the tribe paying a portion and the federal government paying the largest part. “We’re not looking at tapping into any state revenue, not now or in the future,” Gomez said. “Frankly, if it required any state revenue, I’m not sure we’d even be having this conversation.” Gomez said the proposal was initially discussed the first week of February with tribal representatives, and that he planned to brief members of the Health Care Authority’s governing board during its regular meeting on Feb. 12. Some of the state’s largest tribes, including the Chickasaw and Cherokee nations, are involved in discussions, Gomez said. Insure Oklahoma provides health coverage to about 18,000 low-income Oklahoma residents, mostly through a program in which the cost of premiums are shared by the state (60 percent), the employer (25 percent) and the employee (15 percent). The state portion of the program is funded through a tax on tobacco sales, but a federal waiver that allows the program to operate has only been approved through the end of the year. Gomez said expanding the program to include a tribal option could help ensure the federal waiver continues. Billy James, a 31-year-old University of Oklahoma student and a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation, said he wants to have health insurance but can’t afford the premiums. “I’m trying to hold out as long as I can,” said James, who is finishing his master’s degree and currently unemployed. “I’m kind of scared about not having insurance, but I’ve got to tough it out a little while longer.” A spokesman for Gov. Mary Fallin, a staunch supporter of the Insure Oklahoma program, said the governor is excited about the potential of a tribal expansion. “We’re particularly excited about the fact that it would not cost the state any tax dollars, which is important as we deal with our current shortfall,” Fallin spokesman Alex Weintz said. Currently, there are about 130,000 Native Americans in the state’s Medicaid program, which is about 16 percent of the overall Medicaid population in Oklahoma.