BVHS Weekend Column: Lyme Disease

The risk of getting Lyme disease from a tick bite is very low (about 1 in 100) if the tick is removed before it is engorged…..

LymeDisease, by  Jeffrey Eiden, MD, Family Medicine, Putnam County Primary Care

It is tick time again! Along with the warmer weather that gets us outside, hiking and tromping through the woods, comes the risk of exposure to ticks. When we think of ticks, we often think of Lyme disease. Here is a brief review of what you should know about ticks, preventing and treating tick bites, as well as some information about Lyme disease.

A tick is a small arachnid that is a parasite. Ticks require the blood of another organism to survive. They attach to a host, often a mammal, feed on blood, detach and repeat when they need another meal. Not all ticks carry diseases, but some do. There are 16 known human diseases transmitted by ticks. The best approach is to avoid ticks if possible or at least remove them soon after they attach.

Ticks are most active during warm weather. They are most often in wooded or brushy areas or in high grass. Be aware that you might encounter ticks when in this type of area. If you venture into an area that is likely to have ticks present, you should consider using a tick repellent. Most insect repellents also repel ticks. The recommendation is to use an insect repellent that contains DEET. Clothing, boots and tents can also be pre-treated with 0.5% permethrin which also repels ticks. Limiting exposed skin by covering it with clothing and by tucking pants into socks keeps ticks from finding a place to attach.

If a tick does attach, it is best to remove it as soon as possible. Get in the habit of checking for ticks after spending time outdoors. Look for ticks on clothes and shoes. Check pets also, as ticks can attach to them and then gain access to your home. It is also wise to bathe or shower within two hours of returning inside and to check over all your skin to be sure there are no ticks attached. Children should be thoroughly checked by parents.

When a tick is found on skin, remove it. The best way to remove a tick is to grasp it firmly with fine-tipped tweezers and pull away from the skin. It works best if the tip of the tweezers is as close to the skin as possible. Steady pressure should remove the tick. Avoid twisting or jerking. If the tick does not come off in one piece, remove the pieces left behind if possible. There are some “tricks” for removing ticks that are passed around, including using a match or nail polish. These do not work. Use the tweezers and pull.

Suppose you do find a tick that has attached to your skin. Remove it as above. Do not panic but do be alert for any signs or symptoms of tick-borne illness. These would include fever, chills, muscle aches and in some cases, rash. If any of these symptoms develop, contact your primary care provider for instructions.

Shifting to Lyme disease, the risk of getting Lyme disease from a tick bite is very low (about 1 in 100) if the tick is removed before it is engorged. This is why it is so important to find and remove ticks as soon as possible.

There is consideration for using a single dose of antibiotic to prevent Lyme disease after a tick bite, but this is only recommended in specific situations. The tick would need to be identified as a deer tick, as this is the only type of tick known to transmit Lyme disease. Deer ticks have black legs, which distinguishes them from other types of ticks. The tick should have been attached for 36 hours or more, as indicated by time since exposure or degree of engorgement. The antibiotic should be given within 72 hours of tick removal. The tick bite should have occurred in an area where at least 20% of ticks are infected with the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. This is an issue in parts of New England and parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Minnesota and Wisconsin. In Ohio, although we have deer ticks and some carry Lyme disease, we are not yet at area with this level of tick infection.

Another approach to preventing full-blown Lyme disease is to treat at the first sign of a rash that indicates possible infection. This rash is distinctive. It occurs at the site of the tick bite and is salmon to red-colored and circular. One-third of the time, it can have a clear area in the center that makes it look like a bull’s eye or target. The rash, called erythema migrans, tends to expand outward over several days, getting larger and larger. If you have had a tick bite and develop this type of rash where the bite occurred, you should call your primary care provider and be evaluated. Treatment at this point would typically be with a course of an antibiotic like doxycycline, amoxicillin or cefuroxime.

Lyme disease is caused by the body’s immune response to the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi. The symptoms are divided into different phases, based on length of time since initial infection. The early localized phase of Lyme disease is usually about 7-14 days after the tick bite. It is characterized by the rash of erythema migrans, and symptoms typical of a viral infection, such as fatigue, fever, headache, muscle or joint pain and swollen lymph nodes. The symptoms are not often severe.

The early disseminated phase of Lyme disease occurs days to weeks after the tick bite and is caused by the spread of bacteria through the bloodstream, leading to inflammation in the affected area. There can be involvement of the heart or nervous system. Symptoms of infection in a particular organ are not common, but can be severe.

In addition to early symptoms, there can be a late phase of Lyme disease. This most commonly is seen as inflammation affecting the joint and muscles and happens in 80% of people who did not receive treatment with antibiotics for their early infection. Late Lyme disease can also cause neurologic symptoms, but this is rare.

Post-Lyme disease syndrome is a group of symptoms that can occur chronically after treatment for Lyme disease. The symptoms seen with this are headache, fatigue and joint pain. Because these types of symptoms are common, some people worry that they have post-Lyme disease syndrome even when they do not have a history of having had Lyme disease. It is not helpful to treat the post-Lyme disease syndrome with antibiotics, and it gradually resolves.

The diagnosis of Lyme disease is made based on history of possible exposure to ticks, characteristic signs and symptoms, and the finding of antibodies to Lyme disease on blood testing. The blood tests are not always helpful and should be ordered by a physician/provider after consultation and interpreted considering the patient’s story and symptoms.

As in so many medical conditions, prevention is key and early detection/treatment is the next best option. Watch out for ticks! But get outside and enjoy the warm weather whenever you can. Doctor’s orders. J




Stay at Home Nursing

It is important to know the home care benefits available to you, because the ultimate goal is to be able to receive the care you need…..

 Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, being able to stay at home to receive nursing care and therapy services may be a newer thought to some. Many aging individuals aren’t aware of the insurance benefits they already have that include in-home care. Those with Medicare as their primary insurance are typically covered 100 percent for home care services, as long as certain criteria are met. One of these is being “homebound.” It may sound like a scary term, but it is less restrictive than it sounds.

Being homebound is actually two-fold. First, a person must need help to leave their home. This help can be from a device (wheelchair, walker or cane), from another person (spouse, child, other caregiver), or special transportation. This help can be needed because of a physical illness or injury, or because of a diagnosis such as Dementia, that makes the person unsafe to leave the home alone. The person may also have a condition that could become worse if they leave the home, such as a wound infection or lung infection. Secondly, the person must have a normal inability to leave the home, and leaving and returning home requires a “considerable and taxing” effort.

Knowing that, it is also important to know that being homebound does not mean the person is never allowed to leave home. Medicare does allow outings for religious services, doctor’s appointments, hair appointments, short walks around the block, short drives away from home, family reunions and events, funerals, graduations and attending adult daycare at accredited facilities. Patients can also be homebound and still drive themselves to appointments.

Many Medicare advantage plans follow the same rules for in-home services, and most Medicaid policies do not require homebound status at all.

Other criteria that are needed for home health care are: a doctor’s prescription for in-home care, a doctor who is willing to sign all home-care orders and a “skilled” need for in-home nursing or therapy (meaning there are things the nurse or therapist needs to teach the patient or caregiver to help keep the patient safe and out of the hospital). This need can be related to teaching about a diagnosis, medications, wound care, ostomy care, home equipment, therapy home exercise programs or anything else necessary to help keep the patient out of the hospital.

It is important to know the home care benefits available to you, because the ultimate goal is to be able to receive the care you need while staying safe and staying at home.

by Jenna Cotterman MOT, OTR/L, COQS, Home Health Therapy Manager,Bridge Home Health & Hospice

BVHS Weekend Column: What is a Forensic Nurse?

A forensic nurse provides comprehensive care to victims of violence…….

 What is a Forensic Nurse? by Mindy Lause, RN, Blanchard Valley Health System, Emergency Department

Mindy Lause, RN

With social justice issues like human trafficking, sexual assault and intimate partner violence in the media, one might ask: “What is a forensic nurse?” A forensic nurse is a registered nurse who blends the holistic care of nursing to the body, mind and spirit—to include principles from the law, medicine and science. A forensic patient is an individual who has a healthcare issue and intersects with the legal system.

A forensic nurse provides comprehensive care to victims of violence while demonstrating competency in conducting a medical forensic exam, including evaluation for evidence collection; providing effective courtroom testimony; and showing compassion and sensitivity towards survivors of violence. The medical wellbeing of a patient is the primary objective of the forensic nurse during the examination.

Forensic nurses play a vital role in both healthcare and criminal justice systems. This art of nursing is practiced within hospitals, anti-violence programs, psychiatric institutions, coroners’ and medical examiners’ offices, communities (preparing and responding to natural disasters), and/or correctional facilities. Forensic nurses work beside law enforcement, social workers, medical professionals and public health organizations to develop an anti-violence response to human acts of violence.

Forensic nurses also benefit the community. Accurate evidence collection increases prosecution, thus making for a healthier society. The message that a survivor receives when accessing forensic nursing care is that violence is a problem for the entire community, not just the victims that access the services.

Forensic nurses often enter this specialty as Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) which requires the nurse to attend a 40-hour didactic training that includes survivor symptomology, documentation, history taking skills, evidence collection, courtroom testimony and forensic photography. Forensic nurses often work on-call, above and beyond the hours of their primary nursing specialty, spending nights, holidays and weekends responding to the medical needs of friends, family members or neighbors in communities, who have been victimized by a crime.

A certification exam can be taken to be credentialed as a sexual assault nurse examiner for the adult (SANE-A) and pediatric population (SANE-P) after accruing a minimum of 300 hours in SANE-related practice. A forensic nurse may also practice as a death investigator earning certification through the American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators (ABMDI). This entails at least 640 hours of death investigation experience. Some universities specialize in advanced practice nursing degrees with a focus on forensic nursing.

 According to the International Association of Forensic Nursing (IAFN), approximately 5,000 registered members of forensic nursing exist, with 263 registered in the state of Ohio. Eleven active forensic nurses serve victims of violence in Hancock and Allen County hospitals on a 24-hour on-call basis.

If you or someone you know has been victimized by a crime and need medical care, please head to your local hospital and request a forensic nurse to receive quality medical care and forensic evidence collection. If in need of immediate guidance, crisis intervention, one-on-one support or peer support, contact these anonymous and confidential 24-hour hotlines: Ohio Sexual Violence Network (844.644.6435); Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization (866.86.BRAVO); National Sexual Assault Hotline(800.656.HOPE); National Domestic Violence Hotline (800.799.SAFE); and/or Love is Respect (866.331.9474).


BVHS Corporate PR & Marketing Wins Awards

Bronze Aster Award, Silver Telly Award and Award of Distinction in National Communicator Awards…..

 The Corporate Public Relations & Marketing Department at Blanchard Valley Health System has been named the winner of three national awards for their Mayo Clinic Care Network campaign. These awards include a Bronze Aster Award, a Silver Telly Award and an Award of Distinction.


“We are elated to learn that our team received these awards for our work on the Mayo Clinic Care Network campaign,” shared Amy J. Leach, director of Corporate PR & Marketing. “BVHS is an organization with deep roots in our community and I believe that showed in our work. Although we are proud to have won these awards, we are even more proud of how our colleagues care for our patients each and every day.”


BVHS PR & Marketing has been named ‘Best Commercial’ for their Mayo Clinic Care Network collaboration in the hospital local television category, in the 41st Annual Telly Awards. The Telly Awards honors excellence in video and television across all screens and is judged by leaders from video platforms, television, streaming networks, production companies and including Dow Jones, Duplass Brothers Productions, Complex Networks, A&E Networks, Hearst Media, ESPN Films, RYOT, Vice+ and Vimeo.


The team received the Bronze Award in the 2020 Aster Awards, one of the largest and most respected national competitions of its kind, hosted by Creative Images, Inc. This elite program recognizes outstanding healthcare professionals for excellence in their advertising/marketing efforts. Awards were issued for entries that received top marks from judges placing them in the top 16% of the nation for advertising excellence. Judging criteria included creativity, layout and design, functionality, message effectiveness, production quality and overall appeal and execution.


The PR & Marketing team has also been recognized with the Award of Distinction in the 26th Annual Communicator Awards. The Communicator Awards are judged and overseen by the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts (AIVA), a 600+ member organization of leading professionals from various disciplines of the visual arts dedicated to embracing progress and the evolving nature of traditional and interactive media. Current IAVA membership represents a “Who’s Who” of acclaimed media, advertising, and marketing firms.


All communications materials receiving awards were conceptualized, written, developed and printed by the BVHS team. This team includes Amy J. Leach, director; Amy Jordan, graphics coordinator; Madison Essinger, communications coordinator; Jennifer Olson, corporate event planner; Mindy Rischar, brand coordinator; Kelsi Metzger, social media & content marketing coordinator and Brian Rader, print shop coordinator.

For more information about services at BVHS, as well as the clinical collaboration with the Mayo Clinic Care Network, please visit

BVHS Weekend Column: Osteoporosis

The stronger your bones are at their peak, the less likely that you will develop osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis, by Leah Eiden, MD, Family Medicine, Bluffton Primary Care

Dr. Leah Eiden, MD

If anyone has ever told you to “Go out there and break a leg,” hopefully you didn’t think they were advising you to fall and fracture, but realized they were using an idiom to wish you good luck during a performance. Your family doctor does not want you to break a leg, hip or any of your bones. In fact, we would like to help you prevent fractures if at all possible. Thus, our interest in osteoporosis.

What is osteoporosis? Osteoporosis is defined as bones that are more fragile than they should be and are at higher risk of fracturing. (By the way, in medical discussion, the words “fracture” and “break” are synonymous.) In between normal bones and osteoporosis is a condition called osteopenia, which is bones that are weaker and more fragile than normal, but not weak or fragile enough to be classified in the osteoporosis category. Think of this as “pre-osteoporosis,” like “pre-diabetes.” Osteoporosis and osteopenia are very common, occurring in approximately 53 million American men and women. Each year in the US, there are approximately two million fractures that are “fragility fractures,” felt to be caused by osteoporosis.

Besides causing pain, these fractures often cause significant disability and sometimes even death. The statistics say that approximately 50 percent of patients with hip fractures will permanently lose their ability to walk without assistance and that 25 percent will require long-term care. There is a 20 percent increase in the chance of dying over the five years after a hip fracture or vertebral fracture than what would have been expected without the fracture.

Who is at risk for osteoporosis? Osteoporosis is found more often in older adults and more often in women than in men. Long term use of steroids increases the risk of osteoporosis, as does a deficiency of vitamin D.

How is osteoporosis diagnosed? The most common way to assess for osteoporosis is a DXA scan, an X-Ray test that measures bone density at the hip and the spine. Bone strength can also be assessed by ultrasound, and this screening is sometimes offered at community health fairs.

How can osteoporosis be prevented? The most effective way to prevent osteoporosis is to get enough calcium when you are building bone during adolescence. Teenage girls should pay attention to their calcium intake, trying to get around 1300mg of calcium per day, either in diet or by taking a calcium supplement. A simple way to think of this is that during adolescence, you are depositing into your “bone bank.” After about age 30, you reach your peak bone density. The hardness of your bones plateaus for a while and gradually decreases later in life. The stronger your bones are at their peak, the less likely that you will develop osteoporosis. Be sure to encourage the young ladies in your life to take in adequate amounts of calcium; it will make a difference for their health when they reach their “golden years.”

Even if you are older than 30 and no longer actively increasing bone density, adequate calcium and vitamin D intake can decrease your chances of developing osteoporosis. Adults under 50 years of age should get 1000mg calcium and 400-800IU vitamin D each day, and those over 50 should get 1200mg calcium and 800-1000IU vitamin D on a daily basis. The National Osteoporosis Foundation has good information on how to achieve this intake with diet and supplements.

In addition to calcium and vitamin D, weight-bearing exercise helps prevent osteoporosis. The most common weight-bearing exercise would be walking. Exercises like swimming and biking, while great for muscle strengthening and cardiovascular health, do not strengthen bones.

Prescription medications are available for people whose bone density test results and risk factors indicate a high risk of osteoporosis. Decisions about prescription medications are best made in consultation with your physician or provider.

How is osteoporosis treated? The treatment for osteoporosis is focused on preventing fractures. It follows and builds on the recommendations for preventing osteoporosis discussed above, including calcium and vitamin D intake, weight-bearing exercise and prescription medications. Medications used to treat osteoporosis come in several forms: pills taken daily or weekly or monthly, a yearly IV medication, or injections given daily or every six months. The medications vary in effectiveness, cost and side effect profiles, so it is important to discuss an individualized treatment plan with your physician.

Another very important piece of avoiding fractures is fall prevention. Exercising for balance and strength, removing fall hazards from the home and avoiding medications and substances which cause dizziness or decrease alertness are all ways to minimize the chance of falling.

Who should be screened for osteoporosis? There is some variation in recommendations among the various medical societies, but in general, normal risk women should have a bone density test at age 65. If the test is normal, they may not need additional testing. For those with osteopenia, bone density testing should be performed every 2-3 years to evaluate for worsening bone density and progression to osteoporosis. For those with osteoporosis, the frequency of follow up bone density tests to monitor response to treatment can be individualized based on what treatments are being used and what information is needed. The decision to do bone density testing for men is typically made based on the presence of specific conditions that put them at higher risk of osteoporosis.

Just as is the case with so many diseases, with osteoporosis, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” A healthy diet and routine exercise are so important, and it is never too late to make positive changes. From this family doctor, I’m hoping you stay strong, enjoy good health and never “break a leg!”



BVHS Weekend Column: Lab Earns Reaccreditation

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States……

Blanchard Valley Hospital,  Cardiovascular Services: Echocardiography Lab Earns Echocardiography Reaccreditation by IAC


Echocardiography is used to assess different areas of the heart and can detect heart disease or signs of serious conditions. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, followed closely by stroke as the fourth highest cause of death. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), more than 2,150 Americans die each day from cardiovascular disease which amounts to about one every 40 seconds.

There are many factors that contribute to an accurate diagnosis based on echocardiography. The training and experience of the sonographer performing the procedure, the type of equipment used and the quality assessment metrics each facility is required to measure, all contribute to a positive patient outcome. IAC accreditation is a “seal of approval” that patients can rely on as an indicator of consistent quality care and a dedication to continuous improvement.

Blanchard Valley Hospital,  Cardiovascular Services: Echocardiography Lab located in Findlay, OH has been granted an additional three-year term of accreditation by the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission (IAC) in Echocardiography in the area(s) of Adult Transthoracic, Adult Transesophageal. This latest accreditation awarded to Blanchard Valley Hospital,  Cardiovascular Services: Echocardiography Lab demonstrates the facility’s ongoing commitment to providing quality patient care in echocardiography. 

Accreditation by IAC indicates that Blanchard Valley Hospital,  Cardiovascular Services: Echocardiography Lab has undergone an intensive application and review process and is found to be in compliance with the published Standards. Comprised of a detailed self-evaluation followed by a thorough review by a panel of medical experts, the IAC accreditation process enables both the critical operational and technical components of the applicant facility to be assessed, including representative case studies and their corresponding final reports.

About IAC

The IAC is a nonprofit organization in operation to evaluate and accredit facilities that provide diagnostic imaging and intervention-based procedures, thus improving the quality of patient care provided in private offices, clinics and hospitals where such services are performed. The IAC provides accreditation programs for vascular testing, echocardiography, nuclear/PET, MRI, diagnostic CT, dental CT, carotid stenting, vein treatment and management, cardiac electrophysiology and cardiovascular catheterization. The IAC programs for accreditation are dedicated to ensuring quality patient care and promoting health care and all support one common mission: Improving health care through accreditation®. Committed to its mission through a rigorous peer review process, the IAC has granted accreditation to more than 14,000 sites since its inception in 1991. To learn more about IAC, visit

Letter to the Editor


The word “culture” is defined as the customary beliefs, social forms and material traits of a racial, religious or social group. In more basic language, it’s the values and norms a group of people choose to follow as they coexist. Not unlike humans, a culture can suffer illness too. Current events prove the point.

Today, we are suffering terribly from the effects of the COVID virus. Our human existence has changed dramatically in a few short weeks. For those who have contracted the disease, the impact can be profound. For others, the requirements to wear masks, stay six feet apart, wash hands regularly and stay home has created big changes too.

And, as most of us now know, the economic impact to individual persons, and entire countries around the world, is significant and arguably will continue for some time to come. COVID has fundamentally affected both American and world culture.

Recently, our American culture took another blow. This one far less physical for most and much more emotional. With the arrest of a white police officer for the homicide of George Floyd in Minneapolis, we have once again been reminded of the harsh reality that being a person of color in our society is all too often a dangerous proposition. To quote an article I recently read, “America’s original sin has once again come home to roost.” It is a devastatingly stark reminder of the deep seeded schism that continues to erode the core of our culture.

As healthcare professionals, the topic is even more relevant. The issue of disparities in health-related services is something that has been extensively studied. The emerging COVID data makes the point very clearly. African-Americans comprise 14% of the U.S. population, but nearly 40% of the COVID-related deaths; a shocking statistic. Furthermore, it has long been known that black people in America have less access to care and achieve worse health outcomes across all age groups, genders, educational attainment and economic status. To make the point clearly, on average, Michael Jordan and Serena Williams have less access to care and achieve poorer health outcomes compared to whites in the same gender, educational and economic status. It’s hard to believe, but given the data, true.

Our American culture is sick, both physically (COVID) and spiritually (racism). Unfortunately, the impact of two serious “illnesses” at the same time is very significant. Neither will simply “go away,” as they require treatment. Basic logic suggests a starting point of acknowledging “the patient is sick.” The physical disease is much easier. COVID can be diagnosed scientifically. Appropriate treatment protocols are emerging. Conversely, racism is more insidious, often fomenting just below the patina, until a situation like Mr. Floyd’s happens, and raw emotions boil over.

Living in an area with fewer minorities than many other places in America, it may be easy for some to simply ignore the issue. It may not seem real nor particularly relevant. My purpose is not to judge the response of others. However, to be abundantly clear and blunt, we will eliminate disparities whenever and wherever we can, to include race, gender, sexual preference, social status, economic status, educational attainment, religious affiliations and any other category one might think of.  We are all God’s children and as such, each individual deserves ready access to the best possible care we can provide whenever it is required.

Martin Luther King, Jr. often coached those around him to “never be afraid to do the right thing.” He’s right about that. In the BVHS world, that means the absolute best we have for every single person, no matter what…


Scott Malaney, CEO & President

Blanchard Valley Health System

The Rise of Spring Allergies: Fact or Fiction?

There are many events that can help predict how bothersome the spring allergy season will be and why allergies are increasing….

This spring allergy season could be the worst yet, or at least that is what you might hear or be feeling. Every year is particularly bad for allergy sufferers, but are spring allergies this year really worse?

While it’s true that allergies are on the rise and affecting more Americans than ever, each spring isn’t necessarily worse than the last. The prevalence of allergies is surging upward, with as many as 30 percent of adults and up to 40 percent of children having at least one allergy.

There are many events that can help predict how bothersome the spring allergy season will be and why allergies are increasing:

  • Climate Change– Recent studies have shown pollen levels gradually increase every year. The warmer temperatures and mild winters cause plants to begin producing and releasing pollen earlier. Rain can promote plant and pollen growth, while wind accompanying rainfall can stir pollen and mold into the air, heightening symptoms.

  • Priming Effect – A mild winter can trigger an early release of pollen from trees. Once allergy sufferers are exposed to this early pollen, their immune system is primed to react to the allergens, meaning there will be little relief even if temperatures cool down and this will lead to a longer sneezing season for sufferers.

  • Hygiene Hypothesis – This theory suggests that exposure to bacterial by-products from farm animals, and even dogs, in the first few months of life reduces or delays the onset of allergies and asthma. This may, in part, explain the increasing incidence of allergies worldwide in developed countries.

While over-the-counter medications may work for those with mild symptoms, they can cause a variety of unwanted side effects. If you think you have allergies, see a board-certified allergist. During this time of social distancing, an allergist can provide you with quality care through HIPPA secure Telehealth/virtual visits. They can evaluate, diagnose, and treat allergy sufferers so the spring sneezing season doesn’t have to be so bothersome.

If you think you might be one of the more than 50 million Americans that suffer from allergies and asthma, don’t delay your care, find an allergist in your area who can provide Telehealth/virtual services.

Author: Maria Slack, MD

Dr. Slack

BVHS: Safety Precautions are in Place

Blanchard Valley Health System Assures Safety Precautions are in Place, Encourages Contacting Primary Care Provider for Testing

Blanchard Valley Health System (BVHS) is taking all proper precautions to keep patients safe during this time and abiding by all state and federal guidelines. If you believe you are symptomatic for COVID-19, please schedule an appointment with your primary care provider.


If you do not have a primary care provider, please call the BVHS Triage & Testing Center call center at 419.423.7890 for information on screening opportunities. Patients can also establish a primary care provider by calling the Blanchard Valley Medical Practices’ physician referral line, 419.422.APPT or visiting

Telehealth options are available through Physicians Plus Urgent Care if you do not feel comfortable coming on-site for you or your family member’s visit. To learn more about telehealth options, please visit

“We are taking all the necessary measures to ensure your health and keep our patients safe,” shared Sara Jones, clinical manager of the emergency department. “We are happy to welcome more patients during this time. We provide exceptional care to people through every season, and the exceptional care will continue with COVID-19.”

Patients, visitors and associates are being screened, and will continue to be screened, at all entry points of the health system. This includes physician offices, rehabilitation services, emergency care and more. Everyone entering any BVHS location will also be required to don a mask and maintain social distancing of six feet.

BVHS continues to remain aligned with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Ohio Department of Health. For additional guidance during the COVID-19 pandemic, BVHS continues to update information that can be found at under the COVID-19 tab.

BVHS Lifts Restrictions

Blanchard Valley Health System Lifts Restrictions on Elective and Outpatient Procedures

Blanchard Valley Health System (BVHS) has lifted temporary restrictions on elective surgery and outpatient procedures due to the COVID-19 virus. This decision was made after the release by Governor Dewine and the “Stay Safe Ohio Order.” Procedures will include outpatient surgeries, office-based health care services, outpatient diagnostic tests and outpatient imaging tests.


“COVID-19 has caused many patients to put their plans and health care needs on hold. This is great news that we can get back to performing procedures and providing our community with relief,” said Trevor Schmiedebusch, director of perioperative services. “BVHS is ready to begin delivering exceptional care to our patients again, following all safety protocol to protect our patients. We are continuing to follow all guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Ohio Department of Health.”


Safety protocols put in place regarding care include, but are not limited to:


  • All individuals entering Blanchard Valley Health System facilities, including associates, will continue to be screened for a temperature and COVID-19 symptoms.
  • All individuals entering Blanchard Valley Health System facilities will be asked to don a cloth mask. Patients may bring their own mask or may opt to wear one supplied by the health system.
  • All associates will wear surgical masks and protective eye wear, as well as other necessary personal protective equipment (PPE), at all times when caring for patients.
  • Visitors will still be prohibited.
  • Six-foot social distances will be established in public areas such as waiting rooms.
  • Extra cleaning and disinfection of high-touch, public surface areas will continue.
  • Infectious patients will continue to be cared for in isolation, away from non-infectious patients.


In addition to the safety protocols, the health system remains prepared to cease non-essential procedures in the event a surge or peak of COVID-19 develops in the area.

Blanchard Valley Hospital Pavilion


“Protecting our patients and our community is the top priority,” stated Scott Malaney, president and CEO. “We are adjusting our services to provide exceptional care in a safe environment. As always, we are prepared to do whatever it takes to care for those who entrust BVHS for their healthcare needs.”


To remain prepared, Blanchard Valley Health System will maintain a sufficient supply of PPE as well as other resources necessary to care for COVID-19 patients. BVHS is still accepting donations of cloth masks and cleaning supplies. To make a donation, contact Marie Swaisgood, chief development officer of the Blanchard Valley Health Foundation, at 419.429.6414. Drop-offs can be made Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. or by scheduled appointment at 223 West Wallace Street in Findlay.


Patients who wish to schedule their elective surgery or outpatient procedure should first visit with their appropriate ordering provider.

BVHS Weekend Column: Hand Hygiene

The CDC recommends washing your hands for at least 20 seconds and ensuring to scrub all surfaces…..

Hand Hygiene, by Hannah Plumley, BS, MPH candidate Kent State University; Working under the supervision of: Colleen Abrams, Infection Preventionist, Blanchard Valley Health System

Colleen Abrams


Proper hand hygiene is the number one way to prevent the spread of infection, any time of the year. This is particularly important during winter months. According to the Ohio Department of Health, this flu season alone, there have been over 5,400 influenza-related hospitalizations in Ohio. You can take measures to prevent illness at any time of the year by taking the following minimum measures every day:


  • Wash your hands
    • Before and after preparing food or eating
    • After using the restroom
    • After touching garbage
    • After coughing or blowing your nose
    • After touching a pet, pet food or pet waste
    • After changing a diaper or helping a child at the toilet
  • Practice respiratory etiquette
    • Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze – in public AND at home
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth or licking your fingers
    • If you or someone else at home is sick, clean or disinfect frequently touched surfaces


The CDC recommends washing your hands for at least 20 seconds and ensuring to scrub all surfaces including palms, under fingernails, backs of hands, wrists and between fingers.


Thoroughly drying hands (preferably with a disposable paper towel) is essential to proper hand hygiene, as wet hands more easily transmit bacteria and viruses. In a public setting, use a paper towel to turn off the faucet and open the door.

Hand sanitizer is acceptable according to CDC standards in instances where hands are not visibly soiled with dirt, food or body fluids. Hand sanitizer should contain at least 60% alcohol and be rubbed until dry to be most effective.

Remember, when practicing hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette, you are not only protecting yourself, you are taking measures to protect others. Pregnant women, infants, and those with chronic health conditions and weakened immune systems are especially at risk for illness. These illnesses can be spread anywhere – at the gas pump, the grocery store, and even doctor’s offices or hospitals.


In a healthcare setting, while all healthcare workers are highly trained on infection prevention, it is acceptable to ask or remind healthcare workers to wash their hands. It is your right as a patient to speak up and advocate for your care. At a minimum, healthcare workers should wash their hands upon entering and exiting the room and before and after they touch you. You can also take the following precautions to protect yourself in a hospital setting:

  • Sneeze and cough into your elbow, not your hand.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing frequently.
  • If your room appears dirty, ask for it to be cleaned.
  • If you are having surgery, ask if you should shower beforehand with antibacterial soap.
  • Clean your hands and make sure everyone around you does, too (visitors included).
  • If you have a catheter, ask daily if you still need one.
  • Take medications as directed.
  • Ask staff about safe needle practices (One Needle, One Syringe, One Time).


This time of the year especially, it is truly a community effort to prevent the spread of disease. In addition to proper nutrition, sleep and staying active, it is our personal responsibility to stay home when sick, avoid close contact with those who are ill, and most importantly, wash our hands. We can all take our part to ensure we all stay as healthy as possible!


BVHS Weekend Column: Eosinophilic Esophagitis

EoE occurs in adults and children. It sometimes runs in families…….

Eosinophilic esophagitis, or “EoE” for short, is a condition that affects the esophagus, the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach. In cases of EoE, the esophagus has cells called eosinophils. Eosinophils are not normally found in the esophagus. They are cells associated with allergies. The exact cause of EoE is unknown but thought to be related to food allergies. There is a strong association of EoE with allergic conditions such as food allergies, environmental allergies, asthma and atopic dermatitis (eczema). EoE occurs in adults and children. It sometimes runs in families.

Brenda Keller, APRN-CNP, Certified Nurse Practitioner, Gastroenterology Associates of Northwest Ohio


Symptoms can vary, depending on a person’s age. In adults and teens, symptoms usually include trouble swallowing. This is the most common symptom. The patient has difficulty with solid foods and may feel like food gets “stuck” in the throat or chest. Chest and abdominal pain can also occur as well as a “burning” sensation in the chest. In children, there may be problems with nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain or a reluctance to eat solid foods.

The test most often performed to diagnose EoE is an esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD). The test is an upper endoscopy performed by a gastroenterologist. With the test, a tube with a light and camera on the end are placed in the mouth and into the esophagus. The lining of the esophagus is evaluated, and a small sample of tissue is removed so the cells can be viewed under a microscope by a pathologist to determine whether the patient has EoE. Esophageal biopsies from patients with EoE show an increased number of eosinophils.

Treatment for EoE usually involves changes in diet and medication. Your healthcare provider may suggest that you avoid foods that are commonly known to cause EoE. The empiric elimination diet also called the “six-food elimination diet (SFED)” empirically eliminates foods that most commonly cause immediate hypersensitivity to a population, such as people in the United States. This diet eliminates foods that account for the majority of IgE-medicated food reactions (milk, egg, soy, wheat, peanuts/tree nuts and fish/shellfish). After an elimination period that may vary from 6-12 weeks, each food is gradually re-introduced. If a patient becomes symptomatic with a food re-introduction, that food is removed from the diet again.

Medication management can also be used to treat EoE. Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are first-line treatment if dietary changes are unacceptable or fail. The patient is treated initially with an 8-week course of a PPI.

Topical glucocorticoids (“steroids”) can also be an effective treatment for EoE. Most adult patients are treated with swallowed budesonide and fluticasone. Fluticasone is administered using a metered-dose inhaler without a spacer. The medication is sprayed into the patient’s mouth and then swallowed.

The patient is advised that EoE is a chronic condition. Untreated, the patient may remain symptomatic or have episodic symptoms with a high likelihood of recurrence of symptoms after treatment is discontinued. The long-term prognosis of EoE is unclear, but EoE does not appear to shorten lifespan significantly.

The American Partnership for Eosinophilic Disorders and Campaign Urging Research for Eosinophilic Disease (CURED) are advocacy groups for patients with eosinophilic gastrointestinal diseases.