BVHS Weekend Column: HPV Prevention

Through the Gardasil 9 Vaccine……

HPV Prevention Through the Gardasil 9 Vaccine,  by Allison Westcott, MD

 HPV stands for human papillomavirus, the most common sexually transmitted infection. Over 14 million new cases occur in the U.S. yearly, although most people do not know that they have been affected. This infection can lead to genital warts or certain types of cancer, with the most common being cervical. Also included are vulvar, anal, penile, and cancers of the head and neck.

Dr. Allison Westcott, MD

HPV is spread through direct skin-to-skin contact and sexual contact. Most sexually active men and women will contract the HPV virus at some point in their lives. While there is no cure for the HPV virus, there are effective vaccines available for prevention. The symptoms of HPV can be treated through the Gardasil vaccine.

The Gardasil 9 vaccine protects against nine different HPV types. These nine types of HPV cause cancer and warts. In October of 2018, the Gardasil 9 vaccine had been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for people of the ages of 9 to 45 years, opening a wider range of opportunity for people to receive the vaccine. There is a three-dose schedule that can be completed within six months. Because of their immune systems, adolescents only need two doses prior to the age of 15. The best practice for receiving the vaccine is to begin routine vaccinations at the ages of 11-12 for both males and females. The HPV vaccine is not recommended during pregnancy, although it does not appear harmful to the fetus. It is recommended during postpartum and is safe for those breastfeeding.

The Gardasil 9 vaccine is 88% effective in preventing persistent HPV infection, genital warts, vulvar/vaginal pre-cancer, cervical pre-cancer and cervical cancer. If an HPV infection is persistent past the age of 30, there is a greater risk of developing cervical cancer. HPV infections that cause most cancers and genital warts have dropped 71% amongst teen girls that have received the vaccine. Prevention is always better than treating after the fact.

High HPV vaccination rates would reduce or even eradicate HPV disease and cancers dramatically. The HPV vaccine is 100% effective preventing HPV, 60% successful in reduction of genital warts, 50% effective in reduction of vulvar/vaginal cancer, and 20% successful in reducing high-risk cervical lesions. However, not being vaccinated against HPV is 0% effective.



BVHS to Host ‘Allergy, Asthma & Lung Health’ Presentation  

Seating is limited. RSVP is required….


Blanchard Valley Health System (BVHS) will host “Allergy, Asthma & Lung Health,” a presentation of the “Live and Learn” series, to educate the community about allergens affecting the lungs as well as asthma triggers and symptoms. This event will be held on Thursday, September 12 from noon to 1 p.m. in the Marathon Auditorium of Blanchard Valley Hospital, located at 1900 South Main Street, Findlay. A boxed lunch will be provided during the event.

The panel will consist of Maria Slack, MD and Amber Patterson, MD, physicians at ENT & Allergy Specialists of Northwest Ohio, a division of BVHS. Clara Rimmer, MD, a physician at Pulmonary Critical Care, located in Blanchard Valley Hospital, will moderate the panel.

Drs. Slack and Patterson provide pulmonary care at ENT & Allergy Specialists of Northwest Ohio located at 1110 W. Main Cross St. Suite G. The providers diagnose and treat a broad range of ear, nose and throat conditions in both adults and children. The center also offers treatment to problems in the head and neck area.

Seating is limited. RSVP is required by Monday, September 9 and can be made by emailing or calling 419.423.5551.

Dr. Slack received her medical degree from the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine (Oklahoma City and Tulsa, OK). She completed her master of medical science in allergy and immunology at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center (Columbus, OH). Dr. Slack has done extensive research in allergy and immunology and works alongside our ENT specialists to provide both pediatric and adult patients with the most comprehensive medical care.

Dr. Patterson completed medical school at the University of Toledo Medical Center (Toledo, OH). She completed a fellowship in allergy/immunology at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. Dr. Patterson specializes in treating allergies dealing with the environment, food, venom and penicillin. She also specializes in allergic asthma, hives and recurrent infections.

Dr. Rimmer received her medical degree from Albany Medical College (Albany, NY). She completed her internal medicine residency, otolaryngology residency and pulmonary & critical care fellowship at the University of Rochester Medical Center (Rochester, NY). Dr. Rimmer specializes in individualized asthma therapy and internal medicine.

For more information about ENT & Allergy Specialists of Northwest Ohio or Pulmonary Critical Care Medicine, please visit

BVHS Weekend Column: Sunscreen–What you need to know

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a major cause of the three most common types of skin cancer….

Sunscreen , by Julie Schloemer, MD
Julie Schloemer, MD

The number of newly diagnosed skin cancers, including melanoma, is rising at an alarming rate. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a major cause of the three most common types of skin cancer – basal cell
carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. Both UVA radiation (which contributes to signs of aging) and UVB radiation (which causes sunburns) increase one’s risk for skin cancer. The topic of photoprotection against these deserves a moment in the spotlight, especially given recent controversies regarding the safety of sunscreen.

First and foremost, the best way to protect your skin from UV radiation is to seek shade during the peak hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and wear photoprotective clothing, including a wide-brimmed hat. Sunscreen
should be considered the second line of defense. There are two types of sunscreens: chemical filters and physical blockers. Chemical sunscreens undergo a chemical reaction with UV radiation, converting the energy into heat. Physical sunscreens physically block the absorption of UV radiation by the skin. Sunscreen products may contain a combination of a physical blocker and one or more chemical filters.

Chemical filters found in sunscreens sold in the United States include: Avobenzone, oxybenzone, octyl salicylate, homosalate and octinoxate.
In general, chemical filters tend to blend in well and are more transparent. However, because heat is produced during the chemical reaction with UV rays, they should be avoided in people who have certain skin conditions exacerbated by heat, including melasma. Also worth mentioning, is a recent study that demonstrated the absorption of chemical sunscreens into the bloodstream after maximal application over four days. While it is an important point to consider, studies have not shown a link between
sunscreen use and adverse health effects. Some chemical filters have also been a concern in contributing to environmental pollution of the oceans and bleaching of the coral reefs. While there are
certainly many factors contributing to the problem, physical sunscreens are considered “reef-safe” and ideal for those who want to minimize the impact on the ecosystem.

The two active ingredients found in physical blockers are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These are often called “mineral sunscreens.” The disadvantage of physical sunscreens is the white “cast” they tend
to leave on the skin, as they don’t always rub in easily. However, there are some physical sunscreens on the market that are lightly tinted, making them more cosmetically appealing and providing an additional layer of photoprotection. As a dermatologist, I generally recommend physical sunscreens, especially for children and people with sensitive skin. The American Academy of Dermatology does not recommend the use of sunscreen in infants less than six months of age, but instead advises to keep their skin covered or in the shade when outside.

Finally, be sure to select a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. It should also be labeled “broad-spectrum,” indicating it protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Don’t forget to re-apply throughout the day, especially if perspiring heavily or enjoying water activities. Be aware that lips can get sunburned too. Apply a lip balm with SPF 15 or higher at regular intervals when outdoors.

For more information or tailored recommendations, visit your local board-certified dermatologist.

BVHS Weekend Column: Irritable Bowel Syndrome

IBS is a chronic condition characterized by abdominal pain/discomfort and altered bowel habits…..

Irritable Bowel Syndrome, by Jay Alammar, MD, Surgical Associates of Northwest Ohio

Did you know that 10 to 15 percent of Americans suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)? Many more also meet the criteria of the diagnosis but have not been formally diagnosed.

IBS is a chronic condition characterized by abdominal pain/discomfort and altered bowel habits, mainly diarrhea, constipation or alternating episodes of both. Other symptoms may include bloating, feelings of fullness, urgency to use the restroom, and feelings of incomplete evacuation of stool. The symptoms are often relieved by having a bowel movement and made worse by eating.

Although often trivialized, IBS is a burdensome ailment. It makes bowel habits unpredictable and turns the patient’s life into a continuous struggle. It affects the patient’s activities, productivity and ability to thrive. Having little knowledge about IBS can impact the lives of many people. Please do not suffer or let anyone around you agonize in silence! Discussing the symptoms with your primary care provider will undoubtedly guide you to the treatment you need.

IBS must be diagnosed by a physician. When patients “diagnose” themselves, it may delay the official diagnosis or treatment of a more serious condition. Certain alarming aspects such as the onset of symptoms after the age of 50, rectal bleeding, black stool, nighttime diarrhea, progressive increase in abdominal pain, weight loss, anemia, family history of colon cancer, or family history inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis) all warrant additional testing to exclude other disease entities with similar symptoms before making the IBS diagnosis. Additional diagnostic evaluations commonly obtained are colonoscopy, upper endoscopy or CT scan.

Currently, there is not a cure for IBS. Most available treatments revolve around controlling symptoms or targeting the underlying cause. Your physician can help you find the best treatment option for your symptoms.

IBS is the most common diagnosis made in gastroenterology practices. Living with the disease is a daunting task. There is no need to suffer in silence. Stop missing out on activities and reduce or eliminate the feelings of frustration, exhaustion, and embarrassment by speaking to your physician. Seek help soon and take control of your life again!

Let’s work together to raise awareness for IBS and positively impact the lives of affected people.

BVHS Weekend Column: LUPUS

Lupus can mimic other diseases and not all people with lupus display the same symptoms…

Lupus, byLynn Dillon, RN, ADON, Birchaven Village


Lupus is a systemic autoimmune disease that occurs when your body’s immune system attacks your own tissues and organs. It is a complicated and unpredictable disease that can affect any organ and may cause a wide range of symptoms. Inflammation caused by lupus can affect many different body systems including joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, brain, heart and lungs. Lupus can mimic other diseases and not all people with lupus display the same symptoms, so it can be hard to diagnose. The symptoms depend on which body system is being affected.

Common symptoms of lupus include fatigue, fever, joint pain and swelling, skin lesions, hair loss, mouth sores, fevers, butterfly rashes on the face that cover the cheeks and nose, fingers that turn white or blue when exposed to stress or cold, shortness of breath, chest pains, dry eyes, confusion, and memory loss. No single test can diagnose lupus. The combination of blood and urine tests, signs and symptoms, and physical examination findings lead to the diagnosis. Sometimes chest X-rays and echocardiograms are needed to diagnose. 

Lupus occurs when the immune system attacks healthy tissue in the body (autoimmune disease). It has been said that lupus is a result of genetics and environment. In most cases, the cause of lupus is unknown. Lupus can occur in all races and ethnic groups. Women ages 15 to 45 who are African American are most at risk, but it can occur in anyone.

There are two different types of lupus: discoid lupus and systemic lupus. Both types follow the cyclical pattern of flares and remission. The discoid lupus primarily affects the skin, whereas the systemic lupus may affect the skin but primarily affects inner organs.

Treatment for lupus depends on its signs and symptoms. Medications and treatment options are carefully discussed with the physician to weigh the benefits and risks. Lupus is cyclical in nature; symptoms tend to come and go in intensity. Patients may feel well one week, and the next week the disease may flare. The length of time of feeling good or bad is unknown, as each episode is different. Lupus has no known cure, which means that it can last until death. It can affect work, family life, sexuality, social activities with friends, finances, and other aspects of daily living. It is important that patients learn how to cope with changes in lifestyle. 

Researchers are working hard to find a cure for lupus. There is a lupus foundation support system that is available to help bring patients and families together and provide plenty of beneficial information. These organizations also help raise awareness of lupus and its treatment. Living with lupus presents daily challenges, but through education and support, patients can live fulfilled lives.

Dr. Joshua Ebel joins Blanchard Valley Urology Associates

Dr. Ebel is now accepting new patients…

Blanchard Valley Medical Practices welcomes Joshua Ebel, MD to the team at Blanchard Valley Urology Associates. Dr. Ebel offers a variety of both surgical and non-surgical treatments for disorders of the male and female urinary tract.


Dr. Ebel completed undergraduate studies at Miami University (Oxford, OH) before pursuing his medical degree, surgical internship, and urology residency at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and James Cancer Hospital (Columbus, OH).


“I care for a variety of urologic conditions and have specific interest in robotic urology surgery for treatment of prostate and kidney cancers. I am passionate about the work I will be doing with Blanchard Valley Urology Associates and my patients.” stated Dr. Ebel.


Dr. Ebel is now accepting new patients at his office located at 1651 North Lake Court (Findlay). Self-referral is accepted, please check with your insurance company.


For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 419.423.8090.

BVHS Weekend Column: Cologuard Test

The Cologuard test will likely assist in the fight against colon cancer when used in the appropriate setting…..

Cologuard Test,  by Jay Alammar, MD, Surgical Associates of Northwest Ohio

Jay Alammar, MD


Colorectal cancer is a common disease, and colon cancer screening continues to be of utmost importance. Preventing cancer or detecting and removing it early when it is still localized greatly impacts colon cancer related mortality.


Several screening tests are currently available in our armamentarium to aid in the detection of precancerous polyps and early detection of colon cancers. Each of the available tests has its pros and cons in regard to sensitivity, effectiveness, convenience, cost, frequency, degree of invasiveness and associated risks. Screening colonoscopy is considered by many experts in the field to be the gold standard due to its greatest impact on prevention and early detection of colorectal cancer. Colonoscopy detects about 95 percent of lesions greater than 6 mm.


A new test called Cologuard was approved by the FDA in 2014 for patient’s between ages 50 and 85. The test is appealing because it is noninvasive, completed at home, requires no prep or sedation, and is covered by Medicare. With the Cologuard test, a stool sample is obtained, packaged and shipped to the company using the provided kit. The results are usually reported to the ordering physician in a couple weeks.


Other facts about Cologuard Testing include the following:

  • The test detects 92 percent of colon cancers.
  • The test rules out cancer in 87 percent of cases.
  • The test only identifies 42 percent of precancerous polyps.
  • The test specificity decreases when the patient’s age increases.
  • The test does not diagnose cancer or polyps. Positive tests require the patient to have a colonoscopy to make a diagnosis.
  • The test should be repeated every three years.
  • The test should not be used in patients with history of colon cancer or colon polyps, family history of colon cancer, personal history of ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, or symptomatic hemorrhoids.
  • The test should not be used in patients with anemia or those who have gastrointestinal symptoms such as a change in bowel habits.


The Cologuard test will likely assist in the fight against colon cancer when used in the appropriate setting. It is another weapon added to our colon cancer screening arsenal. The test is not intended to replace colonoscopy, but it is considered a second-tier option for the patient that refuses a colonoscopy. Considering the above facts, colonoscopy will continue to be the best screening modality.


Talk to your health care provider about colon cancer screening and the best option for you.


Chef Cooper to be Featured at Salsa! Salsa!

The community event will take place on Thursday, August 1 from 4 -6 p.m……

Chef Tim Cooper, executive chef at Birchaven Village, a division of Blanchard Valley Health System, will be the featured presenter at the 2019 Salsa! Salsa! event. 

The community event will take place on Thursday, August 1 from 4 -6 p.m. at the Hancock Farmers’ Market, 200 West Main Cross Street (Findlay).

Chef Cooper will be presenting a live demonstration of salsa preparations and other preparations. Each attendee will receive a complimentary recipe card from his personal cookbook and tasty samples.

“I enjoy the excitement of cooking for people and adding vibrant, new flavors to menus,” Chef Cooper shared, “There’s nothing that’s off limits.”

To learn more about other BVHS events and programs please visit



Grief Trails

Program for grieved children, with horses…


 Notification of a hands-on horse program for children, working through grief:

Date: Friday, August 9, 2019

Time: 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Location: Challenged Champions

                11913 County Road 6

                Ottawa, Ohio 45875

Registration due: August 1, 2019

Although children may appear to be less affected by the death of a loved one, there are many questions, fears and worries as they attempt to make sense of the loss and deal with the changes.

Grief Trails is a program that allows children, ages 6-12 years old, to learn about the importance of communicating their emotions and needs to others while working hands-on with gentle horses.

The children come together with their peers in an encouraging environment and participate in activities that will help them express their feelings, learn effective communication tools and have fun at the same time.

Bereavement Coordinator, Kristi Beall, along with trained volunteers, guide the children through conversation, horseback riding and creating keepsakes. This year, participants will learn to “Be Your Own Superhero” as they explore how to take care of themselves in the ups and downs of grief. This event is being offered through Bridge’s Group S.T.A.R. (Special Times Always Remembered) at no cost to the family, with all materials provided.

For more information and registration forms, please call Bridge Bereavement Services at 419.423.5351 or email Registration for this event is required by August 1, 2019.

BVHS Weekend Column: Code Status

A code status is a decision you can make today….


by Karen Bishop, RN, ADON, The Heights at Birchaven

Maybe you or a family member have been asked by a health care professional, “What is your code status?” Most people respond by saying they have a living will. Let us discuss the difference between a living will and a code status.

A living will is in effect when you can no longer make any decisions on your own. While you are still able to make your own end-of-life decisions, you may want to put in writing some of your wishes. Do you wish to be put on life-support, such as a breathing machine (ventilator)? Do you wish to have fluids given to you such as a tube feeding or IV fluids? Do you wish to have pain medications? Those are the kind of questions you answer when you make out a living will. Again, these wishes do not take effect until you can no longer make a decision for yourself.

A code status is a decision you can make today. When you are admitted to a nursing facility, this question will come up. Your code status will inform the medical professionals of your present wishes. If a medical emergency were to happen to you, what would you like the medical professionals to do? Do you want them to start CPR? Do you want them to shock you with the pads/paddles in an attempt to restart your heart? Do you want a tube put down your throat to assist with your breathing if you stop breathing? Or do you have a condition where you would just like to be kept comfortable? Talk with your physician and family about these options.

A code status comes in three types. Full code, DNR-CCA and DNR-CC. (Some institutions may have more options.)

A full code means that medical personal would do everything possible to save your life in a medical emergency. In the event that you stop breathing and your heart stops, everything possible will be done to sustain your life. CPR will begin, oxygen will be given, a breathing tube inserted may be inserted, and an automated external defibrillator (AED) may be used. These are a few of the life-saving measures that will be used.

A DRN-CCA (comfort care arrest) is another option. In the event of a change in your condition like breathing or cardiac problems, you would seek medical treatment. You would go to the emergency department of the nearest hospital and have testing done. You may receive oxygen but not administered with a breathing tube. You may get an IV. You will not receive shocks delivered from the AED or heart compressions as preformed in CPR. You would receive treatment until your heart stops beating.

A DNR-CC (comfort care) is yet another option. In the event of a severe change in your condition or a terminal illness, life-saving measures would not be initiated. A physician would order medications to keep you as comfortable as possible.

Talk with your physician about these options. Take the time to discuss your wishes with your family. It is better to be prepared!

Blanchard Valley Hospital Receives Stroke Distinctions

Hospital earned the Stroke Honor Roll Elite Plus achievement by meeting specific quality measures for the diagnosis and treatment of stroke patients….

Blanchard Valley Hospital has recently been named a recipient of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines® Target: Stroke Honor Roll Elite Plus, as well as the Stroke Silver Plus Quality Achievement Award. These awards recognize the hospital’s commitment to ensuring stroke patients receive the most appropriate treatment according to national guidelines and standards.

Blanchard Valley Hospital earned the Stroke Honor Roll Elite Plus achievement by meeting specific quality measures for the diagnosis and treatment of stroke patients. These measures include proper use of medications, making sure stroke treatments align with the most up-to-date guidelines, and meeting a goal of speeding recovery and reducing death and disability for stroke patients. Before discharge, patients also must receive education on managing their health and other care transition interventions.

“Blanchard Valley Hospital is dedicated to improving the quality of care for our stroke patients by implementing the American Heart Association’s Get With The Guidelines-Stroke Initiative,” said Cody Price, chest pain/stroke programs coordinator. “The tools and resources the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association provides, help us track and measure our success by meeting evidenced-based clinical guidelines, developed to improve patient outcomes.”

Cody Price, chest pain/stroke programs coordinator


Blanchard Valley Hospital additionally received the association’s Stroke Silver Plus Quality Achievement Award. To qualify for this recognition, hospitals must meet quality measures developed that reduce the time between the patient’s arrival at the hospital and treatment to ischemic strokes.

For more information about Blanchard Valley Hospital’s Stroke Program, visit

Blanchard Valley Health System provides a total continuum of care to more than 100,000 households in an eight-county area.

New Carey Medical and Diagnostic Center Community Open House

Community open house on Wednesday, July 31 from 4 pm to 6 pm in Carey……

 The recently-constructed Carey Medical & Diagnostic Center will be hosting a community open house on Wednesday, July 31 from 4 pm to 6 pm. The new address of the facility is 930 Sheriden Drive (Carey). The general public is cordially invited to tour the facility, meet the providers and care team and learn about future health offerings of the center.

Carey Medical Center


This very special program will feature a welcome by BVHS President and CEO, Scott Malaney and additional remarks by Kelly Shroll, president of Blanchard Valley Medical Practices. The first 300 attendees to complete a tour of the new facility will receive a commemorative gift. A Carey Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting will immediately follow.

For more information, please email or call 419.423.5551.