Kindergarten Countdown Benefits 20 Students

Kids learned several important skills prior during the Kindergarten Countdown

Kids learned several important skills prior during the Kindergarten Countdown. Photo provided.

The Kindergarten Countdown program held at the Knox Elementary School in June was a success this year.

Twenty children received an early education before they enter Kindergarten this fall. Students who attend preschool often obtain better scores on tests, have better social skills and are more understanding of routines than those who do not attend a preschool program.

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IU Health Welcomes VP of Finance

Kevin Higdon

Kevin Higdon

IU Health LaPorte and Starke Hospitals have a new vice president of finance. Michigan City native Kevin Higdon brings more than 30 years of healthcare finance experience to the job. His resume includes positions at Hyde Park Hospital, the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Elkhart Genral Healthcare System and Thorek Memorial Hospital.
Higdon will work closely with other members of the IU Health executive team, boards of directors and physicians to develop and fulfill key finance and growth strategies outlined in the strategic plan for the hospitals.
Higdon graduated from Michigan City Elston High School, where he won the IHSAA’s Charles F. Maas Mental Attitude Award 1976-77. He also holds a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Indiana University and an Associate of Arts from Southwestern Michigan College and is a Certified Public Accountant.

IU Health Adds Nurse Practitioners

IU Health LaPorte Physicians recently added two new nurse practitioners.

Maureen Panares and Alissa Whittaker are seeing patients in several northern Indiana communities. Nurse practitioners have extensive training and work under the direction of a physician. Maureen Panares, DNP, is an Advanced Practice Nurse with a Doctor of Nursing Practice in Family and Community Health from Rush University. She sees patients at the Sagamore location in LaPorte.

Whittaker recently received a Master of Science in nursing from Indiana University South Bend. She sees patients in Plymouth at Lifeplex and in Walkerton.


IU Health and Community Services of Starke County Hosting Annual Health Fair

Health FairIU Health Starke Hospital and Community Services of Starke County are teaming up once again to host an annual health fair. This year’s event will take place Tuesday, May 13 from 2 until 7 p.m. Central at the Nancy J. Dembowski Community Center in downtown Knox. Community Services of Starke County Executive Director Joan Haugh says it grew out of the Governor’s Council on Aging in Indianapolis and the thought that they could share the same type of educational information with more people by teaming up with the hospital and offering a local event. This is the 13th year of the partnership.

Haugh says May is an ideal time for the health fair, as it is Older Americans Month. She adds it’s open to all ages, including children. This year a free children’s coloring area will be set up to keep youngsters occupied while their parents or other caregivers browse the booths and take part in the various screenings.  Continue reading

IU Health Executive Outlines Physician Recruitment Plan

IU Health is aggressively recruiting primary care physicians in order to keep up with demand in Starke County. Vice President for Strategy Brian Donnelly says there are nine currently practicing here.

“By 2017, four of those nine physicians will have reached age 72. I personally am not aware of any retirements pending. I don’t know that we’ve gotten a firm date from any of these folks. That’s not up to me to decide how long doctors practice, but at least in terms of looking at reality four of the nine physicians will be late in their careers when we get to 2017. This to us looks like a shortage,” Donnelly told the Starke County Commissioners.

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IU Health Starke Hospital Offers Final Free Affordable Care Act Event

Area residents have one final chance to get their questions about the Affordable Care Act answered before Monday’s looming deadline. IU Health Starke Hospital is hosting a free question and answer session today from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m. CDT in the conference room. IU Health Exchange Navigators will be able to help people sign up for coverage or answer any questions they may have. Monday is the last day for people without insurance to sign up for coverage in order to avoid paying a penalty during next year’s tax season.

The federal government did grant a reprieve for people who have started an application on the website but can’t complete it by the March 31 deadline. They will be given an extension, although the amount of time was not specified. In order to qualify, the applicant needs to check the blue box on the website indicating an attempt to sign up for coverage by the March 31 deadline.

Free Colorectal Screening Kits Available

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and IU Health is offering free colorectal cancer take-home screening kits at a variety of locations throughout Starke, Marshall, and LaPorte counties. Colorectal cancer can affect anyone, but it’s easy to detect early, allowing doctors to treat the condition effectively.

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IU Health Starke and LaPorte Hospitals Announce New COO

Camie Patterson

Camie Patterson

IU Health Starke and LaPorte Hospitals have a new management team member. Camie Patterson is the new chief operating officer. She worked at Self Regional Healthcare in South Carolina for nearly a decade and most recently served as the COO. Patterson also worked as the controller before moving into the senior vice president and chief financial officer roles. She also worked for 12 years as a certified public accountant. Patterson received her Master in Healthcare Administration from the Medical University of South Carolina and Bachelor of Science in Accounting from the State University of New York.

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LaPorte Hospital Foundation Launches Hospice Campaign

The annual philanthropic campaign to support quality hospice care throughout the region was recently launched by the LaPorte Hospital Foundation, encouraging those who haven’t already donated to consider giving to Indiana University Health La Porte VNA Services.

Since 1982, Hospice has provided compassionate care to individuals who are at the terminal stage of life by assisting with their physical, emotional and spiritual needs with an emphasis on pain management. Services are offered in La Porte, Porter, Starke and St. Joseph counties. Continue reading

Visiting Restrictions Lifted at IU Health Hospitals

IU Health has lifted visiting restrictions at IU Health LaPorte and Starke Hospitals.

The low number of positive influenza cases in the area and at the state level prompted the change in previous visitor restrictions.

The local facilities implemented the precautionary measures of visitor restrictions to protect patients, families and colleagues from unnecessary potential exposure to the flu virus in mid-January.

IU Health continues to encourage all visitors to use their best judgment when visiting a loved one in the hospital. If visiting someone in a hospital, make sure you are healthy. Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer often.

Flu Prompts IU Health to Limit Visitors


IU Health is implementing “precautionary measures of visitor restrictions” until further notice to protect patients, families and hospital staff from potential exposure to the flu virus. That means only healthy adults ages 18 and older may visit patients. This includes parents, spouses, significant others and spiritual counselors, but exceptions can be made in special circumstances. A “healthy” adult is one who is not experiencing any flu-like symptoms, such as fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headache, tiredness, body aches, diarrhea or vomiting; and someone who has not been exposed to the flu virus in the past week. Visitors are also reminded to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer often. Continue reading

No Changes for UnitedHealthcare Patients During Talks with IU Health

Contract negotiations between IU Health and UnitedHealthcare are continuing, but patients won’t notice any difference in the interim, according to IU Health officials. The Dec. 31 expiration of the contract between the provider and insurance company means that IU Health facilities and physicians are no longer in network for most patients covered under UnitedHealthcare health insurance. However, IU Health issued a statement saying they will treat UnitedHealthcare patients and their portion of the bill as ‘in-network’ as of Jan. 1, 2014.

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IU Health Cardiologist Has Tips to Stay Healthy While Shoveling Snow

Though the rains this weekend may have washed away the majority of the snow, there’s bound to more snowfall headed our way, and an IU Health cardiologist has some advice for those who are responsibility for clearing the snow off of steps, porches, and driveways.

Dr. Risha Sukhija told WKVI that the most important thing is to stay warm and don’t shovel snow if cold is a trigger for any condition you may have. If you get chest pain, stop immediately, as cold can cause spasms in heart arteries.

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IU Health Offering Discounted Mammograms Stressing Early Detection

IU Health is offering discounted screening mammograms at a number of locations in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month throughout the entire month of October. The mammograms are offered for $95 at several locations; to schedule an appointment, contact IU Health LifePlex Imaging at (800) 654-4841, ext. 2444 or IU Health Starke Hospital at (574) 772-1177.

According to the American Cancer Society, mammograms are the most effective and valuable tool for early detection of breast cancer, and Katie Sarver, wellness outreach program manager for IU Health LaPorte, agrees.

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Number of IU Health Layoffs Increased; No Local Impact Indicated

A letter from Dan Evans to the IU Health Team has indicated an increase in the number of anticipated layoffs as part of the corporation’s strive toward a 25 percent improvement in productivity over the next five years. Previously, Evans indicated that approximately 800 jobs would be cut at the academic health center, IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital, IU Health North, Saxony and Tipton hospitals, as well as System Services.

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Get Your Child’s Safety Seat Checked for Free on Wednesday

In observation of National Child Passenger Safety Week, a free clinic to help parents determine if a child car and/or booster seat is properly installed in a vehicle is planned for Wednesday, Sept. 18 at 1340 State Road 2 West in LaPorte from 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. CT.

IU Health is sponsoring this event where certified child passenger safety technicians will be available to check the safety belt to ensure it properly protects the child in case of a crash in addition to other safety checks.

The evaluation should take approximately 30 minutes to complete.

The Automotive Safety Program has technicians available at more than 120 year-round child safety seat fitting stations across the state.

IU Health to Lay Off 800 Employees

IU Health has announced they will be laying off approximately 800 employees by December in an effort to improve productivity and cut down on expenses. In a letter that was reportedly sent to IU Health team members from CEO Dan Evans, IU Health has significantly reduced labor costs with flexible scheduling and by not filling open positions, but those reductions have not been enough.

The letter explains that IU Health adopted a goal of improving productivity by 25 percent over the next five years because the company believes that “the future reimbursement environment, from all payers, will look much like Medicare does today,” and in order to manage “population health” well, the hospital system must invest in new technologies and advances in the face of worsening reimbursements.

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Skin Cancer Screenings Offered By IU Health Next Month

IU Health is offering free skin cancer screenings at a variety of locations in Starke, Marshall and LaPorte counties next month. Though they are open to the public, the screenings are not recommended for anyone who has seen a dermatologist within the past three years. Preregistration for the screenings is required; call (219) 326-2073 for more information.

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IU Health and PNC to Offer Sports Physicals

Area student athletes in need of a physical are urged to take advantage of a partnership between IU Health Sports Medicine and the Purdue University North Central Athletics Department. They are offering $10 sports physicals on Tuesday, Aug. 20 from 3 p.m. until 7 p.m. at the PNC campus. Physicals are available to any student-athlete regardless of age or school affiliation. However, athletes need to pick up the appropriate forms and materials at their school with all appropriate signatures and forms completed prior to their physical. All athletes are required to have an annual physical before taking part in sports, as is anyone who plans to participate in any preseason training. Completed forms will be turned in to the school on the evening of the physical.