Cardiac Rehabilitation Program Now Available at HCHS

Harlan County Health System Announces New Cardiac Rehabilitation Program.

Harlan County Health System is pleased to announce the starting of a new cardiac rehabilitation program. Cardiac Rehabilitation doesn’t change your past, but can help you improve your heart’s future. This is a customized outpatient program of exercise and education. It is designed to improve your cardiovascular health and help you recover from a heart attack, other forms of heart disease or surgery to treat heart disease.

Exercise, counseling, and training are the three equal parts to a cardiac rehab program. All three are important to one’s recovery and are not always utilized because the availability of these services in a rural community are generally low. Therefore, beginning August 5th, Harlan County Health System will offer these services. This new program will ultimately enhance the quality of our community’s healthcare by offering something that is currently not conveniently located for them.

Through a cardiac rehab program, you can expect to improve your physical fitness by exercising safely, adopt a heart healthy diet, manage other cardiovascular risk factors, and focus on your emotional health and the importance of staying engaged socially.

Harlan County Health System is excited to be able to offer these services to patients and we’d appreciate your support to help build this program.



Monday, August 5, 2019

Cardiac Rehabilitation Program Startup

Harlan County Health System

Harlan County Health System Announces Senior Life Solutions Partnership



PRESS RELEASE                     


Harlan County Health System Announces Senior Life Solutions Partnership

Alma, NE – Harlan County Health System is pleased to announce a partnership with Senior Life Solutions. Senior Life Solutions will be located across the street from Harlan County Health System located at 902 Kauk Ave., Alma, NE 68920.

Aging brings many joys – more time with family and freedom in retirement – but our older years can also bring difficult life transitions including the loss of loved ones and stresses of age-related health concerns.

Harlan County Health System’s Senior Life Solutions is an intensive outpatient group therapy program designed to meet the unique needs of older adults over the age of 65 struggling with symptoms of depression and anxiety often related to aging.  Individuals may benefit from the Senior Life Solutions program if they are experiencing any of the following common indicators or triggers:  

  • Recently experienced a traumatic event
  • Lost a spouse or close family member
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Changes in appetite
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Loss of energy
  • Feelings of sadness or grief lasting more than two weeks
  • Feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness

Following an individual assessment, participants meet three times per week in a supportive, encouraging group setting. The program staff includes a board-certified psychiatrist, licensed social workers, a registered nurse, and other professionals dedicated to the emotional well-being of the seniors in our community.

Family members, physicians, or other health professionals can refer individuals to the program.

For more information, call Harlan County Health System’s Senior Life Solutions program at 308- 928-9048.




Founded in 2003, Psychiatric Medical Care (PMC) operates inpatient and outpatient programs located in rural communities across the country.  Founder and Chief Medical Officer, James A. Greene, M.D., a geriatric psychiatrist, was born and raised in a rural community, which today hosts a rural hospital.  He developed PMC with the sole mission to improve the quality of life of older adults living in rural communities.  PMC, which operates the Senior Life Solutions outpatient program, is one of the largest geriatric mental health management companies within rural hospitals across the United States. 



New Heartland Family Medicine Clinic Now Open

The Harlan County Health System Board of Trustees, along with CEO Mark Miller, is pleased to announce the Grand Opening of the new Heartland Family Medicine Clinic. The long-anticipated ribbon cutting will be held March 30 at 1:00 pm at 906 7th Street in Alma, Nebraska.

Miller notes, “We are excited to announce the new building will be named the Dr. James S. Long Family Medical Building. Over the past few months, we have heard dozens of stories about Dr. Long and his impact on specific families in this community. It became increasingly evident that we should honor him with the dedication of this new building. We believe the opening of the new clinic continues Dr. Long’s desire to make first-rate health care accessible to the residents of Harlan County and its neighbors. We invite everyone to join us for the ribbon cutting and dedication, and we encourage you to leave your notes of thanks for Dr. Long.”

Following the ribbon cutting ceremony, guests will be able to explore the new clinic, enjoy cake and visit with staff. Appointments will be available beginning March 18.

Dr. Long and partner purchased the Alma medical practice in 1955 and began a forty year legacy of quality medical service and leadership to the community. An advocate of strengthening health services in rural areas, Dr. Long served as teacher and preceptor to countless medical students and residents. We are pleased to dedicate the Dr. James S. Long Medical Building in honor of him at the grand opening of the new medical clinic located just west of the current clinic.

Saturday, March 30, 2019
1:00 pm
Harlan County Health System
Parking available on the West side of the hospital and in the old clinic parking lot.
Tours to follow.

Harlan County Health System Breaks Ground on New Clinic

A large crowd of Harlan County citizens and medical professionals gathered in Alma Saturday morning to celebrate health care in Harlan County and break ground on a new medical clinic.

Bruce Beins, chairman of the board of trustees for the Harlan County Health System, feels that this new clinic will be able to better serve the needs of people in Harlan County, which has changed a lot since the original clinic opened in 1971.

Beins and the board of trustees feel that the clinic will not only help cover the evolving medical needs of Harlan County, but will also help maintain a strong economy in the rural county.

"It's very important, rural communities survive with a few key elements. A good main street, good schools, and quality healthcare. Any three of those or any one of those three that you lose has an effect on the economy of the whole area. So being able to keep quality healthcare in Harlan county is vital to the economy of the whole area," said Beins.

One of the most appealing parts about the project is its cost to taxpayers. The new clinic is being funded almost entirely by donations, saving citizens of harlan county from having to pay more out of their own pocket.

Beins said of the funding, "We are raising the money for the clinic, the Harlan county foundation, health system foundation is a non–profit that is raising money and we have a fundraising campaign going on right now."

Beins and the board of trustees hope to begin construction of the clinic soon with the project having an expected completion date of spring 2019.

Harlan County Health System Receives Sleep Lab Accreditation

Harlan County Health System recently underwent a full survey with the Accreditation Commission for Health Care (ACHC), and is now fully accredited to perform Sleep Studies or Polysomnography testing in house, using qualified sleep rooms and sleep technologists.
This testing can be performed at the hospital in Alma, keeping the health system’s patients from having to travel out of town for this study.
Your health care provider may recommend a sleep test for you if he or she suspects you have a sleep related breathing condition such as Sleep Apnea.
Indications that may prompt a physician to recommend a sleep test study could include, snoring, waking up feeling tired or waking up early, feeling run down, overwhelming daytime drowsiness, restless legs while sleeping, and sleep walking to name a few. A sleep test is used in helping to diagnose sleep disorders in patients. The test records breathing, heart rate, the amount of oxygen in the patient’s blood, brain waves and various other things. It monitors the patient while they sleep to help in identifying sleep disruptions and why they are occurring.
The testing is simple; the patient arrives in the evening close to bedtime and stays overnight in one of the designated sleep rooms. Rooms are private and include a private bathroom, no rooms are shared with other patients. The Technologist will connect the patient to sensors that will monitor different readings throughout the night. The patient may have a harder time falling asleep, or sleep as well as they would at home, and this is expected. A full night’s sleep is not necessary to achieve accurate sleep test results. Sleep lab patients are usually done testing and released to go home in the early morning hours.
Sleep studies have evolved over the years...besides sleep-related problems, the tests can also reveal more serious health problems, including pulmonary (lung) and cardiovascular (heart) issues.
For more information regarding sleep testing it is recommended you contact your health care provider and discuss any questions or concerns you may have with them.

Harlan County Health System Receives National Recognition for Performance Leadership in Patient Perspective


Alma, NE, November, 2017 – Today, on National Rural Health Day, Harlan County Health System announced it has been recognized by The Chartis Center for Rural Health/iVantage Health Analytics and the National Organization of State Office of Rural Health (NOSORH) for overall excellence in Patient perspective, reflecting top quartile performance among all rural hospitals in the nation.

“I am very excited for our facility and staff. This is the second time HCHS has earned this honor. It is a clear indication of the dedication of our staff to customer service and patient satisfaction.” Stated Manuela Wolf, CEO of Harlan County Health System

The rankings are determined each year using iVantage Health Analytics’ Hospital Strength INDEX®, the industry’s most comprehensive and objective assessment of rural hospital performance. In partnership with NOSORH, iVantage Health Analytics has developed a data-driven program designed to identify excellence across a broad spectrum of indicators relevant to hospital performance and patient care. The Hospital Strength INDEX captures performance metrics for all rural and Critical Access Hospitals. Leveraging data from public data sources, INDEX aggregates data from more than 50 individual metrics into three major categories and eight pillars to derive a single strength overall rating for each facility.

“On this important day, as we celebrate the power of rural, it’s great to recognize these top performers who are excelling in managing risk, achieving higher quality, securing better outcomes, increasing patient satisfaction, or operating at a lower cost than their peers,” said Michael Topchik, National Leader of the Chartis Center for Rural Health. “These leaders serve as a benchmark for other rural facilities as they strive to achieve similar results and provide a blueprint for how to successfully run a hospital and serve their communities amidst today’s uncertainty and mounting pressures.”


The National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH) was established in 1995 to assist State Offices of Rural Health in their efforts to improve access to, and the quality of, health care for America’s 61 million rural citizens. NOSORH enhances the capacity of SORHs to do this by supporting the development of state and community rural health leaders; creating and facilitating state, regional and national partnerships that foster information sharing and spur rural health-related programs/activities; and enhancing access to quality healthcare services in rural communities.

 About The Chartis Group
The Chartis Group (Chartis) is a comprehensive advisory and analytics services dedicated to the healthcare industry. Chartis provides strategic planning, value-based care, advanced performance, informatics and technology consulting services as well as leading-edge decision support tools to the country’s leading healthcare providers. The Chartis Center for Rural Health (CCRH) was formed in 2016 to offer tailored services, performance management solutions, research and education to rural hospitals and facilities. Learn more at

 About iVantage Health Analytics, a subsidiary of The Chartis Group
A subsidiary of The Chartis Group, iVantage Health Analytics (iVantage) is a leading provider of healthcare analytic and performance management analytic tools. Health system and hospital leadership teams across the country rely on the company’s software and services to deliver customized insights on clinical and financial performance, strategic planning, market assessment and payment optimization. iVantage’s analytics are the basis of continuing thought leadership and insight in the areas of healthcare policy and research.




Plantar Fasciitis: Signs and Symptoms, Risk Factors, and Helpful Tips

Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common foot disorders treated by health care providers. Plantar fasciitis is inflammation of the dense, fibrous connective tissue (plantar fascia) that extends along the plantar surface of your foot due to repetitive strain. This condition is best described as pain on the bottom of your heel or mid-portion of the foot. The peak population of people seeking treatment for this diagnosis is between 40 and 60 years old. Here is a quick overview of signs and symptoms, predisposing factors, and helpful tips for managing this condition.

Signs and Symptoms:
• Classic symptom: severe pain on the plantar surface (bottom) of your foot with your first few steps in the morning.
• Increased pain in the bottom of your heel with first few steps after a period of inactivity.
• Pain may decrease with increasing activity (walking), but worsens at the end of the day.
• Tenderness when pushing on the bottom of your heel or mid-foot.
• Antalgic gait (limp with walking)
• Pain with pulling your big toe up.

Risk Factors:
• Sports or occupations that require prolonged weight bearing (being on your feet a lot.)
• Weight bearing activity on hard surfaces.
• Overtraining
• Poor foot posture (both flat feet and excessively high arches)
• Muscle and flexibility imbalances.
• Inappropriate footwear.
• Increasing age.

Helpful Tips:
• Rest (activity modification).
• Ice 2-3 times a day for 15-20 minutes (try rolling a frozen water bottle or frozen golf ball under your foot).
• Massage the tender areas.
• Over the counter or custom foot orthoses (arch supports, heel pads, etc.)
• Stretch your plantar fascia (Pull your toes back towards your shin until a stretch is felt.)
• Stretch your calves.
• Wear supportive shoes (Go to a running store and have them fit you with an appropriate shoe for your foot type).

If symptoms persist after 4 weeks, contact your physician or physical therapist for consultation.
Patient education provided by Carli Heft, PT, DPT with Harlan County Health System Rehabilitation Department, Alma, NE

Nebraska Critical Access Hospital Program Receives National Recognition

Lincoln, NE – The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has recognized 10 states for outstanding quality performance of their Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) in achieving the highest reporting rates and levels of improvement over the past year.

The 10 top-performing states – Wisconsin, Maine, Utah, Minnesota, Illinois and Pennsylvania (tied), Michigan, Nebraska, Indiana and Massachusetts – built on their previous successes by investing Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) funds into quality improvement projects and developing technical assistance resources that improve high-quality care in their communities. States also work collaboratively with every CAH and their respective partners to share best practices and utilize data to drive quality improvement in their hospitals.
“Rural hospitals are key safety-net providers in their communities and it is important that we make every effort to provide the highest quality of care to individuals living in rural communities,” said Dr. George Sigounas, HRSA Administrator. “Critical Access Hospitals may be limited in resources, but they have strong connections to their community and a commitment to quality care for every patient that is reflected in their effort to meet higher standards.”

In 2011, FORHP, located within HRSA, created a program to promote high quality of care at rural hospitals with 25 beds or fewer. Low-volume hospitals participating in the Medicare Beneficiary Quality Improvement Project (MBQIP) voluntarily report on a set of quality measures relevant to the care they provide, share data, and take on quality improvement initiatives. Currently, 96 percent of the 1,340 CAHs in the United States are reporting rural-relevant quality measures.

Nebraska has 64 Critical Access Hospitals which serve the most rural communities in the state. The federal initiative is administered in the state by the Nebraska Office of Rural Health. For more information, contact Flex Program Manager Nancy Jo Hansen at 402-471-4616 or

Back to School Backpack Safety


It’s that time of year again when kids and parents are preparing for a new school season.   When buying school supplies, parents often overlook the impact an ill-fitting backpack can have on a child’s health.  According to a study by Boston University, approximately 85% of students from the university reported pain and discomfort associated with backpack usage.  Wearing a pack that is too heavy or one that fits incorrectly can cause low back pain, muscle soreness, shoulder pain, and poor posture.  A study in The Journal of Applied Physiology found that the pressure of heavy loads carried on the back have the potential to damage the soft tissues and nerves of the neck and shoulders causing numbness and tingling to arms and hands.

Here are some tips to consider to avoid these health issues and prevent injury and discomfort when buying, loading and wearing a backpack.

When buying a backpack:

Make sure the backpack fits appropriately with the height of the backpack extending approximately 2 inches below the shoulder blades to waist level or slightly above the waist

Look for well-padded shoulder straps so the weight of the pack is evenly distributed across both shoulders

Hip and sternum belts are helpful to disperse weight and take some of the strain off of the neck and shoulders

The bottom of the pack should rest in the curve of the lower back, never more than 4 inches below the waist

Packs should be tried on for fit, just like new shoes or clothes

If ordering online, make sure the vendor has a return policy in case the pack is not the right fit

Reflective material on packs allows kids to be seen more easily when walking to/from school

When loading a backpack:

Place heavier items like computers, tablets and large books toward the back of the pack (closest to the child’s back)

Arrange books and materials to avoid items moving around when walking

Check to see what your child carries in his or her backpack and remove unnecessary items

Utilize pockets to disperse items evenly and snuggly

When wearing a backpack:

The backpack should weigh no more than 10% of the child’s body weight.  For example, a child weighing 50lbs should not carry a back pack more than 5lbs

Adjust the straps so that the pack fits snuggly against the child’s back

Check the straps for correct fit frequently, as they can become loose over time

Two straps are better than one, dispersing the weight more evenly across the child’s shoulders

When putting the pack on, educate the child to bend at the knees vs bending over to prevent back injury

If you would like to consult an occupational therapist about an ergonomic evaluation regarding backpacks, computer use, or other learning-related issues, contact Harlan County Health System’s Rehabilitation Department at (308) 928-3002.


These tips provided by Mindy DeJonge OTD, OTR/L (

Jennifer Taylor PA-C rejoins HCHS Family

Sneak Preview and Welcome:
Jennifer Taylor PA-C will re-join the HCHS Medical Staff by the end of September 2017. She will tend to patients in both the Alma and Oxford Clinic and will also assist with Emergency Room call.

Jennifer will join our medical staff consisting of:
Dr. Michael Finkner, Dr. Cameron Knackstedt, Jessica Stemper, PA-C, Craig Taylor, PA-C and Cameron Ourada, PA-C.

HCHS Administration and staff are excited to welcome Jennifer back to our team.

Please help me welcome Jennifer back, and stay tuned for updates as we get closer to September.