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Mental Health Care Hard To Find

After Saturday’s double murder/suicide, Cheyenne police are looking into the possibility that Joy Hofer, the suspected killer, was suffering from a mental illness.

The Associated Press says police found what seems to have been a good bye note at the crime scene, leading detectives to believe the killings were pre-meditated and could stem from mental instability.

“The real tragedy is this doesn’t have to happen,” said Mark Walter, a Staff Psychiatrist at Cheyenne Regional Medical Center. “If all the resources were in place and utilized readily, this wouldn’t be the problem that it is in Wyoming.”

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Hospital’s ER expansion to begin this fall

The $80 million to $90 million major expansion and renovation of the Wyoming Medical Center first proposed in 2005 is still on hold.

That doesn’t mean the community hospital won’t continue to expand and improve its services, according to WMC officials.

The next step to follow the parking garage that was completed last year will be a new emergency department.

Thanks to the hospital’s savings and operating funds, WMC has $11 million to begin work on its emergency department. The $17 million renovation and expansion project will be done in six phases to up the number of ER beds from 17 to 40. The first phase will start in the fall.

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Wyoming hospital benefits from recession

CASPER - Laura Wheeler thought she had a job lined up with the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

The Kalamazoo, Mich., native had just graduated from nursing school at Northern Michigan University, and through a previous internship with the renowned medical center, she received a job offer.

As the economy stumbled, the Mayo Clinic rescinded its offers to Wheeler and many other graduate nurses.

Mayo’s loss was the Wyoming Medical Center’s gain.

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WMC fills nursing vacancies

Wyoming Medical Center has hired 40 new nurses who have recently graduated from colleges and universities across the country.

The nurse recruiter at the hospital, Sammie Stephens, scheduled five more interviews with new nurses this week and has a stack of more than 25 applications for the hospital’s graduate nursing program to still review.

“It is the economy,” Stephens said. “This happened all of a sudden. In January, February, many hospitals decided not to hire any graduate nurses.”

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State health dept. looks to shield local Medicaid providers

CHEYENNE—The state Department of Health is looking for ways to reduce its budget by $43 million without putting the pinch on Wyoming Medicaid providers.

“The last thing I want to do is look at some of our providers eye to eye and say, ‘Sorry we’re going to cut your payments,’” Dr. Brent Sherard told the Legislature’s Joint Appropriations Committee last week.

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UW’s BRAND Program is Win-Win for Graduates, State

May 18, 2009—While attending the University of Wyoming’s commencement May 9, Eli Thornton picked up on a common theme among Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) graduates.

“I heard a lot of people talking about relocating to Colorado or someplace else to begin their careers,” Thornton recalls, “and I thought, ‘That’s a shame.’”

The university’s Bachelors Reach for Accelerated Nursing Degree (BRAND) program is committed to changing that theme.

An accelerated BSN program for students who have earned a previous non-nursing baccalaureate degree but decided to change careers and become a registered nurse, BRAND offers a win-win for its graduates, who can benefit from the program’s generous loan repayment plan, and the state’s healthcare industry, which desperately needs skilled and qualified nurses to work in hospitals from Jackson to Lander to Lusk.

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Public hearing set on proposed sale of Wyoming Valley Health Care System

The state attorney general’s office will hold a public hearing Wednesday, March 4, on the proposed sale of the nonprofit Wyoming Valley Health Care System to the for-profit Tennessee-based Community Health Systems Inc.

The hearing will begin at 1 p.m. on the ground floor of the Thomas P. Saxton Medical Pavilion Building in Edwardsville, said Kevin Harley, spokesman for the attorney general’s office.

“We give everybody who the sale could potentially affect, which is a lot of people, the chance to voice their opinion,” Harley said. “Doctors, nurses and other people from the hospital and people from the community can attend the hearing.”

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Geisinger proposal receives strong support from nurses

PLAINS TWP. — Registered nurses at Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center, Plains Township, approved a three-year contract Thursday at the East Mountain Inn.

Members of Service Employees International Union District 1199P approved the pact by a 90-plus percent majority, union officials said. The contract expires Jan. 27, 2012. The union represents more than 400 registered nurses at the hospital.

“We’re very pleased that the nurses voted to ratify the contract. We think the contract is fair to our nurses, recognizes the fine job that they do and is also fair to our organization,” Geisinger spokesman Dave Jolley said.

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Recovering addicts share stories of hope

Steve Brown calls the night police arrested him for drunken driving “the greatest blessing God ever gave” him.

Being sent to drug court was “really a good thing” Adam Lutz tells people.

A nurse who was obtaining prescription drugs illegally said the day her employer turned her over to the cops was one of the best days of her life.

Even if it meant she had to go to jail where “you aren’t allowed to wear your own underwear.”

The audience laughed at the nurse’s joke, but most of Wednesday night’s public portion of the Sixth Annual Wyoming Methamphetamine and Substance Abuse Conference in Casper was serious and emotional, with even a few tears from panel and audience members alike.

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Salmonella hits Wyoming

Two people in Wyoming have become sick with salmonella in an outbreak that has struck 410 people in 43 states and may have contributed to three deaths nationwide.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday the likely source of the salmonella is peanut butter. The Minnesota Department of Health confirmed Monday the salmonella found in a 5-pound tub of King Nut peanut butter, which infected residents in a local nursing home, was the same strain in the national outbreak.

The outbreak began Sept. 15.

King Nut peanut butter was not distributed in Wyoming, said Dean Finkenbinder, consumer health services manager at the Wyoming Department of Agriculture. However, it was in surrounding states so Wyomingites should be aware of the outbreak.

If residents begin to feel symptoms of cramping, diarrhea and fever, they should see their health care provider. Salmonella is a greater threat to young children and the elderly.

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