Serving the Loup Valley for 137 Years

Foundation Board Steps Out For Valley County Health System Staff 

photo by Lisa FIscher

By Lisa Fischer

   The temperate weather on the evening of Sun., April 5, enabled nearly half of the Valley County Health System (VCHS) Foundation Board to install positive decor to the exterior of our community hospital.

   Led by Director Becky Ries, board members spent the better part of an hour last weekend installing signs, with positive statements like: “We are stronger together” and “Not all superheros wear capes” or using sidewalk chalk to write statements like: “When you can’t find the sunshine, be the sunshine” and “We appreciate you.” The decorations were meant to inspire the Mon., April 6, morning shift, and were also completed by VCHS board members at VCHS sattelite facilities in Burwell and Loup City.

   “It’s an important time to show our support and appreciation for our amazing health care team here in Valley County,” said VCHS Foundation Board Member Ryan Broker.

   Considering the COVID-19 crisis, hospital staff are going through extra, unseen stressors. The pressures and demands on healthcare workers are high, given cases in Nebraska mirroring, on a smaller scale, the rising rates of cases across the nation, that tripled in the past week. Broker went on to note the importance of showing healthcare workers, who remain busy for what may surely come our way, that the VCHS Foundation and the larger community thank and support them.

   “We care for our neighbors who care for us,” Broker noted. “Particularly during this unusual and challenging time. While decorating the exterior of the hospital isn’t much, compared to the efforts and sacrifices of those inside, we want them to know we appreciate all they do.”

   Ries said Valley County Health System’s team members, who care deeply about each other and those they care for in our region, have changed and developed to fit the needs of the pandemic. She added that the signs and sidewalk decorations created by members of Valley County Health System’s Foundation Board was a way to show appreciation to all VCHS staff members.

   “We are grateful to have a knowledgeable and caring team in place during these unprecedented times and a Foundation Board in place to support VCHS,” Ries added.

Ord Pharmacists Making Hand Sanitizer for Central Nebraska Residents

courtesy photo

This article is being reprinted with permission from the Lincoln Journal-Star

   Unlike many businesses in Nebraska and across the country, Good Life Pharmacy was relatively prepared for this pandemic.

   Once Jim Andreesen and Angela Svoboda realized that there was a dwindling supply of gel hand sanitizer due to the rapid spread of COVID-19, they knew they would have to start acquiring products that are used for making the disinfectant — and fast.

   For the Ord business partners, however, the fear of product shortages is not a new experience. As pharmacists, Andreesen and Svoboda are always on the hunt for medicines they could potentially run out of.

   "It's not new to us," said Andreesen. "But it's our job to try our best to get the things our patients need."

   Good Life Pharmacy, which opened in Ord in 1996, is a "compounding facility," meaning that the pharmacists who work there also make pharmaceutical products from raw substances, and are able to make medications that are unique to their patients.

   When sanitizer shortages were just cropping up, Nebraska had a rule that compounding pharmacies needed a prescription in order to make products. So Svoboda said the pharmacy reached out to a local doctor to get prescriptions in order to make gel-based hand sanitizer.

   "There was a lot of red tape for us to go through," said Svoboda. "We've been working with suppliers all over the nation trying to get supplies."

   The state Legislature has since lifted the rule, allowing compounding pharmacies to more easily make the products they need.        

   And in recent weeks Svoboda and Andreesen have packaged and distributed the disinfecting solutions to care facilities, hospitals and local businesses in central Nebraska. When they can't get material from their suppliers, they turn to local businesses as much as they can for isopropyl alcohol. When they can't get that, they turn to 95 proof alcohol bought from grocery stores.

   "It's a stressful situation, but there is a sense of connection between all of us," said Svoboda. "We're all working together to solve a problem."

   While many Nebraskans are figuring out how to work from home, the pharmacists are clocking in at their Ord location (one of three) on the weekend, as well as starting work early and leaving late on weekdays.

   But, the business isn't making money right now. The bottles of hand sanitizer are being sold at cost, which just about covers the cost of production.

   "Packaging is really the expensive thing," said Svoboda. "We're just going to keep going till we can't."

   The pharmacists are now trying to get their hands on hydroxychloroquine. The drug, which is often used as a treatment for lupus, is being studied by the federal government as a possible way to treat COVID-19.

   Svoboda said a lot of their patient base is dependent on the drug for non-COVID-19 needs, which worries her because demand for the drug is now skyrocketing.

   "We want to get our hands on the pure powder form so we can compound it," she said. "We can't not provide."

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