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Blue Mountain Hospital dialysis patients fully vaccinated with aid of new cooperative program

Thanks to a new collaborative effort between Blue Mountain Hospital's Dialysis Unit and the UNHS Blanding Family Practice Clinic, all dialysis patients have been fully vaccinated, and future patients will also be fully vaccinated.

Dialysis Manager Laurie Okkema said she discussed the project with Blanding Family Practice Manager Nick Fox late last year. Both agreed that administering vaccinations to dialysis patients, while they were receiving their dialysis treatment made a lot of sense. And in view of warnings from the Utah Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control, regarding the need to increase adult vaccinations, a plan was devised. Blanding Family Practice provided the updated vaccination status of all the current dialysis patients, and then administered the vaccinations to those patients who wanted them. The entire dialysis staff assisted in the process and by the end of December all the dialysis patients had received the full range of vaccinations they needed.

"This is a really big deal because it shows that when Utah Navajo Health System, Inc. and Blue Mountain Hospital work together we can offer a higher level of care for our patients," Okkema said. "Blanding Family Practice is a community health center clinic, operating inside Blue Mountain Hospital. The hospital is an independent, private, not-for-profit hospital. This allows us to work closely together to provide this type of service since our dialysis patients are also patients of Blanding Family Practice. There are only a handful of smaller, not-for-profit dialysis units like ours around the country. Most are large, for-profit facilities and they can't offer this type of service."

Included under this cooperative effort were vaccinations for: influenza, phneumococcal, Tdap (Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough)), Shingles, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis A, chickenpox (varicella) and MMR (measles, mumps and rubella).

"This could serve as a model for dialysis centers nationwide," Okkema added. "The patients like the convenience of having these vaccinations while they are doing dialysis. They're not going anywhere, anyway, and it's a good time to give them their vaccinations. We hope to continue this service in the future and include all new dialysis patients."

Currently, Blue Mountain Hospital's Dialysis Unit serves 29 patients, operating six days a week with two shifts per day. Patients come from Monument Valley, Red Mesa, Moab, Monticello and Blanding. Okkema says the dialysis unit is still growing and still accepting new patients. Patients can also use UNHS Transportation services to get to the hospital for their dialysis treatments in areas like Monument Valley, where UNHS has a clinic.

"I love the cooperative relationship we have with UNHS. It makes this whole project possible and makes things so much easier for our patients," Okkema said.

Patients like the good service, friendly staff and the convenience of having a hospital, a clinic, physical therapy services, pharmacy, cafeteria and nutrition counselors, social services, radiology and an Emergency Room all in the same location to offer added services.

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