Neighbors Caring for Neighbors

We Saved Lives Today

By: Dennis Dinning MPA, HSAC, Boundary Community Hospital Trustee

Bonners Ferry, ID – As a Critical Access Hospital in a rural community, many folks think Boundary Community Hospital is defined as an emergency department only. What they do not realize is that we are more than “just a hospital” but a health resource for the community with many services offered locally.

In 2016 the Hospital Board of Trustees reached out to voters with a request for a special levy to fund some much needed equipment and upgrades.  The Levy was passed by voters and the funds were collected in 2017 and in your current property taxes for 2018 for a total of $828,000 over the two years.  The Hospital received the first half of the funding in 2018 and we expect to receive the second half in 2019.

We specified when we asked for the levy funds that we would:

  • Dennis Dinning (far right) congratulates Shannon Rust, RN, Outpatient Surgery Manager and Orthopedic Surgeon Michael DiBenedetto, MD after the successful completion of a total knee replacement surgery in the new Surgery Suite at Boundary Community Hospital.

    Upgrade the surgery suite so that we can perform more procedures including joint replacement surgery. The surgery suite infection control system and remodeling have been completed and the endoscopy scopes have been purchased.  In 2019, we will purchase arthroscopic instruments and other medical devices for orthopedic surgery. Dr. Michael DiBenedetto has been performing total knee and hip replacement surgery since September 2018, right here in Bonners Ferry.

  • Purchase new equipment for the Clinical Medical Laboratory so that testing can be done locally for faster, more accurate results. The new equipment has been installed and our local laboratory is one of the best equipped in the state including the Microscan Array to test virus and bacteria (in hours instead of days), so the correct antibiotic can be prescribed.
  • Purchase Diagnostic Imaging equipment. The C-Arm Portable X-Ray machine for orthopedic surgery and emergency use has been purchased. The CT Contrast Injector is planned for 2019, so we can expand our capabilities in Computerized Tomography (CT).
  • Replace the Fire Alarm panel which was originally installed in 1992 – scheduled for 2019.
  • Replace the Climate Control System with a computerized control center to better regulate the HVAC system throughout the Hospital and Nursing Home – scheduled for 2019.

These equipment purchases expand the services available and is attracting more Specialists for clinics and surgery, enabling patients to recover and receive occupational and physical therapy in Bonners Ferry. This also allows the health care dollars to be spent locally, saves the patient and their family travel and lodging expenses, and keeps jobs in Boundary County, which helps the local economy.

In 2016, I had serious health issues and was forced to take early retirement. I grew up in Bonners Ferry and we had a weekend place here, so my wife and I decided we would consider moving back home, after being gone for over 40 years. One of our biggest concerns about coming back to Boundary County was my ongoing health issues and access to quality health care. This is a very common concern for many people looking to retire, as well as companies looking to relocate to a new area. I decided to research health care systems in the community and evaluate how it would fit into my situation. I saw an opportunity to serve as a Trustee for Boundary Community Hospital and although I have physical limitations, I had past education, work, and volunteer experience, which would not only allow me to serve, but to be hands on with our local health care.

Boundary Community Hospital plays a distinct and critical role by leading efforts to address the unique healthcare needs of our rural citizens. As a trustee, our vision is “Neighbors Caring for Neighbors” and I have definitely seen this vision in action since moving home and becoming part of the Boundary Community Hospital “neighborhood.”

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Special Article for Bonners Ferry Living Local
October 2018

WHAT IS A MAMMOGRAM? A mammogram is an x-ray study of the breast. Usually 2 views are obtained of each breast. The overall mammogram study radiation dose is approximately equal to being outside on 20 summer days. The mammogram study takes approximately 20 minutes. There is some discomfort due to compressing the breast tissue to obtain a clear diagnostic image, but it is well worth the short-term discomfort.

WHY GET A MAMMOGRAM? There are many reasons why a woman should get a mammogram. Mammograms can identify a lump up to 2 years before it can be felt. The earlier breast cancer is found the better the outcome. The best weapon against breast cancer is early detection. The 5 year relative survival rates for patients who have early breast cancer detected with mammography is 100% according to the National Cancer Institute.

WHO SHOULD GET A MAMMOGRAM AND WHEN? In the United States the Preventative Services Task Force Mammogram Guidelines recommend women begin screening at age 50 and the American Cancer Society recommends screening to begin at age 45. Other medical organizations recommend screening beginning at age 40. If the woman begins screening at age 50 annual mammograms should follow. If the woman begins at 40 or 45, depending on her family history and circumstances annual mammograms are recommended, however, every other year would also be reasonable until age 50 followed by annual mammograms. Women should continue with mammography until age 75 and thereafter it is up to the patient whether she should continue annual follow-up.

Approximately 230,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018. However, mammograms are the best form of early detection and can save your life. There are more than 2.5 million survivors of breast cancer in the United States. In Boundary County I’m quite sure that you know or may know of a breast cancer survivor. Or possibly, you are a breast cancer survivor. I have been the primary physician interpreting mammograms at Boundary Community Hospital for the past 18 years and I can attest that we have discovered numerous early cancers of women who are cancer free since the diagnosis and treatment. In fact, mortality rates for breast cancer have declined in the past 20 years by 31% nationally.

Boundary Community Hospital has been performing mammograms for over 3 decades. We have state of the art digital mammography. We recommend that patients who have extremely dense breasts have a 3-D mammogram (tomosynthesis). In some cases an MRI breast study, ultrasound, or biopsy may be necessary to exclude a breast cancer.

Incidentally, men can also develop breast cancer even though it is 100 times less likely than women who develop breast cancer. Any adult male, usually older males, who develops a breast lump should see his physician to determine if a mammogram is indicated. Most male breast lumps are due to hormonal changes and or medications.

If you have any questions concerning mammography please feel free to call Boundary Community Hospital radiology at 208-267-3141, extension 4258.

Michael Melendez, MD
Consulting Radiologist
Certified by the American Board of Radiology

New X-Ray Equipment Installed

New X-Ray

August 14, 2018

Bonners Ferry, ID – Radiologic Technologists Bill Blumenauer, RT(R) (ARRT) and Ryan Jenkins, RT(R) (ARRT) show off the new Digital Radiography (X-Ray) equipment installed at Boundary Community Hospital.  With easy patient access, lower radiation exposure, enhanced image quality, and connection to the regional Picture Archiving and Communications System (PACS) allowing our images and reports to be shared and viewed with local physicians and other facilities, this equipment is a welcome addition to the Diagnostic Imaging Department for Outpatient and Emergency X-ray requirements.

Melissa Morrow, RT(R) CT(R) (ARRT), our third Radiologic Technologist, missed out on the photo shoot.

Fry Healthcare Foundation Tenth Annual Golf Tournament

Swing! For the community. It was a beautiful day to play golf at the Fry Healthcare Foundation’s  10th Annual Golf Tournament on Friday, September 7th.

Garry Reed and Jerry Jimenez played to a victory on the beautiful fairways and greens at Mirror Lake Golf Course.

(L to R) Jerry Jimenez and Garry Reed

Fry Healthcare Foundation Board Member Kevin Callos and Boundary Community Hospital CEO, Craig Johnson came in second place with their friends Ed and Jeff Sample finishing in third place.

(L to R) Jeff Sample, Ed Sample, Craig Johnson, and Kevin Callos

Longest Drive for Men was Jamie Porter, and Longest Drive for Women was Blanche Studer.  Carrick Renaley had the Most Accurate Drive and Elaine Morgan sank the Longest Putt.

The highlight of the event was when Craig Johnson made a Hole In One on the 2nd hole! Too bad it wasn’t Boundary Tractor’s Hole-in-One prize that was on the 8th Hole.

Sponsors and donors for the tournament included Kootenai Health, Automated Accounts Inc., Idaho Forest Group, Yellowstone Insurance Exchange, Gardiner Prime Angus Ranch, Elaine Morgan, Edward Jones Investments, Craig and Donna Johnson, Boundary Community Hospital Board of Trustees, Pace-Kerby & Co., P1FCU, Medicine Man Pharmacy, Bonners Ferry Living Local, News BF, BF Redi-Mix, The Dressing Room, and Riverside Auto Center.

Life Flight Network sponsored the Great Golf Ball Drop, which was won by Janet Lukehart.  The grand prize was a pair of kayaks, paddles and life vests from Far North Outfitters.

Kevin Callos helping to load the Kayaks for Janet Lukehart, NPC

The funds raised at this year’s tournament will be used to purchase two Vital Signs Monitors for Boundary Community Hospital Emergency and Acute Care. Over the past twenty years, the Fry Healthcare Foundation and our community have raised over $1.2 Million to benefit the hospital. We are very grateful for your continued support that ultimately benefits everyone who relies on Boundary Community Hospital for emergency and routine care.

Craig Johnson made a Hole-in-One at the 2018 Tournament

For More Information:
Fry Healthcare Foundation:  208-267-6912
Like us on Facebook to keep up to date on Fry Healthcare Foundation-sponsored events.

Occupational Therapy Seminar

Sensory Processing Experience

What does it mean to have sensory processing challenges?
Come and learn basic management techniques and have a sensory experience yourself!

Who Benefits: The Sensory Processing Experience seminar benefits anyone interacting with children, especially children with suspected disabilities or sensory processing difficulties. Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, teachers, counselors, day care staff etc. any and all are welcome at this ADULTS ONLY class.

When: Saturday. September 29, 2018 2:00 – 4:00 pm in the Rehab Services Gym at Boundary Community Hospital.
Parking is available at the Clinic on Kaniksu Street directly across from the Hospital. Enter and sign in at Emergency/Acute Care Registration.

Presented By: Yahtil Huaute, OT, DOT, the new occupational therapist at Boundary Community Hospital will present the Sensory Processing Experience. Yahtil has spent seven years working in pediatrics with a focus on sensory processing and neurodevelopmental treatment. Identifying sensory processing difficulties and understanding the resources available could be essential for a child to experience life to the fullest.


Please reserve your place as soon as possible since there are only 20 seats available!
RSVP by calling (208)267-3141 ext 4275 or via email at

Surgery Suite Completed

Successful Surgery at BCH

Surgery Team Prepped and Ready (left to right): Renee Isaacs, Scrub Tech; Diana Kempton, RN; Dustin Miller, RN; and Stu Gall, CRNA. Photo by Shannon Rust, RN, Surgery Manager

Bonners Ferry – It has been a multiyear process to get the Boundary Community Hospital Surgery Department ready to perform more complicated surgeries. Since the upgrade and expansion of the Surgery Suite was completed in June 2018, Michael DiBenedetto, MD has successfully completed two total hip replacement surgeries, as well as several knee and hand surgeries.

Upgrading the air handling and infection prevention system to ensure more precise temperature and humidity control to meet government code compliance standards, a C-Arm Portable X-Ray Machine for orthopedic surgeries, as well as new endoscopy scopes have expanded the services, efficiency and patient-safety of the surgery department.

“The first year funding from the levy passed by voters in 2016 was used to purchase laboratory equipment, new endoscopy scopes and the upgrade and enhancement of the Outpatient Surgery Suite at the Hospital,” says Craig Johnson, CEO. “Our increased capability to perform these types of procedures should expand the availability in Bonners Ferry.”

“I feel our surgery team consists of some pretty amazing professionals who make patient safety and satisfaction their top priority,” according to Shannon Rust, RN, Surgery Manager. “With the recent upgrade of our HVAC system, we, in conjunction with Dr. Michael DiBenedetto, were able to start performing joint replacement surgeries.  We now have two successful hip replacements under our belt and are very excited to continue to make these procedures available to the community.  I am truly humbled and thankful to have been a part of such a wonderful endeavor for Boundary Community Hospital!”

Sports Physicals Update

FREE Sports Physicals at BCH a Success

Seventy-five Boundary County student athletes and their parents took advantage of the annual Free Sports Physical Clinic offered by Boundary Community Hospital and Boundary Community Clinics on July 31st. Students in Grades 7, 9 and 11 who want to participate in sports are required to have a medical clearance exam to detect conditions that may predispose them to injury or would make participation in sports unsafe.

Students were greeted by BCSD Coaches led by Conrad Garner, Dean of Students and Athletic Director for Bonners Ferry High School, before proceeding through a series of health screenings. Each athlete completed a medical history questionnaire and rotated through five screening stations. Boundary Community Hospital staff assisted with recording height, weight, vision, vital signs, urinalysis, and an evaluation for neuromusculoskeletal function including range of motion, strength, balance and functional mobility. Finally, a physician or nurse practitioner examined and talked with them and gave them the final “all clear”.

A special thank you to the medical team who provided the final physical exams this year: Greg Botkin, MD, Extended Care Facility Medical Director; Mark Pruitt, MD, Emergency; Chuck Newhouse, MD, Emergency; Susan Layeux, MD, Hospital Chief of Staff and Boundary Community Clinics; Bev Yercheck, NP-C and Janet Lukehart, NP-C, Boundary Community Clinics.

Sunshine Bartlett and the Hospital’s Time Sensitive Emergencies Committee helped pass some of the wait time by providing students with information regarding motor vehicle safety, including seat belt use, as well as ice water, cookies and frozen treats.

Boundary Community Hospital offers a Sports Physical Clinic annually as a FREE service for Boundary County student athletes.


TSE: Hot Weather Safety

Hot Weather Safety

By Sunshine Bartlett, RN
Boundary Community Hospital Emergency Department

Summer is in full swing here in Boundary County. The temperature has been soaring. Heat-related emergencies are more common this time of year. Knowing how to prevent, spot, and treat these serious conditions is vital.

People at highest risk include those working or exercising outdoors. Also at risk are the very young, the very old, people who are drinking alcohol, and people with certain medical problems. Pets and animals are not immune to heat and can have similar heat-related reactions.

Around 1,500 people in the U.S. die each year from a heat-related condition. Prevention is key. Properly hydrate with water or diluted sports drinks. Dark urine or a decreased urination is a sign you may not be drinking enough. Take breaks in the shade. If possible, wait to do strenuous activities until a cooler part of the day. Never leave children or pets unattended in a car. Leave your pets where there is adequate water and shade. Fill the birdbath for our winged friends.

There are three main types of heat-related illness; heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.

Heat cramps are painful muscle spasms of the legs, arms, or abdomen. If these occur, stop activity and rest in a cool, shaded area. Drink water or other cool beverages. Gently massage or stretch the affected muscles. Seek medical help if these measures do not relieve your symptoms.

Heat exhaustion occurs if early signs of heat-related illness are not treated. Signs of this include sweating, headache, dizziness, nausea, weakness, and a rapid heartbeat. These signs are more serious and should not be ignored. Stop activity. Sit or lie down in a cool area. Drink cool water or other liquids. Sponge yourself with water. If symptoms do not improve seek medical assistance.

Heat stroke is the most serious of these emergencies. Symptoms of this can include confusion, fainting, or even seizures. The person’s skin is hot and may be moist or dry. The person will have an excessively high body temperature. If you find someone you suspect may be having a heat stroke, call 911. Remain with the person. Sponge them with cool water. Fan the person’s skin. Apply cold packs to armpits, wrists, and groin if available. Loosen any tight clothing. If they experience a seizure, protect them from harm but do not force anything into their mouth.

If you believe an animal may be experiencing a heat-related emergency, similar cooling measures will also help them. Move the animal to a cool, shaded area if possible. Offer water if they are conscious. Wet them with cool water. Do not submerge the animal in ice water. Seek veterinary help.

Boundary Community Hospital and the Idaho Time Sensitive Emergencies program are committed to aiding in the prevention and timely treatment of these and other emergencies. Stay cool out there!


Excellence in Caring – Every Day

News Release July 25, 2018

Excellence in Caring – Every Day

Bonners Ferry, ID – Boundary Community Hospital’s Extended Care Facility has been recognized as one of the top nursing homes in the State of Idaho, again.  For the eleventh year, the State has given the Nursing Home the prestigious L. Jean Schoonover Award for Excellence in Caring. This year the facility received the Gold Award with the highest average Health Inspection rating of 4.6 to 5.0 and demonstrated dedication and commitment to providing the highest quality of care to the residents they serve.

“This is an excellent example of the quality of care that our extended care facility and hospital teams are providing to the community, especially those that need long term and skilled nursing care,” says Craig Johnson, CEO. “The focus is on the residents, making their environment more home-like, and finding and keeping staff who emphasize the quality of care they provide.”

With a “hands-on” leadership style, Director of Nursing Tami Corsi, RN, and the Extended Care Facility staff focus on care rather than procedures and schedules so that residents feel more at home. High staff-to-resident ratios, flexible meal schedules, housekeeping’s patient-focused room care, a variety of activities, and detailed care plans create an environment for residents that is superior to other facilities. According to Chief Nursing Officer, Tari Yourzek, “The entire staff, both medical and non-medical, is committed to quality patient care and caring about the people of Boundary County, continuously making a conscious effort to improve services. Their attitude toward a culture of quality is reflected in their efforts to stay ahead of standards of care, setting an example for other small rural nursing homes and hospitals.”

The Extended Care Facility and Nursing Home at Boundary Community Hospital is a licensed skilled nursing home with a physician on staff to supervise each resident’s care providing both long-term and rehabilitative or short-term residency. The highly-skilled staff understands and specializes in long-term care, bringing a special nurturing atmosphere that can be felt every day throughout the facility.

Some of the exceptional BCH Extended Care Facility staff celebrating their Excellence in Caring Award from the State of Idaho.