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Community Hospital Health Foundation Director Hired

McCook- Jessica Bortner, RN, BSN, MBA, was hired as the Community Hospital Health Foundation Executive Director, according to Troy Bruntz, Community Hospital President and CEO. Her duties begin May 29. Bortner is replacing Terri Shipshock, who retires in June.


“Jessica brings an enthusiasm with her that is very exciting for us at Community Hospital and Community Hospital Health Foundation,” Bruntz said. “We look forward to her rejoining our staff. Her healthcare background and strong leadership, business and communication skills will help to continue the mission of the health foundation.”


A native of Oklahoma, McCook has been home to Bortner since 1997, where she and her husband, Heath own and operate a farm/ranch north of town. They have a son, Charlie, 13.


She worked at Community Hospital beginning in 2000, providing patient care as a registered nurse. From 2001-2010, she oversaw the performance improvement program at the hospital, beginning as a coordinator and working up to performance improvement director. She also served as the corporate compliance officer.


During her time at Community Hospital, she revised the performance improvement program to include a process based management system linked to the hospital’s balanced score card. She also had oversight of patient safety, patient satisfaction and the performance improvement specialist. Bortner coordinated medical staff peer review and led The Joint Commission audits and improvements.


“I am honored and excited to be rejoining this excellent organization. I am looking forward to working with the health foundation board members, volunteers, hospital employees, and community to further secure the future of Community Hospital by raising funds and promoting public awareness and support,” Bortner said.


Last year, she was elected to a three-year term on the Community Hospital Board of Directors. She resigned that position as part of the agreement upon acceptance of the foundation director job. Bruntz said they hope to fill the empty board position very soon.


She graduated from the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Kearney in 2000 with a Bachelors of Science in Nursing. In 2004, Bortner completed her Masters in Business Administration from Bellevue University. She also received Lean Six Sigma Black Belt training from the GE Healthcare Institute in 2009.


Bortner is a member of the McCook Rotary. She is alumni of the 2011/2012 Southwest Nebraska Leadership Institute.



Furnas County Sheriff's Office Make Arrest

On May 17, 2018 at approximately 11:06 am the Furnas County Sheriff’s Office received a report that Gregg A. Klein, 19, of Beaver City, Nebraska was in front of Kelley’s Grocery Store, in Beaver City. The Sheriff’s Office was aware that Klein had a local arrest warrant from Furnas County Court for driving under suspension. See full story by clicking on link below:

U.S. Department of Agriculture's Summer Meal Program in Benkleman

Each summer, children wait for the last bell of the school year. Summer is an exciting time for children to enjoy playtime with friends, a week at camp, a family vacation, or time at the pool. However, for many children who receive free and reduced-price meals at school, summer can mean hunger. Just as learning doesn't end when school lets out, neither does a child's need for good nutrition.

Dundy County Stratton Schools provides free meals to ALL children during the summer as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Summer Meal Porgram. This summer, meals will be served at Benkelman Elementary, Monday through Friday from 12:00 to 1:00 MST and from a mobile feeding site at the Stratton Park on Tuesday and Thursday from 12:00 to 12:30 CST. Meals will be served from June 4th through August 2nd. There are no income requirements or registration. Anyone 18 and under may come to eat for FREE. They will be starting our summer with a Kick Off event on June 4th from 11:00 AM to 1:30 PM MST at the Benkelman elementary school. The fire department will be here giving fire truck rides and there will be bounce houses and face painting. Summer activities will include a school garden and cooking classes at the Benkelman site.
For more information you can contact me at the Benkelman Elementary School, 308-423-2216.


Collaboration Aids Residents’ Healthcare

McCook, Nebraska—Administrators from Hillcrest Nursing Home, McCook Clinic and Community Hospital are finding quarterly collaboration meetings improve processes of care for area patients who use services between their organizations. Their goal is to provide better care for some in perhaps the most vulnerable stage of life. Brad Cheek, Hillcrest Administrator, Brian Rokusek, McCook Clinic Practice Administrator and Troy Bruntz, Community Hospital President & CEO say they are developing new ideas to improve efficiencies and communication as Hillcrest patients access their services. For instance, one goal they have established is for residents from Hillcrest to have a follow up visit with a McCook Clinic provider within three to five days of discharge from Community Hospital. This will continue the continuity of care for a better transition, and add to the commitment and dedication of quality care, they said. “With timelier follow ups, we hope to reduce the chance of readmission to the hospital,” Bruntz added. They also want to offer joint education for nurses from all the facilities. Some of the education involves bringing training to McCook to assist with nursing requirements for ongoing licensure. But the administrators are also looking at community disaster drills and educational opportunities involving non-licensed staff. Finally, they want to improve communication between the organizations. “Improved or enhanced communication between our medical staff, physicians and caregivers, helps to avoid potentially preventable events, such as unnecessary ER visits, unnecessary hospitalizations and unnecessary clinic visits,” said Rokusek. He added that extra visits and transfers are hard on elderly patients; some have at least eight transfers from bed to wheelchair to van, etc., just for one doctor’s visit at the clinic. Embedded care coordinators at McCook Clinic are working with their patients who reside at Hillcrest to reduce unnecessary readmissions, visits and transfers to the clinic and hospital. This limits the patient’s distress and exhaustion. To also reduce trips outside the facility, physicians and therapists come to the residents. Dr. John West, Hillcrest’s new medical director, as well as all the family medicine physicians from McCook Clinic see patients at Hillcrest at least one half day per month. Also providing services at Hillcrest are Community Hospital physical, speech and occupational therapists. Other ways to improve communication and education are less conventional, such as McCook Clinic nurses shadowing Hillcrest nurses. “That would help them to recognize work flow and processes that happen at each facility,” Rokusek said. “Not only providing information and knowledge, but getting to know each other better; all leading to a more interactive team.” Besides the administrators, which have met at least twice, other teams have been created. The Transition of Care team is made up of nurses and social workers working in partnership between the facilities. Also, Whitney Kuhlen, Director of Nursing for Hillcrest has been meeting with Jane Backer, McCook Clinic Director of Nursing for the same purpose. “All of this to enhance overall health of our long-term care population,” Rokusek said. They are also encouraging the use of the electronic patient portal, Follow My Health,—the same portal is used at McCook Clinic and Community Hospital—to enhance communication between hospital, clinic and Hillcrest “A Caring Center.” The portal allows caregivers to view tests and lab results from both the clinic and the hospital to aid in the residents’ care.


“Our meeting together has strengthened our bond,” said Cheek. “We are committed to the health and the well-being of our community. Through our continued collaboration meetings we are developing new ideas,” he added. “It’s about playing a leading role,” said Bruntz. “It’s about the patient; they get better care because of our ability to collaborate.”



Administrators from Hillcrest Nursing Home, Brad Cheek (second from left); Community Hospital, Troy Bruntz and McCook Clinic, Brian Rokusek, welcome John West, M.D. (far left) as Hillcrest’s new medical director. Dr. West, a family medicine physician at McCook Clinic, also sees patients at Community Hospital and Hillcrest. The three administrators have been meeting quarterly to work on ideas “to enhance overall health of our long-term care population.”


Area high school students earn honor cords from MPCC

About 260 area high school seniors have earned the right to wear blue and gold honor cords from Mid-Plains Community College at their graduation ceremonies this spring. That’s up from 225 students last year.

To receive a cord, the seniors must have successfully completed 12 or more credit hours of dual enrollment classes through MPCC. The classes count for both high school and college credit.

“The goal is to recognize students who have taken the initiative to pursue college credit while still in high school,” said Becky Barner, MPCC area career coach. “National research has shown that when students graduate high school with college credit already achieved, they are more likely to go on to college and more likely to finish a degree program in college.”

The following list shows how many seniors, as of May 9, had earned honor cords at area schools this year.

Ansley High School – 2

Arnold High School – 2

Arthur County High School - 1

Brady High School – 2

Broken Bow High School – 10

Callaway High School – 5

Chase County High School - 11

Cody-Kilgore High School – 2

Dundy County-Stratton High School – 7

Hayes Center High School - 1

Hershey High School – 15

Homeschool – 3

Maxwell High School – 2

Maywood High School – 1

McCook High School – 22

North Platte High School - 87

North Platte St. Pat’s  - 12

Ogallala High School – 22

Paxton High School – 6

Perkins County High School – 1

Sandhills High School – 7

Sargent High School - 5

Southwest High School – 6

Stapleton High School – 2

Sutherland High School – 7

Thedford High School - 2

Valentine High School - 4

Wallace High School – 7

Wauneta-Palisade High School - 3

More information about MPCC’s dual enrollment program is available online at http://www.mpcc.edu/student-resources/credit-systems


Water Restriction

The City of McCook Water Department is placing a restriction on lawn watering from 8:00 a.m. Tuesday, May 8th through 8:00 a.m. Wednesday, May 9th. The 24 hour restriction is the result of a mechanical malfunction at the Parker Hannifin plant that caused higher than normal water usage. This along with the early season lawn watering has seen the City's storage tanks drop to low levels. The one day restriction will give the Water Department the opportunity to restore the water levels to normal in the City's 3 storage tanks. We will continue to keep citizens updated should there be a need to extend the restriction. Thank you for your patience and we apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. City of McCook Utility Director, Jesse Dutcher



According to the Red Willow County Sheriff's Office this morning at approximately 7:50 a.m. there was a two-vehicle accident that occurred approximately 3.5 miles south of Indianola NE on Road 397. One person, 19-year old Jonathan Coburn died as a result of that accident. Each vehicle had only one occupant, the driver. The other driver was treated and released from the scene. The Red Willow County Sheriff’s Office and the Nebraska State Patrol worked the accident. No further information is available at this time. The investigation is continuing.


Kelly Clarkson to Kick-off State Fair

The Nebraska State Fair announced today Kelly Clarkson will launch the 2018 Nebraska State Fair on opening night Friday August 24th…. and country superstars Old Dominion will take the stage Friday Aug 31th. Rounding out of the state fair concert series is Night Ranger on Sunday September 2nd… All tickets go on sale Tuesday May 1st at 10 am… 


Community Hospital Names 2018 Anne Morse Volunteer

McCook, Nebraska—Brenda Kincaid was named as the 2018 Anne Morse Volunteer for her exemplary volunteerism and dedication to Community Hospital at the hospital’s volunteer luncheon held April 16.


It has always been the American way of life for citizens to help one another. Community Hospital has been blessed through the years with thousands of volunteer hours from generous citizens from McCook and the surrounding area. One who has set records in hours of volunteerism is Anne Morse, a former Community Hospital auxiliary member.


In 2004 an anonymous donor recognized Anne’s tremendous contribution and wanted to do something special that would commemorate her years of service. With a financial gift, Sondra Johnson was commissioned to create a bust of Anne.


In addition, the benefactor requested that a committee be formed to select someone who best exemplified Anne Morse’s dedication as a volunteer. That person would be the recipient of the Anne Morse Volunteer Award. Their name would be permanently displayed on a plaque near the sculpture of Anne which is displayed in the hallway leading to the patient wing.


While a recipient for the award is not necessarily chosen annually, this year Brenda Kincaid has been chosen as an exemplary volunteer. Her nomination reads:


“Brenda Kincaid has been a volunteer at Community Hospital for nearly ten years. Throughout this time she has served individuals, from employees to patients to community members, with her giving attitude and love for others. She serves in various capacities, sitting on committees for the hospital’s community outreach efforts including Sterling Connection, Girl’s Night Out and Breast Cancer Awareness. While taking part in these various committees she gives of her time, talent for creativity and compassion through friendship and socialization. Brenda also assists with the American Red Cross Blood Mobile throughout the year along with the Community Health Fairs hosted by the hospital. In between these committees and events she also volunteers her time to deliver magazines throughout the hospital and volunteers for a variety of other projects.


On top of her dedication to Community Hospital she volunteers her time with Meals on Wheels, the McCook Humane Society and the United Methodist Church. Brenda also takes extra time to visit with residents at Brookdale and Hillcrest Nursing Home. She gives selflessly of her time talent and passion, hoping to fill the needs of our hospital and the community. Even in times of personal struggle she is always thinking of others and how she can further provide for them. Brenda is a pillar of strength for her friends and loved ones, leaning heavily on her faith in God and belief in a strong community.”


The Anne Morse Volunteer Award comes with a $500 gift, also given by the anonymous donor to the Community Hospital Health Foundation. The recipient of the volunteer award has the opportunity to designate an area of healthcare in which to direct the gift.


Keystone XL developer to meet with Nebraska landowners

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — The developer of the Keystone XL pipeline plans to meet with landowners along its planned route through Nebraska, South Dakota and Montana this week and will start aerial surveying of the route in all three states, a company spokesman said Monday.

ransCanada Inc. spokesman Matt John said the company will make financial offers to all landowners along the proposed route, including those who have already granted the company access to their land. Company officials are forging ahead despite pending lawsuits in Nebraska and Montana that aim to derail the project.

"It's important that all of our landowners are treated fairly, and offering these agreements to all landowners who have previously signed easements is part of our commitment," John said.

The $8 billion, 1,179-mile pipeline would transport Canadian crude through Montana and South Dakota to Nebraska, where it would connect with lines to carry oil to Gulf Coast refineries.

John said company officials will offer a "construction completion bonus" as an incentive to get landowners to sign easement agreements. They also plan to award bonuses to early signers and will give landowners time to review the contracts with outside attorneys. John said TransCanada still hopes to begin construction in early 2019.

Opponents said they're still confident they will thwart the project.

In Nebraska, landowners have filed a lawsuit challenging the Nebraska Public Service Commission's decision to approve a route through the state. A federal lawsuit brought by Montana landowners and environmental groups seeks to overturn President Donald Trump's decision to grant a presidential permit for the project, which was necessary because it would cross the U.S.-Canadian border.

President Barack Obama's administration studied the project for years before Obama finally rejected it in 2015, citing concerns about carbon pollution. Trump reversed that decision in March 2017, but John said the State Department has begun a supplemental environmental review of the route. The State Department has previously reviewed the route, but another analysis became necessary because the Nebraska Public Service Commission approved a different route than the one TransCanada had preferred.

"We know this song and dance very well," said Jane Kleeb, president of the Bold Alliance, a leading pipeline opposition group. "This pipeline will never be built. It's all P.R., and this is so typical of TransCanada."

The pipeline faces intense resistance from environmental groups, Native American tribes and some landowners along the route who worry about its long-term impact on their groundwater and property rights. But in Nebraska, many affected landowners have accepted the project and are eager to collect payments from the company.

"People here are a step above being OK about it — they're enthusiastic," said Ron Schmidt, a Madison County commissioner and farmer who owns property on the route. "I've talked to landowners who want the route to move just a little so it can go through their property."

Schmidt said he views the project as a one-time boost for the local economy that would help generate tax revenue. He said he also sees it as a way to promote the nation's energy independence, an assertion that many opponents dispute.

Farmer Art Tanderup, who has fought the pipeline since 2012, said he's still hopeful the project will never move forward and that TransCanada is "trying to appease its investors" with its announcement.

He said he opposes the project because of its potential impact on the Ogallala Aquifer, a massive groundwater system in Nebraska and seven other states, and concerns about a foreign company trying to use eminent domain on U.S. landowners.

"It's easy for us to tell them 'no' if they do come knocking," Tanderup said.


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