Tips on avoiding flu

[KARE 11, Dec. 18, 2014] The Minnesota Department of Health says school influenza outbreaks are spiking, one sign an even bigger outbreak may be coming. That’s because as many people get together this week for the holidays, they may spread the virus, and children can pass it on quickly.

“That’s the thing about influenza,” said Dr. Frank Rhame, Infectious Disease Physician at Allina Health Clinics. “It’s highly unpredictable.”

“You can ask a mom to keep her kid home from school,” said Rhame, “But you can’t ask a mom not to take her kid to the family gathering for Christmas.”

Flu spreads through contact, so doctors recommend using hand sanitizer, wiping down surfaces, avoiding touching your face. They say you can even wear a mask. And if you do feel sick? Take Tamiflu right away.

Tamiflu may be hard to find, but don’t give up

[WCCO-TV, Dec. 18, 2014] As the number of influenza illnesses surges, one drug you can get from your doctor, Tamiflu, can be tough to find.

Doctors agree that it is effective, but Tamiflu may also be hard to find, especially when you need it the most. In some cases, the supply is limited as wholesalers hold on to the drug to ensure it lasts the entire season.

Lee Mork is the director of pharmacy for Allina Health Clinics.

“It’s almost like a pseudo-shortage right now because of the way they are handling it. But it’s really to preserve the overall supply by kind of putting limits on each pharmacy, the amount they can receive,” Mork said.

Flu 101: Questions and answers about the flu this year

[KMSP Fox 9, Dec. 15, 2014] Influenza is spreading in Minnesota. One death has already been attributed to the virus.

So what do you need to know about the flu this year? Allina Health Clinic infectious disease specialist, Frank Rhame, MD, talked with Fox 9 News about the strains or the virus going around this year, when you should consider seeing a health care provider and the flu vaccine.

Influenza spreads in Minnesota

[KARE 11, Dec. 11, 2014] It’s here early and hitting hard. That’s what Minnesota doctors are saying about influenza, which the Minnesota Department of Health now calls “widespread.”

About 185 Minnesotans have so far been hospitalized, and some cases nationwide are resisting vaccines.

“It changes a lot every year,” said Dr. Frank Rhame, Infectious Disease Physician at Abbott Northwestern Hospital. “Some years it’s a little different, and some years it’s a lot different.”

Dealing with the flu, keeping kids healthy

[KSTP-TV, Dec. 10, 2014] A Southern Minnesota teen has died after battling flu-like symptoms over the past week, raising the question, what are the best ways to keep your kids healthy.

Dr. Frank Rhame, Allina Health Clinic infectious disease specialist, talked with KSTP about what parents should know and when you should see your doctor.

Allina, Free Bikes 4 Kidz team up again

[KARE11, Dec. 6, 2014] For the fourth year in a row, Allina Health has helped Free Bikes 4 Kidz get donated bikes to youngsters from families in need across the Allina service area. For many of those kids, it’s their very first bike. This year, more than 5000 bikes were distributed.

Flu shot might not be perfect, but get one anyway

[KSTP-TV, Dec. 4, 2014] The flu vaccine may not be as effective this winter as hoped because the season’s most common strain has mutated, or “drifted,” from the form the shot targets, according to U.S. health officials. CDC officials think the vaccine should provide some protection and still are urging people to get vaccinated.

Allina Health Clinic infectious disease specialist, Dr. Frank Rhame, said this often happens because flu viruses are unpredictable. But that should not stop people from getting their vaccinations.

New procedure could prevent amputations

[KARE11, Dec. 2, 2014] There’s a new therapy, right here in the Twin Cities at Mercy Hospital that could prevent amputations caused by peripheral artery disease (PAD).

The procedure is helping a Minnesota man stay on his feet.

Joe Sibinski has to be on his feet all day. But two years ago, he said, “I woke up one night and my right foot was ice cold. I had a total loss of sensation. I couldn’t feel anything.”

He was diagnosed with PAD which is a narrowing of the arteries in his legs. Sibinski had a stent put in to improve blood flow. But after a year, scar tissue built up around the stent. He said, “It was just clogging around the area.”

So this month, Sibinski had a brand new procedure at Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids.

Owatonna Hospital scores well above national and state average on infant feeding practices survey

Left to right: Jessica Anderson, RN, birth center; Tawnee Selbrade, RN and lactation consultant, birth center; and Susan Shaft, manager, birth center.

[Owatonna People’s Press, Dec. 2, 2014] Owatonna Hospital scored exceedingly well on The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) 2013 survey of Maternity Practices in Infant Nutrition and Care (mPINC).

With a score of 86, Owatonna Hospital is performing better than many facilities nationwide, in Minnesota and similar size facilities.

Owatonna Hospital scored better than 74 percent of all facilities nationwide, 65 percent better than facilities in Minnesota and 77 percent better than similar size facilities in the United States. Read the full story at

Good Question: Does hunching over smartphones hurt our spines?

[WCCO-TV, Nov. 17, 2014] According to a new study, people spend an average of 2-4 hours a day hunched over their smartphones, which puts a lot of stress on the spine.

“That is quite a lot,” said Courtney Tanaka, a physical therapist with the Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute. “If our postures aren’t correct in the time being, we’re going to pay for it later in life.”