CBD oil has seen an increase in popularity in recent years but not much is known about the new supplement.
CBD stands for cannabidiol. It comes from the hemp plant which is a cousin of the marijuana plant.
According to Island City Vapors, Harvard Medical School and other sources, despite popular belief, CBD cannot get a person high.
According to the World Health Organization CBD also has no dependence or abuse potential.
“To date, there is no evidence of public health-related problems associated with the use of pure CBD,” the World Health Organization stated.
Because of its close relationship with marijuana Katie Jensen, Winona State University health and wellness promotion coordinator said she believes CBD has been more popular.
“I think that is why people are drawn to it a lot of the time,” Jensen said. “It’s almost like a forbidden fruit.”
According to Harvard Medical School, CBD is legal on some level in all 50 states. The federal government puts CBD in the same class as marijuana but doesn’t enforce it regularly.
In Minnesota, as of Jan. 1, 2020 products with CBD can be legally sold if conditions outlined in Minnesota Statue 151.72 are met.
CBD products are sold now because products derived from hemp were removed from controlled substances laws which many took as an indication that selling CBD products is legal, according to a MinnPost article.
The Minnesota Board of Pharmacy said selling CBD products is not legal, according to a MinnPost article but no enforcement ever happened.
Harvard Medical School also stated the legality of CBD is expected to change because of a bipartisan consensus in Congress to make the hemp crop legal. That would make it hard to prohibit CBD.
One major issue people have with CBD is the lack of research and information available.
Jensen said when typing CBD into Google or other search engines what most likely will come up is companies marketing the product and stating CBD a miracle drug or a cure-all.
“There has been a lot of inflations of how good it can be for different people,” Jensen said.
Research from Harvard Medical School showed the most effective use of CBD oil is for Dravet Syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome, which are some of the worst child epilepsy syndromes.
The FDA approved Epidioles for these conditions which does contain CBD.
The FDA does not regulate CBD overall, which is the same for supplements and vitamins people take every day.
Another common use of CBD is for anxiety and insomnia.
Studies have suggested that CBD helps with falling and staying asleep.
There has also been research on CBD effects on chronic pain.
According to Harvard Medical School, the European Journal of Pain used an animal model to show that when CBD is applied to skin it can help lower arthritis pain and inflammation.
“Another study demonstrated the mechanism by which CBD inhibits inflammatory and neuropathic pain, two of the most difficult types of chronic pain to treat,” Harvard Medical School stated.
For each of these conditions, there are options of how to take CBD.
Someone who uses it has the option of ingesting, apply to skin, smoking, among others.
An article on the Harvard Medical School website stated more human study needs to be done to know the true effects of CBD on pain and other conditions.
Ben Rayburn, first-year Winona State student, said he uses CBD oil for his Tourettes and Asperger’s syndromes, anxiety and depression.
He said he decided to use CBD oil because there is not any medication specifically for Tourettes and with his combination of health concerns it’s hard to find something that works.
Raybrun said he has tried every anti-psych, ADHD, and anxiety medication, each time getting strange side effects.
He said he likes CBD oil because it’s easy to use and has helped with all of his conditions.
“When I use it regularly like I am supposed to it really reduces my anxiety and my Tourettes goes down,” Raybrun said. “They are reduced by I would say a good 75 to 80% of what they normally would be.”
Harvard Medical School and Jensen recommend talking to a doctor before using a CBD product.
“If you decide to try CBD, talk with your doctor – if for no other reason than to make sure it won’t affect other medications you are taking,” Harvard Medical School stated.
Rayburn said he was told by Island City Vapors, a local shop that sells CBD products that if a medication reacts poorly to grapefruit CBD products are not recommended. He did not know why that was.
Prices for CBD products range depending on the product, the seller and the quality.
Rayburn said at Island City Vapors a bottle of CBD oil that lasts about a month is about $150.
Nothing quite resembles the bond between a person and their dog.
Or the bond between Winona State University junior, Violet De Stefano, and her emotional support hedgehog, Phillip.
De Stefano, public health major, and Lynda Brzezinski, who has been a counselor at Winona State since 2000, have experienced firsthand the positive effects that pets have on people.
De Stefano sees this positive impact on herself with the help of her quill-covered companion.
For Brzezinski, the impact is seen on the faces of Winona State students, faculty and staff who come to visit Winston and Aiden, the university’s on-staff therapy dogs.
“Winston is a very intuitive dog,” Brzezinski said. “There will be times when I have a student crying in my office where he will get out of his bed and just go sit calmly next to the student. Very amazing.”
Brzezinski added that despite Aiden’s being new to the university, he has done an exceptional job with the students.
“Aiden is a cutie who loves to snuggle. This was his first semester doing ‘Afternoons with Aiden,’ and I think students had a lot of fun with him,” Brzezinski said.
But dogs are not the only pets who love to cuddle.
De Stefano, who has borderline personality disorder, said Phillip loves to snuggle her, especially when she feels alone or anxious.
“One of the things with my case for borderline personality disorder is I struggle with abandonment. I have a really hard time when it comes to people leaving me in my life, whether it’s perceived leaving or them actually leaving me, so it’s really good to have Phillip around because he is an animal that is always there,” De Stefano said. “So if I’m feeling lonely or I’m worried, I can pick him up and it provides that calm space where I can watch him run around and he’s super cuddly and adorable.”
And though the positive effects of having pets is apparent in these cases, both De Stefano and Brzezinski said there was still a process to getting their pets allowed on Winona State grounds.
Brzezinski said that her process with Winston started when he was a puppy going through obedience classes at Family Dog Center in La Crosse, Wisconsin.
“[Family Dog Center] offered the therapy dog class and evaluation,” Brzezinski said. “Winston loves people and he is smart, so he passed the test with flying colors and was registered as a therapy dog at the age of 1 [the minimum age].”
Brzezinski added that once Winston passed his tests, she continued training in animal-assisted therapy and animal-assisted activities and cooperated with campus legal services so Winston would be permitted to work in counseling services.
“I had to do research, get letters of support and make a formal proposal to be allowed to have therapy dogs on campus,” Brzezinski said.
With Aiden, Brzezinski said, the training process was longer, as he failed his first certification test and needed time to “grow up.”
According to Brzezinski, working intelligence levels are different in all dogs, which helped explain Aiden’s need for extra training.
“Winston is an Australian cattle dog/rat terrier mix. Heelers have 95 percent working intelligence and can learn a command in five or fewer times,” Brzezinski said. “Aiden is a pug/boxer mix and they have something like 30 percent working intelligence. It can take a dog like Aiden 30-50 times to learn something, but most dogs can learn if given enough time and patience.”
Though both dogs are certified now, the process hasn’t ended. Brzezinski said training for therapy dogs never ends, as the training must continually be reinforced.
Brzezinski added that for Winston and Aiden to remain on-staff, she must follow strict rules.
“I have a lot of guidelines I need to follow – the dogs must be bathed and groomed, nails trimmed, I need to vacuum, there needs to be signage, I hold malpractice insurance that covers the dogs, they always need to be on a leash, etc.,” Brzezinski said.
De Stefano had to follow a similar process when getting Phillip approved to live on campus with her. Phillip did not have to go through training to become an emotional support animal.
De Stefano’s process started in April 2018, when she was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.
“[Borderline personality disorder] is complicated. It’s kind of like bipolar disorder, but much quicker. So I will go through periods of mania and depression and it can be within hours of each other,” De Stefano said. “It’s stressful because when you wake up, you’re not sure if you’re going to be manic or you’re going to be depressed or you’re going to have no motivation or all the motivation in the world.”
De Stefano said she had been having symptoms of the disorder since eighth grade but wasn’t certain until she consulted a professional.
“In April I was dating a guy and he and I had just broken up, and I panicked,” De Stefano said. “It was my first bout of extreme suicidal ideation, which was pretty scary. I ended up going to the hospital at Winona Health and I admitted myself into the Department of Behavioral Medicine because I was like, ‘OK, we gotta get something figured out here.’”
After receiving her diagnosis, a social worker at the hospital referred her to a local therapist, with whom she could talk about what she was going through.
This was where she first considered the possibility of getting an emotional support animal, specifically; a hedgehog.
De Stefano said that with her borderline personality disorder, one of her impulsive behaviors is to self-harm, especially when she fears someone is leaving her.
Because Phillip’s quills are sharp, De Stefano said, when holding him she feels she receives the same stimulus as self-harm but without actually hurting herself.
“I know it’s interesting. It’s not something that people normally think about and when I talked to my therapist and was like, ‘Hey, this is what I’m thinking,’ they were like, ‘Oh, that’s interesting, I wouldn’t have even thought of that,’” De Stefano said.
Since De Stefano adopted Phillip last June, he has helped her cope with her borderline personality disorder but getting him into the dorms wasn’t an easy feat.
De Stefano first had to obtain a statement letter from her therapist, listing her qualifications to have the animal and recommending it.
She then had to do an intake meeting with Access Services so they could determine whether she would be able to support the animal and if it would be a disruption to other students.
Eventually, De Stefano did get Phillip approved to live in the dorms, but that wasn’t the hardest part for her.
“[Having Phillip] wasn’t necessarily a problem, but it was. I had to acknowledge what I was struggling with and what I was going through because I had to have that conversation pretty constantly of ‘Oh, I have an emotional support hedgehog. The reason I have it is because I struggle with X, Y and Z,’” De Stefano said.
Despite these uncomfortable conversations, De Stefano said jumping through all the hoops to get Phillip has been worthwhile.
“He’s also taught me a lot of patience and compassion because hedgehogs are so time-consuming. I have to spend time with him every day to get him to warm up to me and to be comfortable and cute like the little Instagram hedgehogs that I follow,” De Stefano said. “You have to spend time with them and eventually, I’ve noticed that his quills will lay down when I pick him up. It’s taking a lot of time, but it’s incredible.”
So as it turns out, De Stefano helps Phillip as much as he helps her.
And, as it turns out in Brzezinski’s case too, Winston and Aiden do more than just comfort the students, faculty and staff of Winona State.
“We are the first university in the Minnesota State system to have therapy dogs on ‘staff,’ which I’m very proud about,” Brzezinski said. “There is often a lot of negative stigma around mental health and counseling, but I think the dogs help break down barriers and give [Counseling Services] a more positive image at times.”
Erin Jones is the former copy editor for Winona State University’s student-run newspaper, The Winonan. She expects to graduate in May 2019. Before being copy editor, she was one of The Winonan’s news reporters. Jones is majoring in mass communication-journalism and minoring in criminal justice. After graduation, she hopes to find a career in which she can use both her major and minor. She is also interested in being a feature writer or an editor for a magazine.
Since its opening in 2015, medical equipment retailer Winona Home Medical has risen to occupy the void left by Bourne Medical Service, a fellow equipment retailer which closed in July 2018.
Winona Home Medical sells equipment like CPAP machines, wheelchairs, physical therapy products and more, and has the added benefit of being across the street from its parent organization, Winona Health hospital and clinic.
The business’s website says its staff includes a respiratory therapist with “more than 30 years of experience in home respiratory care, along with other caring experts who will make choosing and using home health products easy and enjoyable.”
As the only home medical equipment provider in the city, director of retail services Bill Cota says the business has been increasing what it has to offer.
“Once Bourne Medical went out of business last July, we really saw the need to expand and offer more products,” Cota said.
The business’s current location was purchased two years ago by Winona Health, but Cota said the hospital didn’t have any plans for the property until the closing of Bourne Medical.
“As the home medical equipment sales had obviously risen on a very consistent basis, it made the most sense for us to take over this location and continue to expand,” Cota said.
Before taking over the location formerly used by Wells Fargo bank, Winona Home Medical was stationed in the hospital in what Cota described as an exam room.
In the six months since opening in their new location, Cota said the business has been finalizing what the product line is going to look like, as well as changing certain elements to ensure their services are the best for their patients and customers.
Cota said he expects business to keep growing and adapting to their customers’ needs.
“It’s going to continue to grow,” Cota said. “Because every month or two we’re adding new products, adding new services. Both of those have obviously continued to make us steadily grow.”
Winona State University held its first Sustainability Fair where students could talk to students, community members and businesses about sustainability.
The fair was February 27 and was held in the East Hall of Kryzsko Commons from 4-7 p.m.
Leah Dechant, a Winona State student and student worker for the sustainability office was one of the main planners of the fair.
“I always notice that students don’t really know much about sustainability,” Dechant said. “Or that we live in such a great area called Winona with all these options, they’re all local, organic, sustainable businesses, or companies that provide environmentally friendly options.”
She said the fair was designed to create a place for community members as well as students, faculty, and staff to get together in one place with a common theme of sustainability.
The fair showcased sustainable practices and ideas in and around Winona State.
There was no fee to attend the event and the booths were set up without a registration fee. Free snacks were also set out for people to enjoy and there was live music.
Jeanne Franz, a sustainability advisor and professor at Winona State said that Dechant reached out to people and businesses, and said, “No fee. If you want to come, please come.”
A banner was on a table being signed by people who came to the fair. One signature meant one pledge to live more sustainable.
Franz said 12 years ago, Winona State signed the president’s climate commitment that by the year 2050, Winona State will be carbon free or carbon neutral.
This means Winona State will not produce carbon more than is being consumed by the university.
Franz said Winona State has begun taking steps toward this goal.
Dechant said that there are other things that she would like to see on campus as well.
“I would love to see more sustainable technologies, buildings and projects on campus,” Dechant said.
Franz said, “A few years back the students voted themselves a green fee which has helped fund the sustainability office including a full-time person, Nathan Engstrom, whose job is completely devoted to sustainability.”
One exhibitor talked about what you can do with certain spices and home remedies for ailments.
He had made his own kombucha that he shared, as well as showed his dried herbs and spices that he had collected and foraged.
Dechant’s table was handing out reusable water bottles and seeds participants could plant.
“It’s not a hobby or lifestyle anymore,” Dechant said. “We need to change our ways.”
For a region plagued by negative temperatures for nearly half the year, rock climbers in the Minnesota area needed to find some way to scratch the adrenaline-filled itch.
After multiple years on the west side of Winona, the ice park relocated next to Sugarloaf on the east side of town.
About 1.5 miles up the Sugarloaf Trailhead is a man-made wall of solid ice, spanning nearly 70 feet high and three times as wide.
Caleb Hammel, a recent Winona State University Mass Communication graduate, first climbed his way into the world of ice climbing two years ago.
Having been a rock climber for the past four years, when the city created their ice park during its first year, Hammel decided it might be fun to try.
Hammel heard of the ice wall through his work with Winona State’s Outdoor Education and Recreation Center (OERC) while he was still a student. With help from Eric Barnard, director of OERC, Hammel was introduced to the ice wall.
Though Barnard is not employed by the city, Hammel said Barnard has tried to promote things through the city.
“With him being an expert in the past, he wanted to bring students up (to the ice park),” Hammel said. “Winona State was starting to run trips up there to use a sweet resource of the city, so, as an employee, I was able to go up a lot with students and with (Barnard).”
The wall is free and open to the public for use, but visitors are on their own as far as gear needed. People scaling the wall can be seen wearing everything from the bare minimum of a belay device, helmet, ice picks and crampons (shoe spikes to dig into the ice), all the way to assorted pick cleaning gear, ice stakes and extra rope.
Though the ice park may be newer to the Winona area, it is getting recognition throughout the region.
Hammel, who moved to Aspen, Colorado, after graduation, said he has heard people talking about the Winona Ice Park in his new hometown.
“All the way out here people are talking about it,” Hammel said. “People from Chicago who have heard about it travel to climb it, I can only imagine it will bring more people to town. There’s not a lot of places you can go and safely climb; it will put Winona on the map.”
Michael Sullivan, who has spent his free time for the last four years traveling across the region to different ice parks, is one of many who has made the near 3-hour drive from Madison, Wisconsin, to climb at the Winona Ice Park.
Sullivan first heard of the Winona Ice Park through a rock climbing podcast titled, “The Enormocast,” where Barnard was a guest on the show speaking about the park. As word of the park got around, a group of fellow climbers decided to make the trek to Winona.
“This park has a lot of potential,” Sullivan said. “It’s definitely taller and wider as a single ice wall than anything in Wisconsin that I’ve seen.”
Sullivan said the design of the wall was one of the main drawing points of the Winona Ice Park.
“Usually you’ll see an overhanging sandstone cliff and then a frozen waterfall will come off, so it’s mostly just big columns,” Sullivan said. “They’re really cool and fun to climb on, but it’s just the one so people have to compete for it, where this is just a big sheet where people can go wherever.”
For those that have enjoyed rock climbing in the past, Hammel said it’s a great activity to try, but is not exactly like the warm-weather alternative.
“The similarities between rock and ice climbing end at belay devices, harnesses and helmets,” Hammel said. “The ice is always changing. Rock climbing routes are similar, the rock won’t fall or melt, but with ice climbing it’s different every day. Conditions change, weather makes muscles more stiff and not able to do things.”
Though it is different than the more well-known sport of rock climbing, Hammel said he would recommend ice climbing to anyone that might be interested.
“It’s a great way to both mentally and physically push yourself,” Hammel said. “If you calm down and focus its unlike any other activity out there.”
The sky was overcast on Sunday afternoon, and a light fog started to wrap around the bluffs as I drove towards my destination for the second time this weekend.
John A. Latsch State Park sits along highway 61 on the Mississippi River, roughly 20 minutes north of Winona, Minnesota.
The site was founded in 1925 when Winona businessman, and a supporter of conservation work John A. Latsch donated 350 acres to the state of Minnesota for park use. Latsch also donated land in Whitewater State Park and Perrot Sate Park in Wisconsin.
Mounts Faith, Hope and Charity are the three bluffs included in the park, named by steamboat captains in the 1850s who used these peaks as landmarks while traversing the Mississippi.
The development of the park was slow, due to the landscape the only level ground was in small ravines which separate the three bluffs. In 1933 the Mount Charity Riverview Trail was created by the Civilian Conservation Corps and remains the only developed trail in the park to this day.
An analysis of the park in 1971 recommended the area be reclassified as a scientific and natural area, no action has been taken to reclassify the area and it remains a state park.
A parking area nestled in a small clearing opens to a small picnic area at the bottom of the bluff and a short walk leads to the trailhead.
Wood steps embedded into the hill sets the path winding through the forest and up the bluff, the half-mile trail is rated difficult by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and not even a third of the way up it was clear why.
The entire trail rests at varying stages of an incline that gradually gets steeper the higher you go, and I was already slightly out of breath.
About half way into the hike there was a break in the steady stream of cars along the highway and the entire atmosphere of the park changed, a stillness echoed over the bluff, not a single leaf rustled in the wind and no bird calls descended from the trees.
The crunch of my boots against the snow-covered steps and the dull roar of the highway was a constant reminder of human presence in those woods, but in that moment of peaceful stillness I felt truly alone.
It was over in an instant.
The low rumble of a car just rounding the corner of the next bluff broke the stillness and, shaken from my moment, I continued to climb.
When I reached the peak, a light mist began to set in, an early sign of the coming fog I could see over the panoramic view of the ice-covered Mississippi, and as much as my legs burned from the hike up it was nothing compared to how I’d feel after the trip down.
Though the park is open all year the stairs were not cleared of snow on my trip. This was my first time on this trail in the winter and I am unsure if the trail condition is normally this way or if the recent cold snap prevent usual trail maintenance
Because of the warmer weather, melting snow and extra condensation in the air the stairs became slick and the snow covering compacted into a slippery surface.
Each step was taken slowly and one at a time, foot placement was key, and I still slipped several times with one resulting in a fall. The long stretches of stairs with no railings or support also made the trip down much more difficult.
I would recommend this trail in any season, but extra precaution should be taken in the winter to avoid dangerous situations.
The life of a dancer, despite popular belief, has never exactly been glamorous.
It’s hard work for little money and very strenuous on the body and mind.
The dancers and directors of Winona State University’s 2018 Dancescape agree and say they believe that the time spent is valuable.
Jenna Grochow, a production assistant, choreographer and dancer for Dancescape, said, “Dancescape is a really big time commitment. It gets stressful throughout the year and I have to sacrifice being with friends and going to other events because of it.”
The stress of spending six months working for one show can be tiring on the young college dancers and choreographers.
Dancescape’s Artistic Director, Gretchen Cohenour, said what the dancers go through reminds her of when she danced as a freelance professional in New York.
“It’s hard, worth it, but difficult,” Cohenour said. “When I danced, I also was a waitress and worked other odd jobs to make a living. That is what a lot of these dancers go through with school and part time jobs, however they can handle it and love to do it.”
The reward of a successful live show is what makes everything they do worth their commitment to the show.
Adelle Vietor; a WSU student, and choreographer and dancer for Dancescape, said it was meaningful time and energy in the end.
“I think it is worth it,” Vietor said. “At other universities, a lot of students don’t get this opportunity to be such a huge part of an experience.”
Vietor said she is most excited to get the feedback on her choreographed piece which is a piece that includes a projected video that goes with the dance.
A projector has never been used before in Dancescape and is something both Vietor and Cohenour are excited to see.
“We have some really talented student choreographers, and Adelle is one of them,” Cohenour said. “She is a graphic design major and she has made this digital projection, so it’s this beautiful round spherical background that multiplies and falls away and blooms and it’s just so wonderful.”
The excitement shows through all the dancers now that the live show is done and is a success, according to Vietor.
“Everything went so well,” Vietor said. “Every night we felt like there were so few mistakes, which is exactly what we want.”
In six to seven months from now, most of the dancers, except for the graduating seniors, will be gearing up to try out again for next year’s show.
The seniors have a quick turnaround, in just two months they will be on stage again, for the Senior Dance Recital at the end of April.
The senior dancers have been not only prepping for Dancescape but have also started to work on their routines for the Senior Dance Recital.
Michael Krug has never received the flu vaccination because he is skeptical about the efficacy of the drug itself.
For Johnna Miller, vaccinating against the flu is one of her priorities when flu season begins.
Krug and Miller, graduate students at Winona State University, have contrasting ideas about vaccinations. No matter if they decided to vaccinate against the flu this year, they both had to show proof of certain vaccinations in order to be enrolled at the university.
According to the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, vaccination requirements changed over time and continued to be updated as new vaccines were developed for more diseases. Since the 1940s, some vaccines have been added while others have been removed or replaced.
Polio immunization was recommended in the 1950s, and tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, polio, measles, mumps and rubella appeared in the 1970s. A vaccine for hepatitis B was added in the mid-1990s.
The College of Physicians of Philadelphia also stated by the 1990s, all 50 states required students to receive certain immunizations in order to attend classes.
Mitzi Girtler, a licensed school nurse and the coordinator of health services at Winona Public Schools, said vaccination recommendations are not the same in every country.
In the U.S., she said, school immunizations laws are not imposed by the federal government, but by the individual states. For instance, the state of Minnesota has different requirements than the state of Wisconsin.
According to the Minnesota Department of Health, the law requires all children seven years of age and older to show proof of vaccinations against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, mmr (measles, mumps and rubella), hepatitis B, varicella and meningococcal.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, children entering kindergarten through fifth grade, and sixth through 12 must have received a specific amount of doses of polio, hepatitis B, mmr (measles, mumps and rubella) and varicella vaccines depending on the age group.
Students who enroll in college have to show proof they have been vaccinated against measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus and diphteria, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. Any student who fails to show proof of vaccinations within the first 45 days after first enrollment cannot remain enrolled.
Despite the requirements, not every individual is in favor of vaccinations.
Girtler said some people and communities object to school immunizations because they disagree with the mandates and have religious or personal beliefs that are in disagreement with vaccinations.
Other factors imply a lack of confidence, uncertainty toward the effectiveness of the vaccine and increased perceived risk of side effects of the vaccine, Girtler said.
Individuals who do not want to immunize their children, she said, can request an exemption to address their concerns.
In Minnesota, the Department of Health may allow exemptions from immunizations if a statement signed by a physician is submitted to the administrator, or in case of conscientiously held beliefs of the parents.
Depending on each state, some communities of people, she said, will not follow the state requirements. For instance, she said home school families typically are against vaccinations.
Vaccine hesitancy refers to those parents who show concerns about the decision to vaccinate one’s self or one’s children, according to Daniel Salmon, author of an article in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
The article specifies the number of parents who claim non-medical exemptions to school immunization requirements has been increasing over the past decade. Other causes of vaccine hesitancy may include the fear of allergic reactions, the inability of parents to control the risks of adverse reactions, and the possibility the child’s immune system might be weakened.
The influenza vaccination is one of the immunizations parents are skeptical about, Girtler said.
In terms of influenza vaccination, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported on the national early-season flu vaccination coverage with findings showing approximately 40 percent of all persons and 37 percent of children were vaccinated by early November 2016.
The late flu season vaccination report from 2013 to 2016 showed 45 percent of all persons and almost 60 percent of children were vaccinated against the flu.
The CDC noted efforts are needed to increase the percentage of the population vaccinated during the next few months in order to reduce the burden of flu.
The CDC showed the percentage of vaccinations in Minnesota is higher compared to other states, with a coverage in 2010-11 through 2015-2016 of 49.7 percent of all persons that is compared to a 42.7 percentage in Wisconsin.
Winona Senior High School, Girtler said, is an example of schools in Minnesota where vaccination trends are high.
Girtler said the school claims a high percentage of the required vaccinations needed to be registered, with over 96 percent of the students being fully vaccinated.
The school does not provide the vaccine but encourages students and families to go to their health care provider.
Because immunizations are a state law requirement, Girtler said the high school acts as a gatekeeper, and keeps track of them through school attendance.
The district’s immunization plan includes three groups of students: incoming kindergarteners, seventh graders, and new students coming in from another state or district.
With kindergarteners and seventh-graders, the district makes sure to contact the families months before the beginning of school, letting them know about the state requirements. Parents of the incoming students will individually meet with school officials.
The school officials send alerts to parents of sixth graders, similar to a phone system of advertising, she said. Girtler said the school encourages vaccinations in an effort to protect students who cannot be vaccinated due to health reasons or allergies.
Students who do not have the proper vaccinations at the beginning of the school year will usually get the shot right after they have been notified. The district, she said, occasionally has to turn away a student or two due to a lack of immunization.
“We provide them resources and try to find funding or transportation if needed,” she said.
In the Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau school district in Wisconsin, Registered Nurse Barbara Hogden said almost every student in the school is vaccinated. Only 37 out of 1,392 students have personal waivers, exempting them to immunize, she said.
Hogden said 103 students decided to get the influenza vaccination at the school, and the other children had the choice to get it through their health care provider.
This year, Hogden said there were only three cases of influenza at the school because most of the students are vaccinated. The few who decide not to vaccinate usually do not believe in the vaccines, or they do not have enough information about them, she said.
For those parents who are in contradiction with the vaccines, Hogden said she encourages them to gather information from reliable online sources and to talk to their health care provider.
“Parents should always weigh both sides and do their research,” Hogden said. “There is a lot of information out there; they just need to look for it.”
While parents determine children’s necessity of receiving a flu vaccination, college students like Krug and Miller, can decide whether to vaccinate on their own.
Krug said he is skeptical about flu shots because he read online the vaccine protects against three types of the virus only, though there are more; and the virus constantly changes.
“I have always trusted that with good hygiene and proper nourishment, I can stay healthy for the most part,” Krug said.
On the other side of the spectrum, Miller takes advantage of the flu shot every year.
Miller said she is glad the flu vaccine is so easily accessible for students, especially in a college environment where germs are passed easily. The flu, she said, can spread quickly, and have a large impact on a population.
Vaccination requirements, Miller said, should be recommended but not mandatory because people need to have a say in what they receive in their bodies. She said she thought it is important to get vaccinated not only for a person’s health, but for the health of a whole community.
“When different things are forced or required, they can have negative connotations associated with them,” Miller said.
Winona State University Registered Nurse Joyce Peckover said the Health and Wellness Services on campus administered about 350 flu shot vaccinations this academic year.
The Health and Wellness Services is able to administer immunizations for several diseases, and the flu shots are available at the clinic for $25 billed to a student’s insurance. Peckover said the shot is covered by most students’ health insurance under preventable care.
According to Peckover, the amount of flu shots the university administers depends on whether there has been a bad outbreak of influenza across the U.S. In that case, she said, the following year people are more willing to vaccinate against the flu because they are afraid they might get sick again. This year, influenza started later than usual, with a peak in January, she said.
When students walk into the Health and Wellness Services for an appointment, Peckover said the registered nurses try to encourage the flu shots. Sometimes, students decide not to be vaccinated because they do not believe in the vaccine, or they have never taken it before.
Peckover is in charge of the Ask-A-Nurse line, and said she often receives calls from parents who want to keep track of their son’s or daughter’s health and ask if they have received the shot. Other times, the students purposely will not get vaccinated because of their parents’ decision.
Until the flu shots expire in June, Peckover said she will keep administering flu shots. Health and Wellness Services collaborate with the health promotion center to encourage flu shots via online and across the university through informative posters.
“We are always looking for new ways to encourage it,” Peckover said. “As much as we market the flu shot, it’s never enough.”
Peckover said the registered nurses work together with nursing students every fall, and set up a flu shot clinic to make it more convenient for students to stop by the booth during their lunch break.
Peckover said it is important to educate on flu shots because they can prevent serious illnesses and doctors’ visits. At the academic level, she said students who get influenza might be absent from classes for a few days, and lower their performance.
According to the CDC, an annual seasonal flu vaccine can keep people from getting sick with influenza, reduce the risk of flu-associated hospitalization, and protect people with chronic health conditions who are more vulnerable to flu illnesses.
No matter if individuals have had a flu shot or not, in order to prevent influenza and the spread of germs, Peckover said getting good nutrition and resting helps to keep the immune system built up.
The CDC recommends avoiding contact with sick people, covering the nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu and others.
“Everything comes down to prevention,” Peckover said. “Our goal is to provide education and prevent diseases to stay healthy.”
Despite the high percentages of student vaccinations in the Winona area public schools, in some cases, Girtler said students could be sent home from school because they do not have the proper vaccinations, or proof of exemptions from them. Kindergarten is the time they can first be blocked from schools, she said.
Rochester public schools recently did not allow 80 students to attend classes in the school building because they did not submit the paperwork before the deadline on March 1.
The district notified the families whose children did not have all the required vaccinations from Jan. 27 through Feb. 20, but they were not successful in providing the documents.
Both Girtler and Hogden said diseases, which used to be common in the U.S., including polio, measles, diphtheria and rubella, can now be prevented with vaccination.
Those parents who are against vaccinations were not alive when polio spread all over the country and are not aware of the number of people who died from it, Hogden said.
Agata Blaszczak-Boxe, author of an article on vaccine refusals, said parents think vaccine-preventable diseases are rare these days, and their memory of these diseases may be fading.
Some of the recent measles outbreaks prove those beliefs wrong. Girtler said California experienced a large, multi-state measles outbreak at Disneyland in 2015 from a traveler who became infected overseas with measles. Other measles cases occured quickly afterwards.
Girtler said in order to encourage more vaccinations in the future, interventions are needed on the individual level. She said health care providers are the best source of information for individuals who are hesitant to immunize their children.
One-on-one conversations usually work best because parents are able to listen closely to an expert’s opinion on the matter, she said.
“We are encouraging vaccinations to protect not only children, but the whole community,” Girtler said. “This is a public concern.”
“He paid the ultimate price,” Wind said. “He saved my life.”
By Samantha Stetzer
Kelly Wind was sitting in the imaging lab area of Winona Health in late 2014, when she was told there was early cancer forming in her breast.
Her husband of almost 25 years, Kenny Wind, had been diagnosed with stage four-lung cancer months earlier. His prognosis was bleak, Kelly said, but he was fighting, despite the low chances for survival.
She said his diagnosis had inspired her to get a routine mammogram. That mammogram led a radiologist to find something suspicious on her scans. After tests and ultrasounds, she officially had a cancer diagnosis.
With her disease identified, Kelly said the fear and weight of the word cancer was setting in, but a voice cut through her doubt.
“Hey, you are not going to die from this, do you hear me,” a nurse named Heather said, Kelly recalled.
Thus began a year and a half relationship between Kelly and her cancer care team at Winona Health.
Between Winona Health in Winona, Minnesota, and Gundersen Health System in La Crosse, Wisconsin, Kelly said she and her husband could choose the types of cancer treatments they preferred, and depending on their choices, they met with a series of providers and caregivers who helped the disease.
The Commission on Cancer accredits both of these hospitals as cancer centers, according to each of the organizations. Gundersen Health System is also accredited by the American College of Radiology.
Kelly said she believes the care she received at Winona Health was just right for her. She made relationships, partnerships and friendships with everyone who cared for her. She said she felt the staff was personable.
“My journey was just amazing,” Kelly said.
She created bonds with the receptionist, the nurses and her surgeons, as she went through a double mastectomy, meaning both of her breast tissues were removed. Later, eventually replaced them with new breasts, making the recovery process from cancer last a year and a half.
A double mastectomy was just one option Kelly said she had. According to Sandy Gruzynski, Winona Health’s patient navigator, while Winona Health cannot offer chemotherapy or radiation treatments right now, their partnerships with the Mayo Clinic Network, headquartered in Rochester, Minnesota, and Gundersen can help patients find the treatment that best fits how they wish to fight the disease.
When the word cancer is spoken as a diagnosis to a patient, Gruzynski is the first person a provider calls. Kelly said she remembers working with Gruzynski to find the best treatment for her disease, describing her as a “warrior” patients.
Gruzynski said she lists options for patients, such as treatments or goals for finishing out the rest of their illness is terminal.
For patients with breast cancer such as Kelly, there are many treatments options because the disease has been heavily researched, Gruzynski said.
Within treatments, such as chemotherapy, Gundersen Health System Medical Oncologist Dr. Kurt Oettel said there can be different aspects to each therapy, which each patient has to consider when choosing a plan for treatment.
“Chemotherapy is like saying ‘I drive a car’,” Oettel said. Simply stating this fact about a vehicle does not give the full story as to what kind of car a person drives, much like how having a patient choosing a chemotherapy track is not uniform for all cancer patients.
Chemotherapy is one example of the progress and research done about cancer treatments that has made cancer research a rapidly growing field, Oettel said.
At conferences, presentations frequently highlight new techniques and treatments for patients, Oettel added, highlighting how this changes the field of cancer dramatically over short periods of time.
“It’s a fast-changing field,” Oettel said. “What’s presented at that meeting… the standard of care just changed over night.”
Oettel said he has had patients whose treatment plans changed within two months, due to advancements in care.
“Now patients live much longer,” Oettel said.
When Kelly was given her options to fight the cancer, she said she was given multiple options, including a lumpectomy, where just the cancerous mass in the breast is removed. There was also chemotherapy, where the disease could be attacked without surgery.
Kelly said she feared the cancer could appear again, and she said she was ready to say goodbye to her breasts, especially if it meant she would have a better chance of surviving.
She told the care team at Winona Health she was “done with them.”
“Take it. I’m done,” Kelly recalled saying with a laugh.
Kelly said her treatment choice was easy: it gave her the best chance to live. Her mastectomy was the only way she said she could ensure she could be there for her four kids and five grandchildren, especially with her husband’s failing health.
She was not going to let them lose another parent in such a short amount of time, Kelly said.
Her kids had just accepted the fact their father was going to die, Kelly added, but her eldest daughter was struggling with the possibility that her mom could die too. As tears welled in her daughter’s eyes, Kelly recalled how she took the advice of the nurse in imaging at Winona Health.
“I told her I was going to beat this, Kelly said.
While Kelly was fighting at Winona Health, her husband was being treated in La Crosse, Wisconsin, at Gundersen Health System with weekly treatments. Kelly said she had to continue her work at Riverstar Inc., where she unloads boxes, even if it meant missing some of his appointments, so she could pay the bills.
At Gundersen, Kelly said Kenny’s experience was more rigid, adding she saw how he was more of a number than a person.
That form of treatment was just right for Kenny, Kelly said. He appreciated the atmosphere, she added, especially in a place where providers have to care for a large variety of cancers and people.
“They weed out so many people… an entire floor of chemo,” Kelly said. “It was more comfortable for him.”
According to Oettel, the reason Kenny and Kelly might have felt like his treatment was differed from Winona Health’s is because Gundersen Health System is comprised of a large network of cancer providers all working to provide care to one patient through many options available at the hospital, such as chemotherapy and radiation.
Oettel explained how, unlike the process of treating a condition like heart disease, where one specialist is needed, the process a patient goes through when they are diagnosed with cancer involves several specialists helping each patient with certain steps in their cancer treatment process. Oettel said he is typically the doctor patients see after they have surgery to decide what steps are next, but there are other doctors and providers, such as the surgeons or radiologists, who have already been providing care to patients.
Since Gundersen has the capability to treat cancer through surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, Oettel said there are many caregivers and providers available to patients.
He added insurance availability is one of the main reasons patients make the decisions they do regarding the care they receive. Depending on their insurance, a patient can be limited with their choices for treatment and where they choose to be treated, Oettel explained.
At Winona Health, Gruzynski said she helps guide patients through their insurance process. She often helps decipher jargon within patients’ policies to help them decide which course of action to take and where to take it.
“Right now, it’s really an insurance-driven world,” Oettel said, adding doctors and caregivers should effectively explain to a patient the options at a facility based around a patient’s insurance.
With the constantly changing future of provider care, Oettel said he does not necessarily believe in the “holy grail cure” for all cancers but can foresee a time when cancer becomes a chronic illness like HIV or diabetes.
He added being able to utilize new treatments and options for patients to get into remission can be a great feeling for someone like him who spends his career trying to heal everyone he sees.
“That’s very rewarding to say ‘you no longer need to see me,’” Oettel said.
In spite of advancements in treatments and technologies, Oettel said he has to anticipate he will not cure 50 percent of his patients. He added working with dying patients can be a worthwhile part of his job.
For Kenny, remission never came. He died in the spring of 2015, just before he and his wife would celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary, according Kelly. In the summer of 2016, Kelly said she was officially done fighting her cancer.
After one and a half years of and with a drug prescription to help reduce her risk of getting the disease again, Kelly said there is now 98 percent chance her cancer will never come back. She said she uses her husband’s story and how it motivated her to get a check up as a constant reminder to her friends and family, often reminding the women in her life to get mammograms.
Looking back at where she was that winter day in 2014, Kelly said she credits her husband for making sure their children still have a parent today.
“He paid the ultimate price,” Wind said. “He saved my life.”
As they lifted their arms gently and steadily in different directions, the flowing movements of a group of 30 older adults were coordinated in grace and balance.
Tai Chi is one of the most popular classes offered at the Winona Friendship Center that gathers many on a weekly basis, Malia Fox, director of the Friendship Center said.
With more than a thousand members and a great number of programs, the Friendship Center is suffering from a lack of space. This has caused concern among members and administrators at the center.
To accommodate all of its programs, Fox said the center has expressed the desire to move to a different location.
“The process has been going at a slow pace but I see this happening soon,” Fox said.
Back in the 1960s, the Winona Friendship Center was located at the west and east ends of town, then it moved to the Valley View Tower in 1969 as people were starting to show more interest. In 1980, the center opened on the first floor of the Historic Masonic Theater on Main Street and has been there since.
“We needed a more permanent home,” Fox said.
The committee knew the demographic of the center would continue to grow and could have used the second floor of the building as well. That never occurred, Fox said.
During an Engage Winona event a couple years ago, many people said changes at the center were needed. The event revolved around a series of focus groups that asked participants questions regarding issues and problems the community was facing and ways to improve them.
“Out of all the ideas, one of them was to pull a community center together,” Fox said.
According to Fox, this idea would involve children to senior citizens. One of the main goals of the center, which goes along with a new location, would aim to dismiss ageist attitudes and get past culturally driven myths.
“We wanted to break down the myth that some classes or activities are meant for older adults only,” Fox said. “We need to engage with everyone. We can’t know about each other’s issues if we are not in relationship.”
Winona Friendship Center Program Coordinator Laura Hoberg said a new intergenerational development component would allow people of all ages to take part in programs together.
Sometimes, Hoberg said, people think older adults do not want to be connected with younger people. Members at the center see the new multi-generational center as a great opportunity to engage in meaningful and different kinds of interactions.
“There’s a really positive feeling from the community members,” Hoberg said. “Everybody brings different perspectives and ideas.”
A new location would meet some of the center’s needs in terms of changing the layout of the center that, Fox said, is not conducive for the members. In a recent evaluation, Fox said people felt uncomfortable walking through the main hall to access other rooms in the building. Because of the layout, sounds easily travel down the hallway, which might distract members who are taking a class.
Moreover, Fox is aware the center lacks a parking lot and does not provide an easy access to the main door.
According to Fox, the process of relocation may take years.
Some of the concerns include costs involved, and replacement of the center with another potential structure. The center is seeking to relocate either at the East Recreation Center or become part of a collaborative project between Winona Health and the Winona YMCA.
Despite its need for a bigger structure, the center has continued to grow through the years. Being the only structure in the state of Minnesota that is nationally accredited, Fox said, members in Winona have access to the best programs and facilities.
“People rely on us; they feel welcomed,” Fox said. “Their voices are heard.”
Diane Stevens was one of the members following the soft melody playing in the background as she was trying to maintain a straight posture.
For Stevens, Thai Chi was the answer to her physical health.
Stevens has been involved with the Tai Chi class at the Winona Friendship Center for more than 10 years and is taking an arthritis class as well. She said she had to take some time off when she started having serious health problems.
“I was in the back of the room in a wheel chair and worked my way up to the front,” Stevens said. “I wouldn’t be walking if it wasn’t for Thai Chi.”
Stevens said she believes the center could improve its space, because it is currently offering a big room only, where most of the activities take place, and smaller ones that do not fit large groups of people.
Through the years, member Dorothy Duellman has learned how the center operates and noticed how a bigger space would allow instructors to set up activities in separate rooms, without having to rush from one activity to another, she said. Ideally, she would like to see a swimming pool as well.
Duellman has been a member of the center since 2004 and said she visits the wellness center three times a week to keep herself active and plays cards from time to time.
“A lot of the programs help seniors stay more active and healthy,” Duellman said.
With her experience as a long-term member, Duellman said she appreciates how the center is always looking for new, innovative ways to help older adults and support them.
“It’s really a growing organization,” Duellman said.
One of the programs that has been consistent over time is the health and wellness center, which attracts many for exercise programs from yoga mat to zumba classes. Recently, the center has seen a push towards educational programming, encouraging older adults to be challenged not only physically, but also mentally.
About 100 people walk through the building’s main door every day for many different programs, Fox said. Many members today join the center after being in rehabilitation, and hope to continue their healing process there. Others attend the center for their own physical wellbeing.
Although the members bring to the center their own history and interests, for one to two hours of their day, they have the chance to be reunited in one place and take advantage of the center’s numerous programs.
“It’s a wonderful place,” Duellman said. “What I like about the center is that it focuses on keeping people healthy. It doesn’t separate people; it involves them in the community.”