Health Articles

Peace of Mind in the New Year and Year Round

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Consider your loved ones. We all have a parent, child, family member or friend who is special to us, and many of us worry about their health and well-being. This holiday season, consider discussing health insurance with your loved ones, and give the gift of peace of mind.

Open enrollment on the Health Insurance Marketplace is underway, and you and your family can enroll in affordable health coverage that can bring the peace of mind of having access to care when you need it, and preventive services to keep you and your family healthy in 2015.

Do you know someone who needs healthcare coverage, but resists enrolling in insurance? Here are some important facts to share about why healthcare coverage is important:

UP Health System - Portage is committed to helping the Copper Country understand the benefits of health insurance and navigate the Health Insurance Marketplace enrollment process.

In addition, we have Certified Application Counselors (CACs) onsite to support you in the application process.

Contact us today. You can call us toll-free at 1-888-982-9144, or email us to ask questions or set up an appointment at

For a list of important dates, visit or

UP Health System - Portage wishes you a healthy and happy New Year.

FAQs about Enterovirus D68

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How can I learn more?
If you have questions, talk to your family doctor, your pediatrician, or the hospital for information. You also can visit the CDCís website.

What is Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68)?
Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) is a type of virus that causes upper respiratory illness. EV-D68 is a non-polio enterovirus. Non-polio enteroviruses are very common viruses, causing 10 to 15 million infections in the U.S. each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

EV-D68 is not a new virus, and typically causes low-grade fever, cough, runny nose, sneezing and body/muscle aches. 

Why are we hearing more about this virus now?
Many more cases of EV-D68 have been reported this season, which warrants increased attention to good preventive health and infection control practices by individuals and families. While EV-D68 complications do not occur frequently, they can be serious.

Enterovirus infections in the U.S. tend to occur seasonally during the summer and fall, and outbreaks tend to occur in several-year cycles.

Who is at risk?
Anyone can be infected with respiratory enteroviruses. Most people who get infected only experience a mild illness, such as a common cold. But infants, children and teenagers, as well as people with weakened immune systems, are more likely to get infected and become sick. Children do not have immunity from prior exposure to the viruses, so, young children and people with weakened immune systems have a greater chance of complications.

What are the signs and symptoms of illness?
EV-D68 typically causes upper respiratory illness, such as a low-grade fever, cough, runny nose, sneezing, and muscle/body aches. Some people have no symptoms at all. But other people can experience complications and become very sick, and require hospitalization.

What type of complications can occur?
Some people with underlying medical conditions, such as asthma, may experience severe complications and require hospitalization and supportive therapy. Complications can include viral conjunctivitis; hand, foot and mouth disease; viral meningitis (infection of the covering of the spinal cord and/or brain), myocarditis (infection of the heart), pericarditis (infection of the sac around the heart), encephalitis (infection of the brain), and paralysis. People who develop myocarditis may have heart failure and require long-term care. Some people who develop encephalitis or paralysis may not fully recover.

How does EV-D68 spread?
The virus spreads through close contact with an infected person such as touching or shaking hands; through body fluids including eye, nose and mouth secretions (saliva, nasal mucus, or phlegm), blister fluid, or feces; or by touching objects or surfaces that have the virus on them then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes. You also can get the virus by changing the diapers of a child who has the virus, or by drinking water that has the virus in it. The virus can also be ìshedî from the respiratory tract of persons who have been sick for 1-3 weeks. Infected people can shed the virus even if they don't have symptoms.

Is there a vaccine for EV-D68?
There is no vaccine available for EV-D68, and no antiviral medication available to treat it.

How can I avoid getting sick?
Because EV-D68 shares common symptoms and complications with colds and flu, the best protection is getting an annual flu vaccine for yourself and your loved ones.

You also can keep yourself and your family well by observing standard infection control procedures, including:

  • Frequent hand-washing with soap and warm water, especially after using the toilet and changing diapers.
  • If soap and water arenít available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with a concentration of at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick; and cleaning/disinfecting frequently touched surfaces.
  • If you or a family member is sick, the infected person should stay home from school or work.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes by using a tissue, or your sleeve, or coughing/sneezing into your elbow (not your hands).
  • Avoid touching your face, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

Infection Prevention Information

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Protect yourself!

YOU are your best defense against viruses and other infections. Follow these simple tips to keep you and your family healthy:*

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, for 20 seconds.
  • Or, use a hand sanitizer that is least 60% alcohol-based.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Avoid sharing food, cups or eating utensils.
  • Disinfect your home and belongings, such as childrenís toys and play areas.
  • Stay home from school or work if you are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing with a tissue, your sleeve or your elbow and NOT your bare hands.
  • Get a flu shot
  • Call your local hospital or your primary care doctor with any questions.

*Source: Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC)


Ebola Virus Disease is a rare and deadly disease that is native to several African countries. It is caused by infection with Ebola virus. You can only get Ebola from:

  • Touching the blood or body fluids of a person who is sick with or has died from Ebola.
  • Touching contaminated objects, like needles.
  • Touching infected animals, their blood or other body fluids, or their meat.

Note: You cannot get Ebola through water, the air, or food.

Community Risk & Hospital Preparedness 

  • The threat of a widespread outbreak of Ebola in the United States is very low. The CDC and the Federal Government are taking many measures to help prevent spread of Ebola in the U.S.
  • Our hospital is committed to protecting the health of our community.
  • We follow infection control procedures as recommended by the CDC and our state health department. Routine infection control procedures that are used to prevent the spread of any viral illness also can control and manage Ebola cases and ensure the safety of other patients in the hospital.
  • While we do not anticipate Ebola impacting our community, out of an abundance of caution, we are taking additional safety precautions.

Read Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Ebola.

Read more about Ebola on the CDC website.

Enterovirus D-68

Enterovirus D-68 (EV-D68) is a type of virus that causes upper respiratory illness. EV-D68 is a non-polio enterovirus. Non-polio enteroviruses are very common viruses, causing 10 to 15 million infections in the U.S. each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Read Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Enterovirus D-68. 


FAQ about Ebola

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What is Ebola?
Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), previously known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is a rare and deadly disease that is native to several African countries. It is caused by infection with Ebola virus, which is contracted through direct contact with a sick personís blood or body fluids, contact with contaminated objects (such as needles), or contact with infected animals.

Who is at risk?
Those at risk for EVD include:

  • People who have resided in or traveled internationally to countries where cases of EVD have been reported (West African countries of Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone):
  • People who have been in close contact with a person who is ill with EVD:
  • People who have handled bats, rodents or primates from areas where EVD transmission is active; and
  • Healthcare workers who have treated patients with EVD.

What are the symptoms?
Symptoms include fever (greater than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit), severe headache, joint and muscle pain, sore throat, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, and unexplained bruising or bleeding. Some patients also experience skin rashes, red eyes and internal bleeding.

When do symptoms appear after infection?
Symptoms can appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after infection. The incubation period for EVD ñ the time from exposure to when signs or symptoms appear -- is usually 8-10 days, but can range from 2-21 days. The risk for transmission is greatest during the later stages of the illness. Ebola can only be transmitted when the ill person has symptoms.

Is there a vaccine for EVD?
No vaccine currently exists for EVD.

However, the Department of Health and Human Services, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are leading the effort to develop and test vaccines and new treatments. Some investigational vaccines have been developed. The NIH recently announced that initial human testing of an investigational vaccine to treat Ebola would begin in September, and a vaccine developed through the U.S. Department of Defense also will start testing in humans later this year.

How is EVD treated?
EVD symptoms are treated with supportive care, including providing intravenous fluids and balancing electrolytes, maintaining oxygen status and blood pressure, and treating other infections that may occur.

What are the potential complications of EVD infection?
Data gathered on patients who have recovered from EVD show long-term complications ranging from joint and muscle pain to vision problems. EVD can potentially be fatal. Recovery depends on early diagnosis, good clinical care, and the patientís immune response. Evidence shows that people who recover from EVD infection develop antibodies that last for at least 10 years.

How can I prevent transmission?
Basic infection control procedures and good hygiene can prevent infection. Just like any other virus, EVD can be prevented by:

  • Avoiding contact with people who are sick or display signs and symptoms that indicate illness, including sharing food, cups or eating utensils;
  • Washing your hands frequently ñ or, if soap and water arenít available, using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol;
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands;
  • Disinfecting your home and belongings regularly; and
  • Covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, using a tissue or your sleeve or elbow (not your hands).
  • An annual flu vaccine can help prevent the flu, making diagnosis of Ebola easier. The flu vaccine is the number one way to prevent the flu.

What procedures is my hospital following to keep patients and the community safe?
Our hospital follows infection control procedures as recommended by the CDC and our state health department. Routine infection control procedures that are used to prevent the spread of any viral illness also can control and manage Ebola cases and ensure the safety of other patients in the hospital.

While we do not anticipate Ebola impacting our community, out of an abundance of caution, we have:

  • Implemented new screening processes to identify patients who have traveled to countries affected by Ebola, or who have had contact with someone who has traveled to those countries;
  • Practiced appropriate isolation procedures in the event a patient presents with symptoms;
  • Evaluated our supply of personal protective equipment (PPE); and
  • Distributed detailed guidance to all hospital staff regarding the appropriate steps to prevent the spread of infection and the proper procedures for handling a patient who has, or is suspected to have, an EVD infection.

Is EVD a threat to my community?
The threat of a widespread outbreak of Ebola in the United States is very low.

Hasn't EVD spread to the United States?
On September 30, 2014, the CDC confirmed the first case of Ebola to be diagnosed in the United States in a person who had traveled from Liberia to Dallas, Texas. The patient had no symptoms when leaving West Africa but developed symptoms approximately four days after arriving in the United States. The patient sought medical care at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas, was evaluated and discharged, and later readmitted and tested for Ebola infection. His diagnosis was confirmed and attempts to control his infection, which was quite progressed, began. He died on October 8.

Two additional secondary cases of EVD were identified when two nurses who cared for the patient at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas developed symptoms. Both nurses were quickly identified and isolated.

In addition, a medical aid worker who volunteered in Guinea, one of the three West African nations experiencing an Ebola epidemic, and since returned to the United States tested positive for Ebola on October 23, according to the New York City Health Department laboratory, which is part of the Laboratory Response Network overseen by the CDC.

The patient has been notified of the test results and remains in isolation at Bellevue Hospital in New York City, one of eight New York State hospitals that has been designated to treat Ebola patients. A specially trained CDC team determined earlier this week that the hospital has been trained in proper protocols and is well prepared to treat Ebola patients.

CDC and public health officials are taking precautions to identify people who had close personal contact with the infected persons.

How can I find out more information?
You may contact the hospital with questions, or talk to your doctor or primary healthcare provider. Our staff has received extensive training and guidance on identifying, managing and treating EVD. You also can visit the CDC Ebola site at www.cdc/gov/ebola, or the World Health Organization (WHO) Ebola virus disease (EVD) site at

Protect Your Health with Preventative Screenings

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We’ve all heard the saying that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. While this idea is relevant to many parts of our lives, it is particularly meaningful to our health. There are many important ways we can prevent health-related problems, including eating right and exercising regularly. One of the most effective ways to protect our health is through regular health screenings.

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Dr. Michelle Seguin is a family medicine provider at the Hancock Family Health Center.

“Regular health screenings and checkups are vital to a healthy lifestyle,” said Michelle Seguin, MD, family medicine physician at Upper Great Lakes Hancock Family Health Center and Portage Health. “By taking a proactive approach to your health that includes yearly screenings, you and your doctor can identify future health risks, such as cancer, heart disease and other underlying issues before they escalate. Screenings also can encourage those who are healthy to continue or improve their habits for better health.”

Today, all health insurance plans cover a range of important preventative health screenings, and covered individuals can receive many regular screenings at little or no cost.

Common recommended screenings for men and women that are covered by all health insurance plans include:

  • Annual Wellness Visit: It is important to see your physician once a year. This visit allows your doctor to check your vitals, such as temperature, blood pressure, and red and white blood cell counts, and monitor your overall health
  • Cardiovascular Screening Blood Tests: Cardiovascular screening tests offer insight on your cholesterol levels, which can help your doctor determine your risk for a heart attack or other heart diseases.
  • Diabetes Screening Test: A diabetes screening test, or blood glucose test, is recommended for anyone over age 45 and should be completed every three years. Glucose levels can indicate if you’re at risk for diabetes.
  • Colorectal Cancer Screening: Beginning at age 50, or earlier if advocated by a physician, a yearly colorectal cancer screening is recommended. Screenings may consist of a colonoscopy, high-sensitivity fecal occult blood testing or a sigmoidoscopy. Each screening tests for precancerous polyps, so they can be removed before becoming cancerous.
  • Screening for Depression: Physicians often use a health questionnaire to help patients describe their emotional status, sleep patterns, appetite and concentration to identify depression. Depression screening is important because studies have shown that depression can negatively impact your overall health and is linked to a range of health concerns including chronic pain.

Additional screenings recommended for women include:

  • Pelvic Examination: Annual pelvic exams can identify a number of health problems in women, including ovarian cysts, sexually transmitted infections, uterine fibroids and early stages of cancer.
  • Pap Tests: Regular pap tests should be performed for women age 21-65. A pap test screens for cervical cancer. The frequency of pap tests should be discussed individually with your doctor.
  • Mammography Screening: Mammograms are x-ray screenings that will identify developing breast changes or cancer. It is recommended that women 40-74 should complete a screening every 1-2 years.
  • Bone Mass Measurements: Bone mass measurements can indicate your risk for osteoporosis by measuring your bone mineral density. It is recommended annually for all women over the age of 65.

An additional test recommended for men:

  • Prostate cancer screening. Prostate cancer screenings may consist of two tests: a digital rectum exam (DRE) and a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test. The DRE can indicate if the size of the prostate and abnormalities, and the PSA test will measure the amount of PSAs in the blood. Higher levels of PSA and large prostates can indicate prostate cancer. These options should be discussed on an individual basis with your doctor

For more information about these screenings and which of them are appropriate for you, please contact Dr. Michelle Seguin’s office at (906) 483-1060 or your primary care provider’s office. If you do not have a primary care provider, call one of the following clinics to make an appointment:

  • Hancock Family Health Center – (906) 483-1060
  • Hancock Family Health Center – Pediatrics – (906) 483-1700
  • Hancock Family Health Center – OB/GYN – (906) 483-1050
  • Houghton Family Health Center – (906) 483-1860
  • Lake Linden Family Health Center – (906) 483-1030
  • Calumet Family Health Center – (906) 483-1177
  • Ontonagon Community Health Center – (906) 884-4120 

Arm Yourself with Annual Immunizations

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Immunizations for all ages 

Back-to-school season is just around the corner, which means haircuts, textbooks, new shoes and clothing — and most importantly, a visit to the doctor for routine immunizations.

Immunizations, or vaccines, help protect your health by building immunity to disease. Some vaccines — such as those received in childhood — are needed only a few times for lifelong protection, and others must be repeated annually to protect against recurring illnesses, such as the flu.

August is National Immunization Awareness Month. Protect yourself and the ones you love by making sure you’re up to speed on the vaccines that you and your family need to stay healthy.

Routine vaccinations

Jaber, Anas Image

Dr. Anas Jaber is a pediatrician at the Hancock Family Health Center - Pediatrics Clinic.

Parents of young children can ask your pediatrician for guidance on the immunizations your child needs from birth to age 18. Your provider will administer the appropriate vaccinations or boosters needed for school and to maintain good health during your child’s annual well-child visit. These vaccinations are based on the guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) or the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and protect against diseases ranging from chickenpox to measles and mumps.

From birth to age 12, your child will receive one or more of the following vaccines:

  • Hepatitis A and B
  • Rotavirus
  • Diphtheria, tetanus, & pertussis (whooping cough) (DTaP)
  • Bacterial meningitis (Hib)
  • Pneumococcal vaccine
  • Polio
  • Flu
  • Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR)
  • Chickenpox (varicella)
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Meningococcal vaccine (meningitis)

“Vaccines help to protect a child as they grow and develop by providing acquired immunity to diseases that could be quite serious and in some cases, deadly,” says Anas Jaber, MD, pediatrician at the Hancock Family Health Center – Pediatrics clinic at Portage Health. “Vaccines prevent a disease from occurring, rather than attempting to treat or cure it once the illness is contracted. I encourage parents to talk with your pediatrician about any questions or concerns and consult reliable resources, such as the AAP or CDC, for information to help make an informed decision.”

The importance of annual immunizations for adults

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Dr. Tim LaBonte is a family medicine provider at the Lake Linden Family Health Center.


Just because you’re not a kid anymore doesn’t mean you don’t need immunizations each year. Vaccines for adults are recommended based on age, prior vaccination history, health, lifestyle, occupation and travel patterns (i.e., outside the United States).

The CDC recommends that all persons aged 6 months or older be vaccinated against the flu annually. It is important to get a flu vaccine every year. Each year the flu virus contains different strains, and each year’s flu vaccine is formulated to protect against the three or four different flu viruses that are expected to be the most common strains circulating during a particular season.

While everyone should receive a flu vaccine, certain individuals should be particularly vigilant, due to increased risk of severe flu complications. This includes young children; pregnant women; healthcare workers; people who suffer from chronic health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, or heart and lung disease; and adults age 65 and older.

The CDC also recommends that all adults over age 60 receive the shingles vaccine.  Shingles — a burning, painful rash and fluid-filled blisters — happens when the chickenpox virus reactivaes, after lying dormant in the body for years after a person has had the chickenpox. The likelihood of developing shingles increases with age, and physical or emotional stress. If you have already had shingles, the vaccine can help prevent a recurrence.

The Pneumococcal vaccine helps prevent the most common cause of pneumonia. This vaccine is recommended every five years in patients under age 65 who are at high risk such those with lung disease (copd, asthma) and other chronic disease (heart disease, diabetes, etc.), and is recommended as a one-time immunization for everyone age 65 and older, regardless of prior vaccine.

“The Influenza and Pneumococcal vaccines are particularly important for older adults, especially those with chronic illness. The vaccines can help prevent potentially severe complications in this at-risk population,” says Tim LaBonte, MD, family medicine provider at the Lake Linden Family Health Center on Bootjack Road.

Should I Be Vaccinated?

Certain health conditions, lifestyle or risk factors can factor into the benefit and timing of vaccination. If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, moderately or severely ill, suffer from a chronic illness or immune system disorder, have severe allergies (including egg allergy), are undergoing cancer treatment, or have previously had a severe reaction to a vaccine, talk with your provider and follow his or her recommendation for immunizations.

For more information, visit, or call your primary care provider. If you do not have a primary care provider, Portage Health and Upper Great Lakes Family Health Centers can help you identify one. Simply call (906) 483-1060.

Beat the Heat - Preventing heat-related illnesses

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Beat the heat banner

Summer is time for fun in the sun, but as the temperatures climb, don’t forget that the heat can be hazardous to your health if you don’t take the necessary precautions. Heat-related illnesses are common during the summer months – especially if you spend a significant amount of time outdoors – and, if not properly managed, can be fatal.

According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, heat-related illnesses cause an average of nearly 620 deaths per year – more deaths annually than tornadoes, floods, earthquakes and hurricanes, combined.  

What are Heat Illnesses?

Heat-related illnesses are caused by prolonged or excessive exposure to high temperatures and dehydration.  Typically, when the body becomes overheated, it cools itself through sweating, but certain conditions can affect our bodies’ capabilities to regulate proper temperature.  A few of these conditions include extreme temperatures, inadequate hydration, high humidity, high blood pressure, sunburn, prescription drug use and alcohol use.

When body fluids are lost through physical exertion and not replaced, it is difficult for the body to cool itself. Dehydration can affect circulation and brain function.  Heat stroke, the most serious form of heat illness, happens after prolonged, intense exposure to extreme heat. The part of the brain that regulates body temperature malfunctions and the body temperature rises rapidly, sometimes as high as 106 degrees or higher. Without prompt treatment, heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability.

Heat exhaustion, a milder heat illness, can develop after several days of exposure to hot weather or inadequate hydration, i.e., working or exercising outside and not drinking sufficient liquids.

Who’s at Risk

People at greatest risk for heat-related illnesses include infants and children up to four years of age, adults age 65 and older, people who are overweight, ill, or on certain medications. Outdoor workers, as well as people on low-sodium diets or those suffering from chronic heart, lung or kidney conditions, are also at increased risk.

If you’re going to be outside, keep cool by drinking plenty of fluids, aiming for 16-32 ounces of liquid per hour. If you aren’t accustomed to being in a hot environment regularly, start slowly and pace yourself – and take regular breaks from the heat indoors or in the shade. Try to avoid being outdoors during the peak hours of heat and sun exposure.

Wearing lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing that breathes, and plenty of sunscreen, also are good preventative measures to avoid heat-related illnesses.

Signs and symptoms:

  • Elevated body temperature
  • Red, hot, dry skin or profuse sweating
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Weakness
  • Confusion, lack of coordination
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Muscle cramps
  • Rapid pulse or heartbeat
  • Seizures


If you notice someone exhibiting signs and symptoms of possible heat stroke, call for medical assistance immediately, and take steps to cool the person experiencing the heat emergency by moving them to a cool, shaded area, and applying cool water to the body by immersing the victim in water, spraying or sponging the skin, or wrapping the person in a cool, wet sheet.  If possible, monitor body temperature and continue cooling efforts until the victim’s temperature dips to 102 or below.

Less severe forms of heat illness, such as heat exhaustion, can be relieved by resting quietly in a cool, shady place, drinking clear juice or a sports beverage.

Hot Tips …on the Go

For more resources about heart-related illnesses, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has released a free mobile app that displays heat index, risks, reminders and protective measures that should be taken at corresponding heat risk levels.  The app can be downloaded in English and Spanish at


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Houghton, MI 49931
(906) 483-1777

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Lake Linden, MI 49945
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