The novel H1N1 influenza virus, first called swine flu, seized the public’s attention in early May. Here in the Inland Northwest, a Kootenai County woman was Idaho’s first confirmed case, and residents immediately flocked to local stores for protective facemasks and hand sanitizer. Some people stocked up on food and water so they could stay home if the virus permeated the area. Spokane’s first cases were a father and child, and parents feared the virus would spread. They worried about their children and the possibility schools would close, as they had in many states to prevent spread of the virus. Families panic-planned what to do with their kids if schools closed for an extended time but their workplaces remained open.
It's no picnic traveling through life with malfunctioning ears. John Centa knows. For more than half a century, Centa has strained to hear his friends' jokes, theater productions, even his church pastor. But Centa, 88, is not a man to struggle needlessly. He found plenty of devices to help him hear, and for the past 25 years he's tried his best to spread the word about helpful technology to the hearing-impaired population. But, to his frustration, many people in that group aren't listening.
The ballpoint pens and lists of scribbled names that Tony Stewart collected over 35 years may seem like worthless mementos to some. But those items are part of a priceless collection that could serve as the foundation for human rights task forces everywhere. "I have an incredible amount of materials, and I'm the only one who has them," Stewart says. "Recording history is so important. So many things happen that are of significance that are totally lost."
Sarah Knott tried to ignore the security fencing surrounding Kootenai County's Juvenile Detention Center as she headed to her first meeting with Julie. Julie, 16, was a juvenile offender, a drug abuser. As a juvenile, her identity is protected by the judicial system. "It was a great place to begin our relationship," Knott says, thinking back to that first meeting about two years ago. "She was very vulnerable at the time, away from her family, broken, no access to the coping tools she'd normally use." Knott, then 25, was Julie's lifeline. Knott was a volunteer mentor with Juvenile Probation. It was her job to befriend Julie and serve as a role model and a trusted adult. Knott had no intention of grilling Julie about the crimes that had landed her in detention.
Emily Evans wants the man who hit her head-on with his car July 2 to know that he nearly left her two children orphans. "He took my entire summer away from me with my kids," said Evans, a 27-year-old single mother in Post Falls. "I couldn't walk, cook for myself. It upsets me that someone could be that stupid to drink and get behind the wheel of a car."
BONNERS FERRY, Idaho – So many patients flock to Boundary Community Health Center for medical care that the federally funded clinic is bursting at the seams. "We are tripping over each other at this point," Andrew Bolton, center executive director, said Wednesday. "We would serve more people now, but the physical facility is too limited."
Advocates of safer child care are doing some more groundwork before they return to the Legislature in 2006 with their second plea for statewide licensing of child-care businesses. The Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children has distributed an electronic survey statewide to learn what residents believe is important in child care.
Patients at Kootenai Medical Center are getting more specialized care since the hospital opened its Heart Center nearly two years ago. Job opportunities are the result. The hospital needs respiratory therapists and needs them soon, said Mike Blee, KMC's director of cardio-pulmonary services. He's seeking applicants now for four new respiratory therapist positions.
SANDPOINT – Little daunts Ted Loman. An industrial accident blinded him in 1989 at age 39, but Loman wasted no time finding a new career. He placed his gregarious personality in front of television cameras for 12 years as the host of a cable-access show on UFOs. He's hitchhiked thousands of miles, mined gold in Mexico, tried marriage three times and last week swam from one end of Sandpoint's Long Bridge to the other – 1.76 miles – passing more than 50 sighted swimmers along the way.
Health care is available to Kootenai County's poorest people this summer and fall thanks to a group of women who dine on gourmet food, read voraciously and grow prize peonies. Three C's – Cancer and Community Charities – raised $54,150 in the past year and will distribute the entire amount on Wednesday to 20 local nonprofit organizations. Nearly all of the 600 Three C's members are women, and they raise much of their money by charging dues to participate in activities such as gourmet cooking, bridge and choral singing.
There are tricks to roasting red peppers and tomatoes that magnify their flavors without cremating them, and guest chefs will teach those secrets eventually at the Kootenai County Farmers' Market. But first the nonprofit market needs to raise enough money to enable its visiting chefs to cook safely.
Linda Heller peered at the curious totem with a sharp bird's beak on the bottom and a grizzly bear's head on top. "I have to have it," she said, leaning closer to study the creative paint job. "I really like the totem stuff. I'm going to take it."
The Rosalie Willis signing books at Wal-Mart in Post Falls last week looked much older than 7, the age she often pins on herself. She wasn't trying to fool anyone. Willis' driver's license says she's 62, but she believes life began anew for her seven years ago after doctors jolted her back to life three times on the operating table.
The rapidly rising cost of health care has made Benewah County one of Idaho's neediest counties, as measured by money received from the Department of Health and Welfare. Benewah ranked fourth out of 44 counties for 2004 per capita spending by Health and Welfare. It had ranked 14th in 2003.
With her warm smile and magazine model looks, Johnna Wells most likely could sell anyone anything. When Wells, 27, added her brains and inherited talent to the mix, she earned international honors for her salesmanship. On July 22, she won the women's division of the International Auctioneers Championship in Pittsburgh. The auction world's most prestigious affair, the championship awards winners $10,000, a larger-than-life trophy and the job of representing the National Auctioneers Association throughout the world for a year.
SANDPOINT – The roof trusses at Bonner County's Probation Services stymied juvenile offender John Huckabee. Huckabee, a chronic probation violator finally sentenced to 180 days in detention, had to figure out how to secure the trusses in the expansion he's helping to build. But the numbers confused the 17-year-old.
The state is threatening to yank the licenses of two Coeur d'Alene nursing homes at the end of the year for failing to protect residents from accidents, care properly for wounds, provide enough nursing services, adequately train their staffs and more. But Life Care of Coeur d'Alene and Pinewood Care Center have submitted plans, as required, to correct problems, said Tom Shanahan, spokesman for the state Department of Health and Welfare's Bureau of Facilities Standards.
SANDPOINT – Three nurses fired from Bonner General Hospital's maternity unit picketed the hospital's entrance Tuesday, but the hospital administration was unmoved by the display. "There are no reinstatement activities being discussed," said Sue Fox, Bonner General's public information officer. "It comes down to a difference of philosophies."
WALLACE – Recreational all-terrain-vehicle riders, law enforcement and state Fish and Game officers combed Shoshone County's woods Friday in search of John Rollins Tuggle, 37, who allegedly knifed his daughter and left her to die near a mountain road on Wednesday. But Tuggle remained on the run. A $10 million warrant for his arrest was issued Thursday.
The new ground-level apartment complex overlooking Plummer's rolling hills is open to a select group only. But no one is complaining. The 20 apartments with vaulted ceilings, wide doorways, picture windows and a communal dining room for potlucks and parties are for the Coeur d'Alene Tribe's oldest members.
Coeur d'Alene's Women's Center and St. Vincent de Paul Society are celebrating thousands of unexpected dollars in their budgets this summer thanks to Ironman Coeur d'Alene competitors. Sixty-three of this year's 1,761 Ironman Coeur d'Alene participants raised more than $559,000 for nonprofit organizations across the nation at the grueling June 26 race in which competitors swam 2.4 miles, biked 112 miles, then ran 26.2 miles. Those 63 triathletes participated in the Janus Charity Challenge, a fund-raising competition for Ironman participants offered by financial asset managing company Janus Capital Group in Denver.
Jill Jurvelin's parents had lived in their downtown Coeur d'Alene home for 50 years before the stairs, yard and laundry facilities in the basement began to challenge their 80-plus-year-old bodies. Jurvelin's parents had aged well. Her dad, C.J. Hamilton, who died this year, biked and swam regularly into his 80s. Still, the Hamiltons knew a home on a single floor made more sense for them, so they planned a move in 1999 into a condominium overlooking Lake Coeur d'Alene.
In case of emergency, head to Idaho. According to the National Association of County and City Health Officials, Idaho is the only state in the nation prepared from border to border to respond to natural or planned disasters. NACCHO honored 15 public health agencies across the nation Wednesday, declaring them Public Health Ready. Eight agencies serve portions of eight different states, but seven are Idaho's public health districts, which serve the entire state. Among those seven Idaho agencies is North Idaho's Panhandle Health District.