Safety News Feed - LaPorteCountyLife Fri, 03 Jul 2020 21:24:53 +0000 en hourly 1 South Shore Line outlines health and safety protocol for return to normal service Thu, 04 Jun 2020 21:14:14 +0000 South Shore Line CHESTERTON, Ind. – Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, South Shore Line (SSL) has invested a tremendous amount of time and resources into taking enhanced precautions and implementing new procedures for the health and safety of passengers, as well as train personnel. As Chicago begins to open and more commuters and leisure riders return to the train, the SSL intends to further the safety measures being taken through its Sanitized for Rider Safety program, a comprehensive cleaning and health and safety program.

In addition, the SSL continues to require its riders to wear masks at stations and on cars, practice social distancing when possible, and take advantage of sanitization stations in each car. For those riders who choose not to wear a mask, we are offering a “mask-optional” car.

Sanitized for Rider Safety and Recommended Passenger Health and Safety Guidelines

Sanitized for Rider Safety is SSL’s new comprehensive cleaning program, and SSL invites riders to look for the Sanitized for Rider Safety seal in the stations and train cars within the next several weeks. SSL sanitization procedures include disinfecting seats, windows, crash pads, handrails, door handles, headrests, and grab handles. Each train car is mopped with a stringent disinfectant and fogged with disinfectant using state-of-the-art equipment.

SSL recommends the following guidelines for passengers:

  • Utilize hand sanitization stations available in each train car
  • Refrain from congregating in train vestibules
  • Avoid touching your mouth, nose, or eyes while on train
  • Wash hands frequently, and follow CDC recommendations for handwashing
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or the inside of your elbow when you cough or sneeze
  • Respect the personal space of all passengers to the best of your ability
  • Wear a mask or face covering while in stations and while on train (mask-optional train car available for those who are unable to or choose not to wear a mask. Crew will direct passengers to designated train car.)

For more information, please visit

“SSL has always made passenger safety the highest priority of our service. Recent times have caused us to put significant emphasis on one aspect of our service delivery involving the sanitization of our stations and equipment, which we have greatly enhanced. We are also taking added precautions that are designed to limit the spread of COVID-19 or other viruses. We want our riders to know that we have invested in new cleaning and sanitizing equipment and practices, along with hiring additional staff in preparation of returning to our regular schedule, and the return of many of our riders to our system,” said Michael Noland, President of South Shore Line. “We want to see every rider wearing masks, as well as following our recommended health and safety guidelines.”

Return to Regular Service Schedule and Service Alerts

SSL will resume regular service on Monday, June 8, 2020. Updated schedules can be found on SSL’s website at or on the South Shore mobile app. In returning to regular service, SSL is committed to providing riders with clear, timely, and accurate information on the status of train service, including delays or service disruptions. To more efficiently deliver these updates to passengers, SSL has begun offering service alerts in the form of SMS/wireless text messages. Riders wishing to receive service alerts via SMS/Wireless can sign up at For further instructions on how to signup, visit: service-alerts-in-the-form-of-sms-wireless-text-messages-effective-immediately .

In addition to SMS/Wireless text messages, SSL will continue to provide important service updates via email notifications, SSL website homepage ticker, mobile app, station announcements, and social media.

Bikes on Trains

SSL’s Bikes on Trains program will be reinstated on Monday, June 8, 2020, with the return to regular service. Bikes on Trains has expanded to eighteen (18) total weekday trains in 2020 and bike cars are available through October. Bike icons can be found on the SSL timetable next to the specific train times that run cars equipped with bike-racks. Bike-rack equipped train cars are also clearly marked with a bike symbol prominently located on the windows of the car. For more information on bike-friendly train schedules and Bikes on Trains requirements, please visit .

The South Shore Line is a commuter rail line operated by the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD) between Millennium Station in downtown Chicago and the South Bend International Airport in South Bend, Indiana.

South Shore Line outlines health and safety protocol for return to normal service
Outpatient COVID-19 testing site moves to Franciscan Health Michigan City hospital Sat, 30 May 2020 00:24:12 +0000 Franciscan Health Effective Monday, June 1, drive-through pre-surgical and outpatient COVID testing will move from Franciscan Health’s Homer Street campus to the Franciscan Health Michigan City hospital located at 3500 Franciscan Way.

Drive-through testing will take place at the COVID testing trailer, located in the east parking lot closest to the medical office building (Door B). Hours of operation will be 7AM to noon, seven days a week. Patients must have an order from a Franciscan physician or closely aligned physician with hospital privileges. Pre-registration is required by calling (219) 877-1474. Patients must bring their photo identification to the testing site. Testing at the Michigan City site is limited to residents of LaPorte, Porter and Berrien counties.

COVID-19 testing for LaPorte County residents is also available at Michigan City High School. That testing is being contracted through the Indiana State Department of Health. Pre-registration is required by going online at

Outpatient COVID-19 testing site moves to Franciscan Health Michigan City hospital
First responders salute healthcare workers in Dyer and Munster Wed, 22 Apr 2020 13:54:21 +0000 Franciscan Health | First responders from Northwest Indiana and neighboring Illinois brought dozens of emergency vehicles to Franciscan Health hospitals in Munster and Dyer on Sunday evening to thank healthcare workers on the frontlines of the battle against COVID-19.

The parade of law enforcement and firefighters began at Community Hospital in Munster before proceeding on to Franciscan Health facilities. Healthcare workers greeted the visiting first responders with their own messages of gratitude.

Maria Carrizales, nurse manager at Franciscan Health Dyer, said the parade was “right on time” for her staff members, who were psychologically and physically tired from the work to care for patients. “They truly felt honored and special, mostly because someone took the time to organize such a wonderful event. It was truly phenomenal. The staff said they felt like royalty,” she said.

Lindsay Darchuck, a nurse at Franciscan Health Dyer, said, “Lately, work has been mentally and emotionally exhausting. Seeing all those squad cars, fire engines and ambulances pouring into our parking lot was overwhelming. It was a morale boost that many of us needed.”

First responders salute healthcare workers in Dyer and Munster
Paladin offers more than transportation with their non-emergency bus service Fri, 20 Mar 2020 10:00:37 +0000 Beth Ireland Margaret Espar boards a Paladin, Inc. non-emergency transportation bus, ready to be safely taken to her medical appointment. As she gets onto the bus, she sees a familiar face, her former coworker and friend, Patricia Finney. They lost touch a while ago. Who knew that a simple thing, such as using Paladin, Inc. to get to medical appointments, would rekindle a friendship? Since 2014, Paladin has been offering non-emergency transportation services to residents like Espar and Finney, allowing them to have access to the care they need and a sense of independence. ​

“We provide transportation to medical appointments for people who are over 60 and/or medically fragile. This includes rides to pick up prescriptions, and as our schedule allows, we are able to help with trips to the grocery store or food pantry. Many of our clients receive several rides each week to dialysis or cancer treatments on a long term basis,”  said Mari Chapala, Corporate Compliance Officer with Paladin, Inc.

Paladin Michigan City

And sometimes, friendships are made, especially with the drivers who connect with the patients so frequently throughout the week. 

“It’s amazing that they look forward to seeing us and even if they’re having a bad day, they reward us with smiles. They see us as a part of their lives and sometimes even as a family,” said Brett Demorrow, who has been a transportation driver at Paladin for about a year.

Demorrow recently was recognized at a February Michigan City Board of Public works meeting for helping the fire department with a call to Imagination Station, which speaks to his dedication to patrons and his community. 

Quality transportation, especially for those 60 and older is a growing need. 

Paladin Michigan City

“REAL Services conducts a needs assessment for older adults on a yearly basis and transportation has been identified as one of the top needs in older adults. What Paladin does is just extremely important,” said Jen Wozniak, Director of Special Projects at REAL Services, who provides Paladin with Title 3b funding to help run the transportation services. “Our goal is to help older adults remain in their own home for as long as possible and to maintain their independence. This service is invaluable for that as it enables clients to attend their medical appointments and provides transportation for other essential needs, such as grocery shopping.” 

For some La Porte County residents, this service is vital.

“Helping those people who need transportation to get better, it feels like they might not have gotten better without us transporting them for their treatments,” Demorrow said. “When you see a client get better and start to feel better, the life that they get back, they’re so appreciative and tell us that they’re blessed to have us. It’s amazing to see.”

Paladin Michigan City

Local health organizations know that they can depend on Paladin, Inc.’s non-emergency transportation services for patients who need continued healthcare, which helps the patient stay out of the hospital.

“Transportation challenges are becoming a growing concern in the community. Without transportation to follow-up appointments and required medical services, patients are at risk of readmission to the hospital, inability to have medical needs addressed leading to further decompensation of acute and/or chronic conditions and increased use of the emergency department and medical services,” said Jill Nygren, Vice President of Clinical Support Services for Franciscan Health Michigan City. “The services Paladin offers are very beneficial. Paladin remains proactive in looking at the growing needs and concerns within our community.”

Local organizations offer financial support for the program through grants. Organizations such as REAL Services, ​Franciscan Health, the Michigan City Community Enrichment Corporation, and the Healthcare Foundation of La Porte are just a few of the organizations whose continued support provides the necessary transportation services.

Paladin Michigan City

“What Paladin provides as far as transportation is invaluable. We must maintain some type of choice or option for people to get to their medical services. It is an essential service to our community.” said Maria Fruth, President, and CEO of the Healthcare Foundation of La Porte.

“We want to help people in any way that we can. Without this service, the people who most need it wouldn’t have door-to-door transportation services. They depend on Paladin, to know that they can get to the doctor appointments they need to,” said Susan Webster, Executive Administrator and board member of Michigan City Community Enrichment Corporation.

Paladin, Inc.’s overarching goal is to provide quality care to all they serve, and their non-emergency transportation services are one more way they can help their community.

“Paladin is committed to building people up, especially in their time of need. Our staff is dedicated and creative, striving to do the best we can for those reaching out to us for help,” Chapala said.

Paladin Michigan City

“People see a Paladin van and know that we’re here to help,” Demorrow said, “It’s great that people can see us and know that we’re here to help everybody.” 

Espar and Finney are grateful for the opportunity to reconnect and for the quality care and services they receive from the top-notch team at Paladin, Inc.

“I would love to give a glowing review for Paladin. It’s a wonderful service for the elderly. The drivers are great, compassionate and very helpful. They always come to my door and help me down my ramp. It’s a wonderful organization, and I wouldn’t know what to do without them!” Espar said.

“I wouldn’t know what to do without this service. The drivers are always courteous and helpful. They always pick me up and take me to my doctor’s appointments without any issues. Paladin drivers are always on time. I feel safe when I’m with a Paladin driver,” Finney added.

Paladin offers more than transportation with their non-emergency bus service
Horizon Bank puts Safety First to Assist in the Effort to Reduce the Spread of Covid-19 – Lobbies Open by Appointment Only Thu, 19 Mar 2020 14:29:11 +0000 Horizon Bank Michigan City IN – Effective Thursday, March 19th the lobbies of all Horizon Bank locations throughout Indiana and Michigan will be open by appointment only.  The bank’s drive up, ATM, and Live Video Banking facilities will remain open and hours of operation will remain unchanged at this time. In addition, all offices and departments will be staffed and available to assist you by telephone.

 “At Horizon, there is nothing more important to us than the safety and well-being of our customers, employees and communities we serve. We have announced the temporary measure of having our lobbies open by appointment only to do all that we can to ensure a safe environment while serving the financial needs of our customers and community.  As we face the unknown impact of the COVID-19 virus, we continue to monitor the situation from credible sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the state and local public health authorities,” stated Craig Dwight

The bank encourages customers to call their local branch to schedule an appointment during normal business hours.  In addition, Horizon is encouraging customers to bank from home using many alternative banking options available such as: online and mobile banking, Bank by Telephone, Call Center 888-873-2640, ATM’s, Live Video Banking or by calling our offices direct.

Horizon will continue to update customers and communities as this situation changes and have created a dedicated web page on where you will find important updates, ways to bank remotely, helpful resources and any changes to branch hours or services at:

About Horizon Bancorp, Inc.

Horizon Bancorp, Inc. is an independent, commercial bank holding company serving Indiana and Michigan through its commercial banking subsidiary, Horizon Bank. Horizon Bancorp, Inc. may be reached online at Its common stock is traded on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol HBNC.

Horizon Bank puts Safety First to Assist in the Effort to Reduce the Spread of Covid-19 – Lobbies Open by Appointment Only
Blow Away Breast Cancer ceremony at La Porte Hospital highlights importance of screening mammograms, early detection Thu, 10 Oct 2019 20:33:46 +0000 Sarah Corn Two-time breast cancer survivor Debbie Smiertelny was first diagnosed with the disease in the 1980s, at the age of 23. As a new wife and mother to two young children, her prognosis terrified her.

Bravely, she faced a mastectomy and chemotherapy, emerging victorious into remission. When the cancer returned 20 years later, she was no less terrified, but she and her doctor had caught it early enough that she beat it once again.

“Early detection saved my life twice,” Smiertelny said to those taking part in La Porte Hospital’s Blow Away Breast Cancer ceremony Thursday morning. It is the second annual event at the hospital.

“One of the biggest reasons we hold this ceremony is to remind women of the importance of early detection and getting their annual screening mammogram. The earlier breast cancer is detected, the more likely it is to be cured,” said Kelly Credit, Regional Director of Marketing and Communications for La Porte Hospital.

During the ceremony, La Porte Hospital CEO Ashley Dickinson read a proclamation declaring the hospital’s dedication to breast cancer education, treatment, and support, as a bright pink Breast Cancer Awareness Month flag rose behind her.

Breast Cancer Awareness Ceremony 2019

Breast Cancer Awareness Ceremony 2019 26 Photos
Breast Cancer Awareness Ceremony 2019Breast Cancer Awareness Ceremony 2019Breast Cancer Awareness Ceremony 2019Breast Cancer Awareness Ceremony 2019

“It’s all about creating awareness and honoring survivors and those currently battling breast cancer,” Dickinson said. “Breast cancer is one of those diseases that touches everyone. I think it’s very important that we recognize the community and our patients in this way.”

She then followed participants to the hospital’s front garden, where they planted bright pink pinwheels to symbolize the blowing away of breast cancer through regular annual screening and monthly self-examinations. 

While most insurance policies now cover annual breast screening mammograms for women, exam costs and follow up treatment can still be a barrier for many. For this reason, the Healthcare Foundation of La Porte (HFL) offers a voucher program for women in LaPorte County struggling to afford screenings.

HFL’s program covers both screening and diagnostic mammography services for uninsured or underinsured county residents who are at least 40 years of age or meet American Cancer Society High-Risk criteria. 

Dr. Krishna Pillai, medical director of Women’s Imaging at La Porte Hospital, spoke about the vital role education and annual screening mammograms play in the early detection and successful treatment of breast cancer.

“Raising awareness is fantastic because some people don’t know about screening mammography, some people do know but may have misconceptions, and some people love to talk about it. Events like Blow Away Breast Cancer create a forum and opportunity for all those people to come together,” Dr. Pillai said.

Today, as the Clinical Research Coordinator of Oncology Services for La Porte Hospital, Smiertelny definitely falls into the latter category. She splits her time between community outreach and education and helping cancer patients process their diagnosis and treatments.

She understands well how much impact sharing her experience can have on those facing the same battles she has now won twice.

“There’s one common thread here— if you haven’t gone through it, you can’t speak to it,” Smiertelny said. “If at the end of the day I’ve seen one woman’s eyes light up when I tell her that I’ve survived cancer twice and she understands she can do this, it makes everything worthwhile.”

For complete information about the HFL voucher program visit the foundation’s website at, or call (219) 326-2471.

If you or someone you know in LaPorte County is in need of a screening mammogram, contact La Porte Hospital at (219) 326-2444 to schedule an appointment, or visit their website:

Blow Away Breast Cancer ceremony at La Porte Hospital highlights importance of screening mammograms, early detection
Breast Cancer Awareness Ceremony 2019 Thu, 10 Oct 2019 20:29:12 +0000 Sarah Corn Breast Cancer Awareness Ceremony 2019 Hot weather tips from the American Heart Association Tue, 23 Jul 2019 14:41:12 +0000 American Heart Association With much of the nation facing a heat advisory this weekend, the American Heart Association, the world’s leading nonprofit organization focused on heart and brain health for all, is urging people to take precautions to protect their hearts.
Hot temperatures and high humidity can cause a dangerous heat index that can be hard on the heart. Dehydration causes the heart to work harder, putting it at risk. Hydration helps the heart more easily pump blood through the blood vessels to the muscles. And, it helps the muscles work efficiently.

“If you’re a heart patient, older than 50 or overweight, you might need to take special precautions in the heat,” according to Robert A. Harrington, M.D., FAHA, president of the American Heart Association and the Arthur L. Bloomfield professor of medicine and chair of the Department of Medicine at Stanford University.

“Certain heart medications like angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, beta blockers, calcium channel blockers and diuretics, which deplete the body of sodium, can exaggerate the body’s response to heat and cause you to feel ill in extreme heat,” said Harrington.

But Harrington points out that it’s important to keep taking your medications —and taking them when you’re supposed to. Talk to your doctor about any concerns.

Even people who are not on medications need to take precautions in the heat. While infants and the elderly are more vulnerable to problems from heat, extreme temperatures can cause health issues for anyone.

“It is easy to get dehydrated as you may not be aware that you’re thirsty,” Harrington said. “If you’re going to be outside, it’s important to drink water even if you don’t think you need it. Drink water before, during and after going outside in hot weather.” 

The American Heart Association suggests that everyone take hot weather precautions:

  • Watch the clock: It’s best to avoid the outdoors in the early afternoon (about noon to 3 p.m.) because the sun is usually at its strongest, putting you at higher risk for heat-related illnesses.
  • Get off on the right foot: You probably sweat the most in your shoes, so choose well-ventilated shoes and look for socks that repel perspiration. Foot powders and antiperspirants can also help with sweat.
  • Dress for the heat: Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing in breathable fabrics such as cotton, or a newer fabric that repels sweat. Add a hat and sunglasses. Before you get started, apply a water-resistant sunscreen with at least SPF 15, and reapply it every two hours.
  • Drink up: Stay hydrated by drinking a few cups of water before, during and after your exercise. Avoid caffeinated or alcoholic beverages.
  • Take regular breaks: Find some shade or a cool place, stop for a few minutes, hydrate and start again
  • Follow the doctor’s orders: Continue to take all medications as prescribed. If you are a heart patient, over the age of 50, overweight or just starting an exercise program, be sure to check with your doctor for your best exercise routine.

It’s important to know the signs and symptoms when you may be experiencing too much heat.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion:

  • headaches
  • heavy sweating
  • cold, moist skin, chills
  • dizziness or fainting (syncope)
  • a weak and rapid pulse
  • muscle cramps
  • fast, shallow breathing
  • nausea, vomiting or both

If you experience these symptoms, move to a cooler place, stop exercising and cool down immediately by dousing yourself with cold water and re-hydrating. You may need to seek medical attention.

Symptoms of heat stroke:

  • warm, dry skin with no sweating
  • strong and rapid pulse
  • confusion and/or unconsciousness
  • high fever
  • throbbing headaches
  • nausea, vomiting or both

If you experience these symptoms, seek medical attention right away. Heat stroke is not the same as a stroke. Stroke happens when a blood vessel to the brain either bursts or is blocked by a clot, causing a decrease in oxygen flow to the brain.

Additional Resources:

Hot weather tips from the American Heart Association
NorthShore Health Centers Offers Lifesaving CPR Classes Wed, 03 Oct 2018 05:31:08 +0000 Mandy Haack NorthShore Health Centers invites you to join them for an intensive educational Family and Friends CPR Class. The community education class will provide the knowledge and practice to possibly save a life.

The program will provide lifesaving CPR skills, such as how to assist a choking victim or how to use an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) device. The program will be primarily focused on hands only CPR.

Glenn Schultz of NorthShore Health Centers spoke about the importance of CPR Education for adults and especially children.

“I think that [CPR education] is something that the youth should learn as early as possible,” Schultz said.

The American Heart Association reveal a statistic that approximately 70% of all cardiac arrests happen in the home, but only 45% of those get the necessary help they need immediately. Knowing CPR can assist in the home setting as well as out in the community to a person in need.

The program is designed to cover all levels of CPR and choking assistance methods to different age groups, from infants and children to adults.

“The program focuses on hands only CPR, and doesn’t touch on Rescue Breathing. It will include hands-on practice with a CPR mannequin following an instructional video,” Schultz said.

Schultz notes that certification is only really necessary if it is required for a job or school.

“The skill is the skill. This is a free class that teaches those skills. Even though CPR is no guarantee that someone will survive an unfortunate event, it could give anyone a good chance at surviving,” Schultz said. “Things happen unexpectedly, and being able to provide help quickly is necessary.”

Family and Friends CPR Classes are already full for the month of October; however, there are still slots for the November 8 session from 10am-12pm. RSVP by calling Glenn at (219)-763-8112 Ext: 5151. For more information about what North Shore Health Centers offer visit

NorthShore Health Centers Offers Lifesaving CPR Classes
Community Healthcare System Treats the Athlete in All Through Sports Medicine Program Wed, 15 Aug 2018 19:09:48 +0000 Jennifer Bissonnette Those with an active lifestyle or have children involved in athletic programs know the risks involved with sports and strenuous movement. Avoiding all the risks isn’t an option, but being prepared is when a problem arises. That’s why Community Healthcare System has an amazing group of athletic trainers involved in their Sports Medicine program who are dedicated to treating the athlete in everyone!

The program employs licensed athletic trainers to help provide preventative services, immediate care and therapeutic intervention for sports-related injuries. Furthermore, they work on-site with local middle and high school athletes to help evaluate injuries immediately and respond accordingly.

“We provide athletic training services for approximately 22 different institutions throughout Lake County and Porter County,” said Patrick Ohaver, Head Athletic Trainer at Highland High School and Supervisor of Athletic Training Services. “We help provide a safe environment for competition and practice, and quickly assess and triage injuries that may happen or could potentially happen.”

Mary Spina, Head Athletic Trainer at Munster High School and Concussion Clinic Supervisor, detailed the importance of their roles.

“The athletic trainers act as a liaison between the athlete and the team physicians and coaches, athletes and school personnel,” Spina said. “Athletic trainers are at the center of all communication about the athlete’s care with all pertinent parties. We find joy in seeing athletes overcome their injuries and have success again.”

Athletic trainers also work with other local teams in Northwest Indiana including Calumet College of St. Joseph and Purdue University Northwest. Their services provide valuable assistance and require a great amount of dedication and passion.

“Fall is the busiest time of the year for us,” Ohaver said. “Many of us work evenings and some of us work seven days a week during that time of the year.”

On the Neuroscience side of Community Healthcare System’s Sports Medicine Program, the concussion clinics are dedicated to helping athletes recover to their fullest. After a concussion, quick care and adequate time to heal are incredibly important. Community Healthcare System’s Sports Medicine group, located in the new Neuroscience and Sports Medicine building in Schererville, works to help all patients, whether athletes or not, recover from their injuries and return to their daily activities as soon as possible. Physicians and athletic trainers also work collaboratively with primary care physicians to be sure treatment remains until the patient is fully healed. 

“As athletic trainers, we receive a lot of concussion education in our athletic training curriculum and on-the-job training,” Spina said. “We also do a great deal of required continuing education.”

“Every two years, we have to submit continuing education credits and we’re always learning more techniques or evaluation skills,” said Ohaver.

With sports being so popular among those both young and old, having a dedicated program available to treat them is of the utmost importance. Community Healthcare System is stepping into this role and helping ensure that the Region can keep on moving!

For more information on Community Healthcare System and their Sports Medicine program, visit them here!

Community Healthcare System Treats the Athlete in All Through Sports Medicine Program