Author: Amy Speed

Guttenberg Municipal Hospital & Clinics is upgrading its CT system with innovative AI-assisted technologies of the Canon Aquilion Prime SP. Installation of the new CT system will begin the week of December 11. While the CT room is prepped for installation, a mobile CT unit will be placed outside GMHC’s Imaging Department on November 28 and will remain there until installation is complete.

Upon completion of the installation, GMHC Imaging staff will be trained on the Aquilion Prime SP with tentative removal of the mobile CT unit on December 19.

The improved diagnostic capabilities of the Canon Aquilion Prime SP CT system will allow even challenging cases, from pediatric to bariatric and beyond, to benefit from world-class images reconstructed at high speed with the latest Deep Learning innovation.

The Advanced intelligent Clear-IQ Engine (AiCE) – AiCE is an innovative approach to CT reconstruction that uses Deep Learning technology in the Aquilion Prime SP system that reduces noise, boosts signal to deliver sharp, clear and distinct images across many body regions at the optimized dose for every patient.

The updated CT System will allow the Imaging Department at GMHC to better serve patients, more quickly and quietly, from the youngest to the largest, with confident diagnostic image quality.

In April, the Guttenberg Municipal Hospital & Clinics’ Auxiliary celebrated its 70th Anniversary at a Volunteer Luncheon at GMHC. For 70 years, the GMHC Auxiliary has supported the hospital in achieving its vision of transforming the health and wellness of the communities we serve with personalized and convenient care. Auxiliary members volunteer in the GMHC Gift Shop and help with fundraising activities. Our auxiliary is invaluable to GMHC, purchasing equipment for GMHC with fundraising funds and supporting the community.

  • Awarding three $500 scholarships each year to GMHC employees or community members who wish to continue their education or start a new career in health care
  • Supporting Red Ribbon Week at local schools
  • Easter Basket sales
  • Christmas Cookie Walk
  • Monthly Walking Tacos fundraiser for GMHC staff

In 2023, the Auxiliary supported the hospital and community by donating the following:  Wheelchair Scale ($2608), Four Healthcare Scholarships ($2000), PICC / IV Training Arm ($3110), Red Ribbon Week ($400), Shepherd of the Hills ($400), Charge Nurse Leadership Course ($638) and an ECG Simulator ($912), for a total of $10,068.


The Auxiliary continues to be successful with the help of its members. Membership dues are $10 annually and open to all interested adults who want to volunteer their time and talents as much or as little as their time allows. Whether you are a crafter, a baker, or you just enjoy people and would like to work in the Gift Shop or help in any way possible, the Auxiliary needs you. Meetings are held the fourth Tuesday of each month at 1:30 p.m. in the GMHC Education Center and attendance is optional.

Cookie Walk Dec. 1 & 2

The Auxiliary Cookie Walk is on Fri., Dec. 1, from 10 am–3 pm, and Sat., Dec. 2, from 9 am–11 am. Besides a large variety of cookies, there will be many beautiful and delicious items including pies, cakes, breads, muffins, jams, jellies and candy. The Gift Shop will be open and will feature gifts, decorations and many stocking stuffers. Donations of baked goods can be delivered to the GMHC Education Center on Friday, Dec. 1. If you would like to volunteer to help at the Cookie Walk, call or stop by the Gift Shop to sign up.

As part of National Rural Health Day, Guttenberg Municipal Hospital & Clinics today announced it has been recognized with a 2023 Performance Leadership Award for excellence in Patient Perspective. Compiled by the Chartis Center for Rural Health, the Performance Leadership Awards honor top quartile performance (i.e., 75th percentile or above) among rural hospitals in Quality, Outcomes and/or Patient Perspective.

“We continue to receive awards for the care our patients experience here at Guttenberg Municipal Hospital & Clinics. This speaks volumes to the quality of professional staff on our team. We couldn’t be more proud to be here for the communities we serve,” said Tim Ahlers, FACHE, CEO.

The Performance Leadership Awards are based on the results of the Chartis Rural Hospital Performance INDEX®, the industry’s most comprehensive and objective assessment of rural hospital performance. INDEX data is relied upon by rural hospitals, health systems with rural footprints, hospital associations and state offices of rural health around the country to measure and monitor performance across several areas impacting hospital operations and finance.

“Wherever we go in rural America, we witness first-hand the commitment, determination, and compassion with which rural hospitals serve their communities. Rural healthcare truly is mission-driven,” said Michael Topchik, National Leader, The Chartis Center for Rural Health. “This National Rural Health Day, let us recognize the efforts of this year’s Performance Leadership Award winners and all those driven to deliver high quality care throughout rural communities.”

Guttenberg Municipal Hospital & Clinics (GMHC) has been a committed member of the Guttenberg community since its founding more than 60 years ago. A Critical Access Hospital, licensed to deliver acute, skilled, observation and hospice inpatient care, the 25-bed hospital offers a wide range of services to help the community live healthier. GMHC provides primary medical care for patients of all ages through Cornerstone Family Practice with clinics in Guttenberg, Edgewood and Garnavillo. GMHC operates the community ambulance service and supports area trauma care via a state-certified Level IV Community Trauma Center. The Family Resource Center is an extension of GMHC and offers a variety of services to increase access to health and human services for families.

“Guttenberg,” Cathy said without hesitation to the paramedics. It was an easy decision. Her doctors were there, and she was already familiar with the quality care she would receive there. 

It was a very rainy morning on April 22, 2022, when Cathy Wiskus stopped on the way to work for gas in New Vienna. She was walking to the entrance of the store to pay when an SUV hit her on the right side of her body. She recalled being up in the air for a bit before landing on her left side, and noticing that her leg had flopped over. She couldn’t move it. Several people came to attend to her needs, cover her with a coat and call 911. The ambulance quickly arrived, and she was on her way to her requested hospital, Guttenberg Municipal Hospital. 

The accident happened near the end of COVID, when getting a hospital to take on new patients was very difficult. Cathy stayed in the ER at GMHC for most of the day as staff made her as comfortable as possible with a broken femur until they could get her transferred. Finally, she was accepted at the University of Iowa and was transferred there promptly.

Surgery was postponed for four days because the break in her femur was at a difficult angle. The surgeon decided to put in a plate and two screws instead of a rod. Soon after the surgery at UI, physical therapy was started so Cathy could keep active, but not a lot could be done yet with the injured leg.

Shortly after the surgery, she was given the good news that she could return to GMHC, but after testing positive for COVID, the trip would have to wait. What might have been a shorter stay at the U of I turned into a much longer one. Visitors were limited to one per day at that time, so her husband and son had to decide who could see her, and with limited visitors, it was a long and tough stay for Cathy. Her friends helped lift her spirits with frequent calls to check on her progress.

After returning to GMHC as an inpatient for skilled care and seeing her primary care provider, Dr. McCaw, Cathy told him how much she missed the special care that GMHC delivers. “I don’t know where I would be if I couldn’t have received that care here, close to home, from people I know,” she explained, “It was hard being in a big hospital away from family during that time.” He answered Cathy with, “Sometimes a big hospital can do what a little hospital can’t, and other times a little hospital can do what a big hospital can’t.”  

On Mother’s Day, Cathy was still in quarantine, and was worried what kind of day she would have. The nurses were still able to make it a special Mother’s Day for her. “And Lynn, the social worker called me every day in my room to see how I was doing. She couldn’t always come in because of visiting restrictions, but she at least always called.” Cathy added.

Physical Therapy was started when Cathy was in skilled care on the patient care unit, and the realization that it would be a long road to walking again sometimes got her down. But the therapists knew how to keep the mood light while still requiring the needed work of rehabilitation. One day when she looked out the window and saw someone walking across the parking lot, Cathy was especially emotional because at the time, that seemed so out of reach for her. Amber, her Physical Therapist Assistant for the day, reminded her that she would get there one day, too, but she would have to go through the small steps to reach that goal. She told Cathy, “Right now, this is part of your journey, and some day you will be able to reflect on it with more understanding.”

A while later, while working with Physical Therapy Assistant, Sydney, Cathy was asked to walk through the parallel bars without holding them, and when she reached the end, Sydney said, “Keep going and walk alone!” Cathy commented, “She gave me confidence and knew how to make me feel good. Really, the people here have hearts of gold.”

Released from skilled care, Cathy returned to her home in Colesburg in June. Occupational Therapist, Karla, and Amber, PT Assistant, went along to make the home as accessible and safe as they could for Cathy. The ramp was a little hard to navigate with her walker, so a friend lent them a wheelchair so she could be at home to recover.

Sometimes, doing her therapy at home was difficult, just like it could be when she was working with the Physical Therapists, but Cathy’s husband helped her stay motivated so she could reach her goals. During this period of rehab, she had one long-distance visit via the computer with her surgeon in Iowa City. In December, she had an in-person visit with him and he said that she wouldn’t need to come back. He was pleasantly surprised at how well and completely the bone had healed.

Cathy has returned to work and other normal activities with only a lifting pound restriction. She tells others about the care she receives at GMHC, adding, “Everyone knows how I feel about GMHC, because I am always talking about it, and recommending it to others. GMHC is my go-to place for local healthcare!”

“I hadn’t really tried anything for the pain,” she replied. “I was just living with it.”

In November 2022, Judi Althoff, Surgery Receptionist at GMHC, had been experiencing pain in her lower back that just seemed to come out of nowhere. It was a very debilitating pain that caused her to have to get ‘psyched up’ just to get out of a chair. “I would then have to get my bearings and I couldn’t walk without pain and limping, so it took me a long time to get anywhere,” Judi added. “I walk for exercise, and it was taking me 25 minutes to walk a mile.” 

Judi had never had back pain in her life before this, and since there is a pain clinic right here at GMHC where she works, she decided to see if they could help her. They first started with trigger points by placing a needle with steroids and numbing medicine in the area that hurt.

Judi then had an MRI which showed a bulging disc and arthritis in her back. An epidural steroid injection was given to treat the pain in these areas but would take 10-14 days to take effect. Once that pain was under control, a different pain emerged in another area of her lower back. For a while, it was treated with Tylenol and Ibuprofen. Lumbar X-rays revealed that a facet joint in her spine was pressing on a nerve and causing the pain.

The next step was to test her left side, since there was more pain on that side which also traveled down her leg. A numbing agent was injected that lasted for 3-4 hours. If her pain stayed away, the test would be repeated. After two successful attempts to keep the pain controlled, she was a candidate for radio frequency treatment (RF).

For the RF treatment, needles were inserted into the nerve that was causing pain, the nerve was “burned” and the pain disappeared. After about a week, Judi’s pain was completely gone. That was in March 2023. Now in October 2023, she remains pain-free. If the pain should return within two years of treatment, she can have the RF again without going through all the pre-testing.

“It is so nice to have this treatment available,” Judi commented. “It has helped me significantly because I am no longer living with all that pain and discomfort. I would recommend anyone with unwanted pain to check out the Pain Clinic at GMHC.” 

Beginning September 4, 2023, Guttenberg Municipal Hospital & Clinics will transition to a Hospitalist model to provide care for patients hospitalized on the Patient Care Unit at GMHC. A Hospitalist is a provider who primarily manages the medical care of patients in the hospital, allowing family medicine physicians to focus on their clinic patients. In addition to providing care for hospitalized patients, the Hospitalists will also be providing emergent patient care in the Emergency Department.

There are several advantages of this new model of care for patients hospitalized at GMHC. Hospitalists are more available to inpatients, spending more time with them and being able to respond quickly to changes in patient condition. A Hospitalist’s expertise allows them to manage more acute patients, improving quality and patient satisfaction. The patient’s Primary Care Provider will receive admission information, including diagnosis and treatment plan for their patient. Upon leaving the hospital, the Hospitalist will partner with the patient’s Primary Care Provider, keeping them informed and updated on the patient’s progress, including any significant changes in their condition. 

The providers at Cornerstone Family Practice will have enhanced appointment availability, with less interruptions to scheduled patient visits, improving clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction. 

In addition to enhancing quality and continuity of care, the new model aligns with the majority of critical access hospitals.

The Guttenberg Municipal Hospital & Clinics’ Family Resource Center is proud to announce that Jim Solomon, SHIIP-SMP Counselor at the Family Resource Center, recently received a Governor’s Volunteer Award from Governor Kim Reynolds and Lt. Governor Adam Gregg during a special recognition ceremony held on Tuesday, June 6, in Cedar Falls. Solomon was honored with a 5 year service award by Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) and Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP).

Jim began his training in the spring of 2018, and completed it later that summer. During his first open enrollment period in the fall, he spent 119 hours with 117 clients, helping them save a total of $46,114, an average of $394 per client. Over the past five years, Jim has provided meaningful assistance by sharing his knowledge and providing guidance to individuals, families and caregivers on how to navigate their Medicare and identify plans and resources that work for them. He has also spent countless hours in training.

“Iowans take great pride in their deep and rich commitment for serving others—it’s in our DNA,” Gov. Reynolds said. “Iowa nice is the foundation of our state–you see it everywhere you turn– Iowans volunteering their time to help others and improve their communities and our state. It truly is an honor to be able to recognize these individuals for their meaningful acts of generosity through the Governor’s Volunteer Awards and inspire others to do the same.”

Kari Harbaugh, Coordinator at the Family Resource Center, also shared her congratulations stating, “We are so fortunate to have Jim as a SHIIP volunteer, he goes above and beyond for the clients he serves!”

Kristen Griffith, SHIIP-SMP Director, shares “SHIIP-SMP Counselors are some of the best volunteers and people you could ever work with. They care deeply about their community members, and consistently go above and beyond to provide unbiased and trustworthy information helping individuals and their families navigate the complexity of Medicare.”

More than 500 awards are being presented this year during five ceremonies across Iowa. It is estimated that more than 150 communities in Iowa were served by this year’s honorees. Coordinated by Volunteer Iowa, the Governor’s Volunteer Award program—now in its 39th year—provides an easy way for Iowa nonprofits, charitable organizations, and government entities to honor their volunteers with a prestigious, state-level award. A complete list of award recipients and an electronic copy of this news release are available at

What is SHIIP? The Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) is a free and objective Medicare health insurance counseling service of the State of Iowa Insurance Division sponsored locally by GMHC’s Family Resource Center. More than 350 trained and certified volunteer counselors assist thousands of Iowans annually, helping them save millions of dollars.

What is SMP? The Senior Medicare Patrol is a national program focused on empowering seniors to prevent and respond to health care fraud. SMP is administered by the Administration for Community Living (ACL). Our network of SHIIP -SMP counselors help individuals detect and report possible Medicare fraud, errors and abuse. The program also provides resources for consumers to protect themselves from healthcare scams.

If you would like to make a free appointment with our SHIIP Counselors, please call the Family Resource Center 563-252-3215.

The Foundation of Cornerstone Communities (FCC) is pleased to announce two grant awards in the first quarter of 2023.

A grant in the amount of $3141 was awarded to the City of Guttenberg for enhancements to the pickleball courts. The upgrades will include a bench, wind protection fencing, signage, and a practice wall. Pickleball is quickly gaining popularity with local citizens and visitors. These improvements will enhance the playing experience.

The second grant of $1920 was awarded to the Guttenberg Gallery and Creativity Center to replenish studio supplies. The supplies are vital in art programs and events for youth and adults in Guttenberg and the surrounding areas.

The Foundation of Cornerstone Communities supports initiatives and programs that directly impact the everyday health and vitality of residents of all ages in the region served by the Guttenberg Municipal Hospital & Clinics including the clinic communities of Guttenberg, Garnavillo and Edgewood. Since 2020, FCC has awarded 15 grants totaling over $54,000 to service communities.

Do you have an idea for a project to help make your community a better place to live and work? Would it support the mission of the FCC? Apply for a grant to see your vision come to life! The next due date for grant requests is July 15, 2023. Grant application

Join us in our mission; become a Sustaining Member of the FCC! Your annual gift of $100 or more allows us to grow our mission to sustain the communities we live, work and play in as well as our local healthcare. Give today! 

The FCC awarded funds to the City of Guttenberg for pickleball enhancements. From left, Sue Osterhaus, Kevin Mommer, Shelly Mommer, Darcy Cline, Myron Thiese, Diane Thiese, Kevin Lelifield, Rushmi Plante, Syl Plante, Julie Rastetter, Andy Smith, Dennis McNeal, Linda Benskin, Dan Kuempel, Brian Rodenberg, Jack Benskin, Peter Kerns, and Jim Osterhaus.

April is Organ Donor Awareness month. Former GMHC employee, and current GMHC volunteer, Mary Waterman, recently shared a touching story about her mother, an organ donor, who was from the Greeley area.

Doris (Bissell, Dingbaum) Malicoat, otherwise known as farmwife, mother, and even “the cake lady” (Dorie’s Cakes), left quite an unexpected legacy…that of being an organ donor. Even though she had it clearly marked on her driver’s license for many years, the ripple effect was not fully felt by others until after she died. 

In her early life, Doris worked in a department store when her kids were small. They moved to a century farm near Petersburg where she did a lot of work, including all the morning milking, and raising her four children. She began making cakes for the kids’ birthdays, and then started collecting Wilton pans (365 of them) and selling her cakes. In her busiest year, she baked and decorated 366 cakes! She was featured in the Gazette for her cookies, cakes and collection of cake pans! 

Later in life, she mainly baked cookies for sale and to give away. She would ask the care center what they needed, and then make it and drop it off. The patients and staff at the Veteran’s Hospital enjoyed trays of her cookies at Christmas time, too. Her favorite cookie to decorate was a Santa face cookie. She would always go to her 10-year class reunions with a cake to celebrate and attended the last one with the only other two remaining classmates. 

In 2018, when Doris died, the family honored her by including her cookie recipe in the thank you cards they sent after the funeral. Although none of her grandkids have picked up the cake decorating knack yet, she handed down another thoughtful practice to her offspring. Many of her children and grandchildren signed up to be organ donors by designating it on their licenses. The decision to donate skin is not something that a person can designate ahead of time.

Years ago, when speaking about organ donation, Doris said, “Someone might as well have what they can use, because when I’m gone, I won’t be able to use it anymore!” As she neared the end of her life, her comment was, “They probably won’t even want anything now, because nothing works anymore!” Little did she know…this kind, caring woman who had lived 88 years would still be helping dozens of people, even after her death. 

A letter from the donor network arrived at her son’s home about six months after Doris had died. Mary learned that her mother’s organ donation—mostly skin and tissue—had helped 61 different people! Her family was astonished! They knew that her donation would make a difference for a handful of people, but they had not imagined that it would be so many. Dorie’s selfless act provided skin and tissue for breast reconstructions following mastectomies and temporary ‘skin bandages’ for burn victims, allowing their own skin to regenerate underneath. Other uses for harvested skin include replacing skin and tissue that has been severely traumatized or infected, or tissue that needs to be replaced because of skin cancer.  

So, the end of Doris’s life reflected the way she lived. She gave of herself to help others. What an honorable trait to pass on. 


Following are some things you may not know about skin donation:

  • Skin is the largest organ of the body.
  • Skin can be donated within 6 hours of the time of death.
  • There is a total of eight layers of skin, but only 1/8 (the uppermost layer of 0.3 mm) is harvested. 
  • The skin is only taken from the back, thighs and legs and does not in any way disfigure the body.
  • There is no bleeding from the site where skin is harvested from, and doctors bandage the parts where skin was taken.
  • Donor skin can be effectively frozen and stored for up to five years.
  • Blood, skin color or age do not have to be matched. Any person’s skin can be transplanted to another person. 
  • Burn victims receive skin when over 50% of their body has been burned. In 80% of such cases, patients can be saved if sufficient skin is present in skin banks. 

April is Donate Life month. Please become an organ donor today!

The before and after photos of Duaine Palas’ legs are hard to believe!

While reading the Spring 2022 issue of GMHC’s “Keeping You Well” newsletter, Duaine Palas realized there may be hope for his legs. The article featured a patient who had found relief for his legs through Lymphedema Therapy offered through the Therapy Services department at GMHC. Everything Duaine was reading described his condition, prompting him to call GMHC.

After first seeing Dr. McCaw at Cornerstone Family Practice for various testing, Duaine was referred for Lymphedema Therapy with Physical Therapist Kimberly Franzen, GMHC’s Certified Lymphedema Therapist. Lymphedema is chronic swelling that results from damage to the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system filters excess fluid through lymph nodes to remove bacteria and debris from the body. When the system is damaged, fluid can build up under the skin, usually in the arms and legs. 

Lymphedema can occur after cancer treatment, infection, surgery, venous insufficiency, or injury. Duaine’s may have resulted from an old farm injury. His swollen legs had been bothering him for years, but he didn’t know what to do about it. Duaine began his therapy sessions on July 7, 2022, and remembered doubting, “There’s just no way this is going to work with my legs, they are not going to respond to the therapy, they are just too far gone.”

But, Franzen proved him wrong. Duaine began therapy with 3 to 4 sessions per week. His treatment included manual lymphatic drainage, exercises and compression wrapping to help reduce swelling and return skin to a more normal condition. During the early stages of therapy, Franzen used short, flexible bandages (changed at every appointment) to wrap Duaine’s lower legs. As his legs became less severe, and reached a certain size reduction the wrap changed to a Velcro one, and as therapy progressed, compression stockings (from the toes to just below the knees) replaced the use of the bandages and the Velcro straps. 

Duaine’s therapy lasted through most of September and was an amazing success. Duaine continues to exercise, wear compression stockings to control the lymphedema, removing them at night and elevating his legs, and regularly checks the skin for ulcers. Since he learned how to take care of his lymphedema from Franzen during his therapy visits, he knows what the signs are that would require him to come for a re-assessment or for more therapy. He commented, “It was really nice to be able to wear my dress pants again. The only thing I could wear were sweatpants, and because my swelling was so bad, I could hardly fit into my shoes.” 

Picture this:  Duaine had an overall size reduction of 26.3% in his left leg, which was smaller to start with, and in his more severe right leg, the overall reduction in size was 34.5%! These numbers are truly amazing, and show just how much progress is possible with lymphedema therapy. 

Duaine is quick to thank Kim Franzen and Dr. McCaw for their careful attention to his care and commented that Franzen was very helpful and taught him a lot about self-care for his lymphedema. He commented, “This therapy was truly life-changing for me! I am active again, and I have a lot to be thankful for. I would encourage anyone who thinks they might have lymphedema to talk to their doctor and come to GMHC for their therapy.”

During this process, an additional health concern was discovered from tests that one of the providers ordered. Originally given to detect if the lymphedema was caused by a heart issue, the test found that Duaine had a 5 cm aneurism and a faulty heart valve. He will undergo surgery in May of 2023, to have it replaced with a biological valve. Duaine commented, “And just think, if I hadn’t come here for treating my legs, I would have never known about the problem with my heart.” Duaine complimented GMHC for the excellent care here, and for the thoroughness of the staff.