Category: News

In celebration of National Donate Life Month this April, GMHC had a flag-raising ceremony on April 10th. The act symbolizes our collective appreciation for the miracles of organ, eye and tissue donation and recognizes those who have chosen to give the invaluable gift of life. During the event, two donor stories were shared. One from a living donor, Jody Wille, and one from a recipient, Donna Simon.

In 2023, Iowa stood as a beacon of hope and generosity. 123 organ donors provided 350 organs for transplantation, offering a second chance at life for many. Additionally, 1,027 tissue donors from our state brought healing and relief to countless individuals, three of which came from GMHC, each tissue donor impacting 50 to 350 people’s lives. Despite these life-changing acts, over 106,000 people in the U.S. are still waiting for a crucial organ transplant, including more than 600 Iowans.

The Donate Life flag raising ceremony not only highlights the ongoing need for life-saving transplants but also salutes the donors and families for their profound act of giving. Every donor has a story, and each story is a testament to human kindness and resilience.

Jody Wille

Jody Wille’s uncle, Owen Harbaugh, had kidney damage due to hypertension. When his kidneys stopped functioning, he had to go on dialysis for a short period of time. That is, until his niece, Jody Wille, who was a perfect match, stepped up to donate one of her kidneys.

Owen was a veteran and in August, 2002, surgeons from UIHC came to the VA in Iowa City to perform the 3 to 4 hour surgery. Surgery was on a Thursday. Jody was out of the hospital by Saturday while her Uncle Owen stayed a few more days to ensure his body was adjusting to Jody’s kidney. And, it did! 

“The surgeons told them that most kidneys sleep a while before working in the new recipient, but mine started working right away in Uncle Owen,” said Jody.

“My uncle was very close to our family and I felt this was the least I could do for him. Uncle Owen was never married or had children, so my siblings and I were like his kids,” said Jody.

“I tell people that being a living donor is giving a gift that keeps giving, not only to the recipient, but to their family and friends who get to spend more time together. Uncle Owen lived with my donated kidney for 18 more years, attending family celebrations like weddings and graduations of his numerous nieces and nephews, and birthday parties of his beloved great nieces and nephews.” 

Although Jody was told that the surgery is harder on the person who donates than the person who receives, that was not true for her. She exercised daily prior to surgery by walking 3-5 miles per day and drank plenty of water. Jody was off work for about four weeks for her recovery, and declared, “It was well worth it for our family to have those extra 18 years with Uncle Owen.” 

Donna Simon

Donna Simon, a double lung recipient, was present to read a heartfelt letter that was written and sent to her by the mother of Donna’s 21-year-old donor. The letter described how he was a musician, enjoyed football and wrestling, left behind a son, and how he had a big heart. “He was a hero and signed up just in case something ever happened to him,” the letter read. The letter also included photos of the young man and his son. Donna shared the change that this gift has made in her life, allowing her to be more active with her children and grandchildren, and at the ceremony without her oxygen port.

The trend of hope continues to rise in Iowa, with increasing numbers embracing organ and tissue donation. You too can be a part of this journey of hope and healing. Register at IowaDonorNetwork.org to be a registered donor and join GMHC on Friday, April 12th by wearing blue or green to build awareness for donating life.

Community Resource Center Groundbreaking Ceremony

On March 26, 2024 the Guttenberg Economic & Industrial Development Committee held the Groundbreaking Ceremony for the much-anticipated Community Resource Center, a pivotal service hub for the region. The event marked the beginning of a transformative initiative aimed at addressing a diverse array of community needs.

The location of the new Community Resource Center is 516 S. 1st Street, Guttenberg, Iowa 52052 in the empty lot between the Guttenberg Brewing Company and the Municipal Building and will serve as a beacon of hope and support for the region, hosting over a dozen agencies dedicated to meeting multifaceted needs, including the Guttenberg Municipal Hospital & Clinics’ Family Resource Center. A wide range of services to be offered include a food pantry, clothing center, infant items, outerwear, backpack snack program for school age kids, school supplies, medical adaptive equipment, household basics, furniture, health insurance, housing assistance, utility/rent assistance, counseling, domestic/sexual violence advocate, mental health, substance abuse, elderly care, and transportation.

This ambitious project has been made possible through the generous support of the State of Iowa, which
awarded the Guttenberg Economic & Industrial Development Committee a significant $2.7 million grant to spearhead the construction of this essential facility. With the project well underway, efforts are in full swing to raise the matching funds required for the three-story facility, anticipated to cost just over $4 million.

The Groundbreaking Ceremony signified a momentous milestone in the journey towards fulfilling the vision of a thriving, supportive community in Guttenberg and its surrounding areas, commemorating this occasion and capturing the spirit of collaboration and progress that defines this initiative. A short presentation followed the Groundbreaking Ceremony at the Guttenberg Brewing Company.

About the Family Resource Center

Throughout life, almost everyone needs help at some point. That help could be judgement free zone, a
box of food, a bed after a fire or help navigating a confusing health care choice. All these caring services
are available for free through the Guttenberg Municipal Hospital & Clinics’ Family Resource Center (FRC).
The services at FRC are open to anyone, no matter age, income level, or ethnic background.

Let’s examine a typical day at the FRC which begins early in the morning as volunteers travel to Kwik Star
and Wal Mart to pick up food donations. The food is delivered to the small, unassuming building,
housing the Family Resource Center and an army of volunteers process the food for distribution for
people throughout the region.

But the FRC provides much more than needed food. A young couple from northern Clayton County
arrive at the FRC in need of shoes and their needs are met. Next through the FRC door is a set of
grandparents both employed in slightly above minimum wage jobs. They have recently become
custodians of their four young grandchildren. Dashed are their dreams of retiring at 65 and they need to
restart their lives raising young children. Their immediate needs include clothing, food and car seats and
the FRC can meet their needs.

After the staff assists the grandparents, a domestic abuse victim arrives at the FRC. She needs someone
to listen, offer solutions and provide clothing for her daughter. The proper agencies are connected with
this victim and a bag of clothing is sent for the daughter. The FRC was again able to meet the need.
The next young man who enters the FRC needs to utilize the free fax service offered at FRC. He needs to
fax a restraining order to the Sherriff’s Office and needs some guidance on navigating the judicial system.

Again, the young man’s needs were met.

Following the young man, the next to be served at the FRC is a new mother who is unable to purchase
baby formula for her newborn, which costs over $20 for a 3-4 day supply. Newborn’s are a blessing, but
create an especially financially hard time for young parents. This new mother requested three cans of
baby formula because she is almost out and does not get paid until the end of the month. The FRC
meets the new mother’s needs.

External service agencies use the FRC space to meet and assist regional residents. The SHIIP counselor
(Senior Health Insurance Information Program) and four seniors arrive at the FRC trying to navigate a
confusing healthcare system and are assisted in selecting the best option for them. The FRC met the
seniors’ needs by connecting them to SHIIP.

A local family comes to the FRC with an unimaginable tragedy and their child becomes hospitalized with
a debilitating condition. One parent must care full time for the child and can no longer work. The staff
at the Family Resource Center helps them navigate through the options available to help fill the gap that
was unexpectedly created. The family’s needs are met.

A nutritionally deficient senior living on social security with no family nearby is instructed by their health
care provider to have a diet including more protein and vegetables. However, the limited social security
check does not cover their needs. Again, the Family Resource Center steps in and his needs are met.

As outlined, a typical day at the FRC provides support to so many of our neighbors, friends, relatives, and
even complete strangers from our region. This is made possible through an army of volunteers and
financial supporters to keep the FRC operational five days a week year-round. The current rented FRC
building is much too small to meet the needs of our region, lacks privacy and much needed donated
items must be turned away due to lack of current storage space.

Thankfully, the FRC team found a way to try and climb out and up and continue to serve the growing
demand. The FRC team partnered with the Guttenberg Economic & Industrial Development Committee (GEIDC) and applied for a grant through the State of Iowa. The project was awarded a very generous grant and is well on the way to raising the required matching funds. The current shortfall is nearly $250,000. If you can help, please click the link attached, or contact our volunteer Fund Raising Coordinator Kathy Lansing at lansing@alpinecom.net. Make a donation online.

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. To help save a life and prevent a scare, GMHC employee Shannon Bachtell shares her story:

My biological father died from complications of colon cancer at the age of 56. Because of this, routine colonoscopies became a part of my life at 36, a relatively young age.  

In July of 2023 I went in for my annual colonoscopy. At that time, a few polyps were removed, including some that were precancerous. The bigger issue was a few polyps that were unable to be safely removed due to their location. It was determined to let things settle down and reattempt in December. In December, I went in for my second colonoscopy and again had polyps removed, including one that was precancerous. However they were still unable to remove the polyps that were previously inaccessible. They remained where they were and were unable to be safely removed. 

At that time, given that I had several precancerous polyps removed at this point and that the polyps remained inaccessible, it was determined that the best course of action was to perform a right hemicolectomy with anastomosis. In other words, they removed my right ascending colon and reattached everything. (So no, I don’t have a colostomy). They also removed 13 lymph nodes and as an added bonus, my appendix. The results of this were “multiple precancerous polyps” but because of the aggressive treatment, everything that was causing a problem was now gone.

Prognosis? Excellent.

I will continue to have annual colonoscopies but because they removed a sizable piece of my colon, along with the lymph nodes, my chances of developing colon cancer remain low, especially with annual screenings.

Moral of the story? Get your screenings done! It’s not that bad and it could save your life. 

 

By Caroline Rosacker, Guttenberg Press

During the COVID-19 pandemic the Guttenberg Municipal Hospital & Clinics (GMHC) hired front door screeners to greet patients and guide them through the check-in questions. At that time, hospital staff members recognized what an asset it was to have someone there to greet patients.  

Volunteer Greeter Program 

“In the fall of 2022, we conceptualized a volunteer program and reached out to other hospitals regarding their programs,” commented Amy Speed, Director of Marketing and Development. “We launched our program in March of 2023, with Becky Shaffer being our first volunteer greeter.”  

Becky Shaffer of Guttenberg had previous volunteer greeter experience and was very helpful in guiding the hospital’s program.  

“Becky not only greets our patients, but escorts them to different departments if they need guidance, and most importantly, visits with them to pass the time while they are waiting. She also has met with some folks in the chapel” Speed told The Press.  

The volunteer program began with mornings on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The hospital added another greeter, retired nurse and former hospital employee, Deb Schlueter, in June. “Our program is very flexible, in fact, Deb is away during the winter and will step back into her position upon her return in the spring” noted Speed.  

Positive feedback 

GMHC has received positive feedback on patient surveys proving that the program enhances patient experience. In October, one person commented. “Loved visiting with your greeter!”  

The healthcare facility hopes to expand their volunteer program to five days a week, and more hours per day. Potential volunteers will go through an interview process and will be trained for their very important role as the first person to greet patients.  

Becky Shaffer 

Although Deb Schlueter is enjoying time away from her volunteer position, The Press was able to sit down with Becky and visit with her about her involvement in the program.  

Mike and Becky Shaffer took advantage of their part-time residence on Esman Island and used it as their full-time home during the Covid-19 pandemic. The couple decided if they had to shelter in place they would rather be on the island watching the Mississippi River flow by, than living in their permanent residence in nearby Cedar Rapids.  

The Shaffers purchased their island get-away in 2005 and spent many long weekends enjoying all the amenities Guttenberg has to offer. “We were always on the go and quite busy,” said Becky. “When we were encouraged to shelter-in-place our lives slowed down and we experienced living in Guttenberg through a different lens.”   

The couple enjoyed their new lifestyle and decided to make Guttenberg their permanent residence. “Mike is able to work from home, but still drives back and forth to Cedar Rapids when he needs to,” she explained. “To our great surprise our children have relocated to this beautiful community as well! Our son, T.K and his wife, Lisa live in the Estes Point area, and our daughter, Shannon purchased property in the River Ridge Acres subdivision and is set to build in the spring.” 

Giving back to her community 

Becky sought out volunteer work almost as soon as they were settled in and able to be social. “We have always been so impressed with the Guttenberg Municipal Hospital & Clinics. It was one of the main reasons we choose to live full-time in Guttenberg,” she said.  

Amy Speed approached Becky about volunteering as a greeter in the main lobby of the hospital. “I had done this kind of volunteer work at Mercy hospital in Cedar Rapids, so I was familiar with the protocol. Confidentiality is a must,” she stressed.  

Becky’s cheerful, upbeat attitude helps lessen anxiety in the patient waiting area, but she is also very aware that some people would rather be alone. “I have been blessed with wonderful conversation skills. I can talk to just about anyone,” she laughed. ” My goal is for people to leave here with a smile on their face.”  

The eager volunteer is grateful for the opportunity to give back to the hospital for all the excellent, professional care she and her husband have received since relocating to Guttenberg.  “Volunteering at GMHC gives me a reason to stay active in the community and help others,” Becky commented.  

Small town connections 

The Shaffers have also experienced many small town connections. “When we met Juanita, and the late Russ Loven I found out that my father was Russ’ coach in high school. I heard so many wonderful stories about my father that I had never heard before,” she shared. “The family that lived in our home following the derecho was Norm Kopecky’s brother. Small town connections are so much fun!”  

Becky, who is active in St. Mary’s Church, and is a member of Umbrella Arts, Ingleside Club, and a Stephen Minister leader, is very impressed with the GMHC staff. “They all work together as a team, and help one another,” she proudly shared. “It just makes me happy to be in this environment and they are so appreciative. I love this community and want people to see Guttenberg the way my husband and I see Guttenberg – a great place to live, work, volunteer, and play!”  

Would you like to join GMHC as a volunteer greeter? Apply online or contact Amy Speed at amy.speed@guttenberghospital for more information. 

GMHC has partnered with MercyOne Above & Beyond Home Health Services to provide Guttenberg and surrounding communities with a much-needed home health solution. Since October 2023, Above & Beyond has provided us with a direct referral source to deliver our patients with nursing care and physical therapy in the home. This partnership offers a turnkey solution to our consumer experience and quality care delivery.

How is Home Health different than Community Paramedicine?

For a patient to qualify for home health they must be “home bound”, meaning they can only leave their residence for appointments. Community Paramedicine offers a community service to a population in need when the patient is not considered “home bound”. Both services provide our patients with an in-home evaluation. In addition, Home Health offers skilled nursing, extensive wound cares treatments, personal cares assistance, and physical therapies.

If your loved one, friend or neighbor has medical needs in their home, please consider discussing these options with their primary care provider.

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.

Membership

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.

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 volunteeriowa.org.

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.

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