Author: amyspeed

Guttenberg Municipal Hospital & Clinics is proud to announce that two of its physicians, Dr. Andrew Smith and Dr. Jeffrey Hoffmann, were honored by the Iowa Academy of Family Physicians last Friday, October 28, 2022, at the IAFP Awards Banquet in Des Moines. 

DR. ANDREW SMITH, MD

Dr. Andrew Smith, MD, was recognized with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Iowa Academy of Family Physicians (IAFP)

The Lifetime Achievement Award is given annually to a family physician(s) who has been a member of the Academy in good standing for at least 10 years, who is a resident of Iowa, who has been involved in significant community service and civic activities, and is a role model for other family physicians, residents and /or medical students.

The Lifetime Achievement Award is unique in that all awardees are nominated by another member of the Iowa Academy of Family Physicians. 

“After Dr. Smith finished his Family Practice Residency in Waterloo, he settled in Guttenberg. He provided full-spectrum family practice care, seeing patients of all ages, providing obstetrics care, caring for inpatients, and covering the Emergency Room. Throughout his 39 years in Guttenberg, he was highly respected not only for his excellent medical care, but for his compassion, dedication to service and humility. He not only was GMHC’s Chief of Medical Staff for numerous terms, but was on many hospital committees, served as Clayton County’s Deputy Medical Examiner and a preceptor for medical students for the University of Iowa’s Carver College of Medicine,” commented a colleague of Dr. Smith’s. 

“Dr. Smith is also very active in the community. He is an active member of St. John’s Lutheran Church and director of the hand bell choir, has been on a number of philanthropic foundations and has donated many hours to the Guttenberg German- Fest committee. He truly is admired by many and certainly deserves the IAFP Lifetime Achievement Award.” 

DR. JEFFREY HOFFMANN, DO

Dr. Jeffrey Hoffmann, DO, was awarded the Family Physician of the Year by the Iowa Academy of Family Physicians (IAFP). 

The Family Physician of the Year is a special award because the nominations must come from patients. The prestigious award is presented to one outstanding physician in the state who best exemplifies the tradition of the family doctor and who epitomizes the finest standards of family health care. As the Iowa Family Physician of the Year, Dr. Hoffmann will become Iowa’s nominee to the American Academy of Family Physicians for the 2023 National Family Physician of the Year. 

As family physicians, Dr. Hoffmann and his colleagues are trained in many areas of medicine including pediatrics, geriatrics, internal medicine, psychiatry, surgery, obstetrics, gynecology, and community medicine. This gives them capability to treat more than 85 percent of all illnesses found in children and adults. 

“Bedside manner, wit and ability to empathize are Dr. Hoffmann’s qualities that put his patients at ease. His ability to communicate and his approachable demeanor are qualities that set him apart. Many physicians can be considered experts in their field, however Dr. Hoffmann couples expertise with the ability to communicate complicated diagnoses on a level his patients can understand,” shared one patient.

Another patient shared this heartfelt comment, “Dr. Hoffmann has not just been a physician to us, but a true blessing in every way. He has saved my family in more ways than one, given us a shoulder to cry on, words of faith and wisdom to hold on to when we felt like we had nothing to grasp, and most importantly, shown us actual love. He loves his community and the gifts and career he was blessed with. He loves his patients and staff. I believe if there is any physician out there who deserves this award, it is him. His career as a doctor is not just something he does for a living, but something he does with pure and unending love to help others. This award is for a Family Physician of the Year, and Dr. Hoffmann is everything this entails, starting with the word Family. He makes his patients more than a case or people to heal, he makes them his family.”

The Iowa Academy of Family Physicians has 1800 members and is a constituent chapter of the American Academy of Family Physicians, which is one of the largest medical specialty societies in the United States with a membership of more than 127,000 family physicians, family medicine residents and medical students.

On a recent visit to the Physical Therapy department at Guttenberg Municipal Hospital & Clinics, Carolyn Clefisch began experiencing dizziness, or vertigo symptoms. Her therapist, Kim Franzen, asked if she would like to have her symptoms checked out using Frenzel Goggles, a helpful evaluation tool. Carolyn agreed to the treatment and was already familiar with the goggles, as she had used them at another facility for treatment. “I was very happy to know that GMHC had the video Frenzel Goggles, because I knew I wouldn’t have to drive so far to be treated,” Carolyn mentioned. “We acquired the goggles in midyear 2020. Our staff has taken continued education courses on the use of the goggles for vestibular rehabilitation,” commented Amy Sitzmann, Therapy Services. 

Frenzel Goggles come in two styles, optical and video, and are used to help with the evaluation of a patient who is experiencing dizziness, or vertigo. The basic (optical) Frenzel Goggle allows the therapist or provider to see the eye magnified and the very small movements, which are usually undetectable to the observer’s naked eye. The more advanced (video) Frenzel Goggles not only magnifiy the eyes, but they record these tiny eye movements in both eyes at once, as well as the patient’s movement in the treatment room. The recording can be replayed later and viewed as many times as needed. Video Frenzel Goggles can also be used with the light on, or they can block out all the light, depending on what the evaluator is looking for. 

 While the patient wears the goggles, the therapist can change the position of the patient’s head or assist them in going from a sitting to a lying position, or vice versa. As this is happening, the therapist observes the changes that take place in the magnified eyes by watching them on a screen or a laptop, where the movements are large and easier to see. 

GMHC has the video style Frenzel Goggles to help in evaluating vestibular (balance) problems and helping to determine their source. A common symptom of vestibular problems is vertigo, which can result from certain movements such as rolling over in bed or moving the head quickly. These movements can cause the patient to feel dizzy or off balance, or they may feel like the room is spinning. They may also feel nauseous and can even have trouble with vision or hearing. 

In Carolyn’s case, her dizziness was due to BPPV (Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo).  Franzen used a positional treatment called the Epley maneuver to correct the issue. “In BPPV, tiny calcium crystals, or ‘rocks’ come loose in the inner ear from their normal position and can cause dizziness, vertigo, or balance problems,” Franzen explained. Sometimes, vertigo symptoms can be corrected in only one therapy session. Other times, 3-4 sessions may be needed to help relieve symptoms. Should vertigo return later, a different sequence of movements may be needed, as the crystals do not always move to the same place in the ear. It is best to be seen by your therapist again if the vertigo returns. 

In addition, other, more serious causes of dizziness can also result from various types of medical triggers, like stroke, high blood pressure, concussion, head and neck injuries, or medications. For this reason, it is very important to have symptoms like dizziness checked by your provider. The video Frenzel Goggles are a very valuable evaluation tool that allows us to see the smallest of movements in the eyes at the same time, helping to clearly define the problem the patient is experiencing. Having this tool right here will also benefit patients by saving them travel time and money. 

“Thank you GMHC for providing this great service close to home, and for the excellent treatment of my vertigo symptoms,” said Carolyn.

Today, Dr. Michele Dikkers accepted her Hospital Hero Award at the Iowa Hospital Association’s Annual Meeting in Des Moines. She was one of twelve hospital leaders, throughout the state of Iowa, presented with the award.

“We are so fortunate to have a high quality, compassionate medical staff at GMHC and Dr. Dikkers has provided an amazing level of support to all of us through the COVID-19 Pandemic,” said Lisa Manson, Director of Ambulatory Services, “She is a role model for what patient-centered care looks like in a rural hospital and clinic.” 

Dr. Michele Dikkers, DO, has practiced medicine at Cornerstone Family Practice for over 20 years, where she recently became the Physician Leader. She immerses herself in her workplace, her community and her profession. As an advocate for the well-being of her patients and the population in general, when she sees a need, she takes personal responsibility and becomes involved. Serving as Chair of the Clayton County Board of Health, Dr. Dikkers provides perspective and insight on decision-making. She is an incredibly caring, resourceful and integral part of GMHC. 

“My practice partner, Dr. Michele Dikkers, has been at the forefront in leading our community’s and county’s responses to the COVID pandemic. As Chairman of the County Board of Health, she not only advised but educated many in the county about best practices… She also wrote a weekly column in our local paper to discuss COVID guidelines and encourage community members to be safe and respectful to others,” confirmed Dr. Andrew Smith. 

Brooke Kenzinger, MHA, CEO, MercyOne Elkader Medical Center, served with Dr. Dikkers on a team that met weekly at the height of the pandemic to share best practices and plan for the future. “In addition to helping the county fight COVID-19, she also helped many of her own patients battle the illness in both the inpatient and outpatient settings. She is a hero to those patients. Even though I do not interact with her at my facility, I would trust her with my own family…She has the passion for providing excellent care to those she serves,” added Kenzinger. 

Dr. Dikkers commented, “I am over-whelmed. It is an honor to be recognized, and this is an award I would like to share with all those whom I work with. 

During the pandemic, we found ourselves in a situation where there were many unknowns and many times, the only option was to do what was in front of us. 

We were able to form a collaboration with the health care providers and pharmacies of Clayton county that was truly amazing. Everyone jumped on board for the good of our patients and the community. The staffs at the clinics and hospitals were incredible. We cross-trained between departments in preparation and many worked extra hours when case numbers were high. Concern for the patients and their families was always a priority. There were days that weren’t easy. But, the positive, ‘get it done’ attitude of those I worked with, kept me motivated to do what I could. There were weekly meetings, usually 2 or 3, that allowed us to learn and share information with each other. The learning curve during the COVID pandemic was overwhelming at times, but we learned a great deal.” 

Tim Ahlers said of Dr. Dikkers, “She showed initiative and courage while leading us through the pandemic, working tirelessly with our incident command and the board of health to make sure we were ready and able to take care of our community and each other through the long, hard journey. I believe she is one of the true champions that helped our community make it through this crisis.” 

“I would like to thank those that nominated me and The Iowa Hospital Association for the recognition. I would also like to thank my colleagues at Guttenberg Municipal Hospital, Cornerstone Family Practice and the Clayton County Board of Health,” said Dr. Dikkers 

It’s that time of year again, Medicare Open Enrollment, the only time that those eligible for Medicare have the opportunity to review and adjust their plans. Open Enrollment takes place from October 15 to December 7, and The Family Resource Center is taking appointments for seniors to meet with SHIIP representatives who offer advice in choosing the best fitting prescription plan and to answer questions. Because drug plans are everchanging, having a guide to help you navigate these changes can be very helpful. 

This is Jim Solomon’s fifth year volunteering as a SHIIP counselor. Last year, he met with 176 people, helping them save a total of $156,862. We are pleased to announce that Deb Hogan has completed training and will be joining Jim to serve area seniors in reviewing their plans. Jim will mentor and work directly with Deb and the client when she is first starting.  Deb  retired from the insurance industry, and wants to give back as a volunteer. “Jim put in long hours last year, and I am happy to partner with him and work together to serve the communities.” Deb replied. 

Kari Harbaugh, Family Resource Coordinator, says, “We are very grateful for the dedication and hours of service these volunteers donate to assisting our clients.”

There is no charge for consultation with Jim or Deb. If they don’t have the answer, SHIIP counselors have a direct connection to the state to get the answer. They offer a flexible schedule, and welcome clients from other communities, too. 

SHIIP counselors will assist you with these three important things during Medicare Open Enrollmnent:

  • Review  your plan notice. Read any notices from  your Medicare plan about changes for next year—especially your “Annual Notice of Change” letter. Review your plan’s information to make sure the prescriptions you use are still covered and your medical providers and pharmacy are still in network.
  • Think about what matters most to you. Medicare health and drug plans change each year and so can your health needs. Does your current plan best meet your needs?
  • Shop for the plans that meet your needs and fit your budget. Compare plans even if you’ve been satisfied with your current plan. The coverage and costs for plans can change from year to year. 

To make an appointment, call the Family Resource Center at 563-252-3215. SHIIP is a free, confidential service of the State of Iowa. SHIIP counselors review all plans offered and do not promote any particular plan or company. Please bring your Medicare card and your present list of prescription drugs to your appointment.

Meet two young philanthropists, Alexis (age 9) and Grace (age 7) Mescher, who are learning the ropes of fund-raising at an early age. Three years ago, they held their first bake sale, after deciding (with Mom’s help) that a drive thru breakfast sandwich fund-raiser might be a little unrealistic. 

Grace and Alexis wanted to raise money for something, and again, their Mom, Beth Mescher, helped them decide to use it for school supplies. The first year, they raised around $600 during a very successful sale that was planned for two days, but only lasted about two hours! Beth even started baking extra cookies when she saw that they were selling out so quickly!

The second year was even more successful with a one-day sale raising around $1,000. In their most recent bake sale last month, the total reached $2,600! The girls decided to split the profits between the Family Resource Center, where it would be used for school supplies, and the Guttenberg Care Center, for buying supplies needed for activities. Both organizations gladly accepted their donations! “The girls’ donation came at the perfect time! We needed additional funds, and because of gifts like theirs, we were able to serve 100 more kids this year. I’m so proud of these girls!” commented Family Resource Center Coordinator, Kari Harbaugh. 

The Mescher Girls’ bake sale takes place in late July or early August, depending on Mom’s work schedule. When asked how they feel about all the money being given away, and none kept for themselves, Grace replied, “Good,” and Alexis echoed, “Generous!” However, after they realized it was this easy to raise money, they asked about having one when they’re older to raise money for buying a car! After answering, “No!” Beth used the opportunity to explain the difference between a fundraiser to benefit the community, and one to benefit themselves, and that likely, their events had been so successful because they were benefiting the community. Thank you, Beth, Alexis and Grace for setting such a great example for all of us!

Fun Facts:

Most popular items:  apple crisp, Texas Roadhouse buns and butter, and popcorn

Your favorite items to make:  Alexis – cookie dough balls, and Grace – Rice Krispie treats

How many days to prepare?  Cookie dough balls can be done a week ahead and frozen, but everything else is prepared just days before the sale. 

How long will you keep doing it? “Hopefully every year,” both girls chimed in.

The year 2020 was difficult for most people, but particularly so for Richard Guyer.      Richard….struggled….to….breathe. He needed a lung transplant. That decision was reached after a lengthy period of seeing multiple doctors and undergoing many diagnostic tests. During that time, Richard’s lungs were quickly getting progressively worse, and his breathing was only helped some by the oxygen tank he was carting around. Richard suffered a great deal of stress that went along with having no diagnosis or treatment in the near future, especially when he couldn’t breathe.

Richard was admitted to GMHC as an inpatient in late 2020. His symptoms were shortness of breath, a dry cough, and an increase in oxygen needs. Richard’s primary doctor, Dr. Smith, gave him a second referral to the University of Iowa because no diagnosis had yet been reached. Finally, it was determined that he had Idiopathic Interstitial Lung Disease, a rare disease that affects less than 200,000 people a year in the United States. The diagnosis is so difficult because so many disorders fall into this category, the signs and symptoms of many conditions can mimic this disease, and doctors must rule those conditions out before making a definitive diagnosis.

The cause of Idiopathic (unknown or undetermined cause) Interstitial (occurring between the air sacs) Lung Disease, or ILD for short, is unclear. The reality is a shortness of breath that gets worse as the disease progresses. This disease belongs to a group of lung conditions that cause progressive scarring (or fibrosis) of lung tissues, affecting your ability to breathe and to get enough oxygen into your bloodstream. By the time symptoms appear, irreversible lung damage has often already occurred. Medications may slow the damage of this disease, but most never regain full use of their lungs, and the end stage is respiratory failure. Treatment is not always effective in stopping the ultimate progression. A lung transplant is a viable option, as it was for Richard. 

Dr. Eberlein (University of Iowa Hospital) put Richard on the transplant list in mid-January of 2021. In December of 2020 Richard went from requiring low flow oxygen to being dependent on high flow oxygen 24/7. Due to the severity of his lung condition, Richard remained as an in-patient at the University of Iowa Hospital until he received his new lungs on March 1, 2021.

Post-operative therapy following a lung transplant is intense and requires close monitoring, so patients remain in the hospital during this first phase of recovery. There were also some setbacks with blood clotting during this period. This proved to be the most difficult time for Richard, as it occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, which meant that he could have no visitors when he really wanted and needed them. “The pain was really bad, and I just wanted to see my family,” he explained. Richard remained very determined to take care of himself and said, “I had to put the lungs before everybody.” During this phase of recovery, he kept telling the nurses that he was going to walk by the second week… and he did! He replied, “I just convinced myself that I’m going to do it.” Richard also expressed great thanks to Dr. Smith and Dr. Eberlein for the great care they gave him.

After he was able to leave the U of I hospital, he stayed in a nearby hotel during the next level of treatment. Finally, Richard was with his father and received some of the support and family time he had been missing. “It helped a lot to be able to see my dad and stay with him,” Richard commented.

Next came the really good news, Richard could return to his home in Hawkeye, IA! In June of 2021, Richard began pulmonary rehab at GMHC, and although it was a distance to drive, he preferred to continue working with the people who he already knew, and who knew him. When he first arrived, he could only walk for 10 to 12 minutes without needing to stop. Gradually, he kept improving and was then able to walk for 30 minutes without a break. Currently, he is walking on a treadmill during therapy for 25 – 30 minutes… at an incline! He also lifts weights during his therapy sessions, and once a month does a spirometry lung function test along with a nebulized medication. The therapists also monitor his blood pressure and his oxygen saturation during his workouts. Richard said, “I am very grateful for the people who take me to my appointments; I like coming to GMHC for my rehab work, because it is close to home, I am familiar with the therapists I work with and I am comfortable with everyone here. The long struggle with Richard’s lung condition and eventual transplant left him with a fair amount of stress, and he commented, “It is very important for me to have a regular, comfortable place to go for rehab work. It was hard at first, but the therapists here know how to help me stay calm and in my comfort zone.” 

Richard visits the University of Iowa every two months for follow-up testing. He enjoys telling others about his journey through his lung-transplant experience, and adamantly relays the importance of becoming organ donors to others. “Without a transplant, I wouldn’t be here!” he concludes. Richard’s goal is to walk in the German Fest 5K and show everyone just how far he has come! 

Commented GMHC Respiratory Therapist, Catie Dean, “We started doing pulmonary function tests (determines lung volume) on Richard about a year before his lung transplant. We could see the gradual decline in his lung volume until he was to the point he had to be admitted to the hospital. It is so nice to continue to work with Richard and see the improvements in his health and his attitude since his lung transplant.” 

Living with a lung disease was restricting and defining Donna Simon’s way of life. Although she had just renewed her license, she stopped driving (for fear of causing an accident), stopped shopping for groceries, going to sporting events, even taking care of her grandkids. She was basically staying at home and only going out to go to doctor appointments. As a mother who raised seven children, four of whom participated in the Dubuque Colt’s Drum and Bugle Corp, it was a sad day when she couldn’t go see a local performance with her daughter. Donna had been oxygen-dependent for over three years, and it was robbing her of the life she knew.

Donna came to GMHC for pulmonary rehab to see what breathing she could regain. Respiratory Therapist Amanda Miller, noted that during Donna’s therapy sessions her oxygen levels would drop immediately, causing severe shortness of breath and increasing her heart rate and blood pressure. This is typical for patients with lung disease, but the progress they had hoped to make just wasn’t happening. In fact, it was all they could do just to maintain her current level of breathing. Her lungs were in a serious condition. 

Donna had been a patient of Dr. Schope (now retired) in Dubuque, who had diagnosed her with COPD in 2012. Although she tried to quit smoking then, it took her until 2018 to stop for good. During a visit with her new pulmonologist, Dr. Powers, it was suggested that Donna might want to consider getting a lung transplant. She discussed it with her family and with the medical staff at GMHC, and everyone in both cases was supportive of that decision. It would not be an easy road, but she was willing to try it. 

To be placed on the transplant list, Donna would have to undergo almost 6 months of testing. Dr. Hoffmann and Dr. Powers sent her records to the University of Iowa, and the testing began. She had to have a colonoscopy, CT scans, MRIs, and even a checkup with dermatology, among other tests. All her immunizations had to be up to date. There had to be absolutely no signs of cancer, skin or otherwise, because the medications taken for cancers could cause scarring in the lung and could also cause any existing cancer to grow more rapidly. 

Saying that Donna was a trooper through all the testing and trips to Iowa City was probably an understatement, as she had to complete all of this while she still felt miserable and could hardly breathe. Finally, on August 10, 2020, she was put on the lung transplant list, and six months later, on February 25, 2021, she received her new lungs.

Immediately after surgery, a lung transplant patient is required to stay in Iowa City for intensive care and therapy before they can leave the hospital. Following this first round of therapy, she was transferred to St. Luke’s in-patient rehab department in Cedar Rapids. After a reaction to a medication, she had to return to UIHC for two weeks before completing her therapy at St. Luke’s, where she remained until they were able to get her up and walking. After this accomplishment, she was able to return home to Guttenberg with her husband and dog! She began pulmonary rehabilitative therapy here at GMHC. She commented, “That was huge for me, to be able to come home and go to therapy nearby. It made such a difference in my recovery.”

Donna still needed to make some trips to Iowa City for post-surgery tests and checkups, but her doctor allowed her to do the frequent and necessary lab work at GMHC and have the information forwarded to U of I. “That made it much easier for me and saved us a lot of travel,” she commented. During her therapy at GMHC and recovery at home, Donna was sure to celebrate the little milestones along the way. At first, her husband had to help her get up out of the chair by lifting her at the back side of her pants waistband. “I got tired of all the wedgies he was giving me!” she joked. When she was finally able to complete this task alone, she announced, “Look at me, I can to this without anyone here!” And “I couldn’t have done this without the great rehab I was receiving.” 

Donna had some work to do to regain her confidence in driving, as it had been 3 long years since she had been behind the wheel. But lately, she is taking full advantage of her newfound freedom. She is driving again, shopping for groceries, meeting friends for lunch and even driving herself to her appointments in Iowa City. Perhaps best of all, she recently was able to watch her grandkids again, and even made a trip to Redfield to celebrate birthdays for two of them. After seeing her for so long with an oxygen line attached, her grandson asked, “How are we going to be able to find you Grandma, without your cord?” When asked to describe how all of this makes her feel, she exclaimed, “It is great! It’s basically like having a new life!”

“We (Respiratory Therapy Staff) are very proud of Donna throughout her road to recovery. It was truly amazing to witness her reclaim her life and get back to being a busy grandma!” replied Amanda Miller, RT.

A surgery that occurred over seven years ago may have been the beginning of lymphedema, a condition that Ron now lives with.

Immediately after his surgery to repair a large abdominal aortic aneurism (a bulge in the aorta in the abdomen), Ron noticed a difference in the size of his legs, with some swelling in the right leg. It was not clear at that time, or even later, what the swelling was coming from. Gradually it got worse, and eventually Ron also noticed tightness in his legs. He was admitted briefly as an inpatient at GMHC in March of 2021 for cellulitis (a bacterial skin infection).

A few months later, in September, Ron developed cellulitis again, along with venous stasis ulcers on his legs, which are open wounds that “leak” excess protein-rich fluid from the body. After working to control the swelling and sores with Unna boots to promote healing of his venous stasis ulcers for several months, Ron’s primary care provider, Dr. McCaw, decided to refer him to a wound care specialist for more extensive treatment; however, there was a two month wait to be seen. Because GMHC’s Physical Therapist Kimberly Franzen, PT, DPT, CLT, had been recently certified to treat lymphedema, Dr. McCaw decided to refer Ron to her. That decision has been life-changing for Ron.

Lymphedema can occur as an abnormality at birth, primary lymphedema, or secondary lymphedema that develops after an injury, surgery or radiation treatment. Lymphedema is a protein-rich fluid buildup in the arm(s) or leg(s) that causes swelling, discomfort or achiness in the extremity and decreased mobility of the joints that can make it very hard to move your limbs to complete daily activities. Lymphedema symptoms include increased tightness and size of the arm or leg, skin changes including texture and color and increased difficulty with use of the arm or leg with daily cares such as dressing. Lymphedema increases the chances of recurring infection. At GMHC, we treat lymphedema to help reduce the size of the arm or leg, heal wounds, improve health of the skin and improve the patient’s quality of life. Because there is no cure for lymphedema, it is very important to treat it and learn to manage the symptoms.

Franzen began therapy with Ron in December of 2021 and treated both of his legs. She used all the techniques learned during her certification in Complete Decongestive Therapy for lymphedema, including manual lymph drainage, to aid in his healing. The results were amazing—the wounds were almost gone in three days! To maintain these results, and further decrease the lymphedema, intensive treatment began at 5 times per week for two weeks, and then tapered to 2-3 times per week for the remainder of his treatment. Franzen used multi-layer short stretch bandages to wrap Ron’s legs, which provided greater compression to reduce the lymphedema.

Each case of lymphedema is very different, and so is the individual treatment plan. Usually, the course of treatment is from 1-2 months. In Ron’s case, he experienced a few setbacks, and needed just over two months of intensive therapy. During this time, he also learned some valuable lessons in the precautions he needed to take to ensure his health. Franzen reported that during his therapy, Ron was mobile and doing all that he could to care for himself.

Franzen’s certification consisted of learning the full CDT (Complete Decongestive Therapy), which includes not only performing manual lymph drainage (MLD) to reduce the amount of fluid build-up, but teaching/ educating the patient how to apply compression bandages or garments, exercise, nail & skin care, and other self-cares to assist with overall management of their condition. The successful treatment of lymphedema includes a lifetime commitment to control and manage the symptoms.

Ron described the difference it made for him to have the swelling more controlled in his legs, “Before, when I was using the exercise bike, my legs could only go for about 7 minutes, but after my course of treatment, I was able to go for about 20 minutes,” and, “now when we are walking around while shopping, my legs don’t really get tired, just a little heavy—so I stop to rest my legs for a few minutes and I’m ready to go.”

Following the intensive therapy, Ron received instruction on transitioning to self-care, where he would monitor his own situation and only need to receive treatment if conditions would get worse again. Ron said that after living with this condition, he now knows what signs to watch for that would require a visit to his health care provider.

Franzen taught Ron and his wife how to bandage his legs on the days he didn’t have treatment. Because the course of treatment was effective in controlling the lymphedema, an accurate measurement was taken for custom compression socks, which he will regularly wear during the day, along with a custom-fit Velcro garment at night. 

When asked what he looks forward to being able to do again, Ron replied, “I hope to walk the course when I go golfing again. It will also be nice to wear dress pants instead of sweatpants, and regular shoes instead of extra-wide ones!”

Guttenberg Municipal Hospital & Clinics was recently named one of the top 20 critical access hospitals (CAHs) for Best Practice—Patient Satisfaction in the country. 

The top 20 CAHs, including GMHC, scored best among CAHs as determined by the Chartis Center for Rural Health for Patient Satisfaction. The rankings were recently announced by the National Rural Health Association (NRHA). An awards ceremony will be held during NRHA’s Critical Access Hospital Conference in September in Kansas City, MO. 

The top 20 CAHs have achieved success in overall performance based on a composite rating from eight indices of strength:  inpatient market share, outpatient market share, quality, outcomes, patient perspective, cost, charge and finance. This group was selected from the Chartis Center for Rural Health’s 2022 top 100 CAH list, which was released earlier this year. 

The top 20 CAH best practice recipients have achieved success in one of two key areas of performance:  

Quality index:  A rating of hospital performance based on the percentile rank across rural-relevant process of care measures.

Patient perspective index:  A rating of hospital performance based on the percentile rank across all 10 HCAHPS domains. 

“GMHC is proud of the efforts of the physicians and staff who have contributed to our hospital achieving this designation,” says Timothy Ahlers, CEO. “We are incredibly proud of our staff. We are blessed to have a team of professionals with high standards who care deeply about each and every patient and our entire community.”

“Our results as a top Best Practice Recipient in Patient Satisfaction means our community can count on us to deliver the services they need now and in the future,” said Ahlers.

About NRHA

NRHA is a nonprofit organization working to improve the health and well-being of rural Americans and provide leadership on rural health issues through advocacy, communications, education and research. NRHA’s membership is made up of diverse individuals and organizations from across the country, all of whom share the common bond of an interest in rural health. 

About the Chartis Group

The Chartis Group provides comprehensive advisory services and analytics to the health care industry. With unparalleled depth of expertise in strategic planning, performance excellence, health analytics, informatics and technology, digital and emerging technologies, clinical quality and operations, and strategic communications, Chartis helps leading academic medical centers, integrated delivery networks, children’s hospitals, and health care service organizations achieve transformative results and build a healthier world. For more information, visit www.chartis.com.

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