Category: featured

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.

By Dr. Michele Dikkers, Physician at Cornerstone Family Practice and GMHC, Chair of Clayton County Board of Health

Growing up we had to be about dead before we went to the doctor.  Slap a bandage on it, put menthol vapor rub on your chest or put an ice bag on it.  A runny nose, sniffles or a cough was no reason to stay home.

Then we learned about COVID.  Now we stop and wonder.  Could it be a cold? Influenza? Strep throat? Mono? COVID?  Oh my.

Since COVID-19, the guidelines have changed.  If you are sick, stay home.  Get tested.  Wait until you are well, then return to the world.  Like any habit, it is difficult to make change.  But there are good reasons for the changes in our thought process.

Symptoms can be similar initially, but the outcomes can be very different.  They can all start with cough, body aches, fever, headache and sore throat.  But influenza and COVID may have a more serious end result.

Incubation time (time from exposure until symptoms start) is typically 1-4 days, unless it is COVID, then it can be 2-14 days.

With most of these illnesses, you can be contagious for 2 days prior to illness and for 3-5 days after illness starts.  With COVID, you may be contagious from 2 days prior to illness and up to 10 days after illness onset (up to 14-21 if with persistent symptoms or severe illness).

Symptoms last for 3-7 days, with the exception of COVID.  Symptoms of COVID, on average, last 1-6 weeks.  There can be long term symptoms that may last months after the acute illness is over.

When it comes to hospitalizations, 2% of those diagnosed with influenza will be hospitalized for 4-7 days, compared to 19% of the COVID diagnosis’ needing hospitalizations for 2-3 weeks.

Fatality rate of influenza is 0.1%, while the fatality rate of COVID-19 is nearly 3%.

Treatments for these illnesses vary.  There are antivirals for influenza, antibiotics for strep throat, monoclonal antibodies for COVID and, coming soon, the new oral medication recently developed to help decrease hospitalizations and deaths from COVID.  All depend on starting treatment sooner than later.  Treatment for influenza should be started within the first 72 hours.  Treatment for COVID-19 should be within the first 7 -10 days.  Treatment for influenza and COVID are to decrease severity of symptoms and won’t cure it but can significantly reduce need for hospitalizations and death as an outcome.

So, rethinking how we think about cold symptoms, the new recommendations are to stay home if you have any symptoms.   Be seen by your medical provider and get tested.  Getting tested allows for the best treatment options to be offered and improve outcomes.

Continue to be vigilant and continue to avoid getting sick.  Stay home if you are sick, continue with good hand washing, cover your nose and mouth when you cough and sneeze, wear a mask when you are in public places and update your vaccines.

Stay safe, be well and be kind to each other.

We congratulate Physical Therapist Kimberly Franzen, PT, DPT, CLT on her recent certification as a Certified Lymphedema Therapist (CLT). 

Kim’s certification included 135 hours total with 75 hours of online work and 60 hours of in-person class and hands-on work. Kim was in Minneapolis for the class from October 13th to the 20th for the in-person class, but all online class work was completed prior to attending. Both a written test and hands-on practical was passed for the certification. 

What is Lymphedema? Lymphedema is known as an abnormal accumulation of protein rich fluid that can occur gradually over time with increasing complaints of tightness or heaviness. Lymphedema increases one’s risk of infection or cellulitis. Typically lymphedema affects only one arm or leg, but can affect both as more commonly seen in the legs.

The 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 accumulation, but performing and teaching/educating the patient on application of compression bandages or garments, exercise, nail & skin care, and other self-cares to assist with overall management of their condition.

Kim is now able to treat our patients who have lymphedema, lipidemia, or lymphedema which can occur due to other medial issues such as obesity, chronic venous insufficiency, lipo-lymphedema, or after a trauma or orthopedic surgery.

“Most people have not heard of or know much about lymphedema until they have been diagnosed with it,” said Kim. “I’m pleased to be able to offer this service to our patients who are diagnosed with this condition.”

Stay close to home, and receive your therapy and rehabilitation services with the experts at GMHC. For more information call 563-252-1121.

Guttenberg Municipal Hospital & Clinics is pleased to announce a collaboration with WELL Health Inc. to implement automated appointment reminders through secure two-way, multilingual messaging in the patient’s preferred communications channel: texting or telephone.

If GMHC has your cell phone or home phone in its system, patients will receive automated appointment reminders seven days, two days and one day before their appointments. Patients have an opportunity to respond or to opt-out of this service.

“It is our hopes that this two-way communication will help improve our patient’s experience throughout their care at GMHC,” said Danelle Krapfl, Lab and Imaging Manager.

This new service will begin on October 5, 2021.

 

Robin Esmann, Director of Performance Excellence at Guttenberg Municipal Hospital & Clinics, was recently selected as one of the Iowa Hospital Association’s (IHA) Hospital Heroes.

“It is truly an honor and privilege to announce our Director of Performance Excellence, Robin Esmann, was named a hospital hero. Robin’s knowledge and expertise coupled with her compassion and commitment to our community absolutely make her a hero to us,” said Tim Ahlers, CEO. 

“Over the past year, Robin has worn many leadership hats including Nursing, Incident Command, Employee Health, Infection Control, Safety, Quality, and she is an EMS member” reflected Lisa Manson, Director of Ambulatory Services. “Robin’s training in quality processes was apparent during the past year. She never settles for just good enough.”

Robin took responsibility for spearheading the COVID-19 vaccination process in the community. She worked closely with county and state officials to procure an appropriate supply of vaccine. Robin also secured a site for the vaccination clinic that was close to the hospital. After establishing a call-in hotline, Robin and several volunteers began contacting thousands of people to make appointments. In addition, Robin took a clinic on the road to reach local manufacturing firms interested in vaccinations for their employees. She was relentless in assuring that everyone who was eligible and desired to be vaccinated could be accommodated. 

“Jim and I had the pleasure of working alongside Robin at most of the vaccination clinics,” said Sue Osterhaus, vaccination clinic volunteer. “In the face of an incredibly stressful pandemic, Robin acted with strength and integrity every day as she managed the clinics and answered countless emails, calls, and questions regarding the vaccinations.”

Commented Robin, “I am honored to not only be nominated for this award by my colleagues but to also be chosen for this award by the Iowa Hospital Association.  There is no doubt that this past year has been the most challenging of my career. I never imagined having to live through a pandemic and certainly not one of this magnitude.  Fortunately, we have a great team at GMHC and that team is still working tirelessly day in and day out to get us through this pandemic. I’m very proud of the work we do and all that we accomplish; everyone at GMHC plays a very important role on the team.”

“Robin has been a nurse for more than 30 years and has been dedicated to our organization and our community,” commented Tim Ahlers. “She has worked in many settings throughout the hospital as a bedside nurse, a quality expert and a leader, excelling in every role. Robin’s knowledge of infectious disease and her courage to lead us through the pandemic is inspiring. Her commitment to our community is heroic. Robin is kind. She is a collaborator. She is courageous. And she is a true leader.”

Since 2007, IHA’s Hospital Heroes program has celebrated employees who have acted courageously in a moment’s crisis or who have selflessly served their hospitals and communities throughout their careers. Last year, IHA recognized all hospital employees for their heroic efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic and in response to the derecho windstorm in August 2020. In 2021, IHA returned to recognizing 10 hospital employees who exemplify the passion and purpose of the community hospital mission every day.

Robin will be recognized at the IHA Virtual Annual Meeting in October.

Guttenberg Municipal Hospital & Clinics is pleased to announce a new partnership with Edgewood-Colesburg School District for Athletic Training services.  

Sydney Pirillo, Physical Therapy Assistant and Athletic Trainer at Guttenberg Municipal Hospital & Clinics is contracted for athletic training services two hours per week, and at home games as her schedule allows.

“The Edgewood-Colesburg School District has been looking for ways to provide athletic training services to our coaches and athletes for years.  One of the challenges has been finding the right partnership to meet the needs of the district. We believe that the partnership with the Guttenberg Municipal Hospitals & Clinics will provide the needed services for students and additional training for coaches.  We see this as an opportunity not only to help students recover faster from injuries but also to prevent injuries in the first place.” said Rob Busch, Edgewood-Colesburg CSD Superintendent. 

In her role as Athletic Trainer, Sydney works with student athletes to keep them healthy and strong. She typically sees 5 to 10 athletes per week during her time at school, as well as checks in with coaches and parents if additional communication is needed about an athlete’s injury. She recommends strengthening and stretching exercises, wrapping/taping techniques and other conservative techniques to both athletes and their coaches.

“My number one goal is to work with student-athletes and coaches to prevent injuries,” said Sydney. “All athletes are encouraged to report injuries when they occur, big or small, to prevent the injury from worsening in severity and to help resolve the issue in a timely manner. When injuries are not able to be prevented, my goal is to get the athlete back on the playing field as quickly and safely as possible, keep them in school, and reduce the risk of long term affects. I know that dealing with an injury can be stressful and I work to ease this process by advocating for the athlete and collaborating with local physical therapist, chiropractors, and physicians to provide the best care. I am honored to be joining the Edgewood-Colesberg team and can’t wait to help student-athletes achieve their goals on and off the field.” 

Commented Alex Hanna, Activities Director, “We have loved having Syd in our building the last few weeks.  Her help diagnosing injuries, helping with exercises and treatment for our athletes, and keeping them accountable to their recovery has been invaluable.  In a school our size, keeping our student athletes healthy and doing what they love is more important than ever, so having a resource like her each week and at games is amazing for Ed-Co.  Syd has been very progressive with her outreach to our coaches and communication to keep them in the loop about what our athletes can and can’t do from week to week.  We have great support at Ed-Co from Administration and our Board, so their approval of this agreement should not come as a surprise.  We are very thankful that this partnership has been made and we hope that it will continue to grow in the future for the benefit of all of our athletic programs here at Ed-Co.”

On August 11, the Guttenberg Municipal Hospital & Clinics Imaging Department performed its first MRI in the new Seimens MAGNETOM Altea Open Bore system.

“One of our first patients said that the brighter room and the lack of noise was a great improvement over our previous MRI,” said Karen Pressley, Radiologic Technologist. 

The new Altea has a wider bore opening and is equipped with Quiet Suite and Turbo Suite to reduce the noise during the scan and enable a reduction in exam times by using advanced accelerated imaging techniques. These new features will help to reduce patient stress, making the exam more comfortable for the patient. 

“The images are beautiful,” commented Dr. Joshua McDonald from Radiology Consultants of Iowa. “Allow me to commend GMHC leadership in bringing this great technology to the community of Guttenberg. This is a state of the art MRI unit and will definitely enhance the healthcare for Guttenberg and the surrounding communities. I consider it a great privilege to work with the GMHC Imaging staff and the patients of Guttenberg.”

MRI patients have been very pleased with the updated technology at GMHC.

“We had a patient who tried to have an MRI at another facility, and was told that he wouldn’t fit. When he came here, he fit without any problems,” said Terri Koopmann, Imaging Coordinator. “Other patients are claustrophobic but have no issues with our new MRI. We are pleased to improve our patient’s MRI experience with reduced noise, a wider opening and advanced accelerated imaging techniques.”

The Family Resource Center’s SHIIP Program was selected to receive a Governor’s Volunteer Award for outstanding commitment and service.

A virtual ceremony for the Governor’s Volunteer Award recognition was held on July 14th, and was attended by SHIIP Counselor Jim Solomon and Family Resource Center Coordinator Kari Harbaugh.

The ceremony lasted 45 minutes and included remarks from Governor Kim Reynolds, Lt. Governor Adam Gregg, and service leaders across Iowa. Awards were presented for six regions across the state: Central, Northeast, East-Central, Southeast, Northwest, and Southwest Iowa. The presentation of awards occurred by region, followed by short remarks from regional service leaders.

The dedication of volunteer SHIIP Counselor Jim Solomon made the award possible. Jim was honored for giving the precious gift of his time to meet essential needs of those he serves, and thanked for his dedication and for contributing his talent to enrich Iowa.

Jim Solomon is entering his fourth year volunteering to assist local residents to save money. In Jim’s third year of volunteering he helped 218 clients save a total of $127,448 by comparing Medicare Part D plans. 

“We are so grateful for the time and talent that Jim has donated to assisting others,” Family Resource Center Coordinator Kari Harbaugh added. “Jim is a great asset to our community. He made this recognition possible.”

As a SHIIP Counselor, Jim will assist you with these three important things during Medicare open enrollment:

● 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 with Jim, call the Family Resource Center 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.

On Thursday, June 24 at the annual Edgewood Pro Rodeo Days, Guttenberg Municipal Hospital & Clinics Imaging Department received a $5,000 check from the Edgewood-Colesburg (Ed-Co) Girls Volleyball Team. The team raised funds through silent auctions, t-shirt sales, and 50/50 raffles to benefit those who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.  These funds are then shared with local area hospitals to provide comfort at a time of need. 

The GMHC Imaging Department uses these funds to assemble beautiful gift bags to all of its newly diagnosed breast cancer patients. 

Items included are:

• $200 Casey’s Gift Card

• $150 Walmart Gift Card

• Note cards with stamps

• Aloe socks and gloves

• Lotion

• Coloring book and colored pencils

• Candy

• Bracelet

• Scarf

• Hot chocolate / coffee

• Water / coffee mug

• Blanket

• Chicken Soup for the Soul book

• Pink Tote Bag

On behalf of the Guttenberg Municipal Hospital & Clinics Imaging Department, thank you to the Ed-Co Girls Volleyball Team and Coach Eileen Bergan for the hard work and dedication to their communities.

By Dr. Michele Dikkers, Physician at Cornerstone Family Practice and GMHC, Chair of Clayton County Board of Health

The vaccine. It is here. It is safe. It is free. And it is available. It is so available, that there is no longer a wait list in Clayton County.

All anyone in the county needs to do is call (563) 245-2064 and they can be directed to a pharmacy or clinic and receive a vaccine. It is easy and it is free.

There can be side effects to the vaccine. Side effects like fatigue, body aches, chills and fevers.

They can last 12-48 hours. The biggest side effect is relief. Relief that we have another layer of protection. Another way to protect those we love and care for.

I have spent the last year going back and forth to work and home. I have avoided large group gatherings.

I have worn masks, washed my hands and socially distanced.

During a normal month, I may sign four death certificates. During the surge in Northeast Iowa, I was signing them daily, sometimes up to four a day.

I have watched patients and friends die from a disease that has no cure. There are treatments to help support the body and help in fighting the disease, but no proven cure. There have been many treatments, new and old, that have been tried and studied, around the world. We keep looking.

According to John Hopkins weekly report there have been 141.5 million cases and 3.0 million deaths worldwide. There have been 564,000 deaths in the United States.

Eighty percent of the time, the COVID virus has a mild effect. Twenty percent of the time, it is not mild. Roughly, ten percent of those with COVID will need hospitalizing and supportive care.

Two percent of the time the virus is deadly. We thought we could predict who would fall into that 20% category, but learned quickly, we could not. Basically, everyone is at risk.

A smoker is somewhere around 200-400 times more likely to develop a blood clot, than is someone that gets a COVID vaccine. Most of us have been getting vaccines our whole lives without issues.

As we have journeyed through the past year, it has come to my attention that if one has not been inside a medical institute during a surge, they may not have the same perspective as someone that has.

I share my experiences of the past year, not to be used as a scare tactic, but to give perspective.

This past year has changed me. It has changed us all.

The quickest way to take our life back, for the economy to recover, for businesses to return, for families and friends to gather is for everyone to get the vaccine. It is our best shot. It is America’s best shot.

Please, get yours NOW.

It is quite simple. If you love, care for and/or respect the people and family members you spend time with, you will get the vaccine to protect them and yourself.

The vaccine. It is here. It is safe. It is available. And it can save lives.

>