Category: Latest News

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.

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.

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.

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.

 

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