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Babies change drastically in the first 12 months, which can be a surprise for new parents. Some may worry that their baby’s development is not on target. While it is important to remember that all children develop at different rates, Mahaska Health Partnership offers some insight regarding what milestones your child may reach in their first year of life.

During their first three months as a newborn, a baby’s body and brain are getting acquainted to life outside their mother’s womb. “This is a time of adjustment for babies and getting used to a brand new world,” MHP Family Practice with Obstetrics Physician Dr. Lisa Ruckman said. “They are working on developing strength and adjusting to all the new sights and sounds around them.”

Usually within the first three months, babies will start to smile, track objects with their eyes, grip things, open and shut their hands and lift their heads while on their tummies. Babies may also start reaching for items like toys dangling near them, but their lack of coordination may not allow them to grab anything yet.

“Between four and six months, babies are starting to interact more with their world,” Dr. Ruckman explained. “They may begin to start rolling from their front to their backs, as well as sitting up straight with support. Their ability to grip and manipulate objects with their hands improves too. They are able to control their heads much better by this time. Babies often discover their voices at this age, which leads to lots of giggles and babbles!”

By seven to nine months of age, babies become very active. “Your child may start to crawl at this age, which can include scooting around on their bottoms, dragging themselves around on their tummies or regular crawling,” Dr. Ruckman shared. “Some babies may go straight from scooting to walking without ever crawling. They can also sit without support and may begin to pull themselves up into a standing position. Babies will also respond to familiar words like their name as well as clap and play games such as peek-a-boo.”

From nine to 12 months, drastic changes may occur. “Babies are not infants anymore once they get to this stage, but they are instead transitioning into toddlers,” Dr. Ruckman said. “However, they are still learning many different things about themselves and their world so still require the same love, attention and nurturing they always have.”

During this stage of development, Dr. Ruckman said, "Children between the ages of ten and twelve months may start feeding themselves small foods like cereal. Speech and walking may occur during this time, but each child varies greatly with these milestones, so don’t be alarmed if they aren’t quite ready for them yet.”

­While these milestones are typical for most children, Dr. Ruckman urges parents to watch for progress, not deadlines. “Each child grows at their own pace, so don’t worry if your child isn’t at the same level as others their age. If you have concerns regarding their development, I encourage you to talk with your primary care provider during regular well-child check-ups.”

Dr. Lisa Ruckman is a Family Practice Physician also delivering babies at Mahaska Health Partnership in Oskaloosa. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Ruckman, call 641.672.3360.
Mahaska Health Partnership announces Thanksgiving holiday hours as follows:

MHP Medical Group, Home Health and Hospice Services and Public Health will be closed for the holiday but will open again for normal hours on Friday. A nurse will be on call Thursday to assist with any home health and hospice needs.

Behavioral Health Services will be closed Thursday and Friday, Nov. 27-28. Please call the switchboard at 641.672.3100 for emergency calls. Normal operating hours will resume on Monday, Dec. 1.

The New Sharon Medical Center will be closed for Thanksgiving. They will be open from 8:00 am until 4:30 pm on Friday, Nov. 28, and resume normal business hours Monday, Dec. 1.

For more information on Thanksgiving holiday hours, call 641.672.3100. From the MHP Family to yours, have a happy Thanksgiving!
Thanksgiving is a holiday for gatherings, great food and fun. Turkey is usually a star feature of the meal, and can be prepared a variety of ways, including frying. Mahaska Health Partnership wants you to spend your holiday with loved ones, instead of emergency responders, by being mindful about turkey fryers.

“When choosing to fry a turkey, make sure you understand how to properly use the equipment ahead of time,” MHP Emergency Physician Dr. Ben Oldson shared. “It is easy to cause fires and burns if you are not prepared.”

The National Turkey Federation recommends picking a bird between eight and ten pounds to avoid oil overflows. Thaw your bird in the refrigerator approximately 24 hours for every five pounds. For example, a ten pound bird would take 48 hours to thaw in the fridge before it was safe to fry. Also, choose oils with high smoke points like peanut, canola and safflower to avoid fires. Peanut oil adds flavor, but check with guests for allergies prior to preparation.

Another tip is to use the fryer outside and a safe distance from any flammable materials. Set your unit on a flat, fire-resistant surface, such as a cement pad. Avoid garages, wooden decks and patios or grassy areas. Many frying units can tip over easily, so have a large, flat surface to cook on. Never leave a fryer unattended and keep kids and pets at a safe distance.

When cooking, make sure to take a few precautionary steps to avoid injury. “Use oven mitts and goggles, especially when putting the turkey in the oil and taking it out, in case of splashes,” Dr. Oldson advised. “Always keep a grease-rated fire extinguisher close by in case of fires.”

In the event of a burn, immediately assess the severity. “If someone experiences a severe burn, seek immediate medical attention,” Dr. Oldson urged. “Call 911 if the burn penetrates all layers of skin or has a leathery, charred appearance. Immediately remove any constrictive clothing, jewelry or belts as swelling can occur rapidly. Remove any smoldering clothing that is not attached to the burned area and avoid putting ointments or sprays on the wound. Cover it gently with clean, dry gauze or sheet that will not leave lint on the area.”

For minor burns, Dr. Oldson recommends cooling, covering and pain management. “If you experience a small, superficial burn, make sure to run the affected area under cool water until the pain subsides. Do not apply ointments. Cover the area with dry, sterile gauze and treat any pain with over-the-counter medications. Most importantly, be safe and spend the holiday with your friends and family instead of us.”

Should you experience an emergency during the holiday, MHP Emergency Services is staffed 24/7 by specially trained physicians, nurses and paramedics. As a designated Level III Trauma Center, a Trauma Response Team is readily available to handle emergent situations. For more information about MHP Emergency Services and their Level III Trauma designation, visit mahaskahealth.org.
Mahaska Health Partnership has staff available to answer questions and assist individuals in registering for insurance on the national Health Insurance Marketplace, sometimes called the health insurance “exchange.”

Getting health insurance before Feb. 15, 2015 is necessary to avoid tax penalties. Whether you are completely new to the process or get halfway through and need additional assistance, MHP’s certified application counselors can help with the process.

According to the Iowa Hospital Association, Medicaid expansion is doing what it was intended to do – making healthcare more accessible and affordable for Iowans who have gained eligibility and coverage. During the first six months of 2014, the number of people hospitalized in Iowa without insurance fell by 45.7 percent, compared to the same period last year. However, the process of getting health insurance through the national exchange can still be confusing and could lead to people making poor choices.

“The healthcare rules can be confusing for everyone,” Certified Application Counselor Kelli Fleener said. “A number of MHP staff have training about health insurance laws so we can assist. Whether you are a new enrollee or would like to have your information reevaluated to ensure your coverage still fits your needs, we can help.”

In order to have coverage begin Jan. 1, 2015, enrollment should be completed by Dec. 15, 2014. “You can continue to enroll in 2015, however, coverage will not begin until the start of the following month,” Fleener shared. “Everyone is required to have health insurance, so being proactive can help avoid penalties.”

MHP Certified Application Counselors are available to answer questions and help people search for plans that best fit their needs. Meeting with a counselor will take approximately one hour, but each situation is different.

To schedule an appointment, call 641.672.3362 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. For more information regarding healthcare regulations and the Affordable Care Act, visit healthcare.gov.

Sharon 7475 5x7

According to the American Diabetes Association, nearly 26 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes. In honor of National Diabetes Month, Mahaska Health Partnership is sharing some new ways to manage your diabetes with technology.

Whether you are at risk or have already been diagnosed, eating a healthy diet and practicing regular exercise can be your best options when combating the effects of diabetes. “Diabetes is a life altering disease that needs management and attention,” MHP Diabetes Educator Sharon Ferguson shared. “Thankfully, advances in technology have made diabetes self-management easier.”

According to Ferguson, new technology provides individuals with educational resources and data-gathering mechanisms for managing their own care between provider visits. “While it is very important to continue regular visits with your healthcare provider, these technological advances assist with more precise insulin administration methods, smaller needles for checking blood sugar and injecting insulin, continuous glucose monitors and insulin pump devices.”

Ferguson also shared the advantage of new smart phone and tablet technology. “You can now download apps to help keep track of your blood sugars, take pictures of the foods you ate, record times when insulin was administered and the amount taken. You can also set reminders of when to take blood sugars and insulin. All of this information is maintained and plotted to show patients and providers alike how well a patient is responding to medication therapy, exercise and diet; which is key to disease management.”

Ferguson suggested some diabetes management sites, including www.mysugr.com, www.Dlife.com and www.mydiabeteshome.com. “These sites, among others, have made monitoring and managing diabetes fun and easy,” Ferguson explained.

If you are diagnosed with diabetes or have a family history, talk with your healthcare provider about working with a diabetes educator. For more information about this disease and to learn about your options, contact Mahaska Health Partnership Diabetes Educator Sharon Ferguson at 641.672.3422. 

In 1995, Keokuk County Hospice and Mahaska Health Partnership joined forces to continue the long tradition of hospice services in Sigourney. At the time, Keokuk County Hospice was a stand-alone organization unaffiliated with a hospital.

Due to regulations required from Medicare as well as the cost of doing business, the partnership was necessary to ensure that the wonderful services of Keokuk County Hospice would continue in the Sigourney area. Through this partnership, both organizations have grown and changed, but one thing remains the same; the outstanding care and compassion these nurses and support staff provide for patients and their families.

“We are very fortunate to be able to provide hospice services here in Keokuk County,” Keokuk County Hospice Foundation Advisory Board President Vergene Schmidt shared. “By partnering with MHP, we have been able to give our county end-of-life care that is close to home, while also meeting Medicare regulations. Our patients get to utilize MHP services like Massage Therapy, as well as access to in-home medical equipment, all at no cost to the families. Having a wide knowledge base from the individuals at MHP also helps us develop the best care plan possible for our patients.”

Schmidt went on to stress that memorials, bequeaths and donations made by individuals and civic groups remain in Keokuk County, although the services live under the MHP name. “Any donations that are made to the Keokuk County Hospice location stay in our county,” Schmidt explained. “Though we live under the MHP name, it is merely a partnership; we keep everything local for our residents at this hospice office. We appreciate anything our community can provide and ensure our patients are the ones who benefit.”

Kathy Utterback, President of the Keokuk County Hospice Auxiliary, explained that funds raised through special events hosted by the Auxiliary also remain in Keokuk County. “Any fundraisers held in Keokuk County by our Auxiliary, like our pie auction, golf tournament and Tree of Memories fundraiser, directly benefit Keokuk County patients. We work with MHP staff to make sure that the highest quality of care is available to our patients, but any fundraising stays local.”

Today, Mahaska Health Partnership Home Health and Hospice Services is all encompassing and has grown to serve Mahaska, Keokuk and surrounding counties. Although they may be referred to by a different name; the same caring and supportive staff is still involved with every aspect of the care patients in Keokuk County receive.

The community is invited to contact the Sigourney office at 641.622.2541 if they have questions or would like to speak with a Keokuk County Hospice Foundation Board Member.
While the threat of the Ebola Virus presenting at Mahaska Health Partnership is currently very low, staff continue to prepare for the potential spread of the highly infectious disease.

According to MHP Public Health Coordinator Patty Malloy, the health system is taking a proactive approach to raise awareness and promote readiness. MHP is meeting regularly with infection specialists, emergency services leaders and other hospital leaders to receive the latest updates on Ebola management and treatment. Training continues to follow Centers for Disease and Control (CDC) guidelines, including procedures for patient isolation, properly utilizing personal protective equipment (PPE) and handling waste.

“The emergency of the Ebola Virus in the United States has heightened awareness of all hospitals and healthcare workers about the importance of following strict infection control procedures,” Malloy said. “We take the health and well-being of our community, patients, staff and visitors very seriously. We are closely monitoring the situation through daily updates from the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) and plans are in place for anyone who may have traveled to affected countries who develops symptoms.”

According to the IDPH, hospitals across the state are working closely with local public health and healthcare professionals, state entities and the CDC in response and preparation to the West African Ebola situation. “There have been no cases of Ebola in Iowa, and the US Public Health system is taking extraordinary measures to keep this risk low,” Malloy stressed.

Malloy said it is important to remember the Ebola virus is not spread through the air, and it is only contagious if the infected person is having active symptoms. Ebola is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids of a person experiencing symptoms of the disease such as fever, severe headache, muscle pain, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal (stomach) pain and unexplained hemorrhage (bleeding or bruising).

According to the CDC, symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to Ebola, but the average is 8 to 10 days. Malloy said patients coming to the hospital for treatment are asked to report if they have traveled to a country where Ebola outbreaks are occurring or if they have had contact with anyone who resides or has traveled from an outbreak area.

Malloy said that the risk of contracting any type of infectious disease can be minimized by following basic, everyday healthy practices and receiving recommended vaccinations. “Wash your hands regularly, stay at home when you are sick and always cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze,” Malloy stressed. “Unless you have a medical reason for not getting the flu vaccine, you should get one.”

If you have specific questions regarding Ebola, Malloy said you can visit the CDC or IDPH websites at www.cdc.gov or www.idph.state.ia.us. You can also call Mahaska County Public Health at 641-673-3257.

MHPWomensBreastHealthNightOct28

More than 230 people attended Mahaska Health Partnership’s Free Women’s Breast Health Night on Oct. 28 at the Gateway Church of the Nazarene in Oskaloosa. The event featured a panel of speakers including MHP General Surgeon Dr. Paul Riggs, Survivor Martha Landers, Cancer Care and Infusion Center Nurse Sally Blake and Primary Care Physician Dr. Lisa Ruckman. Each speaker answered breast health questions posed by Director of Radiology Julie Hartke.