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More than 120 people attended Mahaska Health Partnership’s Volunteer Appreciation Event in Oskaloosa on April 13. The luncheon was held to honor all MHP volunteers who selflessly lend a helping hand for the benefit of patients, visitors and staff. Volunteers can be found throughout the health system, including Hospice Services in both Keokuk and Mahaska counties, chaplains, hospital gift shop volunteers and surgical services liaisons. Volunteers also serve on various boards and advisory committees. MHP officials enjoyed the opportunity to thank its more than 250 volunteers for making healthcare personal.

For more information about volunteer opportunities at MHP, call 641.672.3342.

For more information about hospice volunteer opportunities in Keokuk County, call 641.622.2541.

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Are you living with diabetes and struggling with how to handle it?  Mahaska Health Partnership is offering assistance through a free support group focused on managing symptoms and coping with diabetes care at home.

According to the American Diabetes Association, approximately 30 million children and adults have diabetes, with close to 95% of those being afflicted with type 2 diabetes. “Diabetes can be a scary diagnoses for many individuals,” MHP Registered Nurse and Certified Diabetes Educator Sharon Ferguson shared. “This support group is designed to help those struggling with diabetes to learn coping skills among their peers in a comfortable environment.”

The next support group will be held on Tuesday, April 21 from 6:30 – 7:30 pm in the Cedar Bluff Learning Center, MHP Campus (entrance #3). The key topic for April will be foot care with MHP Podiatrist Dr. Mark Beers sharing information on the importance of caring for your feet and the added risks for people with diabetes.

“Foot care is especially important when you have diabetes,” Ferguson explained. “Minor cuts or scrapes can become major health risks if left untreated. Dr. Beers will be available to demonstrate proper foot care and answer questions. I strongly encourage anyone who is newly diagnosed or curious about proper foot care to attend this session.”

Anyone diagnosed with diabetes, pre-diabetes or caring for a loved one is encouraged to attend this free support group. “Each session is different, as we focus on various key areas of management for attendees,” Ferguson explained. “Our goal is to provide you with the tools necessary to manage diabetes with confidence at home.”

For questions regarding other diabetes support group dates or Diabetes Education, call Ferguson at 641.672.3422.

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New Sharon Medical Center, a service of Mahaska Health Partnership in Oskaloosa, held an open house on April 8 to welcome Family Nurse Practitioner Lisa Smith, ARNP-C, to the practice as the full-time provider. Smith, a New Sharon resident, said she is excited to be meeting the healthcare needs of her home community. Smith, center, is shown with Steve and Jo Wiley of New Sharon at the open house.

In recognition of National Public Health Week, April 6 through 12, Mahaska Health Partnership Public Health is raising awareness about improving our community’s health and safety.

The mission of Public Health Services is to promote, preserve and protect the health and environmental well-being of the county they serve. MHP Public Health Services oversees many programs to improve the lives of area children and families.

“Public health focuses on creating programs and activities that improve the lives of residents and foster a brighter future,” said MHP Public Health Coordinator Patty Malloy. “We are here to serve the public and help us have a healthier community.”

MHP Public Health offers immunizations, emergency preparedness education, maternal and child health services, child lead screenings and many other services.

“We are always working to ensure the citizens of our community have the education, nutrition and resources they need to be healthy and productive members of society,” shared Malloy. “Our goal is to effectively serve the Mahaska community whether it is during an emergent situation or through routine vaccinations and education.”

Public health is critical to our nation’s health and future. By empowering communities to be aware of emerging health risks, public health is improving the well-being of the nation as a whole. To learn more about what MHP Public Health Services is doing in our community, call 641.672.3257.
Mahaska Health Partnership Behavioral Health Services will be offering Mental Health First Aid Training on Friday, May 1, from 8 am to 5 pm in the Cedar Bluff Learning Center (entrance #3) on the MHP campus.

“There are many types of mental health symptoms people might experience at some point in their lives,” MHP Behavioral Health Director Jan LeBahn, LISW, said. “Mental Health First Aid training will help all types of people from teachers, to first responders and other medical professionals, faith leaders and the general public; learn how to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental health problems and how to help.”

LeBahn said many people experience a mental health illness at some point in their lives, but every illness is different and should be treated as such. “For instance, just because a person is suffering from depression doesn’t mean they should be treated as though they need cheering up. Everything depends on the type of depression they have, such as postpartum, grief induced, bipolar disorder or otherwise. 

“There are many types of depression and even though they share similar symptoms, afflicted people need to be treated individually. This is also true for people who have anxiety disorders, paranoia or eating disorders. Each of these disorders is very unique and needs to be approached in a different manner, depending on the situation,” LeBahn stressed.

“The goal with classes such as Mental Health First Aid is for the public to learn how to recognize signs and symptoms, to be able to intervene, and feel comfortable talking about symptoms of mental health,” LeBahn encouraged. “If more people receive proper treatment for mental illness, the lifelong effects can be reduced.”

The cost of the class is $35 and six CEU’s will be offered. To register for Mental Health First Aid training or for more information, call 641.672.3159. The deadline to register is Friday, April 17. 
Mahaska Health Partnership’s New Sharon Medical Center invites you to an Open House Celebration. The Open House will be held Wednesday, April 8 from 1 to 3 pm to welcome Family Nurse Practitioner Lisa Smith, ARNP-C, as the new primary care provider at the clinic.

Smith has over seven years of experience caring for patients of all ages, spending the past two on the MHP campus in Oskaloosa. “I enjoy caring for patients of all ages so I’m excited for the opportunity to serve the entire community of New Sharon,” Smith said.

“I absolutely love caring for kids. As a mother of a seven-year-old; I understand the value of reliable information from someone you can trust. I also enjoy caring for adults, providing annual physicals, managing chronic conditions and consulting about your overall well-being,” Smith stressed. “I want to be your family’s primary care provider; conveniently located in New Sharon.

“My son and I moved here a little over a year ago and everyone has been so welcoming,” Smith said. “It will be nice to care for people in my home community.”

MHP’s New Sharon Medical Center is a full-service practice where patients can be treated from birth to end-of-life. It is staffed by a full time Family Nurse Practitioner, a registered nurse and an office manager. Patients can be seen for all of their primary care needs including annual physicals and well-child exams to illness and injury diagnosis.

The New Sharon Medical Center is located at 112 South Main Street. It is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 7:30 am to 4:30 pm and Wednesdays from 7:30 am to Noon. For an appointment, call 641.637.2651.

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Mahaska Health Partnership in Oskaloosa generates 490 jobs that add $31,177,520 to Mahaska County’s economy, according to the latest study by the Iowa Hospital Association. In addition, MHP employees by themselves spend $6,486,776 on retail sales and contribute $389,207 in state sales tax revenue.

“Mahaska Health Partnership has been meeting the community’s healthcare needs for more than 100 years, and being an active participant in community affairs has always been at the forefront of being a good corporate citizen,” MHP CEO Jay Christensen said. “In addition to improving the health of our community, MHP also stimulates the local economy by providing secure, meaningful work to almost 500 people, and that continues to grow!”

Christensen said the majority of MHP’s staff has deep connections to families and friends in the county, which makes the relationship between the health system and community even tighter. “As an organization, we try our utmost to support the community that supports us by shopping local whenever possible. That philosophy of business leverages those economic factors even further. It is part of our role in a strong community,” Christensen explained.

According to MHP Board of Trustee Member and Past President Paul Swenson, the hospital remains vital to Mahaska County’s future economic success. “As a Board, we understand that having a strong healthcare system plays a key role in the decisions of businesses and individuals looking to expand or relocate to our community,” Swenson said.

“As the largest employer in the county, our economic impact in the region guides us in the decisions we make to be good stewards of MHP’s resources while offering the services and equipment needed to meet the community’s healthcare needs locally.”

The IHA study examined the jobs, income, retail sales and sales tax produced by hospitals and the rest of the state’s healthcare sector. The study was compiled from hospital-submitted data on the American Hospital Association’s Annual Survey of Hospitals and with software that other industries have used to determine their economic impact.

The study found that Iowa hospitals directly employ 71,324 people and create another 50,131 jobs outside the hospital sector. As an income source, hospitals provide $4.2 billion in salaries and benefits and generate another $1.8 billion through other jobs that depend on hospitals.

“Hospitals positively influence their local economies not only with how many people they employ and the salaries of those employees, but also through hospital purchases from local businesses as well as the impact of employee spending and tax support,” Kirk Norris, IHA president/CEO said. “Whether at the local level or statewide, there are few Iowa employers that generate economic activity comparable to hospitals.”

The Iowa Hospital Association is a voluntary membership organization representing hospital and health system interests to business, government and consumer audiences.  All of Iowa’s 118 community hospitals are IHA members.

Mahaska Health Partnership invites the public to share in the celebration of National Doctors’ Day on Monday, Mar. 30.

The first Doctors’ Day was celebrated on March 30, 1933, the same day in 1842 that anesthetic was first used in surgery. The day was officially designated as National Doctors’ Day in 1991 by then President George H. W. Bush. The purpose of the special day is to thank medical providers for the countless hours they dedicate to their patients.

“At MHP, we are fortunate to have a diverse medical staff, which affords us the opportunity to offer a wide variety of services to our community,” MHP CEO Jay Christensen said. “Everything we do at MHP directly relates to the needs of our community and none of it would be possible without the dedication of the medical professionals serving on our campus.”

Christensen said MHP benefits from having an outstanding medical staff. “We are truly blessed to work with such a dedicated group of medical professionals who strive to give outstanding medical services. The compassion our staff gives is only found when neighbors care for each other.”

Over the last year, some significant changes and additions to MHP’s medical staff have occurred. “We saw the retirement of Dr. Nick Messamer at the start of this year after 23 years of patient care in Oskaloosa,” Christensen explained. “We also welcomed the return of Psychiatrist Dr. Ron Berges, who has filled the role of Psychiatric Director for Inpatient Geriatric Psychiatry and Behavioral Health Services.

“Our latest addition to the MHP team is Family Nurse Practitioner Jen Scott. She has extensive knowledge about cardiovascular health and treats patients of all ages. Family Nurse Practitioner Lisa Smith recently relocated from our campus in Oskaloosa to New Sharon Medical Center, where she can provide primary care to her neighbors. We are also looking forward to the addition of two new providers this July.”

Christensen stressed the importance of great providers in rural healthcare settings. “Without a great medical staff, we wouldn’t be able to provide the wide array of services we have at MHP. I am thankful to work with such a wonderful healthcare team in Oskaloosa.”

Whether giving their time in surgery, providing primary care, obstetrical services or volunteering at the Oskaloosa Free Clinic; MHP medical providers have one goal: the health and well-being of you and your family. On National Doctors’ Day and every day, join MHP in extending a heartfelt thank you to this talented and dedicated group of professionals.