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Struggling with smoking and ready to kick the habit in 2015? Mahaska Health Partnership Cardiopulmonary Services will be offering a seven-week Freedom from Smoking Class beginning Tuesday, Jan. 6.

Freedom from Smoking is an educational series developed by the American Lung Association that emphasizes long-term freedom from smoking. According to Certified Facilitator Kai Schwab, BA, RPSGT, RST, each smoker who joins will develop an individual plan for quitting and learn the latest updates on stress management and pharmaceutical interventions.

“With 2015 fast approaching, many people will be making resolutions to kick their smoking habit,” Schwab said. “I strongly encourage anyone considering quitting to attend this session. This program is focused on providing the tools necessary for not only breaking the smoking habit, but finding alternative ways to cope with stress.”

Schwab said that even if people have been unsuccessful in the past with quitting smoking, they should try this program. “Nicotine is a very addictive substance and it’s readily available in many retail stores,” Schwab explained. “The Freedom from Smoking Class can help smokers with proven steps to make quitting more successful. What better way to start off 2015 than by working towards a healthier you!”

The Freedom from Smoking Class will be offered for seven weeks with class meeting every Tuesday, beginning Jan. 6 through Feb. 17, from 5:30 to 7:00 pm on the MHP campus in Oskaloosa.

For more information and to register, contact Schwab at 641.672.3163. Pre-registration is requested but can be completed at the first class.

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Dr. Stephen Mineart was named the 2014 MHP MVP (Most Valuable Provider) at Mahaska Health Partnership’s annual Provider Appreciation Dinner. He is presented his “Golden Stethoscope” award by Jay Christensen, MHP CEO (left).

Mahaska Health Partnership has named Family Practice Physician Stephen Mineart, MD, the 2014 MHP MVP (Most Valuable Provider).

Each year, members of the Provider Satisfaction Team help select the MVP Provider Award recipient based on several factors, including patient care, employee relations, leadership and hospital engagement. MHP CEO Jay Christensen said we are fortunate this year, as in previous years, to have had many outstanding providers nominated and eligible for the award.

“The strength of our medical staff is a source of great pride,” Christensen stressed. “Dr. Mineart was chosen this year for his leadership and willingness to be a resource for his peers. He always puts the best interest of his patients first and is willing to go the extra mile to work in patients that need to be seen.

“He is engaged in both the Medical Group and the hospital, participating in multiple work teams, including one to develop an afternoon and evening walk-In clinic at MHP.  He is also a Senior Aviation Medical Examiner who provides FAA flight physicals and serves as Medical Director for Cardiopulmonary Services.”

According to Christensen, Dr. Mineart was instrumental in the integration of Family Medical Center to the health system last year, and continues to do all he can to create a stronger healthcare system in Mahaska County. Dr. Mineart is also a “super user” on the electronic medical record and continues to be a driving force in making that process work more efficiently.

A few of the many patient comments received include: “I would recommend Dr. Mineart to anyone.” “Dr. Mineart kept us calm and helped reassure us when we voiced concerns.” “My family has been long-time patients of Dr. Mineart. We are always treated with care and respect. We would highly recommend him. He is a fantastic asset to MHP and Oskaloosa!” “Dr. Mineart has been my doctor for over 25 years. I feel very comfortable with him and appreciate all he does for me and my family.” “Dr. Mineartis very good at listening and allowing me to make suggestions that are pro-active for me. We have a very good doctor-patient relationship. I feel I can tell him anything.”

            Christensen said the MHP Medical Staff have a common goal of creating a stronger healthcare system in Mahaska County. “Our medical staff is active in many areas of the health system and provide great guidance. They continually collaborate to ensure a strong relationship to meet all of your family’s primary healthcare needs locally. We count ourselves blessed to have each of them as part of the MHP family.”

Mahaska Health Partnership Clinics announce their holiday hours as follows:

Behavioral Health Services, Home Health, Hospice Services and Public Health will be open until Noon on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24. All of these services will be closed Christmas Day, Dec. 25, but will open again for normal hours on Friday, Dec. 26.

The Medical Group will be open until 3 pm on Christmas Eve and closed on Christmas Day. They will be open again on Friday, Dec. 26.

Home Health, Hospice Services and Public Health will be closing at Noon on Wednesday, Dec. 31. These services will also be closed on Thursday, Jan. 1, but return to regular schedules on Friday, Jan. 2. A home health/hospice nurse will be on call to assist with any emergent needs.

MHP Medical Group and Behavioral Health Services will be open on Wednesday, Dec. 31 for normal office hours, but closed on Thursday, Jan. 1. Normal operating hours will resume Friday, Jan. 2.

The New Sharon Medical Center will be open until Noon on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, and closed Dec. 25 and 26. Regular hours resume on Monday, Dec. 29 and Tuesday, Dec. 30. The office will also be open until Noon on Dec. 31 and closed on Jan. 1. Regular hours will resume Friday, Jan. 2.

Please remember that the Emergency Department is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, should you have an emergency. MHP values the importance of spending time with family during the holidays, but wants to ensure that our community’s healthcare needs are met.  We strive to keep our holiday closings to a minimum to ensure we are available when you and your family need us.

For more information on MHP holiday hours, call 641.672.3100. From the MHP Family to yours, have a happy and healthy holiday season!

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With the holiday season in full swing, new toys may be on your mind for the little ones in your life. However, some toys may not be suitable, depending on a child’s age or the toy’s make-up. Mahaska Health Partnership wants to remind caregivers to check new toys prior to use.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there were an estimated 256,700 toy-related injuries treated in U.S. emergency departments in 2013. Of these, approximately 73% happened to children under the age of 15. MHP Pediatrician Dr. John O’Brien strongly encourages the public to be mindful of a child’s age when buying toys.

“Children are very curious individuals,” Dr. O’Brien said. “They will put anything in their mouths and very little caution is used when there are exciting new toys involved. It is our responsibility as adults to choose toys that are both age-appropriate and safe.”

The CPSC recommends keeping the child’s age and ability in mind when choosing gifts. “Children will get frustrated quickly if the toy is above their comprehension level,” Dr. O’Brien explained. “Keep them age-appropriate whenever possible. If your child receives a gift that is too advanced, there is no harm in putting it away for future use.”


Dr. O’Brien also suggested looking for the letters “ASTM” on toys prior to purchase. “This designation means the product meets the national safety standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). Also, watch out for toys that seem flimsy or have parts that are easily swallowed. Children can and will break these items, which can result in choking or bodily harm.”

Certain toy parts should be examined prior to being given to small children. “Button batteries can look like candy to small children, so make sure that all batteries are installed prior to use,” Dr. O’Brien advised. “Also check the battery storage compartment to ensure that the lid is securely latched. Children with small fingers can get curious and open them, gaining access to the batteries.

“Magnets that are part of an older child’s toy can be swallowed by a younger sibling,” Dr. O’Brien explained. “They can cause significant damage internally before symptoms arise, so make sure to keep them out of reach. If you have children of different ages, it is important to have separate play areas so toys stay with the appropriately aged children.”

While the holiday season is a time meant for joy and celebration, safety must also be a concern. By looking for toys that are sturdy and meant for a specific age group, the risk of an emergency visit is greatly reduced. “We all want our kids to be happy and healthy. If we work to provide safer toys and keep hazardous items out of reach, some of the stress surrounding the holiday season can be reduced, allowing everyone to enjoy this special time.”

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Dorothy Vos of Oskaloosa was recognized at the MHP Hospital Auxiliary Board Christmas lunch for her 50 plus years of service to the health system, both as a nurse and a volunteer.  The event was held at Tasos Restaurant in Oskaloosa.  Pictured, from left: MHP CEO Jay Christensen, Dorothy Vos, and Volunteer Coordinator Kim Langfitt. Upon Vos’ retirement, Langfitt will serve as the new manager of Whispering Tree Gifts, in addition to her other volunteer coordinator responsibilities. 

Dorothy Vos of Oskaloosa is retiring for a second time after dedicating more than 50 years of her life working and volunteering at Mahaska Health Partnership.

“I have a passion for MHP,” Vos explained. “I retired from my nursing career here in 1998 and joined the Hospital Auxiliary in 1999. I managed the gift shop for more than 10 years; staffing it, training new volunteers and choosing all the merchandise we sell. While it’s completely different from nursing, I have enjoyed being able to stay in touch with healthcare. ”

Vos was recognized for her commitment to the Gift Shop when she was appointed volunteer manager in 2004. With the relocation of Whispering Tree Gifts to MHP’s new patient care wing in 2013, Vos devoted a significant amount of time to both the move and expansion of products available.

 “Dorothy has been an asset to our local healthcare system for many years,” MHP Volunteer Coordinator Kim Langfitt said. “Through her work as a nurse and volunteer, Dorothy has poured her heart and soul into customer satisfaction and patient care.”

According to Langfitt, Vos has helped grow Whispering Tree Gifts into a huge success, providing unique gifts and flower arrangements for patients and visitors. One of her most recent accomplishments includes gifting a Halo Sleep Sack to every baby born at MHP from the Hospital Auxiliary, free of charge.

 “We are fortunate to have individuals like Dorothy who continually devote their time to making our patients and visitors feel at home,” Langfitt said. “She will be dearly missed, but we wish her the very best in her second retirement.”

With Vos’ retirement, Langfitt will take over as manager of Whispering Tree Gifts, in addition to her other volunteer coordinator duties. “No one can really replace Dorothy, my goal is to continue building on the strong foundation she left for Whispering Tree Gifts,” Langfitt said.

To learn how you can make healthcare personal by joining the MHP Hospital Auxiliary or volunteer program, please call Langfitt at 641.672.3342.

According to the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), the flu virus is circulating in Iowa and this year’s strains are particularly severe. Mahaska Health Partnership encourages people to get a flu shot and be mindful of symptoms of the flu.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) determined this week that the strains of flu most active right now are not specifically covered by this year’s vaccine. However, MHP Public Health Coordinator Patty Malloy explained that getting vaccinated is still important. “This year’s vaccine protects against four different strains of the flu virus. So far, the dominate strains are slightly different than those in the vaccine. The vaccine still offers protection. If you do get the flu, the symptoms should be less severe if you have been vaccinated.”

According to the CDC, the flu is a respiratory illness caused by viruses. Symptoms may include a fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, fatigue and headaches.

If you develop flu symptoms, see your primary care provider immediately. “There are anti-viral medications that can be prescribed to lessen the severity of your symptoms, but they are only effective if taken immediately,” Malloy explained. “Most importantly, stay home from work and school until your symptoms subside. You can infect others five to seven days after your symptoms appear. This year’s flu is particularly serious and can gravely affect the very young and elderly; each person needs to do their part to reduce the spread of the virus.”

Malloy said many people confuse the flu with various stomach bugs that cause vomiting and diarrhea. “The flu virus rarely causes these symptoms. It is important to know what accurate flu symptoms are so you can protect your friends, coworkers and loved ones from catching the virus should you be infected.”

Iowans over 6 months of age should receive a flu vaccine every year. While vaccination is the best defense against influenza, personal actions also help prevent the spread of illness. Remember the 3Cs:
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes
  • Clean your hands frequently
  • Contain germs by staying home when ill

MHP Public Health as well as primary care providers can give the flu vaccine. Public Health has walk-in flu clinics each Monday from 8:00 am - noon and Thursday from 1:00 – 4:00 pm through the end of March. Appointments are available calling 641.673.3257. At Public Health, the regular vaccine or mist is $25, high-dose vaccines for individuals 65 years of age and older are $30.
Mahaska Health Partnership Behavioral Health Services will be offering Mental Health First Aid Training on Friday, Jan. 6, 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, especially during the holidays and winter season, 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 Thursday, Dec. 18. 
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Mahaska Health Partnership Director of Radiology Julie Hartke accepts a donation from Oskaloosa Herald Advertising Representatives, from left: Jeff Rhoads, Barb Knox, Dan Sylvester and Hartke.

Mahaska Health Partnership recently accepted a donation from Oskaloosa Herald Advertising Representatives. The money was raised through advertising sales on a breast cancer support page that was published in October. All monies collected by MHP for breast cancer has been placed in a fund to assist women who need a mammogram but can’t afford it. It will also be used to help educate about breast cancer.

During the presentation, the group toured MHP’s new Digital Mammography suite which was updated in October. The new Siemens Mammomat Inspiration Digital Mammography System images patients with a third lower dose than standard digital mammography. It provides enhanced image quality, increased patient comfort and computer assisted diagnosis (CAD).

According to the American Cancer Society, women should receive a screening mammogram annually, beginning at age 40. If you do not have insurance to cover the cost of an exam, MHP has funds available through generous donations such as this contribution from the Oskaloosa Herald team.