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Mahaska Health Partnership Behavioral Health Services will be offering Mental Health First Aid Training on Friday, Oct. 17, from 8 am to 5 pm in the Cedar Bluff Learning Center (entrance #3) on the MHP campus.

“There are many types of mental illnesses 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 people suffering from mental illness are often lumped into one category of their diagnosis. “For example, 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 show 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 different and needs to be approached in a different manner, depending on the situation,” LeBahn stressed.

“Through classes such as Mental Health First Aid, the goal 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, Oct. 3. 

Access to Mahaska Health Partnership, including the Emergency Department, will be limited on Tuesday, Sept. 16 from 7:30 am to 5:00 pm due to street work by the city of Oskaloosa.

According to the City of Oskaloosa Public Works Department, Oskaloosa streets will be crack sealed and sprayed with a payment preservative to prolong the life of the asphalt. C Avenue East (Market Street to Park Avenue) is one of the streets that will be closed Sept. 16.

MHP CEO Jay Christensen said the city has agreed to keep the intersection of C Avenue East and 11th Street open. This will allow ambulances and patients needing healthcare services usually accessed by C Avenue East a detour. Patients will have to drive around the north end of MHP’s campus to get to their destination.

“We are most concerned about patients needing to reach our Emergency Department. We will have temporary signage directing them because all traffic will have to use the detour on 11th Street to access all services, including emergency,” Christensen stressed.

“Thankfully our parking lot does connect. As long as patients follow the detour to the north side of our campus, they can drive around the back of our building to get to services usually accessed via C Ave.

“Due to the unusually heavy traffic we expect on our campus as people take this detour, we ask that everyone please allow a few extra minutes to reach their appointment,” MHP CEO Jay Christensen said. “We also ask that everyone be aware that emergency vehicles will also be using this detour and to please pull over to the side if lights are flashing.”

If wet weather conditions exist, the city said the work will be delayed until the next dry day. If you have any questions or concerns for the city regarding street closings for repair work, please call 641.673.7472.

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Mahaska Health Partnership Public Health is continuing its annual “Drive-Thru Flu Clinic” on Saturday, Sept. 20 from 7 am to Noon on the MHP campus, entrance #1.

“All people have to do is drive under the teal awning off C Avenue East, and we will be waiting to provide their flu vaccine,” MHP Public Health Coordinator Patty Malloy said.

During the Drive-Thru Flu Clinic, people age 6 months and older can get a flu vaccine without getting out of their car. The regular shot or mist cost $25 and the high dose vaccine for people age 65 and older is $30. Medicare Part B can be billed with proof of card. MHP Public Health also participates in the VFC program that provides vaccines to Medicaid, underinsured and uninsured children ages 6 months to 18 years old.

According to the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), the influenza virus changes every year as it makes its way around the world. Since the exact flu viruses are almost never the same, the strains of influenza in the vaccine change each year, which is why people need to get a new flu vaccine annually.

Malloy said that the IDPH recommends yearly flu vaccination for almost everyone over 6 months of age. It is especially important for people at high risk for developing flu-related complications, such as children younger than age 5; adults 65 years of age and older; pregnant women; and people with certain medical conditions including heart and lung problems or diabetes.

MHP Public Health is also offering weekly Walk-In Flu Clinics on Mondays from 8 am to Noon and on Thursdays from 1 pm to 4 pm; or other times by appointment. Public Health is now accessed through entrance #1 on the MHP campus. They can be contacted by calling 641.673.3257.

MHP Medical Group is also offering flu vaccines. For more information, call 641.672.3360.
Mahaska Health Partnership has scheduled the 10th annual Breast Cancer Awareness Walk for Friday, Oct. 3 on the Square in Oskaloosa.

MHP PR/Marketing Coordinator Cassie Riley explained that the walk is held from Noon to 1:00 pm. “We hold the walk on the Square during the noon hour because many people will be heading to lunch. We hope seeing the flags in the park and the people walking will prompt them to ask questions about breast cancer.”

The American Cancer Society estimates that 1 in 8 women in the United States will develop invasive breast cancer during her lifetime. “That is a large number, however; the disease continues to be caught earlier and treatments have advanced considerably,” Riley explained. “Since October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we use it as an opportunity to bring attention to the cause locally.”

MHP’s efforts to raise awareness for breast cancer don’t stop with the walk. They will again be hosting their Free Women’s Breast Health Night, scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 28. “More details will be available in the coming weeks, but we’re excited to be featuring a panel of physicians, treatment experts and a survivor,” Riley said.

“We’ve seen the community’s involvement continue to grow each year and it’s been great,” Riley stressed. “Many businesses have participated in Jeans Days and others have held fundraisers of their own. The more people helping raise awareness the better.”

Businesses are encouraged to host a Jeans Day sometime during the month of October. Employees pay $5 to wear jeans to work with a special breast cancer awareness sticker, provided by MHP. For more information about hosting a Jeans Day, call 641.672.3240.

Registration is required for both the Breast Cancer Awareness Walk and Free Women’s Breast Health Night. The deadline to register for the walk is Tuesday, Sept. 23. To register, visit mahaskahealth.org or call 641.672.3240 to have a registration form mailed to you. To register online, click here.
With the beginning of flu season upon us, Mahaska Health Partnership has begun offering flu vaccinations.

“The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that hospitals and other health agencies begin offering the vaccine as soon as it is available,” MHP Public Health Coordinator Patty Malloy said.

MHP Public Health will hold Walk-In Clinics Mondays from 8 am to Noon and Thursdays from 1 to 4 pm on the MHP campus, entrance #1. Please note the new entrance, due to the relocation of Public Health. Evening appointments are available upon request by calling 641.673.3257.

Another opportunity to receive a flu vaccination will be the Drive-Thru Clinic on Saturday, Sept. 20 from 7 am to Noon. Vaccinations will be given under the teal awning at entrance #1, located at 1229 C Avenue East. Malloy said the Drive-Thru Clinic gives people a convenient way for the whole family to be vaccinated without even getting out the car. 

“Recommendations from the CDC encourage people to get the vaccine as soon as possible to provide protection if the flu season comes early. It takes up to two weeks for protection to develop after vaccination, and new guidelines indicate that protection lasts about a year,” said Malloy.

Influenza is a contagious disease caused by the influenza virus, which can be spread by coughing, sneezing or nasal secretions. According to Malloy, the best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccination each year. There are three types of vaccines:

  • The shot: an inactivated vaccine (containing killed virus) is given with a needle. The flu shot is approved for use in people 6 months of age and older, including healthy people and people with chronic medical conditions. This year’s vaccination will protect against four strains of the virus.

  • The nasal spray flu vaccine: a vaccine made with live, weakened flu viruses that do not cause the flu. Sometimes called LAIV for “Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine,” the nasal spray flu vaccine is approved for use in healthy people, 2-49 years of age. The mist is not recommended for everyone, check with your healthcare provider.

  • The high dose shot: similar to the regular flu vaccine, but containing four times the amount of antigen (the component that helps make the body immune to the flu) than the regular shot. This increased level of antigens is designed to create a stronger immune response in people who are at a greater risk of severe illness from the flu. These vaccines are only available to adults 65 years of age and older.

Patients can also receive flu vaccinations from the MHP Medical Group by calling 641.672.3360. Both the Medical Group and Public Health participate in the VFC program that provides vaccines to Medicaid and underinsured and uninsured children ages 6 months to 18 years old. Otherwise, through the Medical Group, standard co-pays apply. At the Public Health Walk-in and Drive-thru Clinics, the cost is $25 for the shot or nasal spray (flu-mist) and $30 for high dose shots. Medicare Part B can be billed with proof of card.

For more information regarding flu vaccination clinics, to schedule an evening appointment or if you or someone you know is homebound and may need assistance getting vaccinated, call MHP Public Health at 641.673.3257 or visit mahaskahealth.org.

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During menopause, women undergo a wide array of changes. One treatment option to consider is hormone replacement therapy. Mahaska Health Partnership explores the purpose of therapy for menopausal women.

Hormone replacement therapy is a technique used to help supplement the body with estrogen and sometimes progesterone during and after menopause. “Women produce estrogen and progesterone in their ovaries,” Family Nurse Practitioner Jill Konfrst of MHP’s New Sharon Medical Center shared. “As women age, they stop producing sufficient amounts of these hormones, which starts the process known as menopause.”

For some women, this fluctuation of hormone levels brings a variety of symptoms that can be difficult to handle. “Hot flashes, incontinence, dry skin, sleeplessness and low libido are just a few of the symptoms women may experience,” Konfrst explained. “When they become a burden in your everyday life, it may be time to discuss treatment options like hormone replacement therapy. This treatment is less invasive than surgical procedures, and can be a good place to start when trying to manage menopause.”

The estrogen and progesterone hormones play a big role in a woman’s health, according to Konfrst. “Estrogen plays a role in calcium use, cholesterol levels and overall health of a woman’s reproductive system. When these hormone levels fluctuate, hot flashes and osteoporosis may become troublesome.”

As with any medication, less is best. “I recommend to my patients that in order to reduce their risk of long-term side effects, it is best to take the lowest dose possible of hormone replacement medications,” Konfrst urged. “Yearly check-ups to evaluate overall health and medication doses are also important. With your body constantly changing, it is imperative to evaluate whether your medications are doing their job.”

Family Nurse Practitioner Jill Konfrst practices fulltime at MHP’s New Sharon Medical Center and can treat patients of all ages. To make an appointment, call 641.637.2651.

Mahaska Health Partnership provided $5,906,841 million in community benefits last year, according to a recently completed assessment by the Iowa Hospital Association.

That amount, based on 2013 figures, includes $5,490,999 in uncompensated care and $415,842 in free or discounted community benefits that MHP specifically implemented to help county residents.

Community benefits are activities designed to improve health status and increase access to healthcare.  Along with uncompensated care (which includes both charity care and bad debt), community benefits include such services and programs as health screenings, support groups, counseling, immunizations, nutritional services and subsidized health services.

The results for MHP are included in a statewide report by the Iowa Hospital Association (IHA) that shows Iowa hospitals provided community benefits in 2013 valued at nearly $1.3 billion, including more than $335 million in charity care.  All 118 of Iowa’s community hospitals participated in the survey.

“As a county hospital and a major employer in our area, we believe providing benefits that improve the lives of the people we serve is a major part of our healthcare mission,” said MHP CEO Jay Christensen. “The residents of Mahaska and surrounding communities have been very supportive of Mahaska Health Partnership and we have a responsibility to give back.”

How MHP Benefits the Community

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Are you having trouble hearing or seeing, but think it just has to do with getting older? Some of the symptoms associated with diabetes are often dismissed as normal signs of aging and not taken seriously. Mahaska Health Partnership encourages an awareness of diabetes symptoms to aid in early diagnosis and treatment.

According to Centers for Disease Control, diabetes is a disease that affects over 25 million Americans. Your risk for developing type 2 diabetes starts to increase with age, especially if you are overweight. “Family history, high blood pressure and being African American, Latino, American Indian or Asian can also put you at high risk,” MHP Certified Diabetes Educator Sharon Ferguson explained. “It’s important to have regular check-ups to ensure you are on a healthy track as you age.”


According to Ferguson, one of the most common signs of diabetes that gets mistaken for normal aging is difficulty seeing or hearing. “Hearing loss is much more common in people with diabetes,” Ferguson shared. “Blurred vision is also common, due to the buildup of glucose which can distort the shape of the lens in your eye.”

Ferguson also explained that constant hunger and thirst are common symptoms. “If you have the frequent urge to urinate but are also thirsty, that can be a sign that you have diabetes. Your body tries to get rid of the excess glucose by increasing your urination, which dehydrates you and increases thirst.”

Other symptoms Ferguson shared included increased fatigue and irritability. “Since your body is not converting glucose to energy, you will feel more tired and that can lead to feeling grouchy and on edge.”


Dry, itchy skin, dark patches around your neck, cuts and bruises that take a long time to heal and numbness or tingling in the hands and feet can be additional warning signs. Many of these symptoms are caused by blood vessels and nerves that are damaged by excessive amounts of glucose.

“If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, I highly encourage you to follow up with your primary care provider,” Ferguson said. “They can help determine your diagnoses and get you on the proper management track.”

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, consult your primary care provider. If you have diabetes and would like to learn more about effectively managing your disease, contact Sharon Ferguson at 641.672.3422.