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Mahaska Health Partnership will be offering reduced-rate cholesterol screenings Tuesday, Feb. 10 on their Oskaloosa campus and at their New Sharon Medical Center.

According to the American Heart Association, cholesterol is a soft, fat-like, waxy substance found in the bloodstream and in our cells. There are two types of cholesterol produced by our bodies; one is good and the other is bad. Too much bad cholesterol or not enough good cholesterol can increase your risk of a cardiac event.

“We’re hoping to continue to raise awareness of heart disease, heart attack and stroke by hosting this event,” MHP Cardiac Rehab Nurse Renee Edgar, RN, said. “Regardless of a person’s age, tests like these should be done regularly and, in many cases, can be lifesaving.”

The event will run from 6:00 to 9:00 am on MHP’s Oskaloosa campus in the Cedar Bluff Learning Center, located at 1229 C Avenue East (entrance #3). Screenings will also be offered at New Sharon Medical Center from 7:30 to 9:00 am which is located at 112 South Main Street in New Sharon. Participants who register at either location can choose to complete a 12-hour fasting lipid panel for $20, non-fasting total cholesterol for $10 or fasting blood sugar for $10.

“I would recommend the 12-hour fasting lipid panel because it will provide the most in-depth analysis,” suggested Edgar. “The test will report total cholesterol, triglycerides, HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, VLDL cholesterol and cardiac risk ratio.”

Along with the cholesterol screenings, cardiopulmonary experts will be on hand in Oskaloosa to give blood pressure checks. Registered Dietitian Lea Rice will be checking body mass indexes as well, all for free.

“To put it simply, a cholesterol screening can save your life,” Edgar stressed. “If you find out you have a cholesterol problem, you can start taking steps to improve your health and lower your risk of a cardiac event.”

To make an appointment for a cholesterol screening in Oskaloosa, call 641.672.3100; in New Sharon, call 641.637.2651
Mahaska Health Partnership Behavioral Health Services will be offering Youth Mental Health First Aid Training on Friday, Feb. 13 from 8 am to 5 pm in the Cedar Bluff Learning Center (entrance #3) on the MHP campus.

“Mental health symptoms can appear at any age,” MHP Behavioral Health Director Jan LeBahn, LISW, said. “Youth Mental Health First Aid training will help participants learn how to help youth ages 12-21 years. Teachers, first responders and other medical professionals, faith leaders and the general public will learn how to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental health problems in young people.”

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. “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.

MHP has offered regular Mental Health First Aid classes for a number of years, and recently decided to offer classes specifically tailored to those working with youth. “It’s important to recognize that not only are adults facing mental health symptoms, but youth are too, and how you address them varies based on their age,” LeBahn explained. “This course is designed to teach adults working with youth how to assist someone in the most effective way possible during a mental health challenge. Topics covered include anxiety, depression, substance use, psychosis, behavior disorders like ADHD and eating disorders.

“The goal with classes such as Youth 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 Youth Mental Health First Aid training or for more information, call 641.672.3159. The deadline to register is Friday, Jan. 30. 


Every woman experiences menopause differently, but it usually begins around age 50. You may notice irregular menstrual cycles, hot flashes and sleep difficulty. Though symptoms vary for each person, they can usually be managed with small lifestyle changes. Mahaska Health Partnership offers some tips for menopause symptom management. 

“Menopause is the permanent end of menstruation,” Family Nurse Practitioner Eva Sietsema explained. “It officially begins once a woman has gone 12 months since her last period. Some women may begin the process as early as age 40, and others may wait until 60, it just depends on each individual’s body and medical history.”

Hot flashes are one of the common symptoms of menopause that many women experience. A hot flash is a quick feeling of heat that may cause your neck and face to become flushed. You may also develop temporary red spots on your chest, arms and back. Sweat and chills may follow.

“Hot flashes typically last anywhere between 30 seconds and 10 minutes,” Sietsema said. “Wear light layers and use a fan to stay comfortable during these spells. Also, regular exercise, stress management and avoiding spicy foods can help lessen the frequency of hot flashes.”

Many women also experience sleep deprivation.  “Night sweats and hot flashes during sleep cause restlessness. Try sleeping with a fan, light bedding and breathable cotton sheets to stay cool. Keep a damp cloth by your bed to cool off quickly in the middle of the night. If you continually experience sleep deprivation, talk with your primary care provider, as sleep apnea or other health issues may be involved.”

Sietsema explained that every woman’s experience is different. “Some women have little to no symptoms, while others have severe changes that affect their daily routine. Depending on the severity of symptoms, you may need to visit with your primary care provider to discuss management options.

“You don’t have to suffer through the symptoms of menopause,” Sietsema explained.  “There are various treatment options available to make them more manageable. The key is to work with your provider to find the best solution for you.”

Menopause also marks the time in a woman’s life to begin closely monitoring certain health issues. “Menopause is a crucial time to because you develop increased risk of heart disease and osteoporosis.

“Maintain regular check-ups to monitor blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol and continue routine colonoscopies and mammograms. Regular exercise and healthy eating play a huge role in overall longevity and quality of life. Living healthy is important throughout your life, and it’s never too late to start.”

Eva Sietsema is a Family Nurse Practitioner on the MHP campus who is interested in women’s health. If you are experiencing severe menopause symptoms, request an appointment with Eva by calling 641.672.3360.

According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, flu activity in the state is increasing. Your best defense against the virus is to get a flu vaccine.

Mahaska County Public Health, a service of Mahaska Health Partnership, has Walk-In Flu Clinics on Mondays from 8 am to Noon and Thursdays from 1 to 4 pm through the end of March. You can also get a flu vaccine through the MHP Medical Group with your regular primary care provider.

“The flu vaccine is still your best defense against getting the flu,” Malloy explained. “However, because some of the virus strains may only be partially covered in the vaccine, it’s even more important to protect yourself and prevent the spread of illness. Remember the 3Cs: Cover your coughs and sneezes, clean your hands frequently and contain germs by staying home when ill.”

Anti-viral medications are an important second line of defense to treat the flu. The IDPH said that anti-viral medications can make flu illness shorter and reduce the risk of ending up in the hospital or dying from influenza. However, these medications work best if started within 48 hours or sooner from when flu symptoms begin, so visit your primary care provider immediately after the onset of symptoms.

“Don’t forget to prevent the spread of illnesses when going the doctors’ office,” Malloy stressed. “At MHP, we have masks and hand sanitizers at each entrance and we ask people coming in with respiratory illness or flu to please wear a mask to protect others.”

Malloy said the flu comes on suddenly and symptoms may include fever, headache, tiredness, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion and body aches. Illness typically lasts two to seven days.

MHP Public Health has the regular flu vaccine and flu mist available for $25 and the high-dose flu vaccine for those 65 years of age and older for $30. “It can take up to two weeks for the vaccine to take full effect, so make sure to get yours soon to beat the peak of flu season,” Malloy stressed.


Hunter Myles was born at 2:13 pm on Jan. 3, making him Mahaska Health Partnership’s first baby of 2015. Hunter weighed 7 pounds, 15 ounces and was 21.5 inches long at birth. As MHP’s first baby of 2015, Hunter received a wide variety of gifts from MHP and Whispering Tree Gifts, the Hospital Auxiliary’s gift shop located on the lower level of the new patient care wing. Hunter is shown with his delivering physician, Dr. Bridget Shariat and his welcome basket. 

Family Practice Physician Dr. Nick Messamer holds up his retirement cake with his nurse Ashley Perkins. A retirement party was held Dec. 30 at MHP to celebrate Dr. Messamer’s medical career with his family and his MHP family. 
Dr. Nick Messamer (right) talks with Paul Swenson, Chair of the MHP Board of Trustees, and Dr. Matt Whitis, MHP’s Chief Medical Officer, at his retirement party Dec. 30.
Family Practice Physician Dr. Nick Messamer will be hanging up his white coat January 1 after 23 years caring for patients in Mahaska County, the past four at Mahaska Health Partnership.

“Many people know I had several careers prior to graduating from the University of Iowa College of Medicine at the age of 39,” Dr. Messamer explained. “I built Morton Buildings, I was a certified welder for Johnson Machine Works, I farmed and farrowed sows and I taught Industrial Arts at Russell High School.

“My interest in medicine began after reading a biography about a family doctor practicing in rural Texas,” Dr. Messamer explained. “I was a senior in college though, bound for the family farm. However, after a few years on the farm I realized it wasn’t the career for me and my wife (Karen) encouraged me to follow my dreams.”

Dr. Messamer began his medical career in Oskaloosa in 1991 as part of the Mercy Clinic practice located on Market Street (across from the Methodist Church). “Seven years later I opened The Doctor’s Office. I couldn’t have done it without my wife’s support, she handled everything from billing to scheduling.”

In anticipation of his retirement, Dr. Messamer selflessly acted with the needs of his patients in mind and joined the Medical Staff at Mahaska Health Partnership. “I had always worked closely with MHP and had a good relationship with the providers here. I wanted my patients to have that same opportunity so they could become familiar with the medical campus. I felt this would make the transition to a new provider easier upon my retirement.”

Since Dr. Messamer’s addition to MHP in 2011; the Medical Staff has grown significantly. “We knew Dr. Messamer’s long-term plan when he came to campus. We have been actively recruiting to assist with the influx of patients that will occur as providers take on new ventures or seek retirement,” MHP CEO Jay Christensen said. “Dr. Messamer has been a wonderful servant to his patients, always putting their needs above his own, spending as much time as they need to listen, evaluate their problems and determine treatment solutions.

“He will be greatly missed by the MHP family as well as by his patients but we wish him well in yet another chapter of his life,” Christensen said. “Dr. Messamer has been working with his patients for some time to choose a new primary care provider and we will continue recruiting to ensure we can meet the growing healthcare needs of our community for generations to come.”

Upon retiring, Dr. Messamer plans to travel, hunt, farm and garden. Although he is looking forward to more time to spend on his hobbies, he says he will miss his patients. “Retiring has turned out to be a lot harder than I realized because I have been caring for some of these people since I started my career,” Dr. Messamer said. “But I am leaving them in good hands.”

What you eat may affect what you see in the mirror. However, a few minor changes to your dining habits may have a huge impact. Mahaska Health Partnership shares foods that can cause premature aging and some healthier alternatives. 

“What you put in your body has a huge effect on your health,” MHP Family Practice Provider Kim Seda, PA-C, explained. “Foods high in salt, sugar and unhealthy fats can leave your skin looking bloated, oily and wrinkled. You may also develop cellulite or stretch marks from rapid weight gain. Fresh foods are a healthier alternative whenever possible.”

Seda explained the role of unhealthy foods on wrinkles. “Foods fried in oil contain trans fats, which can cause inflammation and make you look older,” Seda explained.  “Check the label for ingredients like ‘partially hydrogenated oils’ and ‘vegetable shortening’ to limit your trans fat consumption.”

Other ingredients to watch for include processed carbohydrates, sugar and processed meats. “Foods that are packed with sugar may increase your chances of developing wrinkles and acne,” Seda explained. “Many processed foods and meat also contain lots of salt, which can lead to bloating and bags under your eyes. Keep your meats lean and avoid saturated fats whenever possible.”

Instead of a diet with processed foods or those high in sugar or saturated fats, consider a Mediterranean-style diet. “Enjoy plenty of veggies and fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy and lean protein,” Seda suggested.

Many foods contain ingredients that combat wrinkles and skin dryness. “Look for foods high in vitamins A and C such as romaine lettuce, spinach, broccoli, arugula, watercress and endive,” Seda said. “Foods high in omega-3 fats like salmon and tuna and whole grains like oatmeal, whole wheat breads and pastas, brown rice and quinoa combat puffiness and keep skin looking youthful.”

Lentils and beans are another healthy option, full of protein, fiber and nutrients. “Look for black beans, split peas, limas, pintos, chickpeas and cannellini beans,” Seda suggested. “Your skin is mainly made up of protein, so if your diet is lacking, your skin will reflect that. Beans and fish are both great sources of protein and offer other great health benefits.”

According to Seda, the key to success is a balanced diet. “Everyone turns to processed food at some time or another. It’s important to remember to do so in moderation and incorporate fresh options in order to combat early aging and other health risks. By eating healthy, you can keep your skin and body looking and feeling healthy too.”

Kim Seda is a Family Practice Provider on the MHP campus who is interested in women’s health. To schedule an appointment with Seda, call 641.672.3360.


Mahaska Health Partnership Inpatient Services hosted a holiday Food and Supply Drive to benefit the Ecumenical Food Cupboard of Oskaloosa. MHP employees from throughout the health system donated food and hygiene items to assist those in need this holiday season. Members of Inpatient Services pictured with the donations are, from left: Torri Schmitz, Tricia Van Waardhuizen-Orr, Summer Lovitt, Laura Doscher and Harmony Edge.