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MHP Podiatrist Dr. Mark Beers shared tips about proper foot care and the importance of caring for your feet with diabetes during a support group held on April 21. This group meets monthly and is free to all attendees. Each session covers a different topic, including foot care, cooking tips, skin care, home glucose monitoring and medication management. The next group session will be held on May 5 from 6:30 – 7:30 pm in the Cedar Bluff Learning Center on MHP’s campus in Oskaloosa. Anyone living with diabetes and caregivers are encouraged to attend. For more information about the event, call Sharon Ferguson, Diabetes Educator at 641.672.3422.


Four MHP nurses have been named to the 10th annual listing of “100 Great Iowa Nurses. They will be honored at a celebration on May 3 at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines. The four honorees are, standing, from left: Tonya Johannes, BSN, RN, and Patty Waters, BSN, RN, both of Oskaloosa. Sitting, from left: Ashley Perkins, RN, of Montezuma, and Arlene Vonk, RN, of Oskaloosa.

Mahaska Health Partnership nurses Tonya Johannes, BSN, RN,  Arlene Vonk, RN, and Patty Waters, BSN, RN, all of Oskaloosa and Ashley Perkins, RN, of Montezuma, have been named to the 10th annual listing of “100 Great Iowa Nurses.”

The Iowa Nurses Association, Iowa Nurses Foundation and the University of Iowa College of Nursing collaborate each year to create this list. Colleagues, patients, doctors, friends and family members submit nominations. Recipients will be honored at a celebration on May 3 at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines.

According to MHP Chief Nursing Officer Darlene Keuning MS, BSN, RN, those chosen for this honor are to be commended for advancing the profession of nursing. “I am extremely proud of these four nurses and the fact that they were recognized by others outside of our organization.”

Johannes is the Education Coordinator at MHP and an adjunct clinical instructor, while also pursuing her master’s degree. She developed MHP’s first Education Fair, hosting area colleges that focused on health science related degrees.

Johannes works diligently to promote education through competencies and course development. According to her nomination, she is able to apply clinical knowledge and hold high expectations for future nurses in the LPN and RN programs. “I believe Tonya’s most significant impact is her determination and dedication to promote education. Tonya has the ability to help people identify their nursing passion.”

Vonk has worked in the MHP Birthing Center since 1987. Co-workers recognize Vonk as a key talent at MHP for her willingness to represent the department on several key committees, including the development of clinical documentation in the electronic health record (EHR).  

Her nomination came from a first-time grandmother, who praised Vonk’s care. “Arlene was instrumental in helping (daughter-in-law) have the natural childbirth experience she desired. Staying by her side, Arlene had a very quiet, soothing voice, and she explained everything in detail. When I saw the tears in her eyes after my baby grandson was born, I knew that we were blessed to have her share this experience with our family.”

Waters is a night nurse on Inpatient Services. She had many years of experience as a critical care nurse at the Mayo Clinic before moving to Oskaloosa 13 years ago. She is meticulous about her work, wanting to make sure everything possible is done for her patients. Patient often comment on Water’s very good care, but also for going above and beyond the call of duty.

According to her nomination, she often says that those patients who are not sleeping through the night need extra attention and care. “Sometimes that just involves sitting down to talk with the patient. This is something Patty values and says it’s a benefit of working the night shift. She always treats her patients like family. She is attentive to their needs and in a crisis, stays calm and in control.”

Perkins works in MHP’s outpatient medical practice, spending the past three years serving beside Dr. Nick Messamer before his retirement at the end of 2014. This past year, she took on the roll of the Medical Group’s lead electronic health record (EHR) resource and has been instrumental in its roll out. She is an enthusiastic and eager resource for the entire practice.

Her supervisor said, “Ashley focused on improving efficiency, reducing costs and enhancing the quality of patient care. She is a compassionate leader who works at the front line and advocates on behalf of her peers and patients. She is also a true champion for the EHR, working alongside doctors and nurses to make the EHR a beneficial tool for patients.”

Keuning said that MHP’s four nurses honored as “100 Great Iowa Nurses” represent the best that the nursing profession has to offer. “Each nurse honored works in a different area of the health system, which shows we have excellent nurses throughout MHP. I am grateful for the compassion and caring they demonstrate each day in their various roles. They truly do exemplify nursing at MHP as they strive to make healthcare personal.”

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.


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.