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Indian Hills Community College will be offering a 75-hour Certified Nurse’s Aide (CNA) course, starting June 9 and ending July 28.

The classes for this course will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:30 to 8:30 pm on the MHP campus in Oskaloosa. They will be taught by Tonya Johannes, BSN, RN, MHP’s education coordinator. Johannes said clinical hours will be conducted in a local nursing home over the course of four Saturdays. Those dates are yet to be determined.

“In order for the class to go forward, we must have a minimum of six participants and a maximum of 10 participants,” Johannes said.

According to Johannes, CNAs provide valuable support in the healthcare field. “The time they spend one-on-one with patients enhances their care and experience with a health system. It’s very rewarding work and a great first step for someone interested in a career in healthcare.”

For more information or to register for the class, please contact Johannes at 642.672.3162.
Mahaska Health Partnership Behavioral Health Services will be offering Youth Mental Health First Aid Training on Friday, June 12 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 12-18 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 expanded to include a class 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 such as 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, be able to intervene and feel comfortable talking about the 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, May 29. 
Many foods found in today’s grocery stores are processed and packed with salt. While the body needs 500 mg of sodium daily to function, over-consumption can lead to many health issues. It is especially crucial to monitor your child’s salt intake to protect them from chronic health issues later on in life.

Salt is a common ingredient in many foods, some of which you may not think of. Over-consumption of salt can lead to a number of health issues throughout life, including high blood pressure. It is recommended by the USDA that everyone should reduce their sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams, or about 1 teaspoon per day.

It is especially important for children to be closely monitored for excess salt intake. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), higher sodium intake in children and teens is linked to higher blood pressure, which is a leading factor for heart disease and stroke among adults. By lowering salt intake, the risk for high blood pressure can be reduced.

“The more salt a child consumes, the more they prefer it, which will lead them to higher consumption throughout life,” MHP Registered Dietitian Lea Rice stressed. “By limiting the amount of salt they have in meals you provide, you can lower their risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity and stroke.”

Sodium is hiding in many everyday items people eat. “Condiments such as soy sauce, ketchup and salad dressings are usually high in sodium,” Rice explained. “Many frozen foods and pre-packaged box dinners boast high sodium content even if they claim to be healthy. It’s important to pay attention to the Nutrition Facts when making choices.”

The top culprits for salt in people aged two to nineteen are pizza, bread, poultry, cold cuts and cured meat, sandwiches, savory snacks, soups, cheese, and mixed pasta dishes.

Rice suggested cooking at home on a regular basis to avoid excess salt. “I understand how hectic life has become for the average family. Even if it’s putting something together and leaving it in the slow-cooker all day, you can control the ingredients and reduce your family’s salt intake.”

Eating fresh and incorporating more fruits and vegetables was another tip offered by Rice. “The less your food is processed, the more control you have. Consider trying new herbs for seasoning, rather than salt. Garlic, vinegar, lemon juice or no-salt seasoning mixes are great tools for beginners to try out. There’s no better time than right now to modify your family’s eating habits. The trick is to create a plan that’s individualized to your specific needs.”

As a Registered Dietitian, Rice provides one-on-one consultations to teach healthy eating habits. She works with patients of all ages and tailors her recommendations to their personal needs. To schedule a consultation with Rice, call 641.672.3303. 
Mahaska Health Partnership has been named a 2015 HOSPICE HONORS™ recipient, a prestigious award recognizing hospices across the country for providing the best patient care as rated by the patient’s caregiver.

“We are the only Hospice service in the state to receive this award for 2015; it’s our third year in a row being recognized,” MHP Director of Home Health and Hospice Services Jean Gibson, RN, CHPN exclaimed.

The HOSPICE HONORS™ award is given by Detya, LLC, an industry leader in data driven management. Deyta used survey results compiled from patient’s family’s evaluation of hospice care to determine the recipients of this prestigious award. Award criteria were based on the survey results for an evaluation period of October 2013 through September 2014. Deyta identified award recipients by evaluating hospices’ performance on a set of 18 satisfaction indicator measures.

“This award exemplifies the dedication our Hospice team has to patient care,” Gibson shared. “We strive to provide the highest quality of care and support to patients and their families so they might live as fully and comfortably as possible during this stage of life. This award shows that we are continuing to meet this goal and improving through feedback from families.”

This year, MHP’s Hospice Services was the only program in Iowa to receive the HOSPICE HONORS™ award. “I couldn’t be more proud of our staff and the high level of care they continue to provide,” Gibson shared. “I am honored to work with such dedicated professionals who provide hospice care in both Mahaska and Keokuk counties.”

MHP Hospice Services offers skilled nursing for those with progressive and life-threatening illness in homes, long-term care facilities, hospital settings and the MHP Hospice Serenity House. Nurses are on-call 24 hours per day, seven days a week for the comfort and peace of mind of our patients and their families. For more information about Hospice Services, please call 641.672.3260.


Do you experience pain in your legs while exercising that doesn’t go away? Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) may be the cause. Mahaska Health Partnership Family Nurse Practitioner Jen Scott has experience treating cardiac and vascular issues such as PAD.

“Leg pain is commonly dismissed as a normal sign of aging but that’s not always the case,” Jen Scott, ARNP-C stressed. “For an accurate diagnosis, consider the source of your pain. PAD causes discomfort in the muscle, not in the joint.”

Scott said people with PAD have increased risk for heart attack and stroke. “PAD causes a narrowing of the arteries to the legs, stomach, arms and head. The most common symptoms are pain or tiredness in the leg or hip muscles during physical exertion such as exercising, walking or climbing stairs.

“This is caused by plaque buildup in the arteries,” Scott continued. “The plaque formations can grow large enough to significantly reduce the blood’s flow. When a plaque formation becomes brittle or inflamed, it may rupture, triggering a blood clot to form.”

According to the American Heart Association, untreated PAD can lead to painful symptoms or loss of a leg. Patients often have an increased risk of coronary artery disease, stroke and heart attack. Symptoms of PAD include leg pain that does not go away when you stop exercising; foot or toe wounds that won’t heal or heal slowly; gangrene or a marked decrease in the temperature of your lower leg or foot, particularly compared to your other leg or the rest your body.

“Certain risk factors for PAD cannot be controlled such as aging, family history and cardiovascular disease,” Scott said. “However, smoking; controlling your weight; and properly managing diabetes, blood pressure and cholesterol are all things a person can do to help lower their risk.”

Scott worked in cardiothoracic surgery and vascular medicine at the Iowa Heart Center before transitioning to Family Practice in 2013. Prior to completing her Nurse Practitioner education, Scott worked as an RN at the Iowa Heart Centerin Des Moines. “I worked in vascular surgery but when I graduated, they only had a nurse practitioner opening in cardiothoracic surgery; so I’m well versed in the ‘plumbing and the engine’ of the heart,” Scott quipped.

“I loved my work at the Iowa Heart Center but it’s nice to apply what I learned on the emergency side to the day-to-day care of my patients in a family practice setting,” Scott said.

Scott is now accepting new patients on the MHP campus in Oskaloosa. She treats patients of all ages from birth to end-of-life and has a special interest in children and people dealing with cardiac issues. For an appointment, call 641.672.3360.


Four MHP Nurses were honored as members of the 100 Great Iowa Nurses 2015 at a special ceremony May 3 in Des Moines. The Iowa Nurses Association, Iowa Nurses Foundation and the University of Iowa College of Nursing collaborate each year to create this list, and this year had close to 400 nominations from across the state. Shown, from left: MHP Chief Executive Officer Jay Christensen; Inpatient Nurse Patty Waters, BSN, RN; Education Coordinator Tonya Johannas, BSN, RN;  Birthing Center Nurse Arlene Vonk, RN;  Medical Group Nursing Supervisor Ashley Perkins, RN;  and Chief Nursing Officer Darlene Keuning.


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.”