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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 relaxed environment.”

The next support group will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 8 from 6:30 – 7:30 pm in the Cedar Bluff Learning Center on the MHP Campus (entrance #3). The key topic will be exercise, with a chair yoga demonstration by Veronica Grim.

“With the start of school and routines quickly picking up pace again, now is a great time to take control of your health,” Ferguson encouraged. “Our goal is to provide you with the tools necessary to control your diabetes with confidence at home, even with a hectic schedule. Managing your health should be a top priority, and we are here to provide you the tools to be successful.”

For questions regarding other diabetes support group dates or Diabetes Education, call Ferguson at 641.672.3422.
With the beginning of flu season upon us, Mahaska Health Partnership has begun offering flu vaccinations through Public Health.

“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. “They also encourage everyone 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 the protection lasts about a year.”

MHP Public Health will hold Walk-In Clinics starting September 14. Clinics will be held on Mondays from 8 am to Noon and Thursdays from 1 to 4 pm on the MHP campus, entrance #1. 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. 26 from 7 am to Noon. Vaccinations will be given under the teal awning at entrance #1, located at 1229 C Avenue East. Recipients will be able to get their vaccine without ever leaving their vehicle.

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.
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 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 look us up on the web:


Shown at the check presentation are, from left: Mahaska County Outreach Employee Bri Roozenboom, MHP Chief Operating Officer Erin Baldwin and Mahaska County Outreach Thrift Store Manager Alice Moore. 

The Mahaska County Outreach Thrift Store recently presented a $1,047.50 check to the Mahaska Health Partnership Hospice Serenity House.

According to Mahaska County Outreach Store Manager Alice Moore, the donation was from proceeds they received at the Thrift Store’s August Sack Sale. “Every month, our volunteer board chooses a non-profit in Mahaska County to support,” Moore said.

“When people know that the proceeds benefit the Serenity House, they often buy more than one sack of items because they want to show their support.”

The Mahaska County Outreach Thrift Shop is a non-profit organization. All proceeds raised after normal store expenses are distributed to other non-profit organizations in the county. “People truly appreciate that proceeds from their donations to our Thrift Store stay in Mahaska County. It’s a win-win for Mahaska County residents.”

Mahaska County Outreach Thrift Store is located at 114 North 1st Street in Oskaloosa. It is open from 9 am - 5 pm Monday through Friday and from 9 am -3 pm on Saturdays. Donations are accepted in the retail store, or in the alley, where a buzzer is located for unloading merchandise. Tax deductible receipts are available. 

“We accept donations of clothing, toys and household items,” Moore stressed. “Another item people can donate to the Thrift Store is plastic sacks. It’s a great way to recycle.” 


Mahaska Health Partnership is pleased to announce the addition of Allergy, Asthma and Sinus Care Specialist Dr. Ravinder Agarwal, to its Medical Staff.

Dr. Agarwal will be a visiting specialist, working alongside Melissa Lamb, ARNP-BC, allergy/pulmonology, who practices full time on the MHP campus.

Dr. Agarwal is board certified in Allergy and Immunology. He has notable expertise in nasal, ocular, skin, food and venom allergies, sinusitis, asthma and anaphylaxis (a severe, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction). 

He is trained and has experience in the evaluation and treatment of chronic cough, wheezing and breathing difficulties, and is experienced in diagnosing and treating patients with repeated sinus and lung infections as well as immune deficiency disorders. His main office is based out of Des Moines, but he is a visiting specialist at several area hospitals.

Starting Sept. 14, Dr. Agarwal will be taking appointments on the MHP campus on the second and fourth Mondays of each month. “I’m looking forward to having Dr. Agarwal as a colleague at Mahaska Health Partnership,” Lamb said. “He will augment our current allergy practice by providing additional diagnosis and treatment of food allergies, allergies to stinging insects, hives/angioedema (rapid, localized swelling) and immune deficiency.

“Dr. Agarwal has experience in both sublingual and traditional allergy immunotherapy,” Lamb continued. “Our office currently offers treatment of seasonal allergies using sublingual treatment, which involves a medication taken under the tongue, to treat allergies associated with grass pollens and ragweed pollen. Traditional immunotherapy is also offered, which involves small injections into the skin.”

Lamb said Dr. Agarwal has extensive and diverse experience working with individuals who have allergies, asthma and additional disease processes. She has already referred several patients to him for his knowledge of particular allergy difficulties. “The addition of Dr. Agarwal to our Medical Staff will be a major convenience to our patients who need follow-up of specific allergy issues and evaluations of new patients.”

“I am looking forward to working with all the healthcare providers at Mahaska Health Partnership,” Dr. Agarwal said. “I will strive to provide state of the art allergy, asthma & immunology care to the patients of all ages in the community alongside Melissa Lamb. Together we will provide great quality care in a timely fashion; which is convenient for patients.” 

Grief can be difficult to work through on your own. Mahaska Health Partnership Hospice Services is now offering two support groups for individuals dealing with the loss of a loved one.

“Coffee and Conversation” will be held on the first Tuesday of each month from 9:30 – 10:30 am in the Hospice Serenity House Conference Room, located on the lower level of the Serenity House on the MHP campus. “This group is a relaxing and open environment for those who are unsure if a support group is right for them or are simply looking for someone to share their feelings with,” MHP Hospice Social Worker and Bereavement Coordinator Julie Glass explained. “Anyone who has recently experienced a loss is welcome to attend.”

For additional support, an Adult Support Group is being offered. This group will meet on Mondays from 6:30 – 7:30 pm starting Sept. 14 until Oct. 19 in the Hospice Serenity House Conference Room.  Pre-registration is required; call 641.672.3260. “This six-week group will offer educational materials and activities for those struggling with the loss of a loved one,” Glass explained.  “Our goal is to provide a safe place for those grieving to express feelings, increase understanding of the grieving process and offer suggestions for coping with loss.

“The loss of a loved one is an inevitable part of everyone’s life, however; we all grieve differently and the length of the grieving process varies,” Glass continued. “We are providing these groups to offer assistance to those going through a difficult situation and provide some coping techniques designed to help.  You do not have to have utilized MHP’s Hospice Services to attend; anyone is welcome. We believe that a full, satisfactory life is possible for anyone after a major loss, and we are here to help you achieve that.”

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 and support groups offered at MHP, call 641.672.3260.
Struggling with smoking and ready to kick the habit? Mahaska Health Partnership Cardiopulmonary Services will be offering a weekly Freedom from Smoking Class beginning Tuesday, Sept. 8 and concluding on Tuesday, Oct. 20.

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.

“I strongly encourage anyone considering quitting to attend this class,” Schwab said. “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 trying to quit smoking in the past, 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 provides proven steps to make quitting more successful.”

The Freedom from Smoking Class will be offered for seven weeks, beginning Sept. 8 through Oct. 20, from 5:30 to 7:00 pm in Cardiopulmonary Services on Level 2 of the MHP campus in Oskaloosa, best accessed through entrance #2.

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


With the first day of school quickly approaching, the hunt has begun for all sorts of school supplies which includes backpacks. Mahaska Health Partnership suggests tips on how to pick the best backpack to meet your child’s needs.

Bags for school come in a variety of shapes, styles and sizes. “Backpacks with two straps are the best for students, compared to messenger bags, purses or cross body straps; because they utilize the strongest muscles of the body,” MHP Family Practice Nurse Practitioner Lisa Smith explained. “When worn and adjusted correctly, a backpack evenly distributes the weight across the body, helping to prevent shoulder and neck injuries.”

Even though backpacks are handy, they can cause damage if they are excessively heavy.“It’s best to keep the weight of a backpack to 10-15 percent of a child’s body weight,” Smith recommended. “For instance, if a child is 80 pounds, they can carry approximately eight pounds. Carrying more than that can cause muscle strain, neck, shoulder and back pain.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends looking for a lightweight backpack with two straps and compartments to evenly distribute weight. Find a pack with thick, padded straps to avoid nerve and circulation damage and a padded back to avoid being poked from sharp edges inside the backpack. A waist clip is also beneficial in helping to distribute weight evenly.

Small changes can significantly reduce the amount of weight your child carries in their backpack. “Encourage your child to use their locker or desk frequently,” Smith suggested. “Help them plan homework out during the week so they don’t need to bring home every book for the weekend. Also, teach them to load the heavier items such as books, closest to the center of their backs. By making small adjustments, you can help your child reduce their risk of injury and start the new school year off right!”

Lisa Smith practices fulltime at MHP’s New Sharon Medical Center. For an appointment, call 641.637.2651.


Saturday, Aug. 1 was a beautiful day to participate in the 5th Annual “Run in the Sun” and help raise money for the Mahaska Health Partnership Hospice Serenity House.

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