MHP News

The latest information from your local healthcare resource.

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
The Mahaska Health Partnership Foundation will host the 5th Annual Run in the Sun on Saturday, Aug. 1 at the Lacey Sports Complex Community Stadium.

Run in the Sun is a 5K for runners and 1-mile Walk for all ages, abilities and even strollers. Race day registration begins at 7:30 a.m., with a short ceremony starting at 8:15. The races will start at 8:30 am. 

Registration for either event is $25 per person. Each participant will receive a commemorative cotton T-shirt the day of the race, as long as their registration is received by Noon on Monday, July 20. Registrations received after July 20 may need to pick up their T-shirt at MHP on a later date. All proceeds from the 2015 event will benefit the MHP Hospice Serenity House.

According to MHP Marketing and Development Director Cathy Stahl, those wanting to participate in Run in the Sun are encouraged to register online at “Registrations will be accepted now until the day before the race,” Stahl said. “Team discounts are available to groups of 10 or more, and can now be submitted online or by paper. Teams of 10-24 will be $20 per person and teams of 25+ will be $18 per person. Registration is due by July 20 in order to honor team discounts. We are excited to see the turnout for this years’ event, as each year continues to grow in participation.”

For runners, medals will be awarded for the top three male and female finishers in the following age categories: 11 and under, 12 to 14, 15 to 18, 19 to 29, 30 to 39, 40 to 49, 50 to 59 and 60 and over. All walk participants will receive a ribbon.

“The MHP Hospice Serenity house has provided hundreds of families quality end-of-life care since we opened the doors in 2010,” Stahl shared. “We hope participants will use this opportunity not only as a way to stay in shape, but also to support the community in a meaningful way.”

Many sponsors have already contributed to help make the 2015 event a success. Corporate sponsors to-date include: Mahaska Rural Water; Clow Valve; Credit Bureau Service of Iowa; Mahaska Bottling; Digital Resource Partners Plus; Edward Jones; Garland-Van Arkel-Langkamp Funeral Chapel; Gatton Realty; Hammer Medical Supply; LaMair-Mulock-Cordon Co.; MidWestOne Insurance Services; State Farm Insurance – Kelli Steil; TD&T CPA and Advisors; Oskaloosa Herald; OskyNews; TruBank; Pella Rolscreen Foundation and William Penn University.

Major sponsors to-date include: Oskaloosa Chiropractic; MidWestOne Bank; Garden & Associates; Casey’s General Store; Supplemental Insurance Services, Inc. and Baird Holm, LLP.

Partner Sponsors to-date include: Centurion; Kelderman Manufacturing; Klyn’s Tire; Lifetime Dental Solutions; Supplemental Insurance Services, Inc.; Henkel Construction and Stam’s Greenhouse.

“Run in the Sun Committee members are still soliciting local businesses to join other community leaders in sponsoring this great event,” Stahl said. “The MHP Hospice Serenity House is a community resource that will be serving local families for generations to come. We hope people from throughout the community will join us by sponsoring or participating.”

The MHP Foundation was established in 1994 as an independent board and financial resource for the improvement of healthcare at MHP. The foundation led a very successful Capital Campaign in 2008 to build the MHP Hospice Serenity House, raising more than $2.8 million. For more information on Run in the Sun, or to donate directly to the Serenity House or other MHP services, contact Stahl at 641.672.3369.


With the warmer weather, many people are spending more time outdoors. However, prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays puts you at greater risk for skin cancer. Mahaska Health Partnership has advice on how to enjoy the sun while protecting your skin this summer.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), melanoma, or skin cancer, is the most common form of cancer and causes more than 9,000 deaths every year in the United States. This disease affects people of any skin tone, but people with lighter skin are at a higher risk.

“Many people don’t think about sun protection unless they are spending the day outside,” Family Practice with Obstetrics Physician Leigh Gilburn shared. “However, sun exposure happens every time you commute to work, walk your dog or even sit be a window.

“Spending time in the sun is a great way to get vitamin D. However, if you don’t protect your skin then the risks are far greater than the benefits,” Dr. Gilburn explained. “In addition to regular sun screen, wear tightly woven dark fabrics. Hats with at least a two or three inch brim all around help protect your face, ears, neck and scalp from direct sunlight. Baseball caps offer some protection, but leave your ears and neck exposed.”

For sunglasses, Dr. Gilburn recommends looking for those that offer at least 99% protection against UVA and UVB rays. “Look for labels that say ‘UV absorption up to 400 nm’ or ‘Meets ANSI UV Requirements’ on sunglasses. This means they will block at least 99% of harmful rays. Glasses labeled ‘cosmetic’ only offer about 70% blockage protection. If there’s no label, they may not provide any UV protection.”

For exposed skin, Dr. Gilburn recommends using sunscreen. “Look for lotions that offer broad spectrum protection, as they will protect you from both UVA and UVB rays. Also, a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher is best.

“The higher the SPF, the more UVB protection you have,” Dr. Gilburn continued. “For instance, if you apply SPF 30 lotion correctly, you will be exposed to the equivalent of one minute of UVB rays for every 30 minutes you are in the sun. Keep in mind that no sunscreen protects you completely, so make sure to carefully follow the instructions and apply as directed in order to maximize protection.

“Enjoying the outdoors is a great way to stay active, and taking these simple steps to protect yourself long-term will ensure you can continue doing so for years to come!”

As a Family Practice Provider who also delivers babies, Dr. Gilburn is available to care for anyone from birth to end of life. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Gilburn, call 641.672.3360.


Some of MHP’s CNAs gather for a photo in recognition of Nursing Assistants Week, June 11-18. Standing, from left: Ashlee Taylor, Khearston Sherman, Connie Cochran, Tonya VanDusseldorp, Kim Davis, Kim Hol, Maleah Hill, Darcy Keasling, Vanessa Pierson, Jayne Rozenboom and Alyssa Donohue.

In acknowledgement of Nursing Assistants Week, June 11 through 18, Mahaska Health Partnership would like to recognize the Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) who are making healthcare personal at MHP.

CNAs provide personal care, monitor and assess health status, and maintain a secure environment in which patients can heal under the supervision of a licensed nurse.

“Whether they are working with a patient or doing other tasks, these assistants play a vital role in the healing process of a patient,” MHP Medical Group Director Kristi Braafhart shared. “They deserve recognition for the selfless duties they perform every day.”

This year marks the 38th anniversary of celebrating Nursing Assistants Week and the unique contributions CNAs make to ensure patients are appropriately cared for.  They are often the eyes and ears of what is going on and can alert nurses if situations arise.

“CNAs can be found inside our facility or working in the home with patients,” Braafhart said. “Their compassion and dedication to providing high quality care is what leaves a memorable and lasting impression on our patients, even after leaving MHP.”

If you would like to recognize a nursing assistant who made a difference during your experience at MHP, please visit and click “Contact Us.”


Fatherhood is a responsibility that is constantly growing and changing. For many new dads, becoming a parent can seem overwhelming and scary. Mahaska Health Partnership offers some advice to new dads.

As a father and delivering physician at MHP, Dr. Shawn Richmond knows what it’s like to become a father for the first time. “I remember the butterflies I felt when my wife was pregnant and I have seen many men become fathers in my time delivering babies at MHP. The look of joy and love on their faces is priceless.”

While the joys of fatherhood are abundant, sometimes the nerves are as well. “It’s common for dads to have conflicting emotions during the first few months of fatherhood,” Dr. Richmond explained. “You are proud of your new child, but at the same time, you may feel helpless or unable to understand what your child wants. It’s a learning process that doesn’t happen overnight.”

One way to learn as a new parent is to spend time bonding with your child. “It’s important to have alone time with your baby in order to bond,” Dr. Richmond shared. “Playing one-on-one with them, snuggling up on the couch and even sharing special moments during regular activities like bath time help strengthen your bond. These moments also help you begin to recognize the different ways your child communicates, which will make meeting their needs easier.”

Richmond said providing support for their partner is another important job a new father has. “A woman goes through immense changes, both physically and mentally, during pregnancy and childbirth,” Dr. Richmond explained. “Your support and patience is key. It’s not always easy and there will be stress, but working together as a team makes parenting easier and even more fun.”

Another tip Dr. Richmond offered was to talk with other parents about their experiences. “There is no handbook that comes with your newborn. It’s always a good idea to talk with those who have been through similar situations if you need some advice. Don’t be afraid to ask for help too; there’s no shame in taking a break occasionally!”

While bonding and supporting your child and partner is important, taking care of yourself is also a must. “Pay attention to not only your child’s health, but yours as well,” Dr. Richmond urged. “You want to be around for many years to come for your kiddos. See your primary care provider for health check-ups, eat healthy, exercise and try to get adequate sleep on a regular basis. You will need plenty of energy chasing after your kids, so make sure to prepare yourself by staying healthy and active!”

As a Family Practice Physician who also delivers babies, Dr. Shawn Richmond is available to care for growing families from birth to end of life. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Richmond, call 641.672.3360.


Mahaska Health Partnership Nurse Tonya Johannes has been awarded a $3,000 from the Iowa Hospital Education and Research Foundation (IHERF), which is supported by the Iowa Hospital Association.

Johannes, who lives in Oskaloosa, currently serves as MHP’s Education Coordinator and is also an adjunct clinical instructor for Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa. She is currently pursuing her Master’s in Nursing at Maryville University in St. Louis, Mo with a family nurse practitioner focus. She will also continue on for her doctorate in nursing at the University of Iowa starting in August 2015.

According to MHP CEO Jay Christensen, a past president of the IHA Board of Trustees, Johannes is among 34 outstanding students from across Iowa who has received assistance this year from the IHERF Healthcare Careers Scholarship Program. “We are very proud of Tonya,” Christensen said. “She has continued working fulltime while pursuing her advanced degree and helping foster the next generation of talent in her field. Her hard work and dedication should be commended; this scholarship could not have gone to someone more deserving.”

IHA established the IHERF Health Care Careers Scholarship Program in 2004 to help address the ongoing shortage of healthcare professionals and encourage young Iowans to establish or continue their careers with Iowa hospitals. The first scholarships were awarded in 2005 and now 300 students have benefited from the program.

In exchange for that financial support, scholarship-receiving students agree to work one year in an Iowa hospital for each year they receive an award. In this way, the scholarship program helps stabilize and enhance Iowa’s hospital workforce.

Christensen said hospital leaders from all parts of the state evaluated scholarship applications from nearly 150 qualified students who were judged on grade-point average, a written personal statement, letters of reference, and extracurricular, community and healthcare-related activities.

The MHP Board of Trustees have received, or are on track to receive, certification from the Iowa Hospital Association Trustee Education Certification Program. The certification is designed to help board members stay current with the ever-changing healthcare industry. Shown, from left: Mike Grim, Paul Swenson, Becky Siefering, Jim Hansen, Amy McGriff and Dave Langkamp. 

The Mahaska Health Partnership Board of Trustees currently has six of its seven members who have graduated, or on schedule to graduate, from the Iowa Hospital Association (IHA) Trustee Education Certification Program.

Included in that group are board members Amy McGriff from New Sharon, Becky Siefering, Jim Hansen, Paul Swenson and Dave Langkamp from Oskaloosa, and Mike Grim from Eddyville.

“MHP is fortunate to have engaged and informed board members to function as an integral part of our leadership team,” said MHP CEO Jay Christensen. “The IHA launched its Trustee Education Certification Program is 2010. To date, more than 100 trustees across the state have completed the program, which provides a framework in developing highly-effective board members.”

Goals of the program include helping hospitals use governance best practices; promoting the coordination of care and the best use of resources; and demonstrating to community stakeholders that Iowa hospitals are dedicated to accountability and transparency and are governed at the highest levels of excellence.

MHP’s Board of Trustees is a seven member group comprised of elected representatives throughout Mahaska County. Members are elected every six years, with many trustees serving multiple terms. The Board is the governing body of MHP, serving as the sounding board and decision makers for new services and projects as well as staffing and community needs.

“As a public entity, our elected Board of Trustees provides oversight and strategic direction to MHP,” Christensen explained. “This board, who works closely with our Executive Team, does not receive compensation for their volunteer efforts.

“The extra time and effort our board members take to stay current with the ever-changing healthcare industry and particularly critical access and rural hospitals, shows that they want to ensure MHP continues to provide quality and personalized healthcare resources to the communities they serve.” 


Mahaska Health Partnership is pleased to welcome Family Practice Physician Valerie Bonnett, MD, as the newest primary care provider in the Medical Group.

“Dr. Bonnett brings a unique perspective to primary care,” MHP CEO Jay Christensen said. “Her expansive experience and research on women’s health issues will partner well with services we offer. We’re fortunate to have her serving patients at MHP.”

Dr. Bonnett has always had a passion for helping people. “Growing up in Bussey, IA, I always dreamed of world travel,” Dr. Bonnett remembered. “I thought I would go into international missionary medicine. However, I received a great scholarship to Central (College in Pella, IA) and upon graduating, applied to the Peace Corp and the University of Iowa.

“I got accepted to Iowa. After completing my medical degree, I stayed in the state because I felt the specialty of Family Practice was well respected and I could gain more experience. My residency inspired my passion for women’s health and I’ve never stopped learning.”

Dr. Bonnett never let her Midwestern roots hinder her thirst for what lay beyond. “I’ve been to five of the seven continents. Through medical mission trips I’ve met some amazing people, learned a lot and seen some beautiful countries.”

Throughout her 20 year career, Dr. Bonnett has been influenced by her obstetrical experience, travel and vast research. She practiced in Davenport for sixteen years, at times teaching obstetrics for family practice residents; she eventually relocated back to the area to be closer to family.

“I like working with women of any age but I have specialized skills to really help women from reproductive age through menopause,” Dr. Bonnett explained. “I don’t deliver babies currently but enjoy assisting women with counseling before they conceive to help them get healthier before becoming pregnant.

“I’m a big picture thinker. I like to work with my patients to determine the root cause of issues and start there rather than masking symptoms with medication,” Dr. Bonnett stressed. “I am a strong believer in natural remedies in conjunction with traditional medicine. My patients can feel confident that I will explore every possibility that may enhance their overall health and well-being.”

Dr. Bonnett is now accepting new patients on the MHP campus in Oskaloosa. Appointments are available Mondays and Wednesday through Friday from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm. For an appointment call 641.672.3360.


Mahaska Health Partnership is pleased to welcome Melissa Gentry, PA-C, to its Medical Staff. Gentry is practicing in Behavioral Health Services at MHP; she most recently operated a private practice in Ottumwa.

“I’m excited to work as part of a team again,” Gentry said. “I feel my patients get better care because I can partner with other clinicians to coordinate treatment.”

Gentry found her passion for psychiatry by accident. “I started out in Family Practice and Emergency Medicine, but the organization where I worked really needed psychiatric providers. I observed for two days and fell in love,” Gentry described.

“I answered the call and completed a year-long psychiatric fellowship at the University of Iowa. I have found my personal perspective, derived from my own life experiences, has shaped my compassion and guidance for patients. I’m doing what I was meant to do.”

When asked what she enjoys most about her specialty, Gentry said connecting with patients, hearing their stories and helping them find the best version of themselves. “Few things in life give me more satisfaction than when a patient who has really been struggling responds to a treatment and the whole world opens up to them,” Gentry explained.

“Things that otherstake for granted every day become within reach,” Gentry continued. “A person can’t have health, happiness or success; they can’t accomplish anything without first caring for their mental well-being. It drives everything.”

Gentry received her Bachelor of Arts from Central College in Pella before attending Des Moines University for her Bachelor of Science and Physician Assistant Certificate. She completed her Masters of Physician Assistant Studies at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Her first Physician Assistant position was with University of Iowa Family Care in Sigourney, IA.

“I really believe mental healthcare is for everyone: moms, dads, busy professionals, kids and adults,” Gentry stressed. “I treat anyone age four to 94 for short-term issues as well as people suffering from a severe mental health diagnoses.

“I try to be very open with my patients. I’m accepting and understanding of their needs while trying to educate on their disease, along with the expected outcomes of prescribed treatment. When my patients are well informed, they are able to take an active role in their recovery.”

Gentry is available by appointment at MHP Behavioral Health Services Monday through Friday from 8:00 am – 4:00 pm. For an appointment, call 641.672.3159.