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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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The city of Oskaloosa will be re-paving E Street and 12th Street near Mahaska Health Partnership, which is the access route to Entrance #4 on the medical campus.

According to MHP Business and Development Director Ross Schultz, the tentative project timeline is July 27 through October 31. This could change due to weather or other issues that could affect the project.

“There are two phases planned for the street construction project, so there will always be a driveway open to the Entrance #4 parking lot,” Schultz explained. “The city has worked with us to assure there will be access to medical services on the north end of our campus. Detour signs are up to direct people to use F Avenue.”

Schultz said the road construction will affect patients and visitors using Entrance #4 for services, including the Medical Group, Surgical Services, Inpatient Services, the Birthing Center and the Hospice Serenity House.

“We’ve had a lot of construction and growth on our campus the last few years, starting with the Hospice Serenity House which opened five years ago and the addition of our patient care wing in late 2013,” Schultz explained. “With sidewalks on both sides of the street as well as a higher quality road, we look forward to a safer neighborhood to walk in as well as better access to MHP.”

There’s still time to register for MHP Foundation’s 5th Annual Run in the Sun, set for Saturday, Aug. 1 at the Lacey Sports Complex Community Stadium.

Paper and online registrations will be accepted until 4 pm on Thursday, July 30, but same-day registrations will also be accepted. “We hope to surpass last year’s 360 participants,” MHP Marketing and Development Director Cathy Stahl said. “Proceeds benefit the MHP Hospice Serenity House.

“We encourage people of all ages and abilities to participate and support such a wonderful community resource as the Serenity House. It truly is a home away from home for patients and their families during the patient’s last days.”

Run in the Sun is a 5K for runners and 1-mile Walk for all ages, abilities and even strollers.  “Even if you haven’t registered but want to participate, come out to the Lacey Sports Complex on Saturday, August 1,” Stahl encouraged. “Same day registrations will be available starting at 7:30 am, with the races starting at 8:15 am. We hope to see you there!”

If you would like more information or to register, please call Stahl at 642.672.3369 or look us up on the web:


Mahaska Health Partnership is pleased to welcome Psychiatrist Eric Boyum, MD to their medical staff. Dr. Boyum will be practicing in MHP’s Behavioral Health Services and Inpatient Geriatric Psychiatry.

“I just finished a child/adolescent psychiatric residency at the University of Iowa,” Dr. Boyum said. “I completed my general psychiatric residency in July 2010 and have been covering at MHP from time to time over the past few years.

“I really like the staff at MHP and I look forward to treating people in a close-knit community where I’ll be making my home,” Dr. Boyum shared.

As a Psychiatrist, Dr. Boyum assists patients in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of substance use and mental or emotional disorders. “Of the top 10 most debilitating conditions in terms of lost days of work or productivity, more than half are related to mental health,” Dr. Boyum stressed.

During medical school, Dr. Boyum enjoyed surgery and pediatrics but felt a real calling toward psychiatry. “I like having the opportunity to spend more time with patients in my practice. I feel the stakes are high regarding lost enjoyment of life and I value helping people have more good days.”

In his daily practice, Dr. Boyum is looking forward to the variety of patients he will be able to care for. Behavioral Health Services is MHP’s outpatient mental health and substance use counseling service. Dr. Boyum will be joining therapists and counselors who work with Psychiatrist Dr. Ron Berges as well as Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Stef Yearian and Physician Assistant Melissa Gentry.

“We have a great mix of providers available to serve our population’s mental health and substance use treatment needs,” MHP Behavioral Health Services Director Jan LeBahn said. “Our patients benefit from the ability of providers to coordinate services in one location.

“Dr. Boyum’s experience with children and adolescents will be a great addition to our team,” LeBahn added.

Dr. Boyum treats patients of all ages and appreciates when he can follow a patient through transitions in their life. “When treating a child, the entire family usually becomes involved in some capacity. But then I get to watch the dynamic change and care for the individual as they become more independent and grow into adulthood,” Dr. Boyum explained.

When mental health situations arise for elder adults, MHP offers Inpatient Geriatric Psychiatry. “We are very excited to welcome Dr. Boyum,” MHP Inpatient Geriatric Psychiatry Director Stacy Murphy said. “When a patient needs our services it is usually an emergent situation. The availability of additional providers will greatly enhance our ability to care for more people in need.”

Dr. Boyum is now available on the MHP campus. For an appointment, call 641.672.3159.