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Mahaska Health Partnership is pleased to announce the addition of Debra Buckler, DO, to its Medical Staff. Dr. Buckler will start as a Hospitalist in July.

“Hospitalists are physicians who care for patients during a hospital stay,” MHP Hospitalist Anne Whitis, MD, explained. “MHP began the program in January 2013 to better meet patient’s needs during a hospitalization. By partnering with a hospitalist, outpatient providers are better able to focus on their daily practice; while knowing their patients in the hospital are well cared for.”

Dr. Buckler brings 29 years of medical experience to her new role at MHP. “I have practiced in many settings during my career. This has included academia, primary care, hospital and nursing home medicine.

“In the late 90’s I practiced primary care in Pella and also adopted my eldest daughter,” Dr. Buckler said. “I enjoyed my practice but didn’t like being a slave to the clock. I often felt the need to spend more time with my patients than allotted by the schedule. Also, being on call with an infant was challenging. Although I loved the area, I decided to move to Kirksville to teach Internal Medicine for a more family-friendly schedule.”

In addition to teaching, Dr. Buckler has worked as a hospitalist and provided care to nursing home patients.  She loved her interactions with students and patients.

“Teaching has always been my passion which I think serves me well in traditional practice,” Dr. Buckler stressed. “My favorite part about being a physician is teaching patients; taking someone who is confused and simplifying a concept in order to help them understand their condition. I don’t speak in doctor terms to my patients.”

When Dr. Buckler decided to return to Iowa she began looking for a place to practice. “I have a passion for geriatric medicine and palliative care. MHP had a need for a hospitalist and I have enjoyed that work in the past.

“The best thing about hospital-based medicine is the time I get to spend with patients. My focus is always the patient and their current life circumstances. I’m a straight-shooter and will be very open and honest with patients to ensure they understand their treatment,” Dr. Buckler explained.

The addition of Dr. Buckler brings MHP’s number of hospitalists to six. “We have built a great group of providers and we’re excited Dr. Buckler will be joining me, Drs. Amy Montgomery, Matt Whitis and Ben Oldson and Nurse Practitioner Jeff Sisul,” Dr. Anne Whitis said. “Patients in the hospital need decisions for their care made very quickly. Dr. Buckler’s extensive experience will be a great addition to the team.”

The Saturday Walk-In Clinic at Mahaska Health Partnership will be closed in observance of Independence Day on Saturday, July 4.

Normal operating hours for the MHP Medical Group will resume on Monday, July 6. For immediate medical needs, MHP Emergency Services is available 24/7, located at entrance #5.

Regular MHP Walk-In Clinic hours are currently Monday through Friday, 7:30 to 8:30 am and Saturdays from 8:30 to 11:30 am.

For more information on holiday hours, call 641.672.3100. From the MHP Family to yours, have a safe and happy Independence Day!


Practice Physician Valerie Bonnett, MD, recently joined the Mahaska Health Partnership Medical Group. Dr. Bonnett has a special interest in women’s health, particularly for women of reproductive through menopausal age.

“A lot of changes occur for women during these years,” Dr. Bonnett said. “I practiced obstetrics for most of my 20-year career and although I don’t anymore, I feel I have developed specialized skills to really help women be healthy.”

A strong focus for Dr. Bonnett is utilizing natural remedies in conjunction with traditional medicine. “Natural medicine can mean a lot of things,” Dr. Bonnett explained. “From my perspective, it is kind of two-fold.

“My first priority with my patients is getting to know them; their stressors, habits and lifestyle. From there, we can discuss their symptoms and possible outcomes. I strive to get to the root cause of problems because while traditional methods can be effective, I want to make sure we’re actually treating the issue, not just masking the symptoms,” Dr. Bonnett stressed.

Dr. Bonnett often helps women coping with the side-effects of menopause. “Hormone replacement therapy is widely used to treat the decline in estrogen and progesterone hormones women experience during menopause. By replacing these hormones, it can offset some of the uncomfortable symptoms women can face,” Dr. Bonnett explained.

As an advisor to her patients, Dr. Bonnett strives to address their symptoms in conjunction with their diet, exercise, lifestyle, relationships and stress. “You have to consider all of these factors because they can greatly influence the severity of menopausal side-effects.”

According to the National Institute on Aging, the average woman experiences menopause around age 51. Every women is different and may experience mild to severe side-effects including changes in their monthly cycle, hot flashes, night sweats, trouble sleeping and weight gain.

“During menopause, your body is missing a key ingredient,” Dr. Bonnett explained. “Estrogen is a regulator for the female body. It helps the body process calcium which is important for bone strength, it aids in maintaining healthy cholesterol levels and weight. A natural solution would be to replace the missing estrogen and problem solved.

“This is where I counsel patients on the best choice for them related to their family history, severity of their symptoms and daily habits. There are many natural treatments such as meditation, changes in diet and a focused effort to reduce stress that can aid in alleviating some symptoms. In addition, there are hormone therapy options that can be used such as estrogen patches which send the hormone directly into the blood stream, bypassing the liver. It’s very important to balance the hormones in a woman’s body, using the lowest possible dose, to avoid increasing her risk of breast cancer.

“The key is finding the right mix of traditional medicine and natural remedies to help lessen the severity of menopausal symptoms to obtain the highest quality of life,” Dr. Bonnett shared.

Dr. Bonnett is now accepting new patients on the MHP campus in Oskaloosa. She is available MondaysandWednesdaythroughFridayfrom8:00 amto4:30 pm. For an appointmentcall641.672.3360.

Mahaska Health Partnership is offering reduced rate school sports physicals in July at the Oskaloosa campus and New Sharon Medical Center for student athletes.

These reduced-rate exams will only be offered on scheduled dates in July and August. On the Oskaloosa campus, exams will be offered by walk-in only July 2 and August 20 from 9 am - 4 pm and July 23 and August 6 from 9 am - 8 pm.

At MHP’s New Sharon Medical Center, sports physicals will be offered by walk-in only on July 7, July 16, July 28 and August 4 from 1:00 - 6:30 pm. 

Reduced-rate sports physicals are only available on the specified dates with the schedule providers. For a complete physical with your primary care provider, schedule an appointment by calling 641.672.3360.

All proceeds from the reduced-rate sports physicals will be donated back to the athlete’s school. The cost is $20 and is due at the time of service. Parental consent must be given for any student under the age of 18. To give consent, please either call ahead or accompany your child to their physical.

For a sports physical in Oskaloosa, proceed to the north side of MHP’s campus and use entrance #4. New Sharon Medical Center is located at 112 South Main Street.

Most schools require that any student planning to participate in athletics has a pre-participation physical. If you have questions about the requirements for your child’s school, please contact your school.


Mahaska Health Partnership OB/GYN Specialist Dr. Jeffrey Fowler will begin seeing patients at New Sharon Medical Center one afternoon a  week starting in July.

“I believe there are women not seeking help for treatable conditions,” Dr. Fowler said. “My hope is I will be able to assist more people through my availability in New Sharon.”

Mahaska Health Partnership has had a medical clinic in New Sharon since ___. It is staffed fulltime by Family Nurse Practitioner Lisa Smith. As a Nurse Practitioner, Smith provides primary care for all ages. “I enjoy my relationships with my patients,” Smith shared. “I absolutely love kids and am so pleased when I can help someone overcome an illness or injury.

“In my practice, I treat many women who sometimes need a referral to a specialist either due to a pregnancy or advanced diagnosis. I’m very excited for Dr. Fowler to join me in New Sharon to make his services more convenient for patients.”

As an OB/GYN, Dr. Fowler provides the full spectrum of obstetrics and gynecological treatments. “I can treat women for bladder issues such as urinary incontinence or overactive bladder as well as prolapsed bladder. I also help determine the cause of pelvic pain, vaginal irritation or abnormal bleeding.

“If the situation requires, I can perform surgical treatments to relieve symptoms or perform endometrial ablation or hysterectomies,” Dr. Fowler explained.

Dr. Fowler said he will perform simple procedures and routine visits in New Sharon as often as appropriate but when a patient’s situation requires, care will be provided at MHP in Oskaloosa. “It’s similar to what patients are doing now.

“Patients who are pregnant and currently having regular prenatal visits will benefit most,” Dr. Fowler stressed. “During a pregnancy, a patient has to visit the doctor monthly for the first six to eight months, then up to weekly as their due date approaches. I will be able to provide most of their prenatal visits in New Sharon which will be more convenient for some women.”

Dr. Fowler will continue his fulltime practice on the MHP campus in Oskaloosa and offer appointments at New Sharon Medical Center Thursdays from 1:00 – 4:30 pm. For an appointment in New Sharon you may call the office at 641.637.2651 or call  641.672.3360 for an appointment in Oskaloosa or New Sharon.

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.”