Friday, August 26, 2016

Avoiding Norovirus

With the onset of the new school year, Grinnell Regional Public Health advises taking precautionary steps of handwashing and avoiding school or work while ill to avoiding the spread of illnesses such as noroviruses. Norovirus has been identified in the community.

The most common symptoms are nausea with vomiting, diarrhea, and cramps. People of all ages have these symptoms. Diarrhea is more common among adults; vomiting is more common in children. Many persons (25 to 50 percent) also experience headaches, fevers, chills, and muscle aches. Illness usually lasts 24 to 48 hours. There are no known long-term effects.

According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, there are no treatments for the virus, only symptom management. However, dehydration can be a complication. If you become ill, drink fluids and rest. Do not interact with people until 72 hours after the end of symptoms.

The symptoms may appear 12 to 48 hours after exposure to the virus, but onset may range from 10 to 50 hours after exposure. Norovirus are most commonly spread through the fecal-oral route, either by consumption of food or water contaminated with stool or by direct person-to-person spread. The virus can also be spread by contact with objects contaminated with stool and by spread due to the virus in the air after someone vomits. This may result in droplets landing on surfaces or entering the mouth and being swallowed. Noroviruses are also spread from person to person, especially among family members. 

Hand sanitizer is not effective with the norovirus. Soap and water with thorough washing is required to stop the spread of norovirus.  People can pass the virus to others while sick, and up to 72 hours after diarrhea has stopped.  Anyone ill with diarrhea, vomiting or fever should not work with food, the elderly, in health care, or child care. Anyone working in these occupations who becomes ill with these symptoms should leave work. Food recently prepared by this person should be discarded.

Individuals with norovirus symptoms should take precautions to avoid the spread of the virus. For more information about care, contact your primary care provider. For information about noroviruses, contact Grinnell Regional Public Health at 641-236-2385.

Q& A from Senior Health Insurance Information Program

Local SHIIP counselor Montie Redenius provided answers to a common question about Medicare.

QUESTION: I currently work for a company that includes health insurance and prescription drug coverage as part of my compensation package. I will turn 65 in two months at which time I plan to retire. After my employment ends, my health insurance and prescription drug coverage also end. What are my options?

ANSWER: First, you must decide whether you going to start drawing Social Security at age 65 or are you going to delay drawing it? If you are going to start drawing your Social Security, you will automatically be enrolled in Medicare Part A (hospitalization) and Part B (physician services). The premium for Part B (there is no additional premium for Part A) will be deducted automatically from your Social Security payment.

If you are married and your spouse is still working for an employer with 20 or more employees and you can be covered under your spouse’s employer health plan, you can defer Part B coverage until such time as your spouse quits working. At that time, you will have to re-enroll in Part B. If there are less than 20 employees, the employer plan does not have to pay primary and you may need to enroll in both Medicare Parts A and B.

If you are going to delay drawing your Social Security, you will have to contact Social Security to enroll in Medicare Parts A&B. If you do not draw Social Security, you will be billed quarterly for the premium.

Medicare has deductibles and co-payments so you might want to consider purchasing a Medicare supplement plan that will cover these health expenses plus some additional coverage not offered by Medicare. Medicare and Medicare supplements do not cover prescription drugs so you will want to purchase a prescription drug plan (Medicare Part D). You can enroll in this plan yourself by going to or you can receive free assistance from a SHIIP counselor who can help you compare the various plans available.

Another option is to purchase a Medicare Advantage plan. This policy is issued by a private insurance company so your Medicare coverage will be provided by them. The Medicare Advantage Plan includes Medicare Part A and B and may include Part D coverage. You still have to pay the Part B premium, which Social Security will withdraw from your Social Security payment. The main difference is that the Medicare Advantage plans have networks so you have to make sure your medical service providers are in the network and will accept the plan.

If you still have questions, you may contact a SHIIP volunteer at Grinnell Regional Medical Center by calling 641-236-2588. Four SHIIP volunteers are available to help you in Poweshiek County. 

Friday, July 22, 2016

Deer Creek Family Practice Expands Hours

 The Deer Creek Family Practice will increase clinic hours and be open 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, effective August 1.

“We wanted to increase hours to accommodate patients and their busy lives. With the arrivals of Daryl Allison, physician assistant, and Dr. Polly Hineman, we are able to implement that goal,” says Brody Hala, GRMC clinic supervisor. “We anticipate more positive changes with providing services to meet the needs of area residents and remain here locally.”

In addition, Deer Creek Health Center has increased the number of visiting specialists who will hold clinic at the healthcare facility.  Specialists at the clinic include Matthew McKnight, Foot and Ankle of Iowa; Elizabeth Tigges, DO, and Mathew Severidt, DO, Surgical Associates; and Lauren Graham, Grinnell Regional Internal Medicine. Grinnell Regional Physical and Occupational Therapy staff also see clients regularly.

For information about scheduling, call the Deer Creek Family Practice office at 641-484-2602. 

The Jay “Ding” Darling Story

If you’re a frequent attendee of Grinnell Regional Medical Center’s Senior Education program, you may be familiar with Tom Milligan, who has presented past SEED programs on Grant Wood, Henry A. Wallace, and Forrest Spaulding. On Monday, Aug. 1, he will be presenting “The Art of Conservation, The Jay ‘Ding’ Darling Story.”

The story, which will premiere at the State Fair this summer, features Jay “Ding” Darling, an Iowan and a two time Pulitzer Prize winning editorial cartoonist. He was also an internationally known conservationist, and the founder of the National Wildlife Federation.

Also an Iowan, Milligan was born in Des Moines and now resides in the Amana Colonies. An accomplished thespian, Milligan’s 45-year career has included performances in a variety of theatres, such as Charlie’s Showplace Dinner Theater, The Old Creamery Theater, The Des Moines Playhouse, and Hoyt Sherman Theater.

This program is free and open to the public. It will be held at 10 a.m. in the Drake Community Library, with refreshments beginning at 9:30 a.m.

Parking is available at the Drake Community Library, along Park Street, on Fifth Avenue, and in the First Presbyterian Church parking lot. Seniors needing transportation may call GRMC Communications and Development at 641-236-2593 by the Thursday before the program. 

Prepare to Care Graduates

 (from left) Rebecca Crady, Danette Johnson, Deb Morton and Nancy Klein. Not shown Steffanie Crady.

Patients of Grinnell Regional Home Care have another assurance of quality care as five home care aids have completed the Prepare to Care core training.
“Completion of this program recognizes our front line staff as professionals. Our staff has completed this advanced training in patient-specific areas such as communication, cultural differences, and lifting so they can do the very best work for clients,” say Carla Doane, Grinnell Regional Home Care manager.

Prepare to Care is a state recognized educational program, administered by Iowa Department of Public Health, and promoted by the Iowa Care Givers to ensure direct patient care staff are well trained to give quality care to patients. Each year, Grinnell Regional home care aids complete classes to ensure they are trained in the best practices.

“Across our staff, we have more than 50 years of service at GRMC. The longevity of our home care staff is excellent and one reason is that we support our staff. For the patient this ensures stability, knowledge, and experience in caring and meeting their needs,”
Doane says. 

OB/GYN Specialist and Surgeons to Offer Clinic at Deer Creek

Elizabeth Tigges, DO, obstetrics and gynecology specialist, and Mathew Severidt, DO, general surgeon, will accept appointments for surgical consults, obstetrical care, and gynecological needs at Deer Creek Health Center, 401 First Ave., Toledo.

Tigges joined Severidt and the surgeons with Surgical Associates of Grinnell in April and has expanded her clinic outreach to Tama, Toledo, and Meskwaki residents.

The clinic in Toledo will increase access for individuals with surgical and ob-gyn needs. Tigges plans to work with area primary care providers for obstetrical care, cesarean births, and gynecological care.

“A healthy child begins with the mother and good prenatal care. I want to support women in the area during their pregnancies,” says Tigges. “I also believe there is a large underserved group of women with gynecological and sexual health concerns. My training and experience can assist all women.”

Tigges spent the last four years providing obstetrical and gynecological care to patients, performing pelvic surgeries, and specializing in women’s sexual health, a niche area. She previously practiced at the Ottumwa Regional Health Center Obstetrics and Gynecology,  as well as in Memphis, Tenn. 
Tigges began her medical journey at Des Moines University College of Osteopathic Medicine, followed by a residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Aultman Hospital, Northeast Ohio College of Medicine in Canton, Ohio. She is board-certified with the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and aspires to cover the full spectrum of women’s health needs.

Severidt began holding office hours at Deer Creek Health Center in May. Severidt will consult with patients for a range of general surgery services including abdominal, hernia, and endocrine surgeries as well as oncology, obstetrical, and bariatric procedures. His residency included training in advanced laparoscopy, allowing Severidt to offer his patients a minimally invasive solution to complex surgical problems.

He received his training at Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines after earning his medical degree at A.T. Still University – Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine, Kirksville, Mo. He graduated from Central College in Pella.

For more information or to schedule an appointment with Tigges or Severidt, please call Surgical Associates at 641-236-4323.

Friday, July 15, 2016

New SHIIP Counselor Offering Medicare Information in Grinnell

Where can I go to find answers about the Medicare prescription drug plans?  Are mammograms covered by Medicare Part B?  What is a Medicare Advantage plan? I’m turning 65—who can help me understand Medicare?  My medications have gotten so expensive I just can’t afford to take them all, is there any help?

Answers to these questions can be found by meeting with a Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) volunteer at Grinnell Regional Medical Center. Now, three volunteers are available to assist residents in the GRMC service area. 

Kathy Szary from Grinnell completed the extensive training program conducted by the State of Iowa Insurance Division. She worked at GRMC for more than 30 years and retired this past year.

Szary joins Maralee Kruse and Montie Redenius as a SHIIP counselor. People wishing to schedule an appointment with a SHIIP counselor should call 641-236-2588.

SHIIP, the Senior Health Insurance Information Program, was created in 1990 in response to the statewide need for senior health insurance information.  SHIIP provides free informational materials as well as one-to-one assistance with questions and problems related to Medicare benefits, Medicare supplement insurance, Medicare and insurance claims, and other related issues.  SHIIP does not recommend insurance companies, plans or agents; the volunteers answer questions and provide impartial information to help Iowans on Medicare make well-informed decisions.