Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Community Challenged to Support Annual Fund

Two local families and foundations have joined forces to jumpstart the 2010 GRMC annual fund drive. The Gosselink family, the Witt family, the Claude & Dolly Ahrens Foundation, and the Claude Ahrens Charitable Trust announced Monday they will match the community’s donations with a $25,000 challenge grant to help support healthcare programs and services through the 2010 Grinnell Regional Medical Center Annual Fund Drive.

“We have made a commitment to this community to provide the best quality of life we can with the resources we have been given.” says Susan Witt, vice-president of the Claude W. and Dolly Ahrens Foundation and chair of the GRMC Board of Directors. “GRMC is so vital to our quality of life in Grinnell. It provides excellent healthcare and health related services to enhance life for the better.”

The annual fund drive supports hundreds of programs and services—from complex modalities such as life-changing surgery and treatment for chronic pain to simple offerings such as a fast-moving aerobic dance class or support from a compassionate healthcare provider.

Witt encourages everyone to consider what they can do to help support GRMC.

“Donors who give to the annual fund drive can make an impact with their gift no matter how large or how small,” she says.

The $25,000 challenge will double gifts from those who:
  • Did not support last year’s annual fund drive.
  • Increase their annual fund donation over their 2009 gift. (The increased portion will double.)

“When making a donation, one can take pride in the knowledge of ownership of making GRMC the success it is now and will continue to be for future generations,” Witt says.

To make a gift or pledge to the 2010 annual fund drive, jump on our website at www.grmc.us and go to the link “Make a gift to GRMC” or call Mindy Uitermarkt at 641-236-2961. Donations may also be mailed to the Office of Development, 210 4th Ave., Grinnell, IA 50112.

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

County Health Rankings Mostly Positive

A nationwide report called the “2010 County Health Rankings” was released Wednesday by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. The report compares the overall health of counties in every state across the nation. Of Iowa’s 99 counties, Sioux County ranked highest in overall health; Johnson County ranked first in factors that influence health.

The rankings are health outcomes (based on measures of length and quality of life); and health factors (based on four major factors that influence health outcomes: behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors, and the physical environment).

“Poweshiek County ranked above the 50 percent level in all measures except one area. We feel this is a very good benchmark for the county and shows the positive impact of public health efforts in Poweshiek County,” says Patty Hinrichs, director of Grinnell Regional Public Health. “However, there is room for improvement and we will use this information to address gaps in public health for county residents.”

Poweshiek County ranked 16 out of 99 counties for overall health. This measure is based on mortality and morbidity. To delve into the research, Poweshiek County ranked 20 for mortality rate, representing length of life, based on a measure of premature death: the years of potential life lost prior to age 75. The morbidity rank for Poweshiek County was 25 in the state, based on measures that represent health-related quality of life and birth outcomes. Researchers combine four morbidity measures: self-reported fair or poor health, poor physical health days, poor mental health days, and the percent of births with low birth weight.

In the ranking for health factors, Poweshiek County ranks 30 out of 99 counties. To calculate the summary score of health factors, weights were determined for each of the four major factors – health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors, and the physical environment.

Healthy behaviors include measures of smoking, diet and exercise, alcohol use, and risky sex behavior. This was the area with the lowest rank for Poweshiek County. Clinical care includes measures of access to care and quality of care. Social and economic factors include measures of education, employment, income, family and social support, and community safety. The physical environment includes measures of environmental (air and particulate) quality and the built environment (access to healthy foods, liquor stores density).

Poweshiek County ranked its lowest score in healthy behaviors at 52 out of 99. In clinical care, the county ranked 14 in the state. Social and economic factors scored 45 out of 99 counties. The final measure, physical environment, ranked the best at sixth in the state.

“This is valuable information to build a healthier county. We will conduct the Community Health Needs Assessment in 2010 and form a Health Improvement Plan. These tools will give community members a chance to provide input on health needs for Poweshiek County,” Hinrichs says.

“It’s important to understand these rankings do not present a complete picture of what Iowa’s counties have accomplished,” said Iowa Department of Public Health Director Tom Newton. “These rankings will be used in conjunction with other community health assessments and planning efforts to find the best ways to address challenges and build upon successes.”

While Newton says IDPH takes these rankings and all health assessments seriously, he says they are simply tools to review and identify weaknesses or gaps in the health factors in individual counties. Newton says the rankings should also be used to illustrate the need for continued public and government support for public health efforts, as well as to stimulate public and private partnerships to advance community health.

Reports for every state are available at www.countyhealthrankings.org. For more information on Poweshiek County Health, contact the public health office at 641-236-2385.

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2010 GRMC Board Announced

Grinnell Regional Medical Center’s Board of Directors welcomes two new members as it announces the 2010 officers.

Karla Erickson, PhD, MA, assistant professor of sociology with Grinnell College, and Laura Van Cleve, DO, psychiatrist at Poweshiek County Mental Health, join the medical center’s governing body. Erickson and Van Cleve join 13 area residents providing direction, vision, and strategic planning for GRMC’s future. Van Cleve steps in as the new 2010-2012 GRMC medical staff president and as an ex officio member of the board.

“Karla brings a unique perspective to the board as a sociologist, as well as her special research interest in end of life care,” says Susan Witt, GRMC board chair. “Some of her work focuses on how the transforming world impacts organizations and organizational changes. As healthcare faces extremely rapid changes and challenges, this perspective will help as we develop our vision of healthcare in Poweshiek County.”

Erickson moved to Grinnell with her husband, Matt Karjalahti, in 2004 to join the sociology department at Grinnell College. She completed graduate work and taught for one year at St. Olaf College in Minnesota before moving to Grinnell. She earned her PhD in American studies and women’s studies from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minn.; an MA in liberal studies from Hamline University, St. Paul, Minn.; and her BA in English and women’s studies from Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington, Ill. Her board experiences include serving as an ex officio member of the Midwest Sociological Society as the editor of its magazine and on the ethics committee of Mayflower Community. Erickson also earned a certified nursing assistant certificate.

“In serving on the hospital board and as a faculty member at Grinnell College, I will work with GRMC to collaborate on joint projects. I’m very interested in quality end-of-life care and want to work with GRMC as it continues its mission in that area,” Erickson says.

“This is a great hospital both as vital resource to the community and for my research. Serving on the board is enticing for me as someone who studies the process of work,” Erickson says. “I’ll see the inside operations of what I, as a sociologist, study and teach. GRMC has been very supportive of the research I do with students for end of life and sociology.”

Erickson is a frequent user of hospital services at Fly High Fitness Studio, where she is a regular yoga participant. She also enjoys downhill skiing, writing poetry, watching movies, and serving as a hospice volunteer.

Van Cleve joined the GRMC medical staff in 1997. She provides psychiatric care to area residents through the Poweshiek County Mental Health Center. Van Cleve earned her medical degree from Des Moines University and completed a residency at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. She also completed a fellowship at the University of Iowa in child and adolescent psychiatry. She is board certified by the Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. Van Cleve currently serves as the ethics chair of the Iowa Psychiatric Society.

She will serve a two-year term on the GRMC board that coincides with her elected position as medical staff president. As the representative from the medical staff, Van Cleve bridges communication and represents the medical staff at the board table.

“In 2009, the board of trustees, administration, and the medical staff created four ad hoc task forces to find ways to expand knowledge, understanding, and improvement in GRMC’s physician recruitment, process improvement, communication, and information technology efforts. I will focus on these four areas to help ensure a stronger future,” Van Cleve explains. “We still face a difficult future with the economy and healthcare reform. We need a strong unified leadership of hospital, board, and medical staff to meet the challenges ahead.”

“The co-dependence between the medical staff and the hospital emphasizes the role of the medical staff representative on the board of trustees. Laura understands the essential dependence yet independence of physicians to this process to build strong relations,” says Todd Linden, GRMC CEO and president. “She takes her role leading the medical staff very seriously and has already made concerted efforts to build on the already strong relationship that exists within the hospital.”

Erickson and Van Cleve began their roles on the GRMC Board in January when the board installed officers. Starting her second year as chair is Susan Witt, co-owner of Miraco, Corp. Chair elect has been filled by Ed Hatcher, long-time board member and area farmer. Debby Pohlson, assistant at Jensen Optometrists, continues in the past-chair position. Secretary is Stan Greenwald, MD, retired obstetrician. Treasurer is Frank Brownell, owner of Brownells, Inc., in Montezuma.

GRMC and the residents served by the medical center have benefited from the diverse membership of the board and representation by community members as well as medical professionals. The GRMC Board of Trustees includes the officers listed above as well as Laura Ferguson, MD; Bill Menner; Michelle Rebelsky, MD; Wally Walker, and Joanne Yuska. Ex officio members of the board include Todd Linden, GRMC president and CEO; Todd Reding, GRMC Foundation board president; and Van Cleve.

Sig Barber, PhD, German professor at Grinnell College, Clayton Francis, MD, and Leila Maring, RN, retired from the board in December. Francis completed his two-year term as medical staff president, now filled by Van Cleve. Barber and Maring completed four, three-year terms on the board.

“GRMC is grateful for the many, many hours of dedication to our mission from these three stellar board members,” Linden says. “The commitment to excellence in governance was their hallmark and the hospital will forever be a better place because of their service.”

The board is responsible for overall governance of GRMC, a nonprofit, private medical center. Its primary roles include maintaining the mission and vision; strategic planning; appointing members of the medical and allied health staff; approving the annual budget and providing financial oversight; monitoring overall quality of services; and appointing the chief executive.

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Friday, February 12, 2010

Healthcare Scholarship Applications Available

Grinnell Regional Medical Center Auxiliary announces the availability of scholarship applications to students studying healthcare. Applications may be completed by anyone pursing advanced training in a healthcare field in the GRMC service area.

“Scholarships can be so important during the current economic conditions for many individuals,” says Linda Eichhorn, chair of the auxiliary scholarship committee. “The auxiliary wants to encourage persons seeking healthcare careers to not be held back by finances. We support healthcare and believe in providing new students as well as adult students the funds to pursuing healthcare careers. The need for healthcare workers at all levels will only continue to increase.”

Individuals who are interested in pursuing healthcare careers have until Friday, March 5, to submit completed scholarship application forms to the GRMC auxiliary. Applications have been sent to all area high school guidance counselors. They are also available at the hospital admissions desk, the volunteer coordinator’s office, and online at www.grmc.us.

Selection is based on applicant’s desire to follow a healthcare career, financial need, scholastic ability, and character. Two letters of recommendation that attest to the character and qualifications of the applicant must accompany the application. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

The auxiliary will review applications and notify recipients by early April. Recipients will be introduced at the annual GRMC Auxiliary Spring meeting on April 21. For additional information about the GRMC Auxiliary scholarships, please call the GRMC volunteer coordinators office at 641-236-2588.

The Iowa Hospital Association through the Iowa Hospital Education and Research Foundation also offers scholarships of $3,000 per academic year, with a maximum of $6,000 for two years.

To be eligible for this scholarship, you must:
  • Be enrolled in an accredited healthcare education program that leads to licensure or a clinical laboratory degree.
  • Be within two years of completing your professional education.
  • Be willing to work for an Iowa hospital after graduation (one year per scholarship awarded).

The GRMC Auxiliary gives toward the IHA hospital annually and any healthcare field applicants in the state may take advantage of this scholarship.

Applications are available at www.ihaonline.org. Applications are also available in the GRMC Office of Human Resources. Application deadline is Wednesday, March 10, 2010.

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Annual Wellness Screening Offered

Heart disease is the number one health concern. Grinnell Regional Medical Center offers an annual wellness screening that provides a snap shot of your heart’s health.

February’s wellness screening will offer individuals a comprehensive metabolic panel that includes the fasting lipid profile for cholesterol levels, complete blood count (CBC), glucose, and other tests to measure liver and kidney function as well as metabolic indicators of early disease status. This comprehensive screening ensures that your physician has the most complete information about your overall body system function. And, the results may give the motivation to change your lifestyle habits to enhance health and well-being.

The comprehensive metabolic panel requires participants to fast prior to the blood draw for 12 hours. That means no food, although water is encouraged, for 12 hours prior to the screening.

GRMC’s Community Wellness Screenings will be held:
  • Wednesday, Feb. 17, in Grinnell, from 6:30 to 9 a.m. in the West Tomasek Conference Center. The total metabolic panel costs $43. Residents may call, after February 1, 641-236-2975 to schedule your heart health screening.
  • Friday, Feb. 19, in New Sharon, from 8 to 10 a.m. in the New Sharon Memorial Clinic, 302 South Park St. Residents may call 641-637-4046 to schedule their heart screening.
  • Wednesday, Feb. 17, in Victor, from 8 to 10 a.m. in the Victor Health Center, 709 Second St. Residents may call 319-647-7511 to schedule their heart screening.
  • Thursday, Feb. 18, in Lynnville, from 8 to 10 a.m. in the Lynnville Medical Clinic, 303 East St. Residents may call 641-527-2929 to schedule their heart screening.
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