Thursday, September 30, 2010

GRMC Bariatric Center of Excellence Earns Reaccreditation from American College of Surgeons

Grinnell Regional Medical Center’s Bariatric Center of Excellence has been awarded full re-accreditation at a Level 1A by the American College of Surgeons. The bariatric program in Grinnell remains the first and only bariatric surgery program in Iowa to earn the national distinction from ACS. Fewer than 55 hospitals nationwide have achieved this level of excellence, which is the highest level achievable. GRMC is one of the few rural hospitals in the country to achieve this designation.

The ACS developed the accreditation program to foster high-quality surgical care for patients who undergo bariatric surgery. Grinnell Regional’s Bariatric Center of Excellence received the highest level designation originally in 2006 and has again met the essential criteria of an excellent bariatric surgery care program. It also means that Grinnell Regional Medical Center’s institutional performance meets the requirements outlined by the ACS Bariatric Surgery Center Network Accreditation Program.

At the core of the bariatric program is Grinnell Bariatrics, a part of Surgical Associates of Grinnell. Its board certified surgeons, David D. Coster, MD, and Stephen M. Sundberg, MD, perform bariatric surgeries. Stefanie H. Noun, PA-C, serves as the program coordinator.

The American College of Surgeons is a scientific and educational association of surgeons that was founded in 1913 to raise the standards of surgical education and practice and to improve the care of the surgical patient. Its achievements have placed it at the forefront of American surgery and have made the ACS an important advocate for all surgical patients. The ACS has more than 70,000 members and is the largest organization of surgeons in the world.

For more information about GRMC’s bariatric services, please visit

GRMC Auxiliary Member Meeting

The Grinnell Regional Medical Center Auxiliary invites everyone to the annual fall luncheon scheduled for noon on Wednesday, Oct. 27. The regular gathering will again be held in the dining center at Buckley Hall on Park Street in the Mayflower Community, Grinnell.

“This will be a lovely luncheon for our members to catch up on all the auxiliary activities as well as enjoy a wonderful meal and entertainment,” explains Maralee Kruse, GRMC Auxiliary luncheon chair. “Following the luncheon will be a style show provided by Bon Worth Fashions from Tanger Outlet Mall in Williamsburg. Four models will display this fall’s fashions and two lucky winners will enjoy a $25 gift certificate to the outlet store.”

The agenda for the meeting includes: the election of 2011 officers and board members, updates on projects at the hospital and auxiliary, and door prizes by The Glass Gift Box. Tickets will be $8 and available after October 11 in The Glass Gift Box – the GRMC gift shop, from any GRMC Auxiliary Board member, or call the GRMC volunteer office at 641-236-2588.

Avoid the Flu: Get Vaccinated

Grinnell Regional Public Health encourages individuals age six months and older to get vaccinated against seasonal flu. Grinnell Regional Public Health has scheduled community clinics in Brooklyn, Grinnell, and Montezuma. No appointment is required. Fee is $25.

For schedule updates or other information related to seasonal flu, call the GRMC Update Hotline, 641-236-2918, or go to the GRMC website,

Public health will begin administering vaccine in October to ensure individuals have peak immunity in place when the virus is most active, during and after the holidays.

Members of the public may also schedule an appointment to receive seasonal influenza vaccine. Please call 641-236-2385 to schedule an appointment after October 13 at the GRPH office in the Light Center for Community Health, 4th Ave. and Reed St., Grinnell.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Nurse Anesthetist Joins GRMC Surgery Team

Grinnell Regional Medical Center announces the addition of Troy Anderson, CRNA, to the surgical services department. He began in the OR on September 13. Anderson performs all anesthesia services in the surgical suite for all ages and procedures. Areas where he will often be overseeing anesthesia care include obstetrical, surgical, and trauma stabilization.

Prior to joining GRMC, Anderson worked at Skiff Medical Center for four years and Community Hospital in Muster, Ind., for three years. He earned a bachelor’s at Iowa State University, a bachelor of science in nursing from the University of Iowa, and a master of science in nursing anesthesia from Rush University in Chicago, Ill.

A motivated individual, Anderson choose to become a nurse anesthetist because of the high degree of autonomy and responsibility demanded on the profession.

He explains, “I’ve always been focused on caring for people. I looked at the nursing profession and wanted the most challenging area of specialty. I wanted to operate at a skill level that was consistent with me. The OR is where I enjoy caring for patients.”

“Troy brings nearly nine years of experience in the OR plus excellent training to GRMC,” says Todd C. Linden, GRMC president and CEO. “He also brings such a caring and professional approach to his work. Following the addition of Nick Kuiper, DO, surgeon, this summer, we’re expanding the surgery schedule and needed more anesthesia coverage. Troy will be an excellent addition.”

His wife, Alexzandra, has been a contract nurse anesthetist for GRMC for two years. She will continue to work as a locum tenen for GRMC as needed. The couple has two children, William, 3, and Abigail, 1.

Anderson will join anesthesiologists Kevin Emge, DO, and Ken Whipple, DO, and Alexzandra Anderson, CRNA, in GRMC’s Warren H. Bower Surgical Suite.

Hospice Remembrance Service

Grinnell Regional Hospice will hold a Memorial Service on Tuesday, Oct. 19. This remembrance service, beginning at 7 p.m., will be held in the sanctuary of the First Presbyterian Church, 1025 5th Ave, Grinnell.

The annual service, which is open to the general public, honors hospice patients and residents of the Grinnell Regional Medical Center’s service area who have passed away between Sept. 1, 2009, and Aug. 31, 2010. Members of the Grinnell Regional Hospice staff will facilitate a ceremony and provide reflections, poetry, and musical selections.

“The service offers a time to pause and reflect on the meaning and significance of the life of someone we’ve recently lost,” says Susan Sanning, M.Div, Th.M., Grinnell Regional Medical Center’s chaplain and organizer of the event. “It allows us to remember and find ways to honor those memories. We look forward to seeing the families of patients we’ve served as well as others in the community who wish to join us for the evening.”

“We welcome receiving photos of the loved one being remembered. The photos will be included with those of hospice patients in a slide presentation at the close of the service,” Sanning says.

Refreshments will be served following the program. Persons interested in participating, submitting a photo, and/or recognizing a loved one should call the Grinnell Regional Hospice office at 641-236-2418 by Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2010; however no one will be turned away.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

GRMC Provided $8.5 Million in Community Benefit

Grinnell Regional Medical Center provided $8,515,639 in community benefits to Poweshiek County and surrounding service area, according to a recently completed assessment of those programs and services. That amount, based on 2009 figures, includes community health improvement services, subsidized health services, in-kind gifts, traditional charity care, government sponsored health care, bad debt, and unpaid costs for Medicaid and Medicare. GRMC reported $1.3 million in subsided health services and $497,574 in charity care that GRMC specifically implemented to help area residents.

Community benefits are activities designed to improve health status and increase access to health care. Along with uncompensated care (which includes both charity care and bad debt), community benefits include such services and programs such as the Community Care Clinic, Stork’s Nest, health screenings, health education programs, counseling, immunizations, nutritional services, and emergency and trauma services.

The results for GRMC are included in a statewide report by the Iowa Hospital Association that shows Iowa hospitals provided community benefits in 2009 valued at more than $1.2 billion. All 118 of Iowa’s community hospitals participated in the survey.

“GRMC reaches out to help so many residents,” explains Jack Fritts, GRMC chief financial officer and vice-president. “The hospital subsidized the H1N1 immunization clinics last year that helped protect residents from the flu. We also supported our outreach clinics that allow residents convenient access to healthcare services.”

“The programs and services accounted for in the survey were implemented in direct response to the needs of individual communities, as well as entire counties and regions. Many of these programs and services simply would not exist without hospital support and leadership,” said IHA president Kirk Norris.

But the ability of Iowa hospitals to respond to such needs is being hindered by the current economic downturn, as well as by losses caused by Medicare and Medicaid.

Total uncompensated care in 2009 in Iowa, including charity care and bad debt, was valued at more than $796.4 million, an increase of $85.9 million (12 percent) over 2008.

GRMC has weathered poor reimbursement from Medicare and Medicaid for many years. Fortunately, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 brings a long awaited fix to create a special payment category for tweener hospitals like GRMC.

Though we recorded a record total for unpaid cost of Medicare and Medicaid of $4.8 million in 2009, a higher level of reimbursement will begin in October 2010 to begin to bring reimbursement closer to cost.

Federal health care reform legislation passed earlier this year moved Medicare several steps toward a payment system that recognizes and rewards high-quality, low-cost providers like Iowa hospitals. Studies have shown that as much as 30 percent of health care is wasted by either being duplicative or ineffective and that some states, including Iowa, do a much better job of providing efficient care. Reducing that waste would save billions of dollars, which could be directed toward providing coverage for the uninsured.

GRMC is a not for profit community hospital. It does not receive funds from taxes but counts on revenues from services provided and donations from the community to sustain itself.

“The recent additions of physicians and surgeons as well as a better reimbursement rate for Medicare and Medicaid and continued strong financial support from individuals in our service area allow GRMC to be poised for the future. We are an integral part of the community and giving back to the people we serve is key to our future,” Fritts says.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Flu Prevention Begins

Grinnell Regional Public Health will offer influenza vaccination clinics for the public. For the winter 2010-2011 influenza season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against this serious disease.

While there are many different flu viruses, the flu vaccine this year is designed to protect against the three main flu strains that research indicates will cause the most illness during the flu season, according to CDC sources. The 2010-2011 flu vaccine will protect against an H3N2 virus, an influenza B virus, and the H1N1 virus that caused illness last season.

“As with all illnesses, prevention remains the best tactic to avoid becoming ill,” says Patty Hinrichs, RN, coordinator for Grinnell Regional Public Health. “The first step is to receive a flu vaccination. Our infection prevention committee reviewed the CDC data and influenza recommendations to determine the appropriate time to vaccinate residents. Public health will begin administering vaccine in October to ensure individuals have peak immunity in place when the virus is most active, during and after the holidays. Last year the vaccination schedule was accelerated due to the H1N1 outbreak. This year we can return to the normal vaccination schedule that gives the best protection throughout the full influenza season.”

Grinnell Regional Public Health orders vaccine for all age groups. Nasal-spray flu vaccine is an option for healthy people 2 to 49 years of age who are not pregnant.

Who Should be Vaccinated

In February, vaccine experts voted that everyone six months and older should get a flu vaccine each year starting with the 2010-2011 influenza season. CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted for “universal” flu vaccination in the United States to expand protection against the flu to more people.

While public health recommends everyone receive a flu vaccine, certain groups of individuals are identified as a higher risk either due to their own high risk of having serious flu-related complications or because they live with or care for people at high risk for developing flu-related complications. Individuals at higher risk and recommended for flu vaccination include:
  • Pregnant women
  • Children six months of age and older
  • People 50 years of age and older
  • People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions
  • People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
  • People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including:
  • Health care workers
  • Household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu
  • Household contacts and out of home caregivers of children less than six months of age, as these children are too young to be vaccinated.
Call Grinnell Regional Public Health at 641-236-2385 for information on the flu vaccine.

Grinnell Regional Public Health flu vaccine clinics will be held on the following dates and locations. No appointment is required for these. Fee is $25.
  • Oct. 13 – Grinnell Athletic and Recreation Center, 1500 Penrose, Grinnell, 9 to 11 a.m. and 3 to 6 p.m.
  • Oct. 18 – Grinnell Newburg High School, Media Center, 3:30 to 6 p.m.
  • Oct. 19 – Brookside South, 214 4th Ave., West, Grinnell, 10:30 a.m. to noon
  • Oct. 20 – Grinnell Senior Center, 927 4th Ave., 10 to 11:30 a.m.
  • Oct. 21 – Michael J. Manatt Community Center, 105 Jackson St., Brooklyn, 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.
  • Nov. 2 – Seeland Park, Ten-plex lobby on Orchard Dr., Grinnell, 10 a.m. to noon
  • Nov. 3 – Grinnell United Methodist Church, 916 5th Ave., Grinnell, 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
  • Nov. 4 – Montezuma Presbyterian Church Family Center, 300 E. Washington, Montezuma, 1 to 3 p.m.
  • Nov. 10 – BGM School, Elementary Cafeteria, Brooklyn, 3 to 6 p.m.
  • Nov. 11 – Mayflower Community, Carman Center, 600 Park St., Grinnell, 1 to 3 p.m.
Area physician’s offices and the outreach clinics affiliated with GRMC will also offer influenza vaccines.

For more information on the vaccination or public clinics, call Grinnell Regional Public Health at 641-236-2385.

Child Safety Seat Inspection Day

Grinnell Police Department and Grinnell Regional Medical Center will host a car safety inspection on Saturday, Sept. 25, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the Grinnell Public Safety Building, 1020 Spring St. The inspection for infant and child car seats is free to anyone who transports children, including parents, grandparents, and childcare providers.

At the inspection the vehicle and seat are thoroughly evaluated to make sure the child safety seat is installed correctly based on age and weight of child. The certified technicians will also examine the car seat size and review whether the seat appears on a recall list. To make newborn seats more safe, technicians may install a noodle to properly fit the baby to the seat and not restrict the baby’s air pathway.

Certified technicians from the Kintzinger Women’s Health Center perform the inspection. Grinnell Police Department and GRMC staff teamed up to help educate parents on baby and child safety as part of the National Baby Safety Month.

“Our obstetrical team focuses on the health and wellness of all the infants and children we help bring into the world. The inspection is for all vehicles that transport children and a great way to assure that the safety seat is doing what it should, protecting the child,” says Sheryl Baarda, RN, nurse manager at Kintzinger Women’s Health Center. “We adjust the car seat to the infant when they leave GRMC at birth. This inspection allows parents to come back and make sure the seat is still safe and fitting properly as the child grows.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that nearly 3 out o 4 child safety seats are not used properly. For a child safety seat to do its job right, it has to be:
  • Appropriate for your child’s age and size
  • Installed properly in your vehicle; and
  • Adjusted to fit your child securely.
For more information on the free car safety seat inspection, call the Kintzinger Women’s Health Center, at 641-236-2324.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

2009 GRMC Annual Report Shows Financial Improvement and Recovery

The 2009 Grinnell Regional Medical Center annual report, “Everyday Superheroes,” illustrates the events and achievements of the past year at GRMC. The theme is a tribute to the men and women who work together at GRMC to protect, heal, and care for those who rely on GRMC for healthcare. Illustrations of super heroes in the online report were drawn by elementary students at BGM schools.

“The theme of the report is light-hearted,” says Todd C. Linden, president and CEO of GRMC. “But the message is very true. There are many heroes among us here at GRMC who do extraordinary things everyday that make a real difference in people’s lives. Everyone on our team plays an important role, from those who make sure the building is clean and running properly to those who perform life-saving surgery. The children’s artwork illustrates the example of an everyday hero, like the people who work at GRMC.”

In 2009, GRMC was ranked the 11th best hospital in the state of Iowa based on the national survey scores in Consumer Reports healthcare comparison.

The team of “super heroes” at GRMC grew with the additions of Dale Andres, DO, (pathology); Gene Gessner, MD, (pain management); Christine Lindgren, DO (internal medicine); Emil Pecholt, DO, (family practice); and Philip Sundquist, MD, (emergency medicine). Allied health professionals new to GRMC include Wendi Beck, PA-C; Diane Nutter, ARNP; and Kenna Willey, PA-C. Cardiologists Michael Kienzle, MD, and Allan Latcham, MD, joined the visiting specialists at GRMC.

  • During 2009, GRMC and Mercy Health Network in Des Moines, partnered to create an eICU. This model brings around-the-clock physician coverage to the GRMC intensive care unit through two-way computer monitoring.
  • H1N1 was one of the public’s enemies in the past year. GRMC and Grinnell Regional Public Health vaccinated nearly 30 percent of Poweshiek County against the H1N1 virus. They report 5,676 vaccinations given just for H1N1.
  • GRMC advances in chemotherapy now offer greater options for patients fighting cancer and their increased comfort.
  • Digital mammography now at GRMC provides state-of-the-art diagnostic screening for breast cancer detection.

Also featured in the 2009 Annual Report are “the hero’s heroes,” the donors who overcame the recession to break the record for giving to the Annual Fund Drive. Even with the challenging economy, community members increased giving by $50,000 over 2008, contributing $363,000 from 1,032 donors.

“The community support of GRMC is extraordinary,” says Denise Lamphier, director of communications and development. “Our donors truly are our heroes and have a substantial effect on what this medical center can accomplish.”

The report notes that GRMC finished 2009 with a $938,300 loss, which is a significant improvement compared to a loss of more than $3 million in 2008. This is nearly a 70 percent improvement in financial performance.

Over the past two years, GRMC has reduced costs by $8 million, or nearly 20 percent. This was accomplished through active expense management and cost reductions. GRMC notes their costs were already well below the national average before expense reduction began.

How is 2010 shaping up?
GRMC reports that the many years of advocacy work by other super heroes, those community volunteers and board members who traveled with GRMC administration to Washington, D.C., has finally paid off. Payment relief for Medicare and Medicaid services for “tweener” sized hospitals like GRMC was included in the healthcare reform legislation passed earlier this year. GRMC could see up to a $1 million per year improved payment for the next two years as a result.
GRMC points to the addition of new physicians to its staff as positive indicators for the future. Nicolas Kuiper, DO, (general surgery), and Aaron Smith, DO, (urology), began employment with Surgical Associates in July. Nurse anesthetist Troy Anderson has also joined the GRMC staff.

Additionally, GRMC has recruited its first obstetrics/gynecology physician, Seanna Thompson, MD, FACOG, who will arrive in Grinnell at the end of the year. Stephen Ellestad, DO, will join the medical staff in the emergency department later this year.

The 2009 GRMC Annual Report, “Everyday Superheroes,” can be viewed online at If you have any questions, please call the office of communications and development at 641-236-2961.

Former Grinnellian to Share Insights on Aging with Grace and Dignity

Grinnell Regional Medical Center’s Hospice department welcomes Cory Ingram, MD, as he presents a lecture series entitled, “Aging with Grace and Dignity,” on Monday, Sept. 20. Ingram, an assistant professor, physician, and Grinnell High School alumnus, will address a variety of issues individuals face during aging.

The lecture series will be an informative opportunity for educators, healthcare professionals, and the public to discuss issues related to the challenges of maturing adults.

Ingram’s first lecture, “Old Age Ain’t for Sissies,” will be at the GRMC Senior Education program, beginning at 10 a.m., in the Drake Community Library. Following an introduction with current statistics on aging in rural locations, his program will address how to prepare for a doctor visit, geriatric myths, geriatric syndromes, and end-of-life preparations and planning.

Ingram will host a lunch and learn session on caring for seriously ill patients and their families at noon in the Tomasek Conference Center at GRMC. He will share practical information for those providing palliative and end-of-life care. He will also explore newer models of concurrent curative and palliative treatments. This lecture will target healthcare providers. Those interested in registering for this lunch and learn or information on CEU and CME credit may call 641-236-2418.

Following the afternoon program for healthcare professionals and educators, Ingram’s final public lecture will be at 7 p.m. at the Grinnell United Methodist Church. During “Watch Over Me: A Family’s Dementia Journey,” Ingram will use patient narratives to walk the audience through the complex journey of dementia and the care required by both the patients and families.

Ingram is currently assistant professor of family and palliative medicine at the College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, and medical director of palliative care and the regional director of the practice based research network at the Andreas Cancer Center of Immanuel-Joseph Medical Center, Mayo Health System, in Mankato, Minn.

He is a native of Grinnell and graduated from Grinnell Senior High School in 1987. He pursued his liberal arts education at Central College in Pella, Iowa, and finished his bachelors, masters, and medical studies in Western Europe at Leiden University in Holland. Ingram has trained in hospice and palliative medicine under the mentorship of world-renowned Ira Byock, MD, at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. He also studied at St. Christopher’s Hospice in London and visited other hospices throughout the United States and Western Europe. Ingram completed his residency at the University of Nebraska. Following his residency he completed a geriatric fellowship at the Maine-Dartmouth Family Medicine Residency program.

Sara Wray, RN, Grinnell Regional Hospice patient care coordinator, spearheaded Ingram’s return to his hometown for a program following their class reunion a few years ago.

“When Cory found out that I was a hospice nurse here, he immediately offered to do seminars for the people in his hometown,” Wray says. “This subject is very near and dear to him. He knows how much family members and patients can benefit from the information he often presents to groups. We started looking at times when he could come to Grinnell. Finding a time was a challenge because he was entering a fellowship with a well-known physician for palliative and end-of-life care in New Hampshire. We were able to secure a date and he’s very excited to be coming to the community and giving back to the residents.”

For information on the three programs or to pre-register for the free continuing education units, please call Grinnell Regional Hospice at 641-236-2418.

Healing After the Death of a Loved One

Grinnell Regional Medical Center will offer a five-week grief support group designed for anyone in the community who has lost a loved one. The group will explore the challenges associated with loss as well as the opportunities that loss presents for healing and growth.

“We create a confidential setting where participants can share their memories, their experiences, and their feelings with others who have also experienced a loss,” explains Susan Sanning, group facilitator and GRMC chaplain. “This will be a time for group members to explore ways to remember, heal, and grow.”

Gatherings will be held on Tuesdays, beginning Sept. 21 and run through Oct. 19. The support group will be held 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the conference room of the Light Center for Community Health, 306 4th Ave., Grinnell.

There is no fee to participate, but interested persons must pre-register by calling Grinnell Regional Hospice at 641-236-2418. Childcare will be offered free of charge for those who may need it. Please request childcare when you register.