Monday, December 20, 2010

MRI Installation Scheduled

Grinnell Regional Medical Center will begin installation of the new magnetic resonance imaging unit on Monday, Dec. 27, with the preparation for the magnets arrival on Tuesday morning.

“Installing an MRI magnet is a complex process that must happen within a narrow time frame,” explains Gina Fuller, GRMC director of radiology. “A special track will run from the emergency department entrance down the hall and to the magnet’s new home. For 48 hours, we will be closing down a portion of the hallway on second floor to install the magnet.”

The driveway ramp leading to the emergency department from Third Avenue will be closed to all traffic for about five hours on Tuesday, Dec. 28, from approximately 7 a.m. to noon. For emergencies, ambulance services and patients arriving by private car should come to the circle drive at the main entrance of the hospital, located on the south side of the hospital complex. Signs will be in place to assist emergency patients to the proper entrance.

A crane will lift the magnet from the transporter and place it on the track. Once this is completed, the crane can be moved and the emergency department will be able to receive patients.

“Our team has reviewed various scenarios to ensure access to services is not impacted and that our patient safety standards are maintained. All services will be available; however, patients may need to travel alternative routes to their destinations during this window. We hope our guests will forgive us for the inconvenience because this is such a significant equipment addition to GRMC,” Fuller says.

GRMC’s new MRI unit is scheduled to be operational by February 1. The current mobile unit will continue to be available for patients until then.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Hospital Patients Benefit from Healing Music

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, patients, visitors, and staff at Grinnell Regional Medical Center in Grinnell, Iowa, hear the echoes of healing music throughout patient care areas.

You might hear the song, “Somewhere over the Rainbow” or “What a Wonderful World,” but the song you are most likely to hear is, “Amazing Grace.” And it is amazing and grace-filled when Chloe Yates, a first-year work-study student at Grinnell College, is making the rounds and taking requests from patients.

“She brings joy and relaxation for all of us, patients and caregivers,” says Gayle Johnson, RN. “I know she helps staff members as much as the patients.”

Yates goes into the emergency department, the intensive care unit, and the inpatient areas to ask if any patients or family members might benefit from a song of their choice. Without any accompaniment, she sings a few verses of a favorite song.

While Yates was looking at her options for community service through the Grinnell College Work-Study Program, she learned that GRMC was looking for people to do healing music.

“I love to sing,” Yates says. “It brings such joy and I have met so many wonderful people. It is very enjoyable for me, too.”

“We know that music can alter our emotions,” says Cory Jackson, GRMC director of wellness services. Jackson coordinates optimal healing therapies at GRMC and coordinates Chloe’s time at GRMC. “Music can be very therapeutic and fits in with all the other therapies we provide with pets, massage, essential oils, and spiritual care,” Jackson says. “It is a wonderful gift she provides.”

After singing, Yates records her activity with each patient in their chart. Her singing counts as an activity for skilled care patients. It also allows GRMC to track any benefits that may result for the patient such as a decreased need for pain medication and increases in patient satisfaction.
Even without hard data, it is clear that Yates is making a difference.

Yates recently visited a hospice patient in their home who had been unresponsive for some time. Before Yates sang, the family felt that they—and not the patient—would be getting the benefit of her music because they thought their loved one would be unaware of the music. While Yates sang, the patient squeezed a family member’s hand a couple of times.

Another time, Yates sang the ABCs with siblings in the Kintzinger Women’s Health Center to give the older children some special time.

Caregivers and support staff take a moment from their busy schedules to listen outside the door. That moment also offers GRMC staff a moment of tranquility.

“She brightens our day,” Johnson says. “Our patients love it. We all look forward to her time with us.”

Yates’ time at GRMC is made possible through the Federal Work-Study/Community Service Program at Grinnell College. This program is an opportunity for students to earn their financial aid award while working at a community non-profit organization or in the local schools.

Students on Work-Study can serve as a link between the non-profit organization and the campus to raise awareness of community needs and encourage participation from other students and campus groups.

“It is easy to get stuck in the bubble of a college campus,” Yates says. “This is a great opportunity for me to get involved in the community. I’m meeting people and having experiences I would not otherwise have. It has been really great.”

Watch the video from KCCI

Respectfully Sharing the Season – Blue Christmas

Clergy from various Grinnell area churches and the chaplain with Grinnell Regional Hospice will hold a special Christmas service for those who feel less than merry this holiday season. “Blue Christmas” is a simple, ecumenical service at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec 21, at the First Presbyterian Church, 1025 5th Ave., Grinnell.

This service offers a message of comfort and hope to help individuals through times of struggle during the holidays. Blue Christmas acknowledges the pain and sadness many people feel at Christmas time, due to the loss of a loved one, struggles with illness or loneliness, financial struggles, or painful family dynamics that surface at Christmas time.

“Blue Christmas is a time for people to gather in community, to acknowledge their pain, to reflect and pray, and to find a message of comfort in the Christmas story,” explains Susan Sanning, GRMC chaplain. “Come on your own or invite family, friends, neighbors, or others for whom you might feel concern during this holiday season.”

The service will be led by GRMC Chaplain Susan Leathem Sanning. For more information contact Sanning at 641-236-2418 or email her at

Friday, December 10, 2010

Community Meets Brownell Family Foundation Challenge Grant for GRMC Annual Fund Drive

Grinnell Regional Medical Center’s annual fund drive has collected $50,000 for 2010 thanks to the successful completion of a $25,000 challenge grant from the Brownell Family Foundation. The challenge was issued on Nov. 1, 2010, and has quickly been met by the community. To date, nearly $225,000 has been raised for the 2010 annual fund drive.

“This is really exciting,” says Frank Brownell, chairman and CEO of Brownells in Montezuma, and a member of the GRMC board of directors. “We are absolutely delighted that the community has stepped up to meet this challenge so quickly. It demonstrates the priority many of us place on having quality healthcare in our community.”

Todd Reding, GRMC Foundation Board president adds, “Money raised from the community for the annual fund drive does so much on a daily basis for patients at GRMC. We are grateful for every contribution, and the ongoing support of the Brownell family. Their commitment benefits everyone in our area who relies on this hospital.”

Donations continue to be accepted for this year’s annual drive. GRMC’s 2009 annual fund drive raised about $363,000. Annual fund drive donations have helped purchase an infant security system, infant warmers, comfortable chairs for patients receiving chemotherapy, and surgical equipment.

“Hospital income and federal and state reimbursement for uncompensated care are not enough to support a remarkable hospital dedicated to quality and cost-effective care,” says Denise Lamphier, GRMC director of communications and development. “This year, GRMC is expanding our care for the community through a new women’s health clinic and our first obstetrician/gynecologist. In addition, annual fund donations help support the Stork’s Nest, purchase wheelchairs, and so much more. The annual fund drive really makes a big difference in maintaining a healthier community.”

There is still time to make a gift or pledge to the 2010 annual fund drive. Go and click the link “Make a Donation” or call Lamphier at 641-236-2589. Donations may also be mailed to the Office of Communications and Development, GRMC, 210 4th Ave., Grinnell, IA 50112.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Grinnell College $25,000 Challenge Met By Community

Nearly 160 donors helped match a challenge from Grinnell College to raise a total of $50,000 to upgrade magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) services at Grinnell Regional Medical Center.
Through this gift, Grinnell College matched dollar for dollar all new or additional donations to the MRI campaign up to $25,000. Area residents met this challenge in a matter of five weeks and surpassed the project’s $300,000 fund-raising goal, with a total of $317,000 raised. Grinnell College faculty and staff also contributed to the college’s challenge.

“It is remarkable to see how quickly this funding for the new MRI came together,” says Monica Chavez-Silva, director of community engagement and enhancement at Grinnell College. “Not only is it a testament to the community’s commitment to our local medical center, but it also speaks volumes about how much we can get done if we all pitch in together. The college is proud to be one of many who help make Grinnell a great place to live.”

Stanley Greenwald, MD, GRMC board member and Grinnell College alumnus agrees, “GRMC is truly a community hospital. It takes all of us working together to provide quality healthcare here at home. There are so many strong partnerships in our community, such as Grinnell College and GRMC, which positively affect all of us.”

The original $300,000 fund-raising goal is allowing the medical center to renovate the space to meet the new equipment’s rigorous safety requirements.

The additional funds raised will add a few features to the new unit. This will include equipment to perform angiographic studies. MR angiography is used to examine blood vessels in areas such as the brain, kidneys, pelvis, legs, lungs, heart, neck, and abdomen. These tests help in the diagnosis of various diseases, aneurysms, and atherosclerosis.

Also, a metal detector will be installed as an additional safety measure. The equipment uses a large and powerful magnet that is highly sensitive. These metal detectors are important to help ensure patient and staff safety as well as protecting the magnet from damage that can be unintentionally caused.

“We are thrilled with the level of support we have received from the entire community for this project,” says Gina Fuller, GRMC director of radiology. “Every gift makes a difference to benefit our patients. We are especially grateful to Grinnell College for their leadership.”

The initial gift for the MRI project comes from the estate of Margaret Wheeler. Other major donors include Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company Foundation and employees, Jewel Kintzinger Day and Burt Day, the Grinnell Regional Auxiliary, and matching community challenges from the Claude W. Ahrens Charitable Trust, Iowa Radiology, and Grinnell College.
Remodeling is underway on an area inside the hospital to accommodate the new, permanent MRI unit that is scheduled to be operational by February 1.

Anyone interested in more details about the MRI campaign is encouraged to call the Office of Development at 641-236-2589 or visit

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

GRMC Named Top Hospital by Leapfrog Group

One of Just 65 Hospitals to Achieve Prestigious National Designation

Grinnell Regional Medical Center has been named a top rural hospital by the Leapfrog Group in its annual class of top hospitals. GRMC was one of just 65 hospitals—from a field of nearly 1,200—to earn the designation, which was announced at Leapfrog’s 10th anniversary meeting on December 1 in Washington, D.C.

GRMC was also just one of five rural hospitals and the only Iowa hospital on the list.

“Earning the top hospital designation is a testament to the work of everyone in the hospital—the governing body, management, physicians, caregivers, employees, and volunteers,” says Leah Binder, chief executive of Leapfrog.

Susan Witt, chair of GRMC’s board; Laura Van Cleve, DO, president of the medical staff; and Todd Linden, president and CEO, accept GRMC’s top rural hospital award from David Knowlton, board chair of Leapfrog.

Leapfrog’s 2010 list includes university and other teaching hospitals, children’s hospitals, and community hospitals in rural, suburban, and urban settings. The selection is based on the results of the Leapfrog Group’s national survey that measures hospitals’ performance in crucial areas of patient safety, quality, and costs. The results are posted on a website open to the patients and families, the public, employers, and other purchasers of healthcare. It is the most complete picture available of a hospital’s quality and safety. The website is A complete list of all top hospitals is also available at the site.

“We are extremely honored to be recognized by the Leapfrog Group for our diligent work to provide the best possible value for our patients in providing both high quality and low cost,” says Susan Witt, GRMC board chair. “Our board, medical staff, and employees have been working very hard to find added efficiencies while making quality and safety a priority. I am so proud that these efforts have been acknowledged.”

Todd C. Linden, GRMC president and CEO, adds: “It is a real tribute to the caring team of people associated with GRMC to overcome poor Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement and still be identified as one of America’s best rural hospitals.”

GRMC has voluntarily adopted the Institute of Healthcare Improvement 5 Million Lives best practices since its inception as well as the Hospital Quality Alliance and the Surgical Care Improvement / Surgical Infection Prevention Care best practices. Nationally, these care standards and communication processes greatly reduce risks and improve quality in hospitals.

“Our medical center participated in a two-year TeamSTEPPS pilot program, which is an evidence-based teamwork system designed to improve patient outcomes by enhancing communication and teamwork skills among healthcare professionals. This type of program, along with others such as Condition H and Rapid Response teams, creates an environment for the best care to take place,” says Suzanne Cooner, GRMC vice-president of operations who oversees GRMC’s quality initiatives.

The 1,200 hospitals that publicly report their performance via the Leapfrog survey do so voluntarily. “In a way, that makes all of them top hospitals,” Binder says. “It represents an enormous commitment by the institution to not only measure what they do against tough standards, but also to work for change and be transparent about it.”

“A big part of GRMC’s success is the outstanding medical staff,” says Laura Van Cleve, DO. “As the current president of the medical staff I get the privilege of working closely with all the physicians, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners. They are truly an exceptional group of caring professionals dedicated to providing the best care possible each and every day. This award is evidence of this effort.”

The Leapfrog Group is a coalition of public and private purchasers of employee health coverage founded a decade ago to work for improvements in healthcare safety, quality, and affordability. It is an independent advocacy group working with a broad range of partners, including hospitals and insurers. Members include Chrysler, FedEx Corporation, IBM, and Motorola, among many others. Leapfrog’s annual survey is the only voluntary effort of its kind. Leapfrog officials say they plan to expand their efforts in the months ahead to work with consumer groups.

The survey, which launched in 2001, focuses on four critical areas of patient safety:
  • The prevention of medication errors
  • Standards for doing high-risk procedures
  • Protocols and policies to reduce medical errors and other safe practices recommended by the National Quality Forum
  • Adequate nurse and physician staffing

In addition, hospitals are measured on their progress in preventing infections and other hospital-acquired conditions and adopting policies on the handling of serious medical errors, among other things.

Leapfrog Board Chair David Knowlton, president of the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute, says that qualifying for the top hospital rank grows more difficult each year as Leapfrog’s standards evolve and new standards are added.

“Leapfrog’s members, as purchasers of care, and our partners and supporters believe that the challenges for American healthcare go far beyond just keeping costs down. Making certain that patients get the right care at the right time—value-–is an equal part of the equation,” he says.