Monday, June 23, 2014

Grinnell Institute Changes Name and Focus

Surgical Associates of Grinnell changed the name of its educational institute to add robotics and become The Grinnell Institute for Robotic and Minimally Invasive Surgery. This reflects the new knowledge base that Surgical Associates surgeons are creating and sharing with other surgeons in the state and country. Surgeons in the Institute include David Coster, MD; Nicholas Kuiper, DO; Mathew Severidt, DO; and Aaron Smith, DO.
Over the past decade, robotic assisted surgery has revolutionized the delivery of urologic and gynecologic surgical care. Now, advancements with this technology allow  general surgeons to perform an even wider array of complex abdominal procedures with unprecedented precision.
“Our team, known for its creativity and innovation in minimally invasive surgery for nearly 25 years, has over the past four years been quietly expanding that creative expertise into the field of robotic surgery, assuring once again that patients will notice a positive difference by having a Grinnell surgeon,” says Mathew Severidt, DO, general surgeon with Surgical Associates.
The institute will have one article published in a peer-reviewed professional journal, the Archives of Medical and Biomedical Research. It also welcomes surgeons from across the state to observe robotically assisted surgeries. The most significant benefit of the institute for patients is its ability to accept and perform complex surgical cases.
Surgeons with Surgical Associates were the first in the state of Iowa to perform a robotic-assisted Whipple procedure for pancreatic cancer and a robotic-assisted abdominoperineal resection for rectal cancer. Both are considered very advanced and complex surgeries.
Marilyn Fenner, 78, of Grinnell, underwent a robotically assisted rectal cancer resection. The surgeons agree that the procedure time for robotic and open surgery in the rectum area is about the same; however, there is a significant benefit with the robotics with accessing the tissue. Robotic surgeries really work well in the pelvic area.
After an open procedure, a patient typically spends five to seven days in the hospital and requires a high level a pain control medications. After the robotic surgery, Fenner spent three days at Grinnell Regional Medical Center and was back to normal activities after 10 days.
“I’d never had surgery so everything was new and scary. I thought everything went great. I didn’t have much pain,” Fenner says. “No one wants to have surgery but if this had to be, this was a better experience than I would have ever thought. I’m very lucky to have the surgeons and hospital here in Grinnell. I know some people think they need to go to Des Moines for care but I think they need to see what we can do at GRMC.”
Surgical Associates surgeons are especially well-known for improvements in upper abdominal surgery, including operations on the esophagus, stomach, spleen liver, pancreas, liver, gall bladder and bile ducts. Indications for such operations include gastroesophageal reflux disease and hiatal hernia, morbid obesity, cancer of the esophagus, stomach, and pancreas, diseases of the spleen, gallstones and diseases of the gall bladder and bile ducts, liver tumors, diaphragm hernias, and many others. General surgeons also attend to surgical diseases of the lungs, intestine, appendix, colon, rectum, and pelvic organs.
“We believe patients respond better and heal faster with robotically assisted surgeries. This technology has truly advanced the care of surgical patients,” Severidt says. “At Surgical Associates, we always talk with the patient and together determine the best way to care for their situation. I believe in many cases the robotic surgical system provides real tangible benefits to the patient. Better outcomes drive the advancements in technology.”

For more information on The Grinnell Institute for Robotic and Minimally Invasive Surgery, call Surgical Associates at 641-236-4323. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

GRMC Wins Marketing Awards

Grinnell Regional Medical Center won gold and silver in the Aster Awards, hosted by Marketing Healthcare Today Magazine and Creative Images, Inc. This program recognized outstanding healthcare professionals for excellence in their advertising/marketing efforts for the calendar year 2013.
GRMC entered the redesign of the quarterly newsletter, Healthletter, and earned the gold award. It entered the Blue Jean Ball total advertising campaign, and received silver for that entry.
The 2014 Aster Awards received nearly 3,000 entries from across the United States as well as Canada and South America.  All entries are judged by industry experts and are scored on multiple criteria with a possibility of 100 total points. Participant’s entries competed against similar-sized organizations in their specific groups and categories. 
Best of Show – Only 1 issued in 2014
Judges Choice – Score of 100% (only 8 issued in 2014 – top 1%)
Gold Awards – Score of 95 to 99 (top 5% in the nation)
Silver Awards – Score of 90 to 94 (top 12% in the nation)
Bronze Awards – Score of 85 to 89 (top 16% in the nation)
Awards were issued for entries that received top marks from judges placing them in the top 16% of the nation for advertising excellence.  Submissions were scored on multiple criteria which included creativity, layout and design, functionality, message effectiveness, production quality and overall appeal.

All winners are posted on the Aster Awards website (, as well as published in Marketing Healthcare Today, a national healthcare marketing magazine.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Poweshiek County Remains in Top Third for State Health

Poweshiek County’s overall health ranking decreased in 2013 but remained in the top third for the state, according to the County Health Ranks sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The county ranked 28 out of 99 counties, slipping from a high of 16th rank, five years ago. However, some measures change each year so not all data can be compared over the five years.
The annual ranking is a snapshot of the county’s health. Poweshiek County has been consistent in length of life and premature death rates, ranking 20th in the state. The study examines mortality (death) data to find out how long people live and it measures premature deaths, defined as deaths before age 75.
The second component of the study is morbidity (quality of life) and its impact on health.
The county ranked well for adult smoking: 83% non-smoking and 17% smoking. The state rate is 18% smoking adults. Poweshiek has been fortunate to have only 4% alcohol-impaired driving deaths, compared to the state average of 21%. In the area of clinical care, 90% of Medicare enrollees had been screened for diabetes.
The rankings are based on a model of population health that emphasizes the many factors that, if improved, can help make communities healthier places to live, learn, work and play. Mental health continues to be an area for improvement with an average ranking of 2.9 poor mental health days per month, compared to the state average of 2.6 and the top counties in the country with 2.4.
Mammography screenings also remain below the state average with only 64% of Poweshiek County eligible Medicare enrollees having an annual mammogram. The state average is 67% and the national top performing counties have 71% of enrollees completing an annual mammogram.
  “The County Health Rankings data as well as all data collected during GRMC’s  Community Health Needs Assessment is used to provide the focus for public health activities,” says Patty Hinrichs, Grinnell Regional Public Health director. “A Mental Health task force has been formed to discuss unmet mental health needs in the Poweshiek area.  Public Health funding and grants are focused on the highest priorities in our communities.”
The entire database for all counties in the nation and information on the Roadmaps to Health are available at
The Roadmaps to Health help communities bring people together to look at the many factors that influence health, select strategies that work, and make changes that will have a lasting impact. The Roadmaps focus on helping communities determine what they can do and what they can learn from others.

Monday, June 9, 2014

GRMC Wins Apex Award

Grinnell Regional Medical Center’s Office of Communications and Development has been awarded the APEX 2014 Award of Excellence in the Newsletter – Print category for its work redesigning the quarterly newsletter, GRMC Healthletter.
APEX 2014, the 26th Annual Awards for Publication Excellence, is an international competition that recognizes outstanding publications from newsletters and magazines to annual reports, brochures and websites. The judges reviewed 2,075 entries in 11 categories of the contest.
According to the APEX 2014 judges, “The awards were based on excellence in graphic design, quality of editorial content and the success of the entry in conveying the message and achieving overall communications effectiveness.”
“GRMC is fortunate to have a dedicated creative communications team and this award demonstrates their leadership in the healthcare arena,” says Todd Linden, CEO and president of GRMC. “This entry focused on the redesign of the GRMC Healthletter and featured a large photo of staff on the cover recognizing our AARP Magazine safe hospital .”

About the APEX Awards
The APEX Awards for Publication Excellence is an annual competition for publishers, editors, writers and designers who create print, Web, electronic and social media. Communications Concepts, Inc. sponsors the APEX Awards, and advises professionals who write, edit and manage business communications, on best strategies and practices. Concepts publishes business communication reports, including Writer's Web Watch, an e-report for professional communicators, and special reports on topics such as corporate writing and Web publishing. 
In the Twenty-sixth Annual APEX Awards, awards were given in 122 individual categories, within 11 main categories including: newsletters; magazines, journals and tabloids; annual reports; print media; electronic media; social media; websites; campaigns, programs and plans; writing; design and illustration; and one-of-a-kind publications.
IF YOU WISH, insert descriptive information about your organization.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Prevention of Shingles

Grinnell Regional Public Health now offers a vaccination for the shingles virus. Shingles is the older adult version of the chickenpox virus but is much more challenging. To prevent this painful virus, the vaccination, Zostravax, is available that reduces the risk of shingles by 50 percent and reduces the pain associated with shingles for those who do become infected.
Shingles is a painful skin rash, often with blisters. This same virus causes chickenpox, called herpes zoster. Only people who have had the chickenpox can get shingles; although a few cases have appeared in people who received the chickenpox vaccination.  One in every three people in the United States will develop shingles. However, you can change that statistic projection with a vaccination.
Shingles usually appears on one side of the face or body and lasts two to four weeks. Its main symptom is pain, which can be severe. Other symptoms can include fever, headache, chills, and upset stomach. With rare infections, the shingles can lead to pneumonia, hearing problems, blindness, brain inflammation (encephalitis), and death.
The vaccination is recommended for adults 50 years or older. Some individuals should not receive the vaccine if they have a weakened immune system, pregnant, or have experienced a life-threatening reaction to gelatin or the antibiotic neomycin. Contact your primary care provider for information on if it’s right for you.
The vaccination is a medicine that can cause allergic reactions. However, the risk of a vaccine causing serious harm is extremely small. Individuals need to weigh the risk of experiencing the disease against the risk of vaccination when they decide whether to be vaccinated.
Typical reactions to the vaccine include redness, soreness, swelling or itching at the injection site. Occasionally, someone will experience headaches.

Grinnell Regional Public Health offers the shingles vaccination. Call 641-236-2385 to schedule an appointment. 

Draft: Grinnell Regional Medical Center Releases Results from Partnership with Patientco

Grinnell Regional Medical Center Releases Results from Partnership with Patientco

Two-year engagement has helped promote patient financial engagement through simplified billing, increased access to payment options

ATLANTA (June XX, 2014) – Patientco, an industry-leading revenue cycle management software company that works with healthcare organizations to improve the way payments occur between patients and providers, released today results from its two-year partnership with Grinnell Regional Medical Center, a 49-bed rural medical center in Grinnell, Iowa. By leveraging Patientco’s cloud-based platform, Grinnell Regional Medical Center (GRMC) has simplified the payment process and improved billing accessibility for its patients, increasing cash collections by seven percent, decreasing FTE workload and enhancing overall patient satisfaction.

“Healthcare organizations are constantly striving to improve patient care from a clinical perspective, but many don’t consider the financial aspect of the care journey,” said Kyle Wilcox, assistant vice president, finance at Grinnell Regional Medical Center. “We recognize the importance of making the patient payment process as simple as possible, and Patientco has enabled us to do just that. We were able to implement the payment automation platform in less than six weeks and see fast business results as well as positive patient feedback.”

Grinnell Regional Medical Center partnered with Patientco in 2012 when they realized their basic payment options and black-and-white statements were not helping to improve its patients’ overall experience with GRMC or its collections processes. The improved statements from Patientco, designed around patients’ needs, have proven to be two and a half times more effective at positively influencing patient payment behavior, with 79 percent of current payments made through self-service methods. Additionally, Patientco’s technology has helped Grinnell Regional Medical Center save approximately 124 hours per month, time which was previously spent on opening checks, posting payments and processing address changes or returned mail.

“In today’s healthcare environment, organizations are focusing more on patient financial engagement and how it impacts the overall care experience,” said Bird Blitch, CEO of Patientco. “At Patientco, we are committed to providing our partners with the right tools they need to better manage the revenue cycle while enhancing patient satisfaction. As our partnership with Grinnell Regional Medical Center continues to grow, we will continue to work closely with their team to improve patient payment processes that will ultimately benefit both patients and providers.”

Patientco’s patient-focused solution has also enabled Grinnell Regional Medical Center to:
·         Improve payment accessibility and flexibility. Patients have access to manage and pay their healthcare expenses in the method that is most convenient via different payment options, such as online bill pay, by mail, over the phone or check.
·         Reduce bad debt. With Patientco, Grinnell Regional Medical Center has not only improved collections, but also reduced bad debt while simultaneously increasing financial assistance to its patients.
·         Enhance patient satisfaction. Patients have expressed positive feedback and less frequently file billing complaints because of easy-to-understand statements and accessible payment options.

For more information, visit

About Grinnell Regional Medical Center
Grinnell Regional Medical Center (GRMC) is a private, non-profit and non-tax supported medical center, serving more than 40,000 residents in a six-county rural area of central Iowa. A 49-bed hospital with 50 physicians and allied healthcare professionals, 390 employees and more than 200 volunteers, GRMC provides an array of services from birth to end-of-life. Specialties include primary care in family practice, obstetrics and gynecology and general surgery, as well as specialists in anesthesiology, bariatrics/weight loss surgery, emergency medicine, internal medicine, mental health, pain management, pathology, podiatry, psychiatry, obstetrics/gynecology, orthopedic surgery, radiology and urology. Visiting specialists in 11 areas provide additional specialty care for area residents.  For more information, call 641-236-7511.

About Patientco
Patientco is a leading provider of cloud-based patient payment automation solutions designed to increase revenue and cut costs by simplifying the payment process for patients and streamlining the patient revenue cycle for providers. Patientco’s suite of intuitive revenue cycle tools produces easy-to-understand statements, offers patients their choice of secure payment options, facilitates direct provider-to-patient communication and automates traditionally manual back-office processes for providers. To learn more, call 888-747-2455 or visit

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Great Golf, Great Prizes

Grinnell Regional Medical Center and the Grinnell Area Chamber of Commerce invite all golfers to the annual golf outing on Friday, June 27. We have two tee-off times, 7:30 a.m. and 12:45 p.m. at the beautiful Grinnell Golf and Country Club.  
We’ll be giving away prizes to four flights of three teams. The top flight team earns $500, second lowest score receives $300 and the third lowest score earns $200. All other flight team prizes are equivalent to $100. GRMC will also have pin prizes at each hole, including a $5,000 cash prize to the first hole-in-one on hole #9, courtesy of Ramsey Weeks, Inc.

Your team may register by calling 641-236-2946 or email before June 20 to reserve your team and learn about all the other prizes and benefits of being part of this annual golf outing. We’re celebrating GRMC’s 25th anniversary golf outing. Come see why this event has been successful for 25 years.