Thursday, February 25, 2016

Grinnell Regional Medical Center Designated Blue Distinction® Center+ for Maternity Care

In an effort to help prospective parents find hospitals that deliver quality, affordable maternity care, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield announced that Grinnell Regional Medical Center has been designated as one of the first hospitals to receive the Blue Distinction® Center+ for Maternity Care designation, a new designation under the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program.

Nearly four million babies are born in the United States annually, making childbirth the most common cause of hospitalization. This new Blue Distinction Centers+ for Maternity Care program evaluates hospitals on several quality measures, including the percentage of newborns that fall into the category of early elective delivery, an ongoing concern in the medical community. Compared with babies born 39 weeks or later, early term infants face higher risks of infant death and respiratory ailments such as respiratory distress syndrome, pneumonia, and respiratory failure, among other conditions. These babies also have a higher rate of admission to Neonatal Intensive Care Units.

In addition, hospitals that receive a Blue Distinction Center+ for Maternity Care designation agreed to meet requirements that align with principles that support evidence-based practices of care, as well as having initiated programs to promote successful breastfeeding, as described in the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative by Baby-Friendly USA or the Mother-Friendly Hospital program by the Coalition for Improving Maternity Services (CIMS) through its “Ten Steps of Mother-Friendly Care.” The program also evaluates hospitals on overall patient satisfaction, including a willingness to recommend the hospital to others. 
Blue Distinction Centers+ for Maternity Care, an expansion of the national Blue Distinction Specialty Care program, are hospitals recognized for delivering quality, affordable specialty care safely and effectively, based on objective measures developed with input from the medical community. To receive a Blue Distinction Centers+ for Maternity Care designation, a hospital must also meet requirements for cost efficiency.

“Receiving this award is a reflection of our patient satisfaction scores. Being recognized as a Blue Distinction Center+ for Maternity Care is further proof and encouragement to our patients that they will receive quality healthcare both in the OB and at GRMC,” says Sheryl Baarda, RN, OB nurse manager in the Kintzinger Women’s Health Center. “We have been actively pursuing new opportunities to excel in obstetrics services. Our exceptional obstetrical providers and staff have made this recognition possible.”

Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) companies across the nation have recognized more than 650 hospitals as Blue Distinction Centers+ for Maternity Care. Hospitals recognized for these designations were assessed using a combination of publicly available quality information and cost measures derived from BCBS companies’ medical claims.

Since 2006, the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program has helped patients find quality providers for their specialty care needs in the areas of bariatric surgery, cardiac care, complex and rare cancers, knee and hip replacements, spine surgery, and transplants. Research shows that, compared to other facilities, those designated as Blue Distinction Centers demonstrate better quality and improved outcomes for patients. On average, Blue Distinction Centers+ are also 20 percent more cost-efficient than non-Blue Distinction Center+ designated health care facilities.

For more information about GRMC’s Kintzinger Women’s Health Center and obstetrics services, call 641-236-2324. For information about the Blue Distinction Centers for Specialty Care program and for a complete listing of the designated facilities, please visit

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Town Hall on Health Set for March 16th

The public is invited to attend a Town Hall meeting to discuss experiences and share updates on healthcare delivery within Poweshiek County. The town hall meeting will be Wednesday, March 16th at 11:30 a.m., beginning with a free light lunch at the Elks Lodge, 720 3rd Ave., Grinnell.

The goal of the Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) is to update and report progress in addressing community health needs cited in the 2013 CHNA report and to collect up-to-date community health perceptions in 2016.

 Grinnell Regional Medical Center and Grinnell Regional Public Health have collected survey results from more than 200 residents. The deadline is March 1, 2016 for the survey. To complete the survey, go to

“We hope that the community and health and human services professionals will take advantage of this opportunity to provide input into the future of healthcare delivery in our county,” says Todd Linden, GRMC President and CEO.

VVV Consultants LLC has been retained to conduct this county-wide research. Vince Vandehaar, MBA, Principal Consultant, will compile the survey results and facilitate the Town Hall meeting. The purpose is to look at healthcare services, delivery and opportunities for improvement. If you have any questions about CHNA activities, please call 913-924-2327.

Please call Grinnell Regional Public Health for a reservation to the Town Hall meeting at 641-236-2385.   

Babies Room Expands

Grinnell Regional Public Health will begin offering the Grinnell Regional Babies Room parenting classes in Montezuma and Brooklyn. The parent education classes will be held once per month in Brooklyn and Montezuma following the evidence-based curriculum of The Incredible Years Babies and Toddlers series by Carolyn Webster-Stratton, PhD. A free package of diapers will be given to all participants.

“Transportation and access has limited the ability of parents in these communities to participate in positive parenting classes. We are bringing this class to Brooklyn and Montezuma in hopes of improving child-rearing education,” says Diane Dolmage, Grinnell Regional Babies Room educator.

“For parents who meet qualifications, they may earn free child merchandise/items for good parenting and care of their infants and toddlers. This component of the Babies Room is a point system where points earned may be used to receive free merchandise such as diapers, high chairs, toys, and blankets/bedding,” Dolmage says.

The classes offer parents effective tools to promote positive behavior in children, which in turn is proven to reduce risk of abusive behavior. This curriculum helps parents build skills to be positive, caring, protective parents/caregivers. It also helps maintain social connection, receive information on accessing health, medical, and community resources, and create a nurturing bond between and within families.  The Incredible Years Babies has greatly benefited parents when the children are infants; therefore, the program has been expanded to include parents with toddlers. Fathers, mothers, and family support members are encouraged to attend the classes.

The Grinnell Regional Babies Room in Brooklyn will be held from 4 to 5 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of each month at the Brooklyn Library. Dates will be February 25, March 24, April 28, May 26, and June 23.

In Montezuma, the Babies Room will be held from 4 to 5 p.m. on the fourth Monday of each month at the Community Hope Church. Dates will be February 22, March 28, April 25, May 23, and June 27.

“Funds to support the classes come from a Department of Human Services (DHS) Child Welfare Decategorization grant. This will provide classes and incentives to parents for six months,” says Patty Hinrichs, Grinnell Regional Public Health interim director.

For more information Grinnell Regional Public Health at 641-236-2385. 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Zika Virus Guidelines for Iowans

If you have plans to travel to a warm area, Grinnell Regional Public Health wants to share information to help protect you from potential Zika virus. The virus is spread through mosquito bites so the only mode of prevention is to avoid mosquitoes. This usually means using an insect repellant and covering your skin with long sleeves and long pants. The mosquitoes that carry Zika virus are not established in Iowa; however, travelers could potentially bring it to the state.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, no vaccine is available to prevent the viral disease Zika. About one in fine people infected with Zika virus become ill and develop Zika disease. Healthy adults who are bite by a mosquito infected with the Zika may not experience any symptoms or concerns.

 The public health concern arises for pregnant women, who when infected with the Zika virus, could experience negative effects on the pregnancy and the unborn child.

Until more is known, CDC recommends special precautions for pregnant women and women trying to become pregnant. Pregnant women in any trimester should consider postponing travel to the areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. Pregnant women and women planning to become pregnant, who do travel to one of these areas should talk to their doctor or other healthcare provider first and strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites during the trip.

The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes). Other common symptoms include muscle pain and headache. The incubation period (the time from exposure to symptoms) for Zika virus disease is not known, but is likely to be a few days to a week. The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week. There is no treatment for the virus.

Anyone traveling to areas where the Zika virus is active should view the CDC website prior to travel and review precautionary steps. The CDC has a dedicated site for the Zika virus at

For more information, contact Grinnell Regional Public Health at 641-236-2385.

Be Good to Your Heart

Grinnell Regional Medical Center wants you to take a moment during Heart Health Month to assess your heart. Heart disease remains the number one killer of adults in the United States. And, the American Heart Association estimates that half of all heart disease events could be prevented with healthy choices.

“Preventing a heart event is the best strategy and that begins long before you head to the emergency room with irregular heart function,” says Sheryl Rutledge, GRMC director of occupational health services. “All adults can begin taking measures to reduce your risk of heart disease.”

Knowing your heart health status begins with a conversation between you and your primary healthcare providers. With the Affordable Care Act, insurance carriers must cover preventive screenings for cholesterol and high blood pressure without the subscriber having to pay a co-payment or co-insurance or meet the deductible. This applies only when these services are delivered by a network provider. Medicare Part B and Medicaid in Iowa cover blood screening tests for cholesterol, lipid, and triglyceride levels every five years, when ordered by a physician, to help diagnose and prevent a heart attack or stroke.

GRMC recommends individuals work with their primary care providers to have timely preventive screenings for heart health. The medical center will no longer host a public cholesterol screening in February, due to the expanded insurance coverage of screenings from the ACA legislation.
“Heart health is more than a measurement. It’s about living healthy every day and taking preventive measures to avoid heart disease,” Rutledge says.

Prevention begins with:

·         Choosing a healthy eating plan.  The food you eat can decrease your risk of heart disease and stroke. 
·         Being physically active.  You can slowly work up to at least 2½ hours (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity (e.g., brisk walking) every week or 1 hour and 15 minutes (75 minutes) of vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity (e.g., jogging, running) or a combination of both every week. 

Additionally, on two or more days a week you need muscle-strengthening activities that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms). Children should get at least 60 minutes of activity every day.

·         Learning the warning signs of a heart attack and stroke. Not everyone experiences sudden numbness with a stroke or severe chest pain with a heart attack. And heart attack symptoms in women can be different from in men.
·         Stopping tobacco use. Tobacco usage is directly linked to heart disease, cancer, and many other conditions. 
·         Reducing stress in your life. Though stress affects each person differently, it does have a negative effect on your heart health. GRMC’s integrated therapies and fitness center off options for stress reduction. Plus, daily mediation has been shown to have significant affect. 
·         Knowing your heart health. Follow the recommended screenings for your age and gender, including your heart health screenings. Grinnell Regional Public Health has free blood pressure screenings every Thursday, from 1 to 2 p.m. in the Light Center for Community Health.

For more information about local resources, call the GRMC Wellness Services department at 641-236-2999, or speak with your primary care provider. 

The AHA provides a wealth of  preventive information. The AHA website is located at