Friday, April 29, 2016

GRMC Welcomes New Director of Surgery

Paul Topliff, RN, CNOR, is the new director of surgical services at Grinnell Regional Medical Center. Topliff joins the surgical team in response to the retirement of Deb Reding, RN, who has been with GRMC for nearly 35 years.

Topliff comes back to GRMC after working in Oskaloosa for six years, most recently as the director of surgical services. He served as a peri-operative nurse at GRMC from 2005 to 2009. Topliff also served eight years active duty in the United States Air Force from 1988 to 1994. In this position, he supervised clinical personal in the orthopedic/podiatry clinic at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona.

Topliff earned an associate’s degree of nursing from Indian Hills Community College. He completed a bachelor’s degree of nursing from Chamberlain College of Nursing in Illinois.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Paul back to GRMC. He has a big responsibility ahead of him taking over the role of Deb Reding in running our busy surgery department,” says Doris Rindels, RN, vice-president of operations. “Paul brings many years of experience and management to this position. I believe he will move the organization forward and continue the excellent care implemented by Deb and her team.”

Reding plans to enjoy quiet time and her grandchildren when she leaves GRMC; although, her husband will not retire for a while. 

GRMC Auxiliary Scholarship Recipients Honored

Grinnell Regional Medical Center Auxiliary recognized four area students pursuing healthcare careers at its annual gathering held in April. GRMC Auxiliary scholarships are awarded to graduating high school seniors, current students, or adult students pursuing a healthcare career. These funds are also available to those currently working in healthcare and seeking advanced training.

The 2016 GRMC Auxiliary scholarship recipients are:

Madeline Bacon, Tama, will graduate from South Tama County High School. She will attend Simpson College, Indianola, in the fall seeking a degree in athletic training.  She is the daughter of Jill and Kenny Bacon.

Mariah Deppe, Grinnell, will graduate from Grinnell Community High School. She will attend Grand View University, Des Moines, in the fall pursuing a degree in kinesiology.  She is the daughter of Eric and Mindy Deppe.

Josh Hoffman, Grinnell, is a second-year student at Buena Vista University, Storm Lake, working toward a degree in athletic training and completing pre-physical therapy doctorate studies. He is the son of Brian Hoffmann and Candace Hoffmann.

Madeline Kunz, Ladora, will graduate from HLV High School this May. She will attend the Faith Baptist Bible College, Ankeny, pursuing a missionary nursing degree. She is the daughter of Cara and Shawn Kunz.

For additional information about the GRMC Auxiliary scholarships, please call the GRMC volunteer coordinator’s office at 641-236-2588.

Photo 1: GRMC Auxiliary recognized a scholarship recipient Mariah Deppe. She and her mother, Mindy, both work at GRMC.

Photo 2: Madeline Kunz (left) was recognized as a GRMC Auxiliary Scholarship recipient at the Auxiliary gathering on April 12 with GRMC Auxiliary co-president Jen Collins (right). 

Monday, April 25, 2016

Healthcare’s Impact on Local Economy

Grinnell Regional Medical Center generates 554 jobs, direct and indirect, that add $31,721,198 to the region’s economy, according to the latest study by the Iowa Hospital Association.  In addition, GRMC employees by themselves spend $6 million on retail sales and contribute $365,286 in state sales tax revenue.

“In our county the healthcare sector remains a significant driver in the local economic stability,” says Todd Linden, GRMC president and CEO. “Along with the hospital, the health sector includes local physicians and their clinic staff, dentists and their clinic staff, pharmacies, nursing homes, mental health clinics, and other health clinics. Combine, these organizations have more than 1,100 jobs directly linked to healthcare in Poweshiek County. The diversity of economic engines are extremely important to a strong local economy. We need a balance of agriculture, education, manufacturing, and service sectors to maintain and grow the local economy.”

“Grinnell Regional Medical Center is a driving force in sustaining excellent quality of life in our region and is an economic engine that makes a substantial impact toward making Grinnell a stronger place to live, learn, work and play,” Rachael Kinnick, Grinnell Area Chamber of Commerce director. “We are fortunate to have GRMC play such an integral role in our community.”

The IHA study examined the jobs, income, retail sales and sales tax produced by hospitals and the rest of the state’s health care sector.  The study was compiled from hospital-submitted data on the American Hospital Association’s Annual Survey of Hospitals and with software that other industries have used to determine their economic impact.

The study found that Iowa hospitals directly employ 71,348 people and create another 44,935 jobs outside the hospital sector.  As an income source, hospitals provide $4.3 billion in salaries and benefits and generate another $1.8 billion through other jobs that depend on hospitals.

In all, the Iowa health care sector, which includes offices of physicians, dentists and other health practitioners, nursing home and residential care, other medical and health services and pharmacies, contributes $15.5 billion to Iowa’s economy while directly and indirectly providing 312,821 jobs, or about one-fifth of the state’s total non-farm employment.

“With more than 300,000 jobs, health care is one of Iowa’s largest employers, and hospitals are by far the biggest contributor to that number,” said Kirk Norris, IHA president/CEO.  “That impact carries through to local communities, where hospitals are often among the largest employers in Iowa cities and counties.”

SE*ED: Answers to Your Pressing Questions about Medications

The public is welcome to Grinnell Regional Medical Center’s Senior Education program to learn, “Answers to the Medication Questions You Wished You Had Asked before You Left the Pharmacy.” Cecily Bolte, PharmD, GRMC pharmacist, will present on Monday, May 2.

This SE*ED program will give insight into questions patients might have forgotten to ask or didn’t think about asking until they returned home. For example, when it says take on empty stomach, what exactly does that mean?  Bolte will give a basic understanding about the differences between a drug reaction and drug intolerance. She will also address the signs and symptoms of drug reactions, and when to call the doctor. Bolte encourages participants to bring questions.   

Bolte joined GRMC in 2015. She completed her undergraduate studies at Hastings College in Hastings, Neb.  She received her Doctorate of Pharmacy from the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska. She practiced retail pharmacy for 15 years before making a career change to hospital pharmacy in March of last year. 

This program is free and open to the public. It will be held at 10 a.m. in the Drake Community Library, with refreshments beginning at 9:30 a.m.

Parking is available at the Drake Community Library, along Park Street, on Fifth Avenue,  in the First Presbyterian Church parking lot. Seniors needing transportation may call GRMC Communications and Development at 641-236-2593 by the Thursday before the program.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

GRMC Recognized Volunteers and Auxiliary

Grinnell Regional Medical Center hosted a Volunteer Appreciation Dinner in conjunction with the Auxiliary Membership Meeting on Tuesday, April 12, as part of National Volunteer Week.

This was the first time these events have merged into a dinner recognition reception. More than 75 guests attended the celebratory event, and enjoyed a photo booth, buffet-style dinner, a thank you video, and a program delivered by Todd Linden, GRMC president and CEO; Jen Collins, GRMC Auxiliary co-president; and Cara Kenkel, GRMC volunteer coordinator and auxiliary liaison.

GRMC and the GRMC Auxiliary have more than 150 active volunteers. Volunteers serve on advisory boards, committees, and within departments that serve our patients and staff. The auxiliary volunteers run the auxiliary and its many educational, service, and fundraising events that support its mission and GRMC.

The evening included recognition of milestone anniversaries for the volunteers. Recognized for five years of support and volunteering were Jen Collins, Gary Cook, Mary Emge, Gerald Henschen, Jesse Johnson, Linda Lowe, and Karen Thomson.

Recognized for 10 years of service were Bonnie Buntz, Jennifer Cogley, Wendy Kadner, and Dorothy Martinek. 

The 15 years of service recipients were Sig Barber, David Cranston, MD, Ed Hatcher, Bev Hatcher, Carol Kirby, Maralee Kruse, Betty Ludden, Debby Pohlson, Dave Vander Linden, and Susan Witt.

The Auxiliary was very pleased to recognize Peggy Koplin for 20 years of service.  She has helped with the Auxiliary’s annual first graders’ pediatric orientation for 20 years.  Congratulations, Peggy.

According to Independent Sector, a volunteer’s time is valued at $23.07 per hour. Each year thousands of hours are volunteered at GRMC to improve patient experiences and services.

“Volunteers are valuable members of our team,” says Cara Kenkel, GRMC volunteer coordinator and auxiliary liaison. “They are the smiling faces that greet family members and patients as they enter our doors. They are the assuring voices when a loved one is in surgery. They are the leaders who provide guidance to our many boards and committees. They help deliver mail and supplies to our outreach clinics. They are extremely important to GRMC and we want to thank all of them.”

“We value our volunteers and auxiliary members at the medical center and wanted to create a special way to say a very sincere and heartfelt thank you,” Kenkel says.

If you are interested in volunteering at GRMC or working with the GRMC Auxiliary, please contact Cara Kenkel at 641-236-2043 or

SE*ED: Behrens to Share City Park Update at SEED

The roar of construction has begun in Grinnell. Join Russ Behrens, Grinnell city manager, at the Monday, April 25, Senior Education Program to learn about the city park update and other projects slated for the summer and fall. The SEED program is a weekly educational program of Grinnell Regional Medical Center. 

Behrens will share the city’s plans to complete $2.75 million in improvements to Central Park in 2016 and 2017. This project has been in the planning stages since the Grinnell Parks and Recreation Board began compiling the Preliminary Inventories of the Parks of Grinnell in June 2005. The Grinnell Master Parks Improvement Plan was then adopted in July 2007. He will discuss and review the work that has been completed as a result of the development of the Master Parks Plan and highlight work that remains. He will also answer questions about other city projects underway this summer.

Behrens has served as the Grinnell city manager since September 2002. He is responsible for the supervision and general management of local government affairs of a diverse full service community with 9,218 residents. He manages 75 full-time employees and a budget exceeding $25 million, at times. His role is to supervise all city departments: police, fire, ambulance, finance, parks, cemetery, recreation, solid waste, sanitary sewer, storm sewer, water, building and planning, community and economic development, library, airport, and streets.

This program is free and open to the public. It will be held at 10 a.m. in the Drake Community Library, with refreshments beginning at 9:30 a.m.

Parking is available at the Drake Community Library, along Park Street, on Fifth Avenue, and in the First Presbyterian Church parking lot. Seniors needing transportation may call GRMC Communications and Development at 641-236-2593 by the Thursday before the program.

Medicaid Transition to Privatization Underway

Area healthcare and health service providers who care for Iowa’s low-income residents through Medicaid began the transition to privatized care effective April 1.  Traditional Iowa Medicaid patients will now be under the supervision of three state contracted health plans or Managed Care Organizations (MCOs): Amerigroup Iowa, Inc., AmeriHealth Caritas Iowa, Inc., and UnitedHealthcare Plan of the River Valley, Inc. Together these three MCOs will oversee the care of approximately 608,000 Medicaid patients across the state.

Locally, each primary care medical provider, mental health provider, and long-term care facility contracted with MCOs with which it wanted to do business. For example, Grinnell Regional Medical Center and the GRMC affiliated clinics currently have contracts with Amerigroup Iowa, Inc., and AmeriHealth Caritas Iowa, Inc. Mayflower, St. Francis Manor, and Grinnell Health Center have contracted with all three MCO providers. Physicians’ clinics and mental health clinics have contracted with at least one provider, with the option to add an MCO in the future. 

The MCO transition is complicated because Hawk-I plans are considered separate from the adult plans, and both patients and providers have the opportunity to make changes. Medicaid patients have been auto-enrolled into one of the three MCOs and should receive a member ID cards via the mail. The patient’s primary care doctor’s name should be listed on the member ID insurance card. If a member missed receiving a card in the mail, he or she may contact the member service number to get in contact with their assigned MCO. Important to note, if a patient’s local provider is not contracted as an in-network provider, patients will have the option to switch MCO carriers until June 16, 2016.Medicaid members with questions about the primary care doctor listed on the card or do not know which MCO has been assigned should call Iowa Medicaid Member Services at 1-800-338-8366.

“We were changing signage and flyers almost daily in the past month as the rules and implementation plans were unrolled,” says Joann Salsman, GRMC’s patient billing manager. “Big transitions that affect a large population have so many adjustments as the state and MCOs solidified the nuts and bolts of each plan and process. We continue to work on the process here at the hospital to ensure, to the best of our ability, our patient’s experience with this transition is a positive one.”

“On Friday, April 1, we experienced a large volume of calls and meetings with patients as they tried to set up their provider relationships to coincide with MCO at Grinnell Regional Medical Center,” Salsman says. “Overall, the transition is going as expected considering the magnitude of the change and the nuances of the program.” 

“Grinnell Regional remains committed to serving all community members, regardless of insurance status,” says Kyle Wilcox, GRMC vice president of finance. “With that, we also remain committed to providing the highest quality experience through amazing team members, excellent facilities, and the best technology. To accommodate both commitments, we believe AmeriGroup and AmeriHealth have provided GRMC a fair contract to serve our community members who use Medicaid health benefits. We will continue to work with the third Medicaid Managed Care contractor to find a mutually beneficial arrangement but do not have a sense of when that arrangement will be accomplished.”

Anyone needing help with enrolling or switching plans may call Iowa Medicaid Member Services at 1-800-338-8366. Medicaid representatives are available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5p.m.

Iowa’s Medicaid Managed Care Organizations
Amerigroup Iowa, Inc.
Phone: 1-800-600-4441

AmeriHealth Caritas, Inc.
Phone: 1-855-332-2440

UnitedHealthcare Plan of the River Valley, Inc.
Phone: 1-800-464-9484