Author Archives: Jennifer Kellner

Know Your Numbers and Have a Clear Vision for 2020

Bruce Ricker, D.O. recommends taking preventative steps to improve your long-term health

There’s an old saying that “Hindsight is 2020!” In the year 2020, health care professionals can almost predict the future as well. “Understanding your blood pressure and cholesterol numbers can prevent serious conditions in the future like heart attacks and strokes. We do routine exams and encourage everyone to know their numbers,” says Mount Ayr Medical Clinic physician Bruce Ricker, D.O. “It’s just like changing the oil in your car. Preventative maintenance means it will last longer. The same goes for our health.”

Although most adults these days know the dangers of being overweight, or smoking, or drinking too much, not everyone sticks with the lifestyle modifications that are required to make a lasting change. “A great start is tracking your numbers,” says Dr. Ricker. “Even better is working with a health coach. It’s free for Mount Ayr Medical Clinic patients and can be invaluable. We used to tell people about their numbers, and they’d understand the importance of keeping track of their sugars, blood pressure, and cholesterol. But over time, they would migrate back to their old habits. With a health coach, they stay on track. If someone is checking up on you, you’re not as likely to cheat.” Dr. Ricker added that he’s convinced the biggest reason for the improvement in his diabetes patients is the health coaches. “I’ve been preaching the same thing for years. But these coaches are like personal trainers. They keep people accountable. They make sure you’ve filled your prescription or are keeping a food log. And they provide support groups and counseling. I’ve seen huge progress compared to what we’ve seen in the past.”

According to Dr. Ricker, an important number that every adult needs to know is “30”. Exercising for 30 minutes a day, every day, is just as critical as eating a healthy diet. “In rural communities, many of us grew up on farms where the work was all done by hand. Now farming requires less physical activity.” He’s glad to see many younger people placing more emphasis on staying fit to be healthy. “I see lots of people running in 5Ks, using the hiking trails, and even using the hospital hallways for walking. It doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. It just has to become a part of your daily routine.” A balanced diet that is primarily plant based is another good predictor of long-term health. Dr. Ricker admits that it’s sometimes difficult to find a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables in rural areas, especially during the winter. “But in many ways, we’re blessed. People can raise vegetables in their own gardens and freeze to eat year-round!” Knowing your numbers, eating well, and exercising often aren’t new concepts in healthcare. But they’re great reminders of what to focus on in 2020. 

Call to make an appointment for your annual physical and better understand your numbers 641-464-4470 and check out these free wellness tools.

New Dermatology Clinic

Rodney Clark, ARNP, FNP-C

Ringgold County Hospital is pleased to announce a new partnership with Radiant Complexions Dermatology Clinics. Rodney Clark, ARNP, FNP-C, will be seeing patients once a month in the Visiting Physicians Clinic. Rodney is a certified family nurse practitioner and dermatology-trained nurse practitioner providing treatment of conditions affecting the skin, hair and nails for the entire family. After earning his Associate’s degree from Des Moines Area Community College in 2010, then his Bachelor’s degree from Grandview University in 2014, he earned his Master of Science in Nursing degree from Clarkson College in Omaha, Nebraska. He is committed to providing effective dermatology treatments including: medical, anti-aging and cosmetic procedures to help patients look and feel their best.

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. It is estimated that approximately 9,500 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with skin cancer every day. Research estimates that nonmelanoma skin cancer, including basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, affects more than 3 million Americans a year. Radiant Complexions is one of 13 clinics owned and operated by Iowa Dermatology. Radiant Complexions believes in bringing dermatology into the community by training nurse practitioners like Rodney through fellowship programs. “The whole idea is to reach people who otherwise wouldn’t have access,” he explained. “Patients can get in and take care of things earlier and more easily when they have access to a dermatology specialist and don’t have to travel.” Rodney is trained and ready to treat patients with skin issues across the board. From psoriasis to ectopic dermatitis to all kinds of skin cancers.

Below are just a few of the many conditions we treat in our clinics.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call (515) 287-5757

Welcome Zeeshan Jawa, MD

Welcome Zeeshan Jawa, M.D.

The Visiting Physicians Clinic at Ringgold County Hospital welcomes Dr. Zeeshan Jawa. He will be providing Oncology and Hematology services on the second Thursday of each month beginning January of 2020.  Dr. Roy Molina, who previously staffed the Oncology/Hematology Clinic for many years, is retiring. The entire team at RCH thanks Dr. Molina for his service. We will miss him and wish him well in retirement. 

Roy Molina, M.D. retired December of 2019

Dr. Jawa received his medical training at Lahore Medical and Dental College in Lahore, Pakistan, followed by an internal medicine internship and residency at St. Francis Hospital (University of Illinois at Chicago) in Evanston, IL. He completed his fellowship at the Medical College of Wisconsin. He joined MOHA in 2018.  To set an appointment with Dr. Jawa, call 641-464-4409.

Celebrating 10 Years in Our New Facility

Ten years ago, in December 2009, the “new” Ringgold County Hospital opened its doors. With state-of-the-art technology, patient and family-friendly rooms, and a design that maximized efficiency as well as comfort, it was a proud moment for everyone involved. Gordon Winkler, Ringgold County Hospital CEO, was intimately involved with the project. “Getting this building built is my proudest accomplishment,” he said.

“We did a really good job in functional space planning. We worked hard to determine which departments should go next to each other. When you go through the building you can see it. We still have people come and tour the building who latch on to those ideas.”

That said, not everything is in the same place that it was 10 years ago. “We never guessed how many things we’d end up moving around over the years,” added Winkler. “But if you want to continue to provide the level of services that our community expects, you have to adapt.” An example is the extensive dialysis unit that was built into the original facility. Even though the service was well utilized, when the federal government changed its reimbursement strategy, it proved to be unsustainable financially for RCH. Winkler explained that the Board of the hospital had to make the difficult decision to shut it down. That decision resulted in space that was repurposed to house Senior Life Solutions, a popular mental health program for senior citizens. It also allowed the Visiting Physicians Clinic to be relocated into a larger space. Not all the changes in the past decade were made because of the facility itself. Some personnel changes have resulted in better patient care. The Emergency Room used to be staffed by outsourced physicians. “Unfortunately, we didn’t always get the right people,” said Winkler. “We had problems trying to fill the schedule. We made the shift to hire and schedule our own dedicated physicians. They all have great personalities and fit into our community. Patient satisfaction scores have gone up tremendously.” Winkler continues to look for innovative ways to meet the healthcare needs of his community. “One of the biggest challenges to rural healthcare is the declining population. Economically, we simply can’t have every kind of specialist on staff.” That’s where a shared model comes in. For example, Dr. Tabitha Wilson, a pediatrician, is shared between RCH and CHI Health Corning in Corning, IA. “By sharing Dr. Wilson with another hospital and clinics, we can keep her appointment schedule full and provide our families with a pediatric specialist. It’s a win for everyone.”

Gordon Winkler, RCH CEO, enjoys the camaraderie at the hospital. From left, Lesa Stackhouse, Gordon Winkler, Blake Shields, and Cheyenne Iles

Physicians aren’t the only professionals that are difficult to find. Winkler explained that lab techs, imaging techs, and paramedics are in short supply. “We have a good relationship with Southwestern Community College. That really helps with recruiting nursing students but recruiting for all positions is a real challenge for the future.” Hands-on healthcare professionals are the face of the hospital. However, the advancement of information technology and healthcare software applications has made a huge impact on behind-the-scenes hospital operations. “We have two informaticists to handle all the information. They help with the application side of the software and keep our physicians and nurses up to speed.” The technology used around the hospital has also changed dramatically over the past 10 years. The increase in electronic medical records requires dedicated VPN lines and more electrical service. Improvements in imaging technology resulted in a 3D mammography machine. “We never know what’s next on the horizon,” said Winkler. “Our challenge is balancing the need to provide our patients with the latest technology while we continue to maintain our facility. It’s 10 years old now, we’re doing things like replacing the carpet!” Although the hospital may be at the heart of the community, it’s not an island. Winkler participates in Ringgold County’s economic development activities. “We encourage all of our employees to be involved in community activities and events. Whenever our economic development group has an industry looking at our county, healthcare and education are the top two requirements.” In 32 years at the helm of Ringgold County Hospital, Gordon Winkler has guided the organization through all kinds of challenges and change. But through it all, there’s one thing that makes it all worthwhile. “I’m reminded every day how committed our employees are to their community. They really value the opportunity to take care of their families, their friends, and their neighbors. I am so proud to be part of this team.”

The entire staff at Ringgold County Hospital is dedicated to caring for their families, friends, and neighbors

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National Nurse Practitioner Week

Choosing the right primary care provider is an important first step in managing your health, but for many Americans, finding a
health care provider to meet their needs can be a challenge.

Today, America’s nurse practitioners represent 270,000 solutions to improving patient health. In fact, nurse practitioners are the health care provider trusted by millions of Americans, and 80% of adults have been treated or know someone who has been treated by a nurse practitioner. In all 50 states, nurse practitioners assess patients, order and interpret tests, make diagnoses and provide treatment — including prescribing medications. Most importantly, as clinicians that blend clinical expertise with an added emphasis on disease prevention and health management, nurse practitioners bring a comprehensive perspective to patient care. As we celebrate National Nurse Practitioner Week, be sure to thank the nurse practitioners that provide care at Ringgold County Hospital and Mount Ayr Medical Clinic for their contributions to our communities’ health, and if you are considering an nurse practitioner for your health care, check out the providers at the Mount Ayr Medical Clinic! To learn more about nurse practitioners and how they are impacting rural healthcare, visit www.AANP.org.

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