Author Archives: Jennifer Kellner

Mammograms Make Sense

It’s breast Cancer Awareness Month, and once again the health care professionals at Ringgold County Hospital are strongly encouraging all women over the age of 40 to have an annual mammogram. It’s a simple, non-invasive procedure. “It’s only 10 minutes,” said Shelly Shields, medical imaging manager. “But those 10 minutes can save your life.”

Kelsey Mullins, left, and Shelly Shields, right

Why get a mammogram? Breast cancers found during a mammogram are more likely to be smaller and still confined to the breast. Finding breast cancer early (called early detection) can improve the chances that breast cancer can be treated successfully and with more treatment options, less extensive surgery, and ultimately, better treatment outcomes.

Who should get screened? The American Cancer Society’s breast cancer screening guidelines vary based on a woman’s age and risk factors for breast cancer. It’s generally agreed that annual mammograms for women over the age of 40 are recommended. Talk to your doctor about the screening plan that is best for you. While most people are aware of breast cancer, many forget to take the steps to have a plan to detect the disease in its early stages. The American Cancer Society encourages women to make healthy lifestyle choices such as eating a healthy diet, getting regular physical activity, and reducing alcohol intake. These choices can help reduce their breast cancer risk. The American Cancer Society also encourages regular
screenings to find breast cancer early, when it is most likely to be curable.

The big news in breast cancer detection is the 3D Mammography machine. Ringgold County Hospital acquired one a couple of years ago. “We decided the benefits far outweighed the costs. We really wanted to get it for our community,” said Shelly. The 3D Mammography machine brings the most advanced imaging available today to the area. Patients don’t have to travel to get the best of the best. “The convenience of it being right here means we’re detecting more breast cancers, earlier,” said Shelly. “Early detection is what saves lives.” The machine’s sophistication also means fewer women need to come back for a second set of images. “It’s low-dose radiation, and it reduces call-backs by 40%.” At Ringgold County Hospital, the benefits of high-tech imaging come with outstanding patient care. Shelly and Kelsey have been doing mammograms and other imaging for 30 years. Our patients are our friends, neighbors and family. “We want to help them be comfortable. Their experience is so important to us.” To learn more or schedule an appointment, call 641-464-4400.

Surgical Success

Ed Wehling, DO and Melissa Friedrich, CRNA

It’s been five and a half years since Dr. Ed Wehling arrived at Ringgold County Hospital. In that time, he and his team have performed countless surgeries and sent many patients home with a new lease on life. “We’re doing more and more procedures here because of word of mouth,” said Dr. Wehling. “Patients share their experiences, especially when the outcomes are life-changing.”

One of the more common procedures cures gastric reflux disease and hiatal hernias. “Many patients suffer from continual heartburn and chest pain that isn’t due to cardiac issues,” he explained. “Most are on several medications to manage symptoms like coughing and asthma because of continuous aspiration into the trachea. After the laparoscopic surgery, their symptoms are completely gone.” He added that patients typically go home after the surgery and after suffering for years, they no longer need to take any medication.

Dr. Wehling is also seeing excellent outcomes from performing endovascular surgeries. “We can treat problems affecting the blood vessels with a needle stick, and not an incision. Many patients think they’re just getting old and that’s why their legs hurt. But all leg pain is not because of aging or arthritis.” To encourage more people to pursue various options, he spends time on education and doing presentations in the community. “A lot of people still think that these options are only available in larger, city-based hospitals. We’ve got the technology and expertise right here. I think it’s important to let people know what we can do.” In addition to surgeries for existing conditions, Dr. Wehling and his team perform screenings like endoscopies and colonoscopies. “It used to be tough to sell someone on having a colonoscopy,” he admitted. “Scopes were bigger. Patients were given narcotics as anesthesia. The prep was bad. But now, there’s no excuse not to have a colonoscopy. It’s not uncomfortable. There’s no hangover feeling, and we may discover a polyp we can take out to save someone from full-on colon cancer.” Using the latest technologies combined with compassionate care, the surgical team at Ringgold County Hospital is changing lives and saving lives. “We just want to keep letting people know what we can do.” 

To set up a consultation with Dr. Wehling, call 641-464-4433.

Welcome Nurse Practitioner Denise Coleman

Denise Coleman, Nurse practitioner and lifelong learner

Denise Coleman didn’t plan to go into medicine. She had a pretty typical childhood growing up on her family’s farm near Bedford. She had her three sons very early and settled into a factory job where she assumed she would stay. When the factory closed, she had to make a decision. “We had an opportunity to go to school to learn new skills, or to find another job,” she explained. “A really close friend said ‘Denise – we’re going to nursing school!’ and so I went. It was the luckiest thing I ever did!”

After commuting 90 miles a day for two years to attend Southwestern Community College in Creston, she earned her associate degree and became a Registered Nurse. She had done her clinical training at Ringgold County Hospital and when she graduated, she was offered a job immediately. “I’ve done a lot of work in the Emergency Room,” she said. “ER is my baby. I worked there and did bedside nursing with medical-surgical patients for two years.” At that point, she was approached by the hospital’s leadership to help build its electronic medical records system. “I did that for about a year and enjoyed it. I’m a jack of all trades,” said Denise. In the meantime, she was promoted to be the manager of ER and Med-Surg.

Not satisfied with the status quo, Denise went back to school in 2015 to earn her bachelor’s and then her master’s degrees. She has now completed all the work necessary to become a Nurse Practitioner. “I can diagnose, treat, prescribe, and provide medical advice,” she explained. “I could open an independent practice in the state of Iowa.” But she has no plans to open her own clinic. Ringgold County Hospital is her home away from home. “The hospital has been my employer for 11 years. I love the variety of my job. I’m a utility player. Somedays I’m in the ER, I do some hospital rounds, and I care for sick patients in the Mt. Ayr Medical Clinic. That allows the clinic staff to keep appointments available.” Caring for patients who are part of a rural population is particularly rewarding for Denise. “I’m dedicated to providing the best care – no matter where you live. Our patients become our family. I love getting them well and keeping them well.” Denise’s hard work and dedication has contributed to her success while providing an extraordinary role model for her three sons, now in their 20s. “They’ve absolutely seen the value of hard work and of not being complacent.” She’s not about to rest either. “I’ll continue my education and add some more certifications!”

Pelvic Floor Therapy Now Available

As a member of the team that serves in Ringgold County Hospital’s Specialty Clinics, Kate Tripp, PA, enjoys the time she spends in Mt. Ayr. She’s a Physician Assistant who specializes in urology and travels from Des Moines at least once a month to care for patients at Ringgold County Hospital. “I really like the community feel,” said Kate. “And it’s great seeing patients in a hospital. All the resources we need are right here.”

Kate chose urology as her specialty because she wanted to become proficient in one area of medicine. She has training in psychiatry and primary care but is enjoying the challenges of urology. She sees both men and women for a variety of issues including urinary tract infections, kidney stones, prostate disease and cancer, and sexual health concerns. “Moving into urology was a big switch, but I like knowing more about a single area. As a physician assistant, I can spend a little more time with patients. I like to do a lot of education,” she said.

Kate Tripp, PA, and Shyanne Allen, DPT, offer pelvic floor therapy

Kate is also working closely with Ringgold County Hospital’s physical therapy department as they roll out a new pelvic floor therapy program. “It’s really helpful for patients with incontinence or chronic pelvic pain,” says Kate. “When I was in the clinic last week, we had a patient who was leaking urine when she coughed, laughed, or sneezed. Medication just doesn’t work. Pelvic floor physical therapy is the only thing that will help. Patients are really going to benefit.” She added that most PT clinics don’t offer this specific therapy. “It takes additional training, and the therapists at Ringgold County Hospital have completed the updated training.”

When Kate is not in Mt. Ayr, she’s assisting in surgeries or working in another Iowa Clinic. She lives in Des Moines and enjoys spending time with friends and family, including her husband and two French Bulldogs. She also enjoys traveling, trying new foods, spending time outdoors, and working on renovating her home.

Mt. Ayr Medical Clinic Welcomes Pediatrician

Pediatrician Tabitha Wilson, M.D.

Tabitha Wilson, MD, has joined the staff of the Mt. Ayr Medical Clinic and CHI Health Clinics in Corning, Bedford, and Lenox. A pediatric specialist, she is joining teams of family practice professionals. Her expertise will complement their work. “I’m here to support the current staff. I want to be available in case they have a complicated patient. I also have admitting privileges at Ringgold County Hospital and CHI Health Corning, so we can keep kids closer to home if they need to be hospitalized.” A native of Bedford, she’s thrilled to be bringing her young family home. “The way it started is kind of crazy!” she said. “My husband and I had been talking about moving back to Iowa to be closer to my family. I wrote a Facebook post that was seen by a friend of mine who’s a nurse at Ringgold County Hospital. She mentioned it to (CEO) Gordon Winkler. From there, everything just worked out!”

Lisa Wolfe, president of CHI Health Mercy Corning, and Gordon Winkler are excited to be working together to bring Dr. Wilson to the area. “When we collaborate, we’re able to recruit the best specialists,” said Winkler. “It’s a great way to bring high-quality medical care to our rural communities.” As a teenager, Dr. Wilson knew that she wanted a career in medicine, but she originally chose neurology as her specialty. “When I was in medical school, I fell in love with pediatrics,” she said. So, she changed direction, and now the families of Southwest Iowa will benefit. For Dr. Wilson, the favorite part of her job is getting to interact with families and getting to know the children over time. “I love doing well baby checkups,” she says. “Childhood development is just so interesting to me.”

The mother of two experienced a difficult birth with her own daughter almost three years ago. “The experience changed who I am as a doctor and as a person,” she readily admits. “She almost died and was in the intensive care unit. It was terrible, but it made me a much better pediatrician.” Dr. Wilson, her husband, daughter, and son are settling in the Bedford area, close to her family’s farm and where she grew up. She’ll be surrounded by her family and longtime friends. “This situation was meant to be. I have a five-year contract, but I hope that this will be permanent. We are so incredibly excited to be here!” Dr. Wilson will begin seeing patients at the Mt. Ayr Medical Clinic in mid-August. She’ll be in the clinic on Mondays and Thursdays from 7:30 to 5:00. To schedule an appointment for your child, call the Mt. Ayr Medical Clinic at 641-464-4470.

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