Category Archives: Healthy Living

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Healthcare has seen some big changes over the past 33 years. Perhaps one of the biggest shifts has been a focus on lifelong health and wellness rather than only treating patients when they’re sick. That’s where the Mount Ayr Medical Clinic is excelling. Since 1998, it’s been a family practice within the hospital, with a reputation for quality care that is so good, patients travel from outside Ringgold County just to be seen here.

“We have a tremendous staff at the clinic,” says CEO Gordon Winkler. “We’ve always had excellent physicians and nurses. With the advent of physician assistants and nurse practitioners, we’ve been able to attract and keep very talented people in our small community. The Mt Ayr Medical Clinic has a tenured team who speak highly of each other, the clinic, and their patients. 

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

New Doctor Coming Soon!

Meet Scott Bland, D.O.

~ August 2021 ~

“With good health, you can make a big difference for a long period of time,” says Katie Willcox, D.O.

Erin Leonard, ARNP was born and raised in Mt. Ayr, IA. She joined the Mt. Ayr Medical Clinic in August 2017. She enjoys caring for the people throughout their lifespans, from birth to advanced age.

Ron Schafer, PA-C grew up in Mt. Ayr and got his start in EMS. Marcy Gregg, ARNP is from Clearfield, IA and began her career as an acute care nurse. Both providers joined Mt. Ayr Medical Clinic around 2000.

Denise Coleman, ARNP was born and raised in Bedford, IA. “I’m dedicated to providing the best care. Our patients become our family. I love getting them well and keeping them well.”


Prior to 2020, the population of Ringgold County was fairly stable, however, the number of patients being seen in the Mt. Ayr Medical Clinic has been increasing. Winkler attributes the clinic’s growth to the excellent quality of care provided. “Our patients know that we have good, local health care. They trust us, and don’t feel a need to drive out of town to find doctors who are capable of taking care of them.”

Ron Schafer, Pa-C agrees. “We take a holistic approach to health care.”

Call to connect with your partner in health 641-464-4470

Heart Health & Cholesterol Guide

Eric Martin, M.D.

Cardiologist Eric Martin, MD encourages you to keep your heart beating strong by following these healthy heart tips!

Improve your blood pressure: Have your blood pressure checked frequently by your doctor and keep a record so you can identify and track changes.

Live Smoke Free: Smoking narrows your blood vessels which can increase your blood pressure.

Maintain a Healthy Weight: Being overweight makes your heart work harder causing high blood pressure.

Eat less sodium: Eat less than 2300 milligrams of sodium a day.

Be more active: Exercise can help lower your blood pressure and your weight. Aim for 20-30 minutes of moderate exercise each day.

Manage the stress in your life: You will always have some stress, but learn to control it.

Learn to relax: When you relax, your blood vessels relax too.

Take blood pressure medicine: If your doctor prescribes it, take it!

Know your numbers and understand your results: Don’t let your numbers be a mystery. Know them and track them to keep up with your progress and so you can watch for any changes.

Total cholesterol
Best: less than 200
Borderline high: 200-239
High: 240 or higher


LDL (Bad) cholesterol
Best: less than 100
Near best: 100-129
Borderline high: 130-159
High: 160-189
Very high: 190 or higher

HDL (Good) cholesterol
Low: less than 40 for men,
less than 50 for women
Good: 40-59
Very good: 60 or higher

Normal: less than 150
Borderline high: 150-199
High: 200-499
Very high: 500 or higher


Personal Goal Becoming Reality

Melissa Friedrich, CRNA

Melissa is like most healthcare professionals. She simply wants to help patients feel better. But her patients often experience the kind of chronic pain that is debilitating and keeps them from living normal lives. “It’s so hard when patients have pain and they feel like nothing can be done,” she said. “I have friends and family who have suffered. It’s my personal goal to help them and give something back to my community.”

In pursuit of that goal, Melissa is embarking on a year-long journey that will combine academic instruction and hands-on clinical training. At the conclusion of her training, she’ll be certified in Nonsurgical Pain Management and will have earned her NSPM-C. The credential is offered only to nurse anesthetists and validates their advanced subspecialty knowledge.

Melissa is already a Certified Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) and works full time at Ringgold County Hospital. “About 85-90% of anesthesia in rural hospitals is provided by nurse anesthetists,” explained Melissa. “I came back to my hometown because I believe that patients deserve the same level of care here as in big cities. We’re keeping our care here.”

Ringgold County Hospital opened a Pain Management Clinic in November 2020. The clinic is staffed by RCH nurse anesthetist Melissa Friedrich and visiting nurse anesthetist Brian Jacobs. Melissa explained that by establishing the clinic, patients experiencing pain can be treated holistically, using a wide variety of approaches, not just by prescribing narcotics. “We’ll start with a full assessment to determine what’s causing the pain. Patients may need to change their eating habits, exercise, stop smoking, manage their weight, or work with a physical therapist to strengthen different muscles. There are a lot of options besides putting them on a narcotic and sending them out the door.”

Brian Jacobs, MS, CRNA, NSPM-C, Board Certified in Pain Management and Fellowship trained, joins Melissa Friedrich, current anesthesia provider at Ringgold County Hospital

“Pain management may also include establishing realistic goals,” added Melissa. “Then we give them the encouragement and the tools to help themselves heal.”

The Pain Management Clinic and Melissa’s training are results of a partnership with Midwest Integrated Pain Care in Des Moines. Brian Jacobs, MS, CRNA, NSPM-C, is Board Certified in Pain Management and Fellowship trained. He’ll be working closely with Melissa at the clinic and in other sites outside of Mt. Ayr. “Brian will be here once a month, and together we’ll see patients. I’m learning from him.” She’s appreciative of the opportunity that Ringgold County Hospital is giving her to train and establish the Clinic.

Appointments are being accepted now. Patients can visit with their primary care provider or call the clinic directly at 641-464-4433.

Join the Great American Smokeout

Learn more at

The American Cancer Society Great American Smokeout® is an annual event on the third Thursday in November – November 19, 2020, that encourages and offers support to people who smoke. Help someone you know make a plan to quit smoking or to quit for good. By quitting – even for one day – people who smoke will be taking an important step toward a healthier life and reducing their cancer risk.

To learn more about the Great American Smokeout, and to explore tools, resources that help to quit smoking, please call the Mt. Ayr Medical Clinic at 641-464-4470 or visit:

Breast cancer survivors speak out

The health care professionals at Ringgold County Hospital strongly encourage all women over the age of 40 to have an annual mammogram. It’s a simple, noninvasive procedure. “It’s only 10 minutes,” said Shelly Shields, medical imaging manager. “But those 10 minutes can save your life.” 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.”

Becky Andrews

Becky Andrews

“It’s my firm belief that everyone should get an annual mammogram. I usually get one every year on my birthday in August. But for some reason, I waited until December in 2018. If it weren’t for the 3-D machine, we never would have found the cancers. I had cancer in both breasts. “It was a big blessing that I didn’t have to do chemo. I had surgery in early 2019 along with radiation. For the next five years, I’ll take a pill as a preventative measure to prevent future cancer. But that’s it! I’m feeling good and doing well. Having a positive attitude is key. I knew that God would take care of me.”

Diane Wood

Diane Wood

“I’ve had a mammogram every year since I turned 40 because I have a family history of breast cancer. My mother, my grandmother and my grandmother’s five sisters all had it. Three years ago, when I was 69, my mammogram indicated stage one breast cancer.

“The doctor recommended a lumpectomy, but because of my family history, I opted for a double mastectomy. I had no radiation and no chemo and I’m feeling really good. My advice? Get a mammogram every year!”

Debbie Bradley

Debbie Bradley

“I’m very fortunate. Thirty-some years ago I became eligible to have regular mammograms through my insurance company. I started immediately and have never missed one. I lost a dear aunt to breast cancer and her memory was my motivation. In recent years, my husband and I have been going to Ringgold County Hospital for all our medical needs. When it was time for a mammogram in 2019, RCH had just installed a 3-D machine. They credit that machine for finding the cancer. It was really early detection and wasn’t even stage one yet. I was 73 years old. “My surgery was a lumpectomy and removal of three lymph nodes. That was followed by several radiation treatments. I received wonderful care from start to finish and recovered quickly. After my 2020 follow-up mammogram, I received a letter from RCH stating, “Your recent breast imaging showed an area that we believe is probably benign (probably not cancer). However, in six months, you should have a follow-up imaging to confirm that this area has not changed. “You can bet that I will be there in six months.”

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