Category Archives: Healthy Living

Consider Organ Donation

Amy Ford is a spokesperson for the Iowa Donor Network.

Ringgold County resident Amy Ford was the recipient of a double lung transplant. The active grandmother wouldn’t be alive today without organ donations. She serves as a spokesperson for the Iowa Donor Network, and encourages everyone to register as an organ donor, and to contribute financially if you’re able. For more information on the network, and how you can help, visit:

It Takes a Village

Sharla Norris, RN, Amelia Baker, RN, Becky Fletchall, RN, BSN, and Jamie Brobst, RN of Ringgold County Public Health

Caring is our Calling is the ideal expression for Ringgold County Hospital. For the hospital staff, it’s not simply a job, it’s a mission. Luckily for area residents, the mission goes far beyond the walls of the hospital itself and extends across the entire county. Ringgold County Hospital works closely with Ringgold County Public Health to keep area residents as healthy as they can possibly be. The two organizations work especially close together with patients who have been hospitalized and are ready to be discharged.

“I start looking at discharges from the time they come through the doors of the hospital,” said Amy Mobley, BSN, RN, Utilization Review Quality Improvement Manager for Ringgold County Hospital. “I look at the home situation, the kind of help they have, and the kind of help they’re going to need.” That’s when Amy will pick up the phone and reach out to start lining up the needed resources.

Becky Fletchall, RN, BSN, Nurse Administrator for Ringgold County Public Health explains, “Many people don’t understand the scope of what we can do. Public Health can provide skilled nursing, home health aids, even light housekeeping. We provide services to patients who need help outside of the hospital. We try to aid in the recovery process.” Becky adds, “We serve all county residents beginning at birth with the ‘Parents as Teachers Programs,’ immunizations for qualifying children, and seasonal flu shots for anyone, at any age.”

Becky acknowledged that Ringgold County has many elderly residents, and often they do not have family members living close by. Public Health can assist families to find available services so residents can stay safely in their homes for a longer period of time.

Amy shared that the hospital also works closely with the community. “We have a community care coalition,” she said. “We bring together all the health-care related entities for a monthly meeting. We include the department of public health, hospice, the emergency management director for the county, nursing homes in Ringgold County and even facilities in neighboring towns.” The coalition ensures that the right resources are available for all patients and that we are all working together.

When it is determined that assistance is needed from one of the many resources, it is as simple as a phone call to request a referral for the patient. “If we’ve determined a patient has a terminal illness and the patient desires hospice care, we’ll go the hospice route and set them up with their services. If someone is recovering from surgery or a more difficult illness and is just not quite independent yet, we will contact Public Health and they can assist them with services in their home. There is almost always some community resource that we can get to assist our patients when they need services outside of the hospital.”

“No matter what the situation,” added Becky, “We welcome communication from the hospital when patients are admitted to make sure there is no gap in service upon discharge.” The philosophy of the agency is to provide the highest quality in nursing, home care and public health services to all county residents. The agency assists and educates the public in the maintenance of general health, the prevention of disability and disease, and rehabilitation to the highest potential.

The ultimate goal of both the hospital and public health is keeping people as healthy as they can be throughout their lives. A Wellness Coalition was formed four years ago after a Community Transformation Grant was received from the State of Iowa. A community garden was planted, and the committee encourages walking and biking and hosts annual events. Anyone in the county is welcome to join the coalition which meets at least quarterly at the Ringgold County Hospital. For more information on the wellness coalition, contact Vicki Sickels, Ringgold County Public Health, at 641-464-0691.

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Katie Routh: Eating for good health

Katie Routh enjoys consulting with patients individually

Some people seem to grow up knowing what they want to do in life. According to Katie Routh, the dietician at Ringgold County Hospital, she is one of those people. “As a kid, I was always interested in nutrition,” she said. “When I was growing up, I baked and cooked a lot with my grandmother.”
A Ringgold County native, she thought about a career in nursing, but decided that the nutrition side of health care was where she wanted to focus. She has her Bachelor of Science in dietetics and is accredited through Iowa State University.

Being a dietician at a hospital involves visiting patients while they’re in the hospital. “I look at their lab work and their medications and help them get the nutrition they need while they’re in the hospital. I also help the dietary manager with menu planning and sign off on all the menus,” said Katie.  In addition to caring for people staying in the hospital, Katie does a lot of outpatient counseling. “I really like the counseling part of my job. I talk to people with diabetes, heart disease, and people who are interested in weight loss,” she said. The majority of her consultations are with diabetes patients. “Some have had the disease for years, but they’ve never really had any education on how their eating habits affect it. Some have just discovered they have diabetes and are trying to control it with better nutrition.”

Adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet is the advice of nutritionists everywhere and Katie agrees. In winter, if you can’t find fresh, frozen is a good option. Growing your own vegetables is the best of all. “The healthiest people I know are gardeners!”

Katie has been in her position at RCH for just over two years. She came back to work after her third child was born. She is very practical when it comes to providing advice for good nutrition. “Follow the 80/20 rule,” she advises. “Be a healthy eater at least 80% of the time. Splurge on treats only 20% of the time. After a splurge, start right away again on eating well. But don’t feel like you have to eliminate any food forever. Just watch your portions.” She adds that eating well is really a lifestyle, not a diet. It’s a permanent change you can live with. “Just relax and make healthy choices!”

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Don’t Skip Your Annual Physical!

Steve Smith is surrounded by the RCH healthcare team that got him on his feet again.

Steve Smith’s story is one all too familiar for many men. He was active, worked outside, felt healthy, and hadn’t been to a doctor in more than 20 years. Then one day, he “got to feeling kind of funky,” so he drove himself to the hospital. “I didn’t think I had anything wrong. I was just a little short of breath. I thought it was a fact of getting older,” he said. Physician assistant Ron Schafer was working that day. “He’s friends with my son. He sat with me while another doctor examined me,” Steve recalled. Before long, Steve was on a helicopter to Mercy Hospital in Des Moines, and although he didn’t know it, he was in really bad shape. “I had to have five heart bypasses, my kidneys were failing, and my blood sugar was through the roof. I had a heart attack and a stroke while I was on the operating table. They had to shock me back to life three times.”

The medical staff at the hospital called in his family members to prepare them. “They thought I was going to die,” he said. The team of doctors and nurses miraculously pulled him through. The cardiac team in Des Moines had told Steve that his left ventricle was only working at 24% when they discharged him. If he didn’t get it up to 35%, he would require a defibrillator. When he got back to Mt. Ayr, he told Jennifer England, his cardiac rehab therapist, that this was her task – to get him up to 35%. A couple of weeks after starting rehab, he had an echo-cardiogram and he was already at 46%. According to Steve, Jennifer did a “fantastic job.” He was really pleased that he didn’t have to travel for his 36 rehab sessions. “I was doing an hour a day, three days a week. I said to Jennifer, I feel like I lose ground if I don’t do it every day. So, she said, ‘come in every day!’ It was a really good thing to do and a good thing for me to get used to. It’s what I need to do for the rest of my life.”

Steve’s a Type 2 diabetic now, so he’s keeping an eye on his blood sugar. “I have to pay attention. I watch what I eat and check my blood sugar regularly. Exercise helps diabetes too. “I’m doing a lot of walking and I do some of the exercises we did in the hospital. I have to keep moving – even if I would rather take a nap in my recliner!” He walks around the square in Mt. Ayr once a day. If the weather is bad, he walks in the hospital.

Steve hadn’t spent a lot of time at the hospital before, but now he’s not scared of the doctors anymore. At 71 years old with a new lease on life, Steve has some advice for middle-aged men everywhere. “Get a physical every year. Know your numbers.” He adds, “For what I’ve been through, what more could they do to me?”

Call the Mt. Ayr Medical Clinic 641-464-4470 to schedule your annual physical.

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FREE Blood Pressure & Cholesterol Screenings

Ringgold County Hospital recognizes the importance of knowing and understanding your numbers. People have no way of knowing they have high cholesterol or high blood pressure without being tested. We encourage you to learn more about cholesterol, blood pressure, and heart health.

Free blood pressure and cholesterol screenings are being conducted at Ringgold County Hospital February 5-9 from 7:00 – 10:00 a.m. on a first-come, first-serve basis. You must be fasting to take part in these screenings. Your results will be sent directly to you and we encourage you to share a copy of your results with your primary health care practitioner.


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

Check out these heart healthy tips for more information on how to keep your cholesterol in check.

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