Visiting Physicians Clinics Expanded
Expanding the hospital’s Visiting Physicians Clinics has long been a priority for Ringgold County Hospital. Keeping patients close to home while they benefit from experienced, top-notch specialists contributes to a healthier community.
January of 2020 began with exciting news as Ringgold County Hospital announced a new partnership with Radiant Complexions Dermatology Clinics. Rodney Clark, ARNP, FNP-C, a certified family nurse practitioner trained in dermatology, treats patients with skin issues including psoriasis, ectopic dermatitis and various skin cancers.
In August, RCH partnered with Des Moines Eye Surgeons to offer cornea and comprehensive ophthalmology with a focus on treating cataracts. Roughly 10 area residents received the gift of better sight in 2020 by electing cataract surgery in Mt. Ayr rather than traveling out of the area.
During November of 2020, a partnership with Midwest Integrated Pain Care allowed area residents to benefit from pain management services at Ringgold County Hospital. Brian Jacobs, MS, CRNA, NSPM-C, joins Melissa Friedrich, current anesthesia provider at Ringgold County Hospital to provide local services such as: epidural therapeutic injections, image-guided joint injections, Botox, trigger point injections, and other therapy options.
Ringgold County Hospital also broke ground on a building expansion that will provide additional space and allow more people to benefit from seeing specialists in the visiting physician clinic. In addition, the Senior Life Solutions program will be able to reach twice the number of people we are currently serving, and a new retail pharmacy will offer area residents greater access to necessary medicines.
After a relatively normal winter, the winds of March blew in the COVID-19 pandemic. The good news is that Ringgold County Hospital and the Mount Ayr Medical Clinic rose to meet the challenges. We continue to follow all the guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and continue to work closely with Iowa Department of Health/Ringgold County Public Health to help those impacted by novel coronavirus. “We’re healthcare professionals, and along with everyone else in the country, we’re taking this situation very seriously,” said Gordon Winkler, CEO of RCH.
In response, the hospital implemented several new safety procedures, including a dedicated entrance where employees, patients and visitors are pre-screened prior to entry. In addition, car-side triage and services were offered to provide greater safety of both patients and healthcare providers.
The Mount Ayr Medical Clinic also adapted by offering new telemedicine options for patients to visit with their provider virtually. Using a smartphone with a microphone and a camera, we are now able to conduct routine exams, diagnose illnesses, and even check in with people struggling with mental health issues. Patients don’t have to leave their homes, which helps prevent the spread of the virus.
Emphasis on Regular Screenings
As the COVID-19 pandemic raged across the country, many people put off routine health screenings. Even in rural areas like Ringgold County, healthcare professionals have advised patients to postpone some testing, but not forever. Bruce Ricker, D.O. said that when the pandemic was thought to last two to four weeks, it made perfect sense to postpone screenings like colonoscopies. “But as time marches on, we need to look at the risks versus the benefits.” Katie Willcox, D.O. also reminds parents to keep up with their children’s immunizations. “This is not the time to skip doses,” she said.
Even in the midst of the pandemic, we continued to remind residents of the importance of checking in regularly with your primary care provider. In March, we profiled Lonnie Hawbaker, who discovered a pre-cancerous mass in his colon after a routine colonoscopy. In June, we heard from Brett Ruggles, a local basketball coach who is a survivor of testicular cancer. During October, three breast cancer survivors shared their stories of how a simple 10-minute mammogram saved their lives.