Category Archives: News

In Good Hands

Dr. Shehada Homedan travels to Mt. Ayr every week to care for patients

The residents of Ringgold County and Southwest Iowa are in good hands when it comes to their wrists, knees, hips, and shoulders. Dr. Shehada Homedan, an orthopedic surgeon, has been coming to Ringgold County Hospital once a week for 11 years to mend bones and replace joints. He’s enthusiastic about his work and enjoys the challenges that each case brings. “Doing surgery is actually fun for me,” he said. “I enjoy working with the tools and instruments. I certainly don’t get bored because there’s always something different with each case.” Total hip replacements are his favorite. “The anatomy is challenging, and the approach is interesting.” He also enjoys being able to help people and see immediate results. “With other specialties, you may have to wait a year or so to really see good results. With orthopedic surgery, the results are obvious from the very beginning.”

Although Dr. Homedan spent seven years in medical school and another eight years in orthopedic training, he is constantly learning new techniques  and using new tools and instruments. “Technology has changed a lot of the approach. Surgeries are easier on the patient because they can be less invasive,” he said. “I follow all the updates. It’s very important to keep in touch with what’s new and what’s coming.” That’s exciting for patients at Ringgold County Hospital. They know that he’s bringing all the “big-city” technology back to Mt. Ayr. There’s no need to travel to Des Moines or another metropolis to get the best care using the latest techniques. “I really like the people here,” Dr. Homedan said. “I get to help nice people who appreciate what we do. They want to get better and get back to their lives, so we collaborate to make that happen.”

Dr. Homedan works in four different hospitals in Iowa and travels back and forth each day from his home in Des Moines. The daily commutes are relaxing to him and he doesn’t mind winter. When he’s not working, he enjoys spending time with his wife and five children, aged 5 to 17, and playing soccer. A native of Palestine, he originally emigrated to Buffalo, NY for a fellowship to continue training in orthopedics. From Buffalo he came to Des Moines and stayed. His family is settled, and he’s happy with his work. 

To make an appointment with Dr. Homedon, contact the RCH Visiting Physician Clinic at 641-464-4409.

Making a Difference for Cancer Patients

Roy Molina, M.D.

There is good news if you’ve been diagnosed with cancer or a blood disorder. If you’re a patient in the Ringgold County area, you have access to a top-notch oncologist without traveling far. Roy Molina, M.D. sees patients in the Ringgold County Hospital Visiting Physicians Clinic on the first Wednesday of every month. Dr. Molina joined Medical Oncology & Hematology Associates (MOHA) in Des Moines in 2000. He and his fellow oncologists travel throughout central Iowa to rural communities. “We feel we’re providing a good service to patients in rural areas,” he said. “A lot of times if oncologists don’t visit rural clinics, the patients don’t get treated at all. They decide they don’t want to travel, so they don’t.” “We’re very fortunate with the arrangement we have with the clinic in Mt. Ayr,” he continued. “They are willing and able to do the treatments here in the clinic. They had to get extra training in order to do it.” Dr. Molina signs the orders. Clinic staff administers the treatments and he monitors the patients during his monthly visits. “Not all rural hospitals are able to do the same thing. Some don’t want to bother with it. In which case the patients must come to Des Moines. If we can’t bring the treatment to them, it can create a hardship.” According to Dr. Molina, oncology patients are generally very grateful for what you can do for them. “They listen to suggestions and are compliant with their treatments. They want to get better. People often think it’s a dismal practice, because the outcomes are not always good. But we can help many, many patients,” he said. “We can help alleviate some symptoms and provide them with a reasonable quality of life. Even when we can’t cure the disease, we’re making a difference. It’s very satisfying.”

Dr. Molina trained at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston where he completed his internship and residency. He completed his fellowship in medical oncology at the University of Kansas and has double board certifications in Internal Medicine and Medical Oncology. He had a practice in Columbia, MO before moving to Des Moines in 1990. When he’s not practicing medicine, Dr. Molina enjoys music, classical music in particular. He and his wife attend the symphony regularly, and he’s a pianist himself, even playing for his nurse at her wedding last year. He likes growing orchids and is a member of Central Iowa Orchid Society. Dr. Molina also enjoys traveling to see family and friends all over the United States.

If you find yourself in need of an oncologist, call 641-464-4409 to schedule an appointment.

Katie Smith: Coaching is her passion

Katie Smith, RN is excited about being a health coach

Would you want to learn football from a coach who never played? Of course not! We all want to be coached by people who understand the game, its challenges, and our own abilities. Which is why Katie Smith, the soon-to-be health coach at the Mount Ayr Medical Clinic believes she’s found her ideal role. “I’ve struggled with my weight, anemia, thyroid issues,” she explained. “I’m just like everyone else! I’m not this super-healthy person who’s naturally thin. I have to work on all of it.” Being able to relate to her patients makes Katie a great fit for the Health Coach role. “I like the preventative care aspect of nursing,” she said. “My focus is on wellness and how the mind, body, and spirit all work together. I say, let’s catch your high blood pressure now, before it gets really bad and you end up in the hospital. I enjoy keeping people healthy.”

A registered nurse, Katie is from Des Moines, and went to school and worked there in the Mercy Hospital System. After her mother moved to the Mount Ayr area, Katie started spending time here. “I was a single mom when my mom moved here. She was traveling to Des Moines on weekends to watch my daughter while I worked as a nurse. After a while, I moved here, and I commuted back to Des Moines to work.” She started going to school events, like football games, and just fell in love with the community. “I like that it’s laid back, there are no traffic lights, everyone knows your name, and everyone helps you out,” she said. “I wanted my daughter to grow up here.” So even though there were no job openings at Ringgold County Hospital, she put in an application and waited. In 2014, she got a call and was offered a job at RCH. A year later, she moved from the acute nursing team to the Mount Ayr Medical Clinic where she’s been for about four years. When Katie started college, she had three areas of interest: nursing, helping juvenile offenders, and psychology. “I decided to become a nurse so I could combine my interests.” She worked as a psych nurse, a cardiac nurse, and as an RN in acute care, so she’s seen and learned a lot. In her new role, she’ll have plenty of patient interaction as she works to keep people healthy and try to keep them out of the hospital. “When I was working on the [acute] floor at RCH I started training to run a 5K,” she said. “Then I did a half marathon. And then I ran a whole marathon! That’s when I fell in love with nutrition, wellness, and exercise. It all ties together! When I saw that the Health Coach position was open, I jumped on it. I have all kinds of ideas. I’m so excited!” Katie finished her Health Coach training in late March. (It was postponed due to inclement weather.) She anxious to dive in and get going. “It’s the perfect next step in my career!”

To make an appointment with Katie Smith, RN call 641-464-4533.

New Emergency Room Team

The residents served by Ringgold County Hospital are fortunate. Although no one wants to end up in an Emergency Room, if you find yourself there, you’ll discover it’s staffed by a team of professionals who love their work. Three board-certified physicians and a physician’s assistant share the shifts to ensure there’s care for any emergency situation, 24-hours a day.

Angie Kerchner, M.D.

Dr. Angie Kerchner is the Emergency medical director who assembled the current team. “I’ve worked in a lot of rural hospitals in Iowa,” said Dr. Kerchner. “Most of them hire outside contractors to work in emergency rooms in 24-hour shifts. The hospitals don’t know the physicians well, and the doctors don’t get to know the community. When I met with (Ringgold County Hospital CEO) Gordon Winkler, we talked about a more permanent team that could serve as an extension of the Mount Ayr Medical Clinic family practice. I’ve seen a couple of other hospitals using the same model and it’s been successful for everyone involved.”

Dr. Kerchner herself was one of the ER physicians who came to RCH as a contractor. “I’m board certified in family medicine, but I’ve always worked in the ER,” she said. “I fell in love with this community and the hospital when I started in 2016. I was looking for a permanent position, and the hospital had a need that I could fill.” She became the medical director last summer and started building the team. She likes the flexibility in scheduling that ER work allows. She, her husband, and her three teenagers recently relocated to nearby Lenox. “We happened across Dr. Ferhut by chance,” she explained. “We were short on physicians for a time last summer. He came in as a contractor and everyone fell in love with his personality and his bedside skills. We wanted to grab him before anyone else did. He’s a great fit for us.”

Haroon Ferhut, M.D.

An RCH employee since October, Dr. Haroon Ferhut agrees that it’s a great fit, although he never guessed that he’d be working in a small town in Iowa. He grew up in Virginia and California, attended medical school on an island in the Caribbean, and completed his residency rotations all over the United States. He worked in cities like Decatur, GA, Hollywood, FL, Brooklyn and Chicago before he landed in Kansas City for his final rotation. “I got used to packing and traveling!” he admits. He currently lives in Kansas City and commutes to Mount Ayr for his shifts in the ER. Dr. Ferhut’s favorite things about Ringgold County Hospital are the patients and the staff. “Every time I step in the door, I have a smile on my face,” he said. “I get along with everyone and I have a good rapport with my patients. I want to continue to build those relationships.”

Patti Fasbender, D.O.

The newest member of the Emergency Room team is Dr. Patti Fasbender. She was discovered by Dr. Kerchner on Facebook. Both women belong to a closed group called Iowa Lady Physicians. Dr. Kerchner posted the job opening there and immediately connected with Dr. Fasbender. “Although I had a lot of physicians interested in the position, she fit perfectly!” remarked Dr. Kerchner. A mother of three adult children, being a doctor is a second career for Dr. Fasbender. “I followed in my mom’s footsteps and was a teacher for 12 years,” she said. She attended medical school and completed her residency in Des Moines. “I’ve been a doctor for 13 years now!” She just bought a home in Mt. Ayr and feels a more permanent part of the community. “I grew up on a dairy farm in a rural community. This is familiar to me.” Dr. Fasbender loves being a doctor. “I believe we are all put here to do good work. This is a way I choose to do good.” Her background in science and as a teacher still come into play daily. “As a scientist, I have to figure out what’s wrong with each patient. After that, most of what I do is teach. I teach patients how to care for themselves to get better.” Like her teammates, Dr. Fasbender has been very impressed with the hospital staff. “The level of cooperation is incredible. All the doctors are warm and welcoming.”

Ron Schafer, PA-C

The three ER physicians, who are relatively new to RCH, join Ron Shafer, PA, who has been an Emergency Medical Technician at the hospital since 1990 and a physician assistant since 2000. “Ron has a lot of emergency medicine experience,” said Dr. Kerchner. “He’s a great member of the team and a great person.” Ron is also certified in wound care and provides care for chronic, difficult-to-treat wounds.

Taylin Vogel and Winkey

The fifth member of the ER team has never attended medical school. In fact, because of her young age, she hasn’t had any formal training at all. Even so, she goes on rounds and visits patients and successfully gets them to smile. “Winkey” belongs to Dr. Kerchner and comes to work with her regularly. “Just recently we had a little girl who needed stitches in her toe,” said Dr. Kerchner. “It’s actually pretty painful and we normally have to sedate young patients. The little patient just asked
for Winkey to be with her. She didn’t cry or wiggle and was great through the whole procedure!” The entire Emergency team, including Winkey, is pleased to be at Ringgold County Hospital. As Dr. Fasbender noted, “We’re all happy to be here. We’re getting great feedback.”

Partnership to Provide Prenatal Care

Katie Willcox, DO; Tami Fahnlander, DO; Erin Leonard, ARNP

The staff at the Mt. Ayr Medical Clinic is excited
to announce an extension of their services to include prenatal care. Through 34 weeks of pregnancy, expectant mothers will be cared for at the Mt. Ayr Medical Clinic by Katie Willcox, D.O. and Nurse Practitioner Erin Leonard.

At 34 weeks, care is provided by Tami Fahnlander, D.O. and Associates with Women’s Health Services in Des Moines. “We start coordinating with Dr. Fahnlander when a mom is 20-weeks pregnant,” explained Dr. Willcox. “So, when we transfer her care, we’ve been working together for quite some time. It makes a smooth transition possible.”

Tami Fahnlander, D.O.

The partnership is ideal for pregnant women living in Mt. Ayr and surrounding communities. It limits the number of trips to Des Moines while providing comprehensive care throughout a pregnancy. Once a baby is born, both mother and child can come right back to the Mt. Ayr Medical Clinic to continue receiving family care.

Dr. Tami Fahnlander graduated from Simpson College in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in Biology and Chemistry. She received her medical degree in 2004 from Des Moines University Osteopathic Medical Center. In 2008, she graduated from the residency program at the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Peoria and returned to Iowa to begin her medical career. Dr. Fahnlander is a Board Certified Physician at Women’s Health Services.

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