Category Archives: News

Harvesting for good health: The Mount Ayr Community Garden

Community planting service day

For four years, Vicki Sickels, the vice chair of the Ringgold County Hospital Board, has managed a community garden in Mount Ayr along with her husband. Located behind the Lutheran Church, there are four raised beds. The garden is watered with rain water collected from the roof of the church. She’s applied for, and received, grants to help with the costs. If more grant funding is received, they’ll build additional beds.


Vicki would love to see even more members of the community participating in the project. Master Gardeners have been invited to help with the garden. Students from the local schools are invited to come to the garden and help plant during the planned service day each year.

Ringgold County residents are welcome to come to the garden anytime and take whatever produce they need. Excess vegetables are donated to the Neighborhood Center or simply given to those who may need fresh food. Sustained community participation would be welcomed throughout the spring and summer. Anyone interested in volunteering or learning more can call Vicki at 641-464-0691.

Diabetic Heart Disease

Did you know, if you have type 2 diabetes, you’re more likely to develop heart disease than those without diabetes? You’re also at greater risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

High blood sugar = higher risk

  • Over time, high blood sugar caused by type 2 diabetes can cause damage to your blood vessels and the nerves that control your heart and blood vessels
  • The longer you have type 2 diabetes, the greater your risk for developing heart disease

Heart attack and stroke

  • People with type 2 diabetes who reach their A1C goal are still at risk for heart attack and stroke
  • When you have type 2 diabetes, your risk of cardiovascular disease is up to 4x greater compared with someone without diabetes
  • A significant percentage of heart attacks in people with diabetes are clinically “silent” (no symptoms)

Diabetic heart disease is heart disease that develops in people with diabetes. Heart disease, also known as cardiovascular disease, refers to conditions that involve narrowed or blocked blood vessels that can cause a heart attack, chest pain (angina), or a stroke. Conditions that affect your heart’s muscle, valve, or rhythm are also considered forms of heart disease. Diabetic heart disease includes:

Coronary heart disease (CHD)

  • Plaque begins to cause a narrowing of the coronary arteries and reduce the flow of blood to your heart muscle. A plaque buildup increases your risk for blood clots in your arteries that can eventually block the flow of blood
  • Can cause chest pain or discomfort, irregular heartbeat, heart attacks, or death

Heart failure

  • Occurs when your heart is unable to pump the amount of blood that your body needs
  • May make you tired very quickly and force you to limit your physical activity
  • CHD can cause heart failure by making your heart muscle weaker over time

Diabetic cardiomyopathy

  • Damages the structure of the heart and the way it works
  • Can cause heart failure and irregular heartbeats

If you or a loved one has Type 2 Diabetes, talk to your medical professional at the Mt. Ayr Medical Clinic about your risk of heart attack or stroke.

Happy New Year from the CEO

Gordon Winkler CEO
Gordon Winkler CEO

Greetings from CEO Gordon Winkler

At the start of this new year, are you thinking about a new you? If this is the year you’re going to start that exercise and healthy living program, I hope you’ll find inspiration in Lori Mercer’s story. With determination and support from her family, co-workers, and friends, she achieved her 2017 goal and is ready to do more in 2018!

Our employee wellness program, “Live Healthy RCH,” is an example of how a group of dedicated people with a common goal can improve their lives and the lives of those around them, simply because they care. Here at Ringgold County Hospital, “Caring is our Calling.” We take it very seriously and it extends from caring for our patients, to caring for ourselves. I want to thank all of you who sought out services here at RCH during 2017.

Your confidence in us to treat you and your family means so much. Every day, we do all we can to exceed your expectations. I hope you each have a happy and healthy 2018!

By the numbers!
Ringgold County Hospital and the Mount Ayr Medical Clinic are staffed by dedicated health care providers who take care of this community 365 days a year. We measure patient visits, procedures, and tests. We measure hours spent as volunteers in our schools. And these numbers are impressive.
In 2017, the RCH staff performed:
• Surgical procedures: 499
• Orthopedic surgical procedures: 63
• Physical therapy procedures: 8,597
• Cardiac rehab procedures: 313
• Medical Imaging procedures: 6,299
• Laboratory tests: 136,407
• Mount Ayr Medical Clinic visits: 10,181
• Ambulance runs: 520
• Athletic trainer hours: 117

However, the smiles we offer, the hands we hold, the care we give, and the comfort we provide can’t be measured. At Ringgold County Hospital, it’s clear that Caring is our Calling.

Happy Holidays!

Gordon Winkler CEO
Gordon Winkler CEO

A message from Gordon Winkler, CEO

As we approach the end of another year, I’d like to reflect and express thanks for our hospital, our community, and the tireless service of the staff here at Ringgold County Hospital. You may have noticed that we have a new communication theme: Caring is our Calling. I think this speaks to the qualities found in those who serve at Ringgold County Hospital. We are dedicated to providing the best possible care to our friends, our neighbors, and our loved ones every day. Whether you’re visiting the Mount Ayr Medical Clinic for a well-baby checkup, or visiting an aging parent after surgery, I’m confident you’ll find the same level of commitment and compassion.

This year, I celebrated 30 years as the CEO of this institution. I couldn’t be more pleased and proud of what we’ve accomplished over three decades. I’m looking forward to 2018. Happy Holidays!

Carrying on a Family Legacy

Michael Webb, AU.D.

Dr. Michael Webb is doing his part to contribute to the quality of life for the residents of Southwest Iowa. An audiologist, he’s carrying on the family business that his father started in 1978. “I went to work with my father often while I was growing up,” he explained. “I saw what he did on a regular basis and saw how people’s hearing affects their lives. I knew it’s what I wanted to do. It’s where I can help.”

The plan had been for Dr. Webb to take over Audiological Services, Inc. (ASI) from his father after they practiced together for several years. But when his father passed away suddenly in 2011, the timeline was accelerated. He received his doctorate in audiology from San Diego State in 2014.

Dr. Webb explained that the vast majority of his patients are seniors. As people lose their hearing, they tend to become less social and less active in general. His goal is to keep people active and engaged in their communities. “People are staying more involved as they age,” he said. “They want to be with their grandchildren, and be a part of their lives.” Along with a generation determined to stay active, technology has made significant advances in hearing aids for them. “We see a lot of connectivity to other devices now; iPhones, Bluetooth devices, smart phones, for example. Hearing aids are fully digital, with lots of improvements in sound quality and background noise controls. Some are so small, they’re almost invisible!”

“Workplaces are doing a better job with hearing protection,” says Dr. Webb. “But hunters and farmers need to protect themselves while using guns and loud tractors, too.” He also recommends parents being aware of their children who always seem to have headphones in their ears “If you can hear the music they’re listening to, it’s too loud.”

Dr. Webb recommends a hearing screening around age 50 or 55. “To set a baseline.” Unfortunately, he says that most people wait for five or 10 years until they seek treatment. In that time, the brain becomes lazy. “If you’re not using it, you can lose the auditory part of the brain. So, it continues to affect what they’re able to hear,” he said. Because it gets worse slowly over time, it can be very hard for the patient to notice, when it may be so apparent to others.

Along with contributing to a less active, less social life, hearing loss has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. It contributes to memory issues, can affect overall balance, and leads to a higher incidence of diabetes. It’s also linked to depression. “I want to help people stay connected,” says Dr. Webb. “Eyes connect you to objects. Ears connect you to people.” If you or a loved one is ready for a hearing screening, Dr. Webb is at Ringgold County Hospital on the first and third Tuesday of each month from 1:00-5:00 pm. Call 641-435-1288 for an appointment.

The signs and symptoms of hearing loss

Hearing loss that occurs gradually as you age (presbycusis) is common. About 25 percent of people in the United States between the ages of 55 and 64 have some degree of hearing loss. For those older than 65, the number of people with some hearing loss is almost 1 in 2. Aging and chronic exposure to loud noises are significant factors that contribute to hearing loss. Other factors, such as excessive earwax, can temporarily prevent your ears from conducting sounds as well as they should.

You can’t reverse most types of hearing loss. However, you don’t have to live in a world of muted, less distinct sounds. You and your doctor or a hearing specialist can take steps to improve what you hear.
Signs and symptoms of hearing loss may include:
• Muffling of speech and other sounds
• Difficulty understanding words, especially against background noise or in a crowd of people
• Trouble hearing consonants
• Frequently asking others to speak more slowly, clearly and loudly
• Needing to turn up the volume of the television or radio
• Withdrawal from conversations
• Avoidance of some social settings

Factors that may damage or lead to loss of the hairs and nerve cells in your inner ear include:
• Aging: Degeneration of delicate inner ear structures occurs over time.
• Loud noise: Exposure to loud sounds can damage the cells of your inner ear. Damage can occur with long-term exposure to loud noises, or from a short blast of noise, such as from a gunshot.
• Heredity: Your genetic makeup may make you more susceptible to ear damage from sound or deterioration from aging.
• Occupational noises: Jobs where loud noise is a regular part of the working environment, such as farming, construction or factory work, can lead to damage inside your ear.
• Recreational noises: Exposure to explosive noises, such as from firearms and jet engines, can cause immediate, permanent hearing loss. Other recreational activities with dangerously high noise
levels include snowmobiling, motorcycling or listening to loud music.
• Some medications: Drugs, such as the antibiotic gentamicin and certain chemotherapy drugs, can damage the inner ear. Temporary effects on your hearing — ringing in the ear (tinnitus) or hearing loss — can occur if you take very high doses of aspirin, other pain relievers, antimalarial drugs or loop diuretics.
• Some illnesses: Diseases or illnesses that result in high fever, such as meningitis, may damage the cochlea.

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