As the CEO of Ringgold County Hospital, Gordon Winkler has seen some big changes in health care over the past 28 years. Perhaps one of the more impactful changes is the shift from treating patients only when they’re sick, to a focus on lifelong health and wellness. 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,” said Gordon. “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. Nurse Marcia Showalter and Dr. Bruce Ricker have known each other since high school. She’s been working alongside him in the clinic for at least 10 years. “Dr. Ricker’s focus has been on family practice, and also hospice and palliative care,” said Marcia.
Health coach Leslie Dredge-Murphy began her new position in April of this year. Along with helping patients transition from the hospital to home, she focuses on preventive care. “My goal is to empower patients to make changes that will improve their lives. The coaching is patient guided. We work together, one-on-one, to achieve healthier lifestyles.”
Changes at the clinic aren’t limited to personnel. Current technology is also affecting the clinic and how it serves its patients. Electronic health records promise efficiency and convenience. However the software and systems are still in their infancy, says CEO Winkler.
Marcia Showalter agrees. “It’s been a huge change for us. It’s a bit of a struggle and can be frustrating, but we’re all learning.” On the other hand, according to patient care manager Sara Hadley, new technology is helping the staff find things earlier – like cancer. “It’s a real benefit to patients,” she said. Although the population of Ringgold County is fairly stable, the number of patients being seen in the clinic is increasing. Sara 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.”
Leslie Dredge-Murphy agrees. “I think when you live in a small town; you understand and truly care about your patients. It’s a more holistic approach.”