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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
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.”