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Robin Esmann Named Iowa Hospital Hero

Robin Esmann, Director of Performance Excellence at Guttenberg Municipal Hospital & Clinics, was recently selected as one of the Iowa Hospital Association’s (IHA) Hospital Heroes.

“It is truly an honor and privilege to announce our Director of Performance Excellence, Robin Esmann, was named a hospital hero. Robin’s knowledge and expertise coupled with her compassion and commitment to our community absolutely make her a hero to us,” said Tim Ahlers, CEO. 

“Over the past year, Robin has worn many leadership hats including Nursing, Incident Command, Employee Health, Infection Control, Safety, Quality, and she is an EMS member” reflected Lisa Manson, Director of Ambulatory Services. “Robin’s training in quality processes was apparent during the past year. She never settles for just good enough.” 

Robin took responsibility for spearheading the COVID-19 vaccination process in the community. She worked closely with county and state officials to procure an appropriate supply of vaccine. Robin also secured a site for the vaccination clinic that was close to the hospital. After establishing a call-in hotline, Robin and several volunteers began contacting thousands of people to make appointments. In addition, Robin took a clinic on the road to reach local manufacturing firms interested in vaccinations for their employees. She was relentless in assuring that everyone who was eligible and desired to be vaccinated could be accommodated. 

“Jim and I had the pleasure of working alongside Robin at most of the vaccination clinics,” said Sue Osterhaus, vaccination clinic volunteer. “In the face of an incredibly stressful pandemic, Robin acted with strength and integrity every day as she managed the clinics and answered countless emails, calls, and questions regarding the vaccinations.”

Commented Robin, “I am honored to not only be nominated for this award by my colleagues but to also be chosen for this award by the Iowa Hospital Association.  There is no doubt that this past year has been the most challenging of my career. I never imagined having to live through a pandemic and certainly not one of this magnitude.  Fortunately, we have a great team at GMHC and that team is still working tirelessly day in and day out to get us through this pandemic. I’m very proud of the work we do and all that we accomplish; everyone at GMHC plays a very important role on the team.”

“Robin has been a nurse for more than 30 years and has been dedicated to our organization and our community,” commented Tim Ahlers. “She has worked in many settings throughout the hospital as a bedside nurse, a quality expert and a leader, excelling in every role. Robin’s knowledge of infectious disease and her courage to lead us through the pandemic is inspiring. Her commitment to our community is heroic. Robin is kind. She is a collaborator. She is courageous. And she is a true leader.”

Since 2007, IHA’s Hospital Heroes program has celebrated employees who have acted courageously in a moment’s crisis or who have selflessly served their hospitals and communities throughout their careers. Last year, IHA recognized all hospital employees for their heroic efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic and in response to the derecho windstorm in August 2020. In 2021, IHA returned to recognizing 10 hospital employees who exemplify the passion and purpose of the community hospital mission every day.

Robin will be recognized at the IHA Virtual Annual Meeting in October.

GMHC Offers Athletic Training Services at Ed-Co High School

Guttenberg Municipal Hospital & Clinics is pleased to announce a new partnership with Edgewood-Colesburg School District for Athletic Training services.  

Sydney Pirillo, Physical Therapy Assistant and Athletic Trainer at Guttenberg Municipal Hospital & Clinics is contracted for athletic training services two hours per week, and at home games as her schedule allows.

“The Edgewood-Colesburg School District has been looking for ways to provide athletic training services to our coaches and athletes for years.  One of the challenges has been finding the right partnership to meet the needs of the district. We believe that the partnership with the Guttenberg Municipal Hospitals & Clinics will provide the needed services for students and additional training for coaches.  We see this as an opportunity not only to help students recover faster from injuries but also to prevent injuries in the first place.” said Rob Busch, Edgewood-Colesburg CSD Superintendent. 

In her role as Athletic Trainer, Sydney works with student athletes to keep them healthy and strong. She typically sees 5 to 10 athletes per week during her time at school, as well as checks in with coaches and parents if additional communication is needed about an athlete’s injury. She recommends strengthening and stretching exercises, wrapping/taping techniques and other conservative techniques to both athletes and their coaches.

“My number one goal is to work with student-athletes and coaches to prevent injuries,” said Sydney. “All athletes are encouraged to report injuries when they occur, big or small, to prevent the injury from worsening in severity and to help resolve the issue in a timely manner. When injuries are not able to be prevented, my goal is to get the athlete back on the playing field as quickly and safely as possible, keep them in school, and reduce the risk of long term affects. I know that dealing with an injury can be stressful and I work to ease this process by advocating for the athlete and collaborating with local physical therapist, chiropractors, and physicians to provide the best care. I am honored to be joining the Edgewood-Colesberg team and can’t wait to help student-athletes achieve their goals on and off the field.” 

Commented Alex Hanna, Activities Director, “We have loved having Syd in our building the last few weeks.  Her help diagnosing injuries, helping with exercises and treatment for our athletes, and keeping them accountable to their recovery has been invaluable.  In a school our size, keeping our student athletes healthy and doing what they love is more important than ever, so having a resource like her each week and at games is amazing for Ed-Co.  Syd has been very progressive with her outreach to our coaches and communication to keep them in the loop about what our athletes can and can’t do from week to week.  We have great support at Ed-Co from Administration and our Board, so their approval of this agreement should not come as a surprise.  We are very thankful that this partnership has been made and we hope that it will continue to grow in the future for the benefit of all of our athletic programs here at Ed-Co.”

New MRI Improves Patient Experience

On August 11, the Guttenberg Municipal Hospital & Clinics Imaging Department performed its first MRI in the new Seimens MAGNETOM Altea Open Bore system.

“One of our first patients said that the brighter room and the lack of noise was a great improvement over our previous MRI,” said Karen Pressley, Radiologic Technologist. 

The new Altea has a wider bore opening and is equipped with Quiet Suite and Turbo Suite to reduce the noise during the scan and enable a reduction in exam times by using advanced accelerated imaging techniques. These new features will help to reduce patient stress, making the exam more comfortable for the patient. 

“The images are beautiful,” commented Dr. Joshua McDonald from Radiology Consultants of Iowa. “Allow me to commend GMHC leadership in bringing this great technology to the community of Guttenberg. This is a state of the art MRI unit and will definitely enhance the healthcare for Guttenberg and the surrounding communities. I consider it a great privilege to work with the GMHC Imaging staff and the patients of Guttenberg.”

MRI patients have been very pleased with the updated technology at GMHC.

“We had a patient who tried to have an MRI at another facility, and was told that he wouldn’t fit. When he came here, he fit without any problems,” said Terri Koopmann, Imaging Coordinator. “Other patients are claustrophobic but have no issues with our new MRI. We are pleased to improve our patient’s MRI experience with reduced noise, a wider opening and advanced accelerated imaging techniques.”

Family Resource Center Awarded Governor’s Volunteer Award for SHIIP Program

The Family Resource Center’s SHIIP Program was selected to receive a Governor’s Volunteer Award for outstanding commitment and service.

A virtual ceremony for the Governor’s Volunteer Award recognition was held on July 14th, and was attended by SHIIP Counselor Jim Solomon and Family Resource Center Coordinator Kari Harbaugh.

The ceremony lasted 45 minutes and included remarks from Governor Kim Reynolds, Lt. Governor Adam Gregg, and service leaders across Iowa. Awards were presented for six regions across the state: Central, Northeast, East-Central, Southeast, Northwest, and Southwest Iowa. The presentation of awards occurred by region, followed by short remarks from regional service leaders.

The dedication of volunteer SHIIP Counselor Jim Solomon made the award possible. Jim was honored for giving the precious gift of his time to meet essential needs of those he serves, and thanked for his dedication and for contributing his talent to enrich Iowa.

Jim Solomon is entering his fourth year volunteering to assist local residents to save money. In Jim’s third year of volunteering he helped 218 clients save a total of $127,448 by comparing Medicare Part D plans. 

“We are so grateful for the time and talent that Jim has donated to assisting others,” Family Resource Center Coordinator Kari Harbaugh added. “Jim is a great asset to our community. He made this recognition possible.”

As a SHIIP Counselor, Jim will assist you with these three important things during Medicare open enrollment:

● Review your plan notice. Read any notices from your Medicare plan about changes for next year – especially your “Annual Notice of Change” letter. Review your plan’s information to make sure the prescriptions you use are still covered and your medical providers and pharmacy are still in network.

● Think about what matters most to you. Medicare health and drug plans change each year and so can your health needs. Does your current plan best meet your needs?

● Shop for the plans that meet your needs and fit your budget. Compare plans even if you’ve been satisfied with your current plan. The coverage and costs for plans can change from year to year.

To make an appointment with Jim, call the Family Resource Center 563-252-3215. SHIIP is a free, confidential service of the State of Iowa.  SHIIP counselors review all plans offered and do not promote any particular plan or company. Please bring your Medicare card and your present list of prescription drugs to your appointment.

Ed-Co Volleyball Donates $5,000 to GMHC for the Fight Against Cancer

On Thursday, June 24 at the annual Edgewood Pro Rodeo Days, Guttenberg Municipal Hospital & Clinics Imaging Department received a $5,000 check from the Edgewood-Colesburg (Ed-Co) Girls Volleyball Team. The team raised funds through silent auctions, t-shirt sales, and 50/50 raffles to benefit those who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.  These funds are then shared with local area hospitals to provide comfort at a time of need. 

The GMHC Imaging Department uses these funds to assemble beautiful gift bags to all of its newly diagnosed breast cancer patients. 

Items included are:

• $200 Casey’s Gift Card

• $150 Walmart Gift Card

• Note cards with stamps

• Aloe socks and gloves

• Lotion

• Coloring book and colored pencils

• Candy

• Bracelet

• Scarf

• Hot chocolate / coffee

• Water / coffee mug

• Blanket

• Chicken Soup for the Soul book

• Pink Tote Bag

On behalf of the Guttenberg Municipal Hospital & Clinics Imaging Department, thank you to the Ed-Co Girls Volleyball Team and Coach Eileen Bergan for the hard work and dedication to their communities.

The Vaccine

By Dr. Michele Dikkers, Physician at Cornerstone Family Practice and GMHC, Chair of Clayton County Board of Health

The vaccine. It is here. It is safe. It is free. And it is available. It is so available, that there is no longer a wait list in Clayton County.

All anyone in the county needs to do is call (563) 245-2064 and they can be directed to a pharmacy or clinic and receive a vaccine. It is easy and it is free.

There can be side effects to the vaccine. Side effects like fatigue, body aches, chills and fevers.

They can last 12-48 hours. The biggest side effect is relief. Relief that we have another layer of protection. Another way to protect those we love and care for.

I have spent the last year going back and forth to work and home. I have avoided large group gatherings.

I have worn masks, washed my hands and socially distanced.

During a normal month, I may sign four death certificates. During the surge in Northeast Iowa, I was signing them daily, sometimes up to four a day.

I have watched patients and friends die from a disease that has no cure. There are treatments to help support the body and help in fighting the disease, but no proven cure. There have been many treatments, new and old, that have been tried and studied, around the world. We keep looking.

According to John Hopkins weekly report there have been 141.5 million cases and 3.0 million deaths worldwide. There have been 564,000 deaths in the United States.

Eighty percent of the time, the COVID virus has a mild effect. Twenty percent of the time, it is not mild. Roughly, ten percent of those with COVID will need hospitalizing and supportive care.

Two percent of the time the virus is deadly. We thought we could predict who would fall into that 20% category, but learned quickly, we could not. Basically, everyone is at risk.

A smoker is somewhere around 200-400 times more likely to develop a blood clot, than is someone that gets a COVID vaccine. Most of us have been getting vaccines our whole lives without issues.

As we have journeyed through the past year, it has come to my attention that if one has not been inside a medical institute during a surge, they may not have the same perspective as someone that has.

I share my experiences of the past year, not to be used as a scare tactic, but to give perspective.

This past year has changed me. It has changed us all.

The quickest way to take our life back, for the economy to recover, for businesses to return, for families and friends to gather is for everyone to get the vaccine. It is our best shot. It is America’s best shot.

Please, get yours NOW.

It is quite simple. If you love, care for and/or respect the people and family members you spend time with, you will get the vaccine to protect them and yourself.

The vaccine. It is here. It is safe. It is available. And it can save lives.

SHIIP Volunteer Saves Clients Thousands

SHIIP Counselor Jim Solomon wrapped up his third year of volunteering to help 218 clients save a total of $127,448.

Even during a pandemic, the important work of volunteer Jim Solomon carried on. Jim is a Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) Volunteer Counselor, working in an office at the Family Resource Center, providing free-of-charge counseling and information to people with questions about Medicare, Medicare supplement insurance, long term care insurance, and other health insurance. 

In his SHIIP Counselor role, Jim logged 305 hours to assist the 218 clients. In addition, client appointments were safely spread out with a thorough cleaning in between each appointment, extending Jim’s volunteer hours. 

COVID-19 didn’t slow down Jim in his efforts to assist others. When asked why he does it, especially during a pandemic, Jim answered, “Volunteering keeps me busy during retirement. I thoroughly enjoy meeting people, educating them on what is available, researching the best possible options, and offering accurate information for them to make their best decision.”

One of Jim’s most notable accomplishments in 2020 was saving one client over $20,000 in out of pocket prescription expenses by researching both the drug plans and the pharmacy plans. “Even though a drug plan is identified as the best plan, pharmacy plans also change from year to year, so both need to be researched,” added Jim. “My training equips me to dig in deep to help people with their questions and problems, and to save them the most money possible.”

His annual SHIIP training consists of three modules, each two to three hours long, plus homework.

“Staying updated is a continual process, but I’m very thankful for this opportunity to help others in my retirement. Saving people money is very fulfilling, but visiting with and getting to know them is an added bonus,” said Jim.

Family Resource Center Coordinator, Kari Harbaugh added, “Jim genuinely cares for his SHIIP clients. He cares deeply about each person’s situation. He enjoys building relationships with them and their families, and they trust him. Challenges don’t slow Jim down. He does the research and work it takes to present the best options to his clients equipping them to make their best decisions.” 

Since his volunteer work as a SHIIP Counselor began in the fall of 2018, Jim has spent over 1,000 hours volunteering to help his clients save $292,698 over three years. 

Adds Kari, “Jim’s dedication shines. He is such a gift to our communty!”

In addition to people from Clayton County, Jim’s clients consisted of seasonal travelers and people in other counties who heard about how great Jim was to work with. This year he also worked with social workers to assist people who were in the hospital and care centers.

Although Open Enrollment is over, Jim’s work goes on throughout the year. If you have questions regarding Medicare, please call the Family Resource Center, 563-252-3215, for a one-on-one appointment with Jim. He will answer questions and provide impartial information to help you make well informed decisions.

Recovery Connect

Recovery Connect is an eight week recovery journey where participants will learn how unresolved trauma can negatively impact both over-all mental health and physical health. Participants will be equipped with tools and connections to guide healing from past traumas. Registration is free, and child-care is provided.

The first session begins Wednesday, April 7 and meets 8 consecutive Wednesdays. Click here for details.

Benefits of Participation:

  • Live with Less Anxiety
  • Learn Coping Skills
  • Improve Self Confidence
  • Understand the Importance of Social Connections 
  • Learn Effective Communication Skills
  • Understand Healthy Relationships vs Unhealthy Relationships
  • Identify Types of Abuse
  • Regain Emotional Balance
  • Increase Assertiveness
  • Set Boundaries
  • Learn Healthy Stress Relief Options
  • Understanding Nutrition, Gut and Brain Health

Space is limited. To register for Recovery Connect, call 563-252-3215 or Email: family.resource.center@guttenberghospital.org 

The program will be led by Kate DeWall, LISW with self care taught by Sadie Hefel. Recovery Connect is brought to the community through the Family Resource Center and partnerships with Family’s Helping Hand and SART – Sexual Assault Response Team Clayton Co.

Vaccination Update

Clayton County COVID-19 VaccinUpdate

On Thursday, 3/4/2021, the Iowa Department of Public Health announced that those individuals under age 65 with certain underlying health conditions would be vaccine eligible beginning Monday, 3/8. Qualifying medical conditions for those under 65 include:

  • Cancer
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
  • Down Syndrome
  • Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant
  • Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 kg/m2 or higher but < 40 kg/m2)
  • Severe Obesity (BMI ≥ 40 kg/m2)
  • Pregnancy
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Smoking
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus

Full listing and information on qualifying medical conditions can be found at the CDC website:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/people-with-medical-conditions.html.

Clayton County vaccine providers will continue to prioritize those age 65 and older and those who qualify under Phase 1B tier groups as set forth by the Iowa Department of Public Health. We ask for anyone who is newly eligible due to underlying medical conditions and under age 65 to have patience as we complete these two previously eligible groups. We anticipate increased vaccine doses in the coming weeks and will work with our local partners to make them available as quickly as possible.

As we work through this transition, individuals age 65 or older can continue to call one of the below numbers to place their name on a vaccine list to be contacted as doses are available:

• Guttenberg Municipal Hospital & Clinics: Individuals may call (563) 252-5571 and leave a message with their contact information.
• MercyOne Elkader Medical Center: Individuals may call (563) 245-7089 and leave a message with their contact information.
• Regional Family Health-Strawberry Point:  Individuals may call (563) 927-7575 or visit regmedctr.org/covidvaccinewaitlist

Individuals age 64 and under with qualifying underlying conditions can visit one of the below pharmacy sites to place their name on a vaccine wait list to be contacted as doses become available:

• Hartig Drug Guttenberg:  www.hartigdrug.com
• Guttenberg Pharmacy:  https://www.nightingaledrug.com/
• Clayton Drug: (563) 933-4762 or (563) 245-2530

Again, we appreciate your patience as we work through this transition period. Updates on vaccine availability and county wait list options will be provided as it becomes available.

For additional information on COVID-19 vaccines, please visit the CDC website:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/index.html

Foundation of Cornerstone Communities Awards $10,500 to Support Healthy & Vibrant Communities

The Foundation of Cornerstone Communities is pleased to announce the recipients of the Foundation’s 2021 first quarter grant awards totaling $10,500. These projects, in three different communities, will directly impact the everyday health and vitality of residents served by the Guttenberg Municipal Hospital & Clinics. 

The City of Guttenberg was awarded a grant in the amount of $4,500 to support the construction of two pickleball courts. The Clayton County Conservation Board was awarded a grant in the amount of $3,000 to support the Osborne Park walking path project. And, the Edgewood Board of Economic Development was awarded a grant in the amount of $3,000 to support the Edgewood Viking Loop Trail project.

Commented Denise Schneider, City Manager, “The City of Guttenberg would like to thank the Foundation of Cornerstone Communities for their generous contribution to our pickleball court project. This project will provide a place of recreation and fitness for anyone young or young-at-heart. Playing pickleball allows you to work on your balance, agility, reflexes, and hand-eye coordination without putting excessive strains on your body. It is organizations like the Foundation of Cornerstone Communities and generous individuals, families, and businesses that make many of our wonderful community projects possible through their generous funding.”

“We are so excited to complete the Easy Walking Path project through the Osborne Native Animal Exhibit and Pioneer Village,” said Molly Scherf, Clayton County Conservation. “Creating a hard-surface pathway will enable all of our visitors the opportunity to enjoy these portions of the park that currently are lime-chipped and hard to navigate when wet for those with mobility issues. This project is being fully funded by grants and private donations. Thank you to the Foundation of Cornerstone Communities for helping us reach our goal,”

Added Michelle Brady, “On behalf of the Edgewood Trail Committee, I would like to thank the Foundation of Cornerstone Communities for their support on the Viking Loop Trail project. The grant application process was smooth and we are grateful for the Foundation’s commitment to bettering our community.”

Do you value your local healthcare? Do want to help keep our communities health and strong? Do you have a project that would support our mission? Become a member of the Foundation of Cornerstone Communities and partner with us to provide funding for grants to organizations who may have projects that align with our mission of creating a healthy and vibrant today. 

Learn more from any board member, or by visiting the website or calling 563-252-5516.

When you make an endowed gift to the Foundation for Cornerstone Communities, it will cost you far less thanks to the generous Endow Iowa 25% state tax credit. Gifts of $50 or more to endowed funds qualify for the Endow Iowa tax credit. Various gift types qualify for the tax credit, including charitable IRA rollovers, gifts of grain, gifts of stock and cash gifts.