Our Communities

Keep Others Safe. Stay Home.

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

The Covid 19 pandemic is bound to impact all of us at some point. 

My sister and her two daughters have been fighting it for 2 weeks, with muscle/body aches and pains, chills, headaches and shortness of breath. They describe breathing as painful, relieved only by humidification.  They are fatigued, saying that even taking a shower is taxing.  My sister is 47, tall, thin, healthy and works out daily.  She is on day 14 and continues to have fevers intermittently of 101.  Her daughters are college and high school age and started recovering on day 8, but continue with fatigue and cough.  They live in Iowa.  

They are fortunate to be among the 80% that will become ill and won’t need to be hospitalized.  

The other 20% of those that become ill WILL need to be hospitalized. To understand how many people will be impacted, look at the temporary hospitals that are being put up in New York and other places around the country, tents in Central Park, ships in ports, arena’s and gyms, all there to take care of the 20% that will have severe symptoms.


The goal of social distancing is to slow the rate of spread.  We know that the illness is going to sweep through our communities.  The hope is to slow it down – so we have enough hospital beds, supplies and medical staff to care for the 20% when needed.  

We know people of our community will become ill. The statistics also tell us that if 5 people in a community died of influenza this year, approximately 10 times that, or 50 people, will die of Covid 19 in a community.


Slowing the spread is the responsibility of all of us.  It means isolating ourselves to homes, to our communities.  The less you venture out, the less you bring the virus into your home and into your community, and the less likely you are to spread the virus to your family, friends and neighbors.  


It is time to take care of ourselves and each other by staying home. We must in order to get through this.  

It will be a trying time, but we can do it! We can do it together!

If you have any questions, please contact your health care provider.

COVID-19: Protect Yourself

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

Coronavirus, Sars-CoV-2 or Covid 19, words, that at Thanksgiving, were unfamiliar and nonexistent. Now, they are part of our daily conversation, seeped deeply into every part of our day.

Now that we recognize the name, now that it is in our state and our county, what can we do about it?


Our best protection is not to get it. This is why we’ve created “well clinics” in Garnavillo and Edgewood. This is why it is so important to avoid contact with people outside your own home. If you must go out, practice social distancing and stay at least 6 feet away from other people.

The best ways to prevent infection and spread of respiratory diseases, like COVID-19, include:

• Staying home if you are sick

• Avoiding close contact with people who are sick

• Covering your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze

• Thoroughly washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing

• If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

• Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth

• Disinfecting surfaces and objects using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe

• If you begin to experience symptoms and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19, call your primary care provider before coming in. Symptoms to look for are: chills, fever, cough, runny nose, body aches, chest pain and shortness of breath.

• 2-1-1 is a phone line available across Iowa to assist with general questions on COVID-19.

If you develop trouble breathing, high fevers, chest pain, confusion, lethargy, blue lips or face you should seek immediate medical attention. Call 911 or go to the Emergency Department immediately.

Be well and take care of each other. Follow the recommendations of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the guidance of the state of Iowa, continue social distancing and stay local. And, please continue to visit our Facebook page and our website for updated information as recommendations change daily.

GMHC Preparing for COVID-19

Guttenberg Municipal Hospital & Clinics leaders are working closely with the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) to prepare for the potential spread of the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19.

Leaders are participating in webinars, holding internal planning sessions, and working with regional partners to develop specific response plans for both the hospital and Cornerstone Family Practice clinics. If a patient presents who is symptomatic and may have been exposed, our staff will be prepared, working directly with the IDPH in patient screening processes and patient assessment.

“In a time of uncertainty, social media becomes a platform for rumors and misinformation,” said CEO Tim Ahlers. “As we prepare, GMHC relies on trusted sources of information like the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and IDPH and we encourage the public to do the same.”

IDPH updates its COVID-19 website every Monday, Wednesday and Friday with current data on Iowans being monitored or tested for the virus, and what the test results are. The website is also updated immediately with new information as necessary.

Right now, the most important thing for residents to do is to continue the prevention measures they would use for any respiratory virus.

• Clean your hands frequently with soap and water, keeping your hands away from your face.

• Cover coughs and sneezes with your elbow or upper arm.

• Contain germs by staying home when ill.

• CDC and IDPH do not recommend face masks for the general public who are well.

Symptoms of COVID-19 in people who have been exposed can include fever, cough and shortness of breath. These symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. 

For more information about the novel coronavirus, visit https://idph.iowa.gov/Emerging-Health-Issues/Novel-Coronavirus.


David’s Story


Holy Cross native, David Errthum, recently visited with members of the GMHC trauma team who assisted in saving his hand after an accident this past May. (L-R): Amy Sadewasser, Megan Borrett, Dr. Daniel Mansfield, David, Paul Decker, Shelly Klein, ARNP, Dr. Andy Smith, Deb Preston and Brandie Thomkins.

On the afternoon of Wednesday, May 22, David Errthum was at home putting the final touches on a family room remodeling project. His youngest daughter’s graduation party was at their home that Saturday and he only had two pieces of trim to add to complete the room.

David was sawing the wooden trim with a 12” chop saw, when the wood moved. Focused on the cut of the board, David reached his left arm over to hold it, when he sawed through the wood and then nearly severed his hand. David yelled for his wife and daughter, who called 911. Knowing he was in trouble, he wrapped his arm in dishtowels and kneeled on the steps of his deck, applying pressure.

When the Holy Cross ambulance crew arrived they placed a tourniquet on Dave’s arm and had him hold it on ice as they rushed him to Guttenberg Municipal Hospital & Clinics (GMHC).

The ambulance gave GMHC notice that they were to arrive shortly with a severely injured man. The trauma team was activated and was waiting in the Emergency Department when the ambulance arrived. The injury was assessed as a nearly complete amputation of David’s left hand. Only about an inch of tissue kept his hand attached to his arm.

While waiting for the medical helicopter to arrive to transport him to Iowa City, further evaluation was done. Dr. Daniel Mansfield, general surgeon, wanted to do whatever was possible to give David the best chance of saving his hand.


“My surgeons in Iowa City were very impressed with the response time and work done here at GMHC. They credit you all for saving my hand.”


“We gently released the tourniquet and were able to control the arterial bleeding. Then we were able to see if there was any ow from the other artery making it to the hand. And amazingly there was! We knew that this would give him the best chance to save his hand,” said Mansfield.

David’s hand and arm were stabilized in a splint and he was prepared for helicopter transport.

A surgical team at the University of Iowa spent nearly eight hours reconstructing and reattaching David’s hand.


Waving his healing arm, David rode in the Guttenberg ambulance with Paul Decker during the Holy Cross parade in August.

When David awoke, he was surrounded by his wife and all four of his daughters. He was released two days later, on Friday, May 24.

With the overwhelming help of his friends and family, the graduation party for his daughter went on as planned the next day, becoming an appreciation party too.

David recently had an opportunity to visit with the trauma team at GMHC who helped him.

“Thank you,” said David gratefully as he showed them his arm. “My surgeons in Iowa City were very impressed with the response time and work done here at GMHC. They credit you all for saving my hand.”

David’s arm is still in a compression glove and a splint, and with continued physical therapy, he anticipates full use of it once again.

When reflecting on the accident, David was overwhelmed with gratitude for everyone who has assisted him during his recovery. “I’m a pretty independant guy,” he said. “I’m not good at having to rely on others, but this accident gave me so many opportunities to spend time with my family and friends because I had to depend on them. I’m humbled by all who have helped me and will be forever grateful.”

Walking Her Way to Better Health

Cindy Niehaus walks alongside GMHC Physical Therapist, Joel Gourley, with the Guttenberg Gallopers Wellness Club on Guttenberg’s River Walk.

When Cindy Niehaus learned about a free wellness club sponsored by GMHC that involved walking, she was ready to join. Cindy attended the initial meeting of the Guttenberg Gallopers Wellness Club, led by Physical Therapist Joel Gourley, last March.

“I knew I needed to do something to improve my overall physical health, and I really enjoy walking,” said Cindy. “I needed accountability partners to keep me committed, and the physical therapy department and Health Coaches were great encouragement for me! We walked twice a week during some very frigid spring days, but I bundled up and walked.”

When Cindy began with the club, she had to stop and rest frequently because of shortness of breath. After walking regularly, Cindy has improved her endurance, now completing the entire stretch (over a mile) without stopping and even while carrying on a conversation.

“This is such a beautiful path to walk, right here along the river. I’m very thankful GMHC started up this club to keep me motivated. I feel great!” Cindy Niehaus, Guttenberg Galloper Member

To learn more about the Guttenberg Gallopers Wellness Club, call 563-252-5527.

The Guttenberg Gallopers Wellness Club meets on Mondays and Wednesdays at 5pm at the Gazebo through October and will begin again in the spring. Walkers, joggers, runners are all welcome to join. Membership is free.