HomeArchives May 2019


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Program Awards 52 Healthcare Careers Scholarships

Anna Walhof of Orange City, a Certified Nurse Assistant with Orange City Area Health System who is studying Nursing at Dordt College, has been awarded a $3,500 scholarship from the Iowa Hospital Education and Research Foundation (IHERF), which is supported by the Iowa Hospital Association (IHA). Walhof is among 52 outstanding students from all over Iowa who have received assistance this year from the IHERF Health Care Careers Scholarship Program.

IHA established the IHERF Health Care Careers Scholarship Program in 2004 to help address the ongoing shortage of health care professionals and encourage young Iowans to establish or continue their careers with Iowa hospitals. The first scholarships were awarded in 2005 and now more than 450 students have benefited from the program.

In exchange for that financial support, scholarship-receiving students agree to work one year in an Iowa hospital for each year they receive an award.  In this way, the scholarship program helps stabilize and enhance Iowa’s hospital workforce. Today, more than 280 scholarship recipients are working in Iowa hospitals.

Hospital leaders from all parts of the state evaluated scholarship applications from dozens of qualified students who were judged on grade-point average, a written personal statement, letters of reference, and extracurricular, community and health care-related activities.

“Because of the generosity of Iowa hospital leaders and other supporters of this program, we have presented more than $1.5 million in scholarships,” said IHA President and CEO Kirk Norris. “We are proud to help these high-achieving students fulfill their career goals at Iowa hospitals.”

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Anna Walhof, who serves as a CNA in our hospital and at Prairie Ridge Care Center, is pictured here with CEO Marty Guthmiller.

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May is Mental Health Month

Very few people go through life without any chronic health challenges. Cancer, heart disease, chronic pain, diabetes, mental illnesses, and more touch every family at some point. And often mental illnesses and other chronic conditions co-occur. People with cancer often have depression; people with schizophrenia often have diabetes; and people with chronic pain often have both physical and behavioral health challenges. The underlying environment – the “social determinants” of health – plays a role in the development of both physical and mental health conditions. Did you know that some common tools and strategies – such as animal companionship, humor, spirituality, work-life balance, and recreation and social networking – lead to improvements in both physical and mental health?

We asked Dr. DeeJay Donlin, who heads our Behavioral Health Clinic, to give some information regarding integrated health services at Orange City Area Health System….

Q: Integrated behavioral health services were started at Orange City Area Health System (OCAHS) in May 2015. During the last four years, how have services evolved?

Dr. Donlin: Providing behavioral health services at OCAHS was seen somewhat as an experiment since it was a new service line in the clinic/hospital. Over these last four years, I have been able to see well over 1100 different patients ranging in age from 2 to 88. Difficulties have varied from anxiety to depression to ADHD to psychosis to relationship conflicts to multiple medical issues (weight loss, pain management, etc.). Services have included evaluation, consultation and ongoing therapy. Individuals seeking service have included family members, employees and business/institutional leaders from multiple counties who have recognized the value of developing an adequate support system and utilizing skills for managing stress. As envisioned, the ability to work side by side with the medical providers has been very enjoyable and appreciated by both provider and patient. We attempted to create (and accomplished) a rather seamless set of services in which someone could come in for a medical issue, desire behavioral health services, and be seen quite quickly–sometimes even the same day.

Q: Have there been any surprises about the services provided?

D: Maybe not “surprised” but more “impressed.” Almost daily, I’m reminded about the level of care and compassion that the medical providers are giving to their patients. When first arriving, I was struck by the phrase “I take care of…” when primary care providers would be discussing a particular patient or family. What has impressed me is how genuine and involved providers can become in health care, not just health It’s been fun to be a part of that.

Q: Why will integrated behavioral health services continue to be important at OCAHS?

D: Providing behavioral health services within the clinic and hospital is extremely important since we know that at least 50% of all behavioral health disorders are typically treated in the primary care setting, and in fact, up to 70% of all primary care visits may be related to behavioral health needs. We also know that up to 80% of psychotropic medications are prescribed by primary care providers in the clinic/hospital setting. Additionally, we know that 30-50% of people who are referred for behavioral health services to a specialty facility outside of the clinic don’t make it to their first appointment. We want to continue to provide effective and comprehensive services as conveniently as possible for all of our patients.

Q: How can people make appointments?

D: Patients can call directly to OCAHS (712–737–2000) to set up an appointment or referrals can be made through their primary care provider.

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-by James Jeltema, D.O., Anesthesiologist and head of our Pain Management Clinic

It has most recently been estimated that around 20% of the United States population is affected by chronic pain. That means around 50 million people suffer pain daily that affects their ability to live and work and enjoy life. This translates into over an estimated $500 billion in direct medical costs, lost productivity at work, and disability programs. At Orange City Area Health System, it is our goal to help patients reduce their pain and improve their function to get back to doing what they love to do.

As an anesthesiologist specializing in pain medicine, I have a special skill set to offer the area to help people deal with their chronic pain issues. We use a multidisciplinary approach to focus on all aspects of a person’s pain. I work closely with the physical therapists in the hospital to help improve patients’ strength, flexibility, and function which helps decrease their pain and reduce the chances of re-aggravating their injury.

I also work with the clinical pharmacists to decide on appropriate medications that can help decrease pain and inflammation or calm revved up nerves in an effort to increase a patient’s function and quality of life. I work closely with behavioral health and our clinical psychologist to help patients cope with the mental stress of dealing with chronic pain including anxiety, depression, and sleep issues.

Along with all these things, I have the skills and training necessary to do various injections and procedures aimed at decreasing a patient’s pain. These include nerve blocks and epidural steroid injections for low back or neck pain and pain shooting down the legs or arms, nerve blocks for things like post-herpetic neuralgia, and joint injections for degenerative-related pain to name a few.

With this well-rounded approach, a patient is much more likely to experience a lasting reduction in their pain and return to a level of activity and function that they desire.

If you or a loved one have chronic pain issues, talk to your primary care physician and we’ll be happy to see you.

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Orange City Area Health System has been named one of America’s 100 Best Hospitals for Patient Experience by the Women’s Choice Award®, America’s trusted referral source for the best in healthcare. The award signifies that Orange City Area Health System (OCAHS) has been ranked within the top 100 hospitals of similar size. This is the fifth year that OCAHS has received this distinction.

The methodology used to select Orange City Area Health System as one of America’s 100 Best Hospitals for Patient Experience is unique in that it evaluates specific Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey results along with primary research about women’s healthcare preferences.

The Women’s Choice Award collects the data for the following HCAHPS survey measures and uses a weighted average to award the best hospitals for patient experience:

  • Effective communication with nurses and doctors
  • Responsiveness to requests for help
  • Providing patient recovery information
  • Explanation about medications before being administered
  • Bathroom and room cleanliness
  • Peacefulness of room at night
  • Patient recommendation rating

According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, good patient experience positively correlates to disease management, adherence to treatment plans, and health outcomes. Personalized care from providers – including clean communication and sensitivity – is a key health care priority, according to a Deloitte survey of healthcare consumers.

“This hospital was awarded because it is one of the best at treating their patients the way their patients want to be treated,” said Delia Passi, founder and CEO of the Women’s Choice Award. “Hospital choice is a critical decision, particularly for women, who make over 80% of healthcare decisions. Our designation makes it easier for them to choose a hospital where they and their families are more likely to have a better experience and outcome.”

Orange City Area Health System is one of 400 award recipients representing the hospitals that have met the highest standards for patient experience in the U.S. by the Women’s Choice Award.

“We are always pleased to be recognized by those we serve,” stated Marty Guthmiller, CEO of Orange City Area Health System. “This particular recognition affirms our staff’s commitment to quality and the patient experience. For that we are grateful.”


For more information on America’s 100 Best Hospitals for Patient Experience, please visit https://www.womenschoiceaward.com/best-hospitals/

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