Atlantic, IA— Cass Health is excited to announce the founding of the Cass Health Nurses Honor Guard. Cass County is now the fifteenth county in Iowa with a local chapter. 

Founded in 2003, this national organization has more than 250 groups across the United States. The Nurses Honor Guard is a volunteer program made up of current and former nurses that attend the services of nurses who have passed away, as well as parades, honor walks, living tributes, and more. The Nurses Honor Guard dresses in the traditional white uniform, complete with a cap and cape. During a funeral service, the ceremony is brief; it takes about 5 minutes and consists of reciting the Nightingale Tribute and laying of a white rose, symbolizing the nurse’s dedication to the profession. After the Nightingale Tribute is recited, a triangle is rung after a roll call for the nurse. The nurse’s name is called three times, and the triangle is rung after each call of the name. After the roll call, the words are spoken that the nurse is officially released from their nursing duties. A lit Nightingale lamp is carried up at the beginning of the ceremony and is then extinguished and presented to the family. 

Cass Health’s Director of Nursing Supervision, Sara Beth Jones, RN, BSN started the local chapter after hearing about it through social media. 

“After seeing a service being held, I did a deep dive into searching for what chapters we have in Cass County, only to discover we did not have one,” Jones said. “I was immediately touched and felt moved to be a part of something to honor both living nurses and those who have passed on. Being a part of this is very rewarding.” 

Current or former nurses interested in joining this volunteer organization can call 712-243-7575 for more information.

Cass Health is excited to announce that General and Weight Loss Surgeon Dr. William Rizk will be providing care to patients starting in July. 

Dr. Rizk is a board-certified general and bariatric surgeon who specializes in weight loss surgery, and he has been performing laparoscopic weight loss surgeries since 2002. Dr. Rizk is a graduate of the University of South Dakota, and he completed his surgery residency at the Iowa Methodist Medical Center. He is a member of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgeons (ASMBS) and a diplomate of the American Board of Obesity Medicine.

“People with obesity, particularly severe obesity, face a number of medical concerns that can be improved with weight loss surgery. It’s not an easy decision to make, and it takes commitment and lifestyle change to see long-term success. Weight loss surgery is a great tool, and I’m very excited to offer this surgery to patients in southwest Iowa,” said Dr. Rizk. 

Iowa ranks 12th in states impacted by obesity, with more than 37% of the state’s adult population being impacted by obesity. According to Iowa Health and Human Services, 42.5% of adults in Cass County have an unhealthy body weight, which is classified as a BMI of 30 or higher. 

Dr. Rizk will perform sleeve gastrectomies, also known as gastric sleeve surgeries, at Cass Health beginning this fall. 

“Our program will utilize a multidisciplinary approach,” said Dr. Rizk. “This will include several clinic appointments, nutritional counseling and behavior modification classes.  This education will help ensure the most successful outcome for patients.”

Patients interested in learning more are invited to come to a free educational class on the surgery on Tuesday, July 9th at 6:00 at Cass Health. Reservations are required; sign up online at casshealth.org/weightloss. Questions can be directed to our Program Coordinator at 712-243-7535; patients are also encouraged to talk with their primary care provider about the surgery and referrals.

Atlantic, IA— Becker’s Hospital Review released their 2024 editions of the “100 Great Community Hospitals” and “27 Critical Access Hospitals to Know” lists – both of which featured Cass Health in Atlantic, Iowa. Cass Health was the only Iowa hospital named to both lists.

The announcement from Becker’s states: “These hospitals are known for providing expert care, positively impacting local economies, making innovative changes with limited resources, and more. Many of these community hospitals have been recognized by rankings and ratings organizations for their excellent clinical care, outstanding patient outcomes, and high performance in specialty services. The hospitals named on this list are committed to uplifting their communities, as well as providing affordable, convenient care access to patients.”

Becker’s Healthcare developed this list based on nominations and editorial research; organizations do not pay and cannot pay for inclusion on this list. Becker’s Healthcare is the go-to source for healthcare decision-makers and one of the fastest growing media platforms in the industry.

ATLANTIC, IA – Cass County Public Health will host a new session of A Matter of Balance beginning Monday, June 10. This free class is designed to help decrease falls and help older adults manage their fears about falling.

A Matter of Balance is an award-winning program to help older adults learn to manage their concerns about falling, make changes to reduce the risk of falling, and increase their physical activity. It includes 8 weekly two-hour sessions for a small group of 8-12 participants led by trained facilitators.

Cass County Public Health has been offering this program since 2018 because falls among adults aged 65 and older are common, costly, and preventable. According to the CDC, falls are the leading cause of injury for adults ages 65 years and older, with 1 in 4 older adults reporting falling every year. Falls are the leading cause of injury-related death among adults ages 65 and older. The age-adjusted fall death rate increased by 41% from 2012 to 2021. Over 30% of older adult Iowans reported a fall in the past year, totaling over 157,000 individual older adult falls.

For more information, or to sign up, call Cass County Public Health at 712-243-7443.

Atlantic, IA—Cass Health is proud to announce that Michele Williams, RN is the newest recipient of the Cass Health Spirit of Volunteerism Award. Williams began working at Cass Health in July 1997, and many patients know her for her work in obstetrics and the emergency department.

Williams was nominated specifically for her volunteer work for the Massena ambulance. Her nominator wrote: “Michele Williams volunteers for her hometown emergency ambulance services in Massena and even though she is a registered nurse, she is also a registered advanced emergency medical technician. She has been doing this for about 7 years. She took over managing the ambulance, making sure the ambulance service adheres to regulations for the emergency services which includes having the medications they need when responding to emergencies and complying with those rules. EMS volunteers have to be ready to go at any time and are often called on at nights, weekends, during family get-togethers, and holidays. We don’t appreciate them enough and only think about them if and when we need them. I feel privileged to know that if I need to call 911 for help, that Michele may be in that ambulance that comes to help me or my family.”

With her own family in attendance, Williams was surprised at work with this award. “My husband kept a huge secret! I was very surprised when I won this award! I was also honored. It is nice to be recognized. There are a lot of behind-the-scenes things that people don’t see, and it makes me feel good to know that it matters,” said Williams.

Williams commented that she does it because she likes to help people. “I know the people in Massena and Cumberland and want to make sure if they are sick or hurt someone will be there to help them,” she said.

As part of the Spirit of Volunteerism Award, the winner receives a $250 check to donate to the non-profit organization of their choosing.

“I chose the Cass County Fair because there are a lot of young people in the surrounding communities that participate. I know things are getting expensive and we need to help keep our fair free so everyone can come out and enjoy it,” she said.

Atlantic, IA – Cass Health is excited to announce that Megan Roberts is now serving as the new Director of Cass County Public Health.

“The past ten years allowed me to help a lot of families, and it was a beautiful chapter in my life. The experience I gained managing a larger team and working within a larger organization really prepared me for my new role at Cass County Public Health. I look forward to contributing to the Cass Health team and continuing to make an impact in the region,” she said.

Roberts is well known in the community from her previous work at the Atlantic Area Chamber of Commerce and State Farm; both career experiences that helped her develop talents that will enhance the mission of public health.

“I have felt called to make a shift back to a role that supports rural Iowa. We are good people, and we take care of each other. I feel that this position will allow me to partner with others who believe that as well. The values at Cass Health, and the people who work here, align with mine,” said Roberts.

“We are thrilled to have Megan leading the public health efforts for Cass County. Her community connections, civic-minded vision, and enthusiasm for Cass County all make her well suited to partner with our community partners and lead the important work that our public health team carries out each day,” stated Cass Health Chief Financial and HR Officer Kolton Hewlett.

Cass County Public Health manages a number of initiatives including programs for adults like A Matter of Balance, Care for Yourself, CPR and First Aid classes, and Stop the Bleed training. For children and families, they provide car seat installations and checks, Parents as Teachers, and more. Cass County Public Health also provides leadership and guidance on the Community Health Assessment, Community Health Improvement Planning, emergency preparedness, and other community-wide health projects. For more information, visit casshealth.org/publichealth.

The Cass Health Emergency & Rapid Care Entrance will be temporarily closed on Thursday, May 16 and Friday, May 17. All Emergency and Rapid Care patients should use the Rehab Services entrance instead. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

Cass Health is happy to announce Linda Edelman, RN, BSN is the newest recipient of The DAISY Award, which celebrates excellence in nursing.

Edelman has been a nurse for 37 years, and she has worked primarily in public health, with several years of home health experience also.

“While I was working on my BSN, I was doing my community health rotation in Council Bluffs and that’s when I first found my interest in public health. I loved being able to go into the community and being able to take care of people of all ages from young, pregnant women to my patients who were well into their 90s,” said Edelman.

Nominated by Cass County Public Health Director Beth Olsen, her nomination letter states, “My nomination is based specifically on the care she provides to our Pacific Island community members. Linda has taken the time to learn about their culture and wants to deeply understand the issues that this community faces each day. She meets them where they are and understands the deep and complex layers of working with an entire community whose culture and approach to healthcare is quite different than what an American nurse is trained for. Linda adjusts her works hours to accommodate their long and varying shift work, going above and beyond to meet their needs. It is not uncommon for Linda to work an evening, weekend or on her day off- if that is when the patient has time to meet with her. This community trusts Linda deeply with their healthcare needs. She is known as a resource for the entire community, helping with many things beyond her original intentions of connecting with these individuals. It’s not uncommon to see them greet her in the grocery store or for children to run up and give her a hug when they recognize her on the street. Linda listens attentively to each concern she is presented with and seamlessly connects each individual and family to the care and services they need to have a better life and experience in Atlantic.

Edelman said, “I love what I do, and I am passionate about helping this community. There’s so much work to be done, and I really want these new residents to feel like this is their home, and we care about them. I really care about them, and I get back so much gratification from helping them.”

As for the DAISY Award, Edelman said it was a huge surprise and shock. “Never in my wildest dreams did I think this would happen. It is a complete honor, and I want to make sure to say that I am so blessed to work with such wonderful people. I’ve worked with a lot of terrific people, a lot of departments, a lot of people in the community – and I’m just so lucky be part of an amazing team,” she said.

Nurses at Cass Health are honored twice annually with The DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses.® The award is part of the DAISY Foundation’s mission to recognize the extraordinary, compassionate care nurses provide to patients and families every day. The DAISY Award committee at Cass Health thanks all nominators for their submissions. Each nurse who was nominated will be presented with a special pin and a copy of the nomination.

The DAISY Foundation is a not-for-profit organization, established in memory of J. Patrick Barnes, by members of his family. Patrick died at the age of 33 in late 1999 from complications of Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP), a little known but not uncommon auto-immune disease. (DAISY is an acronym for Diseases Attacking the Immune System.)  The care Patrick and his family received from nurses while he was ill inspired this unique means of thanking nurses for making a profound difference in the lives of their patients and patient families.

This is one initiative of The DAISY Foundation to express gratitude to the nursing profession.  Additionally, DAISY offers J. Patrick Barnes Grants for Nursing Research and Evidence-Based Practice Projects, The DAISY Faculty Award to honor inspiring faculty members in schools and colleges of nursing, and The DAISY in Training Award for nursing students. More information is available at http://DAISYfoundation.org. An online nomination form is available at https://www.casshealth.org/daisy.

Atlantic, IA—For the fourth year in a row, the National Rural Health Association named Cass Health one of the Top 20 Critical Access Hospitals in the country.

“There are 1,361 critical access hospital in America, this places Cass Health in the top 99.7% in the U.S. We can proudly say that we are one of only a handful of hospitals to earn this distinction repeatedly. What gets us to this point each year is data —for quality, outcomes, market share, patient satisfaction, cost, and financial stability. But it’s really the story behind the data that we’re proud of because it’s made possible by our team living our mission of providing superior experiences to everyone that we are privileged to serve, and we are grateful for each one of them,” said Cass Health CEO Brett Altman.

The National Rural Health Association names the Top 20 Critical Access Hospitals from a larger set of Top 100 winners, which is evaluated and produced by The Chartis Center for Rural Health. Recipients are evaluated and identified through the Chartis Rural Hospital Performance INDEX® that utilizes publicly available data to provide a comprehensive comparison of all rural and Critical Access Hospitals. By assessing performance across 36 individual indicators and eight pillars of performance, the INDEX is the foundation for many of rural health care’s most prominent awards and is used by organizations such as the National Rural Health Association in support of its advocacy and legislative initiatives.

An awards ceremony will be held during the National Rural Hospital Association’s Critical Access Hospital Conference this fall.

Atlantic, IA – Cass Health is proud to announce that Della Woolsey is the inaugural recipient of the Recognition of Service Excellence (ROSE) Award. Woolsey has worked as a housekeeper as part of the Environmental Services team since July 2017.

The award presentation was held on Wednesday, March 20 with staff and the Cass Health Board of Trustees gathered. Woolsey said she was stunned to hear her name announced.

“It was a shock! You don’t expect people to pay attention to what you’re doing, let alone appreciate it. It’s nice to be recognized for doing what you love,” she said.

Her nominator wrote: “Any and every interaction that anyone has had with her is met with a greeting and a bright smile. She stands out not only among her peers but also among every employee here at Cass Health. She does not need to be asked to take on tasks; she is a go-getter. She remains positive every day while at work. Her work performance surpasses all expectations. You’d never know if she has had a bad day with the smile she presents with every single day. Even though she has daily tasks to complete and is on a time crunch, she always stops what she is doing to help you, to ensure your work is done efficiently and our patients are cared for. Little does she know that we hear her out in the hallways while she is interacting with patients. The compassion that she shows patients while they are here is unmatched. She goes in to clean a room, and continuing to work, she has conversations and engages with the patients. They feel valued and present when they spend time with her. She will get them whatever they need when she asks what she can do for them while in the room. I have overheard a patient tell our winner once, ‘You have made my day just talking to me.’ She could not be more deserving of this award.”

Woolsey said that working on the inpatient floor and talking to the patients is her favorite part of her job. “And it’s never a special effort for me to talk to our patients and visitors—that comes naturally to me. I love it!” said Woolsey.

The ROSE Award was created to honor and celebrate non-nursing employees of Cass Health who exemplify dedication, compassion, and a commitment to service excellence in carrying out their duties and advancing the goals and mission of Cass Health. The criteria are being knowledgeable and efficient, being compassionate and respectful, working with the care team, and going above and beyond for others. Nominations can be made by anytime online at casshealth.org/rose.