ATLANTIC, IOWA – Cass Health officials are informing the public today that there has been a notable increase of influenza cases.

“Over the last three to four days, we have seen a substantial number of patients with upper respiratory illnesses and confirmed cases of influenza,” said Chief Medical Officer Dr. Elaine Berry.

Symptoms & Treatment

Influenza symptoms usually come on very quickly and may include fever, headache, extreme tiredness, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, and body aches.

“For an average, healthy person with no other risk factors, it’s usually best to treat your symptoms at home with over-the-counter medications. Most individuals don’t necessarily need to be seen by a provider for a typical case of influenza. Whether you have the flu or COVID, the advice would be the same – lots of rest, fluids, manage symptoms, and stay away from others. Be smart and keep an eye on your symptoms worsening,” said Dr. Berry.

There are multiple factors that come into play as to whether a patient should be seen by a medical provider for influenza.

If a person has any shortness of breath or breathing difficulty, they should seek medical care right away.

Testing & Appointments

Testing for influenza, COVID-19, and RSV are all available at Cass Health.

“These illnesses all overlap in their symptoms. The good news is that it’s easy to test for COVID-19 at home and rule that out. If you have symptoms, and are unsure of what to do, our advice is to call and talk to your provider’s office. We can help you decide whether you may be able to just stay at home and isolate, or if it may be appropriate to do testing only, or if we’ll want you to come in and be evaluated prior to any testing,” said Dr. Berry.

Often patients who don’t feel that their symptoms warrant a visit to their provider’s office can schedule outpatient testing only, without being seen.

For questions about the cost of testing, patients are encouraged to call the Patient Financial Services team at 712-250-8041. This team can provide an estimate of your out-of-pocket cost prior to receiving any service or to discuss any financial assistance needs.

Prevent the Flu & Stop the Spread

Flu vaccine is available at Atlantic Medical Center and local pharmacies, and there is still time for it to be effective this year. Vaccination helps to protect not just those who are vaccinated, but also babies under 6 months of age and others who are medically unable to receive the vaccine. Flu vaccination is still the best way to prevent or reduce the severity of flu illness and serious complications.

Everyone should practice good health habits: wash your hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer; cover coughs and sneezes; avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with your hands; and avoid close contact with people that are sick.

People with the flu or flu-like symptoms should not go to work, school, or other public places, including visiting hospitals and nursing homes. People with the flu are generally contagious one day prior to showing symptoms through the next 5-7 days. Isolating during this peak stage of the virus helps to stop its spread through the community.

 

ATLANTIC, IOWA – As part of the National Rural Health Day celebration today, Cass Health announced it has been recognized with two 2022 Performance Leadership Awards for excellence in both Quality and Patient Outcomes. Compiled by The Chartis Center for Rural Health, the Performance Leadership Awards honor top quartile performance (75th percentile or above). Among all the nation’s rural hospitals, Cass Health ranked above the 95th percentile in both Quality and Outcomes.

“Cass Health has achieved this award every year since 2017 because we’re incredibly blessed to have a talented, hardworking team here. These awards are so meaningful to us because they validate that the care we provide is of the highest quality, which leads to the best possible outcomes for our patients,” noted Brett Altman, CEO.

The Performance Leadership Awards are based on the results of the Chartis Rural Hospital Performance INDEX™, the industry’s most comprehensive and objective assessment of rural hospital performance. INDEX data is trusted and relied upon by rural hospitals, health systems with rural footprints, hospital associations and state offices of rural health across the country to measure and monitor performance across several areas impacting hospital operations and finance.

“Although the last two years have placed unprecedented pressure on the rural health safety net, the dedication to serving the community that we’re so accustomed to seeing from rural hospitals across the country hasn’t wavered,” said Michael Topchik, National Leader, The Chartis Center for Rural Health. “Let us celebrate the power of rural on National Rural Health Day and honor the facilities working tirelessly to provide access to high quality healthcare services to their communities.”

Cass Health proudly announces that Brooke Dreager, RN was honored with the DAISY Award this week. Dreager has worked at Cass Health since September 2014. Initially a nurse on the Inpatient Services team, she transitioned to the Obstetrics Unit in January 2015.

“When I was doing my clinicals in nursing school, seeing a baby born, it just felt like the right path for me. Everything that has to come together for a baby to be born – it’s truly a miracle. OB is very much my happy place,” said Dreager.

Cass Health Chief Operating Officer Amanda Bireline commented, “For Brooke, it was not a matter of if, but rather when she would become a DAISY nurse. The nomination story that earned Brooke this award captures the kind of experience that Brooke creates for every patient, every time.”

Dreager’s nominator wrote: “Brooke was with me from the moment I walked in the hospital to the last day of my 5 day stay after my natural birth turned into a c-section. This was my first baby so I was scared, anxious, and everything in between. Brooke checked on me daily, even when she wasn’t on that day. Brooke was my nurse during my attempt at a natural birth, she stayed for 3 hours talking me though pushing and breathing. She was supposed to be off at 7:00pm that day but she stayed with me through my c-section and she was the only way I was going to get my through my birth experience. She talked me through everything and every step of the way. Brooke was the most amazing nurse to have on my case and I would go back to Cass to have my next child all because of Brooke. She was so supportive to my husband and me; first time mom after major surgery and first time dad who was scared and anxious. If we didn’t have a named picked out already, our daughter would’ve been named Brooke – that’s how much Brooke means to our family.”

Dreager said, “I love my job. It means so much to even be nominated, just knowing that someone has thought about you after you’ve provided care to them. I always want to provide the best possible care, to give my patients the best possible experience. Giving birth can be one of the happiest and scariest days, and things don’t always go as planned. Knowing that you took something scary and unknown and helped your patient through that and made it better for them, that’s why I’m here. It makes me realize that I’m doing the right thing with my life.”

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 nursing care they provide patients and families every day. The DAISY Award committee at Cass Health wishes to thank 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.

More information is available at http://DAISYfoundation.org. An online nomination form is available at https://www.casshealth.org/daisy.

ATLANTIC, IOWA – Cass County Public Health has earned a prestigious endorsement from Parents as Teachers National Center, Inc., as a Blue Ribbon Affiliate, making it one of the top- performing home visiting affiliates within Parents as Teachers’ international network. The official designation was made in October 2022.

 

Being named a Blue Ribbon Affiliate affirms that Cass County Public Health is a high-quality member of the home visiting field, implementing the evidence-based Parents as Teachers model with fidelity. The program includes home visits, group connections, child screening, and connections to community resources. It equips parents with knowledge and resources to prepare their children for a stronger start in life and greater success in school.

“Parents as Teachers’ rigorous endorsement process is a test of our program’s accountability and credibility, and this award validates the work we are doing for our community, supporters, and most importantly, the children, parents, and families we serve,” said PAT Coordinator Nancy Gibson.

Cass County Parents as Teachers is a no-cost program for families who are expecting or have a child or children up to age 5, and it is funded by Boost for Families and Prevent Child Abuse Iowa. The program currently has openings for new families. For more information about PAT, please call 712-243-7475.

Cass Health welcomed a record number of providers during the past year and continues to recruit more primary care physicians, specialists, and advanced practice providers to meet local demand.

“We’ve seen an enormous amount of growth over the past five or six years, and we expect the local and regional demand for health care services to continue to increase. We’re committed to always being here for the communities we serve, and that means we must constantly be thinking about having the right number of staff to meet patients’ needs,” said CEO Brett Altman.

During the last year, Cass Health welcomed several new providers including Dr. Adam Verhoef; Kellie Enderson, ARNP; Stacey Kasperbauer, ARNP; Emily James, ARNP; Emily Wittrock, ARNP, and Kevin Bohac, CRNA. Additionally, Cass Health added numerous specialists including Dr. Anjan Talukdar, Dr. John Park, Dr. Sumit Mukherjee, Dr. Paul Ganesan, Dr. Blake Bodendorfer, Dr. Rick Rinehart, Dr. Caliste Hsu, Dr. Brian Boes, Dr. Jeffrey Sartin, Dr. Anthony DeCicco, Dr. Thomas Schmidt, Dr. Stephen Slade, and Dr. Gino Chesini.

“During all of this, Dr. Elaine Berry also transitioned from a full-time physician to a full-time Chief Medical Officer, which also amplified our need to hire more new doctors,” said Altman.

Chief Human Resources Officer Kolton Hewlett stressed that recruitment of family medicine providers is a continuous process, especially for rural facilities. He commented that, “We are thankful to be in a position where we are able to add new providers to our team. It’s good for our patients, and it’s a win for the community. With that being said, it saddens us to announce that one of our physicians will be leaving Cass Health next year.”

Dr. Edna Becht just announced that she will leave her practice at Cass Health in the summer of 2023. Dr. Becht will be moving to the Des Moines area to be closer to family. She spoke of her time at Cass Health as “living the dream.”

“Cass Health has been a dream come true for a fresh residency graduate who wanted to do it all. I am humbled and grateful to have been welcomed into the hospital and the community with eager and open arms, and I am proud of the work I’ve done here,” said Dr. Becht.

Hewlett commented that, “We expect changes like this because as their families grow, or their needs and careers evolve, providers may change jobs. Coupling that knowledge with our forecasted growth, we are actively recruiting new family medicine providers all the time. We are excited to share that Massena native Whitney Schafer will be joining the Cass Health team as an advanced practice provider in December 2022. Additionally, just this week we signed another physician, Dr. Jeals Brines, a Leon, Iowa native who is completing family medicine residency in Des Moines and will begin at Cass Health in September 2024.”

For more information about the providers at Cass Health, visit casshealth.org.

Cass Health is pleased to announce the arrival of Adam Verhoef, MD. As a board-certified Family Medicine physician, Dr. Verhoef provides the full spectrum of care including obstetric care and c-sections.

“I grew up in a town that had a small hospital with family medicine doctors, and I’ve always been really impressed by their ability to do it all. I love to do OB – that’s one of my passions – I also like the inpatient side, emergency medicine, urgent care. Anything that can be done in medicine – I like to do,” he said.

Dr. Verhoef completed his undergraduate degree in Biology and Chemistry at Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa. He then attended the Carver College of Medicine at the University of Iowa, and he completed his Family Medicine Residency in June of 2021 at Prisma Health Richland/University of South Carolina in Columbia, South Carolina.

Obstetric care is a passion of Dr. Verhoef’s, so after residency he was accepted into a fellowship program to further his knowledge and skills. This summer he completed the Advanced OB Fellowship at Swedish Health First Hill Family Medicine in Seattle, Washington.

“You do a lot of good medicine in OB. You really have an impact on people’s lives, especially if you can give them a positive prenatal experience, a positive labor and delivery, and a positive post-partum experience,” he said.

Dr. Verhoef said that he chose Cass Health because it matches the type of medicine he wants to practice. “Rural health has always been my goal, and at Cass Health, it’s a great fit. I can provide meaningful care for my patients, and I can provide safe, comprehensive OB care.”

Originally from Pella, Iowa, Dr. Verhoef grew up in a large family on a dairy farm. He recently purchased a home and moved to Atlantic.

Dr. Verhoef will offer appointments at Atlantic Medical Center, RHC, and he will provide care to hospital and obstetric patients.

To make an appointment, please call 712-243-2850.

Atlantic, IA — Officials at Cass Health are happy to announce that the emergency driveway is now open to all traffic. The drive had been closed for several months as crews worked to completely replace the drive.

The Emergency Department entrance remains closed due to ongoing construction; all emergency patients should continue to use the Rehabilitation Services entrance. The entrance is expected to reopen later this year.

AMC Rapid Care is still temporarily located in Atlantic Medical Center also due to construction. All AMC Rapid Care patients should park in Lot A and use the Main Entrance. The completed AMC Rapid Care clinic is expected to open in early 2023.

ATLANTIC, IOWA – Cass Health is pleased to welcome Kellie Enderson, ARNP to the team of providers at Atlantic Medical Center, RHC. Enderson is board-certified by the American Association of Nurse Practitioners to care for patients of all ages.

“I attended Grandview University for my bachelor’s degree in nursing, and then I completed by master’s degree in nursing from Chamberlain University. I have worked in the medical field for more than 29 years, with experience in cardiology, neurology, hospice, and chronic health conditions as a health coach,” said Enderson.

She will offer appointments in both the Atlantic and Griswold Medical Centers, and she will also occasionally provide care in AMC Rapid Care.

“I enjoy building a working relationship with my patients and providing education. I practice using a holistic approach with my patients, using both pharmaceuticals and nonpharmaceutical approaches, and asking questions to get a better understanding of each person, their health, and their day-to-day lifestyles,” said Enderson.

Originally from Huxley, Iowa, Enderson and her husband moved a year ago to a small hobby farm in Guthrie County.

To make an appointment, please call 712-243-2850.

Atlantic, IA— Cass Health is proud to announce that Dr. Elaine Berry will assume full-time responsibility for the role of Chief Medical Officer (CMO) this month. Dr. Berry has been serving in the role part-time while still managing an active medical practice over the last several months. By moving to full-time CMO, Dr. Berry will no longer offer appointments in clinic or provide nursing home rounds, a major shift for her and many patients.

“I want to express my appreciation to the community for the 34 years of support and caring. I am lucky to have a career that is truly my passion in life. Starting this new chapter, I hope to continue to add value to our health system and our patients’ lives,” said Dr. Berry.

As CMO, Dr. Berry will work in an administrative capacity focused on quality improvement processes, teaching, and mentoring.

“This does not mean that I will not be involved in patient care, however. Behind the scenes, I will be teaching and consulting with providers. But my day-to-day work will focus more on how we provide care rather than actively providing patient care,” she said.

Cass Health CEO Brett Altman stated, “We are really blessed to have Dr. Berry in this role for our organization. Her expertise and leadership are the key ingredients we need at this time to continue our journey to be the best rural hospital in America.”

Dr. Berry’s current patients are encouraged to establish care with a new primary care provider at Atlantic Medical Center, RHC.

Atlantic, IA—Flu season is approaching soon, and Atlantic Medical Center, RHC is making it easy for patients to get their annual flu vaccine. This year, options include drive-thru appointments in Atlantic, as well as drive-up appointments in Anita, Griswold, and Massena.

Cass Health will begin administering flu shots on Monday, October 3rd and continue throughout the month. In Atlantic, drive-thru appointments are available on Monday and Friday mornings from 8 am to noon and on Wednesday afternoons from 2 to 6 pm. The annual Ayzlee’s Family Flu Clinic will be held on October 12th.

The drive-thru will be located in the curved driveway on 10th street, at the top of the staff parking lot (Lot D). Appointments can be made by calling 712-243-2850.

Drive-Up Flu Shots in Anita, Griswold, Massena

Drive-up flu shots will be available in Anita, Griswold, and Massena on the following dates.

Fall Lab Draws and Flu Shots

Cass Health is also currently offering appointments for fall lab draws, which is a low-cost option for routine blood work. Appointments are available October 18-22; patients can schedule online at casshealth.org/laboratory or by calling 712-243-2850. Flu shots can also be given at this time to patients after they complete their blood draws.

Appointments & Walk-Ins

If the drive-through options aren’t feasible, then patients are encouraged to make an appointment with the Immunization Room by calling 712-243-2850.

Patients without an appointment will be seen as promptly as possible, but may encounter longer wait times.

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