Cass Health announced today it has been recognized as a 2023 Top 100 Critical Access Hospital. Compiled by The Chartis Center for Rural Health, this annual recognition program honors outstanding performance among the nation’s rural hospitals based on the results of the Chartis Rural Hospital Performance INDEX™. 

“This award is a highlight of our year. We set this as one of the goals that we strive to achieve because we truly want to be the very best hospital possible for our patients, staff, and community. We are honored to be named to this list yet again, and we hope to hear later this spring that we’ve also made it into the top 20 for the third year in a row,” said Cass Health CEO Brett Altman. 

“Across the nation, top 100 rural providers continue to serve as a source of inspiration for hospital leadership teams and staff working diligently every day to improve the delivery of care within their local communities,” said Michael Topchik, National Leader, the Chartis Center for Rural Health. “The list of award winners in each category is as geographically diverse as we’ve seen in some time, which is wonderful to see. We’re thrilled to be able to honor the outstanding efforts of these top performing rural hospitals.” 

Now in its 13th year, the INDEX has established itself as the industry’s most comprehensive and objective assessment of rural hospital performance. Leveraging publicly available data, the INDEX is trusted by rural hospitals, health systems with rural affiliates, hospital associations and state offices of rural health across the country to measure and monitor performance across a variety of areas impacting hospital operations and finance. 

The Cass Health Foundation is hosting their annual gala on Saturday, March 25th at the Atlantic Golf & Country Club. The gala is a fundraiser for the Cass Health Foundation’s 2023 campaign to purchase vital monitoring equipment that will be used in multiple departments.

“Investing in monitoring equipment accomplishes two important goals: first and foremost, it keeps tally on the patient’s oxygenation, heart rate, blood pressure, and more. Secondly, it gives our nursing team back time so that they can be at the bedside, providing care, answering questions, and being attentive to patients’ needs, rather than being tied to a computer inputting data,” said Cass Health Specialty Clinic Director Traci Brockman, RN.

Cass Health Foundation Treasurer Dave Chase spoke to the importance of the project saying, “This monitoring equipment benefits the patients most of all, because it gives the staff the ability to keep tabs on a patient’s vital signs as they move from one spot to another within the facility. Say a patient is transported from the Inpatient Services Unit to Radiology for a CT scan. From the Inpatient Services Unit, staff are able to see and monitor the patient’s real time vital signs while they are in Radiology. This puts more than one set of eyes on the patient’s vital signs, adding a layer of protection.”

The theme of this year’s gala is “Beach Bash.” Attendees are encouraged to wear beach gear like Hawaiian shirts, shorts, etc. The evening includes dinner, dessert auction, and entertainment.

Tickets to the event are limited and available through table sponsorships. For more information, please call Beth Spieker at 712-243-7545 or visit to view the details or pay online.

ATLANTIC, IOWA – Cass Health CEO Brett Altman was recently recognized as one of nation’s “80 Rural Hospital CEOs to Know” by Becker’s Hospital Review.

According to Becker’s, “CEOs at the helm of these important community institutions have many responsibilities to make sure their hospitals thrive. The executives featured on this list have put their heart and soul into ensuring their communities have access to the best healthcare services possible. While rural hospitals across the country have faced closure in recent years, these leaders have developed a model for not only surviving but thriving.”

Altman said he was grateful to be recognized. “This is a great honor for Cass Health,” Altman said. “While I am honored to be a part of this list, I must give full credit to the entire team at Cass Health that delivers nationally recognized, award-winning health care every day of the year. We see our staff continually rise to the occasion and go above and beyond to exceed patient expectations and our goals. The things we have achieved in the last few years were all major team initiatives. Without the amazing, hardworking team at Cass Health, as well as committed board members and dedicated volunteers, we would not be where we are today.”

ATLANTIC, IOWA – Cass Health is pleased to welcome three new providers to the team at AMC Rapid Care. Mark Habel, ARNP, Chanda Moreland, ARNP, and Linda Newsome, PA-C all recently began providing care to patients at Cass Health.

Habel is Family Nurse Practitioner who recently graduated from Chamberlain University with his Master of Science in Nursing. Previously, he worked for nearly 25 years as a Registered Nurse (RN) in a wide variety of specialties, with extensive experience in cardiac intensive care.

Moreland is also a Family Nurse Practitioner and graduate of Chamberlain University. She has worked as a nurse practitioner since 2018, and she first became an RN in 2009. She is a member of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, the Iowa Nurse Practitioner Society, Emergency Nurse Association, and the Iowa Emergency Nurse Association.

Newsome has worked as a Physician Assistant since 2004. She is a member of the Society of Emergency Medicine Physician Assistants, American Association of Physician Assistants, Iowa Physician Assistant Society, and the Nebraska Academy of Physician Assistants.

AMC Rapid Care is a walk-in clinic for minor injuries and illness. The clinic is open seven days a week and is located next to the Cass Health Emergency Department.


ATLANTIC, IOWA – Cass Health is pleased to welcome Kristin Babb, PA-C to the team of emergency providers. Babb will provide care in the Emergency Department and AMC Rapid Care. Babb has worked as a PA since 2006, with an extensive background in cardiology.

“I chose Cass Health because the leadership and organization provide a fantastic environment for advanced practice providers to continuously grow clinically,” said Babb.

Cass Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Elaine Berry said, “Kristin’s background in cardiology and in management make her a wonderful addition to our team. She is a great fit to the culture at Cass Health, and we’ve already received excellent patient feedback about her.”

Babb graduated with her Master’s of Science from A.T. Still University/Arizona School of Health Sciences, and she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology & Pre-Physician Assistant Studies from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Originally from Carroll, Babb recently moved back to western Iowa after living in Arizona.

“I moved back to Iowa after 18 years in Arizona to be closer to family and to raise my daughter in a small community. After all, home is where your mom is,” said Babb.

She is a member of the American Academy of Physician Assistants, American College of Cardiology, and the Heart Rhythm Society.

In January, the American Heart Association launched HeartCorps, a new initiative in conjunction with AmeriCorps and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cass Health was selected as a host site for HeartCorps and is pleased to welcome Killy Buliche to this new role.

Buliche is employed by the American Heart Association as a HeartCorps Service Member and works alongside Cass County Public Health to support our local Pacific Islander community in preventing and managing chronic diseases through education and interventions. Over the next year, she will work to strengthen and supplement efforts to drive health equity, including controlling blood pressure, improving nutrition security, reducing tobacco use, and promoting health and wellbeing in our local Pacific Islander community.

“I really like to help other people in our community and to make them healthy. I like to help – that’s how I am,” said Buliche. She is originally from the Micronesian island of Lekinoch and has lived in Atlantic for almost 20 years.

According to the American Heart Association, nearly half of all Americans have high blood pressure. People living in rural areas and under-resourced communities face the highest death rates due to hypertension. Heart disease is the number one killer worldwide, with strokes ranking second. The goal of HeartCorps is to help meet public health needs of local communities by providing support to communities who are underserved, as well as providing pathways to good quality public health-related careers.


Photo at left: The Atlantic Public Library invited Cass County Public Health to display information for American Heart Month. HeartCorps Service Member Killy Buliche shows off the heart health information that is presented in English, Spanish, and Chuukese.

AMC Rapid Care has officially moved back into their remodeled clinic at Cass Health. For the last several months, AMC Rapid Care has been working temporarily out of space within Atlantic Medical Center while their location was under construction to expand the number of patient exam rooms.

“AMC Rapid Care has surpassed everyone’s expectations. It’s been overwhelmingly popular with our patients and community. Now that we are through the initial growing pains, we’re excited to be back at home in our clinic and welcome several new providers,” said AMC Rapid Care Director Tabetha Smith, RN.

AMC Rapid Care is staffed by a team of nurse practitioners and physician assistants. While initially only staffed with a single provider each day, demand for care has increased dramatically over the last two years.

“Our goal going forward is to always have two providers working every day to keep up with our patient volumes. In the very beginning, we started with just two providers, and we’ve steadily recruited all along. Now we have a team of seven providers who regularly work in Rapid Care. We’re also lucky that our Family Medicine team can usually step in to assist as well,” said Smith.

AMC Rapid Care is located next to the Emergency Department by Parking Lot C. AMC Rapid Care is open Monday through Friday from 8 am to 1 pm, and 2 pm to 8 pm. They are open Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 1 pm, and 2 pm to 6 pm.

Cass Health is pleased to welcome Whitney Schafer, MSN, APRN, FNP-C to the team of providers at AMC Rapid Care. Schafer is board-certified by the American Association of Nurse Practitioners to care for patients of all ages.

“I am passionate about delivering care with an emphasis on patient education. I have 12 years of experience as an RN in various areas, and I look forward to providing patient-centered care to my rural community,” said Schafer.

AMC Rapid Care Director Tabetha Smith, RN added, “We’re extremely happy to have Whitney on our team! Her personality and demeanor are a perfect fit for the community that we serve. She is a true vision of a neighbor caring for neighbors.”

Schafer recently graduated from Clarkson College with her master’s degree. She completed her Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2014 from the University of Iowa and has been a registered nurse since 2010. Her previous nursing experience includes inpatient care, specialty care, surgery, and five years of urgent care experience.

Cass County Public Health is offering a free program called Disaster PrepWise that guides older adults through the steps of creating a disaster plan to handle any type of emergency. This program is offered at no cost to older adults in the area.

“Preparing for an emergency can seem overwhelming, and most people aren’t even sure where to begin,” said Victoria Means, Public Health Service Coordinator. “We work one-to-one with adults and couples to talk through different scenarios and potential problems, and then we’ll work together to create a personalized plan on how to navigate the emergency if it should arise.”

Developed by researchers at the University of Iowa College of Public Health, Disaster PrepWise consists of five modules and two additional sections on special topics. Participants will develop a personalized disaster management plan that they can share with their family, friends, and neighbors.

“We’ll start with a personal and household assessment, which means we’ll talk with you about what’s unique to you both in terms of risks and assets. From there, we work on developing emergency information, important documents, supply kits, and more,” said Means.

Additionally, part of the planning assistance is making sure individuals are signed up to receive Alert Iowa messages. Alert Iowa is a communication tool used to inform the public about inclement weather, public safety events, or other emergencies.

The planning sessions will take place at Cass County Public Health, 1408 East 10th St., Atlantic, Iowa, unless otherwise arranged. While the planning is typically geared towards individuals or couples, small groups can also be accommodated. Please call Victoria Means at (712) 243-7443 with questions or to schedule a disaster planning session.

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.