Myrtue Medical Center Responds to Community Health Needs

woman with group in backgroundMyrtue Medical Center works with community partners and the general public to determine health care priorities through a Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) provided by Myrtue’s Public Health Department.  The most recent Public Health CHNA was completed in early 2016. Among the highest level of responses was a need for mental wellness and more willingness to seek help. This is one of several priorities identified by the community and being addressed by Myrtue Medical Center, in partnership with Shelby County Public Health.

“Myrtue’s response to the increased need is encouraging and supportive to the Behavioral Health Department,” said Deb Meissner, Director of Myrtue Medical Center’s Behavioral Health Department. “We are hiring qualified candidates and providing support, education, ongoing training and loan forgiveness to qualified health providers via the National Health Service Corps. Mental Health is becoming more understood and accepted because the human experience includes experiencing stress, grief, and at times difficulty adjusting to a life change. This normalization has lessened people’s fears of seeing a mental health provider, which in turn, has put a strain on access to mental health care,” said Meissner.

According to the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), workforce projections show demand for addiction and mental health services will outpace supply of practitioners in the next decade.

The National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program supports behavioral health therapists, registered nurses (RNs), and advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), by paying for a portion of their unpaid education debt. Myrtue is an approved site under the Health Service Corps student loan forgiveness program and currently has employees within the Myrtue system enrolled in the program.

To meet the growing demand for mental health services, the Behavioral Health Department is continuing to expand and increase its staff. Currently, Myrtue has eight Therapists and three Community Support Services staff. Two Nurse Practitioners provide counseling and medication management. A Substance Abuse Counselor manages the Drug and Alcohol Program which includes individual and family counseling, assessment, evaluation, Intensive Outpatient and Extended Outpatient therapies. Myrtue’s Behavioral Health Department contracts with 11 organizations throughout Shelby County to provide Employee Assistance Program services.

In addition, Myrtue has a Psychiatrist, Dr. Rodney Dean, who offers clinic in Harlan three times a month. Also, a child and adolescent psychiatrist, Dr. Matthew Eggers, provides telemedicine through a video conference session to children and adolescent clients four times a month.

By recognizing the consequence of trauma and the effects on mental wellness, Behavioral Health has emerged as a center of excellence in understanding, learning and training on how to provide trauma-informed care. Myrtue’s Behavioral Health is committed to practicing evidence-based, cutting-edge therapy and protocols to address the cumulative impact of trauma and mental health and substance abuse issues.

In response to priorities identified by the community, Myrtue Medical Center, Behavioral Health and Public Health Departments, have several notable Community Health Improvement Plan achievements in the past year:

  • Collaboration with the Shelby County Wellness Alliance in promoting physical activity among all ages. Six community health/resource educational events have been held in the past year throughout the community.
  • Partnering with specialty providers to bring specialized care to Myrtue, including a female OB/GYN coming in 2020.
  • Increased access to medical care through extended hours at the Harlan Rural Health Clinic, as well as extended hours at Behavioral Health.
  • The formation of the Lean Into Life Support Group for widows/widowers.
  • Collaboration with Northwestern University for Mothers and Babies Support Groups/Curriculum for pregnant women.
  • Board of Health approval of Radon and E-smoking Community Ordinances.
  • Community radon education, contributing to approximately 20% greater radon kit sales in the past year.


Additional information on the Community Health Needs Assessment is available on Myrtue’s website.

Media Advisory – Second Measles Case Confirmed in Iowa

measlesA second case of measles has been confirmed in Iowa, through testing at the State Hygienic Lab. This case is an unvaccinated Northeast Iowa resident, who is a household contact of the recently confirmed measles case (an unvaccinated Northeast Iowa resident with recent travel to Israel, where measles transmission is occurring).

This person was identified as part of the initial case investigation and was under a public health voluntary confinement order in the home to prevent further exposures. Because this second measles case has been isolated at home during the measles incubation period, there is no current threat to the general public.

“Measles is a highly contagious disease that spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes,” stated Lori Hoch, Director of Public Health. “The measles virus can remain in the air for up to two hours after an infected person leaves a room. The best way to prevent measles is to ensure that vaccinations are up-to-date for all persons in your family.”

If you have questions about measles or vaccine recommendations to prevent measles, please contact your health care provider or call Public Health at 712.755.4422.

Myrtue Medical Welcomes Senator Chuck Grassley

Grassley 3Senator Chuck Grassley made a special stop at Myrtue Medical Center during his visit to Shelby County on April 16th, 2019. As part of Senator Grassley’s tour of all 99 counties in Iowa, he held a Q & A session with Myrtue employees addressing questions on a number of topics, including Iowa flooding impact, prescription drug prices and transparency, measures to address mental health services, and the future of rural healthcare.

While discussing mental health services, Senator Grassley commented, “In the past 30 years, we made progress in talking about mental health. There is a change in attitude among society toward mental health and it is healthy to discuss.”

Also discussed in the Q & A session were questions on the reliability of levees, private health insurance affordability, recruitment of mental health practitioners to rural communities, regulation of the 340B drug discount program, and Medicaid privatization.



Senator Chuck Grassley, Senate president pro tempore, serves as the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and Vice Chairman of the Joint Committee on Taxation. Grassley also is a member of the Committee on the Judiciary, Committee on the Budget, and the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.

Find Relief from Common Foot Problems

April is National Foot Health Awareness Month!

Johnkby Dr. Hannah Johnk, Podiatrist at Myrtue Medical Center

What exactly are bunions and hammertoes?

Contrary to popular belief, it is not just a growth of extra bone. It is actually a dislocation of the joint behind the big toe. The bone behind the big toe, called the 1st metatarsal, moves and pushes the big toe toward the 2nd toe. This causes the 1st metatarsal to become prominent at the inside of the foot, creating the bump. This can make finding comfortable shoes very difficult because shoe pressure in this area causes pain. The joint dislocation can lead to arthritis, which can be painful even when walking barefoot. You can also have pain in the 1st and 2nd toes due to rubbing.

The lesser toes are all those except the big toes. If you’ve noticed that your lesser toes aren’t sitting straight, you likely have hammertoes. There are many joints, ligaments, muscles, and tendons associated with toes that make them function properly. A hammertoe results from an imbalance of these structures. There are two joints in each of the lesser toes, and one or both of them can be contracted. The entire toe can also be contracted at the joint behind the toe. These contractures cause the toe to curl, sit up higher than the other toes, and overlap neighboring toes. This can result in painful corns and calluses, as well as joint pain. Hammertoes can affect just one of your toes or all of the toes. They often go hand in hand with bunions, but not always.

What causes bunions and hammertoes?

The main cause of bunions and hammertoes is simply genetics; you were born with a predisposition to develop them. Injury and ill-fitting shoes are far less likely causes. Both issues tend to worsen slowly over time. If your bunions and/or hammertoes don’t bother you, then no specific treatment is necessary. I would recommend you exercise caution when choosing shoes as ill-fitting shoes can cause issues to develop. If your bunions and/or hammertoes do bother you, rest assured there are many treatment options to relieve pain.

What treatment options are available?

The initial treatment involves wearing properly fitting shoes. The toe box of your shoes needs to be wide and deep enough to accommodate the toes. Narrow and shallow shoes will put pressure on the toes and cause pain. Also consider the material of your shoes; leather is less forgiving than mesh or cloth and can put more pressure on the toes. Even with properly fitted shoes, you may still notice your toes rub together. There are various types of padding that can help with this, decreasing friction between toes and pressure from shoes. The pads can be foam, cotton, or silicone. You can purchase these at many pharmacies or online. I also dispense many from my clinic. You may also benefit from orthotics, which can cushion and offload the front of the foot, and if appropriate, I can dispense these from my clinic.

If these conservative measures are not successful at relieving pain, then surgery may be necessary. There are many horror stories surrounding bunion and hammertoe surgery; however, these surgeries have advanced significantly within the last decade. The procedures I perform to correct bunions and hammertoes produce consistently successful results. Sometimes crutches are necessary for about 5 weeks after surgery, but many times you can walk the day of surgery. While there is some pain during the first few weeks, it is manageable with medication.

You don’t have to live with foot pain. If you’ve had enough, make an appointment with me at Myrtue Medical Clinic. I will perform a complete evaluation and determine the best treatment course with you.

Call 833.662.2273 or 712.755.4516 to schedule an appointment today!