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Applications being accepted for health care educational grants

Education-GrantsApplications for healthcare educational grants from the Endowment for Education are now being accepted.  The grants are made available through the Lucille Petersen Endowment Fund, which was established in 1988.  The funds will be distributed to selected applicants seeking short or long-range educational assistance to pursue healthcare occupations.  A June 30th deadline has been set for applications to be submitted for the fall 2019 semester.

The funds will be distributed as grants—loans that will be forgiven if the recipient is employed within a 20-mile radius of Harlan in his or her specialized healthcare occupation following completion of courses.  If a recipient cannot fulfill the service terms under which the loan will be forgiven, the money is subject to a five percent interest rate and repayment of principal.

Application forms and more information are available by contacting Ruth  Pitkin, Myrtue Medical Center, 1213 Garfield Ave., Harlan, IA, 51537, phone 712-755-4316 or email  The grants can be for new, entry-level, or advanced training or certifications.

Create and Maintain Your Mental Wellness

Mental HealthOne in five adults in the U.S. will experience a mental illness in a given year and around one in five teenagers will experience a severe mental health disorder at some point during their lifetime, according to Psychology Today.

May is Mental Health Month and brings awareness to the importance of mental health for people of all ages and break the stigma. Myrtue Medical Center’s theme for 2019’s Mental Health Month is Thriving, meaning that health is about your overall well being.

Myrtue Medical Center suggests eating a healthy diet full of nutritious foods, getting a good amount of sleep every night, exercising enough, and hydrating well because all of these affect our overall well being. Our mind and body are one unit and we need to take care of both equally in order for our mental health to remain stable and thrive. If you are looking for behavioral health and mental health treatment center, Myrtue Medical Center are the experts in spotting mental health symptoms and coping mechanisms like suicide prevention, diagnosing anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, helping PTSD, OCD, substance abuse treatment, stress, and more.

In order to change your mental health, you have to start by changing your habits. Myrtue Medical Center encourages everyone to focus on improving a few aspects of their daily routine in order to improve their mental wellness. Some of these include:

  • Get 8 hours of sleep every night
  • Eat 2-3 healthy well-balanced meals each day
  • Drink half your body weight in ounces of water every day
  • Avoid sugar, processed foods, greasy fried foods, and saturated fats
  • Exercise at least 30-minutes a day
  • Avoid toxic thoughts, people and conversations
  • Take some time for yourself every day
  • Learn how to manage stress and avoid stressful situations
  • Practice meditations daily
  • Visit your doctor regularly for routine health screenings

Myrtue Medical Center provides high-quality, cost-effective health care services to improve the well-being of the people it serves. Small changes over time add up and will improve your well being and mental health. Call Myrtue Medical Center at 833-662-2273 to schedule an appointment or visit our website to learn more.


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!

Governor Kim Reynolds Learns More about School-based Therapy

School-based therapy got the attention of Governor Kim Reynolds and Lieutenant Governor Adam Gregg when they visited Harlan Community School earlier this year. Governor Reynolds was interested in the success of Myrtue Medical Center’s unique permanency model within the school verses mobility of care that others tend to offer across the state.

The Governor reached out to learn more about the collaboration between Myrtue’s partnership with Harlan Community Schools and the innovative approach of removing barriers for kids while integrating services.

This aligns with the Governor’s recent bill covering recommendations for establishing an Iowa children’s mental health system. The Governor signed an executive order to create an Iowa Children’s Mental Health Board. The state board will take a comprehensive look at current resources and create a strategic plan with specific recommendations to implement a better approach to help children with mental health issues.

“Harlan Community Schools are taking a practical, passionate approach to helping children struggling with mental illness,” said Gov. Reynolds. “When touring the school, I sat down with behavioral health counselors who found a way to utilize private-public partnerships to deliver innovative, integrated mental health services that is beneficial for both students and their families. I see Harlan Community Schools as an effective model to be replicated across the state.”

By providing integrated mental health treatment for children and adolescents, Myrtue Medical Center Behavioral Health is offering year-round school-based therapy within the Harlan Community School preschool, elementary, middle and high school facilities for district families. Due to the success at Harlan Community Schools, the Shelby County Catholic School recently entered into a similar agreement to provide onsite services.

School-based mental health services are outpatient services delivered in schools to overcome behavioral, emotional and social problems that interrupt success at school and at home.

“The vision and initiation of the program came from Justin Wagner and his wholehearted belief in the importance of taking care of the ‘whole’ student,” said Deb Meissner, Director of Myrtue Medical Center’s Behavioral Health Department.  “In order to fully facilitate learning, the social and emotional needs of each student should be addressed.  From that desire to get students what they needed, Myrtue Medical Center was approached to explore what could be done to meet that need.”

Benefits of the program include removing barriers at the school for better accessibility and less disruption to the school day. Additionally, families have the option for greater collaboration between the therapist and other support at the school.

“I am excited about the difference we are making in the lives of children by emphasizing the social and emotional aspects of wellness for our children,” said Katie Sandquist, Myrtue’s School-Based Therapist for 6th through 12th grade students. “Many of these children would not be getting the emotional support they need if we were not providing therapy within their school day.”

With the parent/guardian’s support, the child’s therapist can work with school staff such as school counselors, administrators and teachers to develop a plan for support that will help the student thrive in and outside of school.

“Many times, children have exhausted their own problem-solving tools and express themselves in ways, such as acting out at home, with friends, or at school,” said Liz Smith, Myrtue Medical Center’s School-Based Therapist for Pre-school through 5th grade students. “Some evidence-based methods we use include play and art therapy and TF-CBT (Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) to help children cope with difficult emotions and achieve positive health and wellness outcomes.”

Smith was hired by Myrtue in October 2018 and is a part of the National Health Service Corps that provides loan repayment for qualified candidates. Myrtue is an approved site under the Health Service Corps student loan forgiveness program.

“Myrtue CEO, Barry Jacobsen, and his Administrative Team have been supportive and fully invested in the development of the school-based therapy program and understanding of the barriers that stand in the way of accessing care,” said Meissner.  “Along with the vision to care for the whole child, the support and collaboration between our schools and Myrtue Medical Center has been the crucial link in making this a successful program.”

If you want to learn more about school-based therapy services, please call Myrtue Medical Center’s Behavioral Health at (712) 755-5056.

Myrtue Medical Center Only Iowa Hospital to be Named Top 100 Critical Access Hospital Eight Years in a Row


CriticalAccess_100_Placard_EightTimeRecipient_HIGH-RESMyrtue Medical Center TOP 100 CRITICAL ACCESS HOSPITALS in the U.S. – Myrtue was once again named one of the 100 highest-ranked Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) in the United States by The Chartis Center for Rural Health. Myrtue is the only Iowa hospital to receive this award eight years in a row. Regarded as one of the industry’s most significant designations of performance excellence, the annual Top 100 Critical Access Hospitals award is based upon the results of the Hospital Strength INDEX® from iVantage Health Analytics. Each of the 1300 Critical Access Hospitals in the United States were considered for the rankings, released earlier this week.  Myrtue is part of an elite group of only four Critical Access Hospitals nationwide who have received this award for at least eight years in a row.

“Being recognized as one of the Top 100 Critical Access Hospitals eight years in a row shows our dedication to quality care and patient satisfaction,” said Barry Jacobsen, CEO of Myrtue Medical Center. “This achievement is very rewarding and confirms our commitment to providing the best health care possible to our community. It is the combined effort of all our team members that allows us to put our patients at the center of our efforts.”

The Top 100 Critical Access Hospitals play a key role in providing a safety net to communities across America – and the INDEX measures these facilities across eight pillars of hospital strength: Inpatient Market Share, Outpatient Market Share, Cost, Charge, Quality, Outcomes, Patient Perspective, and Financial Stability. Each of the INDEX’s 50 indicators is pulled from publicly-available data sources.

The list of the Top 100 Critical Access Hospitals can be found at

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