CEO Linn Block Attributes Staff & Community for MRHC’s Success

Linn block

Linn blockOver the past few years, our collective journey at MRHC has been nothing short of transformative. United by a shared commitment to patient safety, quality care, and team engagement, we have implemented a strategic plan that not only elevated healthcare standards but also garnered attention and respect from the broader healthcare community.

At the heart of MRHC lies its people – our exceptional staff, providers, and the communities we serve. Your unwavering dedication to our shared mission has resulted in numerous notable accomplishments in patient care, expanded service offerings, and financial resilience. This is a collective achievement, and I take immense pride in being a part of this remarkable team.

I want to express heartfelt acknowledgment for the extraordinary resilience and strength demonstrated by our community in the face of the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. These past couple of years have tested us in unexpected ways, and yet, together, we navigated uncertainties and overcame obstacles. Your commitment to safety protocols, mutual support, and unwavering trust in our healthcare team has been truly inspiring.

The way our community rallied during these trying times exemplifies the true spirit of unity and reinforces the vital role that rural healthcare plays in times of crisis. Your collective efforts not only safeguarded the health and well-being of our community members but also showcased the resilience that defines the heart of Manning Regional Healthcare Center.

Our ongoing community engagement initiatives, from local partnerships to the implementation of a new electronic health record system in collaboration with St. Anthony Regional Hospital, have further strengthened the bonds between MRHC and the communities we are privileged to serve.

The success of our capital campaign, raising nearly $1 million for the obstetrics wing’s renovation, and the recognition with the Press Ganey Guardian of Excellence Award for Employee Engagement underscore the incredible teamwork and passion that define MRHC. Your dedication has made our hospital a beacon of excellence in the face of financial challenges and changing landscapes in rural healthcare.

As I transition to the next chapter in my career, I carry with me the valuable lessons and memories from MRHC. The growth of our specialty clinics, the addition of same-day appointments, and the success of the substance abuse recovery center are all reflections of your hard work and dedication.

To our exceptional team, thank you for making MRHC not just a hospital but a family that cares for one another and for our community. To our patients, thank you for entrusting us with your healthcare needs. Your trust is our greatest honor, and we remain committed to providing you with the highest quality of care. The journey ahead for MRHC is exciting, and I am confident that, with your continued dedication, MRHC will continue to thrive and be a beacon of healthcare excellence in rural Iowa.

-Linn Block

Difficult but Necessary Conversations During the Holidays

woman putting hand on elderly man's shoulder

As the holiday season nears and families begin to spend extended periods of time together, MRHC encourages that, amidst the joyous celebrations, it’s crucial to recognize the importance of discussing a topic often overlooked: advance care directives. While these conversations might seem difficult or uncomfortable, addressing them during the holidays can bring families closer and ensure everyone’s well-being.

What are Advance Care Directives?

Advance care directives are legal documents that allow individuals to outline their healthcare preferences. They serve as guiding principles for medical decisions when a person is unable to express their desires due to illness or incapacity. An advance directive can help you think ahead about what kind of care you want to receive as well as guide your loved ones and healthcare team in making clear decisions about your health care when you can’t do it yourself.

All patients have rights that include privacy, informed consent, information about your condition, and information about advance directives. Advance directives can protect these rights if you ever become mentally or physically unable to choose or communicate your wishes due to an injury or illness. Advance directives can also limit life-prolonging measures when there is little or no chance of recovery.

“Advance directives help you protect your right to make medical choices that can affect your life,” said Julie Hodne, R.N., Education Coordinator at MRHC. “They help your family avoid the responsibility and stress of making difficult decisions on your behalf. Advance directives also help your physician by providing guidelines for your care.”

Having these in place empowers individuals to maintain control over their healthcare choices, ensuring that their preferences are honored even when they can’t voice them. Advance care directives also facilitate discussions among family members, fostering a deeper understanding of each other’s values, beliefs, and healthcare preferences. These directives come in various forms, including living wills, healthcare powers of attorney, and do-not-resuscitate (DNR) orders.

Discussing Advance Care Directives During the Holidays

The holiday season presents a unique opportunity for families to gather and connect on a deeper level. While conversations about end-of-life care may initially appear daunting, the holidays can provide a supportive environment for these discussions. Here are a few ways to initiate conversations about advance care directives during the holidays:

  1. Create a Safe Space: Choose a comfortable and quiet setting where family members can openly express their thoughts and concerns without judgment. Emphasize the importance of respecting each other’s perspectives.
  2. Share Personal Stories: Encourage family members to share personal experiences or stories related to healthcare decisions. This can help normalize the conversation and demonstrate the significance of having a plan in place.
  3. Use Resources: Utilize educational materials or seek guidance from healthcare professionals to facilitate discussions and clarify any uncertainties regarding advance care directives.To get a durable power of attorney for health care or a living will, you will need to complete a form available from the Iowa State Bar Association website. Keep a copy in a safe and secure place and provide a copy to your physician to be kept as part of your medical records. Your Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare will also need a copy. Give copies to a relative or friend who is likely to be notified in an emergency. Review your advance directives regularly and make changes when necessary. Inform you physician, family, and POA of any changes.

    Another document to be considered for any individual who is frail and elderly or who has a chronic critical medical condition, or a terminal illness is the IPOST form (IOWA PHYSICIAN ORDERS for SCOPE OF TREATMENT). The original form is strongly encouraged to be accompanied by the person it is written for. You can discuss this with your medical provider and find more information about here.

  4. Focus on the Positive: Highlight the benefits of having these directives in place, such as reducing stress for loved ones and ensuring that individual preferences are respected.

Hodne suggests that “if you need help preparing your advance directives or if you would like more information, contact your legal counsel, healthcare provider, or any hospital, hospice, home health agency, or long-term care facility.” Hodne reminds everyone that “planning is the key to protecting your rights!”

As you gather with loved ones this holiday season, take the opportunity to engage in meaningful discussions about advance care directives. These conversations, though challenging, can strengthen family bonds and empower individuals to make informed decisions about their healthcare.

MRHC Creates Important Economic and Community Impact

MRHC exterior
In all, Iowa’s hospitals provided 145,252 jobs statewide

Last year, MRHC generated just over 250 jobs that added $290,577 to Carroll County’s economy, according to the latest study by the Iowa Hospital Association. Economic impact of an organization is often measured in terms of employment, income (payroll and benefits), taxable retail sales, and sales tax collections.

“We are grateful to be able to make such an impact on our local communities,” said MRHC Chief Executive Officer, Linn Block, RN, BSN, MHA. “It takes all aspects of a community working together to be vibrant and strong.”

The study was compiled from hospital-submitted data to the American Hospital Association’s annual survey of hospitals. The study found that Iowa hospitals employed 145,252 people in 2022. As an income source, Iowa hospitals provided over $9.3 billion in wages and expenses accounted for over $21.5 billion of the state’s gross domestic product.

“Iowa’s hospitals and health systems implemented the programs and services accounted for in this study in response to their communities’ needs,” IHA President and CEO Chris Mitchell said. “Many of these programs and services wouldn’t exist without hospital support and leadership. These efforts, with IHA’s advocacy, help ensure the financial stability of hospitals, making it possible for them to provide the services and programs most-needed by the people they serve.”

Community Impact

As a non-profit, critical access hospital, the mission and purpose of MRHC is to serve those in the local community and provide a public benefit. Quality healthcare has a large community and economic impact, and it is essential for attracting other industries.

MRHC continually works to provide quality healthcare services for the community. Expanding mental health services has been a recent top priority as it consistently rates high on community health needs assessments. To meet this need, MRHC now has a counselor providing therapy services as well as telehealth mental health care for patients 12+.

To provide additional convenient healthcare options, Manning Regional now has a dedicated provider offering more same-day appointments, a new patient portal was launched to improve patient experience, and orthopedic services have been expanded to include total hip replacements. These initiatives to expand and improve healthcare services have made an important community impact, adapting to the current needs of the community.

“In addition to providing healthcare through the services we offer, we also provide widespread benefits to support our community,” Block said. “We are proud to have served at least 473 people through various community service programs in the past year.”

MRHC offers a variety of community education events, trainings, and clinics such as CPR, AED, & First Aid training classes, blood drives, monthly wellness clinics, blood pressure clinics, concussion testing at the high school, walk-in flu shot clinics, and fall prevention screenings.

They also hold and participate in educational events, such as the Bike Rodeo, babysitting courses, Suicide Prevention Walk, Live Healthy Iowa Healthiest State Walk, Senior Fun Day, Medicare seminars, giving away bike helmets, and other health-related activities at Kinderfest. Many of these efforts have a direct impact on the local economy and overall community health.

Most notably, MRHC has held several Healthcare Career Camps for local middle and high school students to have an immersive experience learning about a variety of careers in the healthcare field. This effort was recently funded by a University of Iowa grant to continue the program for more students and expand the offering to additional school districts.

MRHC has also supported foundations such as the IKM-Manning Education Foundation, West Central Iowa Healthcare Foundation, American Cancer Society, as well as community organizations such as Little Hawks Childcare Center, Manning Child Care Center, IKM-Manning Color Run, Kinderfest, Trail to Nowhere Bike Ride, Pack the Pantry, Fireman’s Golf Tourney, Main Street Manning, Manning Chamber, Manning Hausbarn Heritage Park, Manning Rotary, and Boy Scouts of America.

“We are proud to share that in the past three years, we have provided over $100,000 in community health improvement services to benefit our local communities,” shared Block.

In 2022, Manning Regional provided $92,572.41 in charity care and served more than 54 people through those efforts. Charity care is also known as uncompensated health care, which is provided for free, or at a reduced cost, to people with limited income who would otherwise be unable to pay for their treatment. Various types of financial assistance are provided to patients, and community education events and important information about health and well-being are shared through radio and print advertising, news articles, social media, and the MRHC website.

“MRHC will continue to adapt and evolve our services to meet the needs of our patients,” shared Block. “We value being a trusted community partner to improve the health and well-being of residents in west-central Iowa.”

Grassley Visits MRHC on #99 County Tour

Jackie Blackwell, Chief Quality Officer; Michelle Andersen, Chief Nursing Officer, Shelli Lorenzen, Chief HR Officer, and Linn Block, CEO, pose with Senator Grassley outside of MRHC.

Senator Grassley reiterated his pride for Iowa’s long-standing reputation of providing high-quality, cost-effective health care.U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) toured Manning Regional Healthcare Center and met with hospital administration and board leadership on Monday, August 28, as part of his annual 99 county tour. Also present on behalf of MercyOne were Bob Ritz, CEO; Mary Cownie, Chief of Staff; and Mike Trachta, Vice President of Network Affiliates.

As the Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Grassley has worked closely with critical Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and retirement policies and has potential to influence significant funding reimbursements for rural hospitals and was very familiar with the challenges faced by rural hospitals.

“Representative government is a two-way street, and it requires continued dialogue between elected officials and the people we represent,” Grassley said. “I appreciate the opportunity to hold town meetings, answer questions and take comments from Iowans. My annual 99 county meetings help me regularly keep in touch with Iowans to better represent them in Washington.”

MRHC CEO, Linn Block, MHA, BSN, RN, expressed that, “Funding continues to be a challenge for rural hospitals every year, especially as we see costs skyrocket and reimbursement rates remain the same. However, MRHC did end up breaking even this year, which is great, but it leaves us little room to invest in future priorities that will take our facility to the next level.”

Additional questions to the Senator addressed the workforce shortage and challenges with filling critical patient-care roles.  Shelli Lorenzen, Chief Human Resources Officer, shared, “MRHC has had a few positions open since before the pandemic that we are still struggling to get filled.”Manning Regional Healthcare Center senior leadership team and board leadership, along with members of MercyOne’s administration team sat down for conversations on Monday, August 28, as part of the Senator’s annual 99 county tour.

She shared that MRHC is being innovative to fill some nursing positions and is working with four Indonesian students to secure nursing degrees through the hospital’s reimbursement program. She requested to the Senator that more be done to improve immigration processes and workforce preparedness to help address the workforce shortage.

Due to rural residents’ high dependency on Medicare, rural hospitals are typically more financially vulnerable since Medicare only pays a fraction of hospital’s actual costs. “MRHC receives a much lower reimbursement than the national average making the financial viability of our small, rural hospital difficult to ensure that we can continue providing quality patient access to care,” shared Block.Recovery Center Director, Taya Vonnahme, MSN, RN, ARNP, CADC, shares how MRHC is uniquely positioned to provide support for patients facing substance abuse and addiction as well as other ailments thanks to the variety of services being provided under one roof.

Participants encouraged the Senator to look at additional ways to improve Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements to rural hospitals. Recovery Center Director, Taya Vonnahme, MSN, RN, ARNP, CADC, was on hand to share how MRHC is uniquely positioned to provide support for patients facing substance abuse and addiction as well as other ailments thanks to the relationship with MRHC and a variety of services being provided under one roof.  However, Medicare and Medicaid funding continues to be a challenge to compensate at a rate that covers the cost of services.

All were grateful to the Senator for visiting and board member Larry Hagedorn expressed his appreciation for the USDA loans that were pivotal in building the new hospital ten years ago.Linn Block, CEO, shakes hands with Senator Grassley outside of MRHC.

“We are grateful for Senator Grassley’s visit and his ongoing support of rural healthcare. We also appreciate the support and relationship with the MercyOne administration, as it takes the whole system working together effectively to address the current and long-term challenges in healthcare,” shared Block.

This is Grassley’s 43rd straight year holding meetings in every one of Iowa’s 99 counties. Grassley has held at least one meeting in every county, every year since he was first elected to serve in the U.S. Senate. He answers questions on any subject. Iowans set the agenda.

Blackwell Focused on Quality Improvement & Patient Experience

Jackie Blackwell, RN, BSN, CPHQ

Jackie Blackwell recently completed her MBA, creating an opportunity both for herself and Manning Regional Healthcare Center. As MRHC’s new Chief of Quality and Patient Advocacy, Blackwell’s role will help the organization focus even more fully on quality and quality improvements.

“Quality is one of our five key results and at the forefront of all our decisions. We want to provide the best quality care for each patient encounter,” shared Linn Block, CEO of MRHC and Blackwell’s mentor throughout her MBA process. “Jackie’s prior experience as a nurse combined with what she’s learned through her MBA program has provided her with the tools we need for this key role.”

Blackwell’s new responsibilities include laboratory, quality, utilization, and risk functions, along with clinical analytics, patient experience and advocacy, HIPAA, and privacy. She will also coordinate objectives to achieve compliance with regulatory and accrediting agencies.

She completed several quality projects during her master’s degree, one of which is already helping improve MRHC. Blackwell’s capstone project evaluated fall prevention and how staff play a vital role in preventing patient falls.

She hopes the impact of her degree will help staff develop improvement opportunities at all levels of the organization, and establish processes to prioritize projects based on MRHC’s organizational goals.

Blackwell’s desire to further her education and career comes from her devotion to serve others. “I have always had a passion for helping others, whether that be patients, co-workers, friends, or family. Pursuing my MBA helped me to learn more management techniques and how to lead staff. The MBA program has also provided me ways to offer a compassionate approach to administration as we face the future challenges in healthcare.”

Jackie’s career path up to this point began at the Manilla Manor as an Environmental Aide in 2007. She earned her CNA in 2008 and worked at the Plaza while obtaining her RN degree in 2012. She then went on to achieve her BSN in 2018 and MBA in 2023.

“Linn Block encouraged me to pursue my career goals and was my mentor throughout the MBA program. My career has always meant a lot to me, and we were raised to be hardworking children,” shared Blackwell. “I told Linn my goals and she was supportive of them and helped get me to where I am today. All of the senior team members played a part in this process, and I learned a lot from each of their management styles.”

After her recent educational experience, Jackie offers this encouragement to someone considering furthering their degree and career: “If you have a goal, go get it!”

Manning Regional Healthcare Center offers tuition reimbursement for employees wishing to advance their careers. Visit or call (712) 655-2072 for more information.

The Oppermans’ Legacy Continues

Bill and Phyllis Opperman

Bill and Phyllis OppermanIn today’s day and age, people often want to ‘experience the most’ and ‘live their best life.’ One part of living a great life is to be grateful for the opportunities and places that you value and to consider the impact you want to make and the legacy you wish to leave for the next generation.

For longtime Manning residents and family farmers, Bill and Phyllis Opperman, they had great examples throughout their lifetime of the generosity of family and friends who contributed their time, talent, and treasures for the betterment of the community.

Bill’s grandfather, George Dietz, a prominent farmer and visionary businessman, had the foresight to recognize that when the Manning General Hospital was built, it would need an elevator to be effective. He contributed financially so Manning would be one of the first rural hospitals in the state to have an elevator. This feature assisted patients for many years until the current hospital was built in 2014.

In an interview in early 2021, Bill reflected on the numerous other amenities Manning cherished thanks to generous donors and funds raised from various community events, such as the fire department, parks, trails, the Hausbarn Heritage Park, and so much more.

Bill and Phyllis lived a full life, felt blessed to live in Manning, and were very proud of everything the small community offered. They were active in community events throughout their life. As they began estate planning, they looked to identify ways they could give back to the community and make a difference for generations to come. They also wanted to make an impact while they were alive so they could see the fruits of their labor.

The Opperman family at the Manning Public LibraryMost notably was their foundational gift to kickstart the Manning Public Library relocation and expansion in 2022. Although Phyllis unfortunately did not get to experience the finished space after passing just two months prior to the library opening, Bill visited nearly every day. Not only did he read the daily papers, but he also volunteered to take care of the new community gem. Nothing made him prouder than seeing people of all ages enjoying the space.

Personalized Care Makes an Impact

Bill was intentional about considering other impacts he wanted to make before his passing. He reflected on the parts of the community that had the biggest influence on them throughout their lives. One memory that kept coming to mind was that, as they faced health challenges, they were able to continue receiving care in Manning and were “overwhelmed by how much people truly cared,” shared their daughter, Janis Opperman.

Janis, who has worked as a nurse in Omaha for many years, reflected that “the care they received at MRHC was exceptional. What mattered most to them was that all the medical staff worked together and were willing to talk to them, making sure they understood everything that was going on. When they needed anything, the staff made sure they got it. Staff always went above and beyond their expectations, and how much they cared always showed. Having caregivers that are neighbors and family of friends always meant a lot to them. They could not have gotten better care anywhere else,” Janis shared.

The Oppermans were grateful to have various healthcare services in Manning, so they didn’t have to travel far as they aged. Phyllis went through physical therapy and was thankful for MRHC’s skilled team of therapists. She appreciated that, although she had to receive treatment three times a week, in a matter of five minutes or less she could get there, and Bill could go back home instead of waiting for her in the lobby. Likewise, it wasn’t a long drive home to get back and rest.

Another example of the exceptional care the Oppermans received at MRHC was when Phyllis suffered a stroke. “Dad called 911 and they responded right away. In less than five hours from the initial phone call, surgery was completed in Omaha. Had she not been seen right away and stabilized in Manning it would have been too late to take her elsewhere,” Janis said.the Opperman family

A Legacy in the Making

“Dad was always a practical man, and he knew that life had its cycle,” said Janis. “As he reflected on the legacy he wanted to leave, he shared that he wanted to contribute financially so that community leaders could do what they needed to get done. He also wanted to do something important, something from the heart.”

Bill and his family met with Linn Block, MRHC CEO, who shared some of the opportunities that were on the horizon for the hospital. “While we didn’t determine an exact project at the time, we shared the vision for the future of the hospital and our commitment to keeping necessary services local,” said Block.” Bill was happy to hear of the progress and commitment to ensuring that hospital services would be available for generations to come.

Although the board of directors have not determined the exact project their donation will fund, Block assures, “it will contribute to something big. The Oppermans’ donation will provide support for necessary upgrades to further provide high-quality, yet local care, that patients deserve and have come to expect from MRHC.”

“We are grateful for their legacy contribution to MRHC as well as their children’s willingness to support us even though they no longer live here,” added Block. “It is generosity like theirs that keeps our rural hospital thriving despite a tough economic and political environment.”

Bill passed away on January 15, 2023, and he and his family were grateful that he could spend his final days at MRHC. He was comfortable, it was convenient for the family, and the ability to see his friends meant the world to him.

“As we all consider the legacy we want to leave in this world, we are thankful for visionaries such as Bill, Phyllis, and even Grandpa Dietz who were intentional about making a difference long into the future for the entire community,” shared Block.

MRHC will forever remember the Oppermans and are grateful for their support of MRHC and the Manning community.

Mental Health Resources at MRHC

mental health services

“Based on the outcomes of our latest Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA), mental health is one of the main concerns of our rural communities,” shared MRHC Education Coordinator, Julie Hodne, RN. “So, we are prioritizing mental health support, increasing available mental health resources, and sharing insight to better help people of all ages.”

Hollie Schechinger, a counselor at the Recovery Center at MRHC will be adding to her responsibilities in the coming weeks to serve as a full-time mental health counselor. Schechinger will begin seeing patients ages 12 and older beginning in June.

Mental health continues to affect many people regardless of their age, gender, medical history, life status, etc. and MRHC recognizes that a “one size fits all” approach to treatment does not work. MRHC strives to offer a variety of mental health services for different ages and needs.

According to the CDC, one in five people, including children, will experience a mental illness at some point in their life. With that in mind, it is important to be aware of common mental health warning signs.

Common Warning Signs in Children
  • Ongoing behavior problems at school, home, or daycare
  • Constant movement or hyperactivity
  • Frequent and unexplainable temper tantrums, outbursts, or explosive emotional reactions
  • Unusual fears/worries, thoughts, beliefs, feelings, or behaviors
  • Having a hard time getting involved with age appropriate activities
  • Difficulty concentrating, paying attention, or being organized for their age level
  • Lack of interest in friends and avoiding or isolating from friends and family
  • Negative moods for long periods of time
  • Obsession on certain thoughts, activities, or actions
  • Lack of energy even when well rested
  • Difficulty with sleeping
  • Frequent physical complaints with no obvious cause
  • Sad or hopeless feeling with no reason
  • Self-harm or talk of self-injury or suicide
  • Persistent nightmares or visual or audio hallucinations
  • Eating problems (too little or too much)
  • Violence towards others, animals, or property
  • Refusing to go to school and ongoing decline in school performance
  • Risky or dangerous behaviors like sexually acting out, recklessness, or running away

“Depending on the severity of their behaviors, we recommend that parents call to schedule a mental health evaluation with a mental health provider,” said Schechinger, LMSW. “If a child is making comments of self-harm or suicide, take them to the nearest emergency room.”

If you notice some of these warning signs, the CDC recommends several strategies for helping children cope with mental health issues. Talk to them about and validate their feelings of stress or sadness, reassure their safety, let them know it is okay to feel upset, be a good role model, spend time together, and provide professional support if needed. It is also important to limit their social media exposure, provide fun and relaxing activities, and maintain regular routines.

While symptoms can be similar to children’s, warning signs in adults often involve:

  • Decrease in enjoyment from and isolating from friends and family
  • Significant decrease in school or work performance or resisting to attend
  • Memory, attention, and concentration problems
  • Large changes in energy levels, eating, and sleeping patterns
  • Physical symptoms (headaches, stomachaches, backaches)
  • Feeling hopeless, sad, anxious, or crying often
  • Frequent aggression, disobedience, or lashing out verbally
  • Neglect of personal hygiene
  • Substance abuse
  • Dangerous or illegal thrill-seeking behavior
  • Being overly suspicious of others
  • Visual or auditory hallucinations

“Some effective ways to help cope with depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders include going for a walk, reading a book, calling a friend, taking a nap, playing with animals, exercising, spending time with family or friends, taking a shower, watching a favorite movie or TV show, eating a snack, and going out to eat with friends or family,” Schechinger recommended.

Schechinger goes on to advise that if these strategies are not helping, it’s important to see a mental health provider for an evaluation and to follow their recommendations for treatment.

“MRHC provides outpatient mental health support through a therapist, medication management, and substance abuse addiction services through the Recovery Center if needed,” Schechinger shared.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health

Mental illness and addiction can often go together. Individuals with mental health disorders are statistically proven to be at high risk for addiction and those struggling with addiction have a high risk for mental health disorders, especially depression and anxiety.

“Rarely do we treat someone who has an addiction that does not have at least one mental health diagnosis as well,” said Recovery Center Director, Taya Vonnahme, MSN, RN, ARNP, CADC. “These two iare very different diagnoses and have different treatments but are still associated with each other in various ways.”

Mental issues are sometimes signs of substance abuse as well. Psychological warning signs of drug abuse that can be seen as mental health issues are things such as changes in personality or attitude; sudden mood swings, irritability, or angry outbursts; and appearing fearful, anxious, or paranoid for no reason.

“Here at the Recovery Center, we have mental health therapists who come once a week to meet with clients. In addition to that, when I see clients, I help them address many of these issues from a medical standpoint,” Vonnahme said. “This is an area we are working to expand in the near future.”

Mental Health in Aging Individuals

Elderly individuals can also suffer from the effects of mental illness. Things such as more physical complaints, frequent ER visits, sleeping problems, low energy, cognitive issues, weight loss or gain, and isolation from family and friends can all result from an individual dealing with a mental health issue.

“Oftentimes, people attribute these changes as part of the aging process, but that’s not always necessarily the cause,” said Senior Life Solutions Program Director, Janet Brus, RN.

If you notice these things in a loved one, it is important to be aware of other red flags that may point to a mental health issue.

  • Change in physical status – not eating, losing, or gaining weight, or eating junk food
  • Increased irritability when normally very pleasant and easy going
  • Previously independent with daily tasks and now relies on someone to get groceries, pay bills, shower, etc.
  • Misplacing things
  • Talking about feeling lonely and isolated
  • An increase or start in using alcohol or other substances
  • Poor medication compliance

For elderly individuals over the age of 65 who are struggling with depression or anxiety, the Senior Life Solutions program at MRHC offers group counseling sessions that have seen great success.

“People often find a common ground with each other as they have all been through some of the same life experiences and enjoy the support from each other,” shared Brus. “It also makes them get up, leave their home, and gives them a purpose. We all need a purpose – something to get up and do and look forward to each day. Without purpose, one would just stay in bed and no longer participate in life.”

Family members, physicians, or other health professionals can refer individuals to the Senior Life Solutions program. For those interested in learning more or signing up, call 712-655-8262.

If you need additional mental health information, education, or would like to discuss support, please schedule an appointment with your primary care physician by calling (712) 655-8100 to discuss treatment options. For those 65 and older, call Senior Life Solutions at (712) 655-8262. Or call the Manning Recovery Center at (712) 655-2300.

MRHC Inspires Ertz to Become a Nurse

Mya Ertz

Mya Ertz“I always knew that I wanted to help people,” shared Mya Ertz, RN at MRHC. “I found that nursing had many different avenues to care for others, so my junior year of high school I met with Jill Arp about the tuition assistance program through MRHC and I was sold. My passion to help others, in addition to the tuition assistance and flexibility in roles at MRHC, encouraged me to pursue nursing.”

The tuition assistance program at MRHC has helped many employees like Ertz advance in their nursing careers by paying for their tuition and books. Once an employee passes their boards, they return to work at MRHC and “work off” their tuition assistance. For every hour of work, $1.00 of the tuition assistance is “paid back.” The employee never actually pays MRHC. They simply go to work, use their education to properly care for patients, and then, over time, their tuition is paid back.

“The tuition assistance program is an amazing opportunity for people to gain experience in the field and complete school without the financial burden of student debt,” said Ertz. “I worked at MRHC as a CNA and LPN through school and gained valuable experience as I completed my RN.”

Ertz has now completed her schooling and has established a rewarding career at MRHC that she enjoys.

“I like working at MRHC for many reasons,” said Ertz. “Not only is MRHC close to home, but it also employs many of my close friends. The atmosphere is amazing, even in passing people say hi with a smile. The hospital is my home away from home.”

As Ertz looks toward the future of her career, she is excited to continue to learn and grow and is grateful for all the opportunities she will have at MRHC.

“I want to gain experience in a diversity of roles to determine how I can best care for patients and my family,” Ertz shared. “Another reason MRHC is a great place to work, I can help in different departments and roles!”

Because of Ertz’s passion for healthcare and eagerness to grow in her career, she has become a valuable asset to MRHC.

“Mya is a very determined individual and takes pride in all her work. If she sets her mind to something she accomplishes it,” said MRHC Clinic Director, Shelby Dickson, RN. “She is a great team player and always provides the best care possible to our patients. She goes above and beyond for her team and our patients. Mya has a positive attitude, a strong work ethic, and has been a great addition to our team.”

For anyone who may be considering a career in healthcare, specifically in nursing, Ertz shares this advice.

“Nursing is a field with vastly different roles. The options are endless, and opportunities are bountiful.”To join the MRHC team or learn more about the tuition assistance program, visit or call (712) 655-2072 for more information on current job openings.

MRHC Hosts Healthcare Career Camp for Exira-EHK Students

healthcare career camp

MRHC hosted 24 students and five faculty from Exira-EHK Schools for a Healthcare Career Camp on Thursday, March 30th to introduce students to healthcare careers, tour the facility, and participate in simulations and hands-on activities.

Like many rural hospitals, MRHC and local ambulance crews continue to see a shortage in medical staff and EMT volunteers. Both ambulance staffing and provider shortages were listed as top five unmet needs in the 2022 Community Health Needs Assessment.

“Recruitment to the healthcare field continues to be a challenge, so we want to spark an interest in students starting with middle school and high school-age students,” shared MRHC Chief Nursing Officer, Michelle Andersen, RN, BSN.

During the Healthcare Career Camp, students stopped at six stations throughout the hospital to learn more about different roles of healthcare, the variety of healthcare fields, and useful skills to utilize after leaving. Over lunch, the Recovery Center, HIM & finance staff provided information regarding different jobs and services in those areas. The other stations included:

students learn how to stabilize a person on a stretcherCarroll County Ambulance

MRHC staff set up a scenario in which an ambulance was called to the scene of a grain bin fall or ATV rollover. EMTs shared first aid measures that would be conducted at the scene of the accident: how to apply pressure to wounds (stop the bleed), support for the limbs, and how to limit exposure. Responders talked about their role and how they would assist with transfer to a medical facility. The groups toured an ambulance and learned about the ambulance crew’s duties.

students get hands-on experience in the ER

Emergency Room

In this station, a doctor, nurse, pharmacist, and respiratory therapist followed a Trauma Nursing Process (TNP) with a manikin. Students learned a variety of things that would happen in emergency situations including IV or IO access, medication from the pyxis, confidentiality and HIPPA and regulations, intubation, CPR/LUCAS device, and more.

students learn about the labLaboratory and Radiology

Students toured both departments and were able to draw blood through an IV manikin and viewed samples under the microscope in the lab. In the radiology department they took x-rays of a bone while wearing lead aprons and learned about CT scan and MRI capabilities.


This station featured the job responsibilities performed by a surgeon, anesthesiologist, and surgery techs. Students had hands-on experiences working in a sterile environment, donning/doffing surgical garb, suturing a skin, and dissecting a heart.

students learn about the surgery department

Family Practice Clinic, Specialty Clinic, and Infection Control

In this session, students learned about the follow-up process with providers after an injury. Students were able to see the teamwork and integration that happens between multiple departments within the hospital. The tour started in the Family Practice Clinic where students learned about proper hand washing techniques, practiced giving a flu shot on oranges, and listened to a patient’s breathing.

Clinic staff shared information about medication management and each of their roles, as well as the career paths taken to get to those positions. The students also toured the Specialty Clinic where they were able to cut a cast and remove staples.

Therapy Department and First Aid

During this rotation, students took a tour of the therapy department where many follow-up services, provided by physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy, occur. Students then filled a first aid kit and learned how each item should be used. The groups discussed their perspectives of the camp and had a chance to ask any follow-up questions regarding the schooling necessary for healthcare careers they were interested in.

When asked what their favorite part of the camp was, students shared, “I liked surgery because I learned a lot and was able to have conversations with the ladies in there. I also liked the lab – it was cool.” “My day was amazing, and I really had fun in every situation. The best was the ambulance where you would help the person in the ambulance.” “I liked all the hands-on activities.” “My favorite part was seeing all the different jobs in the healthcare field.” “I liked taking out stitches and talking about different specialties.

When asked if they would recommend this experience to other classmates, students shared that they definitely would. “This was an awesome experience – very educational.” “This was eye opening and a good experience to know what you want to do. The knowledge and experience were key.” “This was very informative about the different areas of healthcare and helpful to understand health professions. I learned a lot and had fun.” “If you are interested in healthcare, it’s for you. It was very informative and the hands-on was extremely fun.

Exira-EHK 6-12 School Guidance Counselor, Sara Mayes, echoed the students’ responses about the effectiveness of the event by saying, “The trip to the Manning hospital was a great experience! The students really enjoyed all the stations and the experiences offered. I wish every student could participate in a hands-on experience like this!!”

“It takes an organized team to run this busy day, but it is SO worth it to see the students’ eyes widen with the endless opportunities that are presented to them! We continue to add more hands-on activities and look forward to offering this camp to more students in the future,” shared MRHC Education Coordinator, Julie Hodne, RN.

MRHC will host IKM-Manning students on Thursday, April 27th for the next Healthcare Career Camp. Those interested in participating can contact their school guidance counselors and schools interested in partnering to offer this experience should contact Michelle Andersen at (712) 655-8220.

MRHC Patient Billing Process Update

Patient bills example

Beginning the week of April 3rd, MRHC will begin to send the first patient statements out of our new electronic record system, Meditech, meaning that patients may receive two statements, one from Healthland balances and one from Meditech. patient bills example

“While this is an exciting milestone for billing, there are some things we want patients to be aware of,” shared MRHC CEO, Linn Block, RN, BSN, MHA.

Since many patients still have balances in the system used before Meditech was released, these will be sent on a separate statement than any Meditech activity after 2/1/23. This is why some patients will get two statements, one out of each system.

In Meditech, each person over 18 years old receives their own statement (vs. designating a single guarantor if you have a family plan). This means many families will receive multiple statements in a given month vs. one per household.

Additionally, while MRHC would like to maintain one link for the patient payment portal, two different portals are required because of the move to Meditech. The link for each payment portal will be available on the Pay Your Bill page on MRHC’s website so patients will still have easy access to pay their bills online.

If you have questions regarding your statements or bills, call (712) 655-2072.