Building Healthier Communities Throughout Iowa

career camp

*Adapted from article by Richard C. Lewis with the University of Iowa.

It was a grisly scene. A 24-year-old male riding without a helmet had crashed his bicycle into a parked car. The man lay unconscious on the pavement, his right leg splayed at an unnatural angle. And his rescue hinged on a group of untrained adolescents. students in the ambulance station of the health care career camp

Although they were participating in a simulation, the students took their responsibilities seriously. Each sprang into action to attend the wounded individual—a life-sized mannequin—guided by professional EMT personnel. Tatum, an eighth grader who goes to school in Manning,  gently took the head and held it steady while a fellow eighth grade student, Audrey, cut the pants from the man’s wounded leg and applied a vacuum sling to immobilize the limb. They and three others then lifted the patient in unison onto a stretcher and securely loaded him into the ambulance.

The rescue scene was one of several scenarios staged at the Health Care Career Camp this fall in Manning, where middle and high school students from school districts in Manning and Coon Rapids learned about potential careers in the medical and health care fields. The students rotated among several stations, learning what happens on the front lines of the 17-bed critical-access hospital, which serves patients in Carroll and three surrounding counties in west-central Iowa. It was the fourth time MRHC had hosted the camp.

ER station at healthcare career camp
At the emergency room station, the students intubated a mannequin, their eyes wide as they watched on an overhead screen their progress in guiding a breathing tube into a trachea. At the laboratory stop, they practiced drawing blood; at the surgical and anesthesia center, they took turns stitching a wound and using a bone saw; in radiology, they looked awestruck at X-rays of children with broken arm and leg bones and a little boy who had swallowed a quarter; at the physical therapy unit, they learned balance techniques and how to use electric stimulation to help patients regain muscle function, among other activities. student learning to saw through cast

“What makes a difference is the dedication of the people who work here; they show the next generation all the great employment choices that exist here,” says Michelle Andersen, chief nursing officer at MRHC who conceived the idea for the career camp.

The whirlwind tour made an impression on Audrey, who attends school at IKM-Manning, and says she wasn’t sure what to expect—other than getting out of school for the day.

“It has changed the way I thought health care would be,” she says, adding the tour presented a far different picture of a hospital setting than television shows like Grey’s Anatomy. “It’s not always that people are stressed out. There are personal connections with patients, personal connections with your co-workers. It’s more of a people-based job.”

Summer, a sophomore at Coon Rapids High School, was in the same group as Audrey. She says she’s been interested in health and medicine since she was a child when she regularly accompanied her grandfather to the hospital for his cancer treatment appointments.

“I just like the idea of helping people and trying to make people feel better,” Summer says.

The tour not only solidified Summer’s interest in health care and medicine, it seemed to crystallize her desire to become a nurse anesthetist—and, hopefully, to work at a smaller hospital, such as MRHC.

“I would like to keep it close to home,” she says, “because I’m planning on having a family. I grew up around here, and I’d like my kids to also grow up around here.”

The Health Care Career Camp, organized by staff at MRHC, was funded in part by the Business Leadership Network, an initiative from the University of Iowa College of Public Health to promote and empower health and wellness in communities throughout Iowa.

Since launching in 2011, the BLN has coordinated 44 health and wellness efforts in 38 small to mid-sized communities in Iowa. With funding from the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation for the past eight years, the BLN teams up with local businesses and civic and nonprofit agencies. The focus varies, depending on each community’s need. The BLN has spearheaded community public health initiatives that address a broad range of needs with particular emphasis on issues of concern in rural areas, including aging, agricultural health and safety, cyberbullying, immunizations, nutrition and physical activity, substance use, and mental health, among many others.

The goal, explains Edith Parker, dean of the College of Public Health, is to match the college’s resources and expertise with each community’s identified priority. “In public health, it’s critical to listen to local voices and engage communities in health solutions,” Parker says. “When we meet communities where they are and bring resources to support local priorities, there’s a much better chance of improving health outcomes.”

*Click here to read the full article.

MRHC Contributes to Community Beyond Healthcare

MRHC exterior

As a non-profit, critical access hospital, the mission and purpose of Manning Regional Healthcare Center (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. Hospitals are generally among the largest employers. They offer highly educated, well-paying jobs and physicians are essential to maintaining operations.

“In addition to providing healthcare through the services we offer, we also provide widespread benefits to support our community,” said Chief Executive Officer, Linn Block, RN, BSN, MHA.

Community Impact

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, and walk-in flu shot clinics. 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, and Medicare Enrollment. Many of these efforts have a direct impact on the local economy and overall community health.

Most notably, MRHC held a Healthcare Career Camp for IKM-Manning middle and high school students to have an immersive experience learning about a variety of careers available within healthcare. 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.

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

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.

Last year, Manning Regional provided $98,873 in charity care and served more than 50 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 is provided to patients, and community education events and important information about health and well-being are shared through radio ads, news articles, social media, and the MRHC website.

Economic Impact

Economic impact of an organization is often measured in terms of employment, income (payroll and benefits), taxable retail sales and sales tax collections. According to the Iowa Hospital Association, during the most recent reporting period (2022), Manning Regional Healthcare Center provided 160 jobs representing more than $7 million in direct payroll income and an indirect $11.4 million impact on the local economy. The health sector and the employees in the health sector purchase many goods and services from local businesses which are referred to as secondary (or indirect) impacts to the economy.

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

MRHC Healthcare Career Camp to Expand

healthcare career camp

Like many rural areas, Manning Regional Healthcare Center (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. At the same time, community leaders recognize that it is much easier to attract people to work here who are from the area rather than trying to draw people completely unfamiliar with the area.

With that in mind, MRHC piloted a Healthcare Career Camp in partnership with IKM-Manning Community Schools to provide a hands-on, immersive experience to showcase careers in a hospital setting. This full day began with an ambulance station and students rotated through the emergency room, laboratory, surgery, therapy, clinic, recovery center, and other departments.

“We wanted to spark an interest among middle and high school-age students,” shared MRHC Chief Nursing Officer, Michelle Andersen, RN, BSN. “We collaborated with the IKM-Manning guidance counselors to form a mutually beneficial partnership. MRHC purchased mannequins and supplies to make it as hands-on and immersive as possible.”

The feedback from the 24 participants was positive, and other local schools started reaching out to participate. MRHC explored financial partnerships to expand the program and were recently awarded a Community Grant from the University of Iowa College of Public Health and its Business Leadership Network (BLN) in the amount of $3,000.

This grant is meant “to foster collaboration in Iowa’s smaller communities by addressing areas of identified community health or public health need. The intent is also to begin or strengthen partnerships with business and industry and to link with University of Iowa College of Public Health

experts and resources in community and public health issues,” as stated in the program’s Request for Proposals.

MRHC and IKM-Manning plan to offer an additional camp yet this school year and three other camps to school districts within a 30-mile radius within the next 12 months. The financial assistance of the BLN Grant will help cover the cost of supplies, additional training mannequins, and trainers.

Those interested in learning more about participating in a Healthcare Career Camp can contact their school guidance counselors and schools interested in partnering to offer this experience should contact Michelle Andersen at (712) 655-8220.