MercyOne Oelwein Medical Center is Iowa’s largest community investor as ranked by the Lown Institute Hospitals Index. The metric measures hospital spending for charitable care, community health initiatives, and Medicaid patient services.
“We are very proud and honored by this distinction and it motivates us to continue to find ways to make an impact and promote health and well-being,” said Jill Groth, the hospital’s site administrator.
Each year, tax-exempt hospital organizations report community benefit activities to the Internal Revenue Service. Community benefits include estimated financial assistance provided at cost, Medicaid deficit, community health improvement and community benefit operations, health professional education, subsidized health services, research and cash/in-kind contributions, etc. To Oelwein, MercyOne paid $315,853 in fiscal year 2019-20.
“In addition to investing in community health, our colleagues are participating well in many volunteer roles across all regions,” Groth said.
Here are some of the ways MercyOne Oelwein Medical Center invests in the community:
Care-A-Van service makes out-of-town appointments easy
Lack of reliable and affordable transportation to get to medical appointments can lead to missed trips to important health care services, interruption of ongoing treatments, and additional stress for patients.
Studies show that providing efficient transportation options for receiving healthcare can reduce hospitalizations and nursing home stays, which benefits both the patient and the healthcare system.
MercyOne’s Care-a-Van service helps solve access issues for residents of Oelwein, providing a free shuttle to appointments at MercyOne locations in Waterloo Region and Cedar Falls.
MercyOne also recruits volunteer drivers for this free patient service. Interested drivers can apply by calling 319-283-6116.
Free Mammo Night helps Oelwein women overcome health care cost barriers
Breast cancer affects 1 in 8 women in the United States. But through annual mammograms and self-screening, women can take the necessary steps to reduce their risk.
“We know that cost can be a barrier for many women planning a mammogram,” says Kelly Flaucher, breast care supervisor at MercyOne. “We want to remove this barrier. All too often, women spend so much time caring for all the other members of their family that they forget to take care of themselves.
In October, MercyOne Iowa performed more than 50 free mammograms — including 13 at Oelwein — during its free Mammo Nights. Free Mammo Nights offers free mammograms to women ages 40 and older who have cost barriers to receiving their annual exam. A total of 27 women – nine in Oelwein – also received a free visit from a provider with their mammogram, and all women were taught to self-examine their breasts for cancer.
“It really takes a village of people to get together and come together months in advance to be able to put on these annual events,” Flaucher said.
Partnership with Northeast Iowa Food Bank serves the community
One in six people in northeast Iowa does not have enough to eat. MercyOne partners with the Food Bank of Northeastern Iowa to help feed residents in need by sponsoring a monthly mobile food pantry.
Hospital colleagues and their families donate their time to distribute food to nearly 200 households each month. MercyOne has partnered with the food bank for almost seven years to distribute food in the Oelwein area. In 2020, the hospital worked to convert the distribution process from an indoor event to a drive-in event to meet COVID-19 requirements.
MercyOne expands its services and offers weekend availability
Over the past year, the hospital has also expanded its services in the community, including adding women’s health care, tele-urology and tele-psychiatry. MercyOne Oelwein Medical Center has helped 50 high-risk COVID-19 patients receive monoclonal antibody treatment to reduce their risk of hospitalization.
Rural women are much less likely than their urban counterparts to have a visit to an OB/GYN. This can lead to serious gaps in care, including missed follow-up appointments after abnormal pap smears, undiagnosed and untreated sexually transmitted infections (STIs), or irregular prenatal and postpartum care.
Women of childbearing age living in rural America often have few options for this essential care or must travel long distances to access it. That’s why MercyOne Certified Nurse Midwives now see patients twice a month at MercyOne Oelwein Family Medicine, 129 Eighth Ave. SE, Oelwein.
Certified nurse midwives are advanced practice nurses who specialize in women’s health care, providing a wide variety of services from preventative care and obstetric care to medication management and lifestyle enhancement.
It also improves the patient experience by making care available when it’s best for the people we serve. MercyOne Oelwein Medical Center offers Breast Ultrasound and 3D Mammography weekdays with late afternoon and Saturday appointments available upon request. Additionally, MRI services are available every Saturday at MercyOne Oelwein Medical Center.
“We’ve had very positive feedback about providing MRI scans on Saturdays,” said Alli Ingels, imaging supervisor at Oelwein Medical Center. “By offering Saturday appointments, patients don’t have to miss work and students don’t have to miss school. It is very convenient for everyone.