Sen. Ernst tours CIH’s new outpatient clinic

Source: Times-Republican

US Sen. Joni Ernst finished her 99-county tour in grand fashion in Marshalltown Saturday.

Fittingly, it was at one of the area's premiere attractions, Central Iowa Healthcare's new Outpatient Clinic.

The local stop fulfilled the Republican's promise of visiting all Iowa counties at least once in 2015.

There to be part of it, and importantly, host her on a short tour of the $35 million dollar state-of-the art facility which opened in mid-August, were John Hughes, CEO, Dierdre Gruendler, foundation executive director, Dawnette Willis, business development director. Debra Borton, marketing director, and Dr. Milt VanGundy, wound clinic director, among others.

"The clinic is fantastic," said Ernst, a Red Oak native. "It is gratifying to see the progress we are making in rural areas. It is good for me to be on the ground, and see what is happening in Iowa communities."

Ernst said she was especially impressed with the clinic's two hyperbaric chambers used in the wound clinic.

Hyperbaric oxygen chamber therapy is used in extreme cases to heal wounds which have resisted traditional healing methods.

A patient's blood absorbs the oxygen in the airtight chamber and carries it to the wound.

Patients are typically prescribed 90-minute treatments daily for 30 to 90 days.

It is ideal for diabetics, who suffer from open wounds on the feet, which can lead to amputation.

The equipment puts the outpatient center on par with hospitals in Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, and Waterloo.

Additionally, it allows patients to receive treatment locally instead of driving to those communities.

Ernst said she was also impressed with features in the Women's Health Center, where a modern mammography department area provides absolute privacy and the latest in ultrasound equipment and treatments.

"I think women would feel very comfortable in the center," Ernst said.

Hughes told Ernst the outpatient clinic was specifically designed for expansion, and during Phase II of the project, all departments which currently operate at the downtown facility will be moved out to the outpatient clinic area.

No date has been established for that move.

Following the tour was a legislative discussion with Ernst, staff, and a large contingent of board and foundation directors from throughout Central Iowa, as CIH operates clinics in Conrad, Tama-Toledo, and State Center.

Also participating were Marshalltown Mayor Jim Lowrance and Lynn Oldberding, Chamber of Commerce executive director.

Topics included pending US Senate and House of Representative bills which, among others, would allow CIH to earn more in Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement.

Of key concern to CIH and leaders is finding funding for CIH's behavioral health demonstration project, which would have a positive impact locally, regionally and state-wide.

"The handling of behavioral health patients at the state-wide level is putting extreme pressure on healthcare systems, on healthcare organizations, on behavioral health patients, their families and communities," according to a legislative issue summary prepared by CIH.

Recently, Ernst and Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, led eight co-sponsors in introducing the bipartisan Veterans E-Health & Telemedicine Support Act of 2015, legislation to improve health care access for disabled or rural veterans by expanding telehealth services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

As defined by the Department of Health and Human Services telehealth is, the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration. Technologies include video-conferencing, the internet, store-and-forward imaging, streaming media, and terrestrial and wireless communications.

The bill allows VA health professionals to practice telemedicine across state lines if they are qualified and practice within the scope of their authorized federal duties.

Ensures the VA and Congress provide oversight of the telehealth program by requiring the VA to measure program effectiveness.

The VETS Act is widely endorsed by the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Paralyzed Veterans of America, the American Legion, Concerned Veterans for America, and the American Telemedicine Association.

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