A few years ago I remember when Drakesville held a Country and Western Musical Festival. People came from far and wide to attend. I have friends who brought their camper and commute to Ottumwa for work. Some came from other states. We went several times that week. Well, the town fathers decided they didn’t want that “riff-raff” in their town. The festival moved to the Bloomfield Fair Grounds. We went several times, but it wasn’t the same. So I say Drakesville, why not try again? It brought a lot of money to your town.
All too often we read of patient maltreatment in Iowa’s nursing home facilities. Such articles may give us too negative a view of these facilities, leading us to overlook some of the positives about their services. My recent extended stay at the Ottumwa Good Samaritan Society facility has provided me with an insight into one aspect of their services that is truly heartwarming.
As the consequence of a serious injury after a fall and following several days’ hospitalization, I was placed in the rehabilitation section of Good Sam. Together with approximately 30 other elderly patients I was provided skilled nursing services for about three weeks, and thereafter received restorative therapy. The provider therapists, occupational and physical, were well-qualified, having to hold master’s degrees in their respective fields.
Many of us had lost strength or the use of limbs from various causes. The goal of rehab was to restore us to the condition we previously had and/or permit us to function as independently as possible. At the hands of the skilled therapists I witnessed minor miracles: limbs restored from virtually non-functional to full or partial usefulness, patients previously bed or wheelchair-bound walking again with the aid of a walker or cane. The fine therapy provided enabled numerous patients to attain the goal of going home.
Patients’ needs were attended to by highly competent RNs, LPNs and CNAs. A number of these dedicated personnel had graduated from or been trained at Indian Hills. Some sought to improve their credentials. An honor student at the Ottumwa Job Corps who earned his CNA from the Hills aspires to RN status. A young woman seeks to become a paramedic. Others nurture hopes of becoming therapists.
Whatever their status, all staff reflected a desire and willingness to improve our health and well-being. Kindness and encouragement to patients was the prevailing standard. Ottumwans and area residents are indeed fortunate to have such quality rehabilitation facilities as those of the Good Samaritan Society.
Passing the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BRCA) in its current form would be a mistake.
BRCA goes beyond its stated purpose of “repealing and replacing” the ACA by calling for deep cuts to Medicaid and eliminating Medicaid expansion, which covers more than 620,000 Iowans — children, pregnant women, persons with disabilities, the elderly and low-income adults. Nationwide, the bill would represent a major step backward, leading to a loss of coverage for 22 million Americans by 2026.
The bill would harm low-income patients and underserved communities receiving care at community health centers (CHCs). CHCs see all patients regardless of their ability to pay or whether patients have private insurance, Medicaid, Medicare or are uninsured. Medicaid is critical to CHCs, covering over 45 percent of our patients. CHCs are cost-effective providers, serving 13.6 percent of all Medicaid beneficiaries, but representing only 1.21 percent of Iowa’s total Medicaid expenditures. Medicaid expansion’s impact on Iowa CHCs has resulted in a 65 percent increase in the number of Medicaid patients and a 22 percent reduction in the number of uninsured patients. CHCs provide more innovative services, including the ability to invest in and expand cost-effective behavioral health services. Every day we see the difference that having coverage makes for our patients — for their health, for their financial security, and for their peace of mind.
We call on the Senate to vote no on BRCA or, if the bill moves forward, to include amendments to protect our ability to care for vulnerable Iowans.
Iowa Community Health Centers
Richard Johnson, CEO
River Hills Community Health Center