Friday, April 24, 2015

WOW5 bicycle ride will feature all new routes on Saturday, June 6

by Derrick Vander Waal

SIOUX CENTER – This year's Wellness on Wheels bicycle ride will feature all new routes as it celebrates its fifth anniversary.

The event – which is put on by Promise Community Health Center of Sioux Center with the help of many business sponsors – is slated for Saturday, June 6, during Sioux Center Summer Celebration. It also includes a meal, great prizes and a complimentary event T-shirt.
Participants in last year's Wellness on Wheels bicycle
ride take a break before heading back on the road.
The fifth annual event this year will take bicyclists on
new routes, including a trek through scenic western
Sioux County and the towns of Hawarden and Ireton.

This year, the rides will start at Children’s Park in Sioux Center and will feature three distances for every riding level:

  • A nearly 60-mile route will travel through southwestern Sioux County through the communities of Hawarden and Ireton;
  • A nearly 30-mile route will travel to Ireton and back;
  • A 6-mile family fun route will travel to Sandy Hollow Recreation Area and back.

The intermediate and long routes will travel roads that are designated as Sioux County Trails routes. Nate Nykamp, an avid bicyclist and WOW committee member who spearheaded the development of this year’s routes, said riders will appreciate the scenic terrain and challenge of the longest route.
Bicyclists enjoy much camaraderie during the annual
WOW bicycle event put on by Promise Community

Health Center. This year's event is Saturday, June 6.

“The new route features some of the most beautiful and quiet roads that Sioux County has to offer,” he said. “High points include riding along the Big Sioux River and the lovely rolling hills of western Sioux County. Bring your climbing legs and be ready for a couple of screaming downhills.”

Nykamp noted that the family fun route takes riders on an “easy and safe route” down the Sioux Center recreational trail to Sandy Hollow.

“We’ll have games and activities waiting for the young riders at the halfway point,” he said. “Riders are welcome to enjoy the park as long as they want before heading back to the meal at Children’s Park.”

WOW5 will have three start times: 7 a.m. for the 60-mile ride, 8 a.m. for the 30-mile ride and 9 a.m. for the family fun ride. Check-in will start a half-hour before each ride’s start time.

The routes will include aid stations with snacks, water and other beverages for bicyclists to rejuvenate themselves at before heading back out on the road.

Bicyclists pedal down rural Sioux County
roads during last year's WOW4 event.

A meal featuring Casey’s breakfast pizza will be served to the riders when they return to Children’s Park from their morning treks. Drawings for great prizes – boys and girls youth bicycles and two bicycle computers – will be held. A T-shirt will be given to riders.

Nancy Dykstra, executive director for Promise, said WOW has been a great event for the health center to offer every year.

“The event connects the health center to the community Summer Celebration while embracing our mission – providing holistic health care to improve the wellbeing of all persons,” she said. “Bicycling provides a host of health benefits: It improves cardiovascular health, it strengthens bones, it burns calories, it improves joint mobility, it builds stamina, it  reduces stress, and it is environmentally friendly.”

She said WOW also an opportunity for people to take part in a “fun, relaxing, outdoor activity”  – whether they enjoy the shorter ride as a family outing or venture out on the longer rides into the countryside surrounding Sioux Center.

Bicyclists enjoy a meal following last year's
WOW ride. A Casey's breakfast pizza meal,
prizes and more are planned for WOW5
during Sioux Center Summer Celebration.

“All the riders enjoy a time of sharing with food, snacks and beverages at the conclusion of the ride,” Dykstra said. “This will be our fifth annual ride. We look forward to seeing returning riders who enjoy this event each year, and we welcome new riders to experience the fun of WOW.”

The cost of the 30- and 60-mile rides is $25 per rider for those who register by the early-bird deadline of Monday, May 25. The cost will increase to $30 after that date. The cost for the family fun ride will be $10 per rider through May 25 and $12 after that date.

People can register online for WOW5 at or fill out and return a paper registration form.

For more information, call 712-722-1700.

Promise Community Health Center, headquartered in Sioux Center, is the only Federally Qualified Health Center in the far northwest corner of Iowa. To learn more, visit

Bicyclists can register online for Wellness on Wheels (WOW5) at Or, they can fill out and return a paper registration form. Forms are available at Promise Community Health Center, 338 First Ave. NW, Sioux Center, and at various locations in the community. A form also can be accessed online on Promise’s homepage at or by clicking this link.

Call Promise Community Health Center at 712-722-1700 or visit Promise also will provide updates on its Facebook page.

Promise Community Health Center will put on WOW5 with the help of these generous sponsors: American State Bank, Northwest Bank, Peoples Bank, Primebank, Bike Central, Britton Chiropractic & Rehab Clinic, Brothers Bike Shop, Casey’s General Store, Dordt College, Fareway, First State Bank, Hull Pharmacy, Hy-Vee, Iowa State Bank, Isakson Chiropractic Health, Lewis Family Drug, Mane Attraction, Proactive Physical Therapy & Sports Rehab, Robin’s School of Dance & Fitness, Sioux Center Chiropractic Wellness Clinic, Sioux Center Publishing, Vander Kooi Freight and Walmart.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Ruiz to give monthly community talks on behavioral health topics

Pedro Ruiz of Promise Community
Health Center will offer monthly
community education talks about
various behavioral health topics.
The first session will discuss trauma
at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 30, at
Sioux Center Public Library.
by Derrick Vander Waal

SIOUX CENTER – Pedro Ruiz hopes to make the community more aware of behavioral health matters.

The care coordinator/interpreter for Promise Community Health Center plans to offer monthly “Bridging the Divide” community education talks in Sioux Center on various topics. They will be free and will be presented in both English and Spanish.

The first session, which will include a time for discussion, will be at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 30, at Sioux Center Public Library. He will present information about trauma and the impact that adverse childhood experiences can have on people’s overall health and well-being. He noted that studies have shown that people who have been exposed to much adversity in their lives, whether neglect, abuse or divorce, are more likely to experience illness.

“The community education talk will provide an awareness,” Ruiz said. “It will bring to light what trauma really is and how it affects you throughout your whole life.”

Ruiz said the “Bridging the Divide” sessions are part of Promise’s effort to integrate behavioral health with primary health care. Future community education topics will include depression, exercise, culture competence, anxiety and substance abuse. Guest speakers from the community also will participate with some sessions.

“We hope to cultivate understanding and well-being through education and to build bridges within our community through meeting and fellowship,” he said.

For more information, contact Ruiz at 712-722-1700 or

Promise Community Health Center, headquartered in Sioux Center, is the only Federally Qualified Health Center in the far northwest corner of Iowa. To learn more, visit

Monday, April 20, 2015

Promise CHC awarded $18,218 Susan G. Komen for the Cure grant

by Derrick Vander Waal

SIOUX CENTER – Promise Community Health Center’s efforts to increase awareness and to prevent breast cancer in northwest Iowa will be enhanced for the fourth straight year by a grant from the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Siouxland Affiliate.

Promise Community Health Center of Sioux Center
has offered various educational group sessions about
breast cancer prevention with the help of grants from
the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Siouxland Affiliate.
Promise was awarded $18,218 in the latest grant round.

The grant again will support the health center’s Sister to Sister (Hermana a Hermana) project. 

Promise Community Health Center and the
Dordt College volleyball team has co-hosted
a Pink Out Breast Cancer Awareness event,
the signature event supported through the
Susan G. Komen for the Cure grant. Dordt
coach Chad Hanson (left) has provided great
support, and Pastor Verlyn and Sue Boone
served as guest coaches at last fall's event.
“We are grateful for the continued partnership of the Siouxland Affiliate and their belief that our work in the community is worthwhile and impacting their work to end breast cancer,” said Brittany Hamm, clinic manager for Promise. “We are also grateful for the continued partnerships we have had in the community for our Sister to Sister project.”

Promise will use the grant funding toward education efforts for breast health and reduction of the risk of breast cancer in the target area of Sioux and Lyon counties through public events, radio and newspaper advertising, and small-group sessions with women in various communities. Community Health Partners of Sioux County, Sioux County Latino Health Coalition and Health Services of Lyon County have been instrumental in bringing groups of women together to learn and in assisting outreach efforts.

Free mammogram screenings will be provided to women ages 40-64 who do not have insurance coverage for that service. Sioux Center Health and Hegg Memorial Health Center Avera have served as locations for Promise’s participants to receive their mammograms.

The Pink Out Breast Cancer Awareness event that Promise has co-hosted with Dordt College’s volleyball team has become the signature event supported through the Susan G. Komen grant. This year, the event will be Oct. 7 during Dordt’s match in Sioux Center against Dakota Wesleyan University.

Promise has been awarded $116,000 over four years through the grant program.

“We look forward to being able to provide this significant project again due to the support of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Siouxland Affiliate,” Hamm said.

Promise Community Health Center, headquartered in Sioux Center, is the only Federally Qualified Health Center in the far northwest corner of Iowa. To learn more, visit

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Students apply Spanish learning in clinical setting at Promise CHC

by Derrick Vander Waal

SIOUX CENTER – Students can converse in Spanish in the classroom, but applying it in a real-world setting takes it to another level.

Five nursing students in a new Spanish medical terminology course at Dordt College in Sioux Center have had that opportunity this semester at Promise Community Health Center in Sioux Center.

Paulina Cruz laughs as she talks through an interpreter
to certified nurse midwife Belinda Lassen (left) and
 Dordt College student Rachel VanKempen (right) during
her recent appointment at Promise Community Health
Center in Sioux Center. VanKempen was taking part in a
medical interpreting clinical experience at Promise.
Seniors Alexa Altena, Rachelle Marcus, Jess Ter Haar, Rachel VanKempen and Hanna Wagenaar each spent 12 hours at Promise. That time was split into three, four-hour clinical experiences where they worked directly with trained interpreters in the outreach office, family practice medical team and prenatal team.

Wagenaar – who took four years of Spanish in high school and was able to squeeze in one other Spanish class into her packed college nursing course load before this class – said the opportunity at Promise was a valuable way to expand and apply her Spanish knowledge. During her visits, she would try to understand what the patients were saying and interpret it back mentally before the interpreter would do so.

“In class, you work on it with students, but you’re not necessarily working on it one-on-one with someone who is fluent,” she said. “So having that fluent interpreter right there to be able to ask, ‘How would you say this in this tense?’ or ‘How would you change it?’ because not everything is interpreted exactly from English to Spanish is helpful. Just even the little mannerisms of how they would change things are really helpful.”

Hanna Wagenaar was one of
five Dordt College students
to participate recently in a
medical interpreting clinical
experience at Promise.

Amy Van Beek, instructor of nursing and clinical outreach coordinator at Dordt, said she saw a need for increased Spanish exposure in the nursing program, and Spanish professor Rikki Heldt was working on options to increase Spanish exposure to nursing students. The Spanish medical terminology class was created to fill the need.

Nine students are taking the class taught by Heldt, but Van Beek arranged for and added the clinical experience for the five students who are nursing majors. The time that they are spending at Promise applies to the clinical hours that they need this semester in a community health setting.

The students made the clinical visits between Feb. 11-April 15.

VanKempen decided to take the class because it would help her reach out to a population that she didn't see much where she grew up in Grand Rapids, MI. While working at Hegg Memorial Health Center Avera in Rock Valley, patients came into the emergency room that she couldn't communicate with well, so that was intimidating.

Therefore, the experience at Promise has been beneficial for her.

I've definitely picked up vocabulary words, but what I think I've learned is you don’t have to be able to understand every single thing that they’re saying in order to help treat them or help understand what they’re trying to communicate,” VanKempen said. “It’s definitely been challenging. It’s definitely forced me to work on, A, my communication techniques, and, B, my Spanish.”

Van Beek said the clinical experience went beyond just learning and applying Spanish for the students.

“I think the biggest takeaway students received was the vast difference in populations here in Sioux County and how Promise is meeting this vital need,” she said. “While this experience reinforced and strengthened their Spanish skills, it also gave students insight into a different culture and how to accommodate and work with a population that is different than they have experienced previously.”

The students expressed similar sentiments.

“I believe it is very important to be as competent as possible to be well-rounded nurses, and this was an opportunity to expand that knowledge,” Ter Haar said. “Part of that competency is being culturally oriented and willing to learn about cultures different from our own in order to better serve the patient community.”

Altema thinks more clinical hours should be scheduled at Promise in the future.

“I often times think Promise Community gets overlooked because of the new clinic we have here in Sioux Center, but it really is a crucial aspect to our community and is very much needed here in our area,” she said. “They provide services for people all around northwest Iowa and go above and beyond to provide transportation, etc., so their patients receive the best possible care.”

Van Beek hopes to offer the opportunity again to students.

“The response from students has been overwhelmingly positive,” she said. “Students are able to apply the terminology in a clinical setting and see the benefits of communication with Spanish-speaking patients. It’s a winning situation when you are able to learn in a classroom setting and apply it directly to practice. There is no greater reward.”

Promise Community Health Center, headquartered in Sioux Center, is the only Federally Qualified Health Center in the far northwest corner of Iowa. To learn more, visit

Monday, April 13, 2015

Johnson experiences turnaround in her life with help of many

by Derrick Vander Waal

SIOUX CENTER – Kari Johnson reached her breaking point on Saturday, Oct. 25.

The 38-year-old Le Mars woman started drinking at about noon that day. After having several drinks throughout the day, Kari called a church friend who came to pick her up from the bar and had her stay overnight at her house.

“I just released everything that had been going on to her,” she said.

Kari Johnson has experienced a major turnaround
in her life. She credits the help of caring people from
various organizations, such as Promise Community Health
Center, for the roles they played in her success story.
Kari's friend and her pastor’s wife put her in touch with ATLAS of Sioux Center, and she had an appointment there on Thursday, Oct. 30. The ATLAS representative arranged for her meet with an alcohol counselor about 20 minutes later.

The counselor told her she also needed to see a medical provider, and she walked into Promise Community Health Center in Sioux Center at about noon that day and had an appointment a little over an hour later.

She saw family nurse practitioner Beth Strub.

“She was wonderful,” Kari said. “She cares. She really does. She really cares.”

Promise’s outreach office also helped to arrange for insurance coverage for her while she was there that day.

She returned to Promise a week later because she needed to have a physical before she left on Nov. 11 for alcohol treatment at New Life Treatment Center in Woodstock, MN. Despite dealing with an illness for much of her monthlong stay there, the treatment was successful in initiating change in her lifestyle, and she returned home on Dec. 12 as a new person.

She hasn’t had a drink since. She started a new job that she loves with Bethany Christian Services in Orange City on Jan. 20. The single mother of four children and one grandchild also is more attentive to her two children who still live at home.

“It’s been really overwhelming. That’s the only way that I can describe it,” Kari said. “I don’t know how I used to make it. It’s overwhelming how God has really blessed me. Yet, I've made sacrifices. I had to change my playgrounds and playmates, but I like a challenge, and that’s how I have to look at every day – as a challenge.”

Kari said she’s incredibly grateful for the role that Sioux Center organizations such as ATLAS and Promise played in her life change, along with caring friends and her church.

“Without the collective support of everyone, I wouldn't be where I am today, but different people loved on me,” she said. “They just all loved on me and encouraged me. In a time where I couldn't see – I felt like I was drowning – they were there to tell me it was going to be OK, and they were absolutely right.”

At her next appointment with Strub at Promise in May, Kari hopes to tackle her next addiction: smoking.

“Beth Strub is really adamant that I stop smoking, but if you quit too early, you can relapse, so we don’t want that to happen,” she said. “So, I guess that’s my next challenge.”

Promise Community Health Center, headquartered in Sioux Center, is the only Federally Qualified Health Center in the far northwest corner of Iowa. To learn more, visit

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Expansion and renovation project progresses at Promise CHC

by Derrick Vander Waal

A section of wall is cut out to open a doorway
into the expansion area at Promise Community
Health Center. About 3,000 square feet is being
built out in unused space on the east side of the
health center's downtown Sioux Center building.
SIOUX CENTER – Sawing, drilling, hammering.

They may sound like noises, but they are the harmony of progress.

The muffled sounds have been vibrating through the walls at Promise Community Health Center for the last several weeks as Schelling Construction of Sioux Center has progressed on Promise's major renovation and expansion project.

The project was made possible through a $250,000 federal capital improvement grant awarded in August to the health center by the Health Resources and Services Administration.

Promise is expanding into about 3,000 square feet of unused space on the east side of its downtown Sioux Center building – increasing the size of its facilities by about 60 percent. The front lobby and reception areas, along with other existing spaces in the medical and prenatal areas, also will be remodeled.

“This is a capital improvement project to enhance our services and make the community health center a patient-centered home for the folks we serve,” said Nancy Dykstra, executive director of Promise. “When we wrote that grant application, we wrote it with that in mind.”

The first phase of the project is the expansion build-out. The new area will include a community education room, offices, a staff lounge, a work pod for prenatal staff, a second prenatal exam room, and a backdoor entrance for staff.
Schelling Construction workers
create a doorway into Promise's
expansion area.
Dykstra said the education room will be a big addition because it will facilitate various staff training and community education classes. Currently, such classes have to be arranged at the Sioux Center Public Library, churches or other places in the community.

“Anytime we can do a better job of education for the people we’re serving about how they need to care for themselves, then we’re doing better care. We haven’t been able to have much patient education as part of our health-care services before, so that’s really a big part of this,” she said, noting as an example that prenatal classes in Spanish and English can be offered for the first time. “That’s so exciting to finally get that off the ground.”

She also noted that staff members are cramped in the existing spaces. She thinks more room for them will indirectly benefit patients.

“When you help your staff serve in a better environment, the patients also are served better,” Dykstra said. “If our staff are working more effectively, then our patients can be served more effectively.”

Some staff members are expected to move into the new area in May as the project will transition into the renovation phase.

The most visible remodeling changes for patients will be in the front lobby area. Four modular stations – similar to bank teller stations – will be on the right side. Patients will be able to walk up to the counter and speak directly to receptionists at eye-to-eye level for checking in and checking out. On the left side, patients will be able to sit at two modular stations to talk directly to community care coordinators about enrollment, insurance and other paperwork.
The expansion and renovation
project at Promise is expected
to be completed this summer.

“The changes in the front will make patients feel more welcomed and served in a more patient-friendly manner,” Dykstra said. “We will be able to be more private in our exchange of information.”

Other renovations include converting the break room into a second medical pod work area and remodeling offices to make room for personnel who have been providing Promise’s new behavioral health services. The current medical pod station also will be remodeled to make it more functional for the providers and their support staff.

“The service providers get nice work areas, and we will give our medical and dental director their own office – which will be nice,” Dykstra said.

She said the project is on schedule and should be completed by mid-summer.

It is the second major expansion project that Promise has undertaken since opening in 2008. The dental wing was finished in December 2010.

“We appreciate the patience of our visitors and patients during this project,” Dykstra said. “We believe the improvements we are making to Promise enhance our services and ensure that we continue to provide quality primary health care.”

Promise Community Health Center, headquartered in Sioux Center, is the only Federally Qualified Health Center in the far northwest corner of Iowa. To learn more, visit

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Northwestern College students head up Baby Bundles drive

by Derrick Vander Waal

SIOUX CENTER – Northwestern College seniors Laura Huls and Allysa (Duren) Michael realized they did not have to go far to do cross-cultural mission work.

They only had to travel 12 miles from their Orange City campus to Promise Community Health Center in Sioux Center.

Promise Community Health Center clinical assistant
Ruth Hernandez packs Baby Bundles with items that
were collected and donated through a drive led by
seniors Laura Huls and Allysa Michael for their nursing
program at Northwestern College in Orange City.

And most of the work could be done on campus.

To graduate with their bachelor of science in nursing degree, Northwestern nursing students are required to complete a cross-cultural mission project. Huls and Michael joined forces to do a Baby Bundles drive by collecting items and raising funds to fill bags that will be given to mothers of Promise babies prior to the birth of their child.

I have been around the world doing missions, and one thing that it has taught me is that there is need everywhere including close to home,” Huls said. “I really enjoyed touring Promise for a clinical requirement in our community health class and decided that my mission was going to be close to home as many people from other cultures benefit from the wonderful care Promise provides.”

After corresponding with Promise clinic manager Brittany Hamm about the project, Huls and Michael set their drive for the month of February. They hung flyers around campus and sent out a campuswide email. They set out collection baskets in four areas on campus. They hosted several meetings and shopping trips to gather donations. Huls and her sister, Sarah, and Michael and her husband, Chris, hosted a Trash for Cash project where they went to every room in the girls’ dorms to take out trash for a donation to the cause.
Laura Huls
They collected $131 in cash from the girls’ dorms, about 150 diapers, at least 45 articles of newborn clothes, five homemade baby blankets, several packages of baby wipes, several teething rings, a few baby books, and miscellaneous items such as pacifiers, bottle nipples, diaper cream, baby shampoo and bath supplies. They also had a women’s group from Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Royal donate $200 directly to the Promise’s baby bundles program.

Huls said the project was “a great success.”

“The drive was fun to initiate, especially in the girls’ dorms on campus because what college girl walks past the baby section in a store and doesn’t want to buy something,” she said. “I was even able to take a few girls shopping with me one day, and the baby section of Walmart was hopping for a solid 45 minutes. It was great to see a student response to the needs of the community they had never realized before.”

Allysa Michael
Huls thinks the community has a high need for early involvement in health care for needy families. She has been on several home visits and has seen firsthand what some families go through just to clothe their children.

Therefore, she thinks the Baby Bundles project will make an impact.

“I believe that the small number of items we were able to collect will be able to bless families with a sense of Shalom or peace for a while,” Huls said. “They will provide comfort, warmth, nurturing and a sense that someone cares for them like we do. I know that those who receive these gifts will appreciate them to the fullest and that Promise will use them to increase the excellent standards of health care that we want to provide to all regardless of ability to pay.”

Hamm said it was a pleasure to work with Huls and Michael on the project.

“They were passionate about the families we serve through our prenatal program, and that enthusiasm fueled their collection of the items and creating awareness about the families we serve,” Hamm said. “The donations they collected will bless many new babies and families and give them a great start to life.”

Promise Community Health Center, headquartered in Sioux Center, is the only Federally Qualified Health Center in the far northwest corner of Iowa. To learn more, visit

Promise Community Health Center in Sioux Center started the Baby Bundles project in the summer of 2013 based on a program in Finland.

Clinic manager Brittany Hamm said Promise staff realized that some families need help with preparing for a new baby, but the research shows that all families – no matter their income or health insurance status – can benefit from receiving a care package with necessary items for preparing for a baby.

“Promise was enthusiastic about getting a program started, so we sent a letter to area churches and organizations, asking for their help,” Hamm said. “The response and support was overwhelming, and the project took off.”

Promise staff sorts the donated items, packs the bundles and distributes them to all expectant mothers prior to the birth of their baby.

To participate in the Baby Bundles project, contact Promise at 712-722-1700.

  • Gently worn or new newborn Onesies and sleepers;
  • Newborn diapers;
  • Baby wipes;
  • Baby blankets;
  • Diaper cream;
  • Baby shampoo and lotion;
  • Picture books;
  • Teething toys;
  • Newborn hats, socks and other items.