Thursday, March 31, 2016

Promise will care for all Medicaid patients after switch to MCOs

by Derrick Vander Waal

SIOUX CENTER, IOWA – All Medicaid patients will be able to see their own provider and receive care at Promise Community Health Center in Sioux Center after Friday, April 1.

That’s the date when all Medicaid patients will be switched over to one of three Managed Care Organizations (MCOs): AmeriGroup, AmeriHealth Caritas or United Healthcare. These three companies are managing the care of Iowa Medicaid patients instead of the state – with the new program called IA Health Link.
Fatima Arteaga, community care coordinator for
Promise Community Health Center of Sioux Center,
assists a patient with paperwork. Promise's outreach
team can answer questions people have as Medicaid
transitions to a managed care system in Iowa.

The good news for Promise patients: The health center has agreements with all three of the MCO companies, so no matter which one they chose or were assigned to, they will have their health-care services covered at Promise. Not every health facility has such arrangements.

“We’re committed to continuing to care for them,” said Nancy Dykstra, executive director for Promise. “We’ll answer any questions that they have and keep them connected with their primary care provider.”

Jessica Mora and Fatima Arteaga of Promise’s outreach staff can assist anyone with any questions that they have regarding the transition to the managed-care system. People either can call Promise or walk in during open hours. The outreach assistance is free.

“You don’t have to be a patient of Promise to utilize our outreach services in getting your questions answered,” Dykstra said.

The new IA Health Link managed-care program will cover people who were under a variety of programs, including Medicaid, Healthy and Well Kids in Iowa (hawk-i), and Iowa Health and Wellness Plan.

Mora helped to answer some common questions Medicaid patients have been having:

Q: Do I bring in my new insurance card?

A: Yes. Mora said patients should start bringing in their new insurance card that they received in the mail from one of the new MCO companies for their next appointment starting Friday, April 1. That’s when their health-care coverage under the new system will begin.

Q: What if I haven’t received my card yet?

A: Most people should receive their new cards by Friday, April 1, but Mora said people are being advised to wait and be patient if they have not.

If patients have not received their card and come in for care at Promise, Mora said Promise’s outreach staff will help them work through that situation. They will call on the patient’s behalf to find out which MCO they will be covered under. They will call that company to find out when the card will be coming and to get instructions about how that appointment should be handled. Mora said they will do everything they can to help people navigate the system.

Jessica Mora, community care coordinator
for Promise Community Health Center's
outreach team, answers questions. She
can assist Medicaid patients who have
questions about their new coverage from
a Managed Care Organization (MCO).

Q: Will my benefits stay the same?

A: Yes. All the basic health-care services that were covered under Iowa’s Medicaid program are required to be covered by the MCOs.

Therefore, patients should not see their benefits change if their health-care provider has an agreement with the MCO on their insurance card.

Promise has arrangements with all three MCO companies, so all Promise patients can be assured that they will continue to receive full health-care coverage.

Q: Can I change my MCO?

A: Yes. All Medicaid patients either chose or were assigned  to an MCO insurance company for their health-care coverage prior to the April 1 transition; however, they do not have to stay with that company for the long term.

Mora said many patients didn’t know which company they should choose ahead of time, but she said they can take comfort in knowing that they can try one for awhile and then make a change if it is not a good fit for them.

People have until June 16 to change their MCO for any reason. After that date, they will be allowed to change their MCO for “good cause.” Examples of good cause include the patient’s provider not being in the MCO’s provider network, not all services being available in the MCO’s network or the patient’s eligibility changing.

Mora said Promise’s outreach staff is willing to assist people through the process of making a change in their MCO.

Q: What happens to new Medicaid enrollees?

A: Mora said the process for applying for Medicaid benefits will stay the same for new enrollees and isn’t expected to change in the foreseeable future. She said the same website will be used as in the past. If they are eligible for Medicaid, people then will select an MCO to receive coverage from.

Promise Community Health Center, headquartered in Sioux Center, is the only Federally Qualified Health Center in the far northwest corner of Iowa. Promise provides medical, dental, prenatal and behavioral health services. To learn more, visit

Jessica Mora and Fatima Arteaga of Promise Community Health Center’s outreach team are available to answer any questions that people might have regarding the Medicaid shift to a managed-care system. They will help people work with the new Managed Care Organization (MCO) that they are covered by. Call Promise at 712-722-1700 or come in during Promise’s open hours to talk to them: 8 a.m.-7 a.m. Mondays and Thursday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Fridays. The outreach assistance is provided at no charge.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Hofman will use multicultural background as Promise receptionist

by Derrick Vander Waal

SIOUX CENTER, IOWA – Lydia Hofman has lived in places throughout the world, including Bolivia, Netherlands and the United States.

She knows three languages: English, Spanish and Dutch.

Plus, she has a personal interest in learning more about health and wellness.
Lydia Hofman says her multicultural background
of living in three countries during her lifetime will
serve her well in her new role as a receptionist at
Promise Community Health Center in Sioux Center.

Therefore, Lydia figured Promise Community Health Center in Sioux Center was the perfect place to put her background, skills and interests to good use. She recently assumed the position of receptionist at the health center.

“Interacting with people is something I enjoy, especially if it involves being in a multicultural environment,” she said. “My childhood years involved lots of traveling and moving around within South America, North America and Europe. Working at Promise seemed like a great opportunity to be able to use the languages I learned over the years.”

In her lifetime, Lydia has lived in Grand Rapids, MI; Cochabamba and Loma Alta, Bolivia; Vicksburg, MI; Dordrecht, Netherlands; and Sioux Center. She completed her high school education at Guido de Bres High School in Rotterdam, Netherlands, in 2014. She then earned an economics certificate at Hogeschool Rotterdam College later that year.

Prior to starting at Promise, she worked for six months as a personal assistant at Van Beek Natural Science in Orange City.

Lydia said serving as a receptionist at Promise will give her the opportunity to use her eye for detail and interact with patients.

“Every person carries their own story,” she said. “It would be rewarding for me to be able to mean something for the people in the community and/or surroundings. That is something I believe can be done with things such as simply greeting the people with a smile and helping them feel comfortable.”

She is impressed with the impact that Promise has in the community.

“Promise is very open to helping people,” Lydia said. “As an organization, they are also easily accessible for the people in the community.”

Promise Community Health Center, headquartered in Sioux Center, is the only Federally Qualified Health Center in the far northwest corner of Iowa. Promise provides medical, dental, prenatal and behavioral health services. To learn more, visit

Lydia Hofman lives in Sioux Center. She enjoys traveling, spending time with family and friends, learning about health and wellness, cooking healthy foods and being outside with her puppy.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Promise can offer low-cost, noninvasive colorectal cancer screening

by Derrick Vander Waal

SIOUX CENTER, IOWA – Colorectal cancer is one of the top three leading causes of cancer-related deaths in the United States.

But it’s also one of the most preventable and treatable cancers if detected early.

Promise Community Health Center in Sioux Center can offer patients an annual stool test that is an effective tool in detecting colorectal cancer.
Vicki Schrock

“It’s a great option to check colon health in a noninvasive way in your own home,” said Vicki Schrock, clinic manager for Promise. “It’s really easy. It’s a low-cost option.”

Colorectal screenings are recommended for all men and women when they turn 50 years old.

Schrock encourages people who would like to learn more about the colorectal test to make an appointment with one of Promise’s medical providers: Dr. Del Lassen or nurse practitioners Tana Kass and Beth Strub.

The patient takes the fecal immunochemical test (FIT) test kit home with them and uses it in their own bathroom. All the necessary materials are provided in the kit for people to take the sample and mail it in for testing.

“If there is follow-up needed, we would help arrange for follow-up care,” Schrock said.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call Promise at 712-700-1700.

To learn more about colorectal cancer, visit these resources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and American Cancer Society.

Promise Community Health Center, headquartered in Sioux Center, is the only Federally Qualified Health Center in the far northwest corner of Iowa. Promise provides medical, dental, prenatal and behavioral health services. To learn more, visit

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. The awareness effort advocates for the importance of lifesaving colorectal screenings. Promise Community Health Center participates in the Iowa Get Screened Colorectal Cancer Program that aims to increase Iowa's colorectal screening rate among people ages 50-75 from 71 to 80 percent by 2018.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Promise CHC awarded $18,994 Susan G. Komen for the Cure grant

by Derrick Vander Waal

SIOUX CENTER, IOWA – Promise Community Health Center of Sioux Center is committed to increasing breast health education and awareness and reducing the incidence of breast cancer in the region by providing access to free lifesaving screenings.

The Susan G. Komen for the Cure Siouxland Affiliate is enhancing that effort for the fifth straight year. The Siouxland Affiliate awarded Promise a $18,994 grant during an award ceremony Monday evening in Sioux City.
Derrick Vander Waal and Nancy Dykstra of Promise
Community Health Center of Sioux Center receive a
check for $18,994 from Missy Gomez on behalf of the
Siouxland G. Komen for the Cure Siouxland Affiliate
during a grant award ceremony Monday, March 21, at
Minervas Food & Cocktails in Sioux City. The grant will
support Promise's Sister to Sister/Hermana a Hermana
breast health awareness and cancer prevention project.

The grant will support Promise’s Sister to Sister/Hermana a Hermana project for the 2016-17 grant year, which begins April 1. The project includes breast health education and awareness efforts, free mammograms and follow-up diagnostic procedures for women who qualify, and rides to screenings for those who lack transportation.

“Promise is honored to receive the Susan G. Komen Siouxland Affiliate grant,” said Vicki Schrock, clinic manager for Promise. “This grant greatly impacts our patients and community members in Lyon and Sioux counties with free mammograms and breast health services. As a team of providers at Promise, we’re honored to be able to offer this option and increase access to these important screenings.”

A portion of the grant funding will be used for bilingual education and awareness efforts about breast health, cancer prevention measures and screening opportunities in the target area of Sioux and Lyon counties. Community education events and small-group sessions will be arranged for women throughout the year. Partner organizations, such as Community Health Partners of Sioux County, Sioux County Latino Health Coalition and Health Services of Lyon County, will be instrumental in bringing groups of women together and assisting in those outreach efforts.

During well-woman visits, Promise’s providers will educate every woman between the ages of 40-65 about breast health, teach them how to do self breast exams, emphasize the importance of annual mammograms and provide clinical breast exams. Trained interpreters will be used to reach Spanish-speaking patients.

Promise also will schedule free mammogram screenings for women ages 40-65 who do not have insurance coverage for that service or are underinsured. Sioux Center Health and Hegg Memorial Health Center Avera have served as locations for Promise’s participants to receive their mammograms. Free follow-up diagnostic procedures also will be provided to women who have abnormal screening results or breast cancer symptoms.

Women gather to hear about various health issues
at a Sister to Sister/Hermana a Hermana Women's
Health Event put on last year by Promise Community
Health Center of Sioux Center. A grant from the
Susan G. Komen for the Cure Siouxland Affiliate
will help boost Promise's awareness efforts for
breast health education and cancer prevention.

A new focus of the grant project this year will be on providing transportation for women to initial clinical breast exams, mammograms and follow-up diagnostic services. Komen’s Siouxland Affiliate had identified transportation as a particular barrier for Lyon County women, who have a higher incidence rate for breast cancer. Promise’s outreach team will use its experience in arranging for transportation and its network of volunteers and partner organizations to provide those rides. The grant will provide mileage reimbursement to enhance the effort of securing transportation volunteers.

The Pink Out Breast Cancer Awareness night that Promise has co-hosted with Dordt College’s volleyball team has become a signature outreach event supported through the Susan G. Komen grant. That volleyball match will be during Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October.

Promise has been awarded nearly $135,000 over five years through the grant program. In the first four years, nearly 250 women have received mammograms. If not for the grant, cost likely would have prevented many of them from being served.

“This is a great grant because it allows women to have access to breast health without the cost barrier,” Schrock said. “A lot of women do utilize this grant. They know we have it, so it helps with the continuity of care.”

Komen’s Siouxland Affiliate has granted $1.2 million over the past 10 years to organizations in a seven-county service area in Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota to combat breast cancer. This year, it awarded $46,000 to four organizations. The three other organizations were: Winnebago Public Health Nursing, $5,070; June E. Nylen Cancer Center, $10,103; and Siouxland District Health Department, $11,833.

“We would just like to continue to raise more and more funds so that when we have these grant applicants every year we can finance every dollar that they want to carry on their projects,” said Melissa Gomez, grant chairwoman, during Monday’s ceremony.

Promise Community Health Center, headquartered in Sioux Center, is the only Federally Qualified Health Center in the far northwest corner of Iowa. Promise provides medical, dental, prenatal and behavioral health services. To learn more, visit

Promise Community Health Center welcomes volunteers to provide transportation for women to breast health screenings. Reimbursement for mileage will be provided. 

“If this cause tugs at your heartstrings and you don’t know how you can help, this is a great way that you can help,” said Vicki Schrock, clinic manager. “We could use some volunteer drivers.”

For more information, contact Promise community care coordinator Jessica Mora at 712-722-1700.