Friday, September 30, 2016

Sheldon family thrilled with dental service received at Promise

SIOUX CENTER – Pedro and Maria Rodas were happy that they made the 25-mile trip from Sheldon to Sioux Center for dental cleanings for two of their three sons this week.

Dr. Kenneth Tjeerdsma and dental assistant Leonardo
Gabriel Marquez give 6-year-old Brian a dental cleaning,
while his parents, Pedro and Maria Rodas, and his
9-year-old brother, Alex, look on at Promise
Community Health Center in Sioux Center.
They couldn’t have been more pleased with the service that Alex, 9, and Brian, 6, received during their appointments at Promise Community Health Center.

They were referred to Promise by another dental office because Promise is one of the few dental offices in the region that accepts new Medicaid patients, but they found their experience at Promise to be better than expected.

“I was very pleased. I was very happy with the service that we received,” Maria said through a Spanish-speaking interpreter. “I felt as a Hispanic that we were treated very well, the way that we deserve. We’ve gone to other places and haven’t received the same attention.”

She said everyone expects to get attention from their health providers. As a Hispanic family, they expect the same. They don’t want to be treated any differently.
Pedro and Maria Rodas of Sheldon were
pleased with the service that their sons,
Brian, 6, and Alex, 9, received during
their dental appointments at Promise
Community Health Center.

“I’m very grateful for the attention,” she said. “That’s all that I would like is that the staff treats you well and that my children are very comfortable and to feel like you are at home – that you are being treated well.”

Maria said everything was “perfect” since she first called on the phone to make an appointment, but she was particularly pleased when they arrived and were served in their own language, Spanish, by dental assistant Leonardo Gabriel Marquez.

“Leo was very polite. He treated my sons very kindly,” she said. “It’s very important that we can speak in our own language.”

She also was satisfied with the service of Dr. Kenneth Tjeerdsma, the dentist at Promise, even though he doesn’t speak Spanish.

“What won my heart over: He treated my children very well,” she said. “I can assume when they treat my children well, they will treat me well. Also, I’m very appreciative of the way that he was polite. It was in his gestures and his face. He was very kind, and that is all I can ask for.”

She said her family will return to Promise again for dental service.

“I will recommend it every time we’re asked,” she said.

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

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Megan Birdsong offers mental health counseling at Promise CHC

SIOUX CENTER – Megan Birdsong likes helping people realize their own strengths and potential and then using that to help them make positive changes in their lives.

That’s what she finds rewarding about serving as an outpatient mental health therapist.

Megan Birdsong, a licensed master social worker for
Seasons Center for Behavioral Health, has begun
providing counseling services to patients onsite at
Promise Community Health Center in Sioux Center.
Birdsong, who is licensed master social worker for Spencer-based Seasons Center for Behavioral Health, recently began seeing patients weekly as a therapist at Promise Community Health Center in Sioux Center. Promise, which integrates behavioral health with primary health care, has a contract with Seasons Center to provide the service 1-5 p.m. Mondays.

She interned last year with the Maggie Greving, the previous Seasons therapist who served at Promise. When Greving was no longer able to provide therapy services at Promise, she asked Birdsong if she would like to take her place.

“I was really excited to be able to do so,” Birdsong said.

Birdsong, a 2009 graduate from Unity Christian High School in Orange City, earned her bachelor’s degree in social work from Dordt College in Sioux Center in 2013. She then received her master’s degree in social work from the University of Nebraska Omaha in 2015.

Before beginning her service for Seasons in February, she worked for Hope Haven for five years, 2011-16.

Here are some of her reflections about serving as a behavioral health therapist and her new role at Promise.

Q: What interests you about this opportunity to provide behavioral health services at Promise?
A: I am really looking forward to being able to see and help a new set of clients, especially other cultures that I do not always get to work with otherwise. Promise has really great resources for being able to reach all different types of people, and I think that is really exciting.

Q: What is behavioral health care in your own words?
A: Behavioral health is our mental and emotional health as people. It is the struggles that we have in those areas that can affect our behaviors as well as our physical health.

Q: How did you originally become interested in becoming a behavioral health therapist?
A: Throughout my undergraduate social work program, we started to learn about behavioral health, and I really actually did not think that it was something that I would be good at. It seemed very overwhelming and challenging, and while both of these are true, during my graduate program I starting getting more exposure and experience in behavioral health and then completed my internship in behavioral health and came to learn that it was something I really enjoyed, and despite the challenges, it is really rewarding.

Q: Why are behavioral health care services so important and why should they be integrated with primary care?
A: I think behavioral health is so important because our physical and mental health are so interconnected that both need to be treated to really have effective change and continued good health.
Q: What do you hope you can bring to Promise in this role?
A: I hope that I can really help make that integration with primary care a reality. Promise is great that their primary physicians and now mental health therapists are all in the same place making that integration much easier. I also hope to just help each individual that comes to my office achieve a more happy and meaningful life.

Q: What are your impressions of Promise as an organization?
A: I really appreciate Promise as an organization. They do so much to reach people within our community that might otherwise fall through the cracks. They have a wealth of knowledge and resources.

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

Megan Birdsong and her husband, Jordan, live in Sioux Center and have a daughter, Jaila. In her spare time, Megan enjoys reading, spending time with her family and serving as a church youth leader with her husband.

Promise Community Health Center also has a contract with Creative Living Center of Rock Valley to provide behavioral health therapy services. Rebecca Mangold, a provisionally licensed mental health counselor for Creative Living Center, sees patients 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesdays at Promise. Pedro Ruiz serves as Promise’s full-time behavioral health coordinator and interpreter.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Promise CHC awarded $45,361 grant for health IT enhancements

SIOUX CENTER – Promise Community Health Center in Sioux Center has been awarded a $45,361 grant for health information technology enhancements.

The grant was awarded through the Delivery System Health Information Investment program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Karen Sanchez, optometry/medical assistant for
Promise Community Health Center in Sioux Center,
enters information into the computer. Promise has
been awarded a $45,361 federal grant for health
information technology enhancements.

The funds will be used toward the purchase of equipment and supplies to upgrade an aging server and technology infrastructure to support the expansion of integrated services and the transition to value-based care. The project also involves the purchase of equipment and software for the implementation of telehealth services.

“This grant helps us keep pace with the delivery of health care in an integrated and fast-paced environment,” said Nancy Dykstra, executive director of Promise. “Health care continues to move forward and requires state-of-the-art delivery systems. This is a way for us to ensure that we have the equipment and capacity necessary.”

More than $87 million was awarded through the grant program to 1,310 health centers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and the Pacific Basin. Iowa’s 14 community health centers were awarded $838,044.
Registered nurse Kari Ney uses her
laptop computer in the prenatal
wing at Promise Community Health
Center. Promise has been awarded
a $45,361 grant to enhance health
information technology systems.

The grant program’s purpose is to provide one-time support for health information technology enhancements that accelerate health centers’ transition to value-based models of care, improve efforts to share and use information to support better health decisions for patients, and increase engagement in delivery system transformation. It was the first significant investment directly awarded to health centers to support the purchase of health information technology since 2009.

“Health centers across the country are instrumental in providing high-quality, comprehensive primary care to millions of people,” said HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell. “This investment will help unlock health-care data and put it to work, improving health outcomes and building a better health-care system for the American people.”

Dykstra said the grant will give Promise the technological capacity to continue to be competitive and on the frontline of delivering care. She noted that health care is making a significant paradigm shift from volume-based care to value-based care, which requires health-care facilities to demonstrate that what they’re doing and how they’re doing it is quality care for the patient.

“You can have high-quality practitioners, but if you don’t have this kind of infrastructure in place, you can’t do it anymore,” she said. “You have to have the technology in your systems or your practitioners are without the tools they need and we’re without the infrastructure we need to deliver that kind of integrated and high-level care. That’s really what the grant is intended to do.”

The grant also will give Promise and other community health centers across Iowa the ability to implement telehealth services to connect patients directly with specialists through University of Iowa Health Care. That will allow Promise to be able to care for patients who otherwise might have been referred elsewhere to specialists.

“What these specialties might be still is being looked at,” Dykstra said.

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

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Karina Gonzalez assumes receptionist position at Promise CHC

SIOUX CENTER – Karina Gonzalez did not know what her future held for her when she visited Promise Community Health Center for the first time.

Karina Gonzalez recently started serving as a receptionist
at Promise Community Health Center in Sioux Center. As
one of the first faces that patients see, she wants to help
make sure they have a good visit to the health center.
“I walked in and felt very welcomed,” she said. “I had come in to make an appointment – not knowing that I was going to ask for an application. I saw that everything was clean and so organized. Everyone dressed nice and seemed that they had good communication. In a medical-related environment, it is very important that there is good communication.”

That first visit ended with an application in her hand and, ultimately, led to a job at Promise.

Karina, who is bilingual in English and Spanish, recently assumed the position of receptionist at the health center.

“I was interested in working for Promise since many people have spoken very well of the Promise clinic. They spoke things like, ‘Everyone is so nice and friendly,’” she said, noting that it has turned out to be “way better” than she expected. “Everyone dressed so nice and professional. I knew that I would fit in perfectly.”

Karina grew up up in Los Angeles. Her family moved in 2009 to Sioux City, where she graduated from North High School in 2012. She attended Northeast Community College in the South Sioux City Extended Campus for a couple of years, but she was undecided on her field of study. She might eventually to go back to college.

Karina and her husband, Rodrigo Gonzalez, moved to Sioux Center in May 2015. She then worked for Sioux Center Health for over a year as a collection specialist, interpreter and admissions representative.

She’s now happy to be serving patients as a receptionist at Promise.

“What interests me about my position is to meet new faces and help them out with their visit here at Promise,” she said. “Since we are the first faces patients see, we are responsible for making the visit a good one. I enjoy working in the medical field.”

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

Karina Gonzalez and her husband, Rodrigo, who is the pastor of Iglesia Pentecostes Jesucristo el Buen Pastor in Sioux Center, are excited to be expecting their first baby in 2017. Karina likes spending time with her husband and going to church. She enjoys photography, art and music and hopes to learn the piano someday.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Promise serves record 184 students at Back-to-School Block Party

SIOUX CENTER – Promise Community Health Center shattered its record for the number of children who were provided health screenings during its seventh annual Back-to-School Block Party on Wednesday, Aug. 17.

People stream into the front door and pack the front
 lobby of Promise Community Health Center as a
record 184 student received health screenings
during the Back-to-School Block Party on Aug. 17.

The total of 184 easily topped the 126 children served in 2015 and 104 in 2014.

Along with the children who received screenings, many more people enjoyed the block party meal and activities outside of the health center in downtown Sioux Center.

The event celebrated National Health Center Week.

“We’re thrilled that so many families found this to be a valuable service again this year to get their children adequately prepared for school,” said Derrick Vander Waal, public relations and development coordinator for Promise. “Not only did students get required screening for school, but everyone had a great time at the block party.”

The 184 students received at least one of the four health services offered – with many of them receiving multiple services.

Sioux Center Public Library was one of
several community organizations that
provided interactive and educational
activities during the Back-to-School
Block Party at Promise CHC on Aug. 17.

As a breakdown, 110 students – or 17 more than last year – received low-cost physicals. Eighty youth – double of last year’s total of 40 – were given free immunizations. No official numbers were available for the free dental and vision screenings, but an estimated 75 children were served with each of those services. The vision screenings were provided for the first time.

The children, their families and many others from the community also enjoyed block party activities in the parking area and alley behind the health center during the four-hour event. Promise CHC and several Sioux Center area organizations – Sioux Center Public Library, Mid-Sioux Opportunity, Seasons Center for Behavioral Health and Compass Pointe – offered interactive and educational games. KSOU Radio served a free hot dog meal. Cinema 5 Theatres provided free popcorn.

In addition, Sioux Center Health did car-seat safety checks – making adjustments to ensure the seats were safely secured in vehicles and replacing car seats no longer in good condition with new ones. Sioux Center School District personnel helped Spanish-speaking parents with school registrations. Dordt College volleyball players and Sioux Center High School students volunteered their time to help with the block party and the screenings.
A free hot dog meal was provided by KSOU
Radio for the Back-to-School Block Party
at Promise Community Health Center.

Promise gave away more than 150 drawstring bags filled with school and hygiene supplies to students, thanks in large part to a $500 grant from the Walmart Foundation. Delta Dental of Iowa donated toothbrushes, toothpaste and floss for the bags.

Area political leaders visited and toured Promise during the block party: Iowa Sen. Randy Feenstra (R-Hull), Iowa Rep. John Kooiker (R-Boyden) and Skyler Wheeler of Orange City, Republican nominee for the Iowa House of Representatives. Jerry Self, regional director from the Sioux City office of U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), also took the time to visit.

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

To get a better feel for what the event was like, check out the many photos on multiple posts on Promise Community Health Center’s Facebook page at

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Lynch hopes to make children feel comfortable with dental chair

SIOUX CENTER – Gabbie Lynch loved going to the dentist as a kid. Yes, it’s true.
Gabbie Lynch's interest in the dental
field began during appointments to
the dentist as a child. She now serves
as a dental assistant at Promise
Community Health Center.

She had a great dentist with great assistants whom she looked up to. And that got her interested in going into the dental field.

Now, as a new dental assistant at Promise Community Health Center in Sioux Center, Gabbie can offer that same level of care to the patients who come into Promise Community Health Center in Sioux Center.

“I previously worked at a pediatric office, and I love working with children,” she said. “Seeing them smile and feel more comfortable in a ‘scary place’ is rewarding enough.”

Gabbie grew up in Sloan, IA, and graduated from Westwood High School in 2015. She earned her dental assistant diploma from Western Iowa Tech Community College in Sioux City in May 2016 and is nitrous certified. She worked at Dunes Dental 4 Kids in Dakota Dunes, SD, for her second session of clinicals earlier this year and during the summer before assuming her position at Promise in August.

“Being a community health center, I felt that Promise had a lot to offer not only for us as employees but the community as well,” she said. “I hope to help more with the children that come in and make them feel comfortable and welcomed. I also hope to be a helping team member.”

Gabbie has been impressed by Promise so far.

“They really care about their patients and the work they do, and they’re all so friendly and welcoming,” she said.

Promise Community Health Center of Sioux Center is the only Federally Qualified Health Center serving the far northwest corner of Iowa. Promise provides medical, prenatal, dental, vision and behavioral health care as its core services. To learn more, visit and watch this video.


Gabbie Lynch lives in Sioux Center. In her free time, she enjoys relaxing by watching “The Walking Dead,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Orange is the New Black” on Netflix; going to new movies; and hanging out with family and friends.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Promise CHC to offer two Flu Vaccine Clinics: Sept. 21 and Oct. 19

SIOUX CENTER – Promise Community Health Center will offer two Flu Vaccine Clinics this fall.

They will be held at Promise – located at 338 1st Ave. NW, Sioux Center, across from the Sioux Center city hall – on the following dates:
  • 3-6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 21;
  • 3-6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 19.
Lester Molina prepares to get his flu shot during
last year's Flu Vaccine Clinic at Promise Community
Health Center in Sioux Center. This year, Promise
will offer the flu shots 3-6 p.m. Sept. 21 and Oct. 19.

The influenza vaccine shots are free for youth 18 years old and under and $25 for anyone over 18 years old. Promise also accepts insurance to cover the cost of the flu vaccines.

No appointments are necessary. People can walk in at any time during the flu clinics.

Any child between the ages of 6-35 months will need to get two half doses that are at least 28 days apart. Therefore, parents of those children are encouraged to attend both flu clinic dates so both doses can be given to their child. Otherwise, a special appointment will need to be made for the second dose.

This year, the nasal mist will not be offered due to the Centers of Disease Control’s recommendation on the effectiveness of the vaccination method. The CDC does strongly recommend the flu vaccine shot, however.

According to the CDC, influenza is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and even death. The annual flu season can begin as early as October and last as late as May. During the past 31 flu seasons, the CDC has estimated that influenza deaths annually have ranged from as low as 3,000 to as high as 49,000.

The annual vaccine protects against the influenza virus strains that research has indicated will be the most common during the upcoming flu season, according to the CDC. People are protected against those infection strains after antibodies are developed in the body about two weeks following the vaccination.

To learn more about the flu vaccine, visit the CDC key facts page at

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