Monday, November 27, 2017

Promise's outreach staff can help people navigate Medicaid changes

SIOUX CENTER – Are you confused about the flurry of changes going on with Iowa’s privately managed Medicaid program?  
Are you concerned about how you will be affected because you no longer will be covered by AmeriHealth Caritas of Iowa and have been switched to UnitedHealthcare? Do you wonder if you will be affected as an Amerigroup Iowa member?
Fatima Arteaga and the rest of the outreach staff at
Promise Community Health Center in Sioux Center
can help answer questions that people have
regarding changes going with their insurance
in Iowa's privately managed Medicaid program.
The outreach staff at Promise Community Health Center in Sioux Center can help you navigate this confusing and complex situation. They can answer questions and help you understand the changes – whether you have been covered by AmeriHealth, Amerigroup or UnitedHealthcare.

The advice and assistance that they provide is free.
“I would encourage people to come to Promise and talk to our outreach department about any concerns they are having with the Medicaid changes,” said Jessica Mora, office manager and outreach coordinator for Promise.
Since April 1, 2016, three private insurance companies have been managing the care of Iowa’s Medicaid patients instead of the state – with the new program called IA Health Link. Since then, all Medicaid patients either were assigned to or chose one of these companies – which are referred to as Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) – for their health insurance coverage.
This system recently unraveled, however, when AmeriHealth announced on Oct. 31 that it planned to withdraw on Dec. 1. That decision affected 213,000 Iowans, including many Promise patients. The Iowa Department of Human Services decided to automatically transfer these Medicaid patients to UnitedHealthcare, unless patients chose the option to switch to Amerigroup instead.

However, the privately managed Medicaid system was further shook up when the DHS announced last week that Amerigroup no longer would accept any new enrollees. This affected both the former AmeriHealth members who had already switched this month to Amerigroup or any new Medicaid enrollees in the future – leaving UnitedHealthcare as the only managed-care choice for those Medicaid members. Amerigroup will continue to serve the members it was covering prior to Nov. 1, so their Medicaid insurance will not be affected for now.

Promise has had agreements in place with all three managed-care companies, so all Medicaid patients will continue to have insurance coverage for services provided at the health center – whether they are members of UnitedHealthcare or Amerigroup. However, patients who are referred to specialists or other health-care facilities in the region may be affected if UnitedHealthcare does not have agreements with those providers.

“The concern for payment coverage when patients need care from specialists concerns us,” said Nancy Dykstra, executive director of Promise. “Our patients and our communities are located near South Dakota, Minnesota and Nebraska, and we have experienced scenarios where specialists in outlying areas do not have agreements with Iowa’s Medicaid managed-care companies. Changes like this to Iowa’s Medicaid system have a significant impact on many of our most vulnerable citizens.”
Promise’s outreach staff will help the patients who have been switched to Unitedhealthcare better understand their insurance coverage and where they can go for covered services. In other words, they can help patients find providers that are “in network” with Unitedhealthcare.
The state has indicated that it will begin to work on securing new managed-care companies so that choice can be offered again to Medicaid patients, but that is expected to take months.

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 read more Promise news, visit

Anyone who has questions about the Medicaid system changes can stop in to talk to Promise Community Health Center’s outreach staff.
Promise’s hours are:
 Monday: 8 a.m.-7 p.m.
 Tuesday: 8 a.m.-6 p.m.
Wednesday: 8 a.m.-6 p.m.
Thursday: 8 a.m.-7 p.m.
 Friday: 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Or, call Promise at 712-722-1700 and ask for Jessica Mora, Fatima Arteaga or Stephanie Aguilar.
Outreach assistance at Promise is provided at no charge.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Mayra Ortiz assumes role of receptionist at Promise CHC

SIOUX CENTER – Mayra Ortiz wants everyone to feel welcome as they walk into Promise Community Health Center in Sioux Center.
Mayra Ortiz is a new receptionist at Promise
Community Health Center. She wants to
make people feel welcome when they
come in for an appointment.

She also wants to bring a passion for helping people in need.

Mayra, who is bilingual in English and Spanish, recently assumed the role of receptionist at Promise.

“I like the vision that Promise stands behind – that together we deliver the promise of a healthier tomorrow,” Mayra said. “Even more so, I like the fact that you will not be turned down for quality health care due to lack of insurance or financial situation.”

Mayra, who grew up in Sioux Center and graduated from Sioux Center High School in 2011, brings a variety of customer service experience to the the position. She worked as a cashier during high school at Las Palmas Mexican Grocery in Sioux Center. She served as a customer service teller at Northwest Bank in Sioux Center, 2015-16. After attending classes for a year at Northwest Iowa College in Sheldon, she started working as a customer service representative at Staples Promotional Products in Orange City in March.

She thought her background would make her a good fit for the receptionist position at Promise.

“Being the first person to help the patients when they walk in and making them feel welcome has always been important to me,” 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. To read more Promise news, visit

Mayra Ortiz lives in Sioux Center and has two children, Madison, 5, and Mateo, 1. In her spare time, she enjoys staying at home and watching movies with her kids and spending time with her family.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Promise CHC selects Vander Plaats as its next executive director

SIOUX CENTER – Promise Community Health Center of Sioux Center announces the hiring of Nathan Vander Plaats as its next executive director.

His selection culminates an extensive four-month search process to replace Promise’s founding executive director, Nancy Dykstra. She plans to retire at the end of the year after serving as the guiding hand of the health center since it opened in July 2008.

Nathan Vander Plaats has been selected
as the next executive director for Promise
Community Health Center. He will assume
the role on Monday, Dec. 11. Nancy Dykstra,
the founding executive director for Promise,
plans to retire at the end of the year.

Vander Plaats, who currently serves as the director of retail for Goodwill of the Great Plains based in Sioux City, will assume the leadership role on Monday, Dec. 11. Dykstra will assist Vander Plaats as Promise makes the leadership transition.

Vander Plaats said one word sums up why he was interested in leading Promise into its next chapter: “People.”

“Thousands of people from all walks of life rely on Promise every year for their health needs, and Promise’s amazing staff is responsible for meeting those health needs,” he said. “When I first interviewed with Promise for this position, I was struck by the authentic care with which they approached their work for those who come to Promise. The board and employees’ passionate care for others is what really attracted me to Promise.”

Vander Plaats and his wife, Shawna, also look forward to returning to their hometown. She spent her entire youth in Sioux Center, and his family moved to Sioux Center when he was in middle school. He graduated from Unity Christian High School in Orange City in 1999 and earned a bachelor’s degree in political science at Dordt College in Sioux Center in 2003.

Vander Plaats has steadily progressed in leadership roles throughout his career.

He served as a caseworker for former U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin in his state offices in Sioux City and later Davenport for six years, 2003-09. He then was promoted to the position of regional director for the senator’s Sioux City office, where he oversaw all operations for the western third of Iowa for three years, 2009-12.

Shortly after earning his master’s degree in public administration from Iowa State University of Ames in 2012, Vander Plaats accepted the position of director of mission services for Iowa and Nebraska for Goodwill of the Great Plains. In that role, he oversaw the development and operation of various mission-focused programs. In January 2017, he was promoted to the position of director of retail for Goodwill of the Great Plains, leading 350 retail team members, including 21 store managers and five sales territory managers.

He now anticipates his new career challenge.

“I’m really looking forward to working with the board and employees at Promise to take the organization to the next level in its second decade,” Vander Plaats said. “Nancy and her team have done such great work over the last nine years that it’s hard to know how much further Promise can go, but we know that as the needs of the communities we serve change, there are more people to serve in more ways.”

Dykstra is pleased Promise will be in capable hands in the future as it turns the page to new leadership.

“We feel confident that Nathan is a good fit for the mission, work and staff of Promise,” she said. “We feel Nathan is a visionary leader whose commitment to the community, organizational culture and lifelong learning will propel Promise forward to a continued bright and thriving future.

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 read more Promise news, visit

Nathan Vander Plaats and his wife, Shawna, have an 8-year-old son, Keegan. In his spare time, he enjoys hunting, fishing, golfing and cooking, especially wild game.

Promise Community Health Center's founding executive director Nancy Dykstra plans to retire at the end of the year. To learn more about her contributions to Promise since it opened in 2008, read this feature story on her at:

Friday, November 10, 2017

Promise CHC to offer third Flu Vaccine Clinic on Wednesday, Nov. 29

SIOUX CENTER – Promise Community Health Center’s first two Flu Vaccine Clinics were so popular this fall that it has decided to offer a third.
Dordt College nursing student Courtney Groen gives
Freddy Richmond a flu vaccine shot during Promise
Community Health Center's Flu Vaccine Clinic on
Sept. 27. Promise will host another Flu Vaccine
Clinic 3-6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 29. The flu shots
are free for children and $25 for adults. No
appointments necessary. Just walk in.

The flu vaccines will be offered 3-6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 29, at Promise, located at 338 1st Ave. NW, Sioux Center, across from the Sioux Center city hall. No appointments are necessary. People can walk in at any time during the flu clinic.

Promise provided 38 flu vaccine shots on Sept. 27 and 83 on Nov. 1 for a total of 121 – a rate of one shot every three minutes.

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.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, influenza is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and even death in rare cases. The annual flu season can begin as early as October and last as late as May. Since 2010, the CDC has estimated that, nationwide, hospitalizations caused by influenza have ranged annually from 140,000 to 710,000 and flu-related deaths from 12,000 to 56,000.

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. The flu vaccine cannot cause influenza.

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

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, prenatal, dental, vision and behavioral health services. To learn more, visit