Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Sung-Ju Kim’s interest in a medical career leads him to dental field

SIOUX CENTER – Sung-Ju Kim always has had an interest in how the human body works and wanted to go into a career in the medical field.

Sung-Ju Kim has assumed his new position as a
dental assistant at Promise Community Health
Center. He loves to help people and has always
had an interest in working in a medical field.
He just didn’t know which field.

Therefore, when the opportunity to serve as a dental assistant at Promise Community Health Center in Sioux Center presented itself, he said it was “an easy decision” for him to go that direction.

“The reason why I was excited to serve at Promise as a dental assistant is because I love to help people,” Sung-Ju said. “I wanted to work in a place that understands the values of helping the community – with the drive to help all persons to the best of our ability.”

Sung-Ju grew up much of his childhood in Minneapolis and graduated from Sheldon High School in 2013. He then went on to Iowa State University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in biology in 2017.

With his new role at Promise, he’s now working within his field of study.

“I hope that I can become a dental assistant that can hold his own in stressful situations,” he said. “I hope I can be self-sufficient and able to help those around me to the best of my ability.”

Sung-Ju has been impressed by the health center.

“Promise is an an awesome organization,” he said. “It is full of kind people that are willing to help you no matter what.”

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

Sung-Ju Kim lives in Sheldon. He loves to play the guitar and drums and to make music. He has been interested in cars since he was young and tries to find time to work on his car projects even with his busy schedule.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Jodi Utech brings billing experience to her role at Promise CHC

SIOUX CENTER – Jodi Utech brings many years of billing experience to Promise Community Health Center in Sioux Center.

She also hopes to bring her positive attitude.

Jodi Utech brings experience in similar roles
her position of billing specialist at Promise
Community Health Center in Sioux Center.

Jodi has assumed her role as the billing specialist at Promise.

“I have heard a lot of really good things about Promise. I love what Promise does for the community and how involved they are,” she said. “I worked for a similar organization and absolutely loved it there.”

Jodi grew up in Sioux City and graduated from West High School. She worked for six and a half years, May 2007-December 2013, as a certified pharmacy technician for Thrifty White Drug in Denison. She then served four years until December as a billing specialist and administrative assistant for Crawford County Home Health, Hospice and Public Health in Denison.

Her family then moved to northwest Iowa when her husband became the chief of police in Hawarden.

Jodi now is happy to be at Promise, where she will have a similar role as to what she had before. She will process and post daily patient encounters and related information, process insurance payments and claims, and review billing procedures and recommend any changes, among many other duties.

“Everyone at Promise has been so welcoming,” she said. “I can really tell they all truly care about their patients and the best interest of Promise Community Health Center.”

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

Jodi Utech and her husband, Corey, live in Hawarden. They have two sons, Kelan, 11, and Eastyn, 6. She enjoys keeping busy with the various sports that her boys are in. Her family’s favorite time of the year is summer when they go boating and to the pool as often as they can.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Vander Plaats reflects on Promise’s impact, his leadership role

by Derrick Vander Waal

SIOUX CENTER – Nathan Vander Plaats has settled into his role as the executive director for Promise Community Health Center in Sioux Center over the last three months.
After gaining additional perspective, he reflects on Promise and his role in leading the organization into its second decade.
Here are his thoughts:
Nathan Vander Plaats reflects on his first
three months as the executive director of
Promise Community Health Center.
Q. As you reflect on your first few months as Promise CHC’s executive director, what have they been like for you?
A. Overall, it has been a great experience! I’ve got a great team in place here, and everyone is so enthusiastic about their work. Of course, any time you’re the new guy there are plenty of things to learn, and this is no exception to that rule. A fair amount of my energy has been spent learning more about Community Health Center operations and about our patient population, as well as learning more about our employees and their families. This learning process never ends, but I’m really looking forward to also being able to work on building what our organizational culture will look like for the next several years.
Q. What has stood out to you about Promise as an organization?
A. I think it’s in great shape as an organization. Financially and operationally, Promise is in a great position in terms of planning and having the technical capacity to carry out whatever may lie ahead. That is amazing – an organization the size and age of Promise typically would not be at this stage, which really speaks to the progress Nancy and her team have made over the last 10 years. That level of health really allows us to focus strategically on how we can continue to meet community health needs over the course of the next 5-10 years.
Q. Has your perspective about Promise changed any from your initial impressions? Is so, how?
A. If anything, my initial impressions have become stronger! I absolutely love the people I get to work with every day. We have great providers, awesome nurses, dental hygienists, dental and medical assistants, receptionists and outreach workers, and they are a joy to work with. They all want Promise to perform to the highest levels, but they also know how to have fun!
Q. With an enriched perspective about Promise, what do you hope you can bring to the health center as it prepares to enter its second decade of operation?
A. Even at 10 years, Promise is still young and we have a lot of growth ahead of us. A lot of that growth – at least operationally – will be spelled out in strategic planning, but on the whole what I want to bring is a transition to a new level in our organizational life cycle. For me, that revolves around two things: culture and impact. Continuing to build a strong culture that focuses on employee strengths, allows employees a level of autonomy in their work, and makes Promise a great place to work is one of my top priorities every day. If an organization can build that kind of culture, the second piece – impact – becomes easier and easier. A culture where people are trusted and empowered to perform will help us reach more people and impact their lives in a meaningful way.
Nathan Vander Plaats visits with staff members
at Promise Community Health Center.
Q. How do you view your role your leadership role as Promise’s executive director?
A. Well, first, I should say that I don’t see leadership so much as a role as I see it as an attitude. I think anyone in any position in an organization can hold a leadership role. I just don’t see it as something based on a position in a hierarchy. To me, leadership in an organization is more about having the permission of those who work with me to lead them toward our shared goals. That permission involves a high level of trust in face of the unknown, so it is vital to build positive relationships with each member of the team.
In terms of how I lead, I like to refer to my leadership style as long-rope leadership. I give those under my care the room they need to operate and do their jobs, providing feedback and support as they need it. But I also incorporate what I call mistake-led learning into this work style. Think about how people learn best; how many times does a child put their hands in a closing door? Hopefully, only once, as they learned from the first experience that keeping their fingers in the door is a pretty painful experience. That core biological way of learning never leaves us. I believe that when people make mistakes and are given the room to learn from those mistakes as opposed to simply being scolded, it not only gives them room to experiment and innovate, it also gives them the support they need to continue progressing in their career goals.
Q. Now that you are settled into this role, what are your goals for the months ahead?
A. Well, Promise has some pretty important events coming up this year. We are working on wrapping up our building project that the community has been supporting. We hope to have all of the external renovations completed early this spring. I have to say, a lot has changed on this building since its days as a bowling alley.
Also, as a Federally Qualified Health Center, we receive periodic site visits to review our operations and ensure we are in compliance with standards. We have that visit coming up in June, and Nancy has been consulting with us to make sure we have our ducks in a row. We are looking forward to this site visit, and we see it as an opportunity to get expert feedback on how we can continue to strengthen our programs and services.
Last, I’m really looking forward to forming collaborative relationships with our community stakeholders. I honestly believe that when organizations come together to work toward common goals, the community and those organizations benefit and become stronger.
Q. Why is a Community Health Center such as Promise important to the greater community and region?
A. Community Health Centers offer a wide range of benefits to the areas they serve. Most important among those benefits is the availability of high-quality medical, dental, vision and behavioral care without regard for a person’s ability to pay for that care. That person can be down on their luck, homeless or even a person with health insurance but a high deductible that they can’t afford. This is incredibly important for a community. When everyone in a community or county or region has access to quality care, that community becomes healthier. Workers that otherwise may have been ill can come to work healthy. Their kids aren’t home from school and missing out on important learning opportunities. The bottom line is that when people are healthy, communities are healthy and prosper.  
Q. When people hear the name Promise Community Health Center, what do you hope comes to their minds?
A. Access and quality. We are open to anyone, for any reason, and offer quality-focused programs with a genuine desire of building healthy people, families and communities.

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

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Vanessa Salcedo hopes to be helpful smile for Promise CHC patients

SIOUX CENTER – Vanessa Salcedo wants to be as helpful as possible as people walk through the front doors of Promise Community Health Center in Sioux Center.

Vanessa Salcedo enjoys helping people in
her new role as a receptionist at Promise
Community Health Center in Sioux Center.
As a new receptionist for Promise, she is one of the first persons who patients see.

“I hope to be another helpful smile as patients walk in the door and make them feel welcome,” she said.

Vanessa, who is bilingual in English and Spanish, grew up in Orange City and attended MOC-Floyd Valley School District through the 10th grade. She graduated from Penn Foster Online High School in 2016.

She worked at Mi Lupita Bar & Grill in Sioux Center for four and a half years before assuming her role at Promise. She was interested in learning a new position and doing something different than her past job experiences, particularly a job that involves computers.

“I felt like I could do a good job in this position,” she said.

Vanessa also appreciates working for an organization such as Promise.

“Promise does a good job of taking care of anybody coming in for an appointment,” she said. “They help with any questions and concerns you may have. And my family also appreciates the care Promise brings to them.

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

Vanessa Salcedo lives in Orange City with her parents, Marcela and Antonio. She has three siblings, Verenice, Kristian and Jennifer. She enjoys spending time with her family and boyfriend, shopping and watching Netflix.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Sioux Center Christian students collect books for Promise patients

SIOUX CENTER – Hundreds of children throughout northwest Iowa will get books in their hands, thanks to Sioux Center Christian School students.

For the third year, students at the school collected books for Promise Community Health Center in Sioux Center in connection with Literacy Week.

Sioux Center Christian School first-graders announce
how many books that they collected for Promise
Community Health Center during an all-school
celebration assembly on Friday afternoon. It also
was Pajama/Comfort Day at the school.

An estimated 508 books were donated to Promise during a culminating, all-school celebration assembly on Friday. The students also collected $75 in donations so that Promise can purchase about 35 more books in Spanish. They also donated $75 to the Tesfa Foundation for books for children in Ethiopia.

The students were excited about the project.

“The best part was getting books for people who need them,” said McKartley Van Vugt, a first-grader.

The project started two years ago as a first-grade project that also involved second-graders. Last year, the project expanded to all of the lower elementary grades. This year, the first-graders spearheaded the project schoolwide for grades K-8.

Jill Van Soelen, the school’s teacher librarian, said the project stemmed from classroom work around persuasive writing, math, and speaking and listening skills – combined with a desire to participate in a formational learning experience.

Josh Bower, head of school at Sioux Center Christian,
prays over the 500-plus books that were donated to
Promise Community Health Center on Friday.
“The heart of a formational learning experience is to have an experience that connects students to real needs, real people, through real work,” Van Soelen said. “The best part of having a book drive is having the opportunity to look outside our school walls and think about the broader community, in this case Sioux Center. When we realized there were kids in our own community who needed books, we knew this was something we could help with.”

She said the first-grade teachers explored the idea of injustice with their students, noting an inequality in the number of books that children have access to. The students helped provide a solution and developed plans with their teachers for executing a book drive – with students choosing what roles they would like to play in the project.

The first-graders went to every classroom in the school to present about the project and made intercom announcements for a week to ask students to bring in gently-used books or to donate $1 for the purchase of books. They decorated collection boxes and posted information on the hallway television monitors.

Sioux Center Christian School first-graders
decorated collection boxes for the book
drive for Promise Community Health Center.

It was a valuable learning experience.

“Students are learning to see areas of injustice and work as restorers by trying to fix a problem they’ve identified,” Van Soelen said. “They are the doers and see that they can make an impact even as a 6- or 7-year-old. The students get to practice being justice seekers and community builders and experience making a difference in their own community.”

Promise Community Health Center will use the books in various ways.

They will be used for Promise’s Reach Out and Read program. During well-child visits, Promise’s medical providers talk to parents about the importance of reading aloud to their young children for their development, they offer reading tips, and they give each child an age-appropriate book.

The books also will be given to children as needs arise – maybe they’re frightened about getting a shot or they’re sad because they just had a throat swab test done for strep throat or another sickness. The books also will be available in Promise’s waiting room and exam rooms for children to look at during appointments.

Derrick Vander Waal of Promise Community
Health Center speaks to students about how
their donated books will be used during
a celebration assembly on Friday.
A large majority of Promise’s patients are at or near the poverty line. Nearly half of Promise’s patients are 19 years old and younger. About half of Promise’s patients speak Spanish or another language other than English as their primary language.

Emily Tuschen, chief operating officer for Promise, said the health center is grateful that the school puts on the book drive.

“The students show their generosity and kind hearts by giving a book of their own to benefit a patient of Promise,” she said. “It warms my heart to see the kids on the receiving end light up when they get take a book home. This drive is especially close to my heart because I love Sioux Center Christian and I love Promise; it is a joy to see two great organizations working together to bring smiles to the faces of young kids. Much thanks to the students and teachers of Sioux Center Christian School.

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

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Tuschen eager to lead in new chief operations officer role at Promise

SIOUX CENTER – Emily Tuschen is taking a step up in leadership at Promise Community Health Center in Sioux Center.

Tuschen has been promoted to Chief Operating Officer from her role as the Clinic Manager. The COO position is a revamping of Promise’s previous Director of operations position, which has been vacant for several months.

She said working as the clinic manager at Promise for the past year and a half has been big blessing to her, but she is excited about the challenges of her new role.

Emily Tuschen has been promoted to the position of
chief operating officer at Promise Community Health
Center in Sioux Center after serving a year and a half
as the clinic manager. She is excited to take her
leadership to a new level to help the help center
continue to adapt its services into the future.

“The more I learn about the programs of Promise, the more I want to know,” Tuschen said. “I have been exposed to surface-level program details and now am challenged to really dig in and reassess policies, procedures and strategic planning. I look forward to it. Health care is ever-changing, and as a health-care organization, we should be ever-adapting. It is important to always be re-evaluating our service and then committing to be the best that we can for our patients, employees and community.”

Tuschen, 32, has steadily moved up in her levels of responsibility at Promise since starting as a clinic nurse in January 2016. She assumed the clinic manager role in August 2016, supervising the medical providers and staff and managing their schedules.

As the chief operating officer, Tuschen will oversee the continued development of clinical services at Promise, including medical, prenatal, dental, vision/eye, behavioral health, family planning and victim advocacy.

Her new role will allow her more time to build relationships with employees of other departments and to concentrate on and broaden her knowledge of those areas.

“An important part of any leadership role is to provide an engaging work environment and a culture of accountability,” Tuschen said. “I hope to lead them, challenge them, and provide them with insight and drive. My past experience has proven to me that supervisors have a huge impact on work ethic and ownership. My previous supervisors, Nancy Dykstra and Shonna Borchers, have surpassed my expectations of how to be a great leader – respectable, motivating, honest and hardworking. I hope to bring these qualities to the chief operating officer position.”

Nathan Vander Plaats, who assumed his role as Promise’s executive director in December, said organizations work best when decisions are made as close to the information as possible. The implementation of the COO position has brought about a reorganized structure that will better allow for employees to make operational decisions.

“This both empowers employees to take control of their work to produce a maximum impact for our patients but also frees me up to focus on strategy and visioning for the larger
organization,” he said.

Vander Plaats said Tuschen has stood out as a person who was “ripe for more responsibility.” She already had taken on duties and responsibilities that have gone beyond her job description. As a registered nurse, she has the technical knowledge to oversee Promise’s daily operations, but she also demonstrates strong leadership ability.

“I’ve heard Emily talk about the importance of employee engagement, bring up ideas for employee development and advancement, and seen how the rest of the organization responds to her,” he said. “She has the respect of those around her, and she respects those around her to the same degree. Those are key leadership characteristics for any position, but especially this one.

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

Emily Tuschen grew up in Platte, SD, and graduated from Dakota Christian High School in New Holland, SD, in 2004. She earned an associate’s degree in nursing at St. Luke’s College in Sioux City in 2008 and a bachelor’s of science degree in nursing at Dordt College in Sioux Center in 2009. She worked at Sioux Center Health, 2007-16, and Orange City Area Health System, 2009-10, in a variety of departments, including emergency, labor and delivery, postpartum and medical floor. She started at Promise Community Health Center in January 2016 as a clinic nurse and assumed the clinic manager role in August 2016. She and her husband, Aaron, live in Sioux Center and have three children, Kenley, 7; Brody, 6; and Evia, 2.

With the promotion of Emily Tuschen to chief operating officer, Promise Community Health Center now seeks candidates for its clinic manager role. To learn more about the position and to apply, visit

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Lorena Ronquillo begins her dental assisting career at Promise CHC

Lorena Ronquillo is serving as a dental assistant
trainee at Promise Community Health Center
while completing her education at Western Iowa
Tech Community College. She will expand her
role at Promise after earning her diploma.
SIOUX CENTER – Lorena Ronquillo always knew she wanted to go into the medical field, but she wasn’t sure which career to choose.

One day, she job-shadowed a dental assistant for school. Then, she knew.

That career goal choice now is becoming a reality for Lorena. She recently assumed a part-time dental assistant trainee role at Promise Community Health Center in Sioux Center as she completes her dental assistant education at Western Iowa Tech Community College in Sioux City. She plans to transition to full time at Promise after earning her diploma in May.

“I just love what dental assistants do,” she said. “I love dealing with different patients every day.”

Lorena, who is bilingual in English and Spanish, grew up in Rock Valley and graduated from Rock Valley High School in 2016 before going on to WIT.

She was interested in serving at Promise because it was a great way to practice her dental assistant skills and get a headstart on her career while still in school.

“I hope I can make patients feel welcome and help the dentist in any way he needs me,” she said. “Promise is a very helpful and nice organization.”

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

Lorena Ronquillo lives with Rock Valley with her parents, Leticia and Luis. She has three sisters and two brothers. In her spare time, she likes to spend time with her family.