Monday, June 18, 2018

Leo Marquez returns to Promise CHC as he pursues dentistry career

SIOUX CENTER – Leonardo “Leo” Marquez, an immigrant from Mexico, has been pouring his heart and soul into his dream of one day becoming a dentist in the United States.

And Promise Community Health Center again will play an important role as he takes the next steps in his career quest.

Leo, who previously served at Promise from August 2016-May 2017, has returned to the health center to work as a dental assistant/interpreter as he makes the next preparations for applying to dental schools.

Leo Marquez is happy to be back serving as a
dental assistant/interpreter at Promise Community
Health Center in Sioux Center while he continues
to pursue his career dream of becoming a dentist
in the United States someday.

He’s happy to be back at Promise.

“It’s great. It’s great because it was the place where I had the opportunity to be in the dental field,” Leo said, noting he didn’t have a lot of experience when he first started. “Promise was my opportunity to integrate into how dental care works in the United States. I wasn’t completely sure at the time if I wanted to become a dentist. While working at Promise, I realized how great dentistry was in this country, and I saw that I had a lot of opportunity to help people here. I then had no doubt that I wanted to become a dentist.”

Leo hails from Colotlán, Jalisco, Mexico, and completed his dental training at Universidad Guadalajara Lamar in 2015. After serving his social service for six months as the dentist at a small clinic in Mexico, he moved to Rock Valley in February 2016 to join his family who had immigrated there a few years earlier. His desire was to save enough money and learn to speak English well enough to enroll in the Dental International Student Program at a university in the United States.

In the meanwhile, he served in the dental assistant role at Promise for about nine months to get a start on his career.

His immersion into life and work in the United States gave him a good boost in learning English, but he decided to enroll last fall in an English program at Texas State University in San Marcos, TX, for international students looking to get into graduate schools.

“I had the opportunity to really study English in an advanced level with classmates from around the world,” Leo said, noting the irony that he was the only Mexican student even though Texas is highly populated with people from Mexico. “It taught a lot of grammar and a lot of writing.”

While in school, he also became employed as a part-time dental assistant at Brident Dental & Orthodontics in Austin, TX. There, he met several dentists who came from countries from around the world and had followed similar paths as he was seeking. He also worked alongside dental assistants who were also chasing the same goal of getting into dental school to become dentists someday.

“It was really helpful for me because I was around people who already were doing what I wanted to do. I had opportunities to talk to them, and they gave me some advice,” he said. “I realized that it is doable what I wanted to do. Two years ago, I was trying to be a dentist over here, but I didn’t even know how to do it. I didn’t have a plan to get it. I started to think about how I’m going to be able to go to dental school.”

After a semester at Texas State, Leo decided to return to northwest Iowa in March so that he could study full time for the National Board Dental Examination. He plans to take the first part in July, and the second part in November. As an international student, he’s required to pass both parts of the exam before he can enroll in dental school instead of afterward. He also will be required to pass the Test of English as Foreign Language (TOEFL) exam.

He saved up as much money as he could so he could focus all of his attention on studying, without having to work, for a few months.

“Right now, I have a really good feeling about it because I’ve been sacrificing a lot,” he said, noting that his lifestyle has been “a little too boring” because he hasn’t been doing the fun activities many people his age do. “Right now, I have my ambition for my career. I know how to do it and have to stick to it. Education is the key. I have to study hard.”

Leo decided to return to Promise after being encouraged to do so by a former coworker as he continues to prepare for his tests. If he passes the tests, he will begin applying to many different dental schools next February with hopes of enrolling in one in the fall of 2019.

“I know the rest of the year will be tough for me because I will be working and studying, but it will be worth it,”  he said. “I feel on fire. I really want to do it. I’m passionate about it.”

Promise Community Health Center of Sioux Center is a Federally Qualified Health Center serving the 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

To learn more about Leo Marquez and his background, read this story.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Michelle van Beek eager to serve as behavioral health coordinator

SIOUX CENTER – Michelle (Palafox) van Beek was interested in serving at Promise Community Health Center in Sioux Center because of its “mission to serve.”

She will play a big role in that mission as Promise’s behavioral health coordinator/interpreter.

Michelle van Beek has assumed the role of behavioral
health coordinator/interpreter at Promise Community
Health Center. He looks forward to helping people in
such an important aspect of their overall health.
“I am very excited to be a part of Promise,” Michelle said. “Their mission to provide accessible care to the community is inspiring, and I wanted to be a part of that.”

Michelle grew up in Rock Valley and graduated from Rock Valley High School in 2014. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Spanish translation and interpreting from Northwestern College in Orange City in December 2017 and holds National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters in Spanish. Before starting at Promise, she served as an interpreter and translator at Hegg Memorial Health Center in Rock Valley for nearly a year.

In her behavioral health coordinator/interpreter role at Promise, Michelle will work directly with behavioral health therapist Jo Thyr. Among her duties, she will interpret for Spanish-speaking patients, serve as a health coach for behavioral health patients to support positive change with motivation, and conduct outreach into the community.

“I was interested in this position because behavioral/mental health is such an important part of our health, and I would like to help others in this essential aspect of their health,” she said. “I hope I can bring a positive attitude and willingness to work as a team in order to provide the best care for the people in our community.”

Michelle has been impressed with the health center.

“Promise is such a welcoming place where people genuinely care about you as a person,” she said.

Promise Community Health Center of Sioux Center is a Federally Qualified Health Center serving the 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

Michelle married David van Beek in May, and they live in Rock Valley. Her parents are Ada Orta and Miguel Palafox, and her siblings are Misael and Ada. In her spare time, she enjoys running, reading and listening to music.

Michelle van Beek serves on the behavioral health team with Promise Community Health Center's new full-time therapist, Jo Thyr. To learn more about Jo, read this story.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Jo Thyr ready to serve mental health needs as therapist at Promise

SIOUX CENTER – Jo Thyr is eager to transition into behavioral health counseling at Promise Community Health Center in Sioux Center after serving as a medical social worker for most of her career.

She sees it as a natural progression.

It’s also a natural progression for Promise as the health center moves from providing part-time behavioral/mental health services on a contractual basis with partner organizations to having its own full-time behavioral health therapist on staff. In doing so, Promise also will expand into offering substance abuse services as Jo becomes certified in that area – with a particular focus of addressing people’s addiction to opioids, which are drugs used to reduce pain.

Jo Thyr, a licensed master social worker
(LMSW), looks forward to walking alongside
people as they go through difficult situations
in their lives as the behavioral health therapist
at Promise Community Health Center in Sioux
Center. She will begin seeing patients at the
health center on a full-time basis this month.

“I understand the connection between the physical and emotional aspects of someone’s life,” Jo said. “A new medical diagnosis or adjustments with medical situations can affect someone emotionally. At times, anxiety and depression can develop. I believe I will still be teaching Promise patients, such as in the case of developing more positive coping skills.”

She finds it highly rewarding “to observe someone taking back control over their emotional lives.”

“Overall, people are resilient and have strengths they may not notice in themselves,” she said. “I am honored to walk alongside those who find themselves in a difficult spot in their lives.”

Thyr grew up on a farm near Gowrie in central Iowa and graduated from high school there. She then went on to Northwestern College in Orange City, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in social work in 1982.

She then served as a social worker for about 30 years for various medical services, including Covenant Medical Center in Waterloo; Villa Health Care Center in Mora, MN; Greater Sioux County Hospice in Sioux Center; and, most recently for 20 years, at Orange City Area Health System. For the past school year, she served as an assistant professor of social work at Northwestern College. She earned her licensed master of social work (LMSW) degree from the University of Iowa in May 2017.

Jo now is eager to care for patients at Promise. After serving on a limited, part-time basis for a few months, she assumed her full-time role in June. She will begin seeing new patients on Monday, June 18, with the help of new behavioral health coordinator and interpreter, Michelle van Beek.

Here are her reflections as she begins this new role:

Q. Why were you interested in serving at Promise Community Health Center?
A. I am interested in serving at Promise Community Health Center because I believe in its mission, vision and values. I especially was drawn to Promise’s values of acceptance, teamwork and integrity. Those Promise serves have the right to be accepted and respected. I appreciate that Promise is welcoming to those no matter the income, ethnic background or life experience. Promise works with those who may find themselves in a financial crisis but still need services. Promise provides holistic care looking at the whole person, not just the physical aspects. I appreciate Promise’s acceptance of others, respectful care and adaptation to the needs of community members in this area of Iowa. I am honored to be a part of an organization where everyone is welcome. This inclusive nature is much needed in our world today.

Q. In particular, what interests you about this opportunity to provide behavioral/mental health services at Promise?
A. Promise is already helping our area to become healthier in order to grow. I believe the addition of full-time behavioral health services will also help this area to grow emotionally healthier. We human beings come with our bodies, as well as our minds. These two aspects are very intricately connected.

Q. How would you describe behavioral health care in simple wording?
A. In simple wording, behavioral health care is walking alongside someone when they are going through difficult situations or stressors in their lives.

Q. Why are behavioral health care services so important? Why should they be integrated with primary care?
A. Behavioral health services should be integrated with primary care due to the importance of the mind/body connection. Combining behavioral health with primary care can lead people to more quality of life, as well as a healthier life. I will work closely with our medical providers to assess patients’ needs and be available for a referral as soon as possible. Consulting and collaboration will be my priorities in working with the clinic providers. Providing consistent, full-time behavioral health services will be an asset to the already amazing services that Promise provides.

Q. How else will you be able to help patients?
A. The behavioral health services of Promise will also include counseling to assist with substance abuse, opioid abuse, mental or physical illness, poverty or unemployment. In behavioral health, we will also provide bilingual therapy with a caring behavioral health coordinator as the interpreter. This again reminds me of the respectful care that Promise provides its patients.

Q. What do you hope you can bring to Promise in your role?
A. I hope to bring a positive, refreshing perspective about behavioral health to Promise. It takes courage to share life’s struggles with a therapist. I want to help break down the barriers or possible uncomfortable feelings about sharing. I want to provide a safe, welcoming area for those to share in a confidential setting. I desire to build bridges for others to be healthier in all aspects of their lives. This would entail the holistic services that are provided by Promise. Behavioral health services will now be more accessible to our patients, as this will be offered on a full-time basis. Offering services when a patient needs it is vital to the community and those we will serve. I am excited and honored to be a part of the team and offer quality services.

Q. What are your impressions of Promise as an organization?
A. My initial impressions of Promise were those of respect for all persons, inclusivity, as well as integrity. I believe these aspects are vital to the success of an organization. I learned that services are patient-centered, which also shows the value that Promise places on its patients and their families. I observed positive teamwork within the various departments at Promise as well. Teamwork says a lot about an organization, and I am proud to be a part of the Promise team of providers and staff.

Promise Community Health Center of Sioux Center is a Federally Qualified Health Center serving the 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

Jo Thyr will see patients for behavioral/mental health care during the following hours at Promise Community Health Center: 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Thursday. To make an appointment, call 712-722-1700. To learn more about Promise’s behavioral health services expansion, read this story.

Jo Thyr and her husband, Kevin, live in Orange City. They have five children and six grandchildren who live in places throughout the country: Seattle, WA; San Francisco, CA; Honolulu, HI; and Mahnomen, MN; and as a student at Northwestern College in Orange City. In her spare time, Jo enjoys drinking coffee with friends and family, sitting on her deck, reading and showing hospitality to others – with the coffee is always on at home for visitors.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Courtney Groen finds Promise to be ‘perfect place’ for her to serve

SIOUX CENTER – Courtney Groen always had an interest in caring for others, but it was during her time working at a nursing home during high school in her hometown of Renville, MN, that she felt God calling her into nursing.

That call is now being fulfilled as she has assumed the position of clinic nurse at Promise Community Health Center in Sioux Center.

Courtney Groen already had a good understanding of
what Promise Community Health Center is all about
before assuming her role as a clinic nurse. She had
completed clinical hours and a preceptorship at the
health center during nursing training at Dordt College.

“I hope that I can bring a fresh set of skills to this position as well as a kind smile and joyous atmosphere,” Courtney said. “I am so excited to serve this wonderful community through the work I do here at Promise. It is my desire to bring hope to all those I have the ability to serve.”

Courtney grew up in Renville, MN, and graduated from Central Minnesota Christian School in Prinsburg, MN, in 2014. She earned her associate of science in nursing degree from St. Luke’s College in Sioux City in 2017 and graduated from Dordt College in Sioux Center in May with her bachelor of science in nursing degree.
By the time she graduated, she already was familiar with Promise because she had completed both clinical hours and her preceptorship at the health center during her final semester. So she was excited to begin serving the community as a clinic nurse at Promise.

“While I was here, I absolutely fell in love with the staff, the clients and the organization itself. I knew Promise would be the perfect place for me,” she said. “Promise has an absolutely wonderful atmosphere. They are such a blessing to this community. Promise embodies what it means to be the hands and feet of Christ.”

Promise Community Health Center of Sioux Center is a Federally Qualified Health Center serving the 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

Courtney Groen will get married to Carter Brock in June. He graduated from Dordt College in May 2017 and is working at Interstates in Sioux Center. In her spare time, Courtney enjoys going on bicycle rides, watching baseball games with her fiancé, baking with her fiancé and mentoring young nursing students.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Jess Koedam brings varied experiences to clinic nurse position

SIOUX CENTER – Jess Koedam appreciates all of the different ways that she has been able to help people as a registered nurse in her career.

Jess Koedam brings a variety of nursing
experiences to her new role as a clinic
nurse at Promise Community Health
in Sioux Center.

She now is continuing that service as a new clinic nurse at Promise Community Health Center in Sioux Center.

“I was interested in Promise because I see it as a great opportunity to serve my community and continue helping people achieve better health,” Jess said.

Jess grew up near Hospers and graduated from Unity Christian High School in 2007. She earned her associate of science in nursing degree from St. Luke’s College in Sioux City in 2011. After graduating from college, Jess served as a staff nurse at Village Northwest Unlimited in Sheldon, 2011-16, and then made home visits throughout the region as an integrated health home nurse care coordinator at Seasons Center for Behavioral Health, 2016-18.

Her interest in going into the nursing field grew out of working as a certified nursing assistant during high school.

“I really enjoyed getting to know each person and helping them better improve their health,” Jess said.

Promise Community Health Center of Sioux Center is a Federally Qualified Health Center serving the 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

Jess Koedam and her husband, Josh, live in Sioux Center and have two daughters, Rosie, 4, and Emily, 18 months. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, cooking, and camping and fishing during the summer.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Promise CHC will replace EKG with Sioux County foundation grant

SIOUX CENTER – Patients to Promise Community Health Center of Sioux Center might be able to avoid costly emergency room visits, thanks to a grant from the Sioux County Community Foundation to purchase a new electrocardiogram (EKG).

The grant was presented to Promise during an awards reception ceremony today (Tuesday, May 14) at Prairie Winds Event Center in Orange City.

Josh Dorhout (right), who represents Sioux Center on
 the Sioux County Community Foundation board, presents
Promise Community Health Center representatives
Emily Tuschen, chief operating officer, and Derrick
Vander Waal, public relations officer, with a grant
check for $4,080 to purchase a new EKG machine.

The grant for $4,080 will allow Promise to replace an EKG machine that no longer is in good condition with a more updated model.

An EKG records electrical activity of a patient’s heart at rest – showing heart rate and rhythm and if there is heart enlargement due to high blood pressure or evidence of a previous heart attack. Accurate results can be obtained quickly with a reliable machine. The EKG will be used for patients of all ages, from children to older adults.

“Promise has been providing electrocardiograms for quite some time. The machine that we are currently using has limitations due to its age,” said Emily Tuschen, chief operating officer for Promise. “The nurses and providers rely on the EKG for proper intervention and treatment. It is so exciting that Sioux County Community Foundation has provided Promise with a grant to replace our current machine. With the new EKG machine, we will be able to treat a broader age group of patients more efficiently and with more accuracy.”

Promise fills a crucial need in Sioux County by reducing barriers to care for low-income families, particularly those without insurance or covered by Medicaid. Promise can provide an accessible, affordable procedure for Promise’s patient population by using the EKG machine – potentially saving them hundreds of dollars.

It is one tool that is vital in keeping patients out of the ER who may not actually need it,” Tuschen said. “It allows a quick read and glimpse into the heart, and sometimes that is all providers need to know the difference between chest pain caused by the heart and chest pain caused by a respiratory or gastrointestinal issue.”

Promise was among 12 nonprofit organizations or cities awarded a total of $98,250 during the 2018 grant round for various projects and programs in Sioux County.

More than $1.12 million in grants have been awarded by the Sioux County Community Foundation since 2006. Funding for the grant program is a result of Community Endowment Fund legislation in 2005. SCCF was formed that year through affiliation with the Siouxland Community Foundation. SCCF is governed by a 12-member advisory board comprised of representatives from each of the communities in Sioux County. The mission of SCCF is to encourage and provide opportunities for charitable giving, to manage and distribute funds in a responsible manner, and to enhance the quality of life for the people of Sioux County.

Promise Community Health Center of Sioux Center is a Federally Qualified Health Center serving the 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

Promise Community Health Center received a Sioux County Community Foundation grant of $10,000 in 2016 to fund a portion of the cost of replacing one of one of its dental chairs.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

McAlpine graduates from 2017-18 Leadership Sioux Center program

SIOUX CENTER – Amy McAlpine grew up much of her life in Sioux Center, but she feels more knowledgeable, better equipped and more connected than ever before in her hometown.
The data and compliance specialist for Promise Community Health Center was among 20 professionals to graduate Wednesday from the Leadership Sioux Center program as part of its fourth class.
Amy McAlpine, data and compliance specialists for
Promise Community Health Center, talks to Promise
chief operating officer Emily Tuschen following her
Leadership Sioux Center graduation on Wednesday.

The intensive, eight-month program involved monthly, full-day sessions that explored various aspects of Sioux Center’s visionary past and its collaborative and progressive mindset. That education was mixed in with leadership training.
In the process, the program’s goal is to sustain and build upon an environment of success as the community transitions to new leadership in the future.
“There are a few qualities that stand out as essential to past success of Sioux Center and as a challenge to our group to continue on: collaborating with others groups and organizations, proactively and generously investing in the community, and striving for the perfect mix of humility and passion,” McAlpine said.
Monthly themes for this year’s class were:
    • October – Leadership Topics and Retail;
    • November – History of Sioux Center and Agriculture;
    • December – Education;
    • January – County and City Government;
    • February – Trip to State Capitol in Des Moines;
    • March – Business and Industry;
    • April – Diversity;
    • Amy McAlpine shares her reflections
      about her involvement in the 2017-18
      Leadership Sioux Center program.

    • May – DISC Personality Assessment and “Now What?” discussion.

    McAlpine shared her reflections about the Leadership Sioux Center experience:
    Q. Why were you interested in participating in Leadership Sioux Center?
    A. I honestly love to learn and loved the idea of being in that role of a student each month, learning about my hometown and leadership topics.
    Q. What were the most interesting topics and/or places that you visited?
    A. The tours were incredibly interesting – we visited places like Casey’s Bakery, Smithfield, Sioux Center Health, Family Crisis Center, Promise, Dykstra Dairy, the county courthouse, jail and the State Capitol. I was also able to do a full tour of Premier Communications and present a Business Case Study with a group. The tour and project gave me a lot of insight into their history, services and impact on the community.
    Q. How will this program benefit you in the future?
    A. I feel much more invested in the growth and future of Sioux Center. It takes a lot of people to help shape a healthy, positive community. With the help of the program, I’m starting to see what my role – and also Promise’s role – in that growth could look like.
    Q. What stood out to you the most from what you learned?
    A. Talking about topics like the growth of Sioux Center and its strengths and challenges was really eye-opening. I haven’t always had a clear picture of the history of Sioux Center or the proactive planning and collaboration that has taken place. We talked a lot about issues around employment, housing, economic development and city planning in general. I feel like I didn’t have a lot of insight into those areas, so the sessions really helped broaden my view.
    Q. What was it like for you to be part of this group of participants?
    A. It was an amazing group of people, and I loved connecting with them each month. It was very fun to go to Des Moines as a group. We all represented very different organizations, and so we often had a different lens on various topics. I enjoyed sharing more about Promise with the group. Promise was able to help lead the “Diversity” session, which prompted good discussion, and the topics of diversity, privilege and the challenges of certain groups in our community really resonated with many individuals.

    Promise Community Health Center of Sioux Center is a Federally Qualified Health Center serving the 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

    Amy McAlpine receives her award
    during the Leadership Sioux Center
    graduation ceremony Wednesday
    at Terrace View Event Center.

    Amy McAlpine is the third person to represent Promise Community Health Center in the Leadership Sioux Center program. Jessica Mora, office manager and outreach coordinator, graduated from the program with the inaugural class in 2015, and Derrick Vander Waal, public relations officer, graduated in 2016.
    Amy McAlpine was born and raised in Sioux Center, but her family also lived in Costa Rica, Mexico and Bolivia for mission work.
    After graduating from Sioux Center High School in 2006, she earned a bachelor’s degree in linguistics and international studies in 2009 from Central College in Pella. She worked as a quality assurance manager at Community Support Advocates in Des Moines for five years before moving back to Sioux Center and starting as the executive assistant at Promise Community Health Center in January 2015. She assumed her current role as data and compliance specialist in July 2016.
    Amy and her husband, David – who works at Peoples Bank Wealth Management in Sioux Center and was a 2017 Leadership Sioux Center graduate – have two boys, Sam, 3, and Paul, 1. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, especially nonfiction; listening to podcasts; cooking and baking new recipes; playing with her boys; and traveling.

    The Leadership Sioux Center graduates were (front, from left) Kris Hulstein, Interstates; Jackson Schuiteman, Sioux Center Health; Stephanie Regnerus, Link Manufacturing; Jennifer Waddle, Kinsey Elementary School; Kelly Goslinga, Clabaugh & Goslinga P.L.C.; Joshua Christians, ServiceMaster; Andrew De Vries, Boehringer Ingelheim; Matthew Kelderman, Kroese & Kroese P.C.; Lindsay Mulder, Sioux Center Public Library; (back) Mark Hulshof, Sioux Center High School; Tim Foreman, Ground Effects; Kevin Christian, Peoples Bank; Christy Hulstein, Stepping Stones Preschool; Greg Pennings, Pella Corp.; Darren Raih, American Investment and Trust; Colton Waring, city of Sioux Center; Wade Kroeze, Perspective Insurance; Kristy Huss, Travel Savvi; Jessica Rohrs, Family Crisis Centers; and Amy McAlpine, Promise Community Health Center.