Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Patients express high satisfaction with Promise's interpreting services

by Derrick Vander Waal

SIOUX CENTER, IOWA – Promise Community Health Center values the importance of offering high-quality interpreting services to patients who speak another language, and patients are pleased with the services they are receiving.

Ellen Podhajsky presents the findings of a research
project that she and two other students did for their
social work course at Northwestern College about
Promise Community Health Center's professional
interpreting services.
Those were the conclusions of a research project conducted by three students – Ellen Podhajsky, Amy Tuttle and Cassidy Bultena – for a social work course at Northwestern College in Orange City. The project included interviews, in Spanish, with seven patients at Promise after appointments at the health center.

Podhajsky, who graduated earlier this month with a major in Spanish, recently presented their research findings to Promise staff.

“We were very impressed with the feedback that we heard about Promise and the steps that you are taking to provide good interpretive services,” she said.

Podhajsky said it’s an important service as studies show the quality of care, as well as how patients perceive the care they receive, is directly linked to medical interpretation.

Here are highlights of the six themes that came out of the students’ interviews with patients:

Theme 1: Striving for English Proficiency

Most of the Spanish-speaking patient participants said they recognize the value of learning English, acknowledge there is an increased difficulty to communicate in a primarily English-speaking country and desire to improve their English. For those who have improved their knowledge of English, it also also has increased their comfort level in the health-care setting and has helped confirm to them the accuracy of interpretation.

One patient said: “I feel more comfortable now because, even though the interpreter is translating for me, I’m understanding at the same time.”

Theme 2: Powerlessness

The interviewed patients expressed that they have felt a sense of powerlessness during past situations when an interpreter wasn’t present. In those settings, they experienced emotions such as fear, frustration and a lack of confidence due to concerns that they are not being understood or that they do not understand.

Podhajsky cited a study that found high-quality clinical care is compromised when communication barriers exist. Therefore, professional interpreting services are an important component even if the gap can’t be completely bridged.

“Although interpreters significantly alleviate the negative feelings and sense of powerlessness associated with the language barrier, they may not be capable of eliminating them entirely,” Podhajsky said. “Some of the patients’ fears were expressed even when interpretive services were available, which shows that even the best interpretive services do not replicate shared language connections.”

Ellen Podhajsky, a recent graduate of
Northwestern College, said patients
more comfortable with their health
provider when they are confident
in the skills of their interpreter.
Theme 3: Interpreter as Crucial Link

In interpreting situations, verbal communication travels from the medical practitioner, via the interpreter, to the patient – then back again.

Naturally, Podhajsky said the interpersonal connections between the provider and patient take the same path. Six of the seven patients spoke first of their interpreter when asked about the connections they felt with their provider.

“We found that the connection with one’s doctor depends on the confidence that they have with their interpreter,” she said. “Some indicated that they even feel a stronger connection with their interpreter because they’re the one speaking the same language as them.”

Participants expressed confidence at Promise, thanks to the skill of their interpreters. In fact, some felt equally understood by both their interpreter and provider. They feel good about asking the provider questions when they are confident everything is being interpreted correctly.

“We found that our participants had more confidence in the interpreters at Promise than indicated in all of the previous studies that we found,” Podhajsky said.

Theme 4: Quality and Uniqueness of Site

Six of the seven patients interviewed spoke about Promise’s uniqueness and good reputation in interpreting services.

The patients respect and appreciate the services. They feel comfortable with the interpreters. Some travel from other towns to the health center due to its excellent interpreting services and its experience in working with Hispanic patients.

Podhajsky noted a study that shows miscommunication about health problems and expectations occur when there are verbal and nonverbal communication barriers.

“At Promise, there were no indications of miscommunication or dissatisfaction. Nobody had any complaints about the services that they receive,” she said, noting that participants were specifically asked to share ways the health center could improve. “We didn’t hear anything.”

Theme 5: Benefits of a Professional

The patients interviewed prefer professional interpreters and recognize the advantages that professional services have. When they use a professional interpreter, they know they are getting expertise in medical language and are receiving accurate and complete explanations of what the provider is telling them. The patients also like that they don’t have to inconvenience and burden family and friendswhich Podhajsky noted was the opposite of previous studies that showed some patients are concerned about burdening an interpreter.

The important role of professional interpreters is further emphasized by studies that show using family, friends and other nonprofessionals increases interpreting errors.

“Participants were appreciative of the available interpreting services at Promise,” Podhajsky said.

Theme 6: Preferences Between Consecutive and Simultaneous Interpreting

The patients interviewed were split between which type of interpreting they prefer.

Podhajsky noted one correlation: Those who prefer consecutive interpreting tend to be those who were learning English. It allows them to clearly hear both languages and gives them more assurance about accurate interpretation. Those that prefer simultaneous like the more conversational style and less waiting and delay.

Following the research project, the students were complimentary of Promise.

“Promise is providing very good services,” Podhajsky said. “We were really impressed with all of the steps that Promise takes to ensure accurate interpretations for their patients. That obviously was reflected in the feedback that we received from patients.”

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

Ellen Podhajsky closed out the presentation by sharing qualities of Promise Community Health Center’s interpreting services that other clinics can learn from:
  • All interpreters must pass an exam consisting of medical terminology, interpreting ethics, the interpreter role and a mock consecutive session.
  • Importance is placed on continuing education.
  • Friends and family are not allowed to interpret for patients.
  • Forms and medication instructions are available in Spanish.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Mental Health Month: Caring for both mind and body is important

by Derrick Vander Waal

SIOUX CENTER, IOWA – May is Mental Health Month.

Jo Thyr, LMSW, tCADC, behavioral health director and therapist for Promise Community Health Center in Sioux Center, and Michelle Van Beek, bilingual behavioral health coordinator, believe in the importance of people caring for both their mind and body.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, more than 43 million Americans experience mental health problems in any given year. More than 9 million adults in the United States have mental illness that is serious enough to interfere with their day-to-day lives, causing them to be unable to work or to function normally.

"Here at Promise, we believe that we are making a positive difference as we walk alongside our patients and teach them coping skills for their lifetime," Jo says.

They share six key messages from the Mental Health America in this video:

1) Mental health is essential to everyone’s health and wellbeing, and mental illnesses are common and treatable.

2) A healthy lifestyle can help to prevent the onset or worsening of mental health conditions, as well as chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity.

3) The company of animalswhether as pets or service animalscan have a profound impact on a person’s quality of life. A pet can be a source of comfort and can help us to live mentally healthier lives.

4) Whether you go to church, meditate daily or simply find time to enjoy that cup of tea each morning while checking in with yourself, it can be important to connect with your spiritual side in order to find that mind-body connection.

5) Living a healthy lifestyle may not be easy but can be achieved by gradually making small changes and building on those successes.

6) Finding the balancebetween work and play, the ups and downs of life, physical health and mental healthcan help put you on the path toward focusing both on mind and body.

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

For more information about Promise Community Health Center's behavioral/mental health services, visit:

Jo Thyr, behavioral health therapist, offers therapy care to patients during the following hours: 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Wednesday, 9 a.m.-7 p.m. and Thursday.

To make an appointment, call Promise at 712-722-1700 or visit Promise's website at

Thursday, May 16, 2019

New routes featured for Wellness on Wheels Bicycle Ride (WOW9)

by Derrick Vander Waal

SIOUX CENTER, IOWA – All new routes are featured for Promise Community Health Center’s ninth annual Wellness on Wheels Bicycle Ride.
WOW9 is slated for Saturday, June 8, as an official event of Sioux Center Summer Celebration.
The event, which is put on by Promise with the help of many great business sponsors, will offer three routes: 60-mile paved, 30-mile paved and 30-mile gravel. WOW9 also will feature a a complimentary moisture-wicking event T-shirt, brunch with breakfast pizza from Pizza Ranch and a prize drawing for a youth bicycle donated by Brothers Bicycle Shop of Sioux Center.

Promise CHC's ninth annual Wellness on Wheels
Bicycle Ride (WOW9) will feature three new
routes: 60-mile paved, 30-mile paved and
30-mile gravel rides. Register by the May 30
early-bird deadline for a discount.

The event will start at a new location in Sioux Center this year – Country View Park, 1051 12th St. NE – due to ongoing construction at the previous site. The park is located on the northeast side of the softball field in that area.

Bicyclists can register up until the date of the event, but those who register by the early-bird deadline of Thursday, May 30, will receive a discount.

“We’re excited to offer refreshed routes for our riders this year,” said Derrick Vander Waal, public relations officer for Promise. “Our Wellness on Wheels Bicycle Ride has been a popular event for bicyclists every year. Riders come from communities across the tristate area to participate. Many of them return every year, and we always get many new riders as well.”
Here are highlights of the three routes that will depart from Country View Park:
  • A 60-mile paved route will travel through the communities of Rock Valley and Hawarden. Aid stations will be located in those towns to welcome riders and rejuvenate them with Gatorade, water and snacks before heading back out on the road. The ride is departing a half hour earlier this year at 6 a.m.
  • A 30-mile paved route will travel to Rock Valley and back through the Sioux County countryside. The ride will depart at 8 a.m.
  • A 30-mile gravel route will loop riders through rural Sioux County. The ride will depart at 8 a.m.
“The 60-mile route travels through some of the most scenic portions of Sioux County. It’s a partial hybrid of previous routes that we have used before, along with stretches that are completely new,” Vander Waal said. “Our 30-mile route is entirely new from recent years but brings back elements from a route that we use a few years ago. Most stretches of these routes are on quiet, country roads with relatively low traffic counts. We will ensure that the routes are well-marked again.”
Brothers Bicycle Shop is donating this youth bike
for the prize drawing during the WOW9 Bicycle Ride
on Saturday, June 8. Owner Nathan Nykamp says
the drawing winner also could use it as "gift card
on wheels" toward the purchase of another item
in his downtown Sioux Center store.

Participants who register by the early-bird deadline of Thursday, May 30, will receive a discount. The cost is $25 through that date. The price will increase by $10 to $35 thereafter until the day of the event. Participants who register by May 30 will guarantee a T-shirt in their size.
A meal featuring Pizza Ranch breakfast pizza will be served to all the riders when they return to Country View Park from their morning treks.
WOW9 not only will be a fun, relaxing, outdoor activity that promotes wellness, but it also will serve as a fundraiser for Promise. The health center provides a comprehensive range of health-care services to patients – with a particular focus on reaching out to underserved people and helping them overcome barriers that they face to health care.
“We have the mission of making health care accessible to all people – no matter their income level, ethnic background or life situation,” Vander Waal said. “We desire to care for the whole person, whether it be their physical condition or mental well-being. In doing so, we can help build a healthier community.”

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

Bicyclists can register online for the Wellness on Wheels Bicycle Ride (WOW9) at Or, a paper registration form to mail in can be accessed online on Promise's homepage at, by clicking this link or by visiting Promise Community Health Center at 338 First Ave. NW, Sioux Center, IA. For more information, call Promise at 712-722-1700 or email Visit the WOW9 Facebook event page at:

Promise Community Health Center is bringing you WOW9 with the help of these generous sponsors:
  • American State Bank,
    WOW9 Bicycle Ride will offer aid stations along the
    way for riders to get Gatorade, water and snacks,
    as well as assistance with their bicycles.
  • Peoples Bank,
  • Premier Bank,
  • Northwest Bank,
  • Primebank,
  • Proactive Physical Therapy & Sports Rehab,
  • Brothers Bicycle Shop,
  • Dordt College,
  • Lewis Family Drug,
  • Mane Attraction,
  • Robin’s School of Dance,
  • Sioux Center Chiropractic Wellness Clinic.

The following businesses are donating materials or services to the event: Pizza Ranch, Fareway, Hy-Vee and McDonald’s.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Dr. Clousing shares five tips to help keep your eyes healthy

by Derrick Vander Waal

SIOUX CENTER, IOWA – It’s Healthy Vision Month in May.

Like the rest of your body, there are ways you can promote and protect your eye health.

Dr. Dan Clousing, an optometrist for Beaver Eye Care in Sioux Center, provides vision care to patients one day per week – 8 a.m.-noon Wednesday – at Promise Community Health Center in Sioux Center.

He shared five tips for healthy eyes and why they are important:

Dr. Dan Clousing says it's important to schedule
an annual comprehensive eye exam to evaluate
your vision but also to detect serious health
issues such as hypertension and diabetes.
1) Schedule yearly comprehensive exams: Comprehensive eye exams not only evaluate a patient's vision but can also detect serious health issues like hypertension and diabetes. Call your optometrist to schedule a comprehensive exam to promote a lifetime of healthy vision!
2) Protect against UV rays: We all know that long-term sun exposure to ultraviolet rays can cause harm to your skin, but it can harm your eyes as well! Long-term sun exposure can contribute to numerous eye diseases, so protect your eyes when you head outside. Choosing proper sunglasses is very important. Look for a pair that blocks 90 percent of UVA and more than 99 percent UVB.
3) Give your eyes a break from digital device use: The average adult spends a majority of their day using digital devices at both work and home. This can increase the risk of Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS), which can cause problems such as eye strain, dry eyes, and neck and back pain. The American Optometric Association recommends using the 20/20/20 rule: Every 20 minutes, give your eyes a 20 second break and look 20 feet away. This will help relieve eye strain and help avoid CVS.
4) Maintain a proper diet for eye health: We all know that we need daily servings of fruits and vegetables, but sometimes we forget that the eyes need nutrients too! Certain nutrients – antioxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin, vitamins C and E, and the mineral zinc – have been identified as promoting better eyesight and eye health. Our body does not make these naturally, so it's important to incorporate them into our daily diet. The best way to do this is by making sure we make leafy green vegetables a part of our regular diet!
5) Practice safe use and wear of contact lenses: Contact lenses are medical devices that are regulated by the FDA. While some people adhere to the proper care and disposal of their contact lenses, many people are breaking the rules and putting their vision at risk! Overwearing contact lenses can be very detrimental to eye health. The rules and regulations for your contact lenses should be adhered to in order to continually promote good eye health. The American Optometric Association has a website that offers tips and guidance:

Thank you, Dr. Clousing, for providing eye care to patients at Promise and sharing this advice!

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

Schedule your annual eye exam by calling Promise Community Health Center at 712-722-1700 or you can click the “Set up an Appointment” button on Promise’s website to make an online appointment request. Dr. Dan Clousing sees patients 8 a.m.-noon Wednesdays at Promise.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Van Ruler graduates with Leadership Sioux Center class of 2019

by Derrick Vander Waal

SIOUX CENTER, IOWA – Stephanie Van Ruler grew up in Sioux Center, but she has gained a newfound, broadened leadership perspective of her hometown.

The nurse health coach for Promise Community Health Center in Sioux Center graduated from the Leadership Sioux Center program today (Wednesday, May 8) during a ceremony at Terrace View Event Center. She was among 20 community professionals to complete the 2018-19 program as its fifth class.

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 community education was mixed in with leadership training.
Stephanie Van Ruler, nurse health coach
for Promise Community Health Center,
graduated from the Leadership Sioux
Center program on Wednesday, May 8.
“Growing up here, I always felt I had a wide base of knowledge on what was going on in Sioux Center; however, Leadership Sioux Center has provided a vast and comprehensive view of the incredible things happening here,” Van Ruler said.

Monthly focus days included:
  • Diversity;
  • Education;
  • City and county government;
  • Agriculture;
  • Industry;
  • State government;
  • History of Sioux Center.

Also as part of the program, Van Ruler and her classmates had a DiSC® leadership personality profile conducted. They received training from guest speakers on leadership topics. They participated in fun, engaging leadership challenges. They took tours of local businesses and a trip to Sioux Falls, SD. They helped out with community volunteer projects. They delved into and suggested solutions for community issues such as housing, day care and employment. They also broke up into smaller groups to conduct research projects on local businesses, such as Link Manufacturing, which was studied by Van Ruler’s group.

Van Ruler found every monthly session to be interesting, enjoyable and valuable.

A couple of highlights for her were the diversity day and tours of local businesses – noting the amazing range of businesses in Sioux Center “from cutting edge work of Exemplar Genetics to the precise, high-quality production of Link.”

“Learning about each of the business and how they play a part in Sioux Center's past, present and future has been a tremendous experience,” 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

Stephanie Van Ruler is the fourth person to represent Promise Community Health Center in the Leadership Sioux Center program.

The previous graduates were:
  • Jessica Mora – 2015;
  • Derrick Vander Waal – 2016;
  • Amy McAlpine – 2017.

Stephanie Van Ruler has served as a nurse health coach at Promise Community Health Center since May 2017. Previously, she served 10 years as a nurse and care coordinator at Sioux Center Health.

She grew up in Sioux Center and graduated from Unity Christian High School in Orange City in 2003. She earned her associate degree in nursing in 2007 from St. Luke’s College in Sioux City and her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Dordt College in Sioux Center in 2008. She also took nearly six months off from college in 2004 to live with a family in Honduras.

Van Ruler and her husband, Dan, a fifth-grade social studies teacher at Sioux Center Middle School, have three children, Amayah, 7, Addisyn, 7, and Kadrian, 5. In her free time, she enjoys running, reading, scrapbooking and camping.