April is National Donor Month

To become a donor visit: https://www.iowadonornetwork.org/.

If you do not have access to a computer, become a donor the next time you renew your license. All it takes is a simple YES! We thank you in advance for your support and participation! #InspireIowa2021

Kathy’s Story

Jimmy was a good kid. He was raised with his two sisters by his dad, a veteran who had done two tours in Afghanistan, and his grandparents. He loved his family. School was not his favorite past time. Jimmy loved to ride his dirt bike…

It was 11:00 p.m., September 25, 2008. Kathy Ewald paused from folding the clothes as she could hear the phone ringing in the background. A puzzled look on her face, her hand immediately reached for the pager which was at her side 24 hours a day – it hung silent. Leroy, her husband, appeared with a look of surprise and concern etched across his face, the phone cradled in his hand. He simply said, “It’s Jana from the University of Iowa Hospital… it’s time.”

It was 1989 when Kathy began feeling sick all the time. She developed an ongoing cough and shortness of breath. As a non-smoker, she couldn’t imagine why this was happening. It wasn’t long before going up and down the stairs in their two story Victorian house was not an option. It was months and a multitude of tests before doctors were able to determine that Kathy had a disease called sarcoidosis. Caused by small areas of inflammation, it can affect any part of the body but is most common in the lungs — called pulmonary sarcoidosis. In pulmonary sarcoidosis, small patches of inflamed cells can appear on the lungs’ small air sacs (alveoli), breathing tubes (bronchioles) or lymph nodes. The lungs can become stiff and may not be able to hold as much air as healthy lungs. In serious cases, sarcoidosis can cause scar tissue in the lungs, which can affect the lungs’ ability to move oxygen into the bloodstream. There is no known cause, treatment, or cure for sarcoidosis.

Small steps were taken to make Kathy’s life more comfortable. The Victorian house was sold and a ranch was built so that Kathy would not have to go up and down steps. This would also help her to continue her daycare business. The doctors continued trying methods to help Kathy breath – steroids, inhalers, and bronchitis treatments. In 2003, she was put on oxygen and began carrying an oxygen tank everywhere she went. Over the next few years, as the scar tissue increased, her condition worsened and the prognosis was bleak.

In 2007, Kathy ran into Tom Gretter of Keota. He told her of a donor program the University of Iowa Hospital was assembling and strongly encouraged her to check it out. Tom himself was a heart transplant recipient. Kathy contacted the U of I and by the spring of 2008 was involved in the pre-screening part of the program to determine if she was a viable candidate. Many tests and x-rays later, she was accepted and put on the National Donor Network. She was known as “transplant #13.”

On September 26, 2008 at 3:00 a.m., Kathy received a double lung transplant. Her recovery included many ups and downs – financial, emotional, and physical. It began with a 30 day stay in Iowa City following her transplant. She could not be more than 15-20 minutes away from the U of I facility. There were no exceptions and no weekend furloughs. She began a lifetime regime of immunosuppressant (anti-rejection) drugs which helped prevent her immune system from attacking (“rejecting”) the new organ. To this day, Kathy checks her blood pressure and oxygen levels on a daily basis. She has worked through low hemoglobin issues, needing blood transfusions, a reaction to her medications, and a lung fungus.

Kathy learned that those who receive an organ transplant are often trading a terminal diagnosis for a possibly treatable or manageable condition. The medications required after a transplant often lead to high blood pressure, diabetes, heart problems, and cancer. Other side effects include diarrhea, high cholesterol, and elevated blood sugars.

In 2010, Leroy was diagnosed with Lung Cancer as a result of exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam. Chemo and radiation treatment was unsuccessful. The cancer spread to his brain and he passed November 24, 2012. While there has been sadness in Kathy’s life, it has been five years* since her transplant and she thanks God daily for her donor and for the gift of life he has shared with her and her family. Kathy is also very grateful for the support she received from her community: house cleaning, food brought to the house, and financial assistance from varied resources.driver’s license is all it takes to give legal consent in Iowa.

Used with permission: Neighbors Magazine, April 18, 2013; Rhonda Hoffman, Author

*As of 2021, it has been over 12 years since Kathy’s transplant.

Visit www.vaccinateiowa.gov for more information on who is eligible in Iowa right now and to find a vaccine provider near you. Source: Iowa Department of Public Health

Keokuk County Hospital and Clinics welcomes Julie Underhill, RDN, LD as their new dietitian. Julie graduated from Kuemper High School in 1986. She studied dietetics at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, and completed her dietetic internship at Iowa State University. She has worked in clinical dietetics in the hospital setting, community dietetics with the WIC program, pediatric nutrition, geriatric nutrition, and as a nutrition consultant.

If you have dietary or nutritional concerns and would like to schedule an appointment with Julie, please call (641) 622-1146.

The Hedrick Clinic is open Tuesdays from 9 am to 5 pm. To schedule an appointment, please call (641) 622-1170.

For a current calendar and complete listing of our services, please click on this link: https://www.keokukhealth.com/calendar/

Visitor Policy Updated

EFFECTIVE FEBRUARY 10, 2021: All KCHC patients will be allowed ONE visitor/parent/advocate per day. Once a visitor leaves, they cannot return until the following day. This includes Emergency Department, Inpatient, Outpatient Services and Medical Clinic.

The visitor/parent/advocate will be screened, required to wear mask and stay in the room with the patient during the visit. Patients will continue to be required to wear a mask during their visit.

Thank you for your continued patience and support while we try to keep our community, patients and employees safe.

Effective August 4, 2020, Keokuk County Health Center and Medical Clinic updated mask requirements. Below are the changes that will affect the community. Changes have also been put in place for staff.

Mask Guidelines

  • Patients/visitors will continue to be screened upon entering the facility.
  • All patients/visitors over the age of 2 will be required to wear a mask while in the facility.
  • We ask that you bring your own mask from home. If you do not have a mask, one will be provided to you.
  • Hospitalized patients will not be required to wear a mask while in their rooms.
  • Patients/visitors presenting to the ER or Inpatient department will be given a surgical/procedure mask while in the facility and are required to wear it while they remain in the facility.
  • Therapy and Cardiac Rehab patients please notify staff if wearing a mask will hinder your ability to work with staff.
  • Vendors will wear either a cloth or surgical/procedure mask while in the facility.