April is Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month

April is Child Abuse Prevention Awareness month.  In April, we recognize the importance of families and communities working together to prevent child abuse and neglect and to promote the social and emotional well-being of children and families.  April is a time to help people understand that safe, stable and nurturing relationships and environments are necessary to ensure that children grow up happy and healthy. We all play a role in supporting the well-being of others during this time.

In honor of Child Abuse Prevention Awareness month, the Burgess Public Health Learning for Life program and the Monona County Child Abuse Prevention Council would like to promote positive childhood experiences to build healthy families and strong communities in Monona County.  We have planned a “Family Bingo” card for families to complete together.  The bingo squares will be filled with no/low cost family activities to promote positive bonding and togetherness.  With generous funding from the Harrison, Monona and Shelby Early Childhood Board, when a family completes a “blackout” and turn their card in, they will be eligible for a prize drawing of a family pass to the Henry Doorly Zoo or other family fun prizes.  Cards will be distributed to all three elementary schools in Monona County.

Other activities to highlight the month include the Monona County Board of Supervisors signing a proclamation declaring April as Child Abuse Prevention Awareness month to show their support to the families and children in our county.  The Burgess Public Health Learning for Life program and the Monona County Child Abuse Prevention Council would also like to “plant” pinwheel flower pots across our county to raise awareness for policies and programs that enable children, families and communities to thrive. The blue pinwheel is the national symbol for Prevent Child Abuse America.   If you would like to have a pinwheel flower pot placed in your business, please reach out to dlahr@burgesshc.org or call (712) 423-9175.

The Monona County Child Abuse Prevention Council meets regularly to ensure that EVERY CHILD has a safe childhood free of violence. The Council is actively seeking members. For information on how to be involved or if you or a friend would like to learn how to participate in educational early childhood home visits that will help your child’s growth and development, please contact Burgess Public Health at 712-423-9175. Our Learning for Life Program is a free home visiting program for families with children prenatal through kindergarten entry. The Learning for Life Program is funded by grants from the Harrison, Monona and Shelby Early Childhood Iowa Board, Iowa Child Abuse Prevention Program grant funding and the Monona County Board of Supervisors.

Burgess Accepts Bomgaars Ladies’ Night Donation

In late October, Bomgaars held a night of festive fun and shopping for ladies to raise awareness of women’s health issues and pass along a 20% discount on purchased items. A donation of the evening’s total sales was pledged back to the radiology department at Burgess Health Center.

“We are grateful to have the support from our local Bomgaar’s store and the ladies that came out to enjoy the discounts,” Jenny Coble, Director of the Radiology Department, stated. “Our communities rally when it’s for a good cause, and in this case, cancer screening and women’s health.”

The donation of $735.58 is earmarked to support mammography services at Burgess Health Center. Breast cancer cannot be prevented; however, Burgess Health Center continues to provide and invest in the latest technologies, education, and support services for early detection.


PHOTO: Carl Behne, CEO, Jenny Coble, Director of Radiology, Eric Ridder, Manager at Bomgaars in Onawa, and Bobbi Johnson, Director of Foundation.


2022 Poinsettia Ball – Exceeds Goal Once Again!

The recent “Poinsettia Ball – Boots & Bling – It’s a Fundraising Thing!” was another huge success – grossing nearly $105,000 to purchase new endoscopy equipment for the Surgery Department. Endoscopy or “scope” is one of the most common medical imaging methods for screening and diagnosing conditions affecting the lungs, colon, throat, and gastrointestinal tract. On average, the Burgess Surgery Department performs 380 scopes per year.

“Our scope equipment is aging, and with a new scope, our surgeons can see images clearer and determine whether or not a biopsy is needed,” said Bobbi Johnson, Director of the Foundation. “In some cases, discover and even prevent some cancers.”

After being held virtually for the past two years, the Burgess Foundation’s 38th annual event offered two ways to enjoy and give this year. An online auction and the main event, held in person at the Onawa Community Center.

The online auction ran from November 28 to December 2, 2022, attracting nearly 70 registered bidders who enjoyed friendly competition, outbidding one another until the last minute on unique packages and items. On December 10, 2022, over 190 guests enjoyed an evening of food, fun, and philanthropy and enjoyed heavy hors d’oeuvres, a live auction, and a DJ for entertainment. Neither event would have been as successful without the items and packages donated by local businesses, community members, and Burgess staff/departments.

“I am continually amazed by the compassion from our supporters and their investment in growing our healthcare services at Burgess,” added Johnson. “On behalf of the Burgess Foundation Board of Directors, we appreciate your commitment to our mission and couldn’t do it without you. Our heartfelt thanks to you all.”

The Burgess Foundation Board of Directors would like to extend a sincere thank you to each and every one of the donors, local business owners, corporate donors, as well as everyone who has supported this year’s Poinsettia Ball.

Burgess Health Center Earns ACR Accreditation

Burgess Health Center Radiology Department has been awarded a three-year term of accreditation in mammography as the result of a recent review by the American College of Radiology (ACR). Mammography is a specific type of imaging test that uses a low-dose X-ray system to examine breasts. A mammography exam, called a mammogram, is used to aid in the early detection and diagnosis of breast diseases in women.

The ACR gold seal of accreditation represents the highest level of image quality and patient safety. It is awarded only to facilities meeting ACR Practice Parameters and Technical Standards after a peer-review evaluation by board-certified physicians and medical physicists who are experts in the field. Image quality, personnel qualifications, adequacy of facility equipment, quality control procedures and quality assurance programs are assessed. The findings are reported to the ACR Committee on Accreditation, which subsequently provides the practice with a comprehensive report that can be used for continuous practice improvement.

The ACR, founded in 1924, is a professional medical society dedicated to serving patients and society by empowering radiology professionals to advance the practice, science and professions of radiological care. The College serves more than 37,000 diagnostic/interventional radiologists, radiation oncologists, nuclear medicine physicians, and medical physicists with programs focusing on the practice of medical imaging and radiation oncology and the delivery of comprehensive health care services.


Learning for Life Hosts Two Successful Programs

Burgess Public Health and the Learning for Life program were pleased to host two Self-Defense and Abduction Awareness programs, one in Onawa and one in Mapleton.  The Public Health Department applied for and received special funding from the Community Partnership for Protecting Children (CPPC) and the HMS Decategorization Boards.  This funding made it possible to provide the programs for free to the residents of Monona County.

During the events, Public Health and the Learning for Life team provided information from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children called “Be Safer with KidSmartz” and the Onawa Taekwondo Club provided instruction on self-defense techniques and how to use one’s voice and body language.  The goal of the event was not only to bring families together but also strengthen them by providing hands-on experiences to help reduce stress and anxiety when in public and during their day to day lives.  40 adults and youth participated in the events and the majority left feeling more confident with a sense of control over their surroundings.  Many walked away with door prizes including summer pool passes, themed game night, meal, and cookie decorating baskets.  All participants were able to take personal alarms and a Child ID Kit from the National Child Identification program.

Learning for Life is a free home visiting program for anyone in Monona County with children prenatal to age five.  The program aims to assist parents in giving their children the best possible start by building a strong relationship and increasing their confidence.  The Learning for Life Program is funded by grants from the Harrison, Monona and Shelby Early Childhood Iowa Board, Iowa Child Abuse Prevention Program grant funding and the Monona County Board of Supervisors.  For more information on this program, call 712-423-9175.

If you are interested in joining the Onawa Taekwondo Club’s regular classes, call Jaimie Murray at 712-420-2273.

Pictured: Annilia Pfeiffer and Addison Halverson


Sherri Johnston-McDowell Retires After 44 Years

On Monday, December 5th Sherri Johnston-McDowell was honored with a celebration for her 44 years of commitment and dedication to Burgess Health Center.

“Sherri truly leads with her heart in all she does. Watching her navigate all of her roles in her career and life is nothing short of amazing,” said Erin Brekke, Vice President of Support Services at Burgess Health Center. “She has an absolute heart of gold, who cares for all people.”

Sherri began her career at Burgess after she graduated from nursing school and the rest is history.  During Sherri’s 44 years she has held many roles, but none can compare to the role of caregiver.

“I have so many wonderful stories of my caregiving opportunities and have made so many lifelong friends along the way,” said Sherri. “As I reflect on my time here at Burgess my thoughts don’t take me to the positions I have held or my time as a Director, but the relationships and interactions I have had with my peers, patients, and the communities we serve.”

Through Sherri’s hard work and devotion to her Home Health and Hospice team and Burgess Health Center, she has ensured the success of the department for future generations to come.

Thank you, Sherri, for an incredible 44 years. Take the time to celebrate all of your accomplishments, enjoy your newfound freedom, and always remember what a positive difference you’ve made at Burgess.

Sharon Taylor – Leaving a Legacy

On Monday, November 21, Burgess Health Center celebrated Sharon Taylor’s legacy as she retires from full-time work at Burgess Health Center.

Sharon’s career began 48 years ago working part-time for Burgess to set up the education program. Since then, the impact she has had on Burgess is one for the record books.

“Sharon has always supported Burgess and has been the organization’s biggest champion and advocate,” said Erin Brekke, Vice President of Support Services at Burgess Health Center. “You can feel the pride Sharon has for this organization, and over all these years, through difficult times of change, that has never wavered. Even through a pandemic.”

Sharon was instrumental in the success and startup of many organizations, programs and departments at Burgess. Including establishing the education program, the Home Health Department, the Swing Bed Program, Employee Wellness and Community Wellness programs, and Burgess’ own employee-funded organization, Burgess People Care. In more recent years, she oversaw Infection Control and Prevention, Compliance and Risk Management, and Privacy and Accreditation.

For her commitment and devotion to Burgess, Sharon received a Guardian Angel Award and an engraved paver with her name in the Healing Garden both from Burgess People Care.

“It has been an honor to work at Burgess over the last 48 years, and I want to offer my sincere thanks to our employees whose hard work and dedication have allowed us to achieve so much,” said Sharon. “I also want to thank our patients and communities for their ongoing support. I have worked with many individuals over the years and am confident that my predecessors will continue excellent leadership for Burgess. It has been a pretty smooth transition.”

Sharon’s hard work and dedication to Burgess has created some big shoes to fill. The legacy she is leaving will be impactful for the future of Burgess, our patients, and the communities we serve. Sharon has decided to stay on as PRN (as needed) to assist in the transition of her multiple roles. Thank you, Sharon, for providing us with 48 years of knowledge and expertise. Here’s to a happy retirement and wishing you all the best!

Photo from left to right: (back row) Mark and Jenny (Taylor) Dehn, Sharon and Gary Taylor, Jessica Taylor (front row) Merrick Dehn, Graham Riley, Denver Riley


Burgess People Care Community Thanksgiving Dinner

Need a family to share dinner with on Thanksgiving Day? Join Burgess People Care and the family and friends of Nancy Broer as they host the 13th Annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner. As in years past, we will serve traditional Thanksgiving dinners to area residents, assuring no one misses out on this customary feast because they are alone or unable to prepare a meal.

The Thanksgiving Dinner will be held on the national holiday Thursday, Nov. 24 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Turkey, stuffing, salads, vegetable dishes, other sides, and pies will be served.

The annual dinner feeds hundreds of adults, senior citizens, and families. The meal will be served at the First Christian Church located at 722 15th Street in Onawa. Free will donations are accepted, but not expected.

“Burgess People Care will continue to fulfill Nancy’s dream of bringing people together on Thanksgiving for as long as we can,” says Nancy’s niece, Teresa Butler. “She started this tradition because she wanted those who are alone or in need to enjoy a warm, traditional dinner in a family atmosphere on the exact holiday.”

Burgess People Care is a long-time employee committee of Burgess Health Center that raises funds to support community drives, events, and fellow employees. Another partner in this dinner is the Onawa Chamber of Commerce. Both organizations realize that sponsoring this event enhances the overall quality of life in Onawa and the surrounding areas.

Persons experienced with cooking for crowds will prepare the main course. Burgess volunteers and family members will prepare special dishes. Family and friends of Nancy will be among the volunteers, giving of their time to serve those in attendance on Thanksgiving.

Those who wish to attend, please make a meal reservation by noon on Friday, Nov. 18, to ensure that there is more than enough food. Please call Burgess Human Resources at 712-423-9200. If there is no answer, leave a message with your name, phone number and the number of people attending.

Guardian Angel Recognized at Burgess Health Center

Burgess Health Center is proud to announce the nomination of Abbie Nielsen, RN in the Inpatient Services Department, for the Burgess Foundation Guardian Angel Award.

The family of Carolyn Westergaard want to recognize and thank Abbie for her attention, confident care, and professional concern for Carolyn during her last loving hours.

Abbie was knowledgeable and alert to health details, such as calling Dr. Garred and making Carolyn comfortable during her brief stay at Burgess Health Center. Carolyn and her family trusted her health to the medical professionals at Burgess.

Burgess Foundation’s Guardian Angel program provides patients, family members, and friends a chance to show their gratitude to a physician, nurse, or another caregiver who has played an exceptional role in their lives. The Guardian Angel received an acknowledgment letter announcing that a donation has been made in their honor and given a custom-crafted lapel pin to wear proudly.

Did a caregiver at Burgess make a memorable difference for you or your family? If so, you can honor that special person in a highly visible way through Burgess Foundation’s Guardian Angel program. It is more than a pin. When you take advantage of our Guardian Angel program, you also help ensure the future of outstanding health care in the region.

Photo: Dr. John Garred, Bobbi Johnson, Foundation Director, Kathy Westergaard (Carolyn’s daughter-in-law), Abbie Nielsen, and Chris Cleaver, Director of Inpatient Services.