More than just physical neighbors, Floyd Valley Healthcare (FVH) and Gehlen Catholic (GCS) Preschool-12th Grade School in Le Mars have enjoyed a rich history of collaboration. Some projects benefit the hospital and some projects benefit the school, but it is the community that is better because of these collaborations.
The school coordinates Mission Honduras & Then Feed Just One, a ministry of students, health care professionals and community members that work together to improve the conditions of the people of Honduras. Over the years, the hospital has been a supporter of Mission Honduras through staff volunteers, donating medical supplies and participating in the Then Feed Just One meal packing program. In addition to medical services, volunteers help build infrastructure including wells and buildings. In 2004, a young child was brought to the United States and FVH was honored to be included, as well as other advanced hospitals, to help treat his chronic condition.
Celebrate My Drive, a State Farm promotion, educated students on the dangers of distracted driving. Gehlen students wrote, filmed and produced a short film utilizing the local ambulance service and the FVH Emergency Department. Then the hospital helped spread the word and secured votes for the GCS driving project. The film earned the school a monetary gift for education in advance of prom.
Beth Schlichte, GCS art teacher, challenges her seventh-grade art students with a service project each spring. The class creates posters that vividly advertise the FV Foundation Helping Children Benefit Golf Tournament in support of pediatric projects. Annually, nearly 30 posters are created and hung throughout town to advertise the golf tournament. Participating students receive a certificate and following a hospital employee vote, the top three posters receive prizes provided by the hospital.
Floyd Valley also enjoys regular staff interactions with GCS students. For nearly 15 years, FVH Administrator Mike Donlin and Community Relations Manager Ann Cole-Nelson have visited the second-grade classrooms through a reading literacy program. Each week, time is shared reading a selected book and discussing the lessons with the students. Mary Helen Gibson, the hospital’s director of human resources, enjoys a weekly GCS lunch through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. FVH employees have also volunteered with a local program that provides weekend snack packages for GCS students in need.
There is also a special, intergenerational bond that has formed between GCS and Park Place Estates Assisted Living, which is part of the hospital. Students visit residents in their apartments each month for fellowship. In addition, GCS includes the assisted living center during their fall service day plans including washing windows, cleaning common areas and playing games with the residents. During National Assisted Living Week, students have helped with manicures, craft club and outside activities.
GCS students are also mindful of the spiritual needs of the residents, including conducting a service onsite for Ash Wednesday with distribution of ashes. Both the residents and students enjoy this special time together and every opportunity creates a learning experience for all involved.
The school is also active in the health care of the community. GCS students are members of the Plymouth County Health Planning Committee held at the hospital. This group meets monthly during the school year to enhance and improve the health status of county residents. The Diocese of Sioux City and Innovative Business Consultants partner with the school and hospital in providing annual health screenings for the school faculty and staff. Students are participants in Career Observation and Experience Health Day at FVH. In conjunction with a Floyd Valley Clinics physician, there are plans in motion for GCS to participate in “No Shave November” to increase prostate cancer awareness for future years.
In addition to volunteer collaboration, FVH regularly see patients at the school for physical, occupational and speech therapies. There is education and community health support for the school nurse, faculty and staff. Avera Home Medical Equipment of Floyd Valley recently donated a wheelchair for a needy student.
This is just a small list of the collaboration between these two entities. If history prevails, both Floyd Valley Healthcare and Gehlen Catholic Schools will continue to collaborate well into the future. It truly is win-win for both!Share this story.