Michael Coyle recently was named chief executive officer (CEO) of Veterans Memorial Hospital (VMH) in Waukon.

Coyle, originally from Tracy, Minn., started in the position Aug. 3. He and his wife, Amy, currently live in Lansing and he says they are enjoying everything the community has to offer.

“I’m a big outdoors guy – and this is a great place for kayaking, hunting, fishing, going to state parks,” Coyle says. “We’re water people; we want to be as close to the river as possible.”

An additional benefit of the location, he says, is proximity to family. “Our son, Josh, and his family (wife, Kylie and daughter, Kollins) live in Sioux Falls, S.D.; we used to live nine hours from the kids – now we’re four and a half hours away.”

Amy is an avid volunteer; she has worked at the Lansing Library and looks forward to helping, if needed, in the future. She makes blankets for various organizations and has referred to herself as an “on-call grandma.” Her husband says she has been known to go for one of her frequent walks in town and return home having made four or five new friends.

“I haven’t waved so much in a long time,” Coyle says of the people they have encountered since moving to Northeast Iowa. “The people are so friendly, and the area is just so beautiful.”

Coyle has worked for 15 years as a CEO at small, rural hospitals. The appeal, for him, of VMH is in the fact that “it offers a lot of services – what is sometimes called ‘cradle-to-grave care.’ We do OB/GYN, and we do hospice and home health ‘comfort care,’ and literally almost everything in the middle,” he says. 

Coyle says the biggest challenge facing hospitals, particularly rural community hospitals like VMH, right now is “trying to figure out what our ‘new normal’ is, with COVID. Some people are still just a little nervous about going into hospitals,” he says. 

Coyle says he met recently with the housekeeping staff and asked them how they felt about the cleanliness protocols at the hospital. 

“They told me, ‘we feel very comfortable – we take so many extra precautions, now.’ VMH is probably the cleanest place you’ll find anywhere. We’ve done our due diligence.”

Coyle says there might be some lessons to be learned, here.

“You almost wonder, ‘why didn’t we do all this before?’ It’s like we’ve had a reality check. Every dollar is important to businesses right now. The ones that don’t take it more seriously? – you have to show the public you care about their health and well-being.” 

Sometimes, people aren’t sure whether hospitals are even offering full services again.

“There’s not much we’re not doing, now – especially on the surgical side,” Coyle says. “And our physical therapy department is as busy as it has been in a long time. But if you’re ever in doubt, just call. Our staff is so kind and caring, and they want to help.”

People are asked to call 563-568-3411 before arriving to the hospital, urgent care or emergency room with respiratory symptoms. Additionally, the hospital has instituted entrance restrictions in order to minimize patient exposure.

Veterans Memorial Hospital is located at 40 First St. SE, Waukon. For more information call 563-568-3411, e-mail info@vmhhospital.com or go to veteransmemorialhospital.com.