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Back to School: Ready for the Bell to Ring

Children across Central Iowa are getting ready to head back to school in the coming days.

Exemplar Care’s Stacy Hennigar, MSN, ARNP, offers up the tips below to ensure your kids are ready to go when that bell rings to start the 2022-23 school year.

  • Get Your Vaccinations

    There are a number of immunizations required of children attending licensed child care centers and elementary or secondary schools. Exemplar Care can ensure your child has the proper vaccinations to protect them and the required documentation to submit to the school. 

  • Complete Your Annual Physical/Sports Physical

    To ensure your child is developing in line with established benchmarks like height and weight, and to address any physical, social or emotional issues they may be dealing with, it is important they have a physical annually. If your child is in high school and plans to participate in school-sponsored sports, they must have a sports physical annually. We provide these physicals and complete the required paperwork to ensure they are ready to compete. 

  • Develop a Relationship

    The school years can be difficult. As such, it is a good idea to have a trusted adult—like a healthcare provider—in your child’s corner. Regular visits to your primary care provider help your child build trust and develop a relationship with someone looking out for their long-term well-being. Their provider is critical in helping them understand the importance of things like a regular sleep schedule, healthy diet, and staying hydrated. Additionally, a trusted provider can also assist them by talking through issues like bullying, peer pressure and other common issues with teens.

Staying healthy and having fun at the Iowa State Fair

The 2022 Iowa State Fair is right around the corner!

The staff at Exemplar Care loves the Iowa State Fair  and here are five things that we do not want to miss this year:

  1. Record Setting Fun: There will be a Guinness World Record Attempt on Saturday, August 20th for the largest corn hole tournament.
  2. Fun on the farm: You might see us at one of the pop-up happy hour events or at the Farm to Fair Dinner.
  3. Sensory-friendly morning: You can find a list of activities, exhibits, and calming spaces sponsored by ChildServe on August 17th at iowastatefair.org
  4. Demonstrations and lessons in the kitchen: We are great fans of the Blue Ribbon Foundation and excited to visit The Kitchen
  5. New favorite foods: There are 53 new foods for 2022 and we plan on trying all three that are competing for People’s Choice best new food. The top 3 are OMG Chicken Sandwich (Chicken City), Pork Picnic in a Cup (Iowa Pork Tent), and The Finisher (The Rib Shack). So as not to overindulge, we will sample these by sharing them as a family. Which will be your favorite?

Staying healthy at the fair

The fair may be filled with unhealthy temptations, but here are a few tips to help you stay healthy:

Stay hydrated
You are more likely to get dehydrated when outside in hot and humid weather. On average, people should drink eight to 10 glasses of water a day just to stay hydrated and healthy. Drinking water also helps to lower body temperature. Signs of dehydration are dark or less urine, dry mouth, lightheadedness, confusion, cramps, fatigue, headache, extreme thirst, flushed skin, and feeling excessively hot or cold. We recommend that your family take at least one reusable water bottle to the fair and avoid sugary drinks. There are water fountains near the restrooms inside many of the buildings, so you do not need to purchase water all day. 

Make sure you’re getting your steps in
Wear comfortable footwear and be prepared to do a lot of walking. The fair area of the fairgrounds is composed of approximately 160 acres. This means that there is plenty of opportunities for you and your family to get your steps in. There are also exercise classes such as barnyard yoga and play areas for your children to run around and kid-friendly activities for them to try out. You can also get at least your 30 minutes of recommended exercise a day by dancing along to many of the music events. 

Make healthy food choices
The fair does sell healthy options and these include fruit on a stick, sandwich wraps, or grilled turkey sandwiches amongst others. You could also bring along healthy options for you and your family to snack on as you watch the various entertainment, contests, and competitions and wait in line for rides or food. You do not need to forego other foods but maybe sample and share them rather than overindulge in them and choose at least one healthy food choice, throughout the day. You’ll feel better for it. 

So fellow fairgoers, go ahead, check out the programs, choose a day to visit, enjoy your favorite fair traditions, make memories, and stay healthy.

Take time to relax to improve your quality of life

“Sometimes, the most productive thing you can do is relax.” Mark Black

Exploring relaxation can help you give yourself a mental break when you are stressed. Stress has been linked to many health conditions, from heart problems to dementia, so using relaxation techniques can boost your overall well-being and improve your quality of life. 

How does relaxation benefit your health?

  • Improves concentration
  • Improves digestion
  • Increases blood flow
  • Lessens anger and frustration
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Lowers risk of stroke
  • Promotes emotional well-being
  • Reduces fatigue
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Slows heart rate

Many relaxation exercises can be done in a short amount of time and can fit into your daily life. Try to incorporate some of the following relaxation tips into your day.

Take a break – just stepping away from something for a few minutes or taking time away from the normal routine can provide the opportunity to feel calmer. 

Try active relaxation- gentle exercise can help you relax. Take a walk, look for a class, and try some stretches.

Focus on your breathing – learning to breathe more deeply can help you feel a lot calmer. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth and consider counting as you breathe. Determine what is most comfortable for you. 

Get creative – 

Spend time in nature – take a walk in a green space, take notice 

Listen to music – music can connect to your emotions and relax you.

Take a break from technology – try stepping away from technology for an hour, turn off your phone, tv, and computer, and try some of the ideas above. 

There are so many benefits linked to relaxation, so it’s crucial to find techniques or activities that work for you. 

If you are finding life hard right now and these tips do not feel possible, it is ok to ask for help. You are not alone. If you have concerns about your mental health, please contact your primary care provider or mental health professional.

How do you know if ear pain is serious enough to see a doctor?

Earache is a common problem, particularly in children. It can be worrying, but it’s usually caused by a minor infection and will often get better in a few days without treatment. 

What are the signs and symptoms of earache?

Earache can be a sharp, dull, or burning pain in the ear that comes and goes or is constant. You may get pain in one or both ears. Common symptoms that may accompany ear pain or earaches are:

  • Feeling pressure in the ear
  • Hearing loss
  • Fever or high temperature
  • Feeling ill
  • Fluid draining from the ear
  • In children, irritability or pulling, touching, or hugging of the ear or both ears
  • Sore throat
  • A lack of balance

What causes ear pain or ear infection?

Ear pain or ear infection are caused by bacteria and viruses. Many times, an ear infection begins after a cold or other respiratory infection. 

  • Inner ear infection: the inner ear can become swollen due to respiratory illnesses providing viral or bacterial ear infections and inflammation of the inner ear can impact your balance. This type of ear infection can begin quickly and become quite intense.
  • Middle ear infection: this is a sudden ear infection that develops quickly and gets better in a few days. It is caused by inflammation and a build-up of fluid behind the eardrum and usually occurs with or shortly after a cold or other respiratory infection. 
    • Blockage of the Eustachian tube: this is the canal that connects your middle ear to your throat and infections like cold, flu, or allergies can cause the Eustachian tube to become swollen or blocked. 
  • Outer ear infection (swimmers’ ear): this is an infection of the ear canal and is caused by too much moisture in the ear canal or by inserting something deep into the ear. These are very common in the warm, summer months but can occur at any time of year.

Other common causes of ear pain or infection are air pressure changes, buildup of earwax, or reactions to tobacco smoke. 

When to seek medical treatment?

Consider talking to a primary or urgent care provider about your symptoms and options for treatment if:

  • Symptoms show no signs of improvement over two to three days
  • Infection is recurring
  • Pain is severe
  • Other symptoms of being unwell, apart from the earache are persistent
  • You have discharge from your ears such as blood or pus

Don’t ignore ear pain

Untreated ear pain may lead to complications. If you need medical assistance, Exemplar Care is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

Schedule an urgent care appointment >

Drink Water and Stay Hydrated

Drinking plenty of water is a simple yet vital part of maintaining good health. If you don’t drink enough water each day, you risk becoming dehydrated. Warning signs of dehydration include weakness, low blood pressure, dizziness, confusion, or urine that’s dark in color. Water has no calories, so it can also help with managing body weight and reducing calorie intake. 

What are the health benefits of drinking water?

Promotes cardiovascular health – When we are well hydrated, the heart can pump blood through the body more efficiently and reduce strain on our heart. Proper hydration is particularly important for those that have existing heart troubles or who have a higher risk of heart disease.

Increases energy and brain function – Studies show that hydration plays a crucial role in how well the brain functions. Mild hydration causes issues with mood concentration, headaches, memory, fatigue, anxiety, and overall brain performance. Daily activities also cause water loss, and it is recommended that you carry a water bottle everywhere you go. 

Helps joints and muscles function correctly – Water lubricates your joints. Cartilage is 80% water, so if you become dehydrated it can lead to pain in the joints. Water also helps to cushion sensitive tissues such as the spine and brain. 

Cleanses your body  – You need water for sweat and, to make it easier to urinate and have comfortable bowel movements. 

Tips on staying hydrated

Achieving a well-hydrated body is easy. Your first step is to

  • Drink water multiple times throughout the day. Get a reusable water bottle with a straw and fill it with plain water. Sometimes using a straw is easier, and you might be surprised at how much you drink.
  • You can also get water from fresh fruits and vegetables, so it is ideal to eat a good portion of them daily.
  • Eat soft, wet foods that have high water content. These can be foods like yogurt, gelatin desserts, pureed fruit, and custard.
  • Freshen up your water. Sometimes adding a few slices of lemon or orange or some ice cubes can give water a fresh taste. This can make it easier to drink more. 
  • Take sips of water between bites of your meal. Take some time to add fluids while you eat. These sips can add up to better hydration. 

To ward off dehydration, drink fluids gradually, throughout the day. Each person’s hydration requirements are different, dependent on factors like age, body weight, medical history, health conditions, and medications being taken. 

If you or a loved one are experiencing muscle pain or fatigue even after staying well-hydrated, contact your primary care provider or urgent care.

Direct Primary Care

A Modern Healthcare Solution

Are you uninsured?

Does your insurance have a high copay and high deductible?

Do you wish your primary care provider spent more time talking with you about your health concerns?

Would you like the ability to schedule same-day or next-day appointments?

Whenever there is a need, Exemplar Care provides a way for you to access health care like never before. Their goal is to develop a lifelong relationship with their patients while helping employer groups or patients save money on healthcare. 

Direct Primary Care isn’t insurance. Instead, it’s a unique high-value membership that is available stand-alone or used to supplement high-deductible health plans and catastrophic plans. The provider works directly with the individual patient or contracts with employers through a membership. 

In return for a flat monthly membership ranging from $29 for children and $69 to $89 for adults, a local DPC, Exemplar Care provides members with an incredible level of personal care. This includes unlimited visits to their primary and 24/7 urgent care, in-clinic dispensing of wholesale medications, physicals, and more.

For more information about Direct Primary Care, contact Exemplar Care>

Convenient Access to Quality Care a ‘Game Changer’

Des Moines family finds comfort in the providers of Exemplar Care

As any parent with a child in the home can tell you, there is no predicting when a doctor visit is going to be needed. From earaches that hit in the middle of the night to sports injuries that require a look on the weekend, finding a 24/7 provider often means going to the emergency room—and paying the associated costs in terms of time and money—for care.

Diana, 34, of Des Moines, is married with a school-aged child. All too familiar with the stress associated with finding care when it is needed, an article about Exemplar Care establishing its clinic in West Des Moines caught her eye. After digging a little deeper, she decided that Direct Primary Care (DPC) would be a great option for her family.


Diana says the family has made multiple trips to urgent care clinics and emergency rooms over the years to address a range of issues including colds, earaches, sprains, and strains that happened after hours. The cost of those visits, coupled with the inconvenience of calling around to try to find a clinic that was offering appointments, was stressful. The fact that the family now has a single point of contact at Exemplar Care, and access to no cost urgent care appointments 24/7, provides a lot of peace of mind.

The access alone has been a game changer for Diana. While experiencing long-term effects of COVID-19, she leaned on her provider.

“My case wound up being very complex,” says Diana, who sees Elli Vore, PA-C. “Having that single point of contact with Elli is so nice, especially when you’re not feeling well. I’m not having to bounce around to different providers and explain things multiple times. Elli knows my history and I can kind of just decompress in my appointments with her. Being able to have a conversation with her about what I was feeling and experiencing has made a huge difference in my life. It greatly reduced my health anxiety.”

While Diana and the family have made use of office visits—both Primary and Urgent Care as part of their monthly DPC membership—they have also used a number of other tools to get medical advice from their home. From phone calls and text messages to telemedicine, Diana has made use of every mode of communication offered by the Exemplar Care team.


“From the start, we had a chance to sit down with the providers and really get to know them,” Diana says. “The first time we needed care it was exactly as they told us it would be. They make receiving care so much easier.

In short, Diana says the team at Exemplar Care is focused on building relationships.

“They look at us, every member of the family, as a whole person,” she says. “We aren’t just an ear infection or a cough or a cold. I can always count on my provider to be in tune with me and to know what issue is going on with me. They look at things holistically to develop a treatment plan that addresses everything we are experiencing, instead of just treating the symptom of the moment.

It is the personal touch of her primary care provider that has provided the most comfort to Diana, together with the knowledge that urgent care is open 24/7. 

“Elli has been amazing,” Diana says. “When we need her, she is there. That level of care is priceless to us. Because, on a Sunday night, when your child is running a fever and you don’t know what to do, it is incredibly comforting to know in a phone call you can get some answers.”


“In the past, it may have been an expensive and time-consuming trip to the emergency room,” Diana continues. “Now we reach out in the way that is most convenient for us, confident that the provider on the other end knows us and is prepared to care for us.”

Diana concluded that “With our high deductible plan, Direct Primary Care is the perfect fit for us.”

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A Breath of Fresh Air

Ease of access, high quality care, and cost-effective services set Exemplar Care apart.

When he began looking for a new primary care provider, Joe had three priorities. He wanted easy access to care, he wanted an option that was cost effective, and he wanted a provider who was willing to take the time to get to know him.

He found it all in the Direct Primary Care (DPC) offering at Exemplar Care.


“I’m a busy guy,” says Joe, who is the city manager for a community about 35 minutes from Des Moines. “So taking a day for a routine appointment is hard for me to do—especially when you consider with my old doctor you were doing it for about a five minute appointment.”

Joe sees Stacy Hennigar, ARNP for his care. As a seasonal allergy sufferer, he says it has been convenient to be able to link up with Stacy at the onset of his symptoms without having to worry about a co-pay or a long wait to be seen. Joe has even been able to reach Stacy via secure teleconference to address an urgent need recently.

“It’s a tough time of year for me with my sinuses because of the allergies,” Joe says. “We are more than a half hour drive from Des Moines, so it was nice that I was able to connect with Stacy online. I was able to do it during my lunch hour. Not only did that save me time at work, it saved me the gas. I got the same level of service without having to leave town.”


Joe was able to get his appointment taken care of and his prescription called in without taking any time off work. The experience was night and day compared to the more traditional primary care clinic he had been going to.

“It’s night and day,” Joe says. “It is just so much easier to access, and everyone I have been seen by at Exemplar Care has listened to what I have had to say. They aren’t just treating something. They are treating you. That is a breath of fresh air.

He has been so impressed with the level of care and convenience offered at Exemplar Care—at a low monthly fee—that he has started recommending it to others.


“As a city manager I like to be able to help those who are headed into retirement find options that will work for them in terms of healthcare,” Joe says. “COBRA coverage can be pretty expensive, and my experience with Exemplar Care convinces me that it would be a great option for those who are retiring but not yet Medicare age.”

“It has been a great thing for me and my family,” he continues. “It should definitely be an option that others are looking at.”

Sun Safety: Keep the Sun Fun

Make the most of your summertime fun by staying safe in the sun! Incorporate these simple sunscreen, hat, and hydration tips into your everyday routine to protect yourself in hot and sunny conditions.  

Festivals, pools, backyard BBQs – oh my! It’s the season for summertime celebrations.  

But nothing can put summertime fun on ice like a sunburn! To help you keep sun safety top-of-mind this summer, we’ve compiled a few tips to work into your everyday routine. No matter the occasion, your age, or comfort level in the sun, these simple and affordable habits will help keep you safe when spending extra time outdoors.

While it’s especially important to make sun safety a priority during the summer months, these are good practices to keep yourself safe from damaging UV rays all year round. 

Apply SPF 30. Before heading outside in sunny or even cloudy conditions, lather yourself in SPF 30 or higher. Broad spectrum sunscreen offers protection against both UVA and UVB rays. Sunburn is a sign of short-term overexposure to these rays, and premature aging and skin cancer can be side effects of prolonged UV exposure. 

Be sure to apply sunscreen on all uncovered skin. Your face, nose, ears, neck, hands, and feet are especially important to protect as they are most exposed to the sun. It might be helpful to choose a daily face moisturizer with built-in SPF to ensure your face is protected every day. 

Reapply every two hours. This may sound silly but read the sunscreen label to make sure you’re applying it correctly! Sunscreen is highly regulated by the FDA, so you can learn a lot from the labels including reapplication times. At the minimum, you should reapply sunscreen every two hours. No sunscreen is waterproof, so you’ll need to apply more often if you’re swimming or sweating.

Wear sunglasses or a hat. The sun’s harsh rays can not only affect your skin but also your eyes! According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, overexposure to UV rays (often from the sun) can cause photokeratitis. Like a sunburn on your skin, this painful, temporary eye condition might not be noticed until after the damage has occurred. Symptoms may include eye discomfort, swelling, blurry vision, and sensitivity to light

To avoid short-term symptoms or even long-term damage that can cause eye disease or cancer, purchase sunglasses that provide 100% UV or UV400 protection, or block both UVA and UVB rays. Make a habit of wearing sunglasses when your outside or driving during daylight hours.

A wide-brimmed hat is also a great shield to protect your eyes, and the skin on your face, scalp, ears, and neck from the sun. Consider keeping a spare hat in your car or garage so it is always at your fingertips when you’re heading outside. 

Drink water. Water is crucial to protecting your entire body, especially in hot and humid conditions when you may be overexerting yourself! If you’re dehydrated and experiencing prolonged sun or heat exposure, you could be at risk of heat exhaustion. 

Before you go outside to do yardwork, exercise, play, or hit a local community event, be sure to drink plenty of water. Bring a water bottle to make it easy to keep drinking water during your time outside and be sure to continue hydrating once you’ve returned inside.

Proactive sun protection can help keep you safe and cool in the summer sun. If you’re experiencing a severe sunburn, photokeratitis, dehydration, or heat exhaustion, visit our 24-hour Urgent Care Clinic in West Des Moines.