Mercy Medical Center North Iowa


Neena Singh, M.D.
Hospice & Palliative 
Medicine Physician

Dr. Neena Singh's Palliative Care journey began in 2004 while she was finishing her fellowship in Geriatric medicine at the University of Arkansas in Little Rock, where she had an opportunity to witness the most inspirational work by a small group of dedicated physicians, trying to establish and grow a strong palliative care program. She maintained her involvement with the palliative care program while practicing Geriatrics/Internal Medicine for the next many years and felt drawn to increase her involvement in Palliative Medicine and Hospice, starting with a fellowship in HPM, which she completed in July 2004.

Dr. Singh joined the Palliative Care program at Mercy Medical Center – North Iowa in the same year.

Mark Johnson, M.D.
Hospice and Palliative Medicine Physician

Dr. Mark Johnson's medical career has spanned the Midwest, beginning at the University of Iowa College of Medicine, followed by a residency at the University of Nebraska. It was during an oncology rotation during his residency that he was exposed to a newly formed statewide hospice initiative at the University of Nebraska. This interest lead him to Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa, where the possibility of a hospice program in North Iowa was being explored, evolving into the current Hospice of North Iowa program in existence today.

After collaborating in outpatient primary care and Hospice for more than 20 years, Dr. Johnson and co-director of Hospice of North Iowa, Dr. Clark, received certification in Hospice and Palliative Care in January 2003. The two immediately made plans to develop a Palliative Medicine program at Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa.

A board certified internist, Dr. Johnson practiced within a multi-specialty clinic from 1980 through 1998. He has since practiced with Mercy Internal Medicine, focusing his interests on managing difficult and chronic headache patients. Most recently, he has turned his attention to treating diabetes using a team approach to care.

Today, Dr. Johnson continues his active involvement in Hospice and Palliative Care.

Deb Groath, D.N.P.
Palliative Medicine
Nurse Practitioner

Dr. Groath graduated from Mount Mercy University in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and spent the first 10 years of her career at the University of Iowa as a nursing leader in the neurosurgical  department. She then went on to receive her Nurse Practitioner Degree and Doctoral Degree in Nursing from Winona State University in Rochester, Minnesota. She is certified as an Advanced Hospice and Palliative Care Nurse and is pursuing certification as an Advanced Holistic Nurse.

Dr. Groath joined Mercy - North Iowa in 1986, serving in a variety of leadership positions, focusing mainly on the provision of quality care. While pursuing her Doctoral degree, she focused her research on how one could be therapeutically present with patients and families and the skill set necessary while balancing the most critical aspect of self-care. She found she could best serve patients and families holistically, and listen generously to their stories, while finding ways to ease they’re suffering by joining the Palliative Care and Hospice Team in 2008.


Anna LeVan, R.N., B.S.N.
Palliative Nurse Coordinator

Anna LeVan graudated from Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa with her BSN. She spent the first 10 years of her career as a crtical care nurse. In December 2014 she joined the Mercy Palliative Care Team. 

John Swegle Pharm. D.
Clinical Pharmacist &
Associate Professor
of Pharmacy,
University of Iowa

Dr. Swegle graduated from Drake University College of Pharmacy in Des Moines in 1992 and practiced retail pharmacy in central Iowa for two years before attending graduate school. He received a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the University of Iowa in 1996 and completed a pharmacy residency in Family Medicine at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. He is also certified as a pharmacotherapy specialist by the Board of Pharmaceutical Specialities.

Dr. Swegle joined the Mercy Family Medicine Residency faculty in 1997 and began attending interdisciplinary team meetings with Hospice of North Iowa.  He has a great interest in the overall use of medications as it relates to end-of-life care.  He has publications in peer-reviewed journals and has given numerous presentations on symptom management issues in the palliative medicine and Hospice population.  

In addition to his residency responsibilities he is an Associate Professor (Clinical) at the University of Iowa College of Pharmacy.  He serves as a preceptor for clerkship students, coordinator of pharmacotherapy modules, and provides lectures on a variety of therapeutic topics.

Dr. Swegle is married with three children. He enjoys golfing, sports, and family activities.


Anne Zook
B.S.N., M.A., C.H.P.N.
Palliative Medicine Nurse


Anne Zook’s Palliative Medicine journey started with the inspirational death of her grandmother.  It was then she decided to become a nurse, realizing at some time she would be involved with end of life care. 

While working towards her BSN at the University of Iowa, she helped develop an outpatient program that focused on care of the elderly population who fell through the cracks between hospice requirements and their current model of health care.   While working for 21 years in various nursing capacities at Mercy Medical Center – North Iowa, she received her Master of Arts in Servant Leadership through Viterbo University, which allowed her deepen and develop her vocation in competent, creative, Christian leadership that works towards the common good for all.

In 2006, she helped develop both the Palliative Medicine program as well as the Hospice and Palliative Medicine Fellowship program at Mercy Medical Center - North Iowa.  She is Board Certified in Hospice and Palliative Care through NBCHPN.  She married her husband Ray on April Fools Day in 1998 and cherishes every moment they have together.  

Raquel Ponce
Palliative Medicine
Medical Secretary

Raquel Ponce is a native of Mason City, Iowa. She joined Mercy Medical Center – North Iowa in 2002 as a receptionist with the Obstetrics and gynecology for the past eleven years.

Inspired by the exceptional care her father received from Palliative Care and then later with Hospice of North Iowa, she chose to follow her heart and start a new journey with Palliative Care in August 2013 as their Medical Secretary and Fellowship Coordinator.

Raquel has two daughters, Anaya and Marcella. She enjoys family time, music, dancing and road trips.

Connie Bleile, LSW
Director, Hospice of North Iowa & Mercy Palliative Medicine

Connie Bleile attended Wartburg College in Waverly, IA and obtained her Master's Degree in Social Work from Washington University in St. Louis, MO in 1993.  She was employed in an administrative capacity for 15 years at the North Iowa Transition Center (NITC), where she served as executive director. NITC is a nonprofit agency providing community based services to adults with mental illness. 

Her interest in holistic health peaked in 2008 when she began providing EAP counseling services at Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa. In 2011 Connie assumed the role of Director of Hospice and Palliative Care.

Having lived in Mason City for the past 20 years, Connie is very active in the community including Rotary, serving on the Meals on Wheels board, church pianist, and sporting activities.  Connie is married and has four children.

Father Ken Gehling
Spiritual Care

Father Kenneth Gehling, an ordained Roman Catholic Priest received his education at Loras College, Catholic University, University of Iowa, Mt. St. Bernard Seminary, and CPE at Mental Health Institute of Iowa, Independence, Iowa. 

His professional experiences include pastoral work, chaplaincy at Mental Health Institute of Independence, Iowa State Reformatory, Anamosa, Iowa; Boys Training School of Eldora, Eldora, Iowa; Boys and Girls Correctional Facility at Toledo, Iowa; and Mercy Medical Center - North Iowa, Mason City, Iowa, since 1993.

In addition to the above experiences, Father Gehling has been a Guidance Counselor at High Schools in Worthington, Waterloo, and Cresco, Iowa.  A Principal at St. John’s in Independence, Iowa, and Newman Catholic School in Mason City, Iowa.  Also Assistant Principal at Beckman, Dyersville and Whalert, Dubuque, Iowa

Father Gehling celebrated his 50 years of Priestly Ministry in 2012. 

 Dr. Cragg
Louise Cragg, M.D.
Medical Oncologist

Dr. Cragg received her medical degree from McGill University, in Montreal, Canada in 1990. She did her residency in internal medicine at the Royal Victoria Hospital also in Montreal. An interest in experiencing a different medical system let her to pursue her training in hematology-oncology in the United States, where she trained at the University of Minnesota.

She returned to Canada for two years to work as a medical oncologist at the Montreal General Hospital. She immigrated to the United States in 1998 and worked as a hematologist-oncologist at Virginia Commonwealth University. There her work consisted of patient care, clinical research and teaching. In 2002, she moved to Iowa to be closer to her husband's family. She has enjoyed focusing on patient care and seeing a wide spectrum of hematology and oncology cases.