New Faces In MCMC PT Department

31 Mar 2021 News

A pair of new faces have joined the staff in Mountrail County Medical Center’s Physical Therapy Department this month. Zachary Mravec and Taylor Augustine, recent graduates from Cleveland State University and an engaged couple, have taken traveling positions that will see them in the facility at least through June with an option to extend.

Mravec is originally from Rocky River, Ohio, having started his career as a licensed massage therapist for seven years. He says that he knew he wanted to be a physical therapist and used the career in massage therapy as a way to pay for the schooling.

Augustine is originally from a small town in Colorado, very similar to Stanley. As an undergrad, she focused on dance and was a professional dancer for ten years in Seattle, Wa. When she went to Cleveland for graduate school, the couple met in the same class.

They have chosen to be in Stanley and North Dakota, saying that it allows them the adventure of travel while working as physical therapists. They have a goal to travel for three years or so. It will enable them to see the country and in the end to better settle down with their finances in place and pay for their upcoming wedding. It also fits into the fact that both say they are a bit of a wanderer, liking to travel and try new things. They also look forward to being together in a setting where they can gain a variety of experience working with outpatient and hospital setting.

Their differences in training and background will also bring new skills to the MCMC Physical Therapy Department, something that department head Heidi Nielsen says she is looking forward to. This will benefit not only patients, but also give Nielsen insight into some specialized areas of physical therapy that she can use well into the future.

Taylor’s focus has been on dance rehabilitation and physical therapy. She has done continuing education and courses that have allowed her to specialize in treatment for performing arts. She is on the registry for doctors for dancers and the only provider currently in the state of North Dakota with that designation.

She also has completed level one of three in another niche specialty for pelvic health. This specialty deals with incontinence, pelvic pain, rehab after birth and pelvic floor issues for both men and women. She says that while physicians may see a patient with a pelvic floor dysfunction, pain or otherwise, not many look for the signs that lead to a different approach. That includes finding that patients with low back pain may actually have a pelvic floor issue.

When it comes to the dance rehab and therapy, she says that she can work with dancers of any age from the young child learning to dance, to the professional dancer, and the aging dancer who still dances recreationally. Well versed in all styles of dance, she says that she can treat all dance styles. That includes helping injured dancers with the rehab necessary to return to dance, as well as helping dancers enhance their performance as they train back to the demands of choreography. For the younger dancers, she says that she can do pointe shoe screenings, as well as helping them with training and safety.

Education, she says, begins with adolescent dancers. She has worked with professional dancers in the past, but her goal is to help young dancers prevent injury with education.

Zach’s background and focus deals with vestibular issues. He spent fifteen weeks in a clinic that focused on those issues including diagnosing and developing a plan of care and aftercare for patients who suffer from those dizziness and vertigo issues. The goal, while seeing a patient in therapy, is to provide them with the information to care for  those issues at home as well.

Beyond that, he says that anything neurological or involving the brain piques his interest. That has included helping patients with concussion issues. He also helps patients return to work and with prework testing. Having worked with workers’ comp patients, he was surprised at how motivated people are to get back to work.

Taylor is involved with the American Physical Therapy Association, a professional network that includes conferences and events to further the education of its members. She has also worked in advocacy, spending time at Capital Hill to address issues.

As a pair, they just became National Park members, starting at Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota with a mission to see most of the national parks.

They are also looking forward to experiencing life in Stanley, getting to know the residents and the community. Taylor says that she enjoys being back in a small town and the community feeling that comes with that. Stanley, they say, feels cozy, welcoming and friendly. For Taylor, she grew up that way and says that it is nice to be back in the circle.

As for the facility, they say that MCMC provides a great working environment. Everyone is approachable and in it for the right reasons, they want to help people. The approach is different than in a large city facility and feels more like why they wanted to work in healthcare.

Zach hopes that eventually they can also start some planning for nursing home residents. With the challenges that COVID has presented to nursing homes, he says they could maybe start with a small balance or dance course or class to increase activity. He would like to take that onto their plates to promote in the facility.

PT Department Head Heidi Nielsen says that she is thankful that the transition went so smoothly as one set of traveling therapists was leaving, this couple was coming in. Although the licensing stalled, it came through at the perfect time.

The skills that both bring to the table are something that Nielsen looks forward to learning more about.

She says that they see quite a few patients with vestibular issues. During her schooling, she says, they got the gist of how to treat those patients, but she did not have the intensive hands on experiences that Zach had in his clinic rotations. She looks forward to refining her techniques and helping patients find the appropriate after and home care, saying that if they can take those skills to home practice the therapists have done their job.

As for Taylor’s pelvic health training, Nielsen says this is something that needs more light shed on it. People have kept their issues quiet and do not like to talk about it. Trained hands and minds can find a way to improve that, saying that “just because it is frequent does not mean it is normal”.

She looks forward to learning from both of them and refining her skills along the way. “It is exciting for me, too,” she said. “Everyone has a different focus and passion. To get to see and learn from that allows others to grown and help patients more”. For MCMC as a rural clinic in a rural community, Nielsen says that “to be able to cover so many more avenues is something you do not typically see in rural care”.

A new Family Nurse Practitioner is starting at Mountrail County Medical Center in Stanley this month, helping to fill a need at the facility.

Jessica Charon, DNP, FNP-C, is originally from Carrington, graduating from Carrington High School. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, graduating in 2014. After working as an RN in Glasgow, MT for three years at a critical access hospital, she moved to Bismarck, where she continued her education and worked as an emergency room nurse at St. Alexius. She graduated in April of this year from the University of Mary with her doctorate of nursing practice (DNP) with a focus on family nurse practitioner (FNP).

Choosing MCMC for the next step in her career, Charon says that she has always loved rural health. Growing up in a small town, she says that practicing in a rural setting allows her to practice medicine in a setting she passionate about. While you see a is little bit of everything, patients also become like family to you. When she graduated, she knew she wanted to stay in North Dakota. Visiting Stanley, she says that she really liked the facility. The flexibility of the position, makes this job a great fit for her family.

Charon started at Mountrail County Medical Center a few weeks ago with her hire date of December 1. She is filling a gap for providers by becoming an exclusive emergency room provider. That means that she will be working eight twenty-four hour days per month. She is currently training with ENP-FNP Rich Laksonen as she prepares to take on her role. She says that with her previous experience she is more comfortable in the role as an emergency provider. She says that she loves coming into work in this setting and the challenge of not knowing what will be coming in the door with each patient. That, she says, keeps you on your toes and makes you learn.

She has signed a three year contract with MCMC and says that she is happy to be there. She points to the working relationships and a great work environment as a breath of fresh air. She credits great upper management on all levels for making that possible. She says that having great management and younger management staff means a more progressive attitude towards health care. Forward thinking and innovative medical care means the facility is doing great things for the community and she looks forward to being part of that.

Signing with MCMC, she says, is giving her the opportunity to fulfill what she sees as her professional long-term goals. She wants to establish a role she can stay in, providing good patient care while becoming more confident in her job. She believes that Stanley is a fantastic place for her to continue her journey. She is looking to certify as an ENP, specializing in emergency care. Following Rich’s training and skills in Stanley is something she believes will allow her to meet those goals.

Her current schedule does not have set days, but rather it is those eight days per month. That could be split over different times throughout the month, depending on facility needs. She says that Rich Laksonen does his days in a stretch, traveling as he does each month. She says that living closer to Stanley allows her to split those days up to meet staffing needs for the facility.

Her husband Benjamin works doing fiber installation and property management in Bismarck. The couple has two children, three year old daughter Kinley and four month old son Lincoln. The couple will continue to live in Bismarck for now. In the off time, the family enjoys traveling, being outdoors, camping and hunting.

“We are very excited to have Jessica join our MCMC family. The minute we met her we knew she would be the perfect fit to round out our team of Providers. We now are fully staffed with exceptionally qualified and caring Providers for our patients. And we look forward to working together as a team to position ourself and start implementing our vision that will propel MCMC to the next level,” says Steph Everett, MCMC Administrator/CEO/Foundation Director/PR and Marketing Director.

Why Should You Mask Up?

23 Oct 2020 News

Mountrail County Medical Center released the following information this week.

With the number of COVID-19 cases continuing to rise, not just in our state, but also right here in Mountrail County, many of us are rightfully concerned. Just this week, Mountrail County’s risk designation changed from “moderate” to “high” risk. We have 96 active cases of COVID-19 in our county alone, as of Monday, October 19, 2020. North Dakota and Mountrail County are seeing higher numbers of COVID-19 than at any time during the previous months of the pandemic.

This has many of us anxious and concerned. We are concerned about our own health, the health of our children, our elderly parents and grandparents, our teachers, our healthcare providers, our friends and fellow community members. We worry about our jobs, whether our daycares will get shut down, whether our children will be able to stay in school, whether we will be able to visit our elderly family members. All of these are legitimate concerns.

Unfortunately, as our numbers of COVID-19 rise, these threats to our loved ones, our jobs, our schools, daycares, and communities rise as well. What can we do to help mitigate these risks? The answer is simple… MASKUP Mountrail County.

Coronavirus is spread by respiratory droplets that are expelled into the air when we talk, breathe, cough and sneeze. A mask acts as a simple barrier to help prevent these droplets from traveling into the air and onto the people around us. There is growing evidence from both clinical and laboratory studies that demonstrate that masks reduce the spray of these respiratory droplets when worn over the mouth and nose.

When we combine wearing a mask with other simple but effective infection control measures such as frequent hand washing, avoiding close contact, regularly cleaning and disinfecting, and staying home when we are ill, we have the power to DRASTICALLY reduce the risk of transmission COVID-19 and the subsequent consequences to our community. We want our children in school, we want to be able to continue to go to work, we want our parents and grandparents healthy. We as a community have the power to keep each other safe and healthy. It starts with you. #maskupmountrailcounty.

New Doctor to See Patients at MCMC

23 Oct 2020 News

Dr. Tracy Tomjack will start seeing patients at Mountrail County Medical Center in Stanley starting on Thursday, Nov. 5.

Originally from Parshall, Tomjack graduated from Parshall High School in 1999. She attended NDSCS in Wahpeton for one year, studying computer programming and then spent two years at Northwest College in Powell, WY, earning an associate degree in photography. She moved on to an undergraduate program at Minnesota State University in Moorhead in exercise science which is when she started looking into medicine as a career. After attending medical school at Des Moines University in Iowa, she did a general surgery internship with UND for one year and a family medicine residence at Big Stone Gap, VA.

She came back to North Dakota and spent three years in family practice in Hettinger before deciding she wanted to specialize and did a fellowship in primary care sports medicine at Geisinger in Wilkes-Barre and Scranton, Pennsylvania. Following that she returned to North Dakota and took a position with McKenzie County Healthcare System in Watford City.

Her practice is primary care sports medicine, focusing on nonoperative orthopedics. That includes a multitude of services including casting, splinting, arthritis injections, helping patients with back or neck pain, concussion treatment, ligaments and tendons. She says that includes any ache or pain along a muscle, bone or joint area.

Working hand in hand with Dr. Joshi she says that is good for patients. She can help expedite the visits as a patient gets ready for surgery or get them on the surgery schedule if needed, as well as helping with postoperative visits.

She also says that she looks forward to offering advanced technology and newer ways to help patients. In addition to injections including steroids and gels, she says that platelet-rich plasma should be available in the next few months. It takes your own blood and spin it down to isolate the platelets which they then inject into the sore spot – joint, tendon, etc. The platelets release growth factors which can help in the healing and pain process. She also says that using ultrasound guidance for injections allows her to look at the injury and provide better diagnostics and treatment. A DO, she says that she also uses osteopathic manipulative therapy, which is similar to chiropractic therapy. While she likes to specialize in the bones and muscles, she wants to look at all the different ways she can help her patients feel better.

Her schedule has her in Watford City on Mondays and Fridays, Tioga on the fourth Thursday of the month and now will include Stanley on the first Thursday of the month. She hopes to start seeing patients in New Town as well, but says that is still a work in progress. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Tomjack patients will call McKenzie County Healthcare Systems.

Adding Stanley to her schedule, she says, makes sense. With Dr. Joshi already established seeing patients here, they work well together but she has a unique niche to add to treatments. She also says that being closer to home is awesome and she likes being able to offer services to patients closer to home. While they may need to travel for surgery, they can have their follow up appointments at home. Stanley also feels, she says, like a hometown crowd, where she knows the people. She also says that small towns deserve good medical care without having to go to larger cities.

Tomjack will also be working closely with the MCMC physical therapy department, saying that the facility and resources available are amazing for a small town. As for the sports side, she says that she looks forward to helping high school athletes get back to playing as soon as they can.

She and her husband, Cameron, are living in Parshall where they are also helping her parents Jan and Greg Boschee on the family farm. Tracy says that she knew she wanted to come back to North Dakota. This is home and she enjoys the rural, country atmosphere. With family here and the farm, they are also able to do some of the farming as well.

Her husband Cameron came from Nebraska with the oil boom as a landman. He lived in Stanley for close to eight years during that time. The couple has been married for about four years.

“Partnering again with McKenzie County Healthcare Systems came naturally,” says MCMC CEO Steph Everett.  “We already had the collaboration and strong working ties with them starting with Dan Kelly being my Preceptor to working with them to bring Dr. Joshi to Stanley.  We look forward in future endeavors of working hand and hand with MCHS to ensure the future of Critical Access Hospitals.”

This article is republished with the gracious consent of the Mountrail County Promoter.

Hearing Dynamics Will Start in Stanley

29 Sep 2020 News

For patients with hearing aid needs or services in the Stanley area, a new service will be available starting on October 6. Hearing Dynamics, formerly The Hearing Aid Co. of Minot, will be utilizing space at the Mountrail County Medical Center Clinic.

Owner Lisa Risovi brings the ability to test hearing in Stanley. She sells Audibel, a Starkey family, hearing device. She can also repair and clean all brands of hearing aids. She says that she is proud to be selling the Audibel brand hearing aids, a USA made product manufactured in Minneapolis, MN.

Born and raised in rural North Dakota, Risovi started working in the hearing aid business with Arlynn Hefta at The Hearing Aid Company from 2013 to 2016. While he continues to own the location in Devils Lake, he offered her the Minot business. With twenty years of other business experience in customer service, she was excited to take on this new venture. Since taking on the business, she has been looking forward to not only serving customers in Minot, but also expanding that business to rural areas.

The Minot office is located in the Renaissance Center. By also expanding to other communities, she says she believes she can reach people in need in not only Stanley but also the surrounding areas. Risovi says that as a company, they have territories. Her territory is from Rugby to the Montana border and north to the Canadian border.

When asked how she connected with Stanley and MCMC, she says that she is friends with Doctors Joshi and Brewster. In conversations, they discussed the opportunity of adding to the services offered to Stanley area patients. She reached out to MCMC and is now renting space as an independent office in the clinic. She will handle her own billings and insurance if applicable, although most insurances do not cover hearing aids.

She will be in Stanley at the clinic two Tuesdays each month, with October 6 and 27 set for dates next month. She takes patients by appointment only. You can call 701-839-8964 to schedule an appointment.

“Hearing services is something we have been trying to get back into our clinic for quite a while,” says Steph Everett MCMC CEO.  “With the rapport already built with Doctors Joshi and Brewster, we are confident that Lisa will be the perfect fit for our patients and the residents of Mountrail County and we look forward to a long lasting relationship.”

This article is republished with the gracious consent of the Mountrail County Promoter.

Ruland Honored As PA Of The Year

27 Aug 2020 News

Mountrail County Medical Center’s Abbey Ruland was named the PA of the Year by the North Dakota Academy of Physician Assistants last week. The award was scheduled to be presented at the organization’s Spring Conference but was cancelled due to the pandemic. It was rescheduled for the Fall meeting, but that too has been cancelled.

Cheryl Ulven of Ray, who served on the board as the head of the scholarship and legislative committees, was in Stanley on Wednesday, Aug. 19 to present the award. Abbey serves on the board as a Public Relations person and had volunteered at their last meeting to help judge the three candidates nominated for the award, unaware she herself was one of the nominees.

Nominations are made by a PA’s peers, physicians, clinic staff or hospital staff. The nominations are then reviewed and voted on by the six officers, eleven committee chairs and three national delegates of the NDAPA Board.

To be nominated, they must be a Physician Assistant who works or resides in North Dakota. The nominator may feel the PA deserves recognition because they provide excellent patient care, are well respected by the medical community as well as patients, and/or are considered to be an asset to the community and the PA profession. They might be someone who has been involved in medical education, dedicated to improving public health by involvement in community education in addition to patient education. They may be involved in humanitarian projects, giving of themselves in service to others above and beyond their normal daily responsibilities.

A nearly unanimous selection by the board, Ruland checks all those boxes based on the letter of nomination by Mountrail County Medical Center CEO Steph Everett.

Abbey started with MCMC in 2013. In 2018 she took a hiatus serving the residents of New Town at the Trinity Clinic. Ulven says that Abbey was her replacement in New Town. MCMC set out  to get Ruland back on staff. The letter says that without her, “the void created in our team without her devoted and kindhearted nature was palatable”. With a provider not fulfilling their contract, they reached out and were lucky enough to get her back in the fall of 2019.

She hit the ground running on her return, stepping back in with her patients, sitting as an active member of the medical staff council, taking Emergency Department call, and filling in for Dr. Longmuir in reviewing and accepting patients for the Swing Bed and Nursing Home program. The letter says, “Abbey is always willing to go the extra mile to make sure our patients are getting excellent community based care”.

She has spearheaded the Quality Improvement process in the Rural Health Clinic. She oversees documentation of care for one doctor, two nurse practitioners and two physicians assistants.

The nationwide opioid epidemic is apparent in our local area, including with patients in and around New Town and the TAT reservation. Although the reservation has built up their capability to treat drug and alcohol use disorders with inpatient treatment centers, there was still a large portion of the population that was not able to get treatment or did not know how to seek treatment appropriately. Seeing this gap in care, Ruland undertook the additional responsibility by completing training to offer Medication Assisted Therapy through the clinic. This is the only PCP driven MAT program within 100 miles.

“Abbey is always willing to go above and beyond the call of duty to serve her patients,” stated Rich  Laksonen, FNP, ENP in the letter. “She’s a pleasure to work with, always willing to lend an ear or a helping hand. Her work ethic, and knowledge of the latest in evidence based care ensure that her patients receive compassionate care close to home, be it through the rural health clinic or emergency department.”

CAH Director and former ER Nurse LaRae Rudolph had this to say. “Abbey has a wide knowledge base and a positive energy and drive in healthcare always going above and beyond using both an individual and/or team effort approach to deliver optimal patient care to whomever is in need.”

Everett said this at the end of the nomination letter. “The bottom line is that Abbey is an esteemed member of our MCMC family and the compassionate community based care we provide here in Stanley is a result of Abbey’s hard work.”

The mission of NDAPA is to promote quality, cost-effective, accessible health care to enhance the health and well-being of the people of North Dakota and to promote the professional and personal development of Physician Assistants.

This article is republished with the gracious consent of the Mountrail County Promoter.

Rosen Place and Bethel Chapel Featured

13 Jul 2020 News
Rosen Place on 8th and the new chapel at the Bethel Home were recently featured in an architectural magazine. This article has some astounding pictures and a lot of information on the construction of our new additions. You may view the PDF of this publication here. Please note that you must have Adobe Acrobat or a similar PDF viewing software installed to view the above link. Alternatively, you may click on the pictures below to read the article.

Working Together To Fill A Need

17 Jun 2020 News

 

When the Coronavirus hit North Dakota, schools closed, and businesses closed or altered their business model. Daycares were impacted and many in Stanley chose to close. This created a challenge for staff at Mountrail County Medical Center. A cooperative effort between Ragamuffins Ranch Daycare and the Mountrail County Health Foundation worked to fill that need over the last two months.

MCMC Administrator Steph Everett says that the process started on March 23. She began receiving texts from staff expressing their concerns about what they would do as they faced closing schools and daycares. She said that she reached out to Carol Maurer at Ragamuffins Ranch who opened their arms to the staff’s children.

Everett says that each request was met with a “we’ll figure it out” response that was amazing. As they began the conversations, Everett says they had no idea how many staff members would need daycare. Based on the texts from staff, she knew it would be more than just a few.

As they received the guidelines from the state regarding daycares, working together the daycare was ready to start taking students by the weekend of March 27. Working hand in hand, they were ready for the first children on March 30.

Ragamuffins Ranch Daycare owner Carol Maurer says that working on the Bright and Early curriculum and achieving the Step 3 designation made the process easy. The assessments and training she says that by the blessing of God helped them be prepared to take on the challenges.

She says they were already set up to the new standards and guidelines set up by the state for childcare facilities in response to the Coronavirus. That includes the way they use spaces in the daycare, their sanitizing processes and the separations for age groups they already had in place.

They already were separated to eat in smaller groups and play in smaller groups and different areas. The babies, toddlers and older children already interact in their own groups on a regular basis.

Maurer says that the biggest challenge was to bring in children that didn’t know them or their environment. She says they wanted to make sure that each child felt safe and comfortable during this stressful situation. They wanted them to feel at home and happy, knowing this was a safe place to be.

The children coming into the daycare have moms and dads that work on the frontline during this virus fight. Life can be stressful, and children often pick up on that stress.

The staff put their heads together, even knowing it might not be easy, but knew they could do it and come out for the better. Maurer says they really stepped up to the plate and did a great job.

As they got ready to add new children to their groups, Ragamuffins reached out to their parents. For some, they were already planning on keeping their children home with schools and businesses closing or reducing staff. Others offered to keep theirs home to make room, saying that it was important to take care of first responders’ families. She says she gives credit to those families for giving the okay to use their spots.

With some of their kids not coming because of the virus, Maurer said they missed their kids. It was hard emotionally on everyone, but at the end of the day they came back and grew a whole new family with these new children.

As for helping out staff at the medical center, Maurer says that they knew the needed the help and they were ready to do it. It was amazing to watch, she says, and now as the two months come to a close, they will be missing these children that will be going back to their former providers.

Looking back now, Maurer says that everything was a learning curve with stepping stones at the right time with the right help to set up this difference to succeed. She said, “I do it this way and it works. Sometimes you pray and ask God to show you the way. My heart is put into this and we have invested so much of ourselves.”

Everett says that for the two months Ragamuffin met their needs, they were a lifesaver. Eight families with eleven children were helped during this time. Mountrail County Health Foundation, along with grant funds from the NWND Community Foundation helped cover some of the costs.

While many families will be returning to their previous providers this week as daycares resume operations, a few will be staying at Ragamuffins Ranch enjoying the new relationships they have formed.

Steph Everett says that they just knew at the beginning they had to do something to help their staff. All of this was so new to medical facilities. They had heard about the first stories with coronavirus coming from a nursing home in Washington. The focus became on what if it happened here.

“For medical staff, there is no choice but to be at work. The last thing we wanted was for staff to have to make a hard choice. We needed them here, for Health Centers never shut down. Some of our Staff made shifts from their clinic positions to helping at the nursing home, for they were needed there to ensure our nursing home residents were cared for,” said Everett.  “The partnership with Raggamuffin Ranch allowed us to take one huge stressor off our staff. Especially through this, maneuvering through unchartered territories over the last few month,” Everett said.

The two month partnership between the medical center and Ragamuffin Ranch is just another example of small towns pulling together to help each other through these challenging times. It is also an example of meeting critical needs through collaborative effort.

This article is republished with the gracious consent of the Mountrail County Promoter.

Mountrail County Health Center Drive Through Testing Draws A Crowd

13 May 2020 Events, News

Mountrail County Health Center in Stanley hosted a Drive Through COVID-19 testing event on Friday, Apr. 24. Testing started at 10:00 a.m. and ran through 2:00 p.m. although the lineup of vehicles of those waiting to be tested started more than an hour before.

Testing was organized through staging using the Stanley High School parking lot. Those looking to be tested were asked to report to the High School where they were assigned a number to their car. Mountrail County Sheriff Corey Bristol and several of the department officers, Mountrail County Emergency Manager Warren Bogert along with the Highway Patrol were at the school to coordinate that portion of the event.

When told by Health Center staff, they would then send a set number of vehicles down 8th Avenue towards the hospital. Along the way, intersections were being controlled by members of the Stanley Public Works and Stanley Police Department to assure smooth movement of not only those who were waiting to be tested, but also those cars that were just trying to go from one area of the city to another.

At the Health Center, they were met by staff with the information forms prior to testing. They then moved along the driveway area on the east side of the complex for testing. Tests were administered by staff and then brought back into the “command center” where they were documented and packaged for transport to the State Lab for testing.

The Health Center was grateful to all that helped make the testing a success, saying they could not have successfully done this test without coordination and manpower from the Stanley Police Department, Mountrail County Sheriff’s office, Stanley Public Works, and the Highway Patrol. They kept everything moving as smoothly as possible, without clogging up city streets with traffic, and that was no small feat. People participating were in awe of the teamwork as they drove from the staging area and down 8th Avenue to MCHC.

Additional thanks went to Marilyn Gaebe, who provided a delicious lunch for staff and kept them energized for the entire day. They appreciated Estvold Oilfield Services, specifically Jake and Kelsey, for allowing them to use their coolers to safely transport tests from Stanley to Bismarck testing labs and the “best COVID-19 courier in the state” Rodney Essler.

They also expressed their thanks to the community saying, “We would not try to offer these testing services if we did not think that people would show up to be tested, and our community SHOWED UP! It was a steady stream of cars the entire four hours.”

Last but not least, they expressed a personal thank you to the staff of the Mountrail County Health Center. From traffic control, to gathering information from each test subject, to registering each test subject, and properly marking each test to the Providers performing the swabs, and then our lab processing each test from 10:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. and to everyone inside the building allowing business to proceed as usual. This was pointed out as teamwork at its ultimate finest.

In the span of a little over 4 hours, the Mountrail County Health Center staff were able to test 189 vehicles, totaling 357 tests that included residents from throughout the county and a few out of county residents. “Thank you to everyone who came to get tested so we can gather more data about how this virus is impacting our community and to start working on getting North Dakota open again,” they said.

The drive through testing helped support Governor Doug Burgum’s goal of increasing testing to start the work on smartly reopening the state.

This testing clinic was a group effort between administration and providers.

Additionally, per direction of the state, the facility is also testing all of their residents and employees starting last week and continuing on Monday.

As of Monday morning, tests completed in Mountrail County had increased from 524 on Friday to 892 on Monday. One new positive was recorded on Monday, up from the cumulative 33 since the first tests administered in the county. That new positive is part of the testing done on Friday and is a case from New Town. Of the 892 tests recorded in the county thus far, 858 have returned negative. Not all of Friday’s test results were included in Monday’s numbers.

This article has been republished by the gracious consent of the Mountrail County Promoter.

Women’s Health Expo Held

13 May 2020 Events, News

Mountrail County Medical Center and the Mountrail County Health Foundation held their third annual Healthy Women’s Expo at Rosen Place on 8th in Stanley on Monday, March 9th.  The even had focused on healthy heart the past two years, but focused on “Healthy Mind for a Healthy You” this year.  There were several booths set up to coincide with the theme of achieving health from the inside out, a variety of salads catered by Marilyn Gaebe and desserts from Cookies for You and Little Heifer Bakery.  Booths included information from the Ina Mae Ruse Aquatic Center, nursing staff performing blood pressure and A1C testing, information on mammograms, healthy eating, BMI testing, and mental health checks.

As part of the Community Health Implementation Plan, a formal Response to the Needs Assessment, Mountrail County Medical Center pledged to place a high priority on mental health, and to assist community members get the help they need.  With statistics showing the number of Americans that die by suicide daily and the suicide rate in ND, the focus changed for this year’s event to mental health and suicide prevention.

Stephanie Everett, MCMC CEO and Foundation Director stated, “We can no longer allow the mental health struggles of our community to go unchecked.  We know that with mental health, each day, each moment counts, and Medical Center Staff need to get proactive and build resources to be a part of the solution.”  At MCMC, the ultimate goal is to transform the community by encouraging confident communication about mental health so residents know how, where, and when to ask for help.  They want to reach people before they enter a state of crisis mentally, and to encourage growth of coping skills as well as decrease stigma.

This year’s speakers started with Alison Traynor.  A licensed social worker, she has spent the past five years working to mobilize statewide suicide prevention efforts as the Director of Suicide Prevention and founding member of ND Suicide Prevention Coalition.  She started out with their “Swear Jar”.  Many are familiar with the premise of paying a fine to the jar.  This jar is a symbol to change the stigma one word at a time.  In their case, it is the word “committed”.  The goal is to quit using the word when it comes to suicide, much in the way efforts were underway to quit using the word “retarded”.  She says that we need to think that the word committed is used in cases like sin or crime, and that we need to change the culture with suicide, focusing instead on the person that is suffering.

She also talked about the need to work together to prevent suicide, invest in suicide together and work together to solve the complex problems.  She compared talking about the junk drawer.  We tend to shove suicide into the emotional junk drawer.  We need to open the drawer and explore and talk about the feelings and emotions that go along with suicide.

In North Dakota, the suicide rate is among the highest in the nation.  It cuts across all age groups, with the highest increase in those aged 25-34.  Relationship loss is the most common cause of suicide, followed by a crisis event.  When people are distressed, it can exceed their ability to cope.  They experience a perceived sense of isolation and their sense of being a burden increases.

To help combat suicide, she has worked to found Zero Suicide, a healthcare based system.  The belief is that with help, there is hope as they build a coalition.  It shifts from a person to a system approach.  Statistics show that 45% of suicides will have visited a primary care provider within a month.  30% will have seen a mental health professional, 40% will have had an ER visit in the year before their death.

Zero Suicide involves leadership, system wide, to create a culture change, provide training, help identify those at risk, and engage those in treatment and transitioning of care.  It also looks at policies and procedures to get the help to those that need it.

They find that statistics show that by implementing a system wide effort, fewer patients will die, there will be decreasing costs and improved morale.

Traynor says that it is important to watch out for the warning signs, including those changes in behavior, speech or mood that have you worried.  Be willing to talk about those feelings, including thoughts of killing themselves, feeling hopeless, being a burden, feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.  Watch for uncharacteristic behavior changes, especially if they are related to a painful event, loss, or change.  They could include increased use of alcohol or drugs, looking for ways to end their life, withdrawing from activities, isolating from family or friends, sleeping too much or too little, visiting or calling people to say goodbye, giving away valued possessions, aggression or fatigue.

Watch for mood changes like depression, anxiety, loss of interest, irritability, humiliation, agitation, or even a sudden relief.  If you are worried and think there is a suicide risk, act.  Everything else can wait.  Traynor discussed ways to ask or talk to someone you are concerned about.  They include finding someone comfortable to ask those questions if it is not you.  Normalize the conversation by saying something validating and then ask the question.  Express understanding that they might be struggling after a certain event.  She said to be persistent, but warm and present.  Allow them to talk freely without judgement, rather listen and be present.  Give them plenty of time to talk, and then make sure you can point them toward resources that can help.

She says that it is a five step plan: ask, keep them safe, be there, help them connect, and then follow up.

Those struggling are helped by connections, relationships, helping with coping and life skills, family, faith, and community.  With a person at risk they also discuss safety planning.  That includes walking the person at risk through the steps of coping, recognize what has set them off, validate the ways they have gotten through hard times before, and provide strategies to help.  It can include people they can reach out to for help, following up with clinicians and making sure the return place is safe. Suicide is complex.  It needs a community and system approach to find the answers.

The second speaker of the night was Kora Dockter, a nurse and ND Suicide Prevention Coalition Chair.  She is leading a statewide call for healthcare system-wide improvement.

She brings her own story of losing her adult son Steven to suicide.  She remembers the day in February of 2014.  A sunny, cold day, she was driving.  When her vehicle veered off the road and hit a curb, she says an energy went through her that scared her.  She found out later that moment was when her son died by suicide.

She says that her son was married, a great husband, dad, and medical provider.  He had a strong Christian Faith.  In September of 2013, Kora received a call from his wife, telling her Steven was struggling and had attempted to take his own life.

Kora says she was scared, paralyzed, and not sure how to help him.  He didn’t want people to know he was suffering, but looking back there were signs and symptoms.  Following his attempt, Steven was hospitalized.  After three days, he called her and said he was being discharged.  Based on how he had just been the day before, she was surprised to say the least.  She went to pick him up, expecting to talk about a discharge plan, but instead he walked out with his phone and a piece of paper.  She says she knew that was not right, but did not realize how broken the mental health system was.  She says that upon his discharge she was told “the place did him more harm than good”.  She realized that over time, they were watching him die.  He had lost weight.  He was not sleeping, and he was in a great deal of pain.  This is a silent and lonely disease.  Most people do not want to talk about mental health, unlike other health issues.  Without support, that won’t change.

A couple of years after his death, Dockter asked for her son’s medical record.  She said the red flags were everywhere once she started reading through them.  It talked about strong family support, although at the time, no one told them how to help him.  It mentioned team meetings and family conferences that did not happen and lacked a safety plan.  She says the biggest mistake was trusting someone else to care for her son.  The system needs to change.

With Zero Suicide, they are working on these changes.  They are working with insurance companies to address reimbursement.  They are talking about the facts that if things are not working right with the brain, the body is also affected.  Dockter also talked about her faith, saying that after the flood of 2011, she sought God again. Little did she know that as she was going through those difficult times, that god was actually preparing her for the time she would bury her child.  She points to that faith as well as she works to change the system.

She says that we are all being pushed to change someone’s life and make a difference.  You are more likely to come across someone that is depressed that someone that needs CPR.  Show them your light, life, and passion.  Help them realize that all life is worth living.  Suicide is a disease that does not discriminate by your race, age, or what you make.  All are at risk.  It is important to create an environment where it is okay to talk about it.  Don’t place judgement and don’t wait.  Tell someone who can make a difference to put the puzzle pieces in place before it is too late.

You can be part of the change.  You can find them on Facebook: ND Suicide Prevention Coalition.  Dockter left the group with the message, “It takes a village to raise a child, and a bigger village to save a child.  Create a village around those that are hurting.”

Those attending were given an insulated cup to take home.  In the cup was a card with the semicolon and a cross.  The message on the card read: “We use the semicolon in writing when we join together two closely related sentences.  The first part of the sentence could be a complete thought on it’s own, however, the writer decided to keep the sentence going.  In the context of mental health, the sentence is your life.  The semicolon represents the decision to continue living, and is a reminder that you have complete power over yourself and your life.  You are the author of your story.  You can choose to keep up the fight, even if there are days were you feel like giving up.  It is a symbol of strength and hope.

 

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