Eight do’s and don’ts of tornado safety

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By: Mike Ittner, NR, Paramedic, TCHC Emergency Preparedness Coordinator

Summer. What a wonderful time of the year! Grass and flowers are growing, and the Minnesota state bird, the mosquito, is back in full force. Not only that but summer brings about the Minnesota tornado season.

This season runs from early spring well into fall, as warm moisture comes in from the Gulf of Mexico and clashes with colder, drier air. The only months during which a tornado has never touched down in Minnesota are December, January and February. tornado warning sign

To recognize a tornado, FEMA suggests looking for these danger signs:

  • Dark, greenish sky
  • Large hail
  • A large, low-lying cloud, particularly if rotating
  • Loud roar, similar to a freight train

If you find yourself caught in a tornado emergency, follow these do’s and don’ts so that you will know how to react calmly and stay safe in each situation.


  1. House – with basement

DO: Get to the basement and shield yourself with sturdy protection such as a heavy table or work bench, or use a mattress or blankets.

DON’T: Sit in the basement where heavy objects like a piano or refrigerator rest on the floor above. They could fall through the floor if it’s weakened by the storm.


  1. House – without basement

DO: Go to a stairwell or interior hallway without windows and crouch as low as possible. Cover yourself with a mattress or blankets.

DON’T: Stand near windows or other glass objects.


  1. Mobile home

DO: Get out as quickly as possible and find a shelter or lie flat on low ground away from trees and cars, protecting your head.

DON’T: Stay in the mobile home, even if it is tied down, as most tornadoes can destroy mobile homes that are tied down.


  1. Apartment, dorm or condo

DO: Go to the lowest level and move away from windows. In a high-rise building, find a hallway or stairwell in the center of the building.

DON’T: Take shelter in an elevator. Power may be lost, trapping you inside.


  1. Office building or storestorm with tornado

DO: Be conscientious of others and take cover in a windowless, enclosed area in the middle of the building.

DON’T: Ignore the instructions of facility managers.


  1. School

DO: Follow the drill and follow instructions given to you by faculty. Go to an interior hall or room. Crouch, put your head down and protect your head with your arms.

DON’T: Take shelter in large, spacious rooms such as gyms or auditoriums.


  1. Car or truck

DO: Drive away from the tornado at a right angle if it is far away and if traffic is light. Otherwise, park, get out and find shelter in a building or by lying flat on low ground.

DON’T: Seek shelter under a bridge. It offers little protection from flying debris and can accelerate wind speed.


  1. Outdoors

DO: Find shelter in a building. If that’s not possible, lie flat on low ground and protect your head with your arms.

DON’T: Take shelter under a bridge or near trees or cars. A tornado can blow them onto you.



Source: Minnesota Department of Public Safety

Telestroke reduces stroke statistics

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By Dennis Faith, M.D. – Emergency Medicine Physician

May is National Stroke Awareness Month, and did you know that strokes are the fifth leading cause of death in the United States? That being said, did you also know that Tri-County Health Care’s new Telestroke program is reducing that statistic?

stroke-Telestroke care-Tri-County Health Care-emergency medecine

Dr. Dennis Faith, Emergency Medicine Physician (right), works with staff from TCHC and St. Cloud Hospital’s Stroke Center to implement and continue Telestroke care at Tri-County Health Care in Wadena.

Strokes occur when a blood vessel is either blocked by a clot or ruptures. This deprives the brain of blood and oxygen, destroying millions of nerve cells within minutes. The resulting damage can lead to paralysis, speech difficulties and emotional problems.

Tri-County has made amazing strides in treating stroke patients with its Telestroke program, which it introduced in the fall of 2016. It works like this:

If you or your loved one comes to the emergency room with stroke symptoms, we have immediate access to a 24/7 stroke intervention specialist at the St. Cloud Hospital Stroke Center through a live video conference. That specialist can conduct a brief interview and interactive examination and see lab tests and images in real time as if they were standing in the room.

In mere minutes, we can complete a comprehensive stroke evaluation, administer clot-busting medications, dispatch a medical helicopter and transfer you for life-saving care. In many cases, you can receive stroke-reversing treatments within 30 minutes and actually be landing in St. Cloud within 60 minutes.

But here’s the important piece: We can’t help you if you don’t get here. And you need to get here within the treatment window. That time frame is up to four and a half hours from symptom onset. Though, even if you wake up with stroke symptoms, we could still treat you. We can do this with multiple interventions, such as administering medication that dissolves clots or utilizing methods that “fish” the clot right out of the blood vessel.

This means you need to learn to recognize stroke warning signs and act quickly. Symptoms aren’t always left-side numbness and slurred speech. It could be a little hand weakness, slight vision change or dizziness. Other symptoms include confusion, severe headaches and difficulty walking.

A helpful way to remember the signs and symptoms of a stroke is “FAST”:

Face Drooping: Ask the person to smile. Is one side of the face numb or does it droop?

Arm Weakness: Ask the person to raise both arms. Is one arm weak or numb?

Speech Difficulty: Ask the person to say a simple sentence. Is speech slurred, are they unable to speak or are they hard to understand?

Time to call 911: As soon as you have even the slightest thought that your symptoms could be a stroke, call 911. Don’t call the hospital. Don’t call the clinic. Call 911. Our paramedics are trained to start the evaluation and treatment process wherever you are: home, work, the lake or a local store.

Tri-County has invested a lot of resources and a lot of faith in this program, and it’s working. This technology clearly improves our ability to provide stroke care here at Tri-County, and in fact, has already proven invaluable with several of our patients. The early data shows us that we’re treating more patients with appropriate treatment, we’re treating them faster and their outcomes seem to be better. So the moment you suspect a stroke, call 911 and get here. Once you arrive, you’re only two minutes away from a stroke specialist and the best care modern medicine has to offer. Any time of the day, every day of the year, we are prepared, we are here, we are trained and we are ready!

For more information about Telestroke and other services offered by the TCHC Emergency Department, click here.


Dennis Faith-M.D.-Emergency Medicine

Dennis Faith, M.D. – Emergency Medicine Physician

About the Author: Dennis Faith, M.D., specializes in emergency medicine, with special interest in preventive medicine and clinical research. A science nerd at heart, Faith loves that medicine allows him the opportunity to combine his interests of working with kids, teaching and researching. Though he has a lifelong fascination with astronomy and recently got back into cycling and triathlons, most of his time, by far, is spent with his family.

Could you be suffering from a genetic bleeding disorder?

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By: Sarah Riedel, RN, BSN – Prenatal Educator and Certified Lactation Counselor

When I was 26 years old, I found out I had a bleeding disorder called von Willebrand disease. I had always bruised easily and had prolonged bleeding, but I didn’t know what “normal” was, so I didn’t think anything of it. While experiencing difficulties with my pregnancy at the time, my OBGYN ran some tests to get to the bottom of the problems. One of the tests revealed von Willebrand disease.

Sarah with her husband and their three children.

Von Willebrand is similar to hemophilia. With the disease, you experience prolonged bleeding because your blood can’t clot properly. You also bruise easier and more significantly than other people. There are several different types of von Willebrand disease, and thankfully, I have the most common and least severe type.

One way this disease has affected my life is with childbirth. Once I found out that I have von Willebrand, I realized I could be at risk for severe hemorrhage after an event such as childbirth. I met with a hematologist and put a plan in place for after delivery. Thankfully, with the correct medications close at hand, the doctors and nurses could administer exactly what I needed to stop the bleeding.

I also had trouble with a surgery a few years later. Knowing about the disease ahead of time probably saved my life! I had medication administered before the surgery to prevent bleeding, and when I started bleeding heavily during the surgery, the surgeon administered platelets, blood-clotting proteins, and two blood transfusions to help me recover.

Since finding out I have this disease, I’ve been proactive about getting my family members tested for it because it can be inherited. We found that my two daughters, my brother and a couple of his children, and another family member also have the disease.

Sarah and her family enjoying a vacation together.

Both of my girls are active in sports, so we carry a nasal spray medication with us in case of injury, and I always make sure to mention it to their coaches and teachers. I always worry about them getting injured as it would be more severe for them than for other athletes. They would bruise faster. Sprained or broken bones would take longer to heal. A bloody nose would not stop as quickly and may take them out for the remainder of the game. There are a lot of everyday little things that I need to remember with this disease in our home. I don’t want them to miss out on a single aspect of growing up because of this diagnosis.

If you suspect that you could have a bleeding disorder such as von Willebrand, please mention this to your physician so you can be tested! It may save your life!

Other sources for more information about von Willebrand or other bleeding issues include:

National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: What is Von Willebrand Disease?

National Hemophilia Foundation: Von Willebrand Disease

Von Willebrand Disease

Car seats: Do you have the right one for your child?

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By: Denise Peltier, RN, OB/Prenatal Educator

Do you travel much? Do you have kids? If the answer is yes, then let’s talk car seats.

From 1930 to the ’50s, car seats, which originated as a sack hung on the back seat, were designed to keep kids still and maybe give them a view. In the ’60s, a few were made with safety in mind. Federal safety standards were adopted in 1971.

Tennessee enacted the first restraint law in 1979. By 1985, all states had a minimal car seat law, but only 80 percent of those children were restrained. Today, you wouldn’t think of holding your baby during a car ride. We have come a long way. Are you shopping for a seat? Start with research. The website healthychildren.org, managed by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), has a product listing of car seats, which is updated every year. You will see a section that includes rear-facing only, convertible, rear-facing and forward-facing, three in one, combination and booster seats, as well as height and weight limits and approximate cost. Choose a few seats that will fit your child’s size. Then go to safercar.gov and check the Ease-of-Use Ratings. By cross referencing, you now have a better idea of what to look for in the store.

At TCHC, we want to help you. Our nurses have been trained and can answer your questions and even help you in your car. We have hosted car seat clinics for the past 13 years, where you can drive in and get one-to-one help in your car with your child and car seat. Watch for those now through September around Todd and Wadena counties.

Let’s review the law, MN State Statute 169.685, Subd. 5, which is listed at carseatsmadesimple.org:

Denise Peltier (arm on car seat) with one of the ECFE classes she educated in March about car seats.

Infants less than 20 pounds and 1 year of age must be in a rear-facing safety seat. A child who is both younger than age 8 and shorter than 4 foot 9 (57 inches) is required to be fastened in a child safety seat that meets federal safety standards. Under this law, a child cannot use a seat belt alone until they are age 8 or at least 4 foot 9. It is recommended to keep a child in a booster based on their height rather than their age.

This is an abbreviated version of the complete law. There are also exceptions to the law listed on the website. The best practice is to keep your child boosted until they reach 4 foot 9.

Compared to laws in neighboring states, Minnesota, along with 25 other states, has the safest law. A new law in California that went into effect on Jan. 1 states that children 2 years or younger or less than 40 pounds must be in the back seat in a rear-facing seat. We likely will see more of this.

AAP recommends that once your child exceeds the height and weight limit of his or her infant car seat, you should purchase a convertible or three-in-one car seat with a higher height and weight limit and continue to use it rear-facing until age 2 or until your child reaches the height or weight limit for rear-facing use.

If you’re really into car seats, here are a few more facts:

  • Each manufacturer has a website listing products and videos of use and installation.
  • If you’re into blogs, thecarseatlady.com can really keep you up to date on topics and changes in child passenger safety.
  • And if you want to help others, the National Child Passenger Safety Training is available in our area for anyone. Join the team of more than 39,000 child passenger safety technicians and be a community advocate or resource. Go to safekids.org for more.

Todd Wadena Healthy Connections, a community health collaborative organization, will sponsor a car seat clinic on Thursday, June 8, in Wadena. To register or for more information, contact Sarah Riedel at (218) 631-7538 or sarah.riedel@tchc.org or click here.

National Hospital Week: It’s all about the people

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By: Joel Beiswenger, President/CEO

A hospital is far more than just a place where people go to heal. It’s a vital element of the community that encourages health and embodies hope. From providing treatment and comfort to the sick, to welcoming new life into the world, hospitals are central to healthy, vibrant and optimistic communities.

That’s the message Tri-County Health Care and other hospitals will emphasize during National Hospital Week, May 7-13, the nation’s largest health care event.

This annual event originated in 1921 when a magazine editor proposed the idea with the hope that a community-wide celebration might alleviate public fears about hospitals. The celebration was launched in Chicago and succeeded in establishing trust among members of the public, eventually spreading that trust to facilities across the country.

Above all, National Hospital Week is a celebration of people. Each member of our staff works diligently every day to meet the needs and improve the health of the communities we serve. We are extremely proud of the work ethic that is displayed each and every day.

That’s not all. This week also celebrates the history, technology and committed professionals that make our hospitals a shining example of compassion and care. The effects of the week are far reaching, offering many advantages throughout the year, such as enhanced departmental interaction, satisfied patients, staff retention, improved recruitment and increased community awareness.

This year, take the opportunity during  National Hospital Week to say thank you to all of the dedicated individuals who continuously promote health in our communities and beyond, whether physicians, providers, nurses, therapists, technicians, volunteers, food service workers, engineers, administrators and many more.

A Peek into the Past

Tri-County Health Care has a rich history of providing health care in this community, reaching all the way back to the 1920s. To celebrate this history, and in keeping with the National Hospital Week mission, here’s a brief snapshot of some key moments of health care’s long-past history in this area.

Wesley Hospital

1912: Dr. and Mrs. Charles Coulter open a hospital in a converted home at 321 Bryant Ave. SW in Wadena

1914-15: Drs. Kenyon and McKinnon run a hospital out of a home at 124 Second St. SE, Wadena.

1915: The Coulter hospital is passed to Dr. Luther Davis and renamed Davis Hospital.

1922: After discussions about building a Wadena hospital begin, the first contribution to this new hospital comes in 1922 in the form of $1 from a widow in Hewitt. In June, Wadena becomes first Minnesota city to start a White Cross chapter, a national organization geared to raising money for hospitals.

1923: The first dirt is moved for the Wesley Hospital’s construction.

1924: Wesley Hospital is officially dedicated on Nov. 30.

1925: Wesley Hospital opens for business at 4 p.m. on Jan. 30.

1928: The first class graduates from Wesley Hospital School of Nursing. It included Violette Colby, Viola Hirschey, Ruth Jacobson, Gertrude Palmer, Marie Trana, Helen Warmboe and Marion Willis.

1957: Dr. C.W. Parker approaches the Wadena Civic and Commerce members about the need for improvements in the Wesley Hospital.

1958: Work begins in mid-May on the 40×50-foot basement and two-story addition on the hospital’s east end. The hospital also adds a new basement kitchen, Hy-Lo beds, updated rooms, enclosed fire escapes, and the third floor was remodeled for obstetrics with a new delivery room and nursery.

1962: Wesley Hospital surpasses the 50,000 patient mark, averaging 1,090 patients per year.

1968: Local businessmen pro

pose a new hospital, as Wesley Hospital was no longer modern or up to date.

1971: Wesley Hospital is approved for a $1.9 million loan and the communities are challenged to raise the rest of the expected $2.1 million cost of a new 43,000-square-foot, 56-bed hospital.

1972: Builders break ground on Aug. 2 across the street from Wesley Hospital for the new Tri-County Hospital.

1974: Tri-County Hospital holds open house on Jan. 6.

Tri-County Health Care today








By the Numbers – Wesley Hospital


  • 3 carloads of cement (1,200 sacks)
  • 900 yards of gravel/sand
  • 2 carloads steel beams
  • 1 carload structural steel
  • 1 carload metal lathe
  • 196,000 tiles
  • 2 carloads Pyrobar
  • 5-ply asphalt roofing


  • 3 carloads rug face brick (76,000)
  • 1 carload cut stone
  • 550 sacks bricklayers’ cement
  • 5-ply asphalt roofing


  • 60 tons of plaster
  • 130 yards of sands


  • 116 windows
  • 120 doors
  • 18,000 square feet of floors
  • 4,700 lineal feet of base

Tri-Aquatics Gives Moms Some Relaxation and Strengthening

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By: Andrea Pettit, Tri-County Health Care Physical Therapy Assistant (PTA)

Andrea with her family.

The water is a great environment to be in when you are pregnant! Water can help with swelling, and the buoyancy of water can help take some pressure from the baby off of your pelvis. Our therapy pool is a warm 90-92 degrees, not too warm for you and your baby, but it allows great relaxation for those achy, sore muscles. It feels great!

With my last pregnancy, I was in the pool three days a week, and it was awesome to be able to continue to exercise without pain. Then, after Boone was born, getting back in the pool was a great place for me to start core-strengthening exercises.

Tri-Aquatics started about two years ago with some of the staff participating in special training. Stacey Callahan, PT, DPT, and I recently attended continuing education aquatic classes aimed at female clients and have even more great things to share with you. We learned specific stretches and strengthening exercises, such as hip flexor stretches and modified yoga stretching and strengthening to help relieve pain and keep you active throughout your pregnancy.

You don’t need a membership at the Maslowski Wellness and Research Center (MAS) to join the Moms Course, and the class is free. Yes, free!

If you need further work with physical therapy, it could be covered under your insurance. You do not need to wear a swimsuit. It can be shorts and a T-shirt if that’s what you’re comfortable in. In fact, a lot of our patients wear shorts and a T-shirt.

Can’t wait to see you in class!

*Our next Moms Course will be held on Monday, May 22, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the MAS, and you’re invited! The instructors are Stacey Callahan, PT, DPT, and Andrea Pettit, PTA.

To register, click here. Class size is limited to 10 attendees.


“To Be A Hero”, by Sam Kelderman

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By Guest Blogger: Kandi Kelderman

April 2017

I shouldn’t have worried. Seriously, what outcome has ever been changed by worry?

Kelderman brothers: Zack, Tate & Sam

April is Donate Life Month. Also, this week marks what would have been Sam’s 19th birthday. We still celebrate Sam’s day. Why? In part, because Sam chose to outlive himself. Let me explain.

On average, 123 thousand people are waiting for a transplant nationwide. 3,700 of these waiting people are in our 4-state area (MN, SD, ND, Eastern WI). 63% of registered drivers in Minnesota have chosen to “Outlive Themselves” and check the donor box when renewing their licenses or by registering online. Every day, 21 people die due to the donor shortage. Up to 60 people can be saved/helped by the generosity of one donor.

Last month, I spoke to a room full of emergency professionals. I showed them Baby, Sam’s fireman doll, who kept Sam company and safe while his brothers were at school or during nap time. Baby was Sam’s first hero. The EMTs, firemen and officers that responded to Sam’s car accident, are our heroes.

“Baby”, Sam’s fireman doll.

So, what does this have to do with my worry? I couldn’t (and still can’t) find my notes from that last presentation. I had planned on using those notes for this post and was all wrapped up on worry about locating them. Searching the same box of papers for the umpteenth time, I came across something MUCH better; an essay Sam had written 4 months before he died. I hadn’t read it before. There was no need for this mere-mortal mom to worry. Sam did my work for me. Here is his essay…

September 2015
To Be A Hero
by Sam Kelderman

To me, a hero is anyone who can make a good impact on someone else or even something else, such as the environment or your country.

A hero can be a police officer, fireman or even the mailman. They don’t have to be like a superhero in a costume or have their own title. A hero can be anyone. You may not think about it, but you could’ve been a hero before and you didn’t realize it.

Sam’s 4×200 WDC Relay Team

Doing even little things can make a BIG impact, such as picking up others’ trash or putting a quarter in a parking meter that’s going to run out of time. You might not think it’s a big deal, but to the recipient, it is a big deal. They might be thankful for what you have done for them.

You don’t have to be all special and have super powers to be a hero. I’m talking about the ones you see on TV or in comic books. They seem to be so special because they have powers and the ability to fly or do something spectacular. They dress up in tights, capes and supersuits. You don’t have to be all fancy and wear funny costumes to be a hero. You don’t have to have special powers or abilities. A hero can be any person.

Another type of hero is a firefighter who helps someone or something get out of a burning house or a hole they fell into. Someone who is willing to sacrifice their own life is a hero to me. An officer could also be a hero. They can help by stopping crazy drivers on the road to keep others safe.There are heroes all around you that you haven’t recognized.

All over the world there are heroes. You can even be a hero by helping with little things. Being a hero can be hard, but also it can be easy. Don’t you think it is worth the reward of trust, respect or just listening to people talk good about you? When you hear people talking, don’t you feel all good inside?

To get to the point, being a hero doesn’t mean you have to be famous and have all the world know you. You can be a secret hero and just be anonymous. A hero to me can be anyone who helps others or the world.

I couldn’t have said it better. Heroes sometimes wear badges and boots. Heroes check the donor box. Heroes outlive themselves. Thanks for writing this for me Sam.

On Jan 22, 2016, Sam Kelderman died in a car accident on his way to go ice fishing with friends. He was a junior at Wadena-Deer Creek High School and loved track, football, snowmobiling and anything mechanical.
Sam checked the donor box at 16. His plans were to attend the University of North Dakota to study engineering.

A track meet “The Sam Kelderman Invite’ is May 4 at Wadena-Deer Creek Track. See all the details at the bottom of this post.

Kandi & Darren working the Donate Life booth at Men’s Night Out.

About the guest blogger: Sam’s parents, Darren and Kandi, are active with LifeSource (Donate Life) and speak with Drivers’ Ed. classes, youth groups, churches and other organizations about donation. Contact them at (218)639-1855 for more information.

Go to DonateLifeMN.org to register to become a donor.






Tri-County Honors Organ, Tissue and Eye Donors and Recipients with Flag-Raising Ceremony

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Donate Life Flag-Raising Ceremony

The Donate Life Flag is being flown at Tri-County Health Care during the month of April to honor local organ and tissue donors, their families and recipients. The display is part of a national initiative, Flags Across America, designed to honor and celebrate the hundreds of thousands of donors and recipients whose lives have been affected by organ, eye and tissue donation. Locally, Tri-County Health Care partners with LifeSource, to support families at the end-of-life and offer the opportunity of organ and tissue donation.

To honor those local donor families and recipients, a flag-raising ceremony was held on April 5 at Tri-County Health Care. Special guests included Donna Grendahl, whose son was a heart transplant recipient. Also speaking was Barb Nelson-Agnew, Hospital liaison for LifeSource, spoke that a donation by one person can save and heal up to 60 lives through organ, eye and tissue donation.

Jim & Barb Swenson


Tri-County Chief Financial Officer Kim Aagard, who’s the mother of a donor, shared a poem written by heart recipient Jim Swenson, from Willmar, MN. He wrote it shortly after his transplant in 2004 to recognize donors and donor families for the selfless gift of donation.  As he shared, “It’s just my way of trying to put into words how I feel.”



The unexpected knock, the unexpected call.

The tired saddened doctor’s face seemed to say it all.

Everything had been done, your heart sank at the sound.

And now you finally knew, your loved one was down.


As you learned the unwanted truth, there was nothing more to do

Your emotions took flight to say, now how do we make it through.

Your loved one didn’t plan it, as you face this awful strife

But now you face the question, do you give the gift of life.


Though your sorrow cannot be measured, our thanks is great indeed.

For donors are the heroes we thought we’d never need.

And donors are the heroes we never got to know.

They’ve lost it all, but in that loss they gave life the greatest gift of all.

TCHC President/CEO Joel Beiswenger

“Today, 119,000 people are on the national transplant waiting list, and 22 of them will die today for lack of an organ. We encourage our community members to join with Tri-County to help save lives through a national campaign to encourage people to register to become organ donors,” said Joel Beiswenger, Tri-County Health Care President and CEO, who also spoke at the ceremony. Kim Aagard and Donna Grendahl, raised the flag at the conclusion of the program. Around 40 donor families, transplant recipients, friends and the public gathered for the presentation and flag raising.

Across the nation, thousands of Donate Life flags will be flown and displayed throughout the month of April – National Donate Life Month. In addition to this initiative, Tri-County Health Care offers donor families the option of flying the flag at the hospital, during their loved one’s donation event, in a show of support and to honor their loved one’s memory. If you are interested in learning more about organ and tissue donation, please visit: life-source.org.

Donate Life: Leaving a lasting legacy

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Kim Aagard

In July 2009 Tom and Kim Aagard received a sympathy letter in the mail from LifeSource, a non-profit organization focusing on organ, eye and tissue donation, with condolences on their son Tommy’s passing. Included in the letter were the details about the transplant recipients who received a second chance of life because of Tommy’s generous gift. In the list of recipients was a Minnesota man. “A 59-year-old man received the gift of Thomas’s heart. This recipient is married, lives in Minnesota and is a father,” the letter read.


Stephanie Larson, a young mother of two, has worked at Tri-County Health Care since 2003. After having a cardiac arrest in October 2011, at the age of 32 she was able to recover and receive a new heart in September 2012. Because of her personal experience, she volunteers to raise awareness in the Wadena area about organ and tissue donation. She suggested a LifeSource exhibit at TCHC’s February Festival of Health. She asked her friend Bill Carlson, of Minnetonka, to help her with the booth. She had met Bill when she was staying in the hospital at the University of Minnesota ICU after her transplant. They hit it off immediately. Stephanie said, “He came in often to check in to give me support. He was a constant for me during my time and my transplant.” Bill had lain in the exact bed in Room 3503 back in 2009 as Stephanie did in 2012 – when he received his own heart transplant.


Kim was working at the 2014 February Festival of Health and she approached the LifeSource booth. Kim spotted a sign that read “My Donor” with a photo of her son Tommy underneath. Looking back on that moment, Kim describes it as surreal. There, standing behind the table, was Bill.

Kim said, “I picked up the photo and looked at Bill and said, ‘This is a photo of my son Tommy.’” Bill recalled that he was so nervous that he didn’t know how to respond to Kim. “It was like all of a sudden you’re meeting a sister that you never had,” he said. Because of the impact of meeting Kim, Bill couldn’t finish working at the event and Stephanie stepped in for him.

He called his wife immediately and told her, “‘I just met Tommy’s mom.’ My wife could tell by my voice that I was very emotional about it, and she asked if I’d be able to drive back home to Minnetonka.”

Meanwhile, Kim had left the event to call her husband and tell him what had happened. She asked if Tom wanted to come to the event and meet Bill. At first Tom was unsure, and the two hung up. But less than 10 minutes later Kim’s phone rang and Tom said, “It’s meant to be. I’m on my way to meet you both.” For the next couple of hours, the three sat and talked.

Today, as Kim, Bill and Stephanie sit together reciting their fate-filled story filled with tears and smiles, Bill explains a saying they recite in his weekly support group. “‘Live your life everyday like your donor is watching. Treat this life with the utmost respect to the gift that was given to you by them.’ I will thank Tommy every day of my life.”

L-R: Bill, Kim and Stephanie



*This story was originally published in the March 2017 edition of Tri-County Health Care’s Healthy Times. To read this article, and the other articles, click here.

Minnesota Viking Adam Thielen Headlined Men’s Night Out

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More than 550 men participated in the 17th annual Men’s Night Out, a free health education program on Sunday, April 2 at Wadena-Deer Creek Middle/Senior High School.

The event started with a dinner and educational health booths that filled the WDC High School Commons Area. Men arrived early for complimentary lab testing and health screenings provided by Tri-County Health Care staff and M-State nursing students.

The final session featured the ever-popular panel of medical experts participating in a “Question and Answer” session with participants. This year’s panel included Steve Davis, M.D., John Pate, M.D. and David Kloss, M.D., and it was emceed by Rick Youngbauer. They answered questions from the audience about acid reflux, cholesterol, healthy lifestyle choices and numerous other health topics.

Adam Thielen

The keynote speaker of the evening, Adam Thielen, Minnesota Vikings Wide Receiver, inspired the audience with his journey that took him from growing up in Detroit Lakes, MN to the NFL. He spoke to the packed gymnasium about rejection, and allowing that to be a motivating force to work harder and ultimately achieve your goals. He took several questions from the audience who were very interested to hear from him about his life on and off of the field.

One of the lucky winners!

The evening concluded with the grand prize drawing of 15 winners chosen to participate in a meet-and-greet with Adam Thielen that took place directly after his keynote speech. They each received a photo and a signed football from the Minnesota Viking.

“The event was dedicated to providing men of all ages in our communities with an educational and motivational event to improve their everyday lifestyles,” said Joel Beiswenger, Tri-County Health Care CEO/President. “We were proud to provide free lab work to all participants, and honored to have the incredible Adam Thielen of the Minnesota Vikings inspire so many people, including the young boys who came with his jerseys. He is a shining example of what hard work and dedication can do, deciding to not take rejection as an ultimate end answer and continuing to be true to his central Minnesota roots.”

This year’s sponsors included Tri-County Health Care, Tri-County Health Care Foundation and the Tri-County Health Care Auxiliary.

Occupational Therapy Turns 100!


By: Lora Foust, Occupational Therapist (O.T.)

This April we are celebrating the centennial anniversary of Occupational Therapist (O.T.) becoming a profession. The profession has changed much over the 100 years since it started as a profession, even in the past 30+ years since I’ve been involved. Since then, we’ve created practices, workshops, certifications, academic programs, accreditation standards, and much more! The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) represents 213,000 occupational therapy practitioners and students in the United States.

The United States Department of Labor describe the work that occupational therapists do as: “treat injured, ill, or disabled patients through the therapeutic use of everyday activities. They help these patients develop, recover, and improve the skills needed for daily living and working.”

I personally chose to go into this field because it’s a helping profession that uses my psychology training, creativity, and my belief that meaningful activity is healthy. My favorite thing about my job is to see the smile on a patient’s face when they do something they did not think they could ever do again or do a desired activity for the first time.

There are several misconceptions that I see with the O.T. profession. Some people have a belief that our job is to help someone

Lora Foust, O.T.

get a job, or that it’s the same exact thing as a Physical Therapist. Both of these are untrue. The word “occupational” is used to indicate meaningful or functional activity, such as eating, dressing, or casting a fishing line. Physical therapists (P.T.) traditionally use physical modalities, such as heat, massage, or exercise. Occupational therapists traditionally use therapeutic activity, such as games, crafts, or self-care tasks. These roles are more blended now with both using physical modalities and therapeutic activity; however, the P.T.s are experts on the lower body, spine, and neck, while the O.T.s are experts on the upper body and sensory issues.

A favorite memory of mine was of a two-year-old boy who was so uncomfortable with any sensory experience; he would not sit on a swing, even 2” from the ground. After working with us for a while he could climb to the top of the waterslide at the Maslowski Center, slide down and swim to the rope by himself! Another patient that sticks out to me was of a woman that I treated who was 100-years-old. She could no longer see or hear baseball games on TV. I got her set up with a digital book player that could be adjusted to a low and slow tone she could hear. She could now listen to baseball stories! These things change the patient’s lives, but also me as their Occupational Therapist. What keeps me motivated every day is seeing my patient’s progress.

About the Author: Lora Fourst, O.T., has worked for Tri-County Health Care for nearly six years. She received her Bachelor of Art Degree in Psychology and a Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy. She also completed her Master’s Certificate in Low Vision Rehab.

Emergency Service Personnel Recognized for Dedication to their Communities

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More than 90 EMS personnel from local fire, rescue and police departments attended Tri-County Health Care’s 30th annual Emergency Medical Service (EMS) program. The event was held on Tuesday, March 14 at M-State, Wadena campus.

“This event is a chance to have an educational opportunity, hear from guest speakers, and also recognize area personnel,” said Mike Ittner, Tri-County Health Care EMS Manager. “This is the 30th year that we’ve been able to recognize the many dedicated men and women who do heroic things on a daily basis.”

Speakers included John Pate, M.D., Tri-County Health Care EMS Medical Director; Mike Ittner, Tri-County Health Care EMS Manager, and three area residents that have personally been impacted by EMS personnel who’ve helped a loved one.

Several EMS awards were also presented to area personnel:

  • Star of Life – (The Star of Life award is given to emergency personnel for making an extremely noteworthy contribution to efforts which resulted in saving a life.)
    • Menahga First Response, Menahga Police, & Wadena County Dispatch
    • Menahga Lifeguards, Menahga First Responders, Menahga Police, Wadena County Sheriff, Wadena County Dispatch, & Menahga Fire
    • Bertha Ambulance & Todd County Dispatch
    • Sebeka Rescue, Wadena County Sheriff, & Wadena County Dispatch
  • Bear Award
    • Dave Cuppy & Chad Olson
  • Years of Service Star (In appreciation of loyal and dedicated service)
  • 15 Years: Dave Cuppy

EMS night is a free event held every March sponsored by Tri-County Health Care Emergency Medical Services and Central Minnesota EMS Region.

To learn more about the Tri-County Emergency Medical Services click here: http://www.tchc.org/what-we-offer/emergency-medical-services.

TriWadena: No Spandex Necessary!

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By: David Kloss, MD, FACS

A triathlon is a fun way to stay active and meet people.  It can be a great excuse to travel places you might never go to otherwise, and it gives you an excuse to eat a little bit healthier, to get more sleep at night (a definite health bonus!) and to stay active!

Signing up for any race, whether it is a local charity fundraiser, a three-mile run on the far side of Minnesota, or perhaps Grandma’s marathon in Duluth, all are a great motivator. The very act of plunking down 15 dollars (or more?) is a great motivator to train for your event; it motivates you to eat a little bit healthier, to go to bed a little bit earlier and to actually GO TO THE GYM, rather than just talk about going to the gym!

This is the 2nd year for “TRIWADENA, no spandex necessary”, the little local beginner’s triathlon.  This could be just the ticket for you to get motivated! It is a FUN way to participate in a sport you may never have heard of before!  As our advertisement says: “no spandex necessary”. You do not need expensive exercise clothes, no funny looking skin tight bike shorts, and certainly no $3000 bicycles!  Our race is geared for the person who can barely swim, but who IS interested in becoming a BETTER swimmer.

Last year we organized our race at the Maslowski Wellness Center. It was a spectacular day for our 22 competitors. All of them were first time triathletes!  The youngest was 17 and the oldest was 72. We had 25 volunteers who also had fun cheering on the racers and also keeping them safe while riding and running the course around Wadena.  You had to swim (or walk) eight lengths of the pool, bike 12 miles around Wadena, and run 2 miles around St. John’s Lutheran church.  Don’t think you can do it? Train a little bit and TRY IT!!!  Register for the race at the Maslowski Wellness Center and you can come to our three training seminars!

Jeremy Moonen was our first male finisher and Dr. Laura DuChene was our first female finisher.  But “best time” and

Dr. DuChene

winning were not primary; finishing, having fun, and just the act of training for the race…….those were REAL goals.  Each participant had to spend some extra time at the gym practicing each of the three events: swim, bike, and run.  And actually two other areas of the triathlon race get ignored by beginners: the TRANSITION.

The TRANSITION is the process of getting out of the swimming pool and then hopping on the bike while you are still a little bit winded.  This is Transition one.

TRANSITION two is harder: getting off the bike and running. Your legs are tired and they rebel! This takes training and practice to condition your muscles to change gears and to run!  Don’t make a rookie mistake! Practice this transition!

The other part of triathlon and indeed any event, is the discipline to TURN OFF THE TV and actually go to the gym regularly.

The training, the extra time spent at the gym instead of on the couch, the practice in the swimming pool, the time spent with your friends running around the track is REALLY what our race is about.  Our race doesn’t have a large cash prize, there is no huge trophy!  Our race is about having fun and staying motivated to stick with your New Year’s Eve resolutions!

So come on! Try something new! Call the MAS and register! We’ll help get you ready for this mini-triathlon!  Your family will be impressed! They’ll come cheer you on! And you do get a REALLY cool athletic shirt!!!  If you can’t swim or you have bad knees and can’t run, you can still participate: we have a RELAY TEAM division!!! Get three friends to participate with you!

And to help motivate the adults even more, we’ve added a kid’s race (10-14 years old) on Friday evening at 6PM. The kids can swim one length of the pool (with life jacket if needed), ride their bike around the MAS, and run around the high school! Come cheer on the future Olympians!!!

See you at 0800 on the starting line, Saturday, May 20!

To learn more about TriWadena click here: www.TriWadena.org.

About the Author: David Kloss, MD, FACS, has worked at TCHC for five years. He completed the Iron Man Madison race in 2014 in 14 hours 27 minutes. He’s completed many full marathons across the country, in Paris, France and Dublin, Ireland. He loves to be active and stay in shape for ski season and canoe season in the Boundary Waters! He has two grandchildren who add even more motivation to stay in shape!