Meals that help you heal!

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We’re here to serve you meals that help you heal! Good nutrition is a basis for healthy living, so Tri-County Health Care has gone above and beyond to create a kitchen that puts care into every morsel. We feel it’s important to remember the hard work and people that make every meal possible, at home and in our kitchen.

Tri-County Health Care has expanded its relationship with BSG Maintenance. The specialized staffing agency now oversees the kitchen and its staff. This renewed partnership will make for an even healthier and more efficient means to keep our patients satiated.

The following video is a great way to get a feel for what it’s like to work in a hospital kitchen.

A note from administration

We pride ourselves on implementing top-tier nutritional value into our care. The human body can only thrive and heal with the appropriate fuel. These roles are of high importance to our organization. Going forward, we will serve patients out of a brand-new kitchen at the Astera Health Campus. Come be a part of the North Star Café!

The North Star Café will offer a bevy of healthy food options for staff and patients alike. This new eatery will be great for everyone. It might even be your new favorite spot for lunch. Enjoying good food shouldn’t just happen during a hospital stay. It should be a fixture in everyday life. So stop by after March 18 and see what the new North Star Café has to offer.

Looking back

In July 2022, the Tri-Living Well blog wrote about the inner workings of a hospital cafeteria. This blog was intended to be a behind-the-scenes look at some of the hustle and bustle behind the meals that help you heal. For more information about Tri-County Health Care, please visit our Also, follow us on social media for important updates and wellness tips.

Grand opening

The grand opening of the new Astera Health Campus is almost here! On March 18, 2023, join us for a day of excitement and new beginnings as Tri-County Health Care becomes Astera Health. Every inch of the sprawling medical center highlights wellness, tranquility, and better living.


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In our constant drive for innovation, Tri-County Health Care has made yet another investment into the long-term health of our patients. Meet ROSA! A robotic system designed from the ground up to assist in delicate total knee replacement procedures.

Designed and manufactured by Zimmer Biomet, the knee system hails as a robotic assistant for surgeons by surgeons. With the opening of the new Astera Health campus, orthopedic surgeon Ben Robertson, MD, will use the ROSA knee system to assist him through his patient’s total knee replacement procedure.

Dr. Robertson

The robot is designed to increase positive patient outcomes from total knee replacement surgery. The ROSA knee system is not fully automated. The surgeon partially guides it, carefully selecting every movement to match the patient’s unique body. The surgical team develops a plan before surgery to ensure a safe and efficient process. Successful procedures completed with the ROSA knee system typically have patients returning to normal life much sooner.


Ben Robertson, MD


Advancements in surgical technology are a significant part of Tri-County Health Care’s constant revaluation of services. Robotics and automated technology are the future, and the addition of the ROSA system is just an example of innovation at Tri-County Health Care.

To learn more about this technology and other offerings, visit Information about our unique services and phenomenal providers is only a few clicks away. Also, follow us on social media for regular updates and wellness tips. To schedule an appointment, please call 218-631-3510.

Grand opening

The grand opening of the new Astera Health Campus is almost here! On March 18, 2023, join us for a day of excitement and new beginnings as Tri-County Health Care becomes Astera Health. Every inch of the sprawling medical center highlights wellness, tranquility, and better living. You may even get the opportunity to meet ROSA!

How do you get an MRI machine?

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As the new Astera Health Campus construction draws to a close, the final touches are underway. One significant milestone recently is the installation of the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) device. This massive project required the help of dozens of Mortenson crew and imaging professionals. On the installation day, the massive device barely fit through the front door. From there, it was guided down hallways to its final resting place in the radiology department. This is only one step of many. So, how do you get an MRI machine?

This final push is only one piece of a much larger puzzle. Getting a magnetic resonance imaging device to a hospital is actually a tremendous challenge. Kate Lachowitzer, diagnostic imaging manager at Tri-County Health Care, has been overseeing the process from the very beginning. She took some time to break down the installation.

The breakdown

  1. It all starts with ordering the machine. Software applications are finalized, and everything is reviewed thoroughly.
  2. A shielding plan is devised by the manufacturer based on the specific MRI room. This plan is required so the magnetic field is contained in the room. This involves placing a certain amount of copper and steel in the walls. The MRI scan room is built to follow the shielding plan.
  3. MRI machine is constructed and shipped. Tri-County Health Care chose Siemens, which is a German company.
  4. When the unit arrives in the United States, helium is added to the core to stabilize the magnet.
  5. The install crew has three days to get it hooked up to the chiller onsite to keep it stable. If it isn’t connected to the chiller soon enough, the magnet could quench, releasing all the helium inside the core. Releasing the helium would replace all the oxygen in the room. This could cause anyone in the room to suffocate from a lack of oxygen. Helium is also very cold, so exposure could cause hypothermia.
  6. It takes about three weeks to put the machine together. At that time, the magnet is not active.
  7. The last week of installation involves calibrating the magnet. The magnet is activated, and tests are performed.
  8. Currently, the magnet has been ramped down for safety concerns, but the unit is fully assembled and will be ready for use after the grand opening.

For more information about MRI and other services offered at Tri-County Health Care, visit For scheduling and additional information, please call 218-631-3510.

Lois Miller retires after 52 years of service

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Lois Miller has faithfully served the patients of Tri-County Health Care for over half a century. Her dedication to others is evident in every patient interaction. Lois began her career at Tri-County on June 11, 1970, as a candy striper. This role was essentially a nurse’s aide. This work would send the then-teenage Lois down a road of near-constant dedication to others.

Lois Miller

Lois Miller

in 1976 she obtained her Registered Nursing License, and in 1993 she received her Public Health Nurse registration. Later in life, she became the cardiac rehab manager at Tri-County Health Care. Her entire career took place at one organization.

Helping others always

Going above and beyond is a common theme throughout her tenure. In addition to her services as a nurse, she is a regular contributor to Tri-County Health Care activities. Lois is the primary coordinator of the donate life flag-raising ceremony and a strong advocate for organ donation in the community. Additionally, she plans to continue volunteering at Tri-County Health Care during retirement.

Staff members wanted to send Lois off properly with a retirement party. Coworkers, retirees, friends, and patients came to see and celebrate her. Lois completed her final day on January 1, 2023.

Theresa Mack, Inpatient Nurse Manager, organized the celebration. The event garnered almost 100 attendees. The event was marked with an air of earned accomplishment and much reflection on a long career of always putting the patient first.

Lois and dedication

Mack commented that Lois had never taken an unplanned sick day off since she started in February 2018. Furthermore, Lois loved her Tri-County Health Care family so much that she chose to live across the street from the Wesley building, so work would only be a few short steps away.

To date, Lois Miller is the longest-serving member of Tri-County Health Care staff with 52.5 years of dedicated service and is an example of our philosophy of being your trusted partner for life.

Thank you, Lois; you will be missed!

Chiropractic Care in Verndale

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Tri-County Health Care is now offering chiropractic care in Verndale. The Verndale Clinic temporarily closed during the COVID-19 pandemic and was utilized as a storage/triage space for healthcare personnel. After many months of preparation, the clinic reopened in early October 2022. Since then, services have expanded to serve the Verndale community better. Starting January 4, Brock Spandl, DC, will offer his unique brand of care.

Words from Brock Spandl

It’s no secret that our areas skew toward an older demographic. These hardworking men and women raised us, tended the farm, and kept our local factories going strong for decades. Verndale, like many small towns, is where these people call home. It’s a place where people embrace peace and quiet, where things don’t move too fast, and every encounter starts with a smile and hello. That’s what I love about Verndale, the people, and kinship. It reminds me of Staples, where I used to practice. Everyone knows everyone, and every problem gets a unified response.

We need more of that small-town proactive spirit focused on health. The new year is upon us, and everyone needs a wellness refresh. Let 2023 be the year you spend less time craning your neck or rubbing that sore back. It’s incredible how much better summer is when you can enjoy everything in Minnesota without that bad back ruining the fun.

Chiropractic care in Verndale

Brock Spandl, DC

Less pain in Verndale and beyond

I’m now offering chiropractic care at the Verndale Clinic and would love the opportunity to heal some of those stubborn aches. I hope you give me that opportunity. I can’t wait to make Verndale a place with fewer aches and pains.

Brock Spandl, DC

Tri-County Health Care

Schedule your appointment today!

Scheduling your chiropractic appointment at any of our locations has never been easier! All it takes is a few clicks in our online scheduler! We also invite you to call 218-445-5990 to schedule your appointment in Verndale. Follow Tri-County Health Care on social media for essential wellness tips and news about our services.

New walk-in sports injury clinic coming in 2023!

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Tri-County Health Care remains dedicated to keeping our area athletes in top shape. We understand that sports and the drive to compete are one with our local culture. We have hundreds of gifted athletes all over the region going for the gold, charging for the touchdown, and leading the team. Now those athletes have a new Sports Medicine resource in their corner. On January 2, 2023, a new free walk-in sports injury clinic will be available.

Brock Spandl, DC, and Sarah Maninga, ATC, will staff the clinic. By using the injury clinic, athletes can schedule same-day appointments with orthopedic providers if further evaluation is needed.

Tri-County Health Care added this new service to better serve athletes around the region. This new walk-in clinic will offer a wide range of services in addition to our ongoing sports medicine services. Some of these services include:

High School Outreach

Our athletic trainer is at the ready to help student-athletes with a complete evaluation during games and practices. An evaluation can aid in performance and postgame recovery.

Sports Injury Evaluations

K-12 students can receive a free injury evaluation by a Tri-County Health Care sports medicine specialist. Same-day scheduling is available for meetings with our orthopedic specialists.

Athletic Training Programs

Our clinic is more than a place for recovery; it’s a place to grow. We have various training programs designed for male and female athletes to enhance athletic performance. This program is an excellent way to maintain strength throughout the year.

Strength & Conditioning Programs

Regular conditioning is essential to athletic performance, and our sports medicine team has you covered. Individual programs are available for athletes of all ages. Setting attainable goals and interests remains key to ensuring high-quality conditioning.

Educational Presentations

We are trainers and teachers! Staff members are available for educational presentations at schools and events. Contact Tri-County Health Care to schedule.

The free sports injury walk-in clinic is available Monday-Friday, from 7:30 – 8:30 a.m., by entering the main entrance of the Wadena Clinic and checking in at the front desk.

Our growing family

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The last few months have been a whirlwind of change for me, professionally and personally. Every day I learn something new. Constant learning is excellent for personal growth but can also be emotionally exhausting. I’m lucky to have my work family to help guide me through this tough time. Our growing family never ceases to amaze me, and I just wanted to share some of my feelings for the future with anyone who took the time to read this.

More than a word

I’ve been thinking lately about what makes Tri-County Health Care different; it isn’t the lab coats or the color of our exam rooms; it must be the people. We have some of the best people around. The people are why I’ve stuck around for so long.

I know some organizations like to throw around the word “family.” Some mean it more than others, but in my experience, it’s a word used endlessly to justify budget cuts or resolve inner office squabbles. How many of those organizations really mean it? Not many, but ours does. Every time I hear about one of our staff members losing a family member or going through a difficult time, I’m amazed by the outpouring of support for that person. The comments left under bereavement notices, the words of kindness, and the friendship that keeps the clinic going. All of this is amazing to me. It transcends company culture, Tri-County Health Care is a real family, and our family looks after its own.

Working in healthcare is stressful. I was a nurse for a very long time and had more than a few draining days. Right now, healthcare as an industry is in a state of recovery. Many of our medical professionals spent the last two years under layers of PPE, worried for those who may spend their final days on a ventilator. I’m hoping those days are behind us.

A second home

Our growing family

Medley Shamp, Chief Ambulatory Officer

The bonds of a family need near-constant revitalization. Tri-County Health Care has so much to offer people in the greater region, and all of this in convenient locations. We need to add to our family to continue serving the people who need us most. If you are a medical professional or just someone that wants to be a part of something bigger. Please consider Tri-County Health Care (soon to be Astera Health). When you join our growing family, you get more than a paycheck and a name badge; you get a second home.

If you are looking for your next adventure, stop by our careers page and see what we have to offer.

Medley Shamp

Chief Ambulatory Officer

Tri-County Health Care

RSV is on the rise in Minnesota

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The winter’s biting cold foreshadows the seasonal sniffles that are sure to come. This unsavory tradition has parents stocking up on medication and keeping a healthy stockpile of tissues. However, this year is a little different. RSV and influenza are undoubtedly on the rise, but so is COVID-19. This onslaught of respiratory illnesses has medical professionals all over the country sounding alarms.

Should I be afraid?

RSV is on the rise

Data provided by MDH

Now is not the time for panic, but it is time for precautions. One virus of note is RSV, also known as respiratory syncytial virus, which causes cold-like symptoms. This virus is always a looming threat this time of year, but in 2022 it has spiked to uncomfortable levels.

Once again, children and the elderly are most at risk for complications. Cheryl Houselog, an infection prevention specialist at Tri-County Health Care, has been actively tracking the statistics associated with the virus. Like many others, she has been concerned with the steep uptick in RSV and influenza. According to Cheryl, the best defense against RSV and many airborne illnesses is to avoid crowded spaces and regularly clean surfaces around the home. Like with COVID-19, experts are strongly encouraging people to stay home if they exhibit any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • New or worsening cough, runny nose, or sneezing
  • Cold like symptoms

The impact on us

In just a few short months, respiratory illnesses have become rampant in the Wadena area. RSV numbers have exponentially grown. We have a 38 percent positivity rate for RSV and 23 percent for influenza. These statistics are eerily like what is being experienced at the state level. According to the Minnesota Department of Health, hospitals observe a 35.4 % positivity rate. At this time, it is hard to see a plateau coming.

The rise in respiratory illness is leading to a decrease in the number of available beds in the state. This lack of beds makes it exceedingly difficult to elevate the level of care in critical scenarios. Medical staff at Tri-County Health Care are asking everyone to take reasonable precautions while RSV is on the rise this winter. Please stay home if you are sick. Try not to interact with those experiencing cold-like symptoms. A joint effort is needed to reduce the number of hospitalizations.

For more information or scheduling, please contact Tri-County Health Care by calling 218-631-3510. Remember to follow Tri-County Health Care on social media for regular updates on important topics.

We cheer for volunteers: Ava Peterson

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We cheer for volunteers! Meet Ava Peterson. This Wadena-Deer Creek senior has been volunteering in the Wadena Clinic and helping patients find their way through the building. Many patients have Ava to thank for an easy, carefree visit with their provider.

An interest and a duty

Ava’s passion for volunteering was sparked by a communitive services course at her high school. Through this course, she would be introduced to the volunteering program at Tri-County Health Care. After a month in, the 17-year-old can’t get enough. According to Peterson, she already had a healthy interest in the medical field and was exploring career options post-high school. This opportunity allowed her to experience working in a medical facility while giving back to the community she has called her home.

“I love the atmosphere.” – Ava Peterson, Tri-County Health Care volunteer

Legacy of care

Ava is no stranger to the medical profession. Many members of her family are nurses, including her mother, who sees patients in the orthopedics department in Wadena.

We cheer for volunteers

Ava Peterson

According to Ava, before her work at Tri-County, she struggled with being a little shy, but interacting with patients and staff daily is slowly helping her break out of her shell.

We cheer for volunteers like Ava and you!

Tri-County Health Care is searching for dedicated volunteers to assist in events, departmental activities, clinic operations, and much more. As Tri-County Health Care approaches the opening of the new building, staff will need extra helpers for training drills and wayfinding. Tri-County Health Care wants to extend a bridge to students like Ava. Serving as a volunteer at Tri-County Health Care is an excellent way to fulfill curriculum requirements that call for experience inside the walls of a medical facility.

Anyone can become a volunteer at Tri-County Health Care! For more information, please call or text Susan Marco. She will assist all prospective volunteers with finding a role and schedule that suits them. Volunteering doesn’t have to eat up hours of your time; even just 45 minutes to an hour can make a monumental difference in the lives of staff and patients.

Susan Marco
Provider Recruitment
D: 218-631-7593
C: 320-237-5310

Living our values: Alicia & Thanksgiving

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When the November cold inevitably rolls in and the Halloween decorations come down, many of us turn our attention to the next holiday. Thanksgiving may be the most American holiday. It is hailed as a time of giving thanks and consuming copious amounts of turkey and stuffing. Maybe you don’t like the awkward dinner with extended family or the mountain of dishes that come after, but it is undeniable that this time of year comes with a beautiful warmness. The snow and ice dominate our rural countryside, but the season’s cheer keeps us nice and cozy. However, that warmth is not felt by all. Not everyone has a place to go on Thanksgiving or a delicious dinner with friends and family. This time of year is an excellent time to showcase staff living our values in and out of the workplace.

Living our values

Alicia Ahrendt

Doing for others

Alicia Ahrendt is a referrals and authorizations coordinator at Tri-County Health Care. She, like many members of staff, takes community involvement very seriously. For the last ten years, Alicia, along with a team of her fellow parishioners at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church, put on a huge charity dinner for Thanksgiving.

In 2012, church organizers pulled together the big dinner in just three weeks. Since then, the event has become an even more efficient operation. Planning starts in early November, and dozens of hours go into this special dinner. The church organizers and volunteers serve hundreds of people on Thanksgiving Day, many of which can’t make their own Thanksgiving dinner or don’t have the ability to travel.

Living our values

Organizers will serve around 200 people at each dinner.

Alicia and the organizers ask for donations from the congregation and people attending the dinner. Guests may donate food items. All raised funds and food go to the Sebeka food shelf. The church even makes a matching donation of funds raised.

Alicia and Thanksgiving

“We serve the traditional Thanksgiving dinner, ham, turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, veggies, bread, and pie. The meal is completely free, but we ask for a free-will donation. We then donate all funds to the Sebeka food shelf – our church usually does a matching donation, as well. We generally serve about 200 meals that day. We ask, but don’t require, that those wanting a meal to call the church ahead of time to ‘reserve’ a meal, so we can plan as best as possible how much food we’ll need.” – Alicia Ahrendt

While discussing the dinner, Alicia was all glee! She remarked how this was one of her favorite days of the year. Church and cooking are a big part of her life, so the day brings all the things she loves together with peace toward others as the ultimate goal. “I love that we can donate to the food shelf, which is always needing funds to continue serving the community,” explained Alicia

COVID-19 won’t stop us!

Living our values

Organizers opted for take-out and delivery during the pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic derailed plans for organizers in 2020 and 2021. However, they still delivered meals, but it wasn’t the same as inviting community members for an evening of fellowship, good company, and delicious food. Alicia and the team have been hustling to get everything ready for their first in-person dinner in two years.

Community and living our values

Alicia is going above and beyond for her community. Tri-County Health Care celebrates the efforts of those who care for our patients and extend their kindness to their neighbors. She embodies living our values daily in the office, church, and home. Tri-County Health Care will be donating to the Thanksgiving Dinner in honor of her and the parishioners of her church. All funds go to help curb hunger in the Sebeka community.

For donations

The Thanksgiving Day meal runs from noon to 2 p.m. Food items can be given directly to organizers at the door. Monetary donations are submitted via check made to OSCL, with a note for Thanksgiving. Submit contributions to organizers during the dinner or mail them to:


Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church

401 2nd St SE

Sebeka, MN 56477

Foundation Spotlight: Katie & Brittany

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The Tri-County Health Care Foundation is a bridge between the community and the hospital. The Foundation creates a constant flow of support for our region and its many valuable institutions via generous donations. From AEDs to education, the Foundation is always looking for ways to strengthen our community, which makes Tri-County Health Care strong. The Foundation would not function without generous donations, so starting now, Tri-County Health Care would like to recognize our donors with the Foundation Spotlight. Without them, life-saving equipment and regular expansions to our care would not be possible.

Meet Katie and Brittany

Foundation Spotlight

Brittany (left) and Katie

Katie Uselman and Brittany Evans are the owners of 218 Insurance Partners LLC, formerly Toby Pierce & Associates. The Wadena-based insurance brokerage firm regularly goes above and beyond for its customers, in and out of the office. This is their first year of donating, but it won’t be their last. The insurance duo felt the need to support Tri-County Health Care and all of its care initiatives. Both Katie and Brittany have received care at Tri-County. They’ve had most of their kids at Tri-County as well.

“We love being part of the community and hope to be donors for many years to come.” – Brittany Evans

Thanks for donating, Katie and Brittany!

Giving thanks

At Tri-County Health Care, we want to thank those who put others before themselves. Please keep an eye on our blog and social media accounts. Every so often, we will select a Foundation donor and introduce them to the community with the Foundation Spotlight. This spotlight is a celebration of generosity that we hope will spark the fire of good in others. People are what make our health system great, and we have some of the best people around. We want to remind you of that.

If you feel so inclined to donate, please visit On this page, you will find simple instructions on how to donate. Additionally, information about upcoming events, scholarships, and the backstory of our great Foundation can be found there.

Please get in touch with Foundation Executive Director Ryan Damlo by email or phone for more information.

Ryan Damlo
Tri-County Health Care Foundation, Executive Director

OB sneak peek recap

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The new facility is nearing completion! Tri-County Health Care has begun the process of introducing the community to the building and all it has to offer. At this point, the obstetrics unit is nearly done, with only minor finishing projects left. Tri-County Health Care organized an OB sneak peek and invited guests from all over the region to visit the new birthing suites.

On Nov. 2, 2022, Hard hat-clad patients, old and new, graced the halls of the new facility. They were given a special tour of the new building in addition to a closer look at the birthing suites. Additionally, various providers and nurses acted as tour guides, with each tour ending at the nearly finished obstetrics unit.

The new space

Organizers went above and beyond to show each respective space in the manner it will be used in March 2023. Furthermore, each room was decorated, furnished, and equipped with a bevy of new amenities. Some of these amenities focus on the comfort of quests, others focus on birth efficiency for providers.

The new birthing suites come equipped with a birthing sling mounted to the ceiling. This addition allows mothers to stretch prior to birth. These exercises allow for an easier birthing process with less pressure. Additionally, each room boasts specialized lighting controlled via remote control. This state-of-the-art lighting setup allows providers and guests to direct light to any portion of the room.

Water births at Tri-County

One of the most exciting additions to the obstetrics departments is water births. Three suites will have a full birthing tub. With the new facility, mothers will have the opportunity to opt for a water birth. Mothers often choose this option because of its natural therapeutic properties. Choosing to bring a child into the world while being surrounded by water makes a sometimes-chaotic process much more relaxing for some.

Constructive review

Each tour ended with questions and special gifts from event organizers. Tri-County Health Care remains dedicated to creating an environment that is conducive to care. These kinds of events are key to creating the best possible patient experience. In conclusion, the feedback received from attendees will be used leading up to the opening of the new facility and the OB unit.

For more information about the new facility and other events like the OB sneak peek, visit