Establishing care at Tri-County Health Care

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Going to a new clinic can be a scary prospect for some. New faces, a new scheduling process, and a different provider can cause a lot of anxiety. Tri-County Health Care is here to ease you into our special brand of care. That’s why our care team developed establishing care visits. These appointments introduce you to a new provider while gathering important medical information.

Every provider is a little different in how they help patients, so this appointment allows you to see the person behind the lab coat. During this initial meeting, you will share important health history and develop health goals for the future.

How to establish care?

If you are new to the area and trying to connect with a provider, don’t hesitate to reach out to schedulers and ask for an establish care visit. A scheduler may even ask to coordinate this visit during the first contact with you. There are no special charges associated with this appointment.

Jamie Udy on establish care visits

Providers at Tri-County Health Care are excited to offer a streamlined way to establish care. The initial appointment can be a little tough, but they are here to make it painless. Jamie Udy, APRN, FNP, enjoys looking beyond clinical procedures and views these visits as a chance to get to know the patient. By understanding a little more about each patient’s lifestyle, hobbies, careers, and families, a provider can calculate an even more accurate care plan.

“We feel that having the establish care visits not only matches the patient with a provider, but it also ensures that patients are matched with a provider that will help them get the best outcomes. Also, it is important for patients to know that they have choices in healthcare providers.” – Jamie Udy, APRN, FNP

Establishing care at Tri-County Health Care, call 218-631-3510. Let the scheduler know you are new to Tri-County Health Care and need to establish care. Also, follow us on social media for regular updates.


Medicine around the world: Dr. Chessor

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Alfredmy Chessor, M.D., is a family medicine doctor and has been helping patients at Tri-County Health Care since 2018. Since joining the Tri-County team, she has brought a unique brand of care not easily found elsewhere. She has been practicing medicine since 1998 and her devotion to health care has taken her all over the world.

Dr. Chessor has been employed with Tri-County since 2021

Going the distance

Dr. Chessor discovered her passion for medicine after visiting a doctor’s office in high school. The simple task of listening to a person’s heartbeat sparked her interest in the human body and started her path in the medical field.

Born in West Africa and raised in St. Paul, Minnesota, Dr. Chessor attended college at Xavier University in New Orleans and medical school at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. After school, her career began as a pediatrician in Miami, Florida. Her passion for helping children continued during her time with the US Navy, where she served as both a  Pediatrician and General Medical Officer. Her time with the armed forces thrust her into situations a typical doctor may never get the chance to experience, including a tour of duty in Iraq where she was tasked with helping wounded soldiers and marines during the Iraqi War. Then Dr. Chessor made her way back to Minnesota, where she completed her second residency, in Family Medicine, at Hennepin County Medical Center.

Liberia

However, her stay in Minnesota was not permanent. Soon she would make the journey back to Liberia. Dr. Chessor operated a missionary hospital and built her own practice in the capital city of the small West African nation. The practice grew until it was the premier medical clinic in the capital, frequently used by embassy staff and American visitors.

Dr. Chessor is also no stranger to infection control. Dealing with COVID-19 has been difficult for everyone but to her, it was just another challenge. While in Liberia, she assisted in containing the Ebola outbreak. She managed over 100 medical staff members at an Ebola treatment unit in a remote Liberian village. She later left Liberia and returned to Minnesota and joined Tri-County Health Care.

Tri-County strong

For Dr. Chessor, Tri-County Health Care offers a great deal of flexibility and variety. No two days are the same. Every aspect of her medical training is utilized and it goes even further in the team-focused environment. Having medical staff like Dr. Chessor enhances primary care beyond simple clinic appointments. People like her make the care special, with just a little bit of international appeal.

To learn more about Dr. Chessor and the entire team of primary care providers at Tri-County Health Care, click here.

About Dr. Chessor

Dr. Chessor works in family medicine at Tri-County Health Care. She has spent the last 20-plus years of her career helping people all over the globe. Dr. Chessor is married and has four children. In her limited spare time, she enjoys traveling, dancing, reading and exercising.

Dr. Chessor is a Family Medicine provider and got her start in pediatrics.


Pediatric care: starting out right with Dr. DuChene

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All parents worry about the development and growth of their child. For families, choosing a provider often stems from the quality of pediatric care.

Hugs and helping you grow!

Laura DuChene, M.D., always aspired to help children. Early in her training, she discovered her passion for pediatric care. “I found myself wondering how a baby was doing after the delivery and realized I wanted to be able to take care of them too,” said Dr. DuChene. For her, spending nine months with an expecting mother only builds anticipation for how that child will grow up. Dr. DuChene loves the hugs! Caring for little kids is a fun and exciting component of her career. Their excitement is infectious even during times of illness. They never fail to put a smile on Dr. DuChene’s face.

“I choose to work with pediatric patients because it’s what I love to do. They can always make a day brighter.”

Dr. DuChene loves helping new parents and makes every appointment fun. Tri-County Health Care pediatric care caring for children

Pediatric Care at Tri-County Health Care

Tri-County Health Care offers robust pediatric care, including:

  • Well-child visits
  • Immunizations
  • Car seat safety
  • Pre-operative exams
  • Sick visits
  • Minor office procedures
  • Speech therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Occupation therapy

The value of regular visits

Don’t forget the well-child visits. These appointments are pivotal for monitoring the growth of young children. “Well-child visits are a time we can address their whole body and development. This is especially important during puberty and early childhood when the body is going through rapid periods of growth,” explained Dr. DuChene. Providers work with parents on milestones and these visits are a chance to review those milestones and see if further intervention is needed.

“Being a part of a patient’s birth is such a rewarding thing. When you are there taking care of them from the beginning, you know so many more aspects of that child’s life. I have been honored to watch a grandfather cry when meeting their grandson for the first time and learning they were named after him. I’ve watched parents struggle with infertility and know the joy that child brings them. All of this allows me to be a better doctor to your child because I know them, and I know you from the very start.”

Learn more

According to Dr. DuChene, meeting with kids is a little different from appointments with adults. She goes out of her way to tailor each meeting and make things fun. To learn more about Dr. DuChene and the primary care team at Tri-County Health Care, view their videos at TCHC.org/primarycare.

Luara DuChene, M.D. Tri-County Health Care pediatric care caring for children

About Dr. DuChene

Dr. DuChene has been helping families and children for nearly a decade at Tri-County Health Care. She is a Family Practice Provider and the Chief of Medical Staff. Dr. DuChene has always fostered a passion for medicine and dreamed of being a doctor during childhood. She loves the family-friendly atmosphere of Tri-County Health Care. Dr. Duchene is married with three children. She enjoys the outdoors and is an avid reader.


Doctor’s Day 2021: Thank your provider!

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National Doctor’s Day is a time to honor the millions of healthcare providers standing between us and illness. It’s easy to let observances pass by without a singular moment of reflection but this year we should all turn our attention to the doctors that have taken a stand for our collective health. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, hundreds of healthcare workers have perished. Every day they go to work not knowing if they will be infected with a potentially deadly respiratory disease.

Use this time to honor doctors and other medical staff still battling COVID-19. Some of Tri-County Health Care’s providers took this time to reflect on their careers.

Physician Provider Doctor Tri-County Health Care Dr. Heidi Olson Doctor's Day

Heidi Olson, M.D.

Heidi Olson: Science and superior care

Why did you choose your career path?

“I love science, the human body, and having a connection with others.”

What have you learned in the last year of practicing medicine during a pandemic?

“As healthcare providers, we need to have a little grace with ourselves and others. Forgiveness is so important right now. There are a lot of hard times in life and beating up on ourselves and others is not the answer.”

Do you have any advice for someone interested in becoming a doctor?

“Follow your passions, there are so many unique areas and facets of medicine. For example, I love wilderness medicine and how it pertains to my outdoor hobbies. In my clinical practice, I enjoy focusing on wellness and quality of life, as well as palliative care in my end-of-life patients.”

Physician Provider Doctor Tri-County Health Care Dr. Shaneen Schmidt Doctor's Day

Dr. Schmidt with her patients, Alyssa and Fiana

Shaneen Schmidt: Patience

For National Doctor’s Day, people are curious, why did you go into medicine?

“I chose to be a physician because I wanted to be instrumental in improving the life and health of others. Particularly, I like being able to put the various social aspects together when taking care of a family. Understanding that a mother’s health or their child’s health affects how they take care of themselves.”

What has the pandemic taught you?

I had to learn how to increase my flexibility and patience. The state of the virus is always changing and I had to learn patience in trying to explain a novel virus that we are constantly researching. I’ve also had to learn to accept that some people may not acknowledge or appreciate my expertise.”

Any advice for newbies entering the field?

“I would recommend they focus extensively on classwork, training and the perseverance that it takes to get through eight years of education plus the several years of specialized training. If you can get through that, a very rewarding career awaits you.”

Physician Provider Doctor Tri-County Health Care Dr. David Kloss Doctor's Day

David Kloss, M.D.

David Kloss: Work with your team!

Why did you become a surgeon? ​

“I love interacting with people and their families and I’ve always had a knack for taking things apart, figuring out what was wrong, and putting them back together. I ​enjoy the changing routine and challenges of being a surgeon.”

What is the important takeaway from this pandemic? 

“People are resilient and we can get through anything if we stick together.”

Do you have any advice for surgeons in training? 

“Work hard and play hard! It is important to study, apply yourself, but also make time for fun to avoid burnout. Medicine is a very long marathon race. You have to pace yourself to make it all the way through. Eat healthy, get some exercise, and take a vacation with your family.”

Share with me a time when your knowledge of medicine changed someone’s life for the better.

“A doctor called me about a 60-year-old gentleman with sudden severe back and abdominal pain. He was sweating profusely. Not in shock but his heart rate was elevated. I made the diagnosis over the phone of a rupturing aortic aneurysm. I ordered an emergent CAT scan over the phone and met him in the ER. From there, we expedited his resuscitation and transferred him to a surgeon at a facility that could perform an aortic stent graft. He had a rupturing iliac artery aneurysm (a rare and very difficult issue, even more difficult to treat). By expediting the CT scan along with his resuscitation and communicating directly with the specialist, I saved his life.  It is not always yourself doing the surgery, but it can be the simple little things that save a life. That’s what makes medicine the greatest career.”

Physician Provider Doctor Tri-County Health Care Dr. Ben Hess Doctor's Day

Ben Hess, M.D.

Ben Hess: Trust is a valuable resource

What led you to this profession?

“I love challenges. I enjoy solving complicated puzzles and I wanted to do something that would help my community.”

What insight have you gained from the pandemic?

“As complex and cumbersome as medicine is normally, in a crisis, we can act decisively and quickly. The public trust is a precious resource we should never squander.”

On National Doctor’s Day, do you have any advice for students?

“Take the hardest classes from the best teachers, regardless of the subject. Everything you learn will help in medicine whether it is science, math, or even art because they all make you a more well-rounded person which can help you connect better to people.”

Laura DuChene: Small town, big heart

Why did you want to become a physician? 

“I’ve wanted to be a physician for as long as I can remember. I grew up in a small town in central Minnesota. We had a family physician and he always went above and beyond. I decided when I became a doctor, I wanted to be just like him. I knew I wanted to raise my children in a small town where I could be like him, and that led me to Tri-County Health Care.”

What’s the best part of being a doctor?

“I love getting to know the families and watching them grow and change. There is nothing more rewarding than delivering a baby and watching that patient become a parent for the first time.”

Has the pandemic shown you anything special?

“We are a strong community and we have a fantastic family of medical providers. Many people have come together to make our community safe and I couldn’t be prouder to live and work here.”

For National Doctor’s Day, please reach out to your provider and let them know how they have impacted your life for the better. Please follow Tri-County Health Care on social media for regular updates. To schedule an appointment with one of our providers, please call 218-631-3510.

Physician Provider Doctor Tri-County Health Care Dr. Laura DuChene Doctor's Day

Dr. DuChene with her patient, Amanda.


Charles Carlson: Helping the heart

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“Tri-County saved my baby,” uttered Katarina Carlson during an interview about her experience at Tri-County Health Care. Katarina and her son Charles are no strangers to hospitals and clinics. Her journey through childbirth was fraught with stress, fear, uncertainty, but also hope. It’s American Heart Month and Congenital Heart Disease Awareness Week (Feb. 7-14), so we felt Katarina’s story would have a powerful effect on expecting mothers while spreading awareness about heart defects in young children.

Charles lost oxygenated blood flow to the lower part of his body.

In May 2019, Katarina Carlson gave birth to her son Charles at Tri-County Health Care. Katarina experienced no difficulties. Charles was a healthy and happy little boy. It was a joyous time and Katarina was excited to finally hold her baby boy. Soon the family would be able to say goodbye to the staff that made her birth so easy and bring Charles to his new home.

The beginning

After some mom time, Charles was taken for evaluation and testing, a common practice for every newborn. Although the birth had gone well, something was off. The oximetry results seemed a little concerning. Not wanting to alarm Katarina, the medical staff were quick to troubleshoot the situation. They hoped it was simply an error or an issue with the equipment monitor. Heidi Olson, M.D., inspected the data thoroughly. She knew something was amiss; the numbers didn’t sit well with her. Before sending Katarina home, she insisted on running another oxygen test. The data indicated something was not right, which sent nurses and OB staff rushing to discover what was wrong with baby Charles.

As the tension ramped up, Charles’s lower extremities started turning blue. He was losing oxygen to the lower portion of his body. This caused a flurry of doctors and nurses attempting to diagnose the issue. The stress and fear quickly set in for Katarina. She couldn’t bear to see the doctors running to the nursery. “I was in full-blown panic mode,” said Katarina. She was three hours away from discharge. If Dr. Olson hadn’t called for further testing, she would have been on her way home. If it weren’t for Dr. Olson’s suspicion, Charles could have died.

Charles was air lifted to Fargo for further testing.

“We could have taken him home and lost him,” said Katarina.

Flying out

The complications suffered by Charles were beyond serious. It was obvious he was only getting blood flow to his brain. Charles needed to be moved to a bigger hospital as quickly as possible. In 10 minutes, a medical chopper from Fargo was en route to Tri-County Health Care. When the chopper team arrived, Charles was attached to breathing equipment. The chopper crew had to re-soften his umbilical cord so they could insert an IV. The chopper ascended from the hospital. Katarina and her family raced to their vehicle so they could follow the helicopter to Fargo.

After arriving in Fargo, she sat down with a cardiologist that explained the situation. They discovered Charles had an interruption of the aortic arch. This is a rare congenital heart condition when the aorta doesn’t form correctly. The aorta delivers oxygenated blood throughout the body. Still, when a baby suffers from an interruption of the aortic arch, the aorta is divided so blood cannot flow to the lower portion of the body.

Katarina was informed that Charles would require open-heart surgery. “I don’t think I’ve ever cried so hard,” explained Katarina. Her birth went from pleasant to a nightmare in the blink of an eye. Katarina boarded a jet. She and Charles were headed to Masonic Children’s Hospital. This moment would be the starting point to months of hospital visits and more surgeries. In total, Charles would receive 8 surgeries.

Surviving and thriving

Charles survived. With the help of modern medicine and a litany of doctors and nurses, Charles is now a happy three-year-old boy. He still has medical problems associated with his heart defect but he’s doing better than ever. He is thriving but still requires care and outpatient therapy.

“The love I felt from all these strangers made me feel like my son was going to be taken care of,” said Katarina. Katarina adamantly believes that Tri-County Health Care and its gifted staff saved her son. She was incredibly grateful for Dr. Olson. They continue to utilize her as the primary care provider for Charles.

Charles is doing better than ever!

 


First step back to normal: Dr. Redig on the vaccine

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On Dec 21, 2020, Dr. Redig felt the pinch of a needle. A group of socially distanced reporters snapped photos and recorded video of the historic event. She was the first at Tri-County Health Care to receive the vaccine. She and several others marked the beginning of a movement within Tri-County, a mission to get as many people vaccinated as possible. This is the first step back to normal.

Why get the vaccine?

“I did it for myself, my family, and the patients I see every day,” said Dr. Redig. For her, this is the first step back to normal. When the vaccine was offered to her, she wasted no time and signed up. Dr. Redig has been following the development of the vaccine and knows it is safe.

Nothing but the usual symptomsDr. Redig has now received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Dr. Redig is alive and well. With her first dose, she experienced only mild soreness in her arm. This pain would only last a couple of days. On Jan. 11, she received her second dose. This time, she was sore and experienced slight chills and body aches. This was nothing she couldn’t handle and was still able to work and go about her day normally. These symptoms are a part of the typical immune system response associated with vaccination.

Give it time

Receiving two doses does not make you automatically immune to COVID-19. It takes around two weeks after the second dose for the body to generate proper immunity. It’s important even after receiving the second dose to continue practicing mitigation strategies. The vaccine does have a high efficacy rate but it doesn’t provide 100 percent immunity. Everyone must continue wearing masks in public while socially distancing themselves from others.

A safe vaccine for everyone

According to Dr. Redig, there are two things to remember when considering the vaccine. First, get it to protect yourself and the ones you love. The second is that this is an opportunity to do something for the good of everyone. Getting the vaccine is a way to heal our world and take a big step toward normal life. A vaccine is the only way to achieve herd immunity and only when we achieve herd immunity will it be safe to open back up.

The first thing I’ll do…

Dr. Redig works in the emergency room at Tri-County Health Care and is no stranger to intense situations but she and her coworkers are in agreement that things were easier before COVID-19. Staff members dream of the days before the pandemic but have hope for a future where the population is more aware of their health. For Dr. Redig, when COVID-19 is finally defeated, she plans to gather with friends, relatives, and neighbors for a huge birthday party for her twins, one without masks and hand sanitizer.

For more information about the vaccine please visit TCHC.org/covidvaccine. The CDC website is a great resource for information about COVID-19. For regular updates on the progress of the vaccine please follow Tri-County Health Care on Facebook.


A doctor in the making

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The journey through medical school is long and difficult. Along the way, students face the challenge of getting hands-on, real-world experience in a hospital or clinic.

For the third-year program at the University of Minnesota, one of the options is to rotate from hospital to hospital in the Metro. If students aren’t keen on big-city medicine, they could head to the country for the Rural Physician Associate Program (RPAP).

With family in the Brainerd area and a love of the rural atmosphere, U of M medical student Erica Swenson chose to participate in RPAP at Tri-County Health Care for the 2018-19 school year.

 

headshot of Rural Physician Associate Program student, Erica Swenson.

Gaining valuable experience 

From an early age, Erica knew she wanted to be a doctor when she grew up. Throughout school, she volunteered at her local hospital and fell in love with talking to patients. Then she found an internship shadowing a provider at Lakewood Health System, which lasted through her stint at Concordia College in Moorhead. This led to her choosing to pursue medical school at the University of Minnesota – Duluth. When her third year approached, she was excited to join RPAP at Tri-County.

“I wanted to be close to home, and I wanted a rural family-medicine-based practice,” she said. “Here in Wadena, there are lots of family docs doing lots of different things.”

During RPAP, Erica worked at Tri-County from October through June, allowing her the chance to immerse herself in the organization and culture.

“The program is designed for rural recruitment. If you spend nine months in a rural area, you might learn what that looks like. If you can be out there learning it, there’s probably a higher chance that you would like it and continue on,” Erica said.

“I think people also like that you’re in one place so you’re establishing a home base instead of constantly moving from hospital to hospital. You get to know the providers, you get to know the nurses, you get to know the facility.”

The third-year medical school program is built to help students rotate through all specialties. At Tri-County, Erica had the opportunity to work in almost every department. From surgery to the emergency department, she gleaned valuable insight to help her develop skills and ethics to mold her into the physician she will become.

Next May, she plans to graduate from medical school and then apply for residency in the fall, after which time she will choose her specialty. RPAP is designed to help students make this decision, but the answer isn’t always clear.

“I liked everything, which is why they joke you’re destined to be family medicine if you can’t pick one,” Erica said. “I will probably pick a family medicine focus because I really like the variety. Here especially, family docs are in the clinic, they’re also in the hospital, they’re in OB delivering babies. Their training allows them to do that. So I love that.”

 

Rural Physician Associate Program student, Erica Swenson with her preceptor, Dr. John Pate. Backed by a team of support

During RPAP, students are paired with a preceptor who supervises and guides them through the program. Erica was paired with John Pate, M.D., and met with him twice a week to recap her experiences.

“He’s excellent. He goes above and beyond what most preceptors do. He is always on the lookout for good learning opportunities, which is not necessarily in the job description,” Erica said. “He’s also just a great physician to be a role model. He does really good care, really thorough care of his patients. If I do even half of that, I’ll feel pretty good about myself.”

When she wasn’t with Dr. Pate, she was helping in each department, experiencing a vast array of work styles and procedures. Everywhere she went, she was met by providers and staff who were eager to help her learn and make the most of her time at Tri-County.

“I think one thing that is really strong here is the commitment from all staff, providers and other support staff that look out for you,” Erica said. “A lot of places in rural areas have that, but I’ve been in other hospitals, and I think Wadena has a special touch. They are really welcoming. Everyone is like, ‘I’m so happy you’re here to see this.’ They’re cheering you on and making sure that you’re included.”

Now that Erica’s experience with RPAP at Tri-County is over, she’s jumping straight into a neurology rotation at the VA in Minneapolis, but her time with RPAP helped solidify her desire to work in a rural hospital close to home.

“I think one of the big advantages and what draws me to a rural area for practice in the future is that you can establish a practice and be there for 10, 15, 20 years,” she said. “There’s something about that continuity that’s a strength for rural areas, and I think all the family docs really capitalize on that. They know their patients.”