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.

Eyes to the future: Astera Health

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Keep your eyes on the future because change is upon us. The landscape of rural healthcare is about to elevate drastically for Central Minnesota. In March 2023, the new Astera Health Campus will open, bringing an end to months of construction and planning. Over the last year, staff members have shared feelings of excitement for the new building. There have even been moments of reminiscing about the fond moments experienced in the current facilities.

Tell us more!

We would like to hear from you. A hospital is a foundational institution in any community, and our facility is about to evolve. We want to evolve with it. This week, we would like to hear from our readers. Is there something you are excited about regarding the new building? Perhaps there is a service you would like offered closer to home. Take this chance to speak your mind. Utilize the comments section and make your voice heard!

More specifically, we would like members of our community to answer the following questions:


Eyes to the future.

  • How do you feel about the new name and logo?
  • What do you want to see incorporated into the new facility?
  • What is your fondest memory of the current hospital/clinic or the Wesley building?

It takes a village

Our organization adamantly believes that for a facility like ours to survive and thrive; it needs constant community involvement. Answering questions and participating in surveys helps administrative staff make informed decisions that best benefit the community at large.

The building is not the only thing changing. Soon Tri-County Health Care will undergo a brand overhaul, complete with new company colors, signage, logo, and much more, but the same high-quality care will remain.

Regular updates, fun photos, and important wellness news are posted on our website. Following us on social media is a great way to ensure you never miss what’s going on with your trusted partner for life. And again, keep your eyes on the future! We can’t wait to see everyone at the new facility in March 2023.

Antibiotic stewardship at Tri-County

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Antibiotic stewardship is very important.


Antibiotics are a miracle that save millions of lives every year. However, the overuse of antibiotics can lead to antibiotic-resistant infections. Healthcare professionals need to be mindful of the use of these drugs at all times. Recently, Tri-County Health Care received gold-level recognition on the Minnesota Antibiotic Stewardship Acute Care and Critical Access Honor Roll. This program promotes appropriate antibiotic use initiatives designed to stop antimicrobial resistance.

The tiers

This distinct honor is for those safeguarding our communities through the intelligent application of antimicrobial stewardship. There are three levels of recognition for the honor roll. Bronze for commitment, silver for action, and gold represents collaboration. Gold-level hospitals also achieve the silver and bronze requirements. The Minnesota Department of Health compiles and awards the honor roll list annually.

How we won

An activity of special note for the organization is the use of an MRSA PCR-based nasal screening process that has led to a decrease in the use of vancomycin. This procedure has reduced the need for intense rounds of antibiotics, which is beneficial for the health system and the surrounding community. Also, the Antimicrobial Stewardship Team at Tri-County Health Care created employee and patient education materials containing important information to increase awareness and reduce antimicrobial resistance.

The physician leader for the project was Stephen Davis, MD, and the pharmacist leader was Michelle Hinojos, PharmD. The duo and the rest of the team were ecstatic to learn of the achievement. Previously Tri-County Health Care had achieved the bronze level on the honor roll.

Elements of stewardship

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are at least 2.8 million antibiotic-resistant infections each year in the US, and more than 35,000 people die as a result. Optimizing the use of antibiotics is a patient safety priority, and the Tri-County Health Care Antimicrobial Stewardship Program plays a critical role in supporting appropriate antibiotic prescribing practices and reducing antibiotic resistance locally. The CDC breaks down antibiotic stewardship into several core elements:

Antibiotic stewardship is a group effort.

  • Hospital leadership
  • Accountability
  • Pharmacy expertise
  • Action
  • Tracking
  • Reporting
  • Education

For more information about infection control, please visit and follow Tri-County Health Care on social media.

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.

Kitchen caring! A day with Nutrition Services

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During a frantic lunch hour, nutrition workers scurried around a maze of stainless-steel cookware. They were short-staffed, and the cafeteria was slowly filling up. Soon a line formed, snaking around from the single cash register. This is business as usual for the folks that prepare meals at Tri-County Health Care. Every day they take on the daunting task of feeding an entire workforce and patients. Not just for one meal, but three. They are a prime example of kitchen caring!

Do you ever think about the people that prepare your food? To most, it’s simply a transaction, but a delicate system is in place on the other side of the cash register.

In the service of health

Angie Leehy has been working in the kitchen for 25 years. She started her career as a food service worker and eventually earned a degree in dietary management. She now serves as the Nutrition Services Supervisor. During the busy lunch hour, she directed staff and prepared for the rush. When she wasn’t in her office crunching numbers, she was speed walking from one end of the kitchen to another. All of this ensures a tasty meal for the staff and patients of Tri-County.

Kitchen caring is a main component of Angie's job!

Angie Leehy, Nutrition Services Supervisor

A typical day

During an average day, six to seven people work in the kitchen in various roles. They start early, with the first crew member coming in at around 5 a.m. That person is responsible for warming the ovens while preparing for breakfast. The next person arrives with the task of preparing cold items like fruit. At this point, the kitchen is in full swing, with staff members hustling upstairs to deliver meals to patients. This cycle repeats itself for lunch and dinner. Each member of the team has a job that is supported by the work of another. Without a cohesive strategy, the kitchen would fall apart.

“Teamwork and communication are a must in our department. Each day is different, and it takes a team to get everything done each day.” – Angie Leehy

Angie doesn’t arbitrarily choose food at random. Every item that ends up on your plate is carefully selected with the help of a dietitian. This process ensures a certain level of nutrition for each meal. The menu changes four times per year. During each new cycle, Angie tries to find new items based on customer trends. Each choice is delicate because she only has so much freezer space.


Some people view food services as an unimportant aspect of patient care, but that isn’t true. The hospital sees a constant flux of patients who need food. Nutrition staff is essential, and the hospital wouldn’t function without them. “Honestly, we may be one of the only bright spots in a patient’s day. Food can be both nourishing and comforting. We are, after all, the keepers of the ice cream,” remarked Angie when asked how she felt her job impacts Tri-County Health Care.

Kitchen caring is a part of healthcare. For more information on services like this, please visit Also, follow Tri-County Health Care on social media for regular updates.

Fight the flu!

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Necessary prevention

“I never get the flu shot.” How many times have you heard that? Avoiding this crucial vaccination seems to be a point of pride for some people. It shouldn’t be a proud choice to leave yourself vulnerable to illness during a pandemic. This year, help yourself, your family, and the ailing healthcare systems across the nation. Join us and fight the flu!

Every year the flu does immense damage to the population, resulting in many hospitalizations. Over the years, the flu has become another obstacle we deal with, but we can’t take the risk this year. With beds filling rapidly, hospitals and clinics may not have the resources to stave off the flu effectively. Help them fight back and get the jab.

Do it for you too!

There are many reasons to get the flu shot aside from lending a hand to nurses, doctors and other medical staff. Here are our top three:

  1. Healthy holidays

Getting sick on Christmas or Thanksgiving is pretty crumby. We’ve all experienced that woeful Thanksgiving where the rest of the family enjoys a delicious dinner while you struggle to keep down warm soup. Do yourself a favor and don’t let the flu stifle your plans to enjoy the holidays.

  1. Preserve time off

Wouldn’t you like to enjoy a day off doing something you love? Having to use up all of your vacation days battling the flu is no fun. Don’t let the flu dictate your days off, miss work for something fun and fight the flu.

  1. Do it for the immunocompromised

Fight the flu! Don't let the flu stifle our COVID-19 treatments.Some people can’t get the vaccine due to medical complications and allergies. We can help them by reducing the amount of illness in the population. Remember them when offered the flu shot at your next appointment.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have released updated information regarding this year’s flu season. Visit their website for more details.

Upcoming flu shot clinics

Tri-County Health Care will be hosting several flu shot clinics during September and October. Clinics will be available in Wadena, Bertha, Henning, Ottertail and Sebeka.

Wadena              218-631-3510

Saturday              Oct. 2                   7-12 p.m.            all ages

Saturday              Oct. 16                 7-12 p.m.            all ages

Bertha                  218-924-2250

Wednesday         Sept. 29               7-4:15 p.m.        65+ day

Wednesday         Oct. 13                 7-4:15 p.m.         all ages

Henning              218-583-2953

Wednesday         Oct. 20                 8-4:15 p.m.         all ages

Ottertail               218-367-6262

Tuesday               Oct. 26                 8-4:15 p.m.         all ages

Sebeka                 218-837-5333

Wednesday         Oct. 6                   8-4:15 p.m.         all ages

Tri-County Health Care offers a significant discount for individuals paying at the time of the flu shot clinic. Medicare Advantage Plans, Humana, Medicare, Medicaid and many other commercial insurances are accepted. Please confirm with your insurance company before the clinic. Pre-registration is strongly encouraged, but walk-in appointments are available.

Chiropractic care: Q&A with Dr. Mitchell

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Tri-County Health Care now offers chiropractic and Carissa Mitchell, DC, is leading the way to a future with less back pain and more fun! This week, Dr. Mitchell discussed her work in detail and explained how she can adjust you to a new way of life.

Q: What drew you to chiropractic medicine?

A: I was drawn to chiropractic medicine at a young age. There’s a quote from Thomas Edison that states, “The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in a proper diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.” That still resonates with me today.

Adjustments and patient education are a large portion of chiropractic services at Tri-County.

Q: How long have you been working in the field?

A: Six years as of right now. I graduated from Palmer College of Chiropractic in 2015, worked for two different clinics in Michigan before I decided it was time to come back home in 2017. My husband and I bought a practice in Perham and have been there since.

Q: What do you like most about being a chiropractor?

A: I really like seeing a person’s face light up when they’re able to do something that they couldn’t do before. Sometimes it’s a sport or hobby that pain has been preventing them from doing. Sometimes it’s a simple task such as laundry. I think we tend to take a lot for granted until we are limited, so making sure that my patients can enjoy and live their lives the way they want is my favorite aspect.

Q: What is the most challenging thing about your work?

A: The most challenging but most rewarding is working with skeptics. I’ve had many skeptical patients throughout my career, which is good. I like a healthy dose of skepticism. Often these become some of my favorite success stories.

Q: What are some general tips for maintaining good musculoskeletal health?

A: Walk, move, stretch, strengthen, drink your water, and get adjusted. Doing these things every day can greatly improve overall health.

Q: What should patients know before they meet you for the first time?

A: I’m going to try my hardest to put a smile on your face. I like to maintain an atmosphere of comfort and openness. Meeting with me is not a sterile, boring slog. Some people are nervous at first but once I’ve cracked a few jokes and thoroughly explained what will happen, they tend to loosen up. The massage gun helps too.

Q: Could you give me a breakdown of a typical appointment? What should a patient expect when they meet you for the first time?

A: During a typical appointment, patients start by lying face down on the table. I will assess joint motion and muscle tension in the area of complaint and either use my massage gun or hands to help reduce muscle tension before adjusting. Adjustment types vary based on each patient but I have a wide variety of techniques to accommodate each individual. I use mostly manual adjustment techniques but I also know instrument and low force adjusting styles too. So, depending on which techniques we are using, patients may be face down, face up or sitting. During an initial visit, I will also perform orthopedic tests, range of motion, and a chiropractic exam to determine the best treatment.

Q: In your experience, what demographic of people most often meet with you? Is it mostly older people or younger people?

A: My youngest patient has been just hours old and my oldest is in their 90s. I tend to see a lot of pregnant mothers because it is my favorite demographic. The majority of my patients are in their 30s to 50s. Chiropractic care is for everyone!

Q: When should a person seek out chiropractic care? 

A: “I should have gone yesterday” or “I wish I’d done this sooner” is what people tell me daily. Most people seek out chiropractic care when they have pain that has become annoying or is interfering with their daily life. You can get adjusted at any time for wellness and mobility in general, not just pain.

Carissa Mitchell, DC, starts seeing patients on June 15.

Carissa Mitchell, DC

Q: What specific techniques/services will you offer at Tri-County Health Care?

A: HVLA (High-Velocity Low Amplitude) or manual adjusting techniques that I use are Gonstead and Diversified. Low to No force adjusting techniques I use are Thompson (drop table), Webster, activator, SOT, sustained contact (infants). I also do extremity adjusting (shoulders, elbows, wrists, knees, ankles, etc.)

Dr. Mitchell officially started on June 15 and is accepting patients. She will be working in the Wadena and Sebeka clinic locations. Please call 218-631-3510 to schedule an appointment. To learn more, visit and follow Tri-County Health Care on social media for regular updates.

Top tips to planning a balanced diet

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We’ve spent the last year inside and unfortunately eating habits have suffered and trips to the gym have been replaced with Netflix binging. The snow is melting and the cold of winter is quickly being replaced with spring fever. Now is the perfect time to start rethinking the foods we put into our bodies. So, drop that donut and use these tips to build a balanced diet that can easily be the platform for overall better living.

The great restock

Every fitness guru out there usually starts a new diet and exercise routine by clearing out the kitchen. Grab a donation box and fill it with soda, candy, and various other junk food classics. You don’t need them anymore, instead replace them with eggs, canned beans, frozen vegetables, rice, and oats. Packing your cupboards and fridge with healthy choices is the first step to healthier living. Another great tip is to vary your produce. Buy produce that lasts longer like carrots and potatoes. Then supplement these staples items with faster-spoiling items bananas and grapes. This cuts down on waste and gives you a range of choices for snack time.

Before you run out the door to buy a plethora of greens and grapes, take the time to make a list. The list should be composed of primarily healthy items. The aimless exploring of the grocery store is how cookies and ice cream find their way into your cart.

Having a varied diet is a great way of maintaining body weight.

Respect the food groups!

Just like we learned in elementary school. The food pyramid is an excellent guide for developing a balanced diet. Make sure to have a generous portion of whole-grain starches along with fruits and vegetables. Make sure your diet has a lot of color! Low-fat dairy and lean proteins come next. These vital food groups build your muscles and bones so don’t forget them. Don’t worry, the occasional bit of sugar isn’t that end of the world but remember to enjoy it in moderation. is an excellent resource for choosing healthy food and understanding portion sizes.

Processed carbohydrates

Refined sugar has been the downfall of many diets and meal plans. A life without pizza and candy sounds terrifying to some so we don’t want you to give up all your surgery treats but societally we need to eat less processed carbohydrates. Sugary beverages like soda and energy drinks are especially harmful and are a contributing factor to rising obesity numbers. Water should always be your main choice of hydration.

Tri-County Health Care Registered Dietitian Shelby Hunke. recommends having carbohydrate-based snacks rarely, around one to two times a week.

Registered Dietitian Tri-County Health Care Balanced Diet

Shelby Hunke, Tri-County Health Care Registered Dietitian

It’s a lifestyle change

The very idea of a diet chills some to the bone. Don’t look at it as an arbitrary set of eating rules but instead a lifestyle change. Go on the adventure of better living and find healthy foods you enjoy eating; they do exist. Then get support from family and friends. You don’t have to go it alone and finding someone to try that new kale smoothie with can help a great deal. If you need further assistance consider setting up an appointment with a dietitian. They have the professional expertise to get you started right.

Tri-County Health Care hosts a diabetes prevention class and in the most recent meeting, participants lost a total of 125 pounds. The nine participants lost this massive amount of weight over the course of 16 classes. These classes work on strategies to eat better while increasing physical activity.

Try something new

Get your new balanced diet kicked off right! Try this garlic parmesan asparagus recipe hand-picked by Shelby! Use the link below for step-by-step instructions:

Garlic Parmesan Asparagus Recipe: How to Make It | Taste of Home

Don’t give up!

People get burned out on a new diet and expect immediate success. It’s the journey, not necessarily the destination. Crash dieting is often the pitfall people fall into. Set attainable goals and cut back rather than going cold turkey. Cut down to one energy drink a week instead of cutting them out completely. Take it slow and steady to avoid intense cravings and binging. Set mini-goals, meet them, then set new goals.

Use March to revaluate your lifestyle and eating habits. If you need help, please schedule an appointment with a dietitian at Tri-County Health Care by calling 218-632-7115

2021: A new year, a new you!

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2021 is a new year for growth and reflection. 2020 is drawing to a close and many are looking back on how much our society has changed in just one year. 2020 was a time of division and turmoil while a pandemic ravaged the world. We have to look forward and continue to live our lives but maybe 2021 can be a little safer. Let’s use the struggles of the previous year as a catalyst of change.

The vaccine is here

After months of Netflix binging and Zoom calls, we have a glimmer of hope. Just before the end of 2020, a vaccine arrived. Some people are scared of the vaccine; some are indifferent and some are fighting to be first in line. The medical community is in agreement; the best way out of the pandemic is the vaccine. Taking the vaccine is a personal choice but statistically and scientifically, a vaccine is the best way to safeguard yourself from COVID-19. As the vaccine becomes available to the general public, please educate yourself and make the best decision, but remember your choice could affect countless others.

Ring in the new year with a healthier routine

Cleanliness and caring

Months ago, the lady wiping her shopping cart with alcohol wipes may have seemed a bit odd. Still, now it’s routine to spray them with an antibacterial solution before carefully toweling them down. Things have changed, and it might seem like we’re living in a bizarre alternate dimension dominated by hand sanitizer and colorful cloth masks, but perhaps some changes are for the best. Disease is no joke. Germs are everywhere and no amount of cleaning supplies will ever change that.

However, taking a stronger stance on reducing virus transmission could help society and the health care industry. When the day comes that COVID-19 has been defeated, we shouldn’t go back to openly coughing on each other. We should use this opportunity to educate ourselves and keep some COVID era changes, like washing our hands regularly. Something as simple as washing your hands could stop the spread of an infectious disease. 2021 should be a new year of cleanliness and kindness.

Embracing technology

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we communicate. The last several months have shown the world that technology is a gift that shouldn’t be taken for granted. During past pandemics, people didn’t have a smartphone loaded with instant messaging software and video chat. They were left alone, isolated from others. We live in an unprecedented time where a person can speak to a small crowd without ever leaving the comfort of their living room. Every day we are surrounded by smart TVs, smartphones, computers and the internet. We often take these things for granted. Let’s appreciate the technology that has enhanced our life and use it to its fullest extent. When this pandemic is done and over, remember that our friends and family are only a few button presses away.

New year health goals

It isn’t uncommon to hear others exclaim how this will be the year they drop that pesky 20 pounds. Unfortunately, that doesn’t tend to happen. Many start strong, going to the gym, eating fruit smoothies and running in the morning, but it never sticks. This year, try setting attainable goals. Attainable goals are devised with reasonable expectations. They set you up for success instead of disappointment. Grand goals often seem too big and intimidating. They are so insurmountable that it discourages even attempting to meet them. This year, try not placing numeric values on weight loss or going to the gym. Set bite-sized goals and try to meet them in a reasonable time frame. When you meet those goals, make more. Instead of losing 20 pounds in a year, challenge yourself to go for a walk every other day. Minor lifestyle changes can lead to massive improvements in time.

Use the new year of 2021 as a launchpad of success. Reflect, learn and grow. Tri-County Health Care is dedicated to your health and wellbeing. For more information about COVID-19, please visit our information page.

Managing COPD during a pandemic

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Managing COPD during the pandemic COVID-19 Tri-County Health Care Respiratory breathingIn November 2018, the Tri-Living Well blog featured Doug Stromberg, IT Supervisor at Tri-County Health Care. Doug suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a lung disease that causes difficulty breathing. Managing COPD during a pandemic is challenging and shedding light on his experience could help others.

Doug has dealt with respiratory problems for years. He started smoking as a teenager and kept smoking until he was in his thirties. In 2017, things took an intense turn. After a bout of breathing issues, Doug was diagnosed with COPD and had to use a nebulizer.

After problems mounted and Doug’s quality of life dropped, he decided to meet with Bobbi Adams, M.D. Doug was given stronger medication which vastly improved his living situation. The nebulizer is now retired and he was able to return to a relatively normal life.

Where is he now?

Doug still works at Tri-County in the IT department, although his office looks a little different these days. Since the COVID-19 pandemic kicked off, Doug has taken refuge in his office bunker at home. People with COPD are considered immune-compromised and Doug takes his health very seriously. He has limited his exposure to others and receives supplies by delivery only. He utilizes masks, face shields, gloves and does everything he can to keep COVID-19 at bay.

“COPD can’t get better; it will only worsen over time. My goal at this point is to do everything I can to slow the progression of the disease. And there are certain strategies for doing just that,” said Doug about the status of his condition. Protecting his respiratory system is paramount during these times. Contracting COVID-19 could easily kill him. Doug continues to use an inhaled steroid twice a day. He still has an inhaler but seldom needs it. This treatment provided by Dr. Adams and the Tri-County staff is still working great.

Advice for others

Doug urges others that suffer from COPD to make lifestyle changes. Stop smoking is his main advice. Working with a health care provider is also important. The provider will prescribe medication and develop a plan for managing the disease. Doug found Dr. Adams at Tri-County Health Care and it changed his life for the better.

Managing COPD during a pandemic causes unique problems. COVID-19 directly affects the lungs and can be fatal if combined with COPD. If you suffer from COPD and need a consultation, please contact Tri-County Health Care at 218-631-3510.

Doug is the IT Supervisor at Tri-County Health Care Managing COPD during a pandemic Respiratory breathing

 About Doug: Doug Stromberg works in the IT department at Tri-County Health Care. He is a longtime Wadena resident and a graduate of Wadena-Deer Creek schools. Doug has worked in technology for over 40 years. His background includes work in the telephone industry, cable television, radio broadcast engineering and many years as an instructor at Wadena Technical College (now M State). Prior to coming to work at TCHC, Doug operated a technical services company in partnership with his son, Mike. Doug is married to Jeannie and has two sons, two daughters-in-law and four grandchildren. His interests include his lake cabin and following Minnesota sports.

COVID-19 vaccine: Everything you need to know

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The announcement of a COVID-19 vaccine has many breathing a sigh of relief. Several months of staying home, social distancing, and wearing masks has led to a major change in everyday life. People are in a hurry to return to the way things were and a vaccine seems like the only way out. Others are more hesitant; they may believe the vaccine has not passed through proper testing.

This article is designed to be a fact sheet about the upcoming vaccines. It is a condensed and simplified record of information gathered from sources like the Minnesota Department of Health, the CDC and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

Operation Warp Speed

Operation Warp Speed (OWS) combines scientific testing and government quality control. Essentially, OWS removes several administrative hurdles during the production of an effective vaccine. The methodology associated with OWS uses processes that would normally take years and compresses them down. This change is done by running the various steps simultaneously rather than one at a time.

Medical workers and seniors will be among the first to get the vaccine.

The breakdown

Creating an effective vaccine requires multiple steps and extensive testing. Generally, the process includes:

  • Methodology and lab research
  • FDA approval for clinical trials
  • Volunteer testing
  • Safety and efficacy testing in a large group
  • Large population testing with control groups
  • Final FDA approval
  • Distribution

The facts

  1. There is currently no approved vaccine available in the United States. Testing is underway, and a vaccine is expected before 2021.
  2. You will not contract COVID-19 by receiving the vaccine. The vaccines do not use a live virus. It will be similar to other widely used vaccines. It may cause symptoms like fatigue or muscle pain. These symptoms mean the vaccine is working.
  3. COVID-19 vaccination will not make you test positive for COVID-19. You may test positive for antibodies. This positive antibody test suggests either a previous infection or that the vaccine successfully created antibodies.
  4. People who were previously infected with COVID-19 should still consider being vaccinated. Studies suggest that reinfection is possible, and antibodies may last just a few months.
  5. Testing shows that receiving the vaccine does provide antibodies in around 90 percent of people. Receiving the vaccine could be the best option for fighting COVID-19.
  6. The vaccine was not rushed. Instead, administrative red tape was removed. The development and testing trials are still extensive.
  7. Once distribution begins, the first rounds of the vaccine will most likely go to health care workers and people with compromised immune systems.
  8. The COVID-19 vaccine is not mandatory.
  9. The COVID-19 vaccine will be available at no cost. However, providers of the vaccination will be able to charge an office visit fee.
  10. An mRNA vaccine will not harm your DNA. mRNA, which stands for messenger ribonucleic acid, makes protein. It does not interact with DNA at any point.

The problem with herd immunity

Herd immunity is a common talking point but is likely impossible to achieve. This form of immunity implies that a large enough section of the population has contracted the virus and is resistant. Herd immunity is not a reliable strategy for combating COVID-19. It is due to a lack of important data about transmission frequency after infection. We do not know how long it takes from initial infection for a person to be vulnerable again.

The race for a vaccine

At this time, five vaccines are being tested. These vaccines are being tested by:

  • AstraZeneca
  • Janssen
  • Moderna
  • Novavax
  • Pfizer

AHA, AMA, ANA seeks safe COVID-19 vaccine

Recently, the American Health Association, the American Medical Association, and the American Nurses Association addressed the American people about the status of the COVID-19 vaccine. They have given their full support to the creation of a safe vaccine. All three groups consider it to be the best option for safeguarding communities around the world. They cited the importance of scientific testing, safe distribution and total transparency about the vaccine within the address. They collectively want people to know the benefits and risks associated with the vaccine.

Become informed

The rate of vaccine production might seem like a cause for concern, but it is not. The same level of quality control used in the past is present with the manufacturing of these vaccines. The creation of these vaccines is the combination of good science and a unified need for relief.

For more information about how Tri-County Health Care and how it has been combating COVID-19, visit

Direct Scheduling is available on MyChart

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Tri-County Health Care offers direct scheduling

Need to schedule an appointment? No problem! Direct Scheduling is available on MyChart. Once you’re connected with a Tri-County Health Care provider, you can select the option to schedule an appointment entirely online. This option makes receiving care that much easier.

If you’re interested in signing up for MyChart, simply ask a staff member during your next appointment. You can also go to and click the blue “Sign Up Now” button. The MyChart app can be downloaded from any major app store.

After signing up, scheduling an appointment is easy. If you met with the provider in the last three years, the option to schedule is available. After answering a few questions, you can schedule the appointment.

Direct Scheduling is available on MyChart Tri-County Health Care online provider

Once you have a MyChart account, you will have access to all the features of the app. You can:

  • View and download visit summaries from previous visits
  • View, schedule, request or cancel appointments.
  • Review health topics and discharge instructions
  • View and pay your bill
  • Sign up for e-statements
  • Communicate with your provider or nurse
  • View medications
  • Track and view your lab results and imaging tests
  • Review your immunizations, allergies and medical history
  • Track conditions such as diabetes, asthma, and COPD
  • Share your medical record with outside providers
  • Record daily health readings such as weight and blood pressure


With MyChart, you can take advantage of telemedicine. This form of care requires a working webcam, microphone, and internet connection. With telemedicine and MyChart, you can receive care entirely online with no face-to-face contact. This is a great option for people staying home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Direct scheduling is available for MyChart and makes your health care speedy and easy. For other questions, you can email (please include your name and date of birth) or call 218-631-5220.