The gift of life: Become an organ donor today

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April is National Donate Life Month and it reminds us that we all hold the power to help others in life and in death. Tri-County Health Care staff and several guests gathered at the Garden of Hope to raise the Donate Life flag. Every year, those affected by organ donations raise the flag to honor those that gave everything for the health of others. The ceremony and the following proceedings are designed to motivate others to give the gift of life.

Tri-County Health Care has taken a stand for everyone in need of organ and tissue donation. According to LifeSource, an organization dedicated to facilitating organ donation, Tri-County Health Care’s 13 donors have helped over 975 people in six years.

Sarah couldn't help but tear up during her emotional speech during the ceremony.

“Events like this get people’s minds thinking about donation and spur them to register to be donors,” said Barb Nelson, from LifeSource.

Remembering Cameron

Sarah Fisher spoke during the ceremony. She drove from Horace, North Dakota to dedicate a paver to her son, Cameron, who lost his life in a car accident. Cameron was an organ donor and was passionate about helping others. His family wanted to amplify his goodwill to persuade others to give the gift of life.

“Without LifeSource, this process of organ donation and the grief that a parent goes through when they lose a child would have been unbearable,” said Sarah in a tearful address during the ceremony.

Sarah lost her son during the summer of 2018. Her son’s passing was a personal tragedy but because Cameron was an organ donor, he was able to save the lives of many. His heart, kidney, liver, corneas, bone tissue, and ligaments were all donated. Altogether, his donations helped 72 people and his bone and ligaments continue to be used. This motivated Sarah to spread the word of her son’s generosity to save more people. She is currently trying to have a Garden of Hope constructed in Fargo.

Sarah and her husband dedicated a paver to their son Cameron. He passed away after a car accident and was an organ donor.

The list

“Every day, there’s people who join the waiting list and every day, there’s people that die because they didn’t get that life-saving organ.” Said Sarah.

Before the pandemic, Sarah explained that she was able to meet some of the donation recipients. Those individuals had been waiting for so long and were very near death. When they got the call about Cameron’s passing, everything changed. They were saved. Sarah emotionally recounted meeting them and their families; she was overwhelmed by the good her son had done.

“What the gift of life means to us is that Cameron’s death meant something,” said Sarah.

The random act of kindness rock

Sarah and her husband have a robust web presence dedicated to spreading their son’s story. The couple has been hiding special rocks emblazoned with the Donate Life logo in various places worldwide. The random act of kindness rocks encourages others to become organ donors while telling Cameron’s story. Anyone that finds it is supposed to put a little good into the world. If you find one, do something nice for someone else in remembrance of Cameron and his giving spirit.

One of these rocks has been hidden near the Garden of Hope. Take a stroll and find the special stone. When you find it, please follow the instructions included and put some positive energy into the world.

The random act of kindness rock has been distributed around the world.

 

 


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!

 


Heart Health and Hypertension

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February is American Heart Month, and Tri-County Health Care wants you to take extra special care of your body’s hardest-working muscle. Use the month to focus on heart health and hypertension. Lower that sodium intake, get some exercise and educate yourself on just how important the heart is.

Feeling the pressure

The CDC has partnered with healthcare leaders across the country to spread awareness about hypertension. Hypertension or high blood pressure is caused by the increased pressure of blood against arterial walls. High blood pressure is classified at 130/80 mm Hg or higher. Stage 2 hypertension is 140/90 mm Hg.

This call for hypertension awareness was prompted by a call to action made by the Surgeon General. In his address, the Surgeon General explains that high blood pressure is a preventable risk factor in most people. By controlling high blood pressure, individuals can lower their risk of heart disease and stroke.

The call to action lays out a simple but direct plan of action:

  • Goal 1: Make hypertension control a national priority.
  • Goal 2: Ensure that the places where people live, learn, work, and play support hypertension control.
  • High blood pressure can lead to heart disease and stroke if left uncontrolled. Heart health and hypertension should be monitored.Goal 3: Optimize patient care for hypertension.

Do it for your heart!

Obesity, smoking, diabetes, poor diet are all factors in heart health and hypertension. February should be a jumpstart for healthier living. The first step should be meeting with a cardiologist to ensure your heart is in good working order. From there, change your eating habits. A simple change in diet can be the easiest way to curb high blood pressure. Reducing sodium and replacing junk food with fresh fruits and vegetables can vastly improve heart health. Also, making time for physical activity is important. The CDC recommends 150 minutes of physical activity each week. Get creative and find an activity you love. Heart health doesn’t need to involve going to the gym several times a week.

Cardiology expansion

Recently, Tri-County Health Care expanded its partnership with CentraCare Heart and Vascular Center. This expansion introduced increased coverage for cardiac services in Wadena. The cardiology department offers diagnostic testing like EKGs, Holter monitoring and vascular ultrasounds. Additionally, providers can also answer questions about complex heart-related procedures and provide consultation.

“The partnership between Tri-County Health Care and the CentraCare Heart and Vascular Center will elevate the level of cardiac care provided to the people of Northwest Minnesota. This collaboration will bring access to advanced cardiac care with seamless follow up close to home,” said Executive Director Phil Martin of CentraCare Heart and Vascular Center.

You should consult a cardiologist if you’re experiencing chest pain, high blood pressure, shortness of breath, palpitations, dizziness or have diabetes. Seeing a cardiologist can also be beneficial if you have a history of smoking, high cholesterol, or plan to start an exercise routine.

To schedule an appointment with the cardiologists in Wadena, call 218-631-7579.

 


TCHC has expanded its cardiology partnership

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Cardiology expansion

The heart is the engine of the human body. Just like any engine, it needs to be maintained. Tri-County Health Care has expanded its cardiology partnership with CentraCare to bring heart health closer to home. This expansion streamlines the services CentraCare provides weekly.

Dr. Wade Schmidt, a cardiologist at CentraCare expanded its cardiology partnership

“Working with Tri-County Health Care has been an excellent opportunity to bring our services to people that really need them. I look forward to the continued growth of this partnership as we add new procedures to our already robust cardiac services in the region,” said Wade Schmidt, M.D.

CentraCare is one of the leading providers of heart and vascular care in the nation. In an annual ranking, which evaluates nearly 5,000 hospitals, U.S. News & World Report ranked the hospital in the country’s Top-50 for cardiology and heart surgery. The rankings are based on outcomes, experience, nurse staffing, patient services and more.

“We are excited to team up with the top-ranked staff at CentraCare’s Heart & Vascular Center,” said Jose Alba, Chief Ambulatory Officer at Tri-County. “This expands access to service and provides heart health close to home for all of the communities Tri-County Health Care serves.”

Helping hearts

expanded its cardiology partnership This expansion will allow for a wider array of cardiology services CentraCare cardiology heart health cardiac care tri-county health care wadena wadena county hospital todd county otter tail county

This expansion introduces new cardiac services in Wadena. The cardiology department will offer diagnostic testing like EKGs, Holter monitoring and vascular ultrasounds. Providers can also answer questions about complex heart-related procedures and provide consultation.

“The partnership between Tri-County Health Care and the CentraCare Heart and Vascular Center will elevate the level of cardiac care provided to the people of Northwest Minnesota. This collaboration will bring access to advanced cardiac care with seamless follow up close to home,” said Executive Director Phil Martin of CentraCare Heart and Vascular Center.

You should consult a cardiologist if you’re experiencing chest pain, high blood pressure, shortness of breath, palpitations, dizziness or have diabetes. Seeing a cardiologist can also be beneficial if you have a history of smoking, high cholesterol, or plan to start an exercise routine.

Tri-County Health Care expanded its cardiology partnership to help you! To schedule an appointment with the cardiologists in Wadena, call 218-631-7579.