First aid kit: Building a lifesaver box

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Solid preparation and safety are a part of the Minnesota way. Everyone should make a concerted effort to protect their health. Having access to a first aid kit should be taken just as seriously as fire alarms and flashlights. You never know when disaster may strike, but you can be ready to take on the brunt of injuries and illness that come with it.

Should I buy or build?

Browsing through the dozens of premade first aid kits online can be a fun time sink, but nothing will ever beat the DIY approach. This is an opportunity to make the kit of your dreams, complete with every tool or gadget needed to suit your lifestyle. The first aid kit a car mechanic needs in his shop may differ significantly from a suburban housewife’s in a drawer by the sink. As a bonus, by choosing pieces individually, you can maintain a higher level of quality control while truly learning the inner workings of your kit.

Only the essentials

Building a first aid can be a great family activity.

Building a first aid kit can be a great family activity.

Tri-County Health Care Emergency Medical Services Manager Cole Lugert weighed in on the topic and shared some of the essential items he believes should be in every personalized first aid kit. Find his list below.

  • Band-Aids
  • Gauze
  • Medical tape
  • A towel
  • Tourniquet

Additionally, Cole stressed the need to choose the best location for the kit. Just throwing it in the closet or on a shelf under your socket set isn’t good enough. Place the items in a secure watertight case of some kind. They should be kept away from liquids and storage temperature should always be considered. Ultimately, the best place is one you won’t forget and can be accessed quickly in stressful situations.

Personalize it!

Make the kit your own by adding items specifically tailored to the health needs of you and your family. Furthermore, make sure to include special medications, inhalers and EpiPen’s. Just be careful not to overpack the kit. While packing, ask yourself, Do I need this item? Do I even know how to use it? Be honest with yourself and don’t be afraid to seek out additional training.

Use the American Red Cross as a guide for more information on first aid kits and watch the video below.

Alyssa Jackson joins the Sebeka team

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Alyssa Jackson, FNP

Just a few miles outside of Wadena, where the wilds of Minnesota dominate the landscape, Alyssa Jackson, FNP, is chasing chickens and riding horses. Alyssa is the newest provider at the Sebeka Clinic and she is determined to bring a down-to-earth style of care to the rural clinic.

Alyssa grew up in Lancaster, a small community in northwestern Minnesota. She is no stranger to rural communities and the hardworking people that make up their unshakable foundations. She wants to help those people live healthier and fuller lives.

“I grew up in a really small town in northern Minnesota and have always felt drawn to rural health. I enjoy the relationships that I am able to establish with my patients and families and feel that rural healthcare just has a different feel.”


Prior to finding her home at Tri-County Health Care, Alyssa worked as a registered nurse for six years in a wide range of positions. She has experience in long-term care, surgical nursing and the emergency department. As a nurse practitioner, she has spent time in hospice, palliative, and primary care.

Alyssa lives on a small farm with a herd of animals. She has a passion for the outdoors and enjoying everything Minnesota has to offer. When she isn’t practicing medicine, Alyssa spends time with her dogs and horses, Merit and Belle. She competes in barrel racing throughout Minnesota.

“Growing up, my dad always had a horse, and he had me riding since before I could even walk. Once I started, I was just hooked. My mom bought me a pony when I was about 11 and he is what piqued my interest in showing horses,” said Alyssa. Animals have always been a huge part of her life and she loves to compete! “I grew up competing at the local county fair in 4-H and the local fun shows. I got more into barrel racing after I graduated high school and have been competing ever since.”

Schedule todayAlyssa Jackson looks forward to caring for patients in the Sebeka area.

Alyssa started at the Sebeka Clinic in early July. Please call 218-631-3510 to schedule an appointment and follow Tri-County Health Care on social media for regular updates.

Meet all the Tri-County Health Care Primary Care Providers

Resilience and overcoming adversity

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Have you ever wondered why some individuals can get through tough situations while others struggle? The answer is different for everyone. However, resilience is a key component. Have you ever asked, “what makes me resilient?”

Resilience allows a person to manage adversity and not allowing those adversities to take away their personal resolve to do what is asked of them daily. Resilient people can change a negative situation to a more positive one through flexibility, not getting stuck on failures, healing emotionally, and continuing moving forward. Sounds easy, right?

The power of positivity

How many times have you heard “be positive?” Being positive does not mean an individual is not allowed to feel or discuss their negative emotions. Emotions like negative feelings, grief, loneliness, and working through the loss of normalcy must be given the acknowledgment they deserve. However, we don’t want to dwell on those emotions. Sometimes just saying things out loud, even if only a fraction of your being thinks it’s true, “this is for now, this is not forever,” can be helpful.

Break the negative cycle

The ability to regulate emotions while facing adversity is a trait of a resilient individual. Does this mean these people are never negative? Not even close; they are human, after all! One fact remains – negativity breeds negativity. Look at social media and observe how each person responds without the unpleasantry of seeing the person’s physical emotions on the receiving end of that nasty comment or harsh post. Some may even feel comradery when others share the same negative belief adding fuel to the negative cycle. Sometimes before responding, simply think about whether the input is solicited or helpful. Again, one skill of the resilient person is the ability to regulate emotions and to not engage in those sorts of exchanges that have a negative impact.

Trauma exposure does not mean a person will automatically become less resilient; sometimes, the opposite is true. It is important to know that the definition of trauma varies for everyone. Maladaptive coping in traumatic situations may reduce the ability to be resilient in the future. Reaching out to psychiatric services, clergy, or trusted individuals for support after trauma can be helpful. Support groups are another good option when many are exposed to the same traumatic situation. You may not feel you need a group session, but somebody else exposed to the same situation might appreciate you being there to help them walk through their emotions. Taking the hour out of your day to attend a meeting is never a waste of time when you have the potential to help another heal. You never know who you may be helping.

Under your influence

Part of resilience is taking note of what an individual controls. Sometimes breaking it down into three categories can be helpful.

1) What is in my control (family, food choices, exercise, sleep, emotional responses)?

2) What can I influence (community, being a positive role model, volunteer, service)?

3) What is my concern (COVID-19, weather, the price of gas, environment, world peace)?

In considering these three areas, break them up into percentages. Ask yourself where you are spending most of your time and emotional energy. Consider if it makes sense to do so.

Awareness of others

Lastly, be kind. Kindness can be contagious and is a common trait of resilient individuals. Kindness can be as simple as spending a few seconds to acknowledge those around you. Make eye contact, give a nod or wave. Something simple can easily make a person’s day. Telling somebody you are happy they showed up or saying this will be a stellar shift may be all it takes to change the day’s narrative.

I want to personally thank each staff member at Tri-County Health Care for your resilience and for taking care of the local community. The pandemic has weighed heavy on many. The loss of normalcy, the ever-changing information, and the loss of life must be acknowledged. Together, we will come out stronger and more resilient on the other side.

About the author: Traci Jones, APRN, PMHNPTraci Jones, Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

Traci Jones is a Mental Health Nurse Practitioner at Tri-County Health Care. She loves living in rural Minnesota and resides on a ranch in Sebeka. Much of her time is spent tending to her horses and many pets. She is devoted to tailoring care to the needs of her patients and always tries to connect people to what truly matters.

Medical Laboratory Week: One test at a time

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Medical Laboratory Week is a great time to observe an industry that is not well understood. Medical laboratory technicians are essential in helping providers diagnose and treat you. Here’s a sneak peek at this fascinating career and why we need laboratory technicians more than ever.

Lab staff: Your first line of defense

If you were asked what the most uncomfortable part of a clinic visit is, you might say getting your blood drawn or providing a urine sample. It’s uncomfortable and pushes privacy boundaries. Have you ever considered that without that blood draw or urine sample, your provider might not be able to help you? The information provided by your blood and urine is crucial for helping your provider create a care plan. The laboratory staff responsible for these tests are on the first line of defense against diseases and other health concerns.

A challenging but worthy career

Medical laboratory technicians (MLT), medical technologists (MT), medical laboratory scientists (MLS), phlebotomists and pathologists are the professionals that make up the Tri-County Health Care laboratory team. Despite the importance of the MLT profession, there is a shortage of MLTs locally and across the United States. According to the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science, the MLT workforce shortage is reaching a crisis level. An aging workforce, more demand for laboratory services, advancing laboratory technology, and a low number of MLT graduates each year contribute to the problem. Enrollment and graduation numbers are decreasing, and the workforce trend is not enough to keep up with demand. This career field typically requires an associate degree.

The lab department performs a wide variety of tests and supports hospital staff

Cindy Kube-Parks, Tri-County Health Care Medical Lab Technician

Putting the patient first

Though laboratory staff typically work behind the scenes, they do collect blood and samples from patients. They take special care to make sure patients know exactly what’s happening.

Cindy Kube-Parks, a Medical Lab Technician, has worked at Tri-County Health Care for almost 30 years. Cindy takes pride in her work and being able to give vital test results to providers. “I like the people and the customers we serve,” said Cindy when asked about her position in the laboratory.  She hopes the week-long observance will draw some much-needed attention to the profession.

Detecting COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll on every sector of our country.  Laboratory staff are on the frontline fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Numerous changes occurred to keep them protected when coming face to face with patients potentially infected with COVID-19.

When shadowing Cindy, she showed off the process of testing samples for COVID-19 on the Abbott ID Now instrument. Within 15 minutes, Cindy determined the results and entered them into the electronic medical record.  There are seven testing devices in the hospital laboratory, and the satellite laboratories each have two COVID-19 testing devices. The laboratory staff tests dozens of COVID-19 specimens daily.

Joyelle Hill, Laboratory Manager at Tri-County Health Care.

Joyelle Hill, Tri-County Health Care Laboratory Manager

COVID-19 has greatly impacted the laboratory with supply shortages.  Around the world, medical staff are suffering from a lack of resources.  Cindy and the rest of the team have made several concessions to continue providing top-tier diagnostic testing to the Tri-County Health Care system. Joyelle Hill, Laboratory Manager, commented on maintaining a high level of care under the worst possible circumstances. Joyelle praised her team for the great effort during this uncertain time.

The laboratory

Joyelle also stated just how lucky Tri-County Health Care is as an organization. The hospital lab is capable of a wide variety of testing and has some of the best and brightest laboratorians. “The laboratory staff members have become an extended family to me,” said Joyelle.

A health care system wouldn’t be possible without laboratory staff. According to Joyelle, the laboratory profession is not well known or understood. Doctors and nurses are often the ones seen but are not solely responsible for each diagnosis. Often it is a team effort requiring good science executed behind closed doors. “The laboratory department is an essential part of the healthcare system,” said Joyelle.

We need you!

Right now, there is a shortage of medical laboratory technicians. Due to vacancies, retirements and relocations, there is a need for four full-time laboratory technicians at Tri-County Health Care. Please visit our Careers page to review current vacancies. Follow Tri-County Health Care on social media for regular updates.