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.

Pharmacy Week 2022: Words from Mark Carlson

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The services and day-to-day responsibilities of the Tri-County Health Care pharmacy staff are vast and wide-ranging. Behind almost every prescription or hospital interaction regarding medications are a pharmacist and pharmacy technician. Healthcare cannot function without them, so during this week, we recognize the tremendous effort put forth by this dedicated group.

Words from Mark Carlson

Every day, pharmacists actively participate in a multidisciplinary clinical huddle to assist in managing patients’ medication needs along with transitions of care. This process entails working closely and collaboratively with doctors, nurses, social workers, and other clinical staff to ensure outstanding patient care and safety.

Our team oversees Tri-County Hospital patients’ pharmaceutical care, ensuring their drug therapies are managed appropriately. They work with medical and nursing staff members to ensure patients are getting the right drugs and dosages, and monitored and administered safely. The pharmacy team is tireless in its dedication to finding optimal drug therapies for our patients.

As part of the Joint Commission Medication Management Standards, the pharmacy staff manages purchasing, delivering, compounding, dispensing, verifying, and distributing medications for all areas. They assist in monitoring and managing all refrigerators, freezers, cabinets, and crash carts that store the medicine. This process includes ensuring that storage conditions comply with all current regulations. These are just a few of the daily responsibilities of hospital pharmacists.

Giving thanks

We are more than pill counters; we are life savers that form a pillar of pharmaceutical care. Without a competent pharmacist in the hospital, medicine can’t find its way to the sick. Remember pharmacists and pharmacy technicians when you walk through the doors of the clinic/hospital. I took some time to expound upon a few of the tasks we undertake, but it Is only the tip of the iceberg.

Mark Carlson celebrates Pharmacy Week 2022.

Mark Carlson

I am extremely proud of the high-quality care and services that our pharmacy team provides directly or indirectly to our patients every day.  Our team prides themselves on going above and beyond for our patients and also in our working relationships with providers and staff – Mark Carlson, Pharmacist

Prescriptions, medicine, and better health

If you find yourself filling a prescription this week, say thanks for all the hard work! For more information about departments and medical professionals, visit Stories about our great staff are routinely shared on social media, so make sure to subscribe, follow, and comment!

What is Infusion Therapy?

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Some drugs can’t be taken orally or lose effectiveness when exposed to the digestive system. Others must be delivered slowly or reach the bloodstream as quickly as possible in a life-threatening situation. Under these circumstances, infusion therapy is usually the best course of action. If you require insulin, fluids, chemotherapy drugs, or other IV-type medications, learn more about how infusion therapy works before your first treatment at Tri-County Health Care.

What is infusion therapy?

Infusion therapy, or IV therapy, is administering a drug intravenously. In other words, it involves injecting medication with a sterile needle or catheter inserted directly into a vein. The term also refers to drugs injected into the spinal cord, such as an epidural, or just under the skin, such as a subcutaneous insulin pump.

Common entry points for IV therapy include a vein in the crook of the arm or back of the hand. A surgically implanted catheter in the chest is another suitable entry point. An infusion therapy session may last less than one hour or up to three hours, depending on the drug and the treatment condition. In many cases, a bag or bottle containing the medication hangs from a nearby stand to ensure a controlled delivery rate. Drugs can also be administered manually with a syringe or infusion pump.

Who needs IV therapy?

In a hospital setting, IV therapy is effective when a patient cannot take oral medication. It’s also commonly used when intravenous delivery is more effective. When treating certain diseases and infections, therapy must continue after discharge from the hospital or may even initially begin as an outpatient treatment.

Here are several medications that infusion therapy can deliver and the conditions they treat:

  • Chemotherapy drugs treat cancer
  • Immune-suppressing drugs treat certain autoimmune diseases
  • Blood pressure support medication treats severe congestive heart failure that is unresponsive to conventional maintenance therapy
  • Thrombolytic drugs treat heart attacks or stroke
  • Fluids combat dehydration
  • Antibiotics, antifungals, and antivirals treat serious infections that don’t respond to oral medication
  • Narcotics control pain
  • Insulin treats diabetes
  • Epinephrine treats anaphylactic shock
  • Biologics treat Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis
  • Receptor blockers treat rheumatoid arthritis
  • Blood clotting factors treat hemophilia
  • Iron infusions combat iron deficiency
  • Medications treat migraines
  • Corticosteroids treat multiple sclerosis
  • Platelet-rich plasma treats osteoarthritis
  • Bisphosphonates treat osteoporosis
  • Donated blood facilitates blood transfusions

If you’re looking for infusion services, Tri-County Health Care can help! Our clinics feature an experienced team of registered nurses ready to administer your treatment in a private room with a cozy, home-like feel. Rest assured that we’ll make your time with us as pleasant and anxiety-free as possible. To learn more about our infusion therapy services, call 218-631-3510.

Pharmacy Week: Mark Carlson Q&A

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Pharmacists provide a much-needed service in the healthcare industry. They are responsible for the storage, distribution and mixing of medications. They also play an important role in patient education. To celebrate National Pharmacy Week, we caught up with our pharmacist, Mark Carlson. In this interview, we discussed his career at Tri-County Health Care.

Mark Carlson

Q: Why did you become a pharmacist?

A: I wanted to become a pharmacist after working in a pharmacy as a technician.  I saw the diverse career paths in the profession with many options ranging from retail to research.

I liked where the pharmacy profession was heading from a patient experience perspective.  It is very rewarding to educate patients on medications and the nuances of how the medication works for their condition. I find drug-to-drug interactions, adherence and medication safety to be fascinating.

Q: What was your education like?

A: I went to Augsburg College for my Bachelors of Arts in Biology and then obtained my Doctorate of Pharmacy at the University of Minnesota. I was in the second class coming out of the Duluth campus. This program focused on pharmacy in rural Minnesota.

Q: What is your favorite part of the job?

A: I enjoy the variety. My day involves the clinical side of pharmacy, like knowing medication information and helping develop treatment options. Additionally, there is a lot of administrative work as well. I am very blessed to have a tremendous pharmacy team. They are very skilled and often go above and beyond.

Q: How has COVID-19 affected your work?

A: I have been able to integrate with other departments more during the pandemic. It has been a great experience to work with so many talented individuals. The vaccine and monoclonal team have done an excellent job. The pandemic has added to the daily challenge. but our collective effort is really making a difference.

Q: What is it like being a pharmacist at Tri-County Health Care?

A: Being a pharmacist at TCHC has been an excellent opportunity to expand my knowledge and skills. Everyone over the past five years has been great to work with. I was allowed to learn and develop on the job. Before coming here, I didn’t have as much hospital pharmacy experience. Tri-County Health Care places a high value on professional growth.

Q: What career achievement are you most proud of?

A: Being a part of the COVID-19 pandemic response team. Our mission is to help improve the health of the communities we serve and I firmly believe we are doing that, even during these challenging circumstances.

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.

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.