Living life on two wheels

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Being physically active is so important for both physical and mental health. Finding an activity or sport that suits you can be tough. For me, mountain biking has been an activity that allows me to enjoy being outside in nature, keeping my body active, is easy on joints and So fun! Living life on two wheels is great for me and perhaps you too!

I started mountain biking in 2013. When I was young, I biked around town a lot, but was first exposed to mountain biking in Colorado on a family vacation as a teen. Who would have known that a couple decades later it would become a passion of mine! We visited friends in Montana during the summer of 2012. They were mountain biking enthusiasts and showed us their bikes. My husband and I were hooked. By the next year, we had bikes for ourselves. Since then, many of our evenings, weekends, and travels have been centered around biking.

A family on the trails

Living life on two wheels is about family.

Shortly after embracing the sport, we got to know a group of local riders at Black’s Grove park. In a few short months, we were racing on a mountain bike team associated with Maplelag Resort in Callaway, Minnesota. We have raced the Minnesota Mountain Bike Series races as a family. We compete in our respective category according to age and skill level. We’ve also expanded to races in other areas of the country. I still don’t claim to be super-fast or excellent in technical areas, but I truly enjoy being in the woods. Overcoming obstacles that I previously struggled with is a constant motivator for me.

Coaching

In addition, I help as an assistant coach for the Northwest Composite Wolves, a local team made up of middle and high school students. The Minnesota Cycling Association aims to get more kids on bikes and is now over 2,600 kids strong! We practice as a team multiple times per week from July through October with the option to race. Each team has five races each year, with our local race in Detroit Lakes. Introducing children to this sport makes me happy and on practice days, I look forward to riding the trails with the kids! We have so much fun tackling the trails with friends and teammates.

Living life on two wheels might be right for you

Living life must involve bikes.

Take it easy to start. Don’t hesitate to hop off and walk or run areas that are uncomfortable until skill levels and stamina improve. Challenge yourself, but don’t take on too much. Reach out to others with similar interests and make sure your bike works well. Ensure that you have a helmet to reduce risk of head injuries.

Mobility is so important and tied to many areas of health. Cycling is just one way to help keep your body moving. Its also easier on the joints that some sports. Consider which sport or activity you might enjoy. Improved health is just one the many benefits!

Have an open mind and start living life to the fullest!

Heidi Olson, MD

Tri-County Health Care


Monkeypox arrives in Minnesota: What you need to know

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The COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage onward. Many want to forget it, but it continues to linger. It will most likely be with us for many years to come, along with other illnesses. Viruses never truly go away, and neither does the possibility of another pandemic. This time the virus comes from Africa and leaves a very visible mark on those it infects. That virus is monkeypox.

The Minnesota Department of Health reported the first presumptive case of monkeypox on June 27. The weeks leading up to this announcement had newscasters from around the world announcing cases of monkeypox in their respective cities, countries, and states. One by one, a new case would pop up, and COVID-like anxiety would follow with each one.

What is monkeypox?

According to the World Health Organization, monkeypox is a viral zoonosis that typically spreads in Central and West Africa. Its symptoms resemble smallpox, with the infected breaking out in a blistery rash. Monkeys and various rodents can also carry the virus, making it highly transmissible. Symptoms can also include headache, fatigue, fever, and swelling of the lymph nodes. Symptoms usually last two to four weeks.

Monkeypox can spread through close contact with infected people. Contaminated objects like clothing and bed linens can easily spread the virus. Additionally, sexual contact seems to be an intense spreader of monkeypox. Anyone can catch monkeypox, which isn’t limited to any group.

Monkeypox leaves a blistery rash.

Infection prevention

Tri-County Health Care has its very own Infection Preventionist, Cheryl Houselog. Her job is monitoring viral outbreaks like monkeypox and developing comprehensive plans for keeping staff and patients safe. She and the staff at Tri-County Health Care have been keeping a close watch on the virus for several weeks now, anticipating that a Minnesota case would eventually make headlines.

“The lessons we have learned during the COVID pandemic have certainly taught us a lot about dealing with communicable diseases, evolving with rapidly changing situations, adapting to and developing new protocols, responding to the needs of the public, and more. We have learned a lot and will certainly be able to apply that knowledge to another potential pandemic.” – Cheryl Houselog, Infection Preventionist

In late May, she communicated with providers and medical staff about our area’s potential risk for infection. Everyone is on high alert, looking for the signs and symptoms associated with monkeypox. Furthermore, if you suspect you may have contracted monkeypox, Cheryl has some guidance for you:

  • Seek medical care immediately, especially if you have traveled abroad or had close contact with a wild animal.
  • Be upfront and honest with your medical provider. The virus has been politicized and stigmatized to a certain extent, but this shouldn’t stop you from getting the help you need.
  • Avoid close contact with others. Play it safe and avoid social gatherings and sexual activity.
  • If you must leave your home for treatment, please wear a mask.

Dealing with the problem

Vaccination efforts and informational campaigns are underway. Continue to check local and state news publications like the Minnesota Department of Health for updates on the progress of such campaigns. If you suspect you may have monkeypox, please contact a healthcare professional immediately. For scheduling at Tri-County Health Care, please call 218-631-3510.

Important resources

CDC-United States Infection map

CDC-Global Infection map

WHO-Monkeypox

CDC-5 things you need to know about monkeypox

CDC-Monkeypox Information


Alzheimer’s Awareness: Don’t forget them

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Worldwide, 55 million people live with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Alzheimer’s is a degenerative brain disease and the most common form of dementia. This form is not a specific disease but an overall term that describes a group of symptoms. This June’s goal is to bring awareness to Alzheimer’s, so let’s think about this disease a little differently.

Watch this informative video for more information on this month’s observance and brain health.

I am a geriatric nurse practitioner, and I work with patients and families daily that are learning to live with Alzheimer’s. Additionally, I work with residents in long-term care memory units. I can attest to how the isolation during COVID-19 has affected cognition decline and increased isolation and loneliness. Residents with dementia cannot comprehend why their families could not visit.

My perspective

We need to remember those that got lost in the COVID-19 shuffle. They are alone and suffering. Please remember our elderly community and make time to visit with them whenever possible. A thirty-minute visit can have a significant impact on their health.

My sister’s father-in-law passed away from Alzheimer’s. His wife hid his memory issues for a long time before the family realized what was happening. This is a common occurrence, especially in our stoic elderly population that doesn’t want to bother friends and family.

My daughter-in-law’s father also suffers from this disease. He resides in a long-term care facility. This situation is difficult, but it leaves the family asking questions about their future. The question is always in the back of your mind “Will I eventually succumb to Alzheimer’s Disease?”

Not alone

The statistics sound daunting, but there is hope. Medications are available to help slow the disease, and research is ongoing. Resources are available to help conquer the burden for the caregiver. First and foremost, there is your family physician or practitioner. We can help direct you to these resources and find the best medication. Our social workers are also available to help. An array of Alzheimer’s Support groups also help with Alzheimer’s awareness.

Do not hesitate to reach out for help. We need to take care of your loved one with Alzheimer’s, but we also need to take care of you.

Rose Lorentz, APRN, A-GNPAlzheimer’s Awareness Month is a special time for Rose

Tri-County Health Care


Caring for everyone: My journey in correctional medicine

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Growing up, my father was in law enforcement, and my mother worked in Court Administrations. I often listened to their conversations about the people my dad would arrest and my mom would then process through the court system. The frustration of seeing an offender for multiple offenses can be exhausting. Surely, there must be a way to help these people? Caring for everyone, regardless of what they have done, is paramount in my line of work.

I chose to advance my career in nursing and received my educational foundation from Augsburg University in downtown Minneapolis. Their nursing program emphasizes eliminating health inequities through peaceful, just, and collaborative actions that uphold and improve human potential. One of my first professors was Katie Clarke, a true mentor to me. She listened to my concerns and assisted with helping me get into a clinical setting at the local jail with their medical agency. The jail administrator at Douglas County jail, Jackie Notch (now retired), had been a long-time role model of mine and welcomed me to assist in any way.

Making a plan

During this time, I spent many hours in downtown Minneapolis working at the Central Health Commons, an Augsburg-run health center for the homeless. I was feverishly working on a foundation of what a reentry program may look like for inmates. I had multiple conversations with previous offenders to learn about jail culture and what other facilities do to assist in helping prisoners reenter society.

This experience served as the foundation for my thesis. I worked at the Douglas County Jail to gain helpful knowledge about correctional care. To this day, I continue to volunteer my time at the facility. I started in January 2018 as a student intern and completed my Doctorate of Nurse Practice project there. During this time, I collaborated with inmates to envision what a reentry program would look like for them upon their release from jail. I focused on the top ten resources that are needed when reentering back into the community. It was modeled much like the discharge of a hospital patient. That discharge started at the time of booking.

An average day

When I arrive at the jail, I enter through two locked doors. I then proceed down a hallway and enter the locked medical unit. Once I am in the medical unit, I complete various tasks for the staff nurse. These tasks range from counting medications to filing paperwork. You might be surprised to hear that much preparation goes into caring for inmates. It isn’t going from cell to cell with a medical bag. A medical unit in jail is usually operated much like a standard clinic.

Inmates often come into jail at their sickest. They don’t usually seek medical treatment; the jail is their only stable healthcare. You need expansive knowledge of infectious disease, mental health, and drug dependency. The current jail tasks depend on the number of inmates booked for the day and the degree of illness within the jail. For example, the 70 inmates in jail could all be fine and not have any chronic diseases. You could be managing five inmates with uncontrolled diabetes, two inmates on suicide watch, and three inmates suffering from drug or alcohol withdrawals. Every day is different, and you continually have to pivot to the conditions of the jail.

Caring for everyone as equals

I think one of the hardest things in correctional care sometimes is putting aside your biases. I went into correctional care because I feel everyone deserves healthcare. Sometimes these institutions are the sole health care providers for some of the nation’s sickest people. Yet through my research, I’ve observed the quality and quantity of care provided across correctional institutions to be unclear.

Within the United States, the American Public Health Association, the American Correctional Association, and the National Commission on Correctional Health Care outline the standards for inmate care. Yet, policies and standards are still unclear. It’s also difficult to determine just what each organization is doing to maintain the quality of care across facilities.

Why keep going back?

My university days are over, and my thesis is published, but my duty to others never stops. Correctional Care is really a way to give back to my community. Several social determinants are strongly associated with poor health. In the United States, being non-white, low-income, undereducated, homeless, and uninsured are among the strongest predictors. Individuals in jails and prisons exhibit these predictors of poor health disproportionately. As a result, inmates typically share several health profile characteristics, including mental health disorders, drug dependence, infectious disease, and chronic conditions that may be affecting the greater community. This work gives me the chance to educate inmates while incarcerated on daily hygiene practices, healthy eating habits, and how to navigate the health care system in their communities.

I enjoy working side by side with the wonderful staff at Douglas County Jail. They truly do an amazing job at caring for inmates and making a difference. Inmates often say, “the people here actually care about you.”

Ashley Steen knows how important it is to care for everyone!

Ashley Steen, FNP, DNP

Thanks for reading, and remember, everyone deserves to live without illness or injury. Caring for everyone makes our society whole.

Ashley Steen, FNP, DNP

Tri-County Health Care


How can physical therapy benefit moms?

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How can physical therapy benefit moms? That is an excellent question, and Tri-County’s physical therapy team is here to answer it! Pregnancy is one of the toughest challenges a woman can face. It comes with many rewards, but it undeniably strains the body. Working with a dedicated team of physical therapists can make the journey to motherhood so much easier.

“Women’s Health physical therapy is focused on caring for you during both your pregnancy and post-partum journey. In physical therapy, we can help reduce pain, improve mobility, prevent injury, and keep you feeling strong during pregnancy and get you back to doing the things you love postpartum.” – Kayli Mollberg, DPT

For the expecting mother, we offer these services:

  • Mobility maintenance
  • Body mechanics training to reduce strain on the neck and lower back
  • Pressure management to reduce the risk of urinary leakage or prolapse
  • Core engagement to support a growing belly and improve recovery after giving birth
  • Early education on postpartum precautions
  • Proper breathing techniques
  • Aquatic therapy for reduced pressure through joints

Postpartum care

Our care doesn’t end after pregnancy. The body still has much healing to do, and physical therapy at Tri-County Health Care can assess and treat a wide range of issues stemming from pregnancy and delivery. Additionally, postpartum services include:

  • Early postpartum mobility management
  • Pelvic floor activation for improved strength and preventing incontinence and prolapse
  • Postural education and body mechanics
  • Reestablishing coordination of breath control and muscle activation
  • Scar tissue mobility (grade 1-4 tearing)

Incontinence

Some mothers experience issues with bladder and bowel control during and after pregnancy. This is a problem that many find too difficult or embarrassing to discuss but should be addressed by the proper care team. Physical therapy is once again here to help. They have several techniques and exercises that can alleviate and, in some cases, completely stop the problem. Remember, incontinence is not a normal condition for any age group, so make sure to seek help from trained specialists if you suffer from these issues.

To better understand incontinence, please watch the video below. It provides valuable and fascinating information on how the human body processes waste.

How can physical therapy benefit moms? Of course, the answer is at Tri-County Health Care. For more information on physical therapy, please visit TCHC.org. For scheduling an appointment, please call 218-631-3510. Remember to follow Tri-County Health Care on social media for regular updates.


Staff mitigate storm and smoke

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On Memorial Day, Tri-County Health Care staff responded to a fire at a nearby irrigation facility and severe weather. Staff was warned of the fire and the possibility of chemical gas approaching the hospital. Additionally, a storm producing high winds and the possibility of tornados had the potential to affect the City of Wadena. Staff members mitigate situations like this in a specific way, and Tri-County staff regularly participate in scenarios like this one.

Taking appropriate action

EMS staff departed to assist with the nearby fire. Initially, they began fire rehab, a procedure where EMS supports firefighters by providing first aid, hydration, and a cool place to recover. The storm hit, which prompted EMS staff to take cover. At the Wadena Hospital, staff initiated incident command operations. Members of the administration, EMS, and medical staff evacuated patients to safe areas within the facility. Tri-County completed this task without issue.

Due to the threat of chemical gas entering the facility, maintenance and the engineer on call quickly disabled the ventilation system to stop the potential spread of gas. This process was completed without incident, and all observations indicate that chemical-laced gas did not enter the facility.

The scope of a crisis

“You couldn’t write a scenario like this,” remarked Emergency Management Coordinator Tom Krueger. Krueger is responsible for the mobilization of incident command at Tri-County Health Care. He’s also responsible for training staff to handle scenarios like severe weather and structure fires. Leading up to the storm, Krueger provided detailed information on its movement. His team was instrumental in facilitating evacuation during the crisis.

“Everyone did a fantastic job and everything went according to plan even with the mounting problems in the region” – Thomas Krueger.

After the storm passed, staff received an all-clear message. Evacuation orders lifted, and patients returned to their rooms. Once the threat of gas passed, the ventilation system reactivated, and normal operations resumed. Staff mitigate all-hazards scenarios based on many factors, many of which were present in this crisis. Please visit TCHC.org and our social media accounts for regular updates.


EMS and severe weather

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On May 12, our first taste of spring was interrupted by a barrage of severe weather. Major news sources reported a string of storms across the western part of Minnesota, generating high winds and even tornados. The City of Wadena is no stranger to storms of this nature after being hit by a tornado in 2010. This experience leaves many with looming anxiety whenever the thunderheads roll in. The severe weather downed many trees.In the end, we have no mystical control over the weather. However, we do control how we recover from it. The people of the Wadena area don’t live in fear of nature. We accept it and band together to overcome it. Emergency Medical Services (EMS) week is here, and what better way to celebrate than by taking a look at how EMS and severe weather can change your life in an instant.

Monitoring

EMS staff are responsible for the safety of patients and staff within Tri-County Health Care. This responsibility requires constant vigilance. In addition to situational awareness, they use a series of alert systems to get immediate notifications of incoming severe weather. Emergency Management Coordinator Tom Krueger always has his eyes on the sky and his radio handy. He is always in communication with the Central Minnesota Hospital Preparedness Coalition, a relationship that allows for a safer, better healthcare system.

Seeking shelter

The storm eventually passed, and the sun rose once again. The pleasant spring weather illuminated avenues of downed trees and mounds of insulation tossing in the wind. The storm passed, but it left its mark. Some buildings appeared to have their roofs cleaved off, leaving a disfigured maw of shingles and lumber. Hours earlier, the sky turned a pungent grey, followed by wind. EMS jumped into action to minimize hazards. They initiated storm safety procedures which involved EMS staff systematically informing patients and staff of the incoming storm. Then, the crew assisted in moving patients to the appropriate pre-designated shelter zones.

More than a few buildings received roof damage that stormy night. Krueger was asked what would happen if the storm damaged the roof of the hospital or clinic. What would we do?

“Staff and patients will hopefully be in a “Shelter-In-Place” mode and will have been evacuated to either the tunnel or Post-Anesthesia Recovery unit (safe interior space). In the event of a “direct strike”, there is a plan for setting up an Alternate Care Site in the community to continue to care for our patients in the short-term. We would also rely on mutual aid with our CMHPC coalition partner facilities to assist in a disaster of this type for both hospital and EMS services.” – Thomas Krueger, Emergency Management Coordinator

EMS and severe weather.

EMS tips for a safe clean up

  • Wear the appropriate clothes. Avoid scrapes and bruises by wearing long-sleeved garments and jeans. Boots, gloves, and a hat are also highly recommended.
  • Be safe with power tools. Some people tend to ignore basic safety in the aftermath of a disaster. Don’t be one of those people. Use proper eye protection if you plan on clearing trees.
  • Storms that generate high winds can make a huge mess. They can even damage power lines and dislodge nails. Situational awareness is critical. Tread carefully and if you see a downed power line, do not approach it; instead, notify the local power authority.
  • Stay hydrated! You need water to function, so keep a water bottle nearby.

EMS deal with severe weather all the time!

EMS and severe weather are here to stay, so remember to watch for bad storms this summer and beyond. Also, take some time to thank the men and women of EMS for all they do in our communities. Please visit TCHC.org and follow Tri-County Health Care on social media for more information.

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Why I’m a nurse

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Generational care

I decided to work at Tri-County Health Care as I enjoy the small-town atmosphere. I am a native of Wadena, so it’s even more special because I’m taking care of the people I’ve known my entire life. With almost every patient I meet, there is a connection. I love to chat and calm the patient. Often people come into our facility feeling very nervous. Calming those nerves and reminding those patients of their value is important. Empowerment is a great tool I use every day. I cannot do the job I love without patients! They are a huge part of why I’m a nurse.

Tri-County Health Care is a fun, fast-paced clinic loaded with teamwork! You are never working alone, and there is always a staff member around to answer your questions. We are always smiling, even behind our masks. I work with multiple providers regularly. Each of them goes out of their way to make work a fun, efficient place.

Fun scrubs

Why I'm a nurse.

Amber Block, LPN

I started my nursing career in the hospital 15 years ago. The hospital taught me a lot, but I knew I wanted a day job. It took me about ten years to realize that I belonged at Tri-County. So here I am; I’ve been a nurse at the Wadena campus for almost four years. I couldn’t be happier! I always knew I belonged here.

Tri-County Health Care offers flexibility with scheduling and understanding when circumstances are out of your control. You also get to wear fun, bright-colored scrubs that patients love! I love picking out my outfit, knowing that I can turn a patient’s bad day into a good day with just my fun scrubs.

I’m proud to be part of the Tri-County Health Care team. Come join me; you won’t be disappointed!

A good fit for you

Tri-County Health Care has several openings for nurses. For more information, please visit our Careers page.


Meet Ashley Steen

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Meet Ashley Steen, FNP, DNP. Ashley works in ReadyCare and is no stranger to a fast-paced work environment after working in similar roles for nearly a decade. Her experience ranges from correctional medicine to dementia care.

“I was so amazed at how friendly everyone is and welcoming! I have truly walked into one big happy family. The culture is outstanding, better than any other organization I’ve been with. “– Ashley Steen

 Where it all started

Ashley received a big career push early on in life at her first job caring for people with dementia. In this home, she assisted people with their bedtime routines, which can be very challenging. Dementia behavior often made the job difficult, forcing Ashley to grasp new care techniques quickly. According to Ashley, this was the job that sparked her interest in the healthcare field.

 Care for everyone 

Ashley’s father was a police officer, and her mother worked in court corrections. She got used to hearing stories about her father arresting the same people and her mother processing them. This experience made Ashley curious about the criminal justice system, and the impact healthcare can have on repeat offenders.

“My nurse practitioner program focused on social justice and transcultural nursing.  As part of our scholarly project, we focused on a culture. I chose the culture of corrections and how we could help with recidivism. I found we are releasing people back to their communities with little to no resources,” explained Ashley. Her research led to her developing a reentry program at the local jail. This program involved interviewing inmates and gathering data. From the data collected, she came up with ten resources that people need upon being released. After this experience, Ashley kept volunteering in the medical unit at the facility. She has been doing this for three years now

 “I can read all the journals, books, attend all the conferences, but until I took the time to sit down and work in corrections and be with inmates on a daily basis, I never truly understood the disparity we serve them at times. “– Ashley Steen

ReadyCare

For minor injuries and symptoms, consider using ReadyCare at Tri-County Health Care. ReadyCare is open Monday through Saturday. Patients should enter through the North Emergency Room entrance. Follow Tri-County Health Care on social media for future updates.


The mission so far: Bobbi Adams

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I have received the great honor of being the next Chief Medical Officer at Tri-County Health Care. I want to thank my many coworkers and predecessor Benjamin Hess, MD. My Tri-County family has trusted me, and I won’t let them down! The mission has been challenging so far, but we can overcome anything together.

The pandemic has been stressful for our healthcare system. I’m glad that I’m beginning my tenure while it is declining. I hope with all of my heart that trends continue downward so we can return to the things we love. The biggest challenge in my new position is helping our medical team navigate the ever-changing COVID-19 landscape. I’m proud to be a part of a great team working to balance our current risks while maintaining a high level of precaution for any future threats.

Ushering in the new

In addition to combating COVID-19, I have the task of helping dozens of medical professionals acclimate to a new building. This task will require more work and attention to detail to make a safe and seamless transition for our staff and our community. We will make the big move in about a year, and I couldn’t be more excited.

Change is scary, but it can also be therapeutic. Some much-needed changes are on the horizon, and some of those changes generate anxiety. These are the kind of nerves that preface something great. As we make the change to Astera Health, our mission to be your trusted partner for life will not.

Dr. Adams and the mission so far.

Bobbi Adams, MD

About Dr. Adams

Dr. Adams has been a family medicine provider at Tri-County Health Care since 2000. Her 22 years of dedicated service are marked by a strong desire to help others while bringing new life into the world. When she isn’t in the hospital or clinic, she enjoys being with her family and tending to her garden. She’s also a big Minnesota Wild and Vikings fan.


Donate Life 2022: Kidneys and care

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Tri-County Health Care welcomed guests and donors to Donate Life 2022! Lois Miller, a Registered Nurse at Tri-County Health Care, organizes the event. The ceremony is the product of several months of organizing. Because of this, Lois takes great pride in the event and views it as a means of keeping organ donation in the minds of potential donors.

After a kickoff by Lois, LifeSource Representative Barb Nelson-Agnew took to the podium. She explained the importance of organ donation with the help of a special bee mascot. The bee danced and encouraged the crowd to sign up for organ donation. According to Nelson-Agnew, the bee represented the giving power of nature itself and was the perfect mascot to show how vital organ donation is. Cathy Dudley, a hospital liaison at Mayo Clinic, dawned the bee uniform. Tri-County Health Care was only one stop on her mission to get people to “bee a donor!”

The mascot was a fun aspect of Donate Life 2022

Dawn and Julia

This year’s ceremony included two speakers, Julia Snyder, a living organ donor, and Dawn Kemper, an organ donation recipient. The pair guided the small crowd through their personal journeys with organ donation.

Dawn Kemper participated in Donate Life 2022.

Dawn Kemper

In 2011, Dawn Kemper found out she suffered from polycystic kidney disease, a genetic disease that causes cysts to form on the kidneys. In 2014, she contracted a kidney infection that placed her on dialysis. She was able to recover from the infection and get off dialysis. However, her hope was short-lived. In 2016, after meeting with a nephrologist, Dawn learned she might need to be placed back on dialysis due to her declining kidney health. According to her doctor, she was at 6 percent kidney health. Dawn needed a new kidney and quick. She was eventually contacted for a kidney transplant, but that opportunity fell through. After an emotional journey to receive this kidney, she found out the kidney went to another recipient who required multiple organs. “God had different plans,” said Dawn.

Julia is a living organ donor, which means she is willing to donate organs or tissues while still living. During her tearful speech, she explained that she had never suffered from any health complications in her life. Julia changed after the death of a close friend who was also an avid believer in organ donation. This friend was always trying to get others to check the little organ donation box. This loss made Julia an advocate for the cause.

Kidney swap

Later on, after a failed attempt to donate to her nephew, Julia found the National Pair Exchange for organ donation. This system helps recipients pair with donors faster after experiencing compatibility issues. Through this system, Julia and Dawn met. The pair participated in a cross transplant with an unknown donor in Georgia. Essentially, Snyder wanted to donate a kidney directly to Kemper, but they were incompatible. After this, Snyder donated a kidney to the individual in Georgia and Kemper received a kidney from the compatible donor. This process is also known as a “kidney swap.”

Julia Snyder commented on her journey during Donate Life 2022.

Julia Snyder

Donate and live better

“The most amazing part was watching Dawn become healthy again,” remarked Julia. Furthermore, the pair shared the hope that others will consider organ donation. In conclusion, guests draped the Donate Life flag from a railing above, Drawing Donate Life 2022 to a close.

To learn more about Tri-County Health Care’s Garden of Hope or how to become an organ donor, please visit TCHC.org/patients-and-visitors/organ-donation.


Urology at Tri-County Health Care

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We believe care should be close to home and Sheila Gemar, MD, embodies that approach to health. No one should have to travel hours to receive specialty care, especially for individuals experiencing sensitive urological issues. A urologist is a specialist that focuses on medical issues affecting the urinary system. They are typically visiting specialists that serve several health systems. Urology at Tri-County Health Care will now be even more convenient with her addition to the team.

Finding passion

Dr. Gemar comes to Tri-County Health Care with over two decades of experience in urology. For the majority of her career, she has been an asset to small communities and the people that make them special. As a young girl, she grew up in a rural town in South Dakota where her father worked in healthcare. Because of this, she spent most of her adolescence immersed in the care setting.

Early in her career, Dr. Gemar discovered her love for helping others while exploring surgical specialties. She encountered urological specialists that always seemed to love coming into work. Their love for the field would lead Dr. Gemar down a path of urological excellence.

Age

“With an older population, you need to have a special place in your heart to care for these people.” – Dr. Sheila Gemar

Dr. Gemar is extremely passionate about caring for the elderly with most of her patients being older. In an interview, she went on to explain how someday we will all be old so it’s important to have compassion for the elderly now. Respect for them is respect for ourselves.

Urologists diagnose kidney stones, prostate issues, and various cancers. Dr. Gemar understands the sensitive nature of the medical issues her patients face and she wants everyone to understand the value of regular appointments. Its important to not put off care out of embarrassment or shame.

For more information about urology at Tri-County Health Care, please visit TCHC.org and make an appointment by calling 218-631-3510. Also, follow Tri-County Health Care on social media for regular updates.

About Sheila Gemar, MD

Dr. Gemar loves the outdoors and when she isn’t in the office, she can be found outside taking in everything Minnesota has to offer. Hiking, biking and water skiing are some of her favorite ways to get moving.

 


COVID-19 endemic: hoping for change

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Tri-County Health Care has gone through some noticeable changes over the past weeks. Some plexiglass dividers have come down, visitors and guests have been invited back into the hospital setting, everything seems to be slowly returning to normal. Are we entering the COVID-19 endemic phase?

As the winter cold has left us, so has COVID-19 for the most part. According to the Centers for Disease Control, our area and the entire nation have seen a steady decline of COVID-19. On February 3, the CDC data tracker listed 351,465 new cases of COVID-19 in the United States. Less than two months later, that number has dropped to 9,011 new cases on March 20. Also, on February 3, the CDC data tracker showed 2,693 deaths, but on March 20, that number plummeted to 77 new deaths. At least for now, we are in a far better place going into spring.

COVID-19 Endemic

The drop in community prevalence has many throwing their masks away and returning to bars, concerts, and shopping centers. The decline has many experts speculating if the spread of omicron was the precursor to an endemic phase of the virus. An endemic phase would imply that COVID-19 is still present but localized to certain areas. Health organizations have not officially announced a transition to an endemic phase of the virus. People should still be taking precautions like avoiding crowds and social distancing.

The calm after the storm

We all want the pandemic to end, but we shouldn’t drop our guard just yet. Of course, breathe a sigh of relief. It was a hard winter fraught with illness and death. We all deserve some time to relax and hope for a better future, but we have to be steadfast in our mitigation to get there.

According to statistics gathered by the Joint Commission, on a county level, we have seen a slight increase in community spread. This could only be the natural rising and falling of data or a signal of the next surge. Over the last two years, we have experienced intense waves followed by lull periods. These moments of decreased activity were a welcome change of pace but ultimately fleeting. Cases rocketed upward only a short time later.

Active adjustments

Tri-County Health Care holds patient safety above all else. We have reformulated our standards of mitigation to offer increased protection while allowing for a certain level of convenience in our care. Our level of mitigation will rise and fall with the community prevalence of COVID-19. Numbers are on the downswing, so we are opening up, but we are ready to swiftly reinstate the same level of mitigation techniques in the event of a surge.

The only way to end the pandemic is with collective effort. Mitigation needs to be at the forefront of our efforts. COVID-19 vaccination needs to be fully embraced if we are to finally end the pandemic. As of now, Wadena County is far below the vaccination rate required to achieve herd immunity. We are at 47.3 percent, according to the Minnesota Department of Health statistics prepared on March 17. 70 percent of our county residents need to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity.

What do you think?

Do you think COVID-19 will ever end? Ask yourself that question and be reasonable in your answer. Do you think we are entering a COVID-19 endemic phase? We are curious about your thoughts on the current state of our pandemic. Feel free to share in the comment section.

To schedule vaccination, call 218-631-3510. Patients can also receive the COVID-19 vaccine during a regular appointment with their provider. Please follow Tri-County Health Care on social media or visit TCHC.org/covidvaccine for regular updates.