Heartbeat Newsletter Spring 2023

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Heart beat

Giving Hearts Day continues to grow

In its eighth year of participating in Giving Hearts Day, the Unity Medical Center Foundation raised over $33,000 from 223 donors, including 11 generous matching gift donors. The regional fundraising event took place Feb. 9 and included an Open House at the Foundation office near Unity Medical Center in Grafton.

All proceeds will go toward the relocation and expansion of UMC’s existing Cardiac Rehab, as well as the addition of Pulmonary Rehab, a new service line at Unity. The project may also be partially funded by a Blue Cross Blue Shield SPARK grant (Strengthening People Access Resources Knowledge). Unity’s Cardiac Rehab program is a 12-week exercise and education program that patients typically attend three times a week. Pulmonary Rehab seeks to improve lung function, reduce symptom severity and improve quality of life for those suffering with chronic lung diseases like COPD and asthma. Scan the QR code on page 3 to watch a video about UMC’s Cardiac Rehab.

Matching gift donors included Bremer Bank, Choice Bank, Dakota Medical Foundation, First United

Bank, Grafton Drug, Grafton Floral, Kieley Electric, Legacy CPA Services, NAPA Auto & Truck Parts, North Star Community Credit Union and Simmons Multimedia.

At the Open House, guests were able to see the new wheelchairaccessible patient transport van recently purchased with proceeds from the Harvest Auction in the fall. Attendees could also view a virtual reality video showing what it is like to be a registered nurse at Unity.

SEE GHD on page 3

THIS ISSUE: p.2 p.4 p.5

CEO Update

Executive Director Update

Clinic staff completes SafeSide suicide prevention training

Tree of Lights Ceremony honors deceased loved ones

p.6 p.7 p.8

Provider Spotlight: Emily Balsdon, FNP

UMC Auxiliary donates to environmental services

Chemo safety is key

Service spotlight health coaching

Lab renovation

Virtual job shadow video Memorials

One of NVCTC instructor Susan Shuley’s Financial Literacy classes gives a donation to Foundation Coordinator Deb McKay during the Open House. Grafton supporter Wally DeSautel and his dog Casey stopped by to visit with Unity CEO Alan O’Neil.

Dear friends,

In Todd Morgan’s “Who’s to Say” column in a recent issue of the Walsh County Record, he referenced a quote from the Grafton Deaconess Hospital that appeared in a 1947 promotional brochure for the hospital. Upon reading through the brochure, I came upon the quote, read it, paused, read it again and then sat back in my chair and thought, “Wow.” It was honestly one of the most profound and inspiring quotes I have ever read.

“No tribute to the living, no memorial to those who have lived their lives, is more eloquent, more enduring than one established in a hospital – an institution through which flows an endless stream of humanity in quest of health and happiness …”

The quote caused me to stop and think about the generosity of all individuals who support not only their local hospitals, but also hospitals around the country, including those that rely very heavily on donations to fund their operations, such as St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.

A few years ago in my Heartbeat column, I wrote about the return on investment (ROI) that donations to the UMC Foundation yield. With how we are structured in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) payment system, a donation used to purchase or pay for capital projects or equipment can yield an ROI of 60 percent or more through the depreciation and reimbursement calculation used by CMS. I also pointed out that if the donation is used to purchase new equipment, the gift may create new revenue streams by creating new tests or treatments not available before. The CMS methodology was introduced in 1997, 50 years after the Deaconess brochure was printed.

The brochure was printed prior to the inception of the Medicare program (1965) when there wasn’t much “insurance” availability for folks who needed health care services. There were some plans in place, but nothing to the extent of we have today. At that time (1947), the world was “post-Depression” and recovering from World War II.

Looking back across the decades, it is apparent how compassionate the community of Grafton and region were in providing the level of support for their local hospital(s).

That financial support was a key factor in having a successful hospital organization. Fast forward 76 years, UMC can make the same statement. Thanks to the generosity of UMCF donors, UMC has been able to accomplish some incredible things: a new, state-of-the-art hospital building with all new equipment and technology, and an amazing and evergrowing team of dedicated employees who work together to provide the very best care possible for our patients and create new service lines.

These accomplishments across the decades don’t just “happen.” They take dedication and deliberate action by teams of people. Thank you, Todd, and the person who brought you that piece of history for reminding and even rekindling the passion that exists in your local hospital.

I would like to thank all of the families who have been part of the hospital organizations in Grafton for the past 120 years. Looking through the names, many are familiar long-term Walsh County residents. May the level of commitment and generosity shown for the last 120 years continue long into the future.

If you are 45 or older, contact your team at Unity to discuss the different screening options available to you.

2 Heartbeat • Spring 2023 CEO UPDATE
Colorectal cancer is the leading cause of cancer related deaths in ND, but it is preventable and is highly treatable when detected in the early stages.
Get Educated. Get Screened. Grafton Family Clinic | 701-352-2000 Park River Family Clinic | 701-284-6663


Continued from page 1

Guests included one of North Valley Career & Technology Center instructor Susan Shuley’s Financial Literacy classes, who delivered $152 collected from Grafton Public School students before the event. Students from NVCTC and Family, Career and Community Leaders of America also sold cookies on Giving Hearts Day, with proceeds going to the Unity Medical Center Foundation.

Overall, more than 560 charities in the Red River Valley raised over $26 million on Giving Hearts Day 2023, which is facilitated by Dakota Medical Foundation in Fargo.

What Does Cardiac Rehab Mean to You?

“I feel like the team at UMC’s Cardiac Rehab program saved my life. They reminded me how my lifestyle affected my overall health. I cannot thank each person involved in Cardiac Rehab enough for the care I received.” –Kelly Price, Grafton resident

What Does Pulmonary Rehab Mean to You?

“My husband Roy attended Cardiac Rehab more than once. It gave him his life back. Exercises built stamina while his heart was monitored safely. He learned hearthealthy habits. Doing this locally was so much easier!”—Karen Bigwood, St. Thomas resident

Doctors' Day: March 30

Share Your Appreciation

Tell us how much you appreciate your primary care physicians at Unity Medical Center!

“My husband’s doctor wanted him to do Pulmonary Rehab, but it was in Grand Forks and he was too weak to make that trip. He has since passed away, but I am happy that others can get this rehab at UMC.”—Helen Johnston, Grafton resident

unitymedcenter.com • 701.379.3003 3
The sun rises over Unity’s new wheelchair-accessible patient transport van on Giving Hearts Day.

Our board President Brian Van Bruggen and I were part of a group from Unity Medical Center that attended the American Hospital Association’s Rural Health Leadership Conference in San Antonio, Texas, in February.

While there weren’t any sessions specific to fundraising, it was incredibly interesting to learn that finance is the No. 2 challenge facing rural health care facilities nationwide (workforce is No. 1). Thankfully UMC’s finances are healthy, but it’s good to know what challenges may be coming in the future and start thinking about how the UMC Foundation can help.

Unity’s workforce is strong too at the moment, but new trends are emerging such as referral bonuses instead of sign-on bonuses, which encourage employees to hop from employer to employer. One “rural” health care facility on the East Coast

shared that it competes with 40 hospitals within a 60-mile radius for workers. Can you imagine that workforce and financial challenge?

Other valuable sessions focused on governance primarily for governing boards, but those same best practices can be applied to our board too. It also reminded me of the importance of the UMC governing board and the Foundation board working together to address whatever comes our way collectively.

Probably the most heartbreaking session was when we heard from administrators at Uvalde Memorial Hospital who treated shooting victims from Robb Elementary School nearby in May. As always, good communication was key in that scenario and really in every scenario, crisis or not.

Another interesting—and maybe concerning—speaker was Jamie Orlikoff, a consultant concerned about the future of rural health care. He addressed the fact that U.S. health care costs are the highest in the world, yet many hospitals are losing money while insurance and

drug companies are making record profits. Meanwhile companies including Amazon, Walmart and CVS are positioning themselves to enter the health care delivery market. CVS, for example, just purchased primary care system Oak Street Health. It also acquired a health insurance company in 2018.

Another speaker encouraged attendees to challenge themselves by embracing discomfort. He had recently done this by hunting in the Arctic and found several neurological benefits to the experience. We then followed his mantra sooner than expected while stranded in Denver for an extra day as a blizzard raged in Fargo.

Overall our group brought home a number of best practices for UMC to consider. We compared notes to colleagues from across the country (and as close as Tioga). It was definitely worthwhile, and I was grateful for the opportunity.

4 Heartbeat • Spring 2023
April 18 or 19, 2023 Noon-1:00 PM Tickets: $25/person U n i t y M e d i c a l C e n t e r 1 6 4 W 1 3 t h S t , G r a f t o n T h i r d F l o o r h
Executive Director UPDATE Friends of the Foundation Luncheon

Clinic staff completes SafeSide suicide prevention training

Suicide is the 9th leading cause of death in North Dakota.

North Dakota’s suicide rate increased more than any other state between 1999 and 2020, rising by 58 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Recognizing that rural communities in North Dakota may lack behavioral health resources and services, the North Dakota Human Services Behavioral Health Division recently awarded a $125,000 grant to the North Dakota chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to provide SafeSide Prevention training for 800 primary care providers, nurses and office staff.

In October and November, staff from the Grafton and Park River family clinics attended three complimentary 50-minute SafeSide Prevention training sessions that provided best practices for responding to suicide concerns within the time and resource constraints of primary care. Participants learned the framework, practiced skills and worked together to apply them in the settings and cultures in which they work.

The program’s learning objectives are to:

1) Develop a sustained connection with patients to support direct conversations about suicide.

2) Gather and summarize assessment information that is actionable.

3) Respond to a patient’s suicide risk level with appropriate interventions.

4) Extend the patient’s care into behavioral health or other appropriate resources and supports.

The intended outcome is for patients to experience consistent, hopeful, recovery-oriented care, increased wellbeing, and connections with family and others who support them.

Please contact your primary care provider if you are seeking help with your mental health.

Tree of Lights Ceremony honors deceased loved ones

Unity Medical Center hosted its second annual Tree of Lights Ceremony in December.

During the program, which can be viewed by scanning the QR code, Grafton Lutheran Church Pastor Carter Hill talked about the role grief plays in our lives, and Unity nurse Chris Gaule played music. Over 150 names were read by Unity staff.

Guests wrote names of their loved ones on ornaments and hung them on a tree in the Emergency Room lobby.

The Unity Medical Center Foundation provided funding for the event on behalf of its donors who designated that their gifts go toward medical, in this case mental health, programs.

unitymedcenter.com • 701.379.3003 5
UMC staff wrote the names of loved ones on luminaries that lined the hallway to the event. Nolan Bell of Park River, N.D., hangs ornaments on the Tree of Lights in the ER lobby.

Provider Spotlight

Emily Balsdon, family nurse practitioner (FNP), didn’t always know that her nursing path would lead to an FNP degree. Prior to graduating from the University of North Dakota with her FNP degree in 2022, she practiced nursing for 11 years in hospice, home care and population health. Well into her time as a home care nurse, she felt a greater passion for patient education and health care decision-making and wanted to provide a larger scale of care for her patients as a whole, not just the challenges they currently faced. She felt she could care for them when ill and when healthy as a nurse practitioner, so she decided to further her education around 2018.

Emily is passionate about improving the quality of life of patients in every stage of their lifespan. “I love seeing patients’ progress on the health spectrum after a treatment,” she said. “Interacting with patients and their families to achieve a better version of themselves is what I like most about this job. I am a big advocate for patient-driven health care, and I really enjoy working together to find a solution to their problems.”

She said she is enjoying Unity Medical Center because she feels great support from her fellow providers, including physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners and experienced nursing staff. “They have treated me like family since Day One and have made it enjoyable to come to work even when the job can be stressful at times,” she said.

Emily is originally from Grand Forks but has lived in Langdon for the past 10 years with her husband and three children. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, sporting events and cooking. Her guilty pleasure is reality TV.

UMC Auxiliary donates to UMC Environmental Services

The Unity Medical Center Auxiliary recently gave $1,000 to Unity Medical Center’s Environmental Services to purchase a new iMop Floor Scrubber. The iMop allows for deep cleaning in smaller areas like patient rooms and will aid in infection control and prevention. It even dries the floor as it cleans.

Chemo safety is key

The Unity Medical Center Foundation recently made a gift toward the purchase of a closed system transfer device ordered by UMC Pharmacist Karalynne Price. The device is designed to protect both health care staff and patients from exposure to harmful vapors when compounding, transporting and administering chemo drugs. Here, nurse Lisa Trom is using the clickto-lock technology to safely deliver chemotherapy to a patient.

6 Heartbeat • Spring 2023
Pictured left to right: Cyrilla Demers, Terry Demester, Jan Ensrude, Bonnie Mohagen and Delaine Russum.

Service Spotlight: Health Coaching Program

Grafton Family Clinic’s new Health Coaching Program helps patients get back on track with their health, ultimately reducing medical visits. If you are struggling with a long-term medical condition such as high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), mental health or diabetes, or could use help managing your medications, this program can assist.

Health coaches and registered nurses Karen Hills and Priscilla Stark (pictured) work closely with your provider to develop a comprehensive care plan that includes your health problems, health goals, medications, care you need and any community services you need, along with any other providers treating you.

If you have questions about the health coaching program or would like to get started, please call Karen or Priscilla at (701) 352-2000.

UMC Lab upgrades complete

After the purchase of the wheelchairaccessible patient transport van, the Unity Medical Center Foundation provided over $32,000 toward equipment updates in the Unity Medical Center Laboratory. Updates included a new chemistry analyzer, hematology analyzer, refrigerator (pictured) and freezer.

The project was partially funded by $50,000 from the Otto Bremer Trust as well.

CareerViewXR: Registered nurse job shadow experience

Unity Medical Center partnered with CareerViewXR to develop a registered nurse job shadow experience.

CareerViewXR experiences use 360-degree technology to produce interactive web-based tours and virtual reality videos that get viewers into the heart of a career. There was no cost to Unity to be a partner.

The registered nurse experience follows a “day in the life” of several Unity registered nurses and the duties they perform in the following areas: emergency department trauma room, outpatient treatment room, morning rounds on the patient floor, COVID patient in a negative pressure room, shoulder surgery prep in the surgery suite, postsurgical patient follow-up and a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) draw.

The completed experience can be viewed as a 14-minute video on a virtual reality headset, or scan the QR code for the web-based version that includes informational “hot spots.” Unity staff recently shared the video with 8th grade students at the Explore NVCTC event and plan to share it with the 9th grade students at Scrubs Camp in March. It will also be available for upcoming job fairs and accessible to the health sciences students at the North Valley Career & Technology Center.

unitymedcenter.com • 701.379.3003 7

Memorials and Thank You To Donors (November

21, 2022-February 15, 2023)

The Unity Medical Center Foundation would like to take the opportunity to thank all of the donors who have donated to UMCF over the past years. It is because of donors like you that UMCF can continue to focus on their mission of supporting Unity Medical Center and improving patient experiences. Every effort is made to include all names accurately. Please notify UMCF if you discover any errors or omissions.

Robb LaBonte

Don & Paddy Hutson

Leonard & Adele


Alfred Lindell

Don & Paddy Hutson

Tom & Mary LaHaise

Mike & Sandra Sackett

Joan Littlejohn

Rick & Susan Bigwood

Terry & Julie Demester

Donald & Sharon Ganssle

Walter Paschke

Glora Halliday

Mary Peterka

Joe & Kris Sobolik

Marlene Rosvold

Leonard & Adele


Orlando Sandvig

Kimball & Julie Lutovsky

Jason Schatzke

Rick & Val Walker

LeaAnn Dolan

Thomas & Avis Dolan

Tom & Mary LaHaise

Kenny & Kathy Miskavige

Robert & Cheryl Osowski

Mark & Carol Osowski

Phil & Rachel Ray

Bill & Jody Tibert

Lauren & Mary Wild

Kevin Hoenke

Debbie & John Aasand

Gene & Marilyn Anderson

Doug Anderson

Sandra Burns

Nick & Mary Jo Hall

Sonia Midgarden

Mick & Mavis Sevigny

Jerome Suda

Ralph Tucker

Mernice Jacobson

Jean Kieley

Bill & Colleen Lykken

Susan Johnson

Tom & Mary LaHaise

Leonard & Adele Momerak

Ryan & Jessica Sobolik

Cornelia Jonk

Don & Paddy Hutson

Tim Kennedy

Carol Kirsch

Daniel & Deidre O’Keefe

Larry McMillian

Richard Davis

Carol Kirsch

Leonard & Adele


Marlys Miller

Leonard & Adele


Robert Mlcoch

Nick & Mary Jo Hall

Noel Moe

Kevin & Jean Jiskra

Daniel & Carol Lahaise

Sharon Mlcoch

Leonard & Adele


Phil & Rachel Ray

Ryan & Jessica Sobolik

Janet Nelson

Leonard & Adele


William Normandie

Mick & Mavis Sevigny

Rodney Nygard

Helen Johnston

Lavoy Olson

Jeanne Monson

John O’Toole

Kimball & Julie Lutovsky

Alyce Schneider

Terry & Julie Demester

Jeff & Deb McKay

Tom & Mary Jo Olson

Denny & Sally Schneider

Rick & Val Walker

Glen Schneider

Darryl & Vonda Collette

John Sveen

Rick & Susan Bigwood

Richard Davis

Fred & Pam Halliday

Sonia Midgarden

Randy & Judy Redmann

Ralph Tucker

Maxine Sveen

Richard Davis

Cynthia Thompson

Leonard & Adele


Mardelle Tollefson

Buzz & Tammy Lunde

Maxine Twamley

Don & Paddy Hutson

Albert Van Bruggen

Ryan & Jessica Sobolik

Dawn Wosick

George Wosick

Governing Board of Unity Medical Center

Jo Petersen - President

Paul Mohagen - Vice President

Amy Geiger - Secretary/Treasurer

Dr. Matt Viscito

Roger Gorder

Heidi Paulson

Todd Morgan

Tom Campbell Russell Carignan

Alan O’Neil CEO

Brad Wurgler CFO

Jenny Holand, Chief Nursing Officer

Unity Medical Center Foundation Board of Directors

Brian Van Bruggen - President

Alysia Osowski - Vice President

Todd Burianek

Russell Carignan

Barb Dusek

Paul Dusek

Ranell Hanson

Jenny Holand, CNO

Candace Kostrzewski

Kristina Petersen

Brad Schanilec

Patrick Such

Jessica Sobolik - Executive Director

Deb McKay - Secretary/Treasurer

Alan O’Neil - CEO

Olaf Aasand Delores Burianek Richard Davis Nick & Mary Jo Hall Jim & Vicki Midgarden Alan & Mary Jane O’Neil Ina Raumin Pat Torgeson & Cynthia Sillers Lorilee Adams Leonard & Adele Momerak Roger Amiot Jim & Jan Aasand Jacquelyn Adamsen Hancel & Evonne Altendorf Janet Amiot Rita Amiot Robby & Erin Amiot Rita Amiot Gene & Marilyn Anderson Marlys Bailey Rick & Susan Bigwood Keith & Joleen Bjorneby Jon & Joann Brundin Marilyn Bryan Dennis & Joy Buchholtz Terry Burns Sue Callahan Greg & Leanne Campbell Kevin & Lorri Capistran Wayne & Nancy Capistran James & Lois Chandler Neil & Liz Daby Wally DeSautel Joen Duerre Pat Durand Daniel & Teresa Dusek Greg Elde Kristine Elliott Rick & Mary English Dennis & Shauna Erickson Bruce & Susan Fagerholt Betty Feltman Leonard Fetzer Ray & Marcy Gourde William Greenwood Nick & Mary Jo Hall Glora Halliday Brian & Ranell Hanson Bert Harrison Terrance & Mary Henriksen David & Ida Hoppe Ramona Horter Lillian Houska Elaine Isaacson Miles & Mary Jaster Kevin & Jean Jiskra Jim & Linda Johnston Joseph & Debora Karas Jean Kieley Steven & Sandy Kirky Alan Kurtzman Daniel & Carol Lahaise Mike & Patty Leighton Scott & Jennifer Lindenberger Myrt Link Kristi Longtin Bill & Colleen Lykken Sharon Martens Dale & Sue Martinson Jeff & Deb McKay Sonia Midgarden Jim & Vicki Midgarden Vivian Miller Gerald & Ellen Misialek Sharon Mlcoch Jeanne Monson Dale & Twila Novak Daniel & Deidre O’Keefe Perry & Maureen O’Keefe Ralph Tom & Mary Jo Olson Alan & Mary Jane O’Neil Robert & Cheryl Osowski Dave & Jo Petersen Ron & Catherine Pich Dean & Corrine Ralston Roger & Lynda Raumin Roy Ruggiero Jim & Norma Rystedt Arnold & Alice Sadowsky Les & Janet Sannes Rod & Joan Schanilec Joan Schieffer Denny & Sally Schneider Donald Schumacher Richard & Rosemary Sevigny Ryan & Jessica Sobolik Karen Stacken Mike & Michelle Such Frank & Bonnie Suda Shirley Suda Cyril & Mary Suda Lori Swanson Jay & Kristy Swedberg Charles & Ann Thompson Harlan & Ann Thompson Jayme & Chris Thorson Robert Thorson Sheila Trontvet Brian & Stacey Van Bruggen Cheryl Vistad Lloyd & Charlene Walker Richard & Cleone Whelan William & Cheryl Zasoski Marge Aukland Todd Flaten Avis Birkeland Ryan & Jessica Sobolik Frances Boulduc Terry Burns Don & Alice Demers Terry & Julie Demester Jim & Nicole DeSautel Kimball & Julie Lutovsky Richard & Marilyn Paulson John Campbell Lauren & Mary Wild Jerome Carriere Kimball & Julie Lutovsky Robert Desautel Debbie & John Aasand Rita Amiot Gene & Marilyn Anderson Keith & Joleen Bjorneby Alan & Eileen Bolek Delores Burianek Phyllis Campbell Charlie Church Richard Davis Bev Demers Wally DeSautel
Foundation Mission To financially support Unity Medical Center, ensuring quality health care close to home. Philanthropic Priorities 1. Patients 2. Providers/staff 3. Programs 4. Facilities 5. Priority needs (unrestricted) Donate Now
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