Essentia Health staff reunite patient with his service dog

Dennis Wold and Warner reconnect at St. Mary’s Hospital-Superior. Submitted

By Maureen Talarico
When Dennis Wold, 60, of Cloquet, found out he was going to have to stay at Essentia Health St. Mary’s Hospital-Superior for an extended period, he feared he would lose his new service dog, Warner, a black Labrador retriever.

“My son was caring for Warner while I was here, but he lives in the Twin Cities,” Dennis says. “So visits were sporadic, just here and there, maybe for an hour.”

Companies that train service dogs spend tens of thousands of dollars on that training, so Dennis thought Warner would be reassigned, because he believed he couldn’t care for the dog in the hospital, and the dog would not be working with Dennis as it was trained. Each day he was without his companion took a toll on Dennis’ health.

“You could see him emotionally deteriorating,” says Anna Peterson, one of Dennis’ nurses, who also supervises his care team. “When he told us he was going to lose his dog, we just refused to accept that outcome.”

Dennis didn’t know that St. Mary’s Hospital believes in the healing power of animals and that Warner, service dogs, and patients’ pets are welcomed as part of their care. Peterson and Dennis’ physician, Dr. Sheri Bergeron, got on the phone to the dog trainer right away and explained how having Warner at the hospital would work just fine. Two days later, the hospital’s census went up by one four-legged, tail-wagging Labrador.

“I was stunned, just in disbelief that I could keep him,” says Dennis. “Now he’s with me all day, every day.”

At the end of the second-floor hall, there’s a note posted outside Dennis’ hospital room. Since Warner is a working service dog, there are special rules on what staff should and should not do.

“We had to learn that when Warner is working, we can’t pet him or play with him. He has a job to do,” Peterson says.

Inside the room, next to Dennis’ hospital bed, is Warner’s kennel, though he prefers to sleep cuddled up at the bottom of Dennis’ bed. He has a red blanket and chew toys on the floor for his break times. Along with the normal IVs and hospital equipment hung on the wall, now there’s a leash, waste bags, and Warner’s vest, which he wears when he’s working.

“When I put that on him, he knows it’s time to go to work. He can take my socks off, pick up anything I drop, open and close doors, even push the elevator buttons for me,” Dennis adds.

Staff have noticed an improvement in Dennis’ health since Warner’s arrival.

“That dog is critical to Dennis’ care,” says Peterson. “It would have been life-shattering for him to not have his dog.”

Warner has adjusted perfectly to the sounds and smells of a sterile hospital environment, and only got scared once since his arrival, during a thunderstorm.

“Animals offer holistic care, at its finest,” Peterson adds. “And Warner has really brought our own staff closer, since we’re all animal lovers here.”

They’ve had to adjust to the service dog’s special diet to keep him in top shape, so extra treats and rawhide chews have been eliminated. But his friendly, willing demeanor has made him a favorite among patients and staff. When Dennis is resting but Warner’s full of energy, the staff take him out for exercise, but without his vest, since they’re not certified.

“If it’s raining, we’ll play Frisbee in the gym,” Peterson says. “When Warner gets tired, he goes and lays down on the yoga mat. He’s just adorable.”

Once discharged, Dennis and Warner will live close to his family near the Cities. But until that time, he’s with his best friend, 24 hours a day.

“I’m just so happy he’s back with me, I couldn’t believe it when I saw him,” Dennis adds.

Staff are thrilled as well with their newest four-legged resident.

“As a nurse, as a dog lover, I can say I think this is one of my most proudest moments, ever,” Peterson says with a smile.

Essentia receives 249 high-ranking patient feedback awards

By Maureen Talarico
Each year, Essentia Health contracts with Professional Research Consultants (PRC) to randomly survey patients about their experiences in its hospitals and clinics. PRC uses results from these surveys to rank Essentia physicians, staff and facilities within its national database of approximately 400 health care organizations.

As a result of surveys conducted between January and December 2016, 249 Essentia physicians, advanced practitioners, departments and facilities have received high-ranking Excellence in Healthcare Awards.

“Patients notice when they receive expert and compassionate care from providers who exemplify our mission and values,” says Essentia CEO David C. Herman, MD. “The fact that so many of our physicians and advanced practitioners received high rankings speaks to the quality of our people and the teams they lead.”

Two physicians received PRC’s “Top Performer Award,” meaning they scored at or above the 100th percentile for “Overall Quality of Care.” Dr. Daniel Nikcevich is an oncologist/hematologist at the Essentia Health Cancer Center in Duluth and president of Essentia Health-East. Dr. Anita Jonason is a Family Medicine physician at Essentia’s St. Mary’s-Detroit Lakes Clinic and St. Mary’s-Lake Park Clinic.

In addition, 97 Essentia physicians and 33 advanced practitioners received 5-Star Awards for scoring in the top 10 percent (at or above the 90th percentile) for Overall Quality of Care. Also, 96 of Essentia physicians and advanced practitioners received 4-Star Awards for scoring in the top 25 percent (75th through 89th percentiles).

Awards in Essentia’s Duluth-Superior Service Area:

5-Star Award: Scoring in top 10 percent (at or above the 90th percentile) of PRC national client database for percentage of patients who rate the overall quality of care by the clinic/facility or unit/provider as “Excellent.”

Kimberly Boddicker, MD, St. Mary’s Medical Center-
Heart & Vascular Center, Duluth
Anne Meyer, APRN, CNP, St. Mary’s Medical Center-
Heart & Vascular Center, Duluth
Michael Mollerus, MD, St. Mary’s Medical Center-
Heart & Vascular Center, Duluth
Jason Schultz, MD, St. Mary’s Medical Center-
Heart & Vascular Center, Duluth
John Streitz, MD, Duluth Clinic

John Slettedahl, APRN, CNP, Duluth Clinic

Christina Helterbrand, MD, Duluth Clinic

Ann Fairbanks, APRN, CNP, Duluth Clinic

Jonathan Glickstein, MD, Duluth Clinic
Rolando Rosas, MD, Duluth Clinic

Steven Baker, MD, West Duluth Clinic
Stephen Carlson, MD, West Duluth Clinic
Carol Farchmin, MD, Lakewalk Clinic, Duluth
Thomas Heinitz, MD, Proctor Clinic
David Jorde, MD, Lakewalk Clinic, Duluth
Ingrid Nisswandt-Larsen, MD, Lakeside Clinic, Duluth
Betsy Schwartz, MD, Lakewalk Clinic, Duluth

Robert Erickson, MD, Duluth Clinic
Conrad Ross, PA-C, Duluth Clinic

Kathleen Monaghan, MD, Duluth Clinic
Nicole Schimke, MD, Duluth Clinic

Colleen Evans, MD, Duluth Clinic

Georgia Brunette, MD, St. Mary’s-Superior Clinic

Blanche Ebert, APRN, CNS, Duluth Clinic
Sharan Kanakiriya, MD, Duluth Clinic
Michael Maddy, MD, Duluth Clinic
Hannah Murphy, APRN, CNP, Duluth Clinic
Thomas Russ, MD, Duluth Clinic

Amber Erickson, MD, Duluth Clinic
Kelly Greenleaf, MD, Duluth Clinic
Michael Kassing, MD, Duluth Clinic
Nicole Seacotte, MD, Duluth Clinic

Bret Friday, MD, Duluth Clinic
Peter Kebbekus, MD, Duluth Clinic
Pamela Lincoln, APRN, CNP, Duluth Clinic

Michael Fuchs, MD, Duluth Clinic
Sarah Galchus, MD, Duluth Clinic
Joseph Morehouse, MD, Duluth Clinic
Daniel Skorich, MD, Duluth Clinic

Xan Courville, MD, Duluth Clinic
Bradley Edgerton, MD, Duluth Clinic
Samuel Hoxie, MD, Duluth Clinic
Bradley Kuzel, MD, Duluth Clinic
Emily Matack, APRN, CNP, Duluth Clinic
Holly Peterson, APRN, CNP, Duluth Clinic
Jose Rodriguez, PA-C, Duluth Clinic
Joseph Signorelli, MD, Duluth Clinic
Laura Trombino, MD, Duluth Clinic

Wade Lillegard, MD, Duluth Clinic

Sherry Fuller, APRN, CNP, Duluth Clinic

Gordon Harvieux, MD, Duluth Clinic
Sarah Manney, MD, Duluth Clinic
Anne Stephen, MD, Duluth Clinic

Sonja Bjerk, MD, Duluth Clinic

Ana Fernandez, MD, Duluth Clinic

Jeffrey Engelsgjerd, MD, Duluth Clinic

Matthew Bettendorf, MD, Duluth Clinic

Essentia Health-Duluth
Radiation Oncology
Overall Quality of Care

Essentia Health-St. Mary’s Hospital-Superior
Overall Quality of Care
Essentia Health-St. Mary’s Medical Center, Duluth
General Medical-9 West
Overall Quality of Care

4-Star Award: Scoring in the top 25 percent (75th through 89th percentiles) for percentage of patients rating the overall quality of care of the unit/clinic/provider as “Excellent.”

Jay Parker, MD, Duluth Clinic

Andrew Chiu, MD, St. Mary’s Medical Center-
Heart & Vascular Center, Duluth
Nizar Saleh, MD, St. Mary’s Medical Center-
Heart & Vascular Center, Duluth
Mary Starkman, APRN, CNP, St. Mary’s Medical Center-
Heart & Vascular Center, Duluth
Jenni Tharaldson, APRN, CNP, St. Mary’s Medical Center-
Heart & Vascular Center, Duluth

Christopher Heck, MD, Duluth Clinic

Susan Ash, MD, Duluth Clinic
Michael Bayer, MD, Duluth Clinic

Shana Bertin, PA-C, Duluth Clinic

Kimberly Lakhan, PA-C, Duluth Clinic

Jaclyn Hughley, APRN, CNP, Lakeside Clinic, Duluth
Paul Jones, MD, Lakewalk Clinic
Sean Kempke, MD, Hermantown Clinic
James Potter, PA-C, St. Mary’s-Superior Clinic
Elizabeth Raduege, MD, Hermantown Clinic
Anne Skadberg, MD, Lakeside Clinic, Duluth
Christine Swensen, MD, Hermantown Clinic
Theresa Weerts, MD, St. Mary’s-Superior Clinic
Mark Wiita, APRN, CNP, West Duluth Clinic

Ayan Rage, MD, Duluth Clinic

James Jorgenson, MD, Duluth Clinic

Michael Sharland, PhD, LP, Duluth Clinic

Molly Backstrom, APRN, CNP, Duluth Clinic
Brianne Brandt-Griffith, MD, Duluth Clinic
Mark Widstrom, MD, Duluth Clinic

Lloyd Ketchum, MD, Duluth Clinic
Randall Millikan, MD, Duluth Clinic

Todd Hnatko, OD, Duluth Clinic
Thomas Shuey, MD, Duluth Clinic

J. Davis, MD, Duluth Clinic
Michael Gibbons, MD, Duluth Clinic
Elizabeth Stecker, APRN, CNP, Duluth Clinic

Kenji Sudoh, MD, Duluth Clinic

Carolyn Forsman, MD, Duluth Clinic

Gary Kindt, MD, Duluth Clinic
Timothy Rich, MD, Duluth Clinic

Ken Dornfeld, MD, Duluth Clinic

Christopher DeMaioribus, MD, Duluth Clinic

Dana Cope, APRN, CNP, Duluth Clinic
Essentia Health-St. Mary’s Medical Center, Duluth
Inpatient Services
Overall Quality of Care
Essentia Health-St. Mary’s Medical Center, Duluth
Inpatient Services
Overall Quality of Care

Local healthcare marketing experts to speak in Austin, Texas

Kristi Schmidt, vice president, chief marketing & communications officer at Essentia Health, and Mike Seyfer, chief executive officer and partner at HTK Marketing Communications, will be among the nation’s key healthcare marketing thought-leaders presenting this week at the 22nd annual Healthcare Marketing & Physician Strategies Summit in Austin, Texas.

Presented by The Forum for Healthcare Strategists on May 8–10, The Summit is the leading conference for senior-level marketing, strategy, physician relations, sales, and business development executives from hospitals, health systems, academic medical centers, integrated networks and medical groups. In 2016, more than 750 executives attended, and the 2017 Summit is expected to draw an even larger audience.

“It’s an honor to take the stage with such a laudable lineup of healthcare marketing experts and innovators,” Seyfer said. “Kristi and I are excited to share our research, insights and strategies for tackling today’s most important challenges in our field.”

Schmidt and Seyfer will lead a May 10 session entitled, “Why Patients Switch: What Your Brand Needs to Know.” In it, they’ll discuss how behavioral insights can uncover why patients either come to, or leave, a healthcare organization. Using the results of three interrelated studies on what causes consumers to make a change, they’ll explain how that information is being used to shape big picture brand development as well as day-to-day strategies.

Public invited to tour new Essentia Health-Sandstone hospital

From our friends at Essentia Health:

Essentia Health invites you to celebrate its newest $26 million investment in community health with the completion of the Essentia Health-Sandstone hospital, as part of the Pine Healthcare Campus. An open house will be held Tuesday, May 9, from 4-6 p.m. at the new location, 705 Lundorff Drive, Sandstone.

The hospital’s completion represents the first in a series of health care investments in Pine County. Gateway Clinic and Thrifty White Pharmacy will be opening in the facility later this fall.

“From the start, we designed the Sandstone hospital to reflect the needs of our patients and their families,” says Michael Hedrix, hospital administrator. “We are committed to the people who live and work in Pine County and are thrilled with the completion of this beautiful, new facility.”

Essentia Health-Sandstone, a Level IV Trauma Center and Acute Stroke Ready center, provides 24-hour emergency care and now has a much more visible location adjacent to Interstate 35. The hospital provides both basic and advanced life support ambulance services and serves as a critical-access facility. The new facility will also have expanded services such as interventional radiology and TeleWound care.

The open house will include self-guided tours, burgers and brats, music and fun. We hope to see you there. The hospital will officially open May 17.