Looking Back: Making Healthcare History in Grand Forks

looking-backLast spring, we made history by opening the second hospital in Grand Forks since 1976: Altru Specialty Center. As we celebrate its one-year anniversary, let’s take a look back at the past year and forward into the future.

Altru Specialty Center, part of South Washington Medical Park, features four operating rooms and 45 private beds dedicated to elective orthopedic and podiatry surgeries, Joint Replacement Center and inpatient rehabilitation. The 91,042-square-foot space is the only hospital of its kind in eastern North Dakota to offer single specialty care under one roof.

It’s All about Our Patients
We brought together rehabilitative services and orthopedics care in a dedicated facility to meet the needs of our patients. Altru’s Joint Replacement Center has impacted our patients’ lives for the better: Ralph went deep sea fishing with new shoulders; Dan enjoyed hunting season with a new knee; Sandy reenergized her teaching career with a new knee.

Other patients shared these comments:

  • “The new space is beautiful. And the people here—they’re just wonderful.”
  • “It feels like more of a hotel stay than a hospital stay. I loved it.”
  • “Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the excellent care, compassion and outstanding care you gave.” 

Space to Grow and Heal
Moving specialties to South Washington Medical Park freed up space at Altru Hospital on our Columbia Road Campus. Additional space allowed us to provide for more patients and complete our conversion to private (and some semi-private) rooms. Private rooms promote healing by offering a more comfortable environment.

Currently, five of 11 operating rooms in Altru Hospital are temporarily closed for remodeling as we upgrade technology and equipment. Having additional operating rooms available in Altru Specialty Center has helped us to continue serving patients in a timely fashion. Because of this, patients will not notice a delay in surgery time.

New space has also allowed us to accommodate physician growth and offer expanded access to specialized services. For example, Dr. Jeremy Gardner, through the Joint Replacement Center, is the first in North Dakota to offer anterior approach to hip replacement. This alternative technique reduces pain and minimizes muscle damage, resulting in a swifter recovery and shorter hospital stay. Additionally, Dr. Darin Leetun offers cartilage restoration as an alternative option prior to joint replacement (read about Sydney’s experience here).

Looking Forward
Altru’s Orthopedics will complete its move to South Washington Medical Park in late summer, when our new orthopedic clinic opens its doors in Altru Professional Center. We look forward to future growth of our orthopedics programming.

See also:

Brad WeheBrad Wehe is Altru’s Chief Operating Officer. In his free time, Brad enjoys fishing, hunting, skiing and racing.

Altru’s Behavior Standards: Acknowledge and Respect

Consistently applying a single set of behavior standards at Altru is an essential part of achieving our vision of world-class care. We reveal our culture through the experience we create for our patients and their families.

See Altru’s staff demonstrate behavior standards through a series of selfies. (Thank you to all employees who contributed to this video!)

Let’s take a closer look at two of the most basic standards: acknowledge and respect. 

Acknowledge: We will create a welcoming, healing environment.
Everything we do is about creating an exceptional experience for our patients. That means treating everyone well—including our co-workers. Our actions create ripple effects, and whether positive or negative, the ripples can be felt throughout the organization. What kind of ripple are you creating?

  • I will promptly greet people with a smile, give eye contact and use proper names.
  • I will walk a patient or visitor to where they need to go.
  • I will use AIDET – Acknowledge, Introduce, Duration, Explanation, Thank You.
  • I will be sure all my interactions focus on the patient or visitor.

Thank you

Here are some examples of acknowledge in action:

  • Paraphrase what the person just said to allow the person to be heard.
  • When you have someone’s time and attention, honor it with your presence.
  • Give others hope and inspiration through encouragement.
  • Stop talking about yourself. Instead, ask people about their lives.
  • Remember: the little things make a difference. Write the thank you, say good morning, give the compliment, flash the smile.

Respect: We will treat others with respect.
Webster defines respect as a feeling of admiring someone or something that is good or valuable and treating them appropriately. Every human wants to be treated as good or valuable. In a healthy workplace, respect should be given unconditionally, without regard to position, credentials or job title.

  • I will maintain confidentiality in all my interactions.
  • I will think before I speak and consider the impact of my words and actions.
  • I will be on time and be prepared.
  • I will always be polite and kind.
  • I will respect everyone’s differences.


Here are some examples of respect in action:

  • Encourage co-workers to express opinions and ideas. Use these ideas to change or improve work.
  • Listen to what others have to say before expressing your viewpoint.
  • Praise more frequently than you criticize.
  • Understand your triggers. Knowing what makes you angry enables you to manage your reactions and respond better.
  • Provide people with the tools, resources, training and information they need to be successful.
  • Demonstrate thoughtfulness, empathy and kindness.

In the coming months, stay tuned for additional examples of Altru’s Behavior Standards in action. Learn more about Altru’s Behavior Standards. 

See also:

Margaret ReedAs Chief Nurse Executive, Margaret Reed, RN, ensures standards of care and scope of practice for the entire health system, as well as operational responsibility of inpatient operations. In her free time, Margaret reads, oil paints and spends time with her family. 




Nancy HansonNancy Hanson, manager of patient relations, oversees service and the patient experience. Outside of the office, Nancy enjoys many different sports, photography and, when time, reading a good book.

Staying On Course: Tips for Golfing with Joint Pain

Staying on CourseProfessional golfer Phil Mickelson was preparing to compete in the 2010 U.S. Open when, unexpectedly, his joints started to ache.

When the tests came back, Mickelson learned he had psoriatic arthritis. Genetics, the environment, viruses and the body’s immune system are all factors that might cause psoriatic arthritis. Mickelson has been back on his professional golf game for several years, thanks to early diagnosis and treatment.

Many golfers are playing with pain, such as tendinitis, sore muscles and arthritis. Swinging a golf club requires moving at a very high speed in a short amount of time, increasing the risk of injury. We called on Dr. Jeremy Gardner of Altru’s Orthopedics to teach us where golfers are feeling the pain and how you can prevent it.

Golfing affects the entire body. Improper form can affect multiple joints, with special consideration for the lead wrist, elbow, shoulder, lower back, hips and knees. Swing alterations, such as a shorter backswing or proper weight shift, may decrease wear and tear on the body.

Keep in mind: it’s important to properly stretch and warm up before and after a round to reduce pain and injury. Stretching and strengthening can help keep you healthy and improve your game.

Here are some other injury prevention tips for different body parts.

Avoiding Common Golf Injuries

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Next Steps
If you’ve tried these techniques and are still experiencing pain, it might be time to visit Altru’s Orthopedics. Altru’s experienced orthopedic providers can work with you to understand what’s causing your pain, and how to fix it. This might include physical therapy, or it could be time to consider joint replacement.

Altru now offers anterior approach hip replacement, which allows for a smaller incision and less damage to muscles, resulting in less pain and faster recovery. With proper recovery time and physical therapy, you can get back to the links sooner.

If your pain is shoulder-related, check out Dr. Leetun’s upcoming event on rotator cuff treatment options. Learn about options available to alleviate pain and help get you back in the game, April 27 at Choice Health & Fitness. Remembering the importance of swing plane (the angle at which you take back the club) can make all the difference. Dr. Darin Leetun will share specific golf-related technical tips to keep you swinging pain-free.

Rotator Cuff Injury Event

Golf is a great way to stay active. It’s beneficial for strength, balance, coordination and range of motion. If walking is a possibility, aerobic exercise improves the heart, lungs and muscles and helps with weight control, mood and sleep.

See also:

Dr. Jeremy GardnerDr. Jeremy Gardner is an orthopedic surgeon at Altru Health System. Board certified in orthopedic surgery, he specializes in joint replacement, including direct anterior approach to hip replacement, osteoarthritis, rotator cuff surgery and sports medicine. Outside the office, Dr. Gardner is an active golfer, runner and scuba diver. He also enjoys hunting, fishing and archery. 

2 Hours + 5 Recipes = Freezer Full of Altru Dietitian-Approved Meals

Collage - Freezer Friendly MealsI love food. If I had extra time in my day, I would probably spend it cooking for my growing family. However, as a full-time working mom, some days it’s a challenge to get a healthy supper on the table by 6 p.m.

With my first pregnancy, I was much more organized. I planned freezer cooking weekends and prepared about 20 meals for maternity leave.

Now, with a busy, bubbly toddler, life is a little different as we await the arrival of our second child. When I heard about Freezer Friendly Meals with Altru Dietitians, I jumped at the chance to check “stock the freezer” off the baby to-do list.

Then vs. Now
Last time I did freezer cooking on my own, it was a tedious, well-thought-out process including:

  • Pick recipes
  • Create detailed shopping list (warning: this involves some math)
  • Grocery shop (don’t forget the disposable foil pans for easy heating)
  • Prepare ingredients and plan the day’s order of events
  • Find a free morning or afternoon to assemble meals
  • Last but not least: do the dreaded dishes

Needless to say, it’s a full Saturday project. In comparison, here’s all I had to do for Freezer Friendly Meals:

  • Spend two hours having fun with friends while assembling my family’s meals

That was it. All shopping and prep work was done before arriving at class. I didn’t even have to clean up!

Bonus: the meals were approved by Altru dietitians. Rather than serving my family processed foods like boxed mac and cheese and frozen chicken nuggets, I can serve whole grains, lean meats, calcium-rich dairy and just enough veggies to sneak past my picky three-year-old.

There were no “cream of” soups, which I so often find in favorite comfort foods passed down for generations. White pastas were replaced with healthier whole wheat. Some of the cheese was reduced fat, which we won’t even notice. The menu consisted of things my family will love, including:

  • Slow Cooker Chicken Philly Sandwiches
  • Taco Stuffed Shells
  • Ham and Cheese Sliders
  • One Pot Chili Mac and Cheese
  • Pizza Stromboli

I went home with 50 portions split into 10 meals. (A single person or larger family could portion the meals differently, depending on their needs.) Cost of the class, including food, was around $200. Having healthy meals in my freezer ready to go without all the hassle: priceless.

April’s workshop theme will be International Delights, featuring a variety of exciting ethnic dishes. Registration is required and available until Friday, April 17, at 5 p.m. Backyard Picnics is the theme for May (see the menus here). 

To register, call the Sanny & Jerry Ryan Center for Prevention & Genetics at 701.732.7620. For future class dates, visit altru.org/freezermeals. 

See also:

Angie LaxdalPart of Altru’s public relations team, Angie Laxdal grew up on a farm near Crystal, ND. An advertising graduate of NDSU, she specializes in writing and social media. Beyond the office, Angie enjoys reading, running and dreaming up home DIY projects.

What if you had Hepatitis C and didn’t know it?

Hep C “She turned bright yellow,” he said. “It was the scariest thing I’d ever seen.”

Gerald “Jerry” Kagg first learned about Hepatitis C when his then-girlfriend was diagnosed. Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV) that causes the liver to swell and prevents it from working well. Symptoms may include fever, fatigue, dark urine, nausea and loss of appetite, and as Jerry had witnessed, yellow discoloration of the skin and eyes.

Treatment was sought from Kamrin Macki, NP with Altru’s Gastroenterology. During treatment, Jerry’s relationship ended. A friend suggested Jerry get tested for Hepatitis C. “He said, ‘Do you realize what she had? You could have it too.’ I felt fine, though. I told my friend that if I turned yellow, I’d go in.”

Scary advertisement
Working in construction, Jerry often flew to various job sites. In one in-flight magazine, Jerry saw an ad that showed a person with bruises and the words: “You might have this and you don’t know it.” Further review of the ad showed it was promoting Hepatitis C screenings.

“It kind of dawned on me,” said Jerry. “Maybe I should go in and get tested.” He did so upon his return to Grand Forks. Five days later, he received a letter stating he tested positive for Hepatitis C. Immediate treatment was recommended.

“Five days after I got the letter, I was headed to a construction site in San Francisco,” he recalls. “I was feeling great and wasn’t showing any symptoms. I told myself I’d take care of it when I got back.”

Care planning
Time passes and Jerry starts having pain in his feet. He visits with a provider and in reviewing his medical history, it’s determined this joint pain could be related to Jerry’s Hepatitis C diagnosis. Jerry is sent to Altru where he meets with Kamrin.

“We sat down and she explained where things were at,” Jerry said. “She asked why when I had received the letter a few years ago I hadn’t come in for treatment. I guess I figured since I didn’t have symptoms, I didn’t need to be treated. I was wrong.”

Kamrin evaluated Jerry’s condition and established a care plan for him. “She wrote letter after letter for me, working with the pharmaceutical companies to get me the medications I needed,” he said. “If it hadn’t been for her, I wouldn’t be here today.”

“Hepatitis C is treatable with well-tolerated antiviral therapies,” explains Kamrin. “Current regimens offer 95-99 percent success/cure rates. About 25 percent of people with acute HCV exposure fully recover from it, while the remaining 75 percent develop long-term or chronic HCV.”

Get tested
While Jerry’s Hepatitis C has been treated, the damage it caused to his liver will be life-long. “It’s not like a tumor, where part of it can be removed. It’s all over my liver,” he said.

“Hepatitis C is scary,” he continued. “The scariest part is that you might have it and not know it. It’s important that everyone at risk gets screened. And if you do test positive, listen to the providers and start treatment immediately. They know what they’re talking about.”

Hepatitis C: Should I get tested?

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In partnership with Mayo Clinic, learn more about Hepatitis C on Tuesday, April 14, at 5:30 p.m. at Altru Professional Center. Hear from Mayo Clinic physicians and Altru providers as they discuss the disease, risk factors and treatment options. Event details>>

Then, join us for a Hepatitis C Screening Saturday on Saturday, April 25, from 9-11 a.m. at the Sanny & Jerry Ryan Center for Prevention & Genetics, located within Choice Health & Fitness. To register, call 701.780.6940.

Creating a Culture of High Reliability at Altru

High reliabilityIt has been well over a decade since the Institutes of Medicine published, “To Err is Human: Building a Safer Healthcare System,” sending reverberations through the healthcare community that can still be felt today. This groundbreaking report called attention to the devastating harm that can be caused by medical errors. It was a call to action for provider organizations to radically improve the safety and reliability of medical processes.

In the years since, “To Err is Human…”, healthcare organizations have increasingly drawn from the lessons of other high-safety impact industries to reduce risks. A couple of notable examples are the aviation and nuclear industries, where aggressive safety improvements have accounted for a more than 90 percent reduction in safety-related events. In each of these cases, high reliability was achieved by carefully analyzing sources of error and engineering systems to prevent them from occurring, even when unexpected things happen.  

At Altru, we’re applying those same high reliability concepts to the care that we give every day. Delivering the safest care possible is the very foundation of World-Class Care. But the journey doesn’t end there. Along the way, we’ve discovered that the techniques used to provide consistently safe care are the very same tools that can be used to ensure consistently high quality care and a consistently excellent patient experience.

The idea behind this is simple: as we design the best care processes possible, we engineer into them mechanisms to make sure they deliver what they’re supposed to every single time, without exception. We have clear standards and resilient processes that prevent errors and other failures.

Our goal is to consistently deliver the best care to our patients and community. We are committed to achieving nothing less than World-Class Care.

See also:

Dave MolmenDave Molmen is Altru’s Chief Executive Officer. In his free time, Dave enjoys music, wood-working and cycling. 

Lifestyle Tips for Coping with Psoriasis

PsoriasisPsoriasis is an autoimmune disease that causes thick, red, scaly patches on the skin. One third of people with psoriasis have a family history of it. Over three percent of the population develops psoriasis, and up to 11 percent of psoriasis patients have been diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis.

The disease can show up anywhere on the skin and nails, and each area of the body requires different treatment. Psoriasis can often affect the elbows, knees, hands, feet and scalp. Common triggers for psoriasis include: infections, certain medications, stress and injury to the skin. Many people report that it worsens in the winter. It is not contagious.

Jennifer Tinkler, dermatology FNP, shares strategies for coping with lifestyle changes of psoriasis.

1. Controlling stress may help psoriasis. Many people with psoriasis claim stress makes it worse. At the same time, a psoriasis flare can increase stress. Inflammation is the body’s way of coping with stress. Learn to manage stress effectively with meditation, exercise, or consider attending a class or seeing a therapist who specializes in stress management.

2. Dietary changes may help psoriasis. A healthy diet can help your body function at its highest level, reduce comorbidity and improve a person’s metabolic profile. Research in the relationship of diet and psoriasis is ongoing.

3. The itch of psoriasis may have a bigger impact on quality of life than the visible effect of the disease. Itch can cause lesions. At-home remedies include:

  • Keep skin moisturized. Even better: cool moisturizer in the fridge prior to use.
  • Cold showers and cold packs can offer relief.
  • Avoid hot showers and limit showers to 10 minutes or less.
  • Apply moisturizer after a shower or bath.
  • Antihistamines and prescription treatments can also help.

4. Psoriasis may impact your relationships, but it does not have to control them. It can be difficult to talk to friends and family about your psoriasis and how it affects your life. Connect with other people living with psoriasis at TalkPsoriasis.org.

5. Treatment is different for each area of the body and each of the five types of psoriasis: plaque, guttate, inverse, pustular and erythrodermic. Treatment often involves shampoos, salicylic acid, tar preparations, prescription creams, solutions and ointments, light therapy or laser treatment and prescription medications taken orally or by injection.

Seeking an expert’s opinion is the best way to determine the next step in treating psoriasis. Truyu expert providers in dermatology work closely with Altru Health System providers to offer a wide range of dermatology services, providing comprehensive and continuous care. Schedule a consultation through MyHealth or call 701.780.6623. 

Tinkler, JenniferJennifer Tinkler, FNP-C, provides expert dermatology services at Truyu Aesthetic Center in Grand Forks and East Grand Forks. Jennifer is a member of the National Psoriasis Foundation and Dermatology Nurse Practitioner Society. In her free time, she enjoys gardening, reading and spending time with her family.


Walking Around Altru, Greater Grand Forks and the World

In 2012, Quebec native Jean Béliveau finished his mission to walk around the world, 11 years after he started. For Béliveau, walking around the world started as a question and turned into a journey of discovery.

Although Altru employees aren’t literally walking around the world, they are well on their way to walking the earth’s circumference: 24,901 miles. As of March 6, 2015, Altru employees have logged over 14,111.67 miles of exercise through the Healthy Choices Greater Grand Forks Walking Challenge. That’s over half the distance around earth!

Walking Challenge

Meet the Altru Walkers

Dianne Vold | Prevent Diabetes
Dianne Vold, of Altru’s Research Center, grew up in a generation when people didn’t go to the gym. She considers herself in the “learning phase,” still figuring out how to incorporate exercise into her lifestyle.

She’s joined the walking challenge to prevent the strong history of diabetes in her family. She de-stresses at the gym, where she weight-trains and walks on the treadmill.

Gym time is “me time,” she explains. “I’m not going to quit. It’s the first time I can say, ‘I’m doing it for me.’”

Dianne is excited for the weather to get nicer so she can bike and walk outside.

Nicole Benson | Leading by Example
Nicole Benson, administrative assistant, sometimes spends more time at her desk than she’d like. She exercises to stay on top of her mental health. Nicole spends time with her husband and son by playing basketball, golfing and riding bike. She looks forward to the day when her one-year-old daughter, Blake, will join them.

“I want to lead by example. I want my kids to see we can exercise together.”

Nicole loves running because it allows her to catch up with her good friend, Nikki. Early morning runs allow her to take in the beauty of the Greater Grand Forks Greenway. She loves the way she feels after a challenging workout.

Nicole Collage

Art Culver | Get Back in Shape
Art Culver, manager of Altru’s Ambulance Services, uses the walking challenge as a tool to get back in shape. Over the last few years, he’s noticed his life has been sedentary. Starting in December, he downloaded the Pedometer++ app and began tracking his miles. Before the challenge, Art walked an average of 1.5 miles per day. Now he averages 3.8 miles daily.

Several times during his work day, he walks to the end of the Valley Eldercare hallway and back.

“I like tracking miles.” He looks at the weekly mileage and likes to estimate how many of those miles he walked.

Since Art began walking, he has noticed it’s become easier. At times walking brings its challenges. Last week Art returned from a mission trip to Honduras with Calvary Lutheran Church.

One morning began at 4 a.m., when Art and his team members climbed 2.2 miles to the top of El Triunfo de la Cruz. “Honestly, I was exhausted. The climb was rocky and straight up.” Despite his weariness, Art was pleased to be able to do it, and to log 6.8 total miles that day.

Art's Selfie

Art has noticed other changes in his habits. “I don’t take the elevators anymore, even if I’m going to the fifth floor.”

At times, Art still eats junk food, but he sets limits. Art has lost six pounds since January and is looking forward to spring when he can walk with his dog, Macy.

Walking may seem like a small change, but for Art it’s made a lot of difference.

Jennifer Neis | Time in the Outdoors with Baxter
Jennifer Neis, website coordinator, exercises for a number of reasons. First, it gives her time with her dog, Baxter. Being a lover of warm weather, walking and biking allows her to spend time in nature. It clears her mind, burns calories and gives her the “me” time she needs. “Feeling good and sleeping well keeps me motivated,” she says.


Chris Waind | Social Time
Altru orderly, Chris Waind, is a social guy. He views exercise as a way to interact with others, even if that means friendly competition. He enjoys racquetball, swimming, biking, hockey and kayaking.

“Competition keeps exercise fun.”

Katie Torkelson | Incorporating Exercise into the Day
Katie Torkelson isn’t a huge fan of working out. This year she decided to make small changes, incorporating exercise into her everyday life. As an IV resource nurse, she visits different areas of the health system assessing patients. She now takes the stairs rather than the elevator.

“Climbing five flights of stairs sure gets my heart racing. It’s gotten easier week by week.”

Katie also parks far away from entrances, which forces her to walk.

“It’s an easy way to get exercise without thinking about it. If I can do it (exercise) without trying, that works better!”

While recovering from a back injury, Katie explains, “Walking is exercise I can easily do without worrying about reinjuring anything or overdoing it.”

Jana Sherry | Walking is a Gift
Jana Sherry walks because she can. In her role as a diabetes educator, she sees patients struggling with walking. This reminds her how the ability to walk is a gift and one she doesn’t take for granted.

Jana has a long history of back problems, which she says is her biggest motivator.

“I need to keep moving or the problems will get worse,” Jana says. “Any movement is better than nothing.”

Lola, Harley and Jana

You don’t have to climb a mountain or run a marathon. You do have to make a choice; a choice to take steps to a healthier lifestyle.

Kaia Lunde | Know the Benefits
Exercise energizes me. In college, I’ve studied the benefits and made a choice to live a healthy, active lifestyle.

I’m curious. Why are you walking? Send me an email, I’d love to hear from you.

Join this community movement at healthychoicesggf.com.

Kaia LundeKaia Lunde, public relations associate, was born in Africa where she lived the first six years of her life. After attending Griggs County Central in Cooperstown, she graduated from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota. She loves biking, reading, running, journaling, taking pictures and making memories with her friends and family. She also enjoys finding spontaneous heart shapes in food, nature and on the road.



See also:

5 Reasons to Run for Your Buns (5K)

5 Reasons to Run for Your BunsThis blog post was written in collaboration with Kamrin Macki, a nurse practitioner with Altru’s Gastroenterology Clinic.

As a health care provider, I know the importance of staying healthy. I try to make conscious decisions about what I eat and make sure to exercise on a regular basis. I do my best to share the importance of a healthy lifestyle with my patients by encouraging them to eat healthy, exercise regularly and stay on top of their health.

Last year, I was able to mix business with my favorite hobby as we held the inaugural Run for Your Buns 5K run/walk benefitting colon cancer. Over 200 participants and 30 volunteers came together on a beautiful June morning to raise awareness of the importance of screening colonoscopy. Take a look at last year’s fun.

Combining race registrations with sponsorship support from local businesses, Run for Your Buns presented a check for $5,000 to Altru Health Foundation to assist uninsured and underinsured patients cover the cost of their colonoscopy.

Join us for this year’s race on Saturday, June 13, 2015. On the fence? Here are a few reasons you should Run for Your Buns:

  1. It’s held on the Greater Grand Forks Greenway. The race begins in Lincoln Park and follows the Greenway towards downtown Grand Forks. Cross under the Sorlie Bridge, turn around and head back to the park. Post-race refreshments and medals will be waiting for you.
  2. Run for Your Buns is open to all ability levels. Whether you run a 5K in the blink of an eye, or join friends for a walk on the course, everyone is welcome to participate. Last year, we had people finish in less than 20 minutes, children pushed in strollers, people over the age of 70 and all abilities and ages in between.
  3. Use Run for Your Buns as a training race for other races. A 5K is a good race to train for if you’re new to running or are looking to improve your pace for longer races. Red River Runners offers a variety of group runs to get you in shape. A quick Google search will also present multiple Couch to 5K training programs. Start now, and you’ll be ready by June 13.
  4. The inflatable colon will be there. What can be more exciting than that? Take a walk through the colon and learn about the various stages of colon cancer. Colonoscopy can be a difficult subject for some people. This educational tool brings a lighter side to the topic of colon health.

  5. You’re making a difference in the fight against colon cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, excluding skin cancers, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the United States. Think of it this way – for every 20 people who sign up for this race, one will develop colon cancer. Together, we can provide financial assistance to those who can’t afford a colonoscopy and potentially save someone’s life.

Register Now
So what do you say? Will you Run for Your Buns, and others? Register by May 13 to guarantee your Run for Your Buns technical shirt. All participants will receive a medal, and all proceeds will again be donated to Altru Health Foundation.

KamiKamrin Macki is a wife, mother, friend, gastroenterology nurse practitioner, artist, avid runner, triathlete, and amateur gourmet gluten-free chef.

Real. Good. Veggies. | Tips for Sneaking Them in at Every Meal

Eat Your VeggiesRemember when you were young and your mom told you to eat your vegetables? She was actually onto something. Vegetables can be viewed as nature’s multivitamin. Common nutrients include fiber, folate, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C and iron.

As a registered dietitian, I’m not too surprised when people tell me they don’t enjoy vegetables. If I were prescribed a daily bowl of iceberg lettuce topped with pale tomatoes, I’d probably have a hard time finding motivation to eat the recommended daily servings of vegetables.

When planning your week’s meals, here are some suggestions to incorporate more vegetables into your diet. Your mom (and your body) will thank you.

» For a savory scramble, brown some onions and add fresh or frozen spinach to the pan before adding your eggs.

» Add onions or peppers to hash browns for a little color and crunch.

» Top off your pancakes or waffle with shredded carrots. Their sweetness makes for a tasty topping or added mix-in.

» Pack a sandwich bag of raw carrots, celery, bell pepper slices or cherry tomatoes. Prepare several snack bags at the same time for the week ahead.

» Looking for a crunchy and tangy pairing? Dip your veggies in homemade hummus.

Lunch entrée – Chili
» Carrots, celery and onions are considered the holy trinity of vegetables because of the flavorful magic that happens when they’re cooked together.  Make a pot of homemade chili and include these vegetables in it. Prepare it on the weekend and you’ve got  lunch handled for the week.

» It’s hard to find a vegetable that doesn’t taste good in chili. If you’re longing for a thick and hearty texture, look no further than canned pumpkin puree. It makes any chili or stew filling and creamy without actually using cream.

Lunch side
» Reinvent your idea of a side salad with new ingredients like snap peas, nuts, avocado, zucchini, oranges or berries.

» Looking for a new dressing? Try this 3-2-1 recipe: 3 parts olive oil, 2 parts white wine vinegar, 1 part Dijon mustard. This simple vinaigrette is light, zesty and once again, creamy without the cream.

» Tired of soggy salad? Keep your salad and dressing separate in one of the many divided containers available in stores.

Dinner entrée
» Hot dishes scream for vegetables! Onions, mushrooms, garlic, zucchini and yellow squash will cook right along with your noodles and meat. Sautéing them first will eliminate some of their water content.

» Picky eater at home? Add sautéed veggies to your pasta sauce to balance their flavor with the sweet sauce. To help with consistency, you can even put the sauce and veggies in a blender to puree to one smooth texture. I doubt anyone will know they’re in there.

Dinner side
» During colder months, frozen vegetables are your best friend. They’re crisper, fresher and lower in sodium than their canned counterparts. They’ll also save you money when most “fresh” vegetables are shipped to our neck of the woods from far away.

» Steam frozen vegetables in their microwaveable bag or throw them in a stovetop steamer according to package directions.

» I like to add olive oil, lemon juice and a spice blend (Mrs. Dash or McCormick’s Perfect Pinch). If you haven’t tried lemon juice as a substitute for salt, you’re in for a treat.

» Vegetables for dessert? I promise you won’t regret it.

» Baking acorn or butternut squash brings out its natural sweetness. Cut the squash in half and remove the pulp and seeds. Mix cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, a tablespoon of sugar and a dash of salt with 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil. Brush this mixture inside the two halves and bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes. Depending on the size and type of squash, one squash will make two to four filling servings.

So…are you hungry for vegetables yet?

Crist, JohnJohn Crist is a Registered Dietitian at Altru Health System. He is especially interested in discussing strategies to create a healthy and positive relationship with food. In his free time, John enjoys experimenting in the kitchen and finding new ways to be active.