Mayo Clinic Mobile Exhibit | A Must-See in Grand Forks, July 28

What’s on your bucket list this summer? Why not add a visit to the Mayo Clinic mobile exhibit?

Mayo Exhibit Blog Image

Throughout 2014, Mayo Clinic is celebrating 150 years of serving humanity. As part of the celebration, Mayo Clinic is visiting over 50 cities across the U.S. and Canada from April through October.

And it’s our turn Monday, July 28, 2014.

The expandable trailer will be on display in the parking lot of Altru Main Clinic from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Parked and fully expanded, the exhibit is 60 feet long and 28 feet wide. Experience Mayo Clinic’s story while exploring three areas: Essence of Mayo Clinic, Vision for the Future and Connect with Mayo Clinic. 

To prepare for the big day, we sat down with David Hayes, M.D., medical director of the Mayo Clinic Care Network, for a quick Q&A about the exhibit.

Q: Why is Mayo Clinic producing a mobile exhibit?

A: Throughout 2014, Mayo Clinic is recognizing this milestone we’ve reached — serving humanity for 150 years. The mobile exhibit is one way to thank the patients and friends who’ve been part of the journey and to share our vision with the public.

Q: What is a mobile exhibit?

A: It’s a high-impact exhibition on wheels. And when you enter the vehicle, you’ll walk through interactive displays that tell the story of Mayo Clinic, including its history, advances in science and vision for the future of health care. In addition, visitors will discover many ways to connect with Mayo Clinic, including social media and online resources.

Q: Why is the mobile exhibit stopping in Grand Forks?

A: Altru Health System was the first member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network. That’s significant to us. And to recognize our relationship, we asked if Altru would host the Mayo Clinic exhibit in Grand Forks. 

Q: How big is the mobile exhibit?

A: Really big.

At 60 feet long by 28 feet wide, when expanded, you won’t miss it. That’s about half the width of an NBA court. Overall, it is nearly 1,000 square feet of multi-media displays.

Q: What are some highlights of the mobile exhibit?

A: The exhibit is divided into three thematic areas: Essence of Mayo Clinic, Vision for the Future and Connect with Mayo Clinic. The following principles are woven throughout the experience: teamwork, patient-centered care, innovation, leadership and integrity. You will see examples of new research to prevent and treat disease; care for wounded warriors; and Mayo Clinic’s impact around the world. The exhibit also notes how we’re working with physicians and health care systems around the world to improve the delivery of health care. A prime example of that is Mayo Clinic Care Network, which is of course, how we collaborate with Altru on behalf of patients.

And for fun, you can have your picture taken with the Mayo brothers in a photo booth inside the exhibit.

Q: How many people can tour the mobile exhibit at a given time? 

A: The vehicle can accommodate 50 to 75 visitors at once. The average tour time is 20 minutes. So, about 150-300 visitors can tour the exhibit per hour.

Q: What’s the cost?

A: It’s free.

Mayo Clinic developed the exhibit as an educational resource. There is no charge for the tour.

Q: How many stops will the mobile exhibit make? 

A: The mobile exhibit will visit more than 50 cities throughout the U.S. and Canada from April through October 2014, including Mayo Clinic campuses in Rochester, Phoenix, and Jacksonville.

Q: How can people learn more about the mobile exhibit and Mayo Clinic’s sesquicentennial?

A. More information is available online. Visit and follow the conversation at #MayoClinic150.

Other questions? Let us know in the comments. We look forward to seeing you Monday, July 28 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

The Newest Trend in Hospitals: Observation Units

Dream HomeIf you were designing your dream home, would you include some of the trendy new spaces popping up on HGTV and Pinterest? Man cave, breakfast nook, coffee bar, sauna, craft room—perhaps even a mudroom with a special dog bath to rinse off Fido?

At Altru Hospital, we’re dreaming of a different kind of trending space: an observation unit. Observation units are designated spaces for doctors and nurses to observe medical conditions for changes.

What is Observation?
Observation is an outpatient service provided within the hospital. Medicare and most insurances require this service be used for patients who have symptoms that need monitoring but may not be appropriate for inpatient admission.

Altru’s new observation unit, opening July 7 on third floor of Altru Hospital, will serve as an extension of the Emergency Outpatient Department. (And, allowing us to quickly and comfortably room patients, it should positively impact emergency room waiting times.)

The unit will initially be specific to patients with the diagnosis of:

  • chest pain,
  • TIA (stroke),
  • headache,
  • dehydration or
  • syncope (fainting).

Consisting of 20 private rooms, nine of which can be converted to semi-private rooms as needed, the unit will serve adult patients. Observation may be requested if treatment is expected to be completed within 24 to 48 hours. (Note: Outside of the unit, observation can also take place in any bed in the hospital.)

Go Back Home
By providing focused, rapid medical evaluations, observation units can help reduce hospital readmission rates, save patients an extended first hospital admission and improve patient outcomes.

At Altru, our goal is to get patients back to the comforts of home as quickly and efficiently as possible. Because, there’s no place like home… especially the kind with designated man caves and craft rooms.

Learn More

Working Together to Deliver World-Class Care

Our vision is as bold as it is straightforward: 

We will deliver world-class health care to the people of our region.

It’s a lofty goal, and the first step to getting there is recognizing just how big the task will be.

World-class care defined
“World-class” means providing the best health care anywhere: the best quality, the best service and the best outcomes. It’s like getting an A+ in every subject on your report card and, as good as we already are, we’re not there yet. Simply put, our aim is to make sure we deliver nothing but the best, without exception, in every single patient interaction.

Changing environment
The sweeping changes under the Affordable Care Act are reshaping health care. Industry trends tell us further reduction in reimbursement rates, along with decreased medical benefits for Americans, will be our ongoing reality. In the future, we need to do more with less.

Fortunately, being aware of these pressures now helps us prepare. Over the coming years, we have the opportunity and the responsibility to “reinvent” health care for our region.

How do we get there?
Working together toward the same goal, we can do this. Like a machine, if one cog falls out, the machine breaks down. All are required to rotate simultaneously. When cogs work together, action begins.

The same goes for Altru. While our jobs are vastly different from one department to another, we all need to work together with the same vigorous momentum to deliver world-class care.

Led by our vision and strategic plan, newly created foundational teams will move us in the right direction. Teams include:

Our Strategy

Our Strategy.
Altru’s Strategic Plan will continue to drive us forward. It is the road map that outlines our goals and measurable outcomes organized in pillars: People, Quality, Service, Finance, Growth and Community.


Leadership Accountability
Leadership Accountability.
Leads the implementation of an objective, outcome-based process to cascade our goals and evaluate individual leader performance and contribution.


Quality Impact

Quality Impact.
Leads the hardwiring of expected behaviors, improves the internal and external customers’ experience, quality measures and clinical outcomes. Initial priorities are measurement, standards and communication.


Leadership Development
Leadership Development Institute. 
Leads the development of a learning lab focused on accelerating organizational outcomes through leadership development. (Learn more about the Leadership Development Institute.)


Physician Engagement

Physician Engagement.
Improve service to and partnership with physicians. Remove barriers to providing quality service. Strengthen communication channels between physicians, administration and nursing.


With all teams working together toward the same goal, we will function like a well-oiled machine.

Delivering World-Class Care

The most important ingredient of all is already in place: our people. We have a mighty team of 4,000 capable and committed health care professionals. Working together toward clear goals, we can accomplish anything we collectively set our minds to.

What does “deliver world-class health care to the residents of our region” mean to you? Let us know.

Attacking Cancer at All Angles

“It’s about focusing on the fight and not the fright.”

-Robin Roberts 

The new linear accelerator at Altru Cancer Center advances the fight against cancer. The high-tech machine attacks cancer cells at all angles, from head to toe and everything in between.

Following six weeks of installation and six weeks of calibration, Altru’s new, cutting-edge linear accelerator (Infinity model by Elekta) began treating patients in April 2014.

Linear Accelerator team at Altru

(Front Row, L to R: Aaron Kempenich, Diane Prudhomme, Lori Miller. Back Row, L to R: Sharon Jenson, Dr. Grant Seeger, Kent Perrin, Kristine Krom, Dr. Marshall Winchester, Jim Olivier)

Leaf-Like Motion
“The new machine operates in one fluid motion using leaf-shaped plates,” explains Aaron Kempenich, physicist. “We can more precisely target radiation at cancer cells. It can be used on all shapes and sizes of people. Our goal is to attack the cancer, while carefully sparing healthy tissue and organs.”

With the linear accelerator’s precise targeting, cancer patients experience fewer negative side effects with treatment, improving overall quality of life.

Better Patient Experience
The equipment will also reduce treatment time for patients, from 7-15 minutes down to two or three minutes. This makes it much more comfortable for patients who have difficulty lying on their backs.

Linear Accelerator above

Peaceful scene above the linear accelerator.

The 360-degree attack approach moves around the patient treating a variety of cancers, including lung and brain tumors. For example, some brain tumors may only require one treatment (outpatient procedure), while lung tumors may take one to five treatments.

Linear Accelerator at Altru

Equipped to Fight
No one wants to think about needing an advanced cancer-attacking machine such as Altru’s linear accelerator. If the unimaginable should happen to you or a loved one, Altru Cancer Center is well equipped to help you fight back.

Help finish the fight against cancer. Join the 2014 American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life in Grand Forks Friday, June 6, 2014 from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. Volunteers can call 780.4717 for more information.

Making Solid Strides

Solid StridesRunning a long race and pursuing the goal of community health share some similarities. Have the right tools and support. Know where you’re going. Understand the why. Set your eyes on the goal. And, push forward.

At Altru Health System, we’re continually pushing forward. While 2013 presented us with financial challenges of a rapidly changing health care environment, we made solid progress on community health initiatives. We worked hard to improve access, service, quality and the scope of care.

We lived our values. Our people – leaders, providers and staff – worked together to better Altru. We improved access to our care for our patients. We reached beyond our walls, offering preventative health and wellness events and programming for our communities.

Our 2013 Annual Report highlights how we continue focusing on prevention, reaching new distances, experiencing greatness and preparing for the future.

In 2014, we’ll continue making solid strides for our patients and our communities. How will you contribute to the progress? Let us know.

Joint Commission: Why the Gold Seal Matters

Joint Commission Gold SealEveryone loves a stamp of approval. When it’s a Gold Seal from The Joint Commission, we get even more excited.

What is The Joint Commission?
The Joint Commission, together with Altru Health System, promotes ongoing evaluation of our practices for the delivery of health care services. They assure we are providing safe and effective care of the highest quality and value.

All people always experience the safest, highest quality, best-value health care across all settings.

-The Joint Commission’s Vision Statement

Safe, Quality Care
“The Joint Commission provides us with the framework by which we design Altru Health System’s policies and procedures,” explains Janelle Holth, Altru’s regulatory compliance coordinator. “These protocols then direct the delivery of safe, high quality care at Altru.”

The Joint Commission is responsible for accrediting and certifying more than 20,000 health care organizations and programs across the U.S. The Gold Seal is recognized nationwide as a symbol of quality that reflects an organization’s commitment to meeting certain performance standards.

Now that you understand the why behind The Joint Commission’s visits, please take a few moments to review the Joint Commission Education handbook. This quick reference guide can be used continuously as a resource of how we practice.

We’re On the Move

We're On the MoveWith patients comfortably settled at Altru Specialty Center, we’re moving into the final phase of the Private Room Reclamation project. Three key areas are now the focus.

June 4
Oncology and renal inpatients will move from the sixth floor of Altru Hospital to the second floor of Altru Rehabilitation Center. All 20 patient rooms will be private, giving patients a quieter environment. Patient rooms and common areas are currently undergoing spiffs as staff work to relocate patients in June. Spiffs include new paint, nurse call systems, flat screen televisions, personal protective equipment cabinets and communication boards.

Two rooms will be designated for those patients receiving end-of-life care through Altru’s Hospice. Special renovations have been made possible through funds from Altru Health Foundation.

June 18
General surgery patients relocate from their current home on third floor west to their new home on the sixth floor of the hospital on June 18. Thirty-nine rooms will be private, with an additional four serving as semi-private rooms as census might dictate. Spiffs of these rooms continue. 

July 7
The final piece to the puzzle, an outpatient observation unit, will open July 7 on the third floor of Altru Hospital. This unit will be comprised of 11 private and 9 semi-private rooms.

Observation is an outpatient service provided within the hospital. Physicians may order observation services when patients have symptoms such syncope, chest pain, dehydration, headaches and TIA. Observation may be requested by your physician if your treatment is expected to be completed within 24 to 48 hours.

These rooms are already spiffed and will require only minor make-ready work.

Various teams are currently in place and working towards the established moved dates.

With the addition of more private rooms, Altru expects to achieve the following:

  • A more satisfying patient experience with enhanced privacy, better environmental control, more space within rooms for families and fewer transfers.
  • A better environment for bed-side teaching and procedures.
  • An improved ratio of department space per bed both to support improved convenience and workspace for patient care staff.

Altru Employees: Over the coming weeks, additional communication will be shared weekly via Green Cross. Check with your manager to see how these moves might affect your work, or if you have any questions.

Driving Distracted: Hands Free is Not Risk Free

Distracted DrivingDo you talk on your phone while driving? Safety experts agree that cell phone use is a dangerous distraction. Distractions now join alcohol and speeding as leading factors in fatal and serious injury traffic crashes.

By multitasking, you may think that you’re making efficient use of your time behind the wheel. In reality, you are actually putting yourself, your passengers and others at risk.

When behind the wheel, we depend heavily on our vision. However, when we really think about it, eyes do not actually see. Your eyes send a message to the brain which computes what the eye is seeing.

Inattention Blindness
Studies by well-known research universities reveal that drivers talking on cell phones miss up to 50 percent of what they should be seeing in their driving environments. Why? Because having a cell phone conversation while driving overloads the brain.When the brain is overloaded, it fails to compute or process incoming information.

In other words, even though you are actually looking at the roadway through your windshield, that cell phone conversation causes a phenomenon known as inattention blindness.

Brain Overload
Our brains are not capable of multitasking. The brain cannot perform two thinking tasks at the same time; instead, the brain quickly switches back and forth between those tasks.

When a person’s brain is overloaded, it filters out the information it receives for processing. Research shows that when a driver is engaged in a cell phone conversation, they experience brain drain. This causes the brain to shut down many of its key functions, which are necessary for the driver to understand and react to changes in the roadway. We can become blind to what’s right in front of us.

Because their visual field narrows, drivers talking on a phone are less likely to see high and low pertinent objects, missing visual cues critical to safety and navigation. They tend to miss exits, go through red lights and stop signs, and miss important navigational signage.

Just Drive
More than 30 studies have shown hands-free devices are no safer than handheld, because the brain remains cognitively distracted by the conversation. Additionally, recent studies show using voice to text is more distracting than manually typing texts.

Next time you’re behind the wheel and reach for your cell phone, keep in mind that whether hands-free or hand-held, your chances of being involved in a crash significantly increase. Any secondary, non-essential activities you perform while driving puts you and the people you share the road with in harm’s way.

Bottom line: When you drive, just drive.

Bill VasicekAltru’s Trauma Services Injury Prevention Program strives to enhance quality of life by reducing injuries through data driven community based interventions and policies.

Bill Vasicek is the community safety coordinator at Altru. In addition to facilitating a variety of injury prevention programs, Bill teaches defensive driving classes throughout the Grand Forks region.

Making History at Altru Specialty Center

For 120 years, we’ve brought specialists together, added services and grown to meet our region’s needs. Now, with 14 locations in the Grand Cities, convenient health care is right around the corner.

One such location is Altru Specialty Center. On March 11, we celebrated with a community open house, complete with an official ribbon cutting ceremony and guided tours throughout the facility. That same day, the state of North Dakota also granted us a provisional license.

Ribbon Cutting Full Group

The only hospital of its kind in Eastern North Dakota to have single specialty care under one roof, Altru Specialty Center is home to:

First since 1976
The first opening of a new hospital in Grand Forks since 1976, Altru Specialty Center will feature four operating rooms and 45 private beds. Learn more in this infographic:

ASC stats(Click to view larger.)

Inpatient Rehabilitation
The second floor of Altru Specialty Center is home to Altru’s inpatient rehabilitation services. It features 23 spacious patient rooms, a dedicated cafeteria and a comfortable family day room.

Inpatient Rehab

Photography by Mark Schlanser-EAPC. All rights reserved.

Accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF), Altru’s inpatient rehabilitation has the goal of maximizing or restoring a functional level of independence for discharge to a community setting.

Rehabilitation patients will relocate to Altru Specialty Center starting March 25, and orthopedic and podiatry patients will follow the next week.

Joint Replacement Center
As a leader in knee and hip replacement, the Joint Replacement Center’s goal is to get patients back to their active routines as quickly as possible. Twenty-two private rooms (located on the first floor of Altru Specialty Center) and dedicated occupational and physical therapists are for joint replacement patients.

Physical therapy

Photography by Mark Schlanser-EAPC. All rights reserved.

Key benefits of the program include:

  • Reduced length of hospital stay
  • Modern techniques in pain control
  • Designated Blue Distinction® Center+ for Knee and Hip Replacement
Photography by Mark Schlanser-EAPC. All rights reserved.

Photography by Mark Schlanser-EAPC. All rights reserved.

It’s About Our Patients
Altru patients will experience several benefits from this transition. In addition to individual rooms increasing privacy and decreasing wait times, some rooms also house larger beds and wider doors for bariatric patients. From state-of-the-art equipment to warm, home-like finishes throughout, patients and visitors will enjoy the brand new space.

JRC Patient Room

Photography by Mark Schlanser-EAPC. All rights reserved.

Additionally, moving these specialties to South Washington Medical Park frees up space at our main campus to allow for additional capacity and complete conversion of private patient rooms.

Thank You
Thank you to the core group of individuals (pictured below) who made this milestone at Altru Specialty Center. Without your hard work and dedication, this important piece of our region’s history could not have happened.

ASC Core Group

See the full list of Altru services available at South Washington Medical Park and the news release.

Honoring Jim, My Stepdad and Best Friend, during Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

I began a new career as a registered nurse at Altru Health System in October 2008. I started at Altru’s Endoscopy Center. Within two weeks, I had personal family knowledge of the importance of screening colonoscopy for people when they turn 50.

Did you get your colonoscopy?
I checked with my mom, Eileen, to see if she and my stepdad, Jim Forsberg, both 60, had their screening colonoscopies when they turned 50. She said they had had flexible sigmoidoscopy two years ago. While I was glad they had it done, I explained it didn’t give a complete look at the colon, as there is two to three feet of colon that isn’t seen during that procedure. I recommended they make appointments for colonoscopies, and mom assured me they would, as soon as they returned from winter in Surprise, AZ.

Surprise Tumors
Jim had complained of pain on his right side for a few months, and was doctoring with his family physician for a few months. Jim attributed the abdominal pain to medication he was on. Shortly after arriving in Arizona in November, the pain increased and Jim went to an emergency clinic for an assessment. It was determined his gallbladder needed to be removed. When the surgeons began, they saw large tumors throughout the liver, pinching off the gallbladder and continuing onto the diaphragm. They took the gallbladder out and closed up Jim. Our family’s life was forever changed.

When the initial shock of a Stage 4 colon cancer diagnosis set in, our focus became hoping for the best, while preparing for the worst. The oncologist said with treatment, Jim could have up to two years to live due to his good health. A port was placed and chemotherapy began.

Jim and Eileen Forsberg

Eileen and Jim Forsberg

As time passed, Jim seemed to wither away before our very eyes. When they flew home at Christmas, Jim had gone from 169 pounds to 146. When we saw him again in March, he had lost another 20 pounds. It was during this visit that he visited with his primary physician. While we’re all responsible for our own health, Jim told his physician he felt he had “dropped the ball” by not encouraging a colonoscopy when Jim turned 50. Jim said he might be facing death now, and that he didn’t want any other patients to have to go through this.

Last Months
I flew to Arizona to be with mom and Jim for one last vacation. He was frail, but was still excited for the visit. He’d purchased a golf cart to get around their retirement complex – a “bucket list” item, according to mom.

In May, Mom and Jim came back to Grand Forks. At just 127 pounds, he began care at Altru Cancer Center. Family gathered to celebrate his 65th birthday on May 30. After a stay in the hospital for pain and dehydration, we made the decision with Jim’s oncologist to take him home with Altru’s Hospice.

On a beautiful evening in June, surrounded by family, Jim left us and took his journey to heaven. It had only been seven months from his diagnosis.

Shari with Jim

Shari and Jim

Remembering Jim
It wasn’t until his funeral that I truly understood what a wonderful man my stepdad had been. Jim changed many people’s lives by always being there for them, or simply offering a cup of coffee and a laugh. No matter the time or day, they could call Jim. My stepdad owned Forsberg Motors Car Lot for 15 years and helped countless people jump their vehicle, pull them out of a ditch or give them a ride home.

Jim became my stepdad, but he also became my best friend. He always came to my rescue when things went wrong. He was the greatest grandpa in the world, coming up with fun things to do with his granddaughters. It was never boring at Grandpa Jim’s. He made every day a holiday with his happy, go lucky, positive attitude.

Life after Cancer
I continue to work at Altru’s Endoscopy Center and encourage people to schedule their screening colonoscopy when they turn 50, or earlier if there’s family history. Prevention is key when it comes to colon cancer. Every time a diagnosis of colon cancer is given to one of our patients, I think of the horrible, life-changing news our family received six years ago. Could a screening colonoscopy have prevented this?

I remember talking with my stepsister, Jami, after Jim’s diagnosis and was shocked when she told me she had had a large polyp removed at the age of 29. She was told to inform her family members that colon cancer could run in the family and to encourage early screening. Jami said she told Jim, but that he discredited it as a “female problem.” If only he had understood a little more, we may not have said goodbye so soon.

Dress in Blue Day | March 7, 2014
Altru’s GI Clinic and Endoscopy Center physicians and staff wear blue every day. Join the trend and help raise awareness of colon cancer by participating in Dress in Blue Day Friday, March 7, 2014. Please share this with your family and friends.


Have you or someone close to you experienced colon cancer? Please share your story here.

Shari Reynolds

Shari Reynolds loves her job as a registered nurse at Altru’s Endoscopy Center. In her free time, she enjoys riding her bike, shopping and spending time with her grandkids.