Measuring Quality through Our Patients’ Eyes

altru_4462Uncontrolled diabetes may lead to blindness, kidney failure, heart disease, stroke, and loss of toes, feet or legs. The risk of death for adults with diabetes is 50 percent higher than for adults without it. That’s why Altru Health System chose to create a system-wide diabetes quality goal aligned with Minnesota Community Measurement (MNCM).

Ensuring we are meeting this target is not only critical for our health system. It enriches our patients’ lives. 

A national leader in the development of high-value, patient-reported outcome measures, MNCM’s focus areas include management of diabetes and cardiovascular care. These measures are used by Altru to improve our patients’ health, experience, cost and quality of care. Patient-reported outcomes allow Altru to measure quality through our patients’ eyes.

Making Progress
Great work has been happening throughout our region.

Let’s take diabetes for example. In January 2015, our optimal diabetes score was 26 percent. By November 2015, we increased our score to 41 percent. Factors that contributed to this success included:

  • Primary care providers developed standard guidelines for patient visit frequency and medication management.
  • We encourage all patients to schedule regular visits with a designated primary care provider to coordinate their care.
  • We encourage our patients with diabetes to visit with a dietitian and nurse educator when diagnosed, and as needed thereafter.

Health Coaches
Altru’s primary care clinics all have health coaches, or registered nurses who regularly follow up with patients. Health coaches provide additional support, including scheduling follow-up visits and medication management. Our goal is to keep patients out of the hospital and safely managing their diabetes at home. Social workers are also available to assist patients with their social needs.

Altru’s Diabetes Center has supported our primary care providers in managing the care of these patients. We developed a MyHealth flow-sheet that allows patients to easily upload their blood glucose readings for online review by their care team.

We’ve opened up barriers for patients to easily access the care they need, when they need it. We’ve done this by following up with patients who fail to show up for their appointments, streamlining our referral process and offering group classes for patients with type 2 diabetes.

By the end of 2015, our results were all above target, including diabetes at 46 percent, hypertension at 83 percent and vascular disease at 59 percent.

Practicing evidence-based medicine leads to healthier patients. By adopting the standards, all providers follow the same guidelines to ensure patients are managed appropriately and consistently.

Patients need to have an active role in their healthcare. Care planning is interactive with the physician, care team and patient. The improvement experienced in 2015 is because the patient is engaged and taking an active role in managing their care. 

The Solution for Aging Skin

Aging SkinWhen you look in the mirror, do you feel like you appear tired or run down? Or, maybe you have developed a deep line that runs up and down between your eyebrows that makes you look a little mad? We all want to look and feel our best, but sometimes even if you treat your skin well and choose a healthy lifestyle, the aging process can put a damper on your hard work.

Luckily, whether it is crow’s feet, frown lines or the look of sleep deprivation that have you frustrated with your appearance, the professional staff at Truyu Aesthetic Center can help, offering a variety of treatment options.

Aging Skin
Facial maturing is a continuous process. It begins in your 20’s and progressively advances due to physiologic changes in the skin and underlying tissue. Aging skin is most noticeable in the face and neck where personal and environmental factors, such as sun exposure, smoking and changes in weight, can accelerate this process.

During the course of the aging process the general outline of your face changes from a triangle, with the apex pointing downward, to a rectangle. This is mostly due to the sagging of skin and a descent of the soft tissue of the cheeks. These changes are a result of loss of volume and elastin in the skin, creating a predictable course of facial aging with maturing skin.

Common facial changes with aging include:

30-40 years old

  • Crow’s feet in the outer corners of eyes, frown lines in the forehead
  • Loss of fat tissue under the eyes, causing dark shadows
  • Deepening of the nasolabial folds (smile lines that run from the corners of your nose to the sides of your mouth)

40-50 years old 

  • Appearance of lower eyelid bags and glabellar lines (vertical lines between the eyebrows)
  • Drooping of the outer sides of the eyebrows
  • Loss of fat tissue in the cheeks and the temple area
  • Platysmal banding appears in the neck (known as “turkey neck”)
  • Creping around the eyes and lines around the lips
  • Appearance of marionette lines (the crease from the corners of your mouth to your chin)
  • Pigment changes (age spots, freckles)
  • Vascular changes including dilated superficial blood vessels on the cheeks, nose and chin

50-60 years old 

  • Drooping of the eyebrows, creating a hooded appearance
  • Thinning of the lips
  • Appearance of neck wrinkles and jowls 

60-70 years old 

  • Skin atrophy and substantial loss of underlying tissue components including fat tissue, collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid. 

Finding A Solution
Botox and Dermal fillers are commonly used treatments for facial rejuvenation. They are designed to revitalize your skin and expressions giving you back a more youthful appearance with significant improvements in mild to moderate facial lines and wrinkles.

Botox – A Solution for “Angry Face”
Botox is most often used to reduce lines of the forehead, frown lines between your eyebrows (glabellar lines), crow’s feet and perioral lip lines. Patients often complain of that dreaded line between their eyebrows saying, “I see pictures of myself and I always look mad,” or “my kids tell me I look angry all of the time.” Thankfully, Botox can help you bring back a more pleasant expression that matches your mood. Botox targets one of the underlying causes of frown lines and crow’s feet—the repeated muscle contractions from frowning and squinting over the years. Your provider will inject these muscles with Botox to temporarily reduce muscle activity. You will begin to notice a visible smoothing of your crow’s feet lines and frown lines between your brows. Botox can also be used to achieve a slight eyebrow lift to open up your eyes. The effects of Botox will typically last approximately three months. It is recommended to be injected every three months to maintain the best results.

Dermal Fillers – Restore Volume, Re-capture Youth
Dermal fillers allow us to replace lost volume, creating a more youthful appearance. Your Truyu provider can replace volume in the cheeks, nasolabial folds, marionette lines and lines around the mouth. Dermal fillers can even restore volume in your lips.  We offer a multitude of different types of dermal fillers. This allows our experienced staff to choose the best product for each individual based on treatment goals and location the filler is placed. Dermal fillers are expected to last anywhere from one to two years, depending on the type of filler used and where on the face it is injected.

If you are skeptical of these procedures, we invite you to schedule a consultation with one of our experts to talk through your concerns and find the best solution for your individual needs. Though Botox and Dermal fillers offer great solutions for aging skin on the face, we can also offer a more conservative approach, with corrective facials, skin care products and beyond. We also have two highly experienced cosmetic surgeons on staff—Drs. Muiderman and McMullin—who can offer solutions for more advanced care and full-body surgical options. 

Truyu Aesthetic Center is a state-of-the-art facility with the most experienced medical staff in the surrounding region, providing a multitude of services for facial rejuvenation. Our comprehensive offerings include cosmetic surgery, dermatology, injectables and laser rejuvenation. Yvonne Gomez, MD, Kelly Stauss Carlson, FNP-C and Jennifer Laframboise FNP-C have over 30 years of combined experience with Botox and dermal fillers. Please call us at 701.780.6623 to schedule a complimentary and personalized consultation.

7 Reasons You’ll Love AltruLink, Altru’s New Intranet

OrganizedNow is the time of year when we start to take a closer look at the clutter around us. How’s your closet looking these days? What’s the state of your junk drawer?

We prune and edit and pick and choose which items to keep and what’s got to go. Where is there duplication? How could things be simplified and streamlined to make life easier?

Over the past year, we’ve been following this same line of thinking as we analyze and de-clutter our staff intranet at Altru. Corporate Communications, Information Services and Human Resources have been working together to organize information and create a better online experience for our providers and staff.

“These departments (and others) have put in many hours over the last year planning for this change, working on the design and moving information over to the new site,” explains Matt Schumacher, director of technology and support services. “We’ve retained a focus on trying to make sure the new site is simple, easy to navigate and easier for us to keep updated with the most current information.”

What’s an intranet?
By definition, an intranet is a private website that provides a secure environment for a select group of users to share information and communicate. At Altru, until now, we’ve had multiple intranets: AltruNet, containing policies, procedures, a staff directory, paging and more; and the Green Cross, containing announcements, news articles, events, quick links and other daily tools.

AltruLink screenshotLaunching January 28, 2016, AltruLink will be the main link to Altru information, tools and resources for employees. Here are 8 reasons you’ll love our new intranet, AltruLink.

1. Goodbye clutter. Hello simplicity.
Have you ever cleaned a drawer or closet by first dumping out all the contents, then going through each item piece-by-piece? By the end, you’ve handpicked only the useful tools to keep nearby. The extra junk is gone. There’s a place for everything, which leads to #2…

2. It’s easier to find what you need.
Content is more skimmable, meaning it’s clearly sorted and labeled in order to more quickly find what you need. By having one main hub of information, you don’t need to look in multiple places. Still can’t find something? There’s a search box to do the work for you! Find what you need swiftly and easily. 

3. The design is clean and attractive.
Altru’s brand embodies caring healthcare providers, a professional atmosphere, modern technology and unparalleled customer service. AltruLink’s clean and attractive layout reflects our brand well.

4. It’ll keep you connected.
All of the perks listed add up to improved communication and productivity. This means employees can stay connected and ready to deliver the best patient care possible. The best company intranets provide critical resources for staff to work effectively.

“Our intranet is sort of the ‘home page’ for our organization,” says Matt Schumacher. “Making it easier to find policies, procedures and other important information will save time for our patient care staff, allowing them to devote even more time to patients.”

5. You can learn people’s names—and faces.
In a workplace of 4,000+ employees in over two dozen locations, it can be tricky to meet everyone face-to-face. The new staff directory will eventually allow us to include photos, so you can know who’s who as you walk the halls or make the calls.

6. It’s incredibly useful.
Within the handy “employee toolbox,” you can access call schedules, branding tools, employee assistance information, email, human resources portals and much more. Start your day by clocking in on AltruLink, then use the site throughout your workday to access quick links and other useful resources.

7. It’s enjoyable.
Intranets are not only about policies and procedures, but also about company culture. Where can you find the ever-popular Swap Shop, menu of the day or latest blog post to help you lead a healthy and fit life? AltruLink, of course. Stay in the loop, whether it’s important for work—like understanding our organizational goals—or important for life—like finding a used treadmill for sale.

How do I get there?
Beginning January 28, AltruLink will replace both Green Cross and AltruNet. Altru employees can access it through the AltruLink desktop icon or using altrulink.org. (Note: AltruLink will only be available through an Altru networked computer or via remote access.)

Altru Employees: If you have any questions about accessing or adding information to AltruLink, please contact Jennifer Neis, website specialist, at 701.780.1519. Please know that AltruLink is a work in progress. We are continually working to tweak content to improve user experience. Your feedback is always appreciated.

What Does Community Health Improvement Look Like in the Red River Valley?

What does community health improvement look like? This is a question we’ve asked ourselves as we look to continually extend our mission of improving health, enriching life, beyond the walls of the health system and into the communities we serve. The answer, we’ve found, is not simple.

Health can have many meanings. From mental health, to prevention, to education and training, to physical health and activity. There are many ways to make our community healthier, and as we look to do so we know it’s imperative to work with our community partners on these efforts.

The wide range of nonprofit businesses and community-led initiatives to improve the health and well-being of our community is astounding. Many groups and individuals in our region are focused on the various health issues that affect our residents. We spoke to a few of our community partners, all with varying missions, to get a better feel for what they aim to do this year, and how community members can support these initiatives. Here’s what we learned.

New & Improved
“The UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences is in the midst of fully implementing its Healthcare Workforce Initiative (HWI) to: 1) reduce disease burden; 2) retain more health career graduates for practice in North Dakota; 3) expand the cadre of healthcare students enrolled at the School; and 4) improve the efficiency of healthcare delivery,” explains Joshua Wynne, MD, MBA, MPH, UND vice president for health affairs and dean of the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences. “To house the additional programs, students and trainees, a state-of-the-art, 325,000-square-foot building is nearing completion on the northeast corner of the UND campus.”

UND Med School Rendering

The new UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences building will open this summer, in time to welcome the medical school class of 2020. Learn more about this project >>

Healing the Mind
“One of the 2016 goals for Northwestern Mental Health Center is a focus on caring for those dealing with the impacts of trauma, such as: adverse childhood effects, abuse, neglect, war, accidents, environmental catastrophe and beyond,” explains Shauna Reitmeier, chief executive officer of Northwestern Mental Health Center in Crookston.

“As more research uncovers the impacts of trauma, we are training many of our staff in trauma-specific interventions to meet the growing need for this care. Our hope is to become a Trauma Center of Excellence in the region.”

Learn more about Northwestern Mental Health Center >>

Aiming to Build
“We are excited to be breaking ground in April on a new shelter to continue providing safety for families fleeing violence,” shares Kristi Hall-Jiran, executive director of the Community Violence Intervention Center. “The Building Hope Campaign has been well supported thanks to partners like Altru and our caring community. With only a short way to go before the campaign goal is met, we invite you to visit our website at www.cviconline.org to learn how you can be involved in providing this important lifeline to safety.”

Sunshine Memorial Foundation has plans to build, too. They aim to develop a hospitality home for patients and their families seeking medical care in the Grand Forks community who need a place to stay. Recently the Foundation has seen a lot of support in surrounding communities. They have received letters of support from area hospitals and clinics who believe in this project, along with several corporate regional gifts. Southern Nelson County was the first to start a community team, setting a goal to name a room after their county. To date, they have already raised over $35,000. “The land for the home has been secured,” shares Jena Pierce, foundation relations and development coordinator for Sunshine Memorial Foundation.  “We are thrilled with the momentum this project has gained over the past year and are working diligently to make this project a reality in the next 1-2 years.”

Donate or learn more about Sunshine Memorial Foundation >>

Running Farther
“The Wild Hog Half Marathon will enter its fifth year in 2016. We are celebrating by adding a full marathon to the existing race schedule,” shares Stacy Kusler, Wild Hog Half Marathon committee member. “We have experienced tremendous community, state and even national participation in our past four years–enough support that we were able to donate $10,000 each to the Grand Forks Public School Foundation for Education, the YMCA Youth Scholarship Fund and the Grand Forks Park District Foundation Youth Scholarship. We are so happy to be able to give back to a community that has given so much to this event.”

The 2016 Wild Hog race events will take place September 23 and 24. Support this celebration of physical fitness by participating, cheering or volunteering. Learn more at gfmarathon.org.

Kid run - Wild Hog

Teaming Up
The Coalition for a Healthy Greater Grand Forks and Healthy Choices Greater Grand Forks are teaming up to combat obesity in 2016. “The 2013 Community Health Assessment found that obesity in adults and children is the greatest issue our community faces,” explains Healthy Choices Greater Grand Forks committee chair, Audrey Lorenz. “We look forward to working with the Coalition for a Healthy Greater Grand Forks to reduce the obesity in our community by making the healthy choice the easy choice for our residents.”

We look forward to supporting our community partners this year, and know they’d appreciate your support as well. When we all work together, a healthier community is on the horizon.

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

Altru’s 2015 Highlights

With the holidays upon us and 2015 drawing to a close, it’s a great time to look back at an unforgettable year. We are proud of the achievements made at Altru Health System, and how we’ve impacted healthcare and the quality of life for our patients and our community.

To wrap up 2015, we took a look back at some of the highlights of the year:

Altru's 2015 Highlights

(Click here to view larger.)

We could not be more excited about what’s coming up in 2016, and for the opportunity to work with all of you to make it happen. Thank you for all you’ve done for Altru over the past year. We wish you a safe and happy holiday season with family and loved ones!

Lunn, Eric 4CDr. Eric Lunn is Altru’s President. Outside of the office, Eric can be found spending time with his seven grandchildren.

 

 

 

 

 

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

Altru’s Behavior Standards: Integrity and Accountable

I have been an employee of Altru Health System for nearly three decades. Yet, it wasn’t until this summer that I experienced having a family member as a patient at Altru for an extended period of time.

While watching my 91-year-old dad face several medical issues, I saw a lot of good happening inside the walls of Altru. I saw compassion and respect. We are a complicated network of humans taking care of humans, and he was treated very much like someone’s dad or grandpa.

Pic with Gpa

Beyond the care my dad received, I watched the team gather around the monitor of a young man who was losing his life. I saw the nurse who turned around with tears streaming down her face when the line went flat. This is the work these people do every day. It’s incredible.

On August 30, I was holding my dad’s hand when he took his last breath. I spend a lot of time reflecting on our stay at Altru. I think about the staff who cared for him and how they upheld our behavior standards and delivered world-class care, especially when these were some of the last experiences of my dad’s life.

Setting the Standards
Throughout 2015, we have been rolling out a set of behavior standards at Altru Health System. We started by exploring What it means to say: I AM ALTRU. In the spring, we dug deeper into Acknowledge and Respect. Summer brought our focus to Meaningful and Team. And, this fall, we held the magnifying glass to Listen and Understand. As we enter into the final season, it’s time to study Integrity and Accountable.

Let’s start with Integrity.

We will always do the right thing even when no one is watching.

  • I will lead by example.
  • I will be honest and fair in all my interactions.
  • I will represent Altru in a positive light in the community even when I am not at work.
  • I will admit mistakes and take corrective action immediately.
  • I will be a good steward of all resources.

To me, integrity is a powerful foundation upon which all the other standards can rest. Always doing the right thing… even when no one is watching. Leading by example. Admitting mistakes and promptly fixing them. This standard really sets the tone for creating the culture of excellence and accountability we are working toward.

Next, let’s look at Accountable. 

We will accept responsibility for our actions and behaviors.

  • I will coach and give feedback to others who are not upholding standards.
  • I will be open to receiving feedback.
  • I will follow through on any work I am expected to complete.
  • I will always help others and do what needs to be done at the moment.
  • I will take pride in my appearance as well as the appearance of the health system.

Accountability represents how we put our behavior standards into action. This is where the rubber meets the road. If we aren’t holding each other accountable for all of the behavior standards, they just become a meaningless bunch of words on a pretty sheet of paper. What we permit, we promote. This standard makes or breaks if we are going to deliver world-class care.

Accountability, on a foundation of personal integrity, is the key to consistency and always providing excellent care no matter the patient or setting. Inconsistency is a symptom of not holding people accountable. Holding people accountable gives them the opportunity to do better.

Our patients and families deserve the best. At Altru, we have to consistently deliver an excellent experience. We can’t do that if we aren’t held accountable to our behavior standards and other critical work 100 percent of the time. 

We do many things well. We have talented, compassionate staff who truly care about our patients and want to do their best. Together, we will achieve world-class care. 

AudreyAudrey Lorenz, manager of strategic planning within Altru’s Corporate Development, has been with Altru for 27 years. Within her role, she focuses on business strategic planning and brand management. During her free time, Audrey enjoys being with her husband, two daughters and 11 dogs. She enjoys running, decorating and doing yard work.

How Camp Good Mourning Helps Children After Loss

CGMWhen children lose a loved one, they look for somewhere to turn, someone who will listen and help guide them through the sadness they may be feeling. Altru’s Hospice Camp Good Mourning is that place.

The only grief camp in North Dakota, Camp Good Mourning is a safe and secure environment for children six-18 years of age to explore their thoughts and feelings. The children receive support from fellow campers and volunteers.

Camp Good Mourning is held annually at Park River Bible Camp and allows for an attendance of 50 children and teens. The campers partake in activities including low adventure course, canoeing, wall climbing, recreation time, art and crafts, high ropes and campfires. Added to these activities are small group discussions, where children are encouraged to open up about their loss, how it makes them feel and how to move forward. 

Companion Approach
Camp Good Mourning curriculum is adopted from Dr. Alan D. Wolfelt’s, Companioning the Grieving Child. Dr. Wolfelt states, “As companions, we are not experts who have the answers; we look to the bereaved child to teach us about his or her grief. We do not control his or her journey by creating a treatment plan; we simply show up with curiosity and a willingness to learn and listen.”

Included in Dr. Wolfelt’s curriculum are the Grief Rights of Children. These rights help children dealing with loss state what they are feeling and understand that it is okay to feel the way they feel.

Childrens Grief Awareness Day Infographic

How You Can Help
Camp Good Mourning is funded entirely by donations, fundraisers and a $25 registration fee (waived if it’s a hardship for the family). Camp is scheduled for July 8-10, 2016.

For more information regarding camp, how to register a child, or to volunteer, please contact Sue Mairs, camp coordinator, at smairs@altru.org or 701.780.5258.

For more information regarding Altru’s Hospice care volunteer opportunities, call 701.780.1450.

Sue MairsSue Mairs, LSW is Altru’s Hospice Camp Good Mourning Coordinator. CGM has allowed her a unique opportunity to “journey with” our families and especially the children and teens. In her free time she enjoys a multitude of physical activities – yoga, walking/jogging, weight training and kickboxing.

Passionate about Patients – Greg Lapp, MD

Greg Lapp, MD, FRCSC, is known for his compassionate and understanding attitude toward patients. When asked about his approach to patient care, Dr. Lapp shared that he makes recommendations to patients as if they were a member of his own family. His own children are both a motivation and inspiration for what he does. “My children teach me patience and forgiveness that can benefit all relationships, patient or otherwise.”

Read more on the Faces of Altru blog >>

 

Delivering World-Class Care into 2016 and Beyond

VisionAltru’s vision – Deliver world-class care to the residents of our region – is more than just a slogan. It’s an aspiration. Every day, people come to us and put their lives in our hands. Our patients are the core of our existence.

To say our vision in other words: the people we serve deserve nothing less than the best care in the world. They are our friends, our families and our neighbors. It’s our privilege to care for them.

The Climb Ahead
One can liken our journey to delivering world-class care to that of climbing a mountain. Around the base, it’s lush and green and comfortable. We could have just stayed put. Instead, we prepared ourselves for greatness and began the trek. After a lot of hard work, we’ve reached a great mid-point. We still have lengths to go to reach the top, and we are all up for the journey together.

Mountain World Class

Trends Shaping the Future
To guide our journey, we use our strategic plan. Before diving into the plan, it’s important to understand the external trends shaping Altru’s new strategies.

External Factors

Patient Expectations
Not long ago, we focused more on patient needs. Care was provided based on technical quality, access based on medical need and our recommendations. Today, our focus has shifted from patient needs to patient expectations. Now our patients are telling us the kind of care they want:

  • Convenience and access
  • Friendly service
  • No waiting
  • Communication and understanding
  • Options
  • Involvement
  • “Care with caring”

Aging Population
Starting in 2010, those in the baby boomer population began turning 65. The trendline for those aged 65 and older has sharply increased since then with 10,000 people each day turning 65. Not only are the people in this generation living longer, but as they age, they continue to have more complex needs. Our focus is on having enough great people to provide the care needed. All of our efforts need to have major emphasis on recruiting great new people and retaining the excellent staff we now have. (So, if you know of someone looking for a fulfilling career, please encourage them to join us on this journey.)

Resource Limitations
Going hand-in-hand with the challenges with our aging population are the resource limitations we face. Most of us were born in a time when there were four to five people in the workforce for each person on social security and Medicare. Soon, there will only be about two people working for each person on social security and Medicare. We need to be creative in determining new ways to provide care differently.

StrategiesOur Strategies
We can look at these trends as challenges. Or, by knowing and understanding them in advance, we can instead see them as great opportunities. Using these trends, we have developed four key strategies to shape our future:

  • Build a culture of excellence and accountability: We want to deliver the best quality with the best service, employ the best people and have a healthy organization and community.
  • Forge strategic partnerships: We want to develop more strategic relationships to deliver care. We want a stronger relationship with Mayo Clinic as we work toward delivering clinical excellence. We are working to further formalize our relationships with critical access hospitals. We want to more greatly improve the health of our communities as we work closely with local agencies.
  • Grow accountable lives: We need to accept responsibility for population health. We will work to innovate care in ways that enable us to get paid to keep patients well. We want to work with insurance companies to get paid for taking care of the whole patient rather than just for the disease or sickness. 

These four strategies will continue to be supported by Altru’s pillars: people, service, quality, growth, finance and community. Every department will have goals supporting many of these pillars, which ultimately lead to the strategies and help us reach our vision. See the full picture of our goals for 2016.

What does success look like?
At NASA, when the janitor was asked what his job was, he said it’s to put a man on the moon. We may not be putting a man on the moon, but we are here for something just as incredible: we are all caregivers.

We aren’t restricted by the walls around us or the technology or the process. We are driven by our hearts and our minds to care for our patients. It starts here.


Lunn, Eric 4CDr. Eric Lunn is
Altru’s President. Outside of the office, Eric can be found spending time with his seven grandchildren.

 

 

 

 

 

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

Preventing Fentanyl Fatalities in the Red River Valley

Fentanyl overdose fatalities in America continue to increase, leaving a path of heartbreak with no sign of stopping in the immediate future. Our region has been touched too frequently with nearly 40 deaths in North Dakota from drug overdoses since the start of 2014, nine of which were in Grand Forks County.

Fentanyl is the most powerful opioid available to doctors and is intended to treat extreme pain and late-stage severe illness. Fentanyl in an illicit form is finding its way into street drugs, most commonly heroin. This illicit drug is being manufactured in covert labs and sold on the street in extremely potent forms – 80 to 100 times more potent than morphine, and an amount the size of three grains of salt can kill you.

Drug abusers or first time users may obtain a substance without knowledge of the potency or actual composition. This can quickly lead to respiratory arrest, and result in death from overdose.

This is not a drug issue that is targeting a specific socioeconomic class or age group. It is being abused by a wide range of individuals and is easy to obtain through hidden areas on the internet and purchased through virtual currency which is hard to track and detect. It can be disguised as other opiates like heroin or oxycodone, leaving unfortunate and unaware consumers with extremely powerful and increasingly fatal forms of drugs.

Parents are encouraged to:

  • Be involved with their children.
  • Get to know their friends and peers.
  • Understand what activities they are involved in.
  • Have conversations about the risks of prescription, over-the-counter and street drugs.
  • Check cell phones. Read text messages and review internet activity.

Fentanyl infographic

Drug incidents and overdoses are occurring at an alarming rate. Illicit Fentanyl has proven to be a serious threat to public health and safety. Stay engaged with your child and watch for signs and symptoms of drug use.

This message is brought to you by Altru Health System, Grand Forks and East Grand Forks Public Schools, Grand Forks and East Grand Forks Police Departments, Grand Forks and Polk County Public Health and UND Health and Wellness.

See also: