Finding Balance in the Midst of Difficult Times

It's Altru - Published on March 3, 2017

Whenever I hear that someone has aching knees or back trouble, I suggest physical therapy. Because of the wonderful work of therapists for my foot, joints and spine, I actually think I’m athletically ahead of where I was ten or fifteen years ago!

One tool my physical therapist (PT) introduced to me was a Bosu, which is kind of like one half of a big therapy ball. You try to stand on it, then walk in place on it and finally march on it, none of which is easy. All of this is intended to improve balance by improving the “core” of your body.

The Bosu did two things for me. First, it showed me the limits of my balance (my then-pregnant PT could balance better than I could). Second, the Bosu worked on my weaknesses, and I improved on them quickly. I was so impressed that I bought one.

Have we ever needed balance at Altru more than we need it now? And I don’t mean physical balance. Hundreds of people are working in different ways and in different places since the structural failure at the clinic. Just that would knock a person off balance. But add the trauma of the sudden evacuation and the prospect of a two-year road to a new place and the whole system is being challenged. We’ve been knocked off balance.

We are looking for a steadying influence, a way to stay on the path. The idea of balance is really rather practical: we need balance between work and personal, between fun and seriousness, within relationships and with our work. Physical balance comes from strengthening our core, our center, those abdominal and gluteus muscles.  Our mental, spiritual and emotional balance comes as we strengthen the core of our being.

There comes the challenge. We can name the areas of the brain or the ligaments around a knee, but where is our spiritual and emotional center? And, how do we strengthen our spiritual core to deal with stress?

Let’s find our personal center. This is unique for each of us but there are some common places to look.

Beliefs. What we believe in our core drives our behavior and creates our attitudes. An infant or small child “believes” they are the center of the universe. Everyone else is here to serve their needs. That “belief” changes over time.

We might think a belief has to be religious, yet that’s not always the case. I knew a very non-religious man whose central belief was that he was to leave the world better than when he started. He exercised that belief by actively seeking ways to put it into practice and did amazing things. He taught me there’s a difference between saying we believe something and actually believing enough that our actions change.

At Altru, of course, we have a set of core beliefs in the Altru Way and our Behavior Standards. These can help us stay balanced if we actually believe them.

Relationships. Humans are social creatures and relationships are our core. But, we’d have to admit that it is easy to take for granted relationships with family, friends or even God if we have a religious belief.

The Search Institute identified 40 developmental assets for adolescents. Many of them have to do with relationships, such as Asset #4, “Young person experiences caring neighbors” or Asset #8 “Young people are given useful roles in the community.” For children and teens, adults should seek to provide these things. But as adults we should be able to take initiative on our own to find (and be) caring neighbors. We should seek useful roles on our own. Relationships with family and positive work relationships bring us satisfaction, which leads our third general category.

Awareness and Value of Self and Others. Have you even seen yourself on video? I know I’m often surprised how I look (older, you know) or how I sound. We might not always be aware of how we talk or be aware of the people around us.

Self-awareness is part of being human, but it is also a skill we develop. Can we come to actually hear our own words and see how they might be taken positively or negatively?  Can we recognize what we think of ourselves and our relative worth? Can we also be aware of others in similar ways? We cannot know what someone else is thinking, but we can learn to be aware of the words being said and expressions shown.

A strong core brings balance, even during difficult times. At Altru we need balance more than ever. This will require a continual strengthening of our core as individuals and as a system.

Mark-EllingsonMark Ellingson, Altru’s Pastoral Care Manager, has lived in the area for 35 years as a local pastor and chaplain. He is married to Betty, a speech pathologist supervising in schools such as Hillsboro and Central Valley. They have five children and a couple of grandsons. Mark and Betty enjoy living in Grand Forks. Mark plays tennis, fills in at local churches for vacationing pastors and enjoys writing on his personal blog, Thoughts of a Hospice Chaplain.

Making an Impact on Heart Care | Hayan Al Maluli, MD

Faces of Altru - Published on February 24, 2017

We proudly welcomed Hayan Al Maluli, MD to the Altru team in June 2016. While only here a few months, he has already made a big impact. We sat down with Dr. Al Maluli to get to know him a little better and understand his approach to care.

Q: What is your area of specialty?
A: My practice focuses on Pulmonary Hypertension and Cardiovascular Imaging, such as advanced echocardiogram, cardiac CT and nuclear cardiology.

Q: What is your approach to care?
A: First, I listen to my patients. And not only to their concerns, but also their expectations. I try to be as detailed as possible, and patients never complain about that. A doctor is obligated to provide the highest standard of care which always requires three essential components: treat each patient as a unique individual, make your patient your partner in making decisions involving his or her life, and finally, be the best doctor you can by constantly setting higher standards for yourself.

Q: What motivates you?
A: I enjoy problem solving. It makes me happy to break down complex cases and simplify them. Every patient presents a new challenge, whether the condition is medical, social or psychological. I try to do the best job I can each and every time I meet with a patient.

Q: What do you enjoy most about your work?
A: Making patients feel better. People are generally apprehensive when they meet a cardiologist. I enjoy reassuring patients and families that I understand what is going on, what they are going through and that I can try to help them.

Q: What do you like to do outside of work?
A: I enjoy reading about history, playing soccer and table tennis, and spending time with my kids. I would love to learn how to fly at some point.

Q: Where would you most like to travel to?
A: Argentina. My mom is from Argentina and her family is there. For me, it is the most beautiful country. It is vast and rich, and most importantly, the people are very friendly. The food and wine is something I personally find unparalleled.

Q: Where did you go to school?
A: I attended medical school in Damascus, Syria, another beautiful country with friendly people. I did my training in medicine and cardiology at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia.

Q: What do you like about Grand Forks?
A: It is a small community that is friendly and safe. People work hard and appreciate hard-working people. I felt welcome from day one.

It’s Not Just Blood Work: Phlebotomists Fill a Crucial Role

It's Altru - Published on February 16, 2017

Phlebotomist-career-healthcareYou’ve encountered them. They’re the people who draw your blood for tests and make it possible for you to donate during potentially live-saving circumstances.

To each other, they may joke about being “blood suckers” or “vampires,” but to others they’re phlebotomists, and their role goes beyond just sticking a needle in your arm.

To be a phlebotomist requires detailed knowledge and care for people. It’s knowing the right type of tube to use, the perfect vein placement, the correct way to draw blood and the right time to clot. They are the calming voice that explains the draw and the reassuring smile to an apprehensive patient. They are calm, kind and cheerful.

But their job doesn’t stop after the draw.

Phlebotomists must do several more steps before the lab can assess the results of the blood drawn. Timeliness is key. Phlebotomists rush samples to the lab so physicians can get results as quickly as possible.

The job requires precision and attention to detail. Phlebotomists must be extremely accurate and careful as they scope out a patient’s vein—some may be hard to find, while others may be easy targets.

If taken lightly, errors can occur, leading to contamination, inaccurate labeling and haemolysis—the destruction of red blood cells. If compromised, an accurate diagnosis is almost impossible.

Lab-blood-work-career-healthcareThough the act of drawing blood has been practiced for centuries, most people don’t understand how crucial it is in establishing a patient’s medical condition. And not just that. Phlebotomy can prevent a serious illness from progressing further. The ability to obtain a blood sample can literally save a life.

It’s an important job that often gets overlooked. Phlebotomists play a major role in medical diagnosis, preventive healthcare and the treatment of diseases.

Phlebotomist employment is projected to grow 25 percent from 2014 to 2024, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics. Applicants only need a high school diploma or GED; on-the-job training is provided.

To fill a crucial role as a phlebotomist at Altru Health System, apply at

10 Things to Know about Janice Hamscher, Altru’s Incoming Chief Nursing Officer

Faces of Altru - Published on January 27, 2017


Janice Hamscher, MSN, MBA, BSN, RN, is caring, compassionate and smart (did you see all those letters after her name?), and we are proud to introduce her as the incoming Chief Nursing Officer at Altru Health System.

Prior to joining Altru, Janice was the Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer of Penn Highlands DuBois of DuBois, Pennsylvania, since 2012. She also served as Senior Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer of Saint Vincent Health System in Erie, Pennsylvania.

Beyond being a nurse, she’s proud to call herself a wife and a mom. Here are 10 things to know about Janice.

1. Janice’s first job at age 15 was as a waitress. It taught her many skills for her future in nursing, including organizing, prioritizing and giving people the best customer service possible.

2. Her favorite life quote is, “Never, ever give up.”

Hamscher-family3. When not at work, Janice can likely be found reading, cooking, gardening, going for a walk or playing the piano (for herself, not an audience).

4. Janice’s two young adult sons are both in the medical field—one as a nurse, the other actively pursuing medical school. She’s proud to watch them follow in her footsteps.

5. Janice and her husband, Bruce, have had many, many family pets throughout the years, and they currently have three cats.
6. Chocolate is Janice’s all-time favorite food. “If I had to think of one thing I wouldn’t be able to give up, that’s probably what it would be!”

7. If Janice had an extra hour every day to do whatever she wanted, she would spend it reading.

8. She credits her mom as being her main role model in life. “I just always wanted to be like her, and I think I’ve achieved that. My sister tells me I have.”
9. Being a nurse has always been Janice’s dream career. “I’m not sure why exactly—I just wanted to care for people.”

10. Janice is so excited to join the Altru team. “You can just feel the energy and passion here.”

As Chief Nursing Officer, Janice will serve as a member of Altru’s Executive Leadership team. She will be responsible for defining the highest possible nursing standards and ensuring quality patient care is delivered safely and effectively. Janice’s official start date is February 6, 2017.

SMART Goals Lead to Success | Here’s How to Make Them

It's Altru - Published on January 5, 2017

smart-goalsWhile intentions are good, broad goals and lack of planning lead to frustration and poor results. In order to successfully achieve your goals, they must be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely.

Anthony Morando, performance manager, and Danielle Rancourt, performance dietitian, of Altru’s Sports Advantage share the importance of a SMART goal, and how you can go about setting & keeping yours.

Setting SMART Goals


Define the specifics. What is your goal and how are you going to achieve it? It can also be helpful to include why it is important to you.

“Rather than your goal being to eat out less often, you could adjust it to packing your lunch four times per week,” explains Rancourt.


Creating a measurable goal allows you to track your progress, stay accountable and make adjustments as needed.

“A measurable goal typically has a number involved,” explains Rancourt. “For example, if you regularly consume soda pop, your initial goal could be to drink less than 3 cans of pop per week.”


Your goals should be challenging, not impossible. Once you determine your goal, write out the steps necessary to achieve that goal.

“If you’re starting something new, it’s important not to go from zero to sixty,” cautions Morando. “This makes your approach sustainable, and when it comes to fitness, safer.”


“When a goal is unrealistic, it can’t be controlled,” shares Morando. “Sometimes people aim way too high with no framework. You need structure in order to get to your goal.”

You should consider your individual needs, habits and happiness when making a realistic goal. Set a safe, reasonable goal, and once you achieve it, not only are you motivated because you’ve achieved something, but you are motivated to set and reach a new goal.


“I like to compare this to the expiration date on a perishable food item,” shares Rancourt. “The ‘consume by’ date turns into the ‘achieve by’ date. If you have a date assigned to your goal, you’ll have better structure for meeting it and evaluating your success.”

Tips for Achieving Your SMART Goals

If this sounds overwhelming, or you’re not sure where to begin, here are some tips to help you as you get started and keep going strong:

Set Mini-SMART Goals

You’re more likely to reach you big end-goal if you break it down into several smaller ones. For example, if you want to lose 40 pounds, focus on monthly or even weekly goal. Once you hit your mini-milestones, you can move on to the next.

track-your-goal-progressTrack Your Progress

“Tracking your nutrition and workouts through an app or journal can be especially helpful as you get started,” shares Rancourt. “Not only can it help you track calorie intake and macronutrients (carbs, protein, fat), it also shows you your eating habits and what you might be missing or eating too much of.”


If your goals are weight-specific, you’ll want to keep track of where you are at. Maintain a consistent, regular schedule for weighing yourself.

“If you keep your weight in check, you can catch yourself more easily if you start to slip,” explains Rancourt.

Try New Things

Many people think healthy eating is boring, but it can be very enjoyable. Try experimenting with new recipes or ways to “health-ify” your favorite foods.

“If you love mac and cheese, try making it healthier,” explains Rancourt. “Using whole-wheat pasta and Greek yogurt in place of some of the cheese or cream can create a tasty, healthier option.”

The same can be said for fitness – doing the same thing every day can not only get boring, it can also cause a plateau in your results.

Reduce, Don’t Restrict

Both Rancourt and Morando caution against goals that are too restrictive or hard to achieve. Rather than cutting out food groups or habits, set limits.

“In general, I recommend the 80/20 rule,” explains Rancourt. “Life is about balance, not perfection, so allow yourself to enjoy the things you love, just keep the ones that take away from reaching your goals to a minimum.”

Move Every Day

“Whether it’s a walk, light stretching, even cleaning house, make sure you move your body every day for at least 15 minutes,” says Morando.

Learn Something New, Write it Down

The right mindset can help you stay passionate about what you hope to achieve.

“Find a new book to read, or something positive that can shock your system,” says Morando. “Learn something new every day and write it down. You’ll be left with a chronological timeline of the knowledge you’ve taken in that you can refer back to.”

A Four Pillar Approach

At Altru’s Sports Advantage, the team of performance experts utilizes EXOS’ four pillar approach to help clients reach their goals. This approach includes mindset, nutrition, movement and recovery.

“If you don’t have the right mindset and attitude, you aren’t going to reach your full potential. If you don’t fuel properly or recover well, you won’t be getting the full potential out of your training,” Rancourt says. “They are very interconnected. So if you can master all four pillars, your performance is going to be the best it can be.”

For adults, ‘Rally’ group training through Sports Advantage offers bootcamp-style classes and supplemental support based on the four pillars. Additionally, initial assessments and consultations with the team allow the coaches to help you hone in on your goals, ensure they are SMART, and help you reach them.


For more information on Sports Advantage, or to sign up, call (701) 732.SPORT (7767) or visit

Altru's Top Ten Highlights of 2016

It's Altru - Published on December 27, 2016

HolidaySeason’s Greetings!

With the holidays upon us and 2016 drawing to a close, it's a great time to look back at a remarkable year. We are proud of the achievements made at Altru Health System, and how we've impacted healthcare and quality of life for our patients and our community.

To wrap up 2016, we took a look back at the highlights of the year.

1. Microbiologists in Altru's Laboratory isolated a new species of bacteria. The team was granted naming rights for the discovery and called it Pontibacter altruii species nova.

2. Altru Advanced Orthopedics is the first in the state of North Dakota to offer Partial Knee Replacement and Total Hip Replacement procedures performed using the Mako Robotic-Arm Assisted Surgery System.

3. In April, Altru announced its new accountable care organization health plan option, Altru & You with Medica. At least 12 organizations have elected to offer Altru & You with Medica as a health insurance option for their employee benefits.


4. Altru Clinic in Crookston broke ground on an expansion and renovation project that will offer patients expanded specialty care options, expanded radiology services, same day procedures, an operating room and renovated patient care rooms, infusion, laboratory and therapy spaces.

5. Altru Hospital was one of 223 hospitals nationwide to receive the American College of Cardiology's Platinum Performance Achievement Award for 2016. The award recognizes Altru's commitment and success in implementing a higher standard of care for heart attack patients.

6. Altru Health System received the Get With The Guidelines® - Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award. The award recognizes the hospital's commitment to providing the most appropriate stroke treatment according to nationally recognized, research-based guidelines based on the latest scientific evidence.

7. We were one of 18 organizations throughout the U.S. recognized by The Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a Million Hearts® 2015 Hypertension Control Champion.

8. Altru Health System was one of 22 organizations named 2016 Most Wired™ Advanced Category. The survey examined how organizations are leveraging IT to improve performance for value-based healthcare in the areas of infrastructure, business and administrative management, quality and safety, and clinical integration.

9. We received a five star Home Health Compare Quality of Patient Care Star Rating from Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). This rating places Altru's Home Health in the top six percent of all home health agencies in North Dakota, and the top three percent of all home health agencies in the nation.

10. And finally, we had several successful fundraising events. The Altru Cancer Center Golf Tournament raised $101,000 for Filling the Gap, and Altru Health Foundation raised more than $300,000 at Altru's Gala to support Camp Good Mourning and Child Life.

We could not be more excited about what's coming up in 2017. 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.

Take Good Care, Before It Breaks | Lynn's Vascular Screening Story

Altru Moments - Published on December 12, 2016

Lynn in TractorWhen it comes to farm equipment, Lynn Niemann, of Crystal, N.D., has a general rule of thumb: Take good care of it before it breaks, and if it’s already broken, fix it. Lynn took a similar approach to his health this summer.

The oldest brother of five siblings, Lynn suddenly lost his two younger brothers at the ages of 37 and 48, both to vascular-related disease. After the second family loss this spring, and struggling to get his own blood pressure under control, Lynn scheduled an appointment with Altru cardiologist, Dr. Rabeea Aboufakher. Even though it was May, one of the busiest seasons for farmers, he knew this was his top priority.

Lynn and his wife, Annette, met with Dr. Aboufakher for a full examination, where he detected a slight heart murmur. He reassured the Niemanns that the murmur was faint but, because of family history, ordered an electrocardiogram (EKG) to check Lynn’s heart’s electrical activity. Everything checked out fine, and Dr. Aboufakher referred Lynn to Altru’s Dr. Keith Swanson, vascular medicine.

Next, Lynn underwent lab work and a series of painless vascular screenings and ultrasound, focused on the neck and ankles, to check for blood clots throughout his body. While there were no signs of blood clots, Lynn discovered he has a slight vascular disease, as lab results detected a heterozygous gene that would’ve been passed down from one parent.

Tips for Preventing Blood ClotsAs an educator, Lynn’s wife, Annette, was impressed with the time Dr. Swanson spent educating them about the potential risks of blood thinner medication versus living with low-risk vascular disease. “Both doctors were so thorough at explaining the purpose of each test, talking through the risks and promoting prevention with healthy choices,” explains Annette. “They were personable, friendly and understanding of our concerns.”

Prevention for the Future

Because of previous leg swelling, Lynn wasn’t surprised with the diagnosis, and he keeps a positive attitude.

“I wanted to know what was going on,” explains Lynn. “If they did find a problem, I’d rather know and do something about it.”

Dr. Swanson recommended maintaining a healthy lifestyle through weight control, regular activity, eating right and wearing graduated compression garments. Lynn now wears compression stockings every day to prevent swelling and discoloration, and he continues to take his blood pressure medication regularly.

After losing about 20 pounds in the last year, Lynn’s goal is to maintain his weight loss by watching his diet and staying as active as possible. While he used to grab a pop and candy bar for the tractor, he’s now munching on almonds, dried cranberries and unsweetened iced tea during harvest.

Lynn and Granddaughter“Jumping on and off the tractor keeps me moving throughout the day,” he explains. “I try to get out and walk as much as I can.”

Similar to maintaining his farm equipment, Lynn believes in keeping his one and only body as healthy as possible. He continues, “If you can prevent something bad from happening, why not do it? I want to see my grandchildren grow up for as long as I can.”

With the help of Drs. Aboufakher and Swanson, when the small town family farmer celebrated his 60th birthday this fall, he could rest assured his heart and vascular health was in good shape.

Altru's Vascular Medicine specializes in the diagnosis and comprehensive treatment of vascular diseases of the circulatory system. For more information about Altru’s Vascular Medicine, schedule an appointment through MyHealth, or call 701.780.6400.

Living Pain-Free, Not Fun-Free | Ron's Altru Advanced Orthopedics Story

Altru Moments - Published on November 11, 2016

Ron T RakingIn 1999 Ron Thramer had rotator cuff surgery on his right arm. Over the years, the work that had been done had slowly deteriorated, and he was living life in pain.

“I kept putting it off,” explained Ron. “I lived with the pain instead of going in to find a solution. For years, I couldn’t sleep through the night because it was so bad.”

Finally, he saw an advertisement for Altru Advanced Orthopedics showing people living “pain-free, not fun free” and considered it a sign. Living in Roseau, Minnesota, Ron went to Altru Clinic and met with Dr. Jeremy Gardner, an orthopedic surgeon at Altru Advanced Orthopedics who visits regularly.

“Dr. Gardner told me – your shoulder is in really bad shape. Luckily, I know a guy who can fix it.”

Dr. Gardner referred Ron to his colleague, Dr. Darin Leetun, who specializes in shoulder surgery and completes more complex cases. Dr. Leetun reviewed Ron’s case and walked him through the options.

“He asked me what I expected out of the surgery. I said if he could make the constant pain go away and help build back some strength, that I’d be happy,” remembers Ron. “ He told me he could do that, so we moved ahead. I am so happy I did.”

Ron had surgery on his rotator cuff in January of 2016. Dr. Leetun repaired damage and had to include donor tissue to replace the tendons in Ron’s shoulder that were too badly damaged. He referred Ron back to Altru Clinic in Roseau after the surgery so that he could receive physical therapy in his hometown.

Now, nine months after the surgery, Ron is proud to share that, like the advertisement promised, he’s living ‘pain-free, not fun-free.’ “As long as I don’t overdo an activity, there’s no pain,” shared Ron. He’s been able to complete tasks at work with the highway department and at his electric business, Thramer Electric, without having to think about how to avoid pain. And, he’s been able to pick up some of the hobbies he’d left behind when he was living in pain.

Ron T Roofing

“I hadn’t golfed in two years,” he shared. “Dr. Leetun told me to go for it, and though I haven’t had the time to play a round, I swung the club a few times this summer – and there was no pain. Hunting is also much more enjoyable. I can climb into deer stands, I can better support my gun, and most of all I can enjoy it without thinking about the pain.”

Ron’s advice for people who are avoiding addressing their joint pain – don’t. He even referred a co-worker who was much like him to see Dr. Leetun about his shoulder, which had been bothering for years. He’s now on the same path as Ron toward a life without shoulder pain.

“My advice to people is to take care of it now. There’s no good time to have surgery, but the longer you put it off, the worse it gets. And, the more things in life you miss.”

Caring for Joints, Cultivating Relationships | Darin Leetun, MD

Faces of Altru - Published on November 4, 2016

Dr. Darin Leetunleetun-golfing of Altru Advanced Orthopedics helps patients get back to the life they enjoy through thorough care and advanced procedural offerings. He’s also a doctor for the USA hockey, ski and snowboarding teams. On top of that, he provides regular free presentations to the community on common concerns with joint pain, and even has time to mix in a round of golf or two. We sat down with Dr. Leetun to discover more about his approach to care, and the things he enjoys doing when he’s not focused on joints.

Q: What is your area of specialty?
A: I focus on shoulder and knee care. I do everything from basic care and non-surgical treatment to replacements. I enjoy having that focus as I can confidently manage everything for patients related to their shoulder or knee concerns.

Q: What’s your approach to care?
A: I approach caring for my patients as a partnership. I like to work with them to achieve the goal that they’re looking for. Whether it’s to return to an activity, sport or just everyday life—my number one priority is to help an individual accomplish what they set out to do when they sought care. My goal isn’t always to do a surgery, it’s to do whatever I can to get them back to activity with the least amount of risk and difficulty for them. I look at every option and try to emphasize partnering with them to make a decision, not making the decision for them.

Dr. and Mrs. LeetunQ: What motivates you to do what you do?
A: My motivation is simply the fact that I believe God has given me a gift that I can use to help others. Although I may not always be perfect, I can be helpful in what I do and take something that I’ve been blessed with and be a blessing to others.

Q: When did you know that you wanted to go into medicine?
A: My interest in medicine started when I was very young. I broke my arm when I was six, and to set it, the doctor used the fluoroscopy (or live x-ray), so I could see my bones being moved. That experience really got me interested in dealing with bones.

Q: What do you enjoy most about your work?
A: I enjoy the challenge. Every day is different. Every day there’s something new that I need to adapt to and try to overcome. I enjoy learning new things and adding to my practice. Medicine is advancing all the time, and we’re adding new and better ways to care for our patients—like our recent addition of the Mako Robotic-Arm. That’s allowed me to offer more precision in a partial knee replacement, which is a great value for patients. 

Q: What do you like to do outside of work?
A: I enjoy golfing and working in my yard. I also enjoy spending time catching up with family and friends—I feel that those relationships are very important. I just got done goose hunting with my cousins. I’ve never hunted for geese in my life, but I did it so we could spend time together. Unfortunately we got skunked—we didn’t get any geese. But, we had a good day. We enjoyed hanging out and experiencing the benefits of what North Dakota brings.


Q: Where would you most like to travel to?
A: For me, it would be going to Israel, to Jerusalem. Seeing all the places and sites where Jesus walked and talked, helping the Bible to come alive—to gain a better understanding of what was being taught. Hopefully it would be an opportunity where I could to grow in my faith and apply it to my life.

Q: Where did you go to school?
A: I graduated from Bismarck Century High School, then I went to the University of North Dakota. I actually spent my junior year at the University of Alabama doing a student exchange program (primarily because I was a huge Alabama Crimson Tide fan). Then, I ended up going back to Alabama for my first two years of medical school before finishing my medical degree at the University of Virginia. From there, I went to Fort Worth, Texas for five years, and then off to Australia for my fellowship training before starting an orthopedic practice. I’ve been in Grand Forks three years this August.

Q: What do you like about being in Grand Forks?
A: Grand Forks reminds me of how Bismarck was when I grew up. Not too big, not too small. I like the opportunities here with the Greenway, the outdoor activities, etc. But, I’ve got to be honest—my favorite thing is UND Hockey. I’m a big fan; I’ve always been. Having the opportunity to go to the games on a regular basis and enjoy the quality of hockey we have here, week in and week out, that’s a huge plus.

From a Bad Cold to Life Support, and Back to Normal | Denae’s Altru Moment

Altru Moments - Published on October 27, 2016

denae-and-terry-photoIn spring of 2016, Denae Bayne of Newfolden, Minnesota, thought she had a bad cold. After a diagnosis of common bronchitis, she was sent home with medicine.

Two days later, on Easter Sunday, Denae was feeling lethargic and gloomy. In the evening, her husband, Terry, knew this wasn’t normal, and he brought her to the closest emergency room in Thief River Falls.

Several tests and chest x-rays revealed Denae did not have bronchitis. It was double pneumonia, covering about one third of her lungs, as well as severe dehydration. She was kept overnight for observation, and given antibiotics and fluids.

By Monday morning, another x-ray showed the pneumonia now covered half of her lungs—and her oxygen levels were dropping. By Tuesday morning, Denae had to be sedated and intubated in order to attempt getting her on a respirator. Another turn for the worse—her body rejected the respirator, and she had to be manually bagged for oxygen.

At 10 a.m., Denae was emergency airlifted to Altru Hospital in Grand Forks, where she was immediately put into a medically induced coma and placed on life support.

The pneumonia had aggressively enveloped both of her lungs. As a result, she developed ARDS (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome). Following more testing in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit), doctors determined Denae was infected with the H1N1 influenza virus at some point during the week prior.

Four days before, it was a “bad cold.”

11 Long Days
Denae remained on life support for 11 days. Things took a turn for the better, and she was moved out of the ICU on April 11, 2016. Denae was able to leave the hospital on April 13, with the support of portable oxygen, physical therapy to assist with walking and completing basic hand coordination functions, and her husband, Terry, by her side.


Today, six months later, Denae’s lungs are just returning to normal. 

Dr. Shivu Kaushik [in Altru’s ICU] consistently kept us updated, and it was clear to see that he genuinely cared for the well-being of my wife,” beams Terry. “He thought she would be on life support for a minimum of three weeks; however, he did say, ‘Some people surprise me.’”

Denae was lucky to be one of those people.

Making an Impression
Dr. Kaushik wasn’t the only person who made an impression on the Baynes. Terry explains, “I can’t forget Dr. Mudireddy, who saw her in ER and the first day in ICU. Also Dr. Dalmi, who was with her on the floor after ICU until discharge. It was a great experience with respiratory, occupational and physical therapies, as well as all the nurses and cleaning staff.”

“In fact, the people at Altru impressed us so much that when we got home, I called our health insurance company and switched our primary care to Altru. It left that big of an impact on our lives!”

The Baynes are back to normal life today, enjoying spending time with family and friends and being outdoors in the fresh air. Denae is back at work, advocating for juveniles in the court system, trying to take every day a little slower and cherishing all the moments along the way.

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