From Admission to Discharge, Your Safety Is Our Priority

It's Altru - Published on March 16, 2017

As we celebrate Patient Safety Awareness Week (March 12-18, 2017), here are some of the many ways we ensure safe care for our patients at Altru Health System.

Patient Safety Week

Addressing concerns. We diligently address every concern brought forth by patients, families and staff. We encourage patients to provide feedback and/or report any and all safety concerns by privately calling a patient representative.

Assessing fall risk daily. We perform a thorough standardized assessment immediately upon hospital admission, followed by daily assessments to determine individual fall risk. Each patient gets a score—low, moderate or high—and actions are taken to ensure patient safety depending on risk level. Actions may include: bed alarm, chair alarm, patient sitter and/or rounder.

Altru’s inpatient fall rate is 3.45 per 1,000 patient days. This is on the low end of the national, publicly reported inpatient range of 3.3-11.5 falls per 1,000 patient days, according to the NDNQI (National Database of Nursing Quality Indicators) database.

Encouraging honest feedback. Altru has a robust reporting culture for any patient safety or quality care issues. Our reporting structure is non-punitive, encouraging open and honest communication about concerns relating to patient care and safety. In addition to reporting falls, we also document any and all near-falls. This is all tracked in real time to accurately reflect reality and consistently hold staff accountable.


 


Analyzing errors. If a fall does occur, action is taken immediately. This includes notifying the charge nurse and hospital supervisor, provider and other caregivers, including the patient’s family. We include the patient in a group huddle to assess and revise interventions. Then, a root cause analysis (RCA) is completed to analyze what went wrong and make sure the issue never happens again.

Using the best technology. Healthcare technology can assist staff by providing simple reminders and prompts to keep our patients safe. Electronic medical records can improve the ability to diagnose diseases and reduce—even prevent—medical errors, thus improving patient outcomes.

Washing hands—often and well. Hand hygiene is a great way to prevent infections. Providers might need to clean their hands as many as 100 times per 12-hour shift, depending on the number of patients and intensity of care. Healthcare providers can explain how and why they clean their hands before, after and sometimes during patient care, and let patients know it's okay to ask about hand hygiene.

Keeping it clean. Our Environmental Services team uses a number of quality checks to ensure patient rooms are as clean as possible. For example, an “encompass room check” marks 18 touchpoints before and after a room is cleaned to check and score overall cleanliness. This attention to detail doesn’t go unnoticed—we ranked at the 84th percentile (goal was 70th) overall for 2016 in HCAHPS scores for cleanliness. Beyond the basics, we take extra measures keep our environment squeaky clean, from using bleach for C-diff cases to adding new UV light machines to kill 99.9% of bacteria.

Although we are using this week to celebrate our patient safety achievements and increase awareness, safe care is Altru’s focus 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

See also:

Lynn Huot has been a nurse for 30 plus years with the past 12 years as a Registered Nurse. She obtained her BSN from Mayville State University in 2016 and is currently the Director of Quality and Patient Safety at Altru Health System. Lynn enjoys spending her free time with her family as well as spending time at the family cabin.

Central Sterile: Where Healthcare Really Starts

It's Altru - Published on March 13, 2017

Central Sterile is actually the first step in ensuring you recover from whatever ails you, because those technicians are responsible for properly tracking, cleaning and sterilizing all the instruments and medical supplies that may cross your path.

Because the work of Central Sterile is done behind-the-scenes, patients may never realize the crucial role they play in keeping you healthy and helping you recover. These individuals exist solely to protect the welfare and safety of every patient that comes through the hospital doors.

Central Sterile technicians are the people who organize and assemble the instruments needed for surgical cases, meticulously track every scissor, screw and drape in the facility and maintain adequate amounts of each, as well as disassemble and reassemble contaminated medical supplies and equipment.

It’s not a role to be taken lightly.

Central Sterile technicians are an integral part of the healthcare process, and it’s a great fit for someone interested in medicine who doesn’t want to shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars for medical school. In fact, many sterile processing technician programs can be completed in six months to a year, and for much less investment than other medical career paths.

That’s good news, especially considering the job market for Central Sterile processing technicians is expected to grow by 20 percent by 2020. Even though improved technology is making it easier for these technicians to track and order equipment, individuals still maintain a critical function for any hospital or healthcare facility. Thanks to high demand in the market, job security and professional development, opportunities abound as entry-level technicians move up toward supervisor and management levels.

Perhaps the most important aspect of the central sterile role is the ability to develop a rewarding career in the healthcare industry. Though patients are not doling out hugs or handshakes on a regular basis, central sterile technicians can find fulfillment knowing those patients have left healthier. That’s thanks to the vital job technicians have provided by supplying the tools necessary to set them on a path toward recovery.

If you’re interested in filling the important role of a Central Sterile processing technician at Altru Health System, apply at altru.org/careers.

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.

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 altru.org/careers.

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

Faces of Altru - Published on January 27, 2017

Janice-Hamscher-CNO

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.

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.

hunting

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.

holding-hands

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.

Treating Patients Like Family | Billy Haug, MD

Faces of Altru - Published on September 1, 2016

BikingDr. Billy Haug’s warm personality and genuine caring spirit makes him a favorite around Altru Health System. His patients say his vested interest in their health and well-being, beyond their time at the clinic, is what sets him apart. We’ve heard from many of Dr. Haug’s patients recently on the care they’ve received, and all gave glowing reviews. So, we sat down with Dr. Haug to get to know him a little more and understand what drives him to treat each patient as though they were family.

Q: What is the focus of your work at Altru Advanced Orthopedics?
A. My practice focuses on medical orthopedic care, such as injury management, ultrasound guided injections, concussion management and promoting healthy lifestyle choices. I enjoy caring for those of all ages, from infants with hip dysplasia to folks in their nineties with arthritis.

Q: What have you done outside of the clinic in your field?
A. Earlier in my career I was a team physician for the USA Cross-Country Ski Team and Nordic Combined Team (which involves ski-jumping as well as cross-country skiing). I traveled with them to Norway and Finland. I also worked with the United States Anti-Doping Association at the World Junior Hockey Championship. Three years ago I was appointed to the North Dakota State Board of Medicine which meets three times a year in Bismarck.

Q: What is your approach to care?
A. I strive to be present for my patients — to really listen to them and understand their concerns. It is imperative to respect their wishes and to include them in the plan of care to reach their goals. My staff and I focus on treating everyone the way we would like our family members to be treated.

Q: What motivates you to do what you do?
A. Knowing my patients trust me with their care, and to care for their family, is humbling and rewarding. It motivates me to come to work every day with a smile knowing I can share a part of their lives. That trust is so special, and it is a bond I take seriously.

Family

Q: Why did you choose to become a physician?
A. Growing up in Grafton, N.D., I had physicians who made a difference not only in my life, but in the community as a whole. One physician made a house call to see me on a cold winter’s day, and I have always remembered that. I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives the way they did in mine.

Q: What do you do for fun?
A. My wife and I enjoy spending a lot of time with our children. We do outdoor activities and take them to live theater and musicals as much as we can. I also enjoy spending time in northeastern Minnesota paddling my kayak, taking part in bicycle endurance races and playing the guitar.

Kayak

Q: What do you do outside of your role at Altru?
A. For the last five years I have volunteered to read weekly at my children’s elementary school in “Book Buddies.” It is a wonderful way to start a day! I am also involved with Special Olympics, volunteering at the annual soccer and bocce ball tournament and at local events. My son has Trisomy 21 (Down Syndrome), and he is excited now that he is old enough to participate in Special Olympics! Additionally, I am the medical director for the Wild Hog Marathon in Grand Forks. It's a historic event this year as it’s the first full distance running marathon in Grand Forks!

Q: Where would you like to travel?
A. When I traveled with the USA Ski Team, I befriended a physician and a few coaches from Russia. Hearing their stories gave me some serious perspective. It is a place I've since wanted to visit and hopefully reestablish those friendships. I’d also love to take my children to England and expose them to where the famous British romantic poets lived. My daughter would especially love to see the new "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" theater production in London.

Q: What would you like to be if you weren’t a physician?
A. The scientist in me would have loved to be a university professor, studying the ecology of the rain forests in South America. The humanitarian in me would love to be a writer, using verse to share the human experience. Don’t look for my work in libraries or bookstores anytime soon, but maybe someday I’ll make an attempt!

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