The past several months have completely changed the way we operate as a society. The interactions we once took for granted were swiftly taken away from us, as we became all too familiar with the term “social distancing” and the abbreviation “PPE.”
What has emerged from this crisis has been nothing shy of devastating – lives lost, businesses crippled, and face-to-face connections halted.
But if we take a closer look, something incredible has happened as well. The healing power of generosity and innovation are sweeping headlines. Neighbors rally overnight to ensure local children have meals and safety. Manufacturers quickly adapt production lines to supply needed medical equipment. Healthcare professionals rapidly implement virtual visits to ensure families are cared for in the safety of their own homes.
Altru is no different. We have prepared for and responded to our calling to care for the health of our entire region. But this isn’t the first time. Our roots are filled with collaborative and innovative efforts to do what’s best for our community. That is local healthcare; that is altruism.
Our Innovative Roots
The roots of Altru Health System date back to 1892 when the first hospital (St. Luke’s) was built in Grand Forks. Over the years, the greater Grand Forks area and the medical community thrived. By the mid 1960’s, the leaders of Deaconess Hospital, St. Michael’s Hospital, the Grand Forks Clinic, and the University of North Dakota Medical Center Rehabilitation unit were discussing the problems of lack of space for expansion, duplication of services and a growing community and region. Their innovative decision to work together serving our region, rather than against one another, would be the number one strategic response to the changes and challenges in healthcare in the 90’s.
Emerging from Disaster
Altru Health System emerged as an integrated health system following a devastating natural disaster – the Grand Forks flood of 1997. As a community of 60,000 people evacuated, and water and sanitary systems across the city failed, healthcare professionals worked together to ensure the safe evacuation and continued care of hundreds of patients. Together, providers generously collaborated to re-establish medical services throughout the region and keep care close to home.
A Bold New Era
Nearly twenty years following the devastating flood, crisis strikes again at Altru as a structural failure is discovered in Altru’s Main Clinic. Again, leaders are tasked to carve a path forward, doing best by our community. In 2017, Altru announced a bold new era in care for the region including a new 21st century “Hospital in the Park,” of which construction has since been paused to focus our resources on safe, high-quality care during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Leading through a Global Pandemic
As COVID-19 spread across the world late 2019 and early 2020, Altru paved the way for COVID-19 preparedness efforts in our region by launching and staffing a COVID-19 community screening hotline, being the first institution locally to offer curbside COVID-19 testing, redeploying staff and rapidly implementing virtual care. As we began caring for COVID-19 patients in a designated unit, Altru was one of the first hospitals in the state and nation to offer convalescent plasma therapy to COVID-19 patients (with great success!).
Throughout our history, Altru has led with innovative care powered by the generosity and trust of our community. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the importance of accessing and supporting local healthcare to the forefront. Neighbors caring for neighbors – the truest form of altruism, and the very act of generosity needed to heal our health system, community, and region.
Thank you for continuing to trust and support Altru and our providers as we respond to the evolving pandemic. We are committed to providing world-class care close to home, always.