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Wishek Hospital

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Bone Health

A bone density test can diagnose osteopenia (low bone density), and osteoporosis (a disease that causes bone tissue loss). The lower your bone density, the greater your risk of breaking a bone.  The Wishek Hospital and Clinics recently purchased a new bone density machine.  Lisa Swarts, Xray technician, and Aubrey Atkins, NP, offer their knowledge of how this machine can help patients understand their own bone health. 

A bone density test can help you and your healthcare provider:

  • learn if you have osteopenia or osteoporosis
  • predict your chance of breaking a bone
  • check the status of your bone density
  • find out how well an osteoporosis medicine is working

      Earlier this year, The Hologic DXA Scan Bone Density Machine was delivered to the Wishek Hospital.  Funds for this much-needed, high-quality machine had been budgeted to replace a unit that was at least fifteen years old.
      “The DXA Scan has become the gold standard of measuring bone health, and we have it right here in our community,” says Aubrey, who came from a nursing department that put a heavy emphasis on bone health.  “Our new bone density machine allows easy access to a non-invasive screening method to help improve the health of people in Wishek and the surrounding area.”  The DXA has many enhancements that will better benefit patients. 

  1. More efficient storage.  An image can be retrieved via computer rather than paper records.
  2. Less time.   A bone takes less than a minute to scan, as opposed to five minutes with the old machine.
  3. Better results.  The new machine produces a clearer image and results come back within 24 hours. 
  4. Additional scans.  As well as scanning hips and backs, the DXA also scans forearms
  5. Less radiation.  Minimizing radiation exposure from six minutes to 60 seconds is better on the body.

     According to Aubrey, providers usually order a scan for patients who have high risk factors including family history, low vitamin D or calcium deficiencies.  Those who are over the age of 40 should also get a scan every 24 months.  Gender and ethnicity can also play in to deficiency levels.  “The older you get, the higher your risk becomes, especially in females,” says Aubrey.  Generally, women stop producing calcium around the age of 30 and their bone density is affected by estrogen levels, pregnancies, and menopause later in life.  
      “In all these years, I have only scanned one or two males,” commented Lisa.  “I would like people to know that this is not just a women’s test.  It is good for men to bring this up during their annual exams as well, especially depending on your past medication intake and health history.”

Thing to help you gain bone density:

  • Dairy products
  • Vitamin D supplements
  • Weight-bearing and aerobic exercises
  • The WHC physical therapy department

      Factors that decrease bone density in males and females include steroid use, remedies for irritable bowel syndrome, crohn’s disease and cancer, as well as smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.   Getting a bone scan would also be necessary if you have lost one to two inches in height throughout your life.  Back pain, along with height loss, could be an indication of small compression fractures in the spine that have occurred over time, and is worth mentioning to your provider.    
      Both Aubrey and Lisa encourage all patients to ask their providers if they qualify for a bone density test during their next visit.  “Deficiencies differ in everybody.  The bone density machine will help determine whether or not to treat it,” says Aubrey.  Many insurances will also help cover the cost.
      Lisa explained her vision for this new machine, “What we need here is to get younger people in before they start losing bone density.  We have so many patients who come who already have osteoporosis/osteopenia when we could have done more preventative work.  We have a new machine, and my hope is that people take advantage of this.” Along with Lisa, Jo Vilhauer, Stephanie Holt and Sheila Brosy are additional technicians who have been trained on the DXA machine.

Information was also adapted from the National Osteoporosis Foundation website.



Staff Swaps Coffee Breaks for Workouts

Worktime coffee breaks are good for a lot of things, including eye relief from the computer screen, chatting with coworkers and stretching your legs.  Some Wishek Hospital and Clinics employees do all three during their morning and afternoon workout sessions. 

The idea of exercise during the workday came from a women’s health conference in Bismarck this fall that inspired several WHC staff members.  One of the breakout sessions featured a demonstration of exercises that can be done in the office.  Jackie Weigel, a WHC transcriptionist and medical records clerk, attended the session and her interest was piqued.  “I thought it would be a good idea to use our coffee break time for exercise.”  The 15 minute mid-morning and mid-afternoon allotments posed a fitting time to schedule regular workout sessions.

When Jackie returned to the office, she shared what she had learned with her coworker, Georgine. With permission from their supervisors, the two started their coffee break workouts.  “Others saw what we were doing and asked to join,” recalls Jackie.  Now, the group that meets in the Wishek Clinic basement has up to eight women who work out together.  Jackie sees it as a simple way to get fit in these winter months.  “It doesn’t take a lot of time.  We sit too much during the day and need to get our minds and muscles doing something else.”  The group has added exercises, swapped some out and are constantly challenging themselves. 

As well as some determination, “Sticking to it takes other people to encourage and hold you accountable,” commented Jackie.  For these ladies, their regular exercises have become a group effort and builds comradery over something besides work.  “It’s fun as well as a good time to visit with coworkers.”  She testifies that just 30 minutes a day doesn’t seem like a lot, but if they do the exercises right, they often walk away hurting.  But it’s a good hurting. 

Along with the physical benefits, Jackie finds that these workout breaks are a boost for mental focus and office morale, backing up the numerous studies that show exercise improves productivity levels.   “It gets our minds more active while working.”  Jackie says exercise has a similar effect on her as caffeine.  “It helps wake me up a bit and be more alert throughout the rest of the workday.  The exercising really is a good ‘pick-me-up.’”

Try some of these coffee break office workouts with your coworkers

  • Running in place
  • Jumping jacks
  • Arm exercises
  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Leg lifts
  • Calf raises
  • Push ups
  • Sit ups
  • Planks

If you are a Blue Cross Blue Shield member, you can earn up to $250 a year by tracking your physical activity, diet, and water intake throughout the week.  Go to to sign up and start gaining points.


Local Business Provides Incentives for First Responders

Troy Scherr (left) and Bradley Schilling (right).     Most small towns across America struggle to find first responders like ambulance workers and firefighters.  Troy Scherr, co-owner of Sayler Implement in Wishek and Linton, understands this and has done something about it.
     Troy initiated a policy three years ago that has created incentives to fill some of these much-needed positions:  if you are on the ambulance crew, you get time off when paged, no question (WHC provides a stipend to ambulance workers).  If you are a volunteer firefighter, you get paid time off if you get called in.  Sayler Implement Mechanic Bradley Schilling is a Wishek firefighter and also joined the ambulance crew as an EMR (Emergency Medical Responder), having graduated from high school just two years ago.  His friend Colbie Fandrich, a WHC-trained EMT, encouraged Bradley to take the plunge.  Troy’s response to Bradley’s merit was, “I was impressed!  One day during break, I saw Bradley studying his (ambulance) book and he told me he wanted to join.”
     Bradley completed his EMR training in a month and a half and is on his way to becoming an EMT.  He keeps his pager on him during his assigned shift every Thursday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. in case he gets called in.  He has proven himself a dedicated worker with an eager-to-learn attitude.  With some extra income and approved time off from his boss, Bradley thinks it’s a pretty good deal.  But the best benefit of joining the ambulance team is, “getting to help people that really need help,” Bradley said, plain and simple.
     So far, Bradley is the only Wishek Sayler Implement employee on the ambulance crew, and the only one on both the ambulance and fire crew.  Dave Just, Larry Wald, and Jason Kuntz are also firefighters.  Troy compensates pay for the firefighters since their position is volunteer.  “I pay them for their time, even if it takes five hours, six hours, it doesn’t matter.  I pay them.  We need them for the community,” Troy stated with conviction.  As a business owner, Troy sees the ambulance team and firefighters as essential for our towns.  “These guys are leaders in both of these departments.  Some of their calls have got to be tough.  They’re all young guys, so it’s the least I can do to help them as they are helping the community.”  Troy came up with his policy after struggling between his desire to be a fireman and his responsibilities at the dealership.  “So this is my volunteer opportunity: to let them off and pay them to be volunteers, since I can’t do it myself at this point.”
     Troy understands the struggle to recruit volunteers and the sacrifice some people make to volunteer in a small town.  “You often have to take vacation time to be a volunteer, and it shouldn’t be like that because every community needs both the ambulance and fire departments.  I feel like you have to support those who support you, and these two departments are a part of our support systems.”    

If you are interested in duplicating Troy Scherr’s policy for your own employees and would like more information on the commitment level required for ambulance crew members, please contact WHC’s Felicia Sampson at 452-2326.  



Physical Therapy: Caring for the Whole Patient  

The WHC PT Team (left to right): Rebecca Bender, Kristen Burgad-Heidrich, John Kosiak and PT Aide/Receptionist Gerri HornerPhysical therapists are licensed health care professionals who can help patients reduce pain and improve or restore mobility.  Our PTs at the Wishek Hospital and Clinics are each trained in the treatment and care of orthopedic, neurological, post-fracture/post-surgical care, wound care and sports medicine conditions.  Rebecca Bender is currently undergoing a specialty certification in orthopedics and manual therapy.  John Kosiak and Kristen Burgad-Heidrich are both certified athletic trainers who specialize in sports medicine conditions.  All three answered these questions to shed light on the whole-patient care our PT department provides (information is also adapted from

What are the most common injuries that you treat?
PTs examine each individual and develop a plan by using treatment techniques.  These techniques aid patients in their ability to move, reduce pain, restore function and prevent disability.  The most common physical therapy treatments we do are for pain in the lower back, neck, shoulder and knee.  We also deal with post-operative conditions (total knee, shoulder or hip replacement, fracture repairs, rotator cuff repairs, etc.).

What are some of the new or most-utilized pieces of equipment you use on patients?
One of the newer pieces is our Game Ready machine which provides ice and compression simultaneously.  We currently have sleeves to treat ankle, knee and shoulder injuries.  We use mechanical traction (stretching through harnesses) to treat lower back and cervical (neck) conditions.  Electrical stimulation is used for various things like pain, muscle control and swelling. 

While treating student athletes for ankle sprains, shoulder pain, knee injuries, ACL tears, or post-surgical repairs, what other injuries do you expect in an athletic season?
Concussions.  To treat those, we follow a five step program to make sure athletes are ready to return to their designated sport.  We assist in strengthening their neck muscles as well to prevent further head injuries.

When would you recommend someone to call the PT department?
North Dakota is a state where some insurances allow direct access to physical therapists, meaning that you may see a PT without first getting a referral.  However, some insurances (like Medicare) do require that a PT patient is first seen and referred by a provider.  It would be best to first check with your insurance company to verify coverage before making an appointment.

Physical therapy, at times, can be an equally effective alternative to surgery and prescription drugs for numerous conditions ranging from back pain and degenerative disk disease to knee osteoarthritis.

Since elderly patients are among the majority of your caseloads, how is treatment you offer them different than those for younger generations? 
When working with the older population, there is a greater chance of prior injuries and conditions that may be affecting their overall functioning.  They may also have underlying conditions such as diabetes, heart disease or a previous stroke.  All of these issues can modify the way we provide treatment and affect the care we give them.  For example, a patient may see us for elevated shoulder pain, but during the initial evaluation, we address their impairments, and their goals as well as their shoulder pain.  Overall we look at the patient as a whole.  We will then work through those issues with the patient.

What are some things patients can do during the winter to keep their mobility loose and pain at a minimum? 
Basically, try to keep moving.  We all get pretty sedentary during winter months, not wanting to walk on ice or get out into the cold.  We encourage people to get gym memberships and take advantage of facilities open to the public for walking.  There are also general strengthening exercises you can do throughout your day, whether standing and sitting. 

The website (and facebook page) has great exercise tips that you can implement throughout your workday


Ana Buchholz: A Life-Saving Story Still worth Telling

     “I tell Rosemary every time I see her, ‘you saved my life,’” says Ana Buchholz, a Gackle resident who, seven and a half years ago, experienced something that is still worth talking about.
     It was June of 2007, and Ana had been having terrible reoccurring backaches for about a year.  “One night, I couldn’t sleep because of the pain, and I asked Buck (Ana’s husband) to take me to the Wishek hospital.”  She originally thought it was a kidney infection, but the doctor had different thoughts.  “He wanted to feel my stomach and when he did, he reported it was hard.”  They prescribed some pain and blood pressure medication and scheduled Ana for an Xray the following day.  Since the pain had subsided by then, Ana cancelled her Xray appointment, but two weeks later, the pain got much worse.

“She touched my belly and said, ‘I can feel your heartbeat. I believe you have an aneurysm.’  She just knew right away.”

     It was July 3rd when she went in to the Gackle Clinic to see WHC’s PA-C Rosemary Hauff, who also wanted to feel her stomach.  “She touched my belly and said, ‘I can feel your heartbeat. I believe you have an aneurysm.’  She just knew right away,” recalls Ana.  With Rosemary’s consent, Ana and Buck headed to Fargo that night to get Xrays, covering their bases so as to be in the same city as their daughter, Kathy, in case this would turn into surgery.
     The next day, Ana underwent tests, Xrays and ultrasounds.  The results showed she had an abdominal aortic aneurysm, meaning the large blood vessel (aorta) that supplies blood to the abdomen, pelvis and legs had become abnormally large and started ballooning outward.  If left untreated, it could have eventually ruptured.
     Ana’s aneurysm measured eight by ten centimeters in size.  A vascular surgeon who performed Ana’s procedure, knew the risk of having an aneurism that large.  “If it bursts during surgery, you'll be gone,” he told her.
     “So do I have a 50/50 chance?” Ana asked.  His reply calmed her fears.  He was 99.9% sure that would not happen and that she would get through the procedure just fine.  The faith Ana had in Rosemary’s guidance and her surgeon kept her positive in spite of the nervousness she felt.
      The following Monday, July 9th, Ana underwent the surgery that replaced her aorta.  She woke up Tuesday morning in ICU and had to re-learn how to walk.  “It was very hard,” recalls Ana.  “They had to cut through muscle and nerves, so my right leg went numb for a while.”  After being discharged, Ana stayed with her daughter in Fargo to continue recovery.

“We are very lucky to have that level of medical service for our small community. Very lucky.”

      In August, Ana returned to her home in Gackle and replaced her walker with a cane that she used until the end of that year.  Ana had a lot of help from her husband throughout the recovery process.  “I knew I had to keep it together because she was in trouble and I wanted to make sure, hopefully, that they would be able to fix everything.  I knew I had to keep from being a basket case and give her all I could,” said Buck, Ana’s husband of 53 years.  At the time, the couple owned the Tri-County Newspaper.  With the help from family members and friends, the paper stayed afloat during Ana’s recovery, and Buck was still able to spend much of July in Fargo with his wife.
     Ana’s first surgery was followed by a second just six months later.  Ana had another aneurysm close to her heart that was fixed with a stent graft.  Other than a scar that extends from under her left arm to her navel and a change in her vocal chords that soon corrected itself, Ana has been able to go about her daily life with few hindrances.  “I can’t even tell,” says Ana about the artificial aorta and graft.  Ana was 63 years old when she went through the surgeries.  She is now 70 and stays active with housework, cooking and baking.  Rosemary has remained Ana’s primary care provider.  “Oh she is great.  You can't beat her.  We have cousins in Medina that come just to see her.  Rosemary is personal and thorough.  She will go over everything with you…if one thing doesn’t work, she will try something different.”
      Buck is also happy to have facilities and providers in our communities that take care of people like they did his wife.  “We are very lucky to have this level of medical service for our small community. Very lucky,” said Buck.

“Oh she is great.  You can't beat her.  Rosemary is personal and thorough.  She will go over everything with you.”