The Great Outdoors and Lightening Safety

By Robyn Gust, MS/ATC, Trinity Health Sports Medicine Manager

With the nice weather returning, everyone is excited to get outside and spring/ summer sports are geared up to start playing. We even welcome the spring rain to wash away the dirt left behind from winter and to kick start the spring bloom. It is important to remember, however, that along with those spring rains come thunderstorms, and an often underestimated danger for outdoor events in the form of lightning.

When it comes to lightning, the first tip of safety is to make sure to keep an eye on the sky. It is important to not only look for weather such as lightning, but you want to listen for it as well.

According to the National Weather Service, if you can hear thunder, lightning is close enough to strike you. One of the most common ways people have used to determine if they were at an estimated “safe” distance from a thunderstorm growing up was to count the time they saw the flash of  lightning to when the sound of thunder was heard, thinking that is how many miles away it is. The correct way to use the “Flash to Bang Method”, however, of estimating the distance is to count the seconds between the lightning flash to the thunder bang, then divide by five to get the distance in miles. Using this method, six miles is considered a danger zone and those within that range should have already taken shelter in a safe place.

Understanding what structures are a safe shelter is vital in ensuring your safety when waiting out a thunder storm. A safe shelter is considered a substantial-sized building that has electricity and/or plumbing. If you do not have a safe shelter as an option, seeking shelter in a vehicle with a hard top is the next best option. It is important that you do not seek shelter in a freestanding dugout, picnic shelter, tent or under a tree. You want to avoid high ground areas and water, such as lakes, rivers or ponds.

In the age of technology, there are also many resources that people can use in the form of mobile apps or even stand-alone lightning detectors, that can get you vital information. They can tell you how far away the storm may be, display the radar in your area and some even show the exact location lightning has struck. The National Weather Service is also a great resource to look for many different kinds of weather safety tips, including lightning safety.

So, once lightning is sighted and you have taken shelter, when is it safe to return to the great outdoors? The National Weather Service and The National Federation of State High School Associations recommend waiting 30 minutes from the time of the last lightning strike to returning to activities outdoors. But even after 30 minutes, it is important to still keep a close watch on the weather.



Safe Sitter 2017 Schedule

Safe Sitter teaches adolescent babysitters how to handle crises, how to keep their charges secure, and how to nurture and guide a young child. Safe Sitter babysitters help children stay safe and sound while their parents are away. In the process, these students 11 years and older emerge as more confident, responsible and compassionate teens and adults.

During this one-day course, students listen, practice, role-play, and learn an array of topics including:

  • Choking and rescue breathing
  • Safety for the sitter
  • The business of babysitting
  • Accident management
  • Child development
  • CPR

2017 Summer Class Schedule

  • June 12
  • June 27
  • June 29
  • July 10
  • July 13
  • July 17
  • July 20
  • August 3

All classes are held 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Trinity’s Health Center-Riverside, Education Center, 1900 8th Ave SE.

Due to high demand for this class, the course fee of $50 must be paid in advance. Please register by calling the Community Education Department at 857-5099, and then mail your check (payable to Trinity Health) to Trinity Health Community Education, PO Box 5020, Minot, ND 58702. Payment must be received in advance to confirm your participation in this course.

Sports Medicine Goes Mobile

Over the past 30 years, the Trinity Health Sports Medicine department have had athletic trainers on the sidelines at sporting events to keep the athletes safe and be ready for emergencies or medical care if they do get injured.

Recently, you may have noticed something new at local outdoor athletic events: the department’s 26-foot trailer. In late autumn of 2016, the department acquired the Sports Medicine Mobile Clinic, which “provides an environment that is away from the elements and allows a higher degree of patient privacy while we provide medical care to the patients at outdoor sporting events,” explained Robyn Gust, MS, ATC, Trinity Health Sports Medicine Manager.

While working with the Justin Boots Sports Medicine Team, Dr. Dawn Mattern, Trinity Health Sports Medicine Medical Director, became acquainted with their mobile treatment units. “They have rather large travel trailers that they use and carry behind a semi,” Mattern explained. When John M. Kutch, Trinity Health President and CEO, brought up the idea to Dr. Mattern, she relayed her experience with them and he agreed that Trinity Health Sports Medicine should have one, too.

Over the past year, the mobile unit has proven to be a valuable asset for area athletes and athletic trainers. The privacy of treating the patient is one of the best aspects of the mobile unit, Mattern said. “It is one thing to put stitches into someone with five hundred people watching you; it’s another to be able to take them off the field of play and take care of things. Everybody relaxes more.”

The size is also a nice aspect, she added. “The patient can lay down on a big table where we can walk around the table where we can walk around the table comfortably. Evaluating an athlete without having them fall off a bench.”

Dr. Mattern also noted that having the mobile unit makes it easier to get the athlete out of bad weather. “It’s great for us to have during nastier weather, like rain or wind; it’s nice to be able to get out of that,” Mattern said. “We had it at Minot State for soccer games and football, of course. We try to keep it busy. This spring, we will be able to get it to baseball games. Our main goal is to have it parked over at the Jack Hoeven Park, so we can service all the baseball teams and the tournaments we will cover. Our patients and members of the public have offered support for the mobile clinic. They want to stick their head in and take a peek.”

The need for the mobile unit was critical for many purposes. According to Gust, a high amount of equipment – portable table, splint bag, medical bag, AED, cooler of ice, etc. – is needed on-site for events, and the mobile clinic provides an easier way to transport the items to the event. “There is also additional medical equipment, such as an emergency spine board and wheel chair, that is in the mobile clinic that allows for better care for the patients.”

“I think it’s great. We don’t have to haul tables and splint bags and stretchers,” Dr. Mattern added. “We can keep it all there, so it’s easier on the sports medicine team and care for a larger volume of athletes.”

The mobile unit is utilized at sporting events in the area, including football games at the Minot high school, as well as soccer and football games at Minot State University, during the fall, and baseball and softball games in the spring.

Trinity Physicians Among First to Offer New Sinus Stent

Dr NoelMark Noel, DO

Trinity Health otolaryngologists Mark Noel, DO; Rob Thomas, MD; and Robert Fischer, MD, are among the first ENT specialists in the nation to employ a new device that helps keep sinuses open after sinus surgery.

PROPEL® Contour, a product of Intersect ENT, Inc., is a dissolvable drug-eluting stent that is placed in the sinuses after sinus surgery to deliver medication and mechanical support to optimize surgical outcomes. The device was recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Dr. Noel said Trinity Health is one of a handful of ENT centers in the country selected to pilot the new stent. He said the device is the latest in a line of sinus stents designed to treat the various passages of the sinus system.

“The PROPEL is a cylindrical shaped stent that we’ve been using for the past couple of years with traditional sinus surgery for use in the ethmoid sinuses,” Dr. Noel explained. “The PROPEL Contour with its hourglass design can be used in conjunction with balloon sinuplasty and is well-suited for the frontal sinuses in the forehead and maxillary sinuses in the cheeks. This represents the majority of procedures we do for the treatment of chronic sinusitis.”

Chronic sinusitis is persistent inflammation of the sinuses and is one of the most common health problems in the U.S. Symptoms include congestion, decreased sense of smell, facial pain or pressure, and persistent post-nasal drip that can feel like a never-ending cold.

Dr. Robert ThomasRobert Thomas, MD

Dr. Thomas said treatments for chronic sinusitis have improved significantly in the past decade. The days of painful gauze packing and prolonged recovery have given way to better methods, including balloon sinuplasty, in which a balloon is used to open inflamed sinuses in the same way that cardiologists open blocked arteries during balloon angioplasty.

“Chronic sinusitis can be a debilitating condition for patients. Thankfully, treatments have evolved, and outcomes for sinus procedures are much better than they have been in the past,” Dr. Thomas said. “We’re excited to offer our patients PROPEL Contour, since clinical trials show it can reduce the need for post-operative interventions by as much as 65 percent.”

Robert FischerRobert Fischer, MD

The new stent appears to be performing as advertised. Trinity’s ENT doctors have already incorporated the PROPEL Contour into its sinus surgery repertoire. “I believe we were one of the first centers in the country to use it,” Dr. Fischer said, adding, “So far it’s working well.”

Dr. Noel emphasized that the type of treatment used on any given patient depends on the sinuses being operated on and the underlining disease process. “The fact that we now have stent treatments that can be used for the frontal, maxillary and ethmoidal sinuses increases the number of patients who will benefit,” he said.

Trinity Health’s Ear, Nose and Throat department is based at Health Center – East, Suite 203, located at 101 3rd Avenue SW, in Minot. For appointments or consultations, please call 857-5986.

Celiac Disease: A Personal Story

By Kayla Cole, RD, LRD, Outpatient Dietitian with Trinity Health

May is Celiac Disease Awareness month. The Celiac Disease Foundation website says “celiac disease is a serious genetic autoimmune disorder where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine. It is estimated to affect one in 100 people worldwide. Two and one-half million Americans are undiagnosed and are at risk for long-term health complications.”

As an outpatient dietitian, I have counseled many patients on gluten-free nutrition therapy after diagnosis of celiac disease, but the life changing affect it has on a person is not completely understood until you go through it yourself. I think this is true of many, if not all, conditions and diagnoses. I feel it is important as a person, and as a part of the healthcare team, to remember this as it is sometimes easily forgotten.

I was diagnosed with celiac disease about six months ago. With my position as a dietitian and now a person with celiac disease, I was asked to share my story.

In July 2015, my life changed forever. Over the next year, I had many random symptoms; some seemed to have an explanation and others did not. My main symptom was nausea but I also had reflux pain, bowel issues, bumps on my skin, red dots on my legs, hot flashes, lack of concentration, unexplained emotions, extreme joint pain and fatigue, vitamin deficiencies, and elevated liver enzymes.

In November 2015, I went to the ER and a scan revealed a gallstone so my gallbladder was removed. I seemed to improve some and then got worse again. In January 2016, I had a scope done; nothing was found. Through the diligence of myself and the gastroenterology (GI) department at Trinity Health, we kept looking. In September 2016, we discovered my liver enzymes were 3-4 times what they were supposed to be. The GI department recommended a liver panel blood draw which was sent to Mayo Clinic; the results came back: positive antibodies for celiac disease. On September 28, 2016, I was diagnosed. I was shocked. The scope in January 2016 hadn’t shown signs of celiac disease. Nevertheless, there I was, diagnosed with celiac disease, finally understanding the emotions that my patients had gone through. It was no longer just books smarts on celiac disease for this dietitian, it was time to live it.

Many people have asked me if I was upset the diagnosis took so long. I always explain that many people have a much longer diagnosis time than I did. Part of the reason it is so hard to diagnose is because everyone can have such different side effects. I was very thankful for the GI department and their diligence to help me figure out what was wrong with me. I was honestly starting to feel like I was crazy. Now, over six months after diagnosis, I am feeling much better. I still have my days where I don’t feel quite normal but for the most part am feeling much better after adhering to a strict gluten-free diet. Of course, I sometimes don’t feel well when I get “glutened” accidentally.

My family and friends have been extremely supportive through this big life change. My husband, Devin, has encouraged and supported having a gluten-free household so that I don’t have to be constantly worried about contamination of food or kitchen supplies. If nothing else, I believe that being diagnosed with celiac disease has made me a more empathetic person and dietitian. I always tried my hardest to be understanding and compassionate, but when you go through feeling like crud for so long and have no idea what is going on with you, it really sheds a different kind of light on what patients are going through.

Every May, one of the dietitians at Trinity Health a grocery store tour on Celiac Disease/Gluten Intolerance and have a community taste testing event at MarketPlace Foods to discuss naturally gluten-free foods, current gluten-free products they carry, possible future gluten-free products, and people’s likes/dislikes. Throughout the year, I also see patients in private appointments, have other grocery store tours and cooking classes, and take part in other community nutrition events. I find great value being involved with nutrition education in our community and hope I can be a support to those going through this not-so-invited adventure called celiac disease.

To learn more about celiac disease, visit the Celiac Disease Foundation website,, or contact Kayla Cole, RD, LRD, at 857-5107


Kayla Cole, RD, LRD, Trinity Health Outpatient Dietitian

Kayla Cole, RD, LRD, Trinity Health Outpatient Dietitian

Audiology Offers Itemized Model for Hearing Aids

About 20 percent of Americans, or about 48 million, report some degree of hearing loss, the Hearing Loss Association of America reports.

To help combat the different degrees of hearing loss, those who struggle with communicating have turned to forms of technology. According to The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), a branch of the National Institute of Health, about 28.8 million adults in the United States can benefit from using hearing aids.

Perhaps you looked into hearing aids and maybe you were intimidated by the price tag attached to this saving grace. What exactly does that cost reflect? The price of a hearing aid may not only reflect the cost of the hearing aid itself, but of services that come with it – services that you may never need.

Now, with a “pay-as-you- go” philosophy, audiology patients at Trinity Health can potentially save as they no longer have to buy packages that include services they don’t need.

Trinity’s Audiology team, which includes audiologists Laura Greer, Jerrica Maxson, and Tricia Nechodom, AuDs., now provides an itemized pricing, which is recommended by the American Academy of Audiology (AAA) and the Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA) and endorsed by the Hearing Loss Association of America. Itemization went info affect in January.

“Patients have been happy and impressed with the transparency and their choice in hearing care,” Nechodom said, noting that patients are able to more fully understand all costs associated with the hearing aid.

“Before, patients would see a figure anywhere between $1,500 and $3,150 per aid and not understand why it cost that much,” she explained. “They’ve been pleased to see the breakdown.”

The classic model for hearing aid sales was a bundling model, in which the patient would purchase a particular package that included the hearing aid and so many services in one lump sum. While appealing, some services included in the package were paid for, but not always needed.

“Our nationally recognized itemized model sets us apart from other clinics,” Nechodom said. “Hearing aids and assistive devices are a large investment, and separating their costs from the professional services prevents our patients from paying for services they may never use.”

Nechodom likened the model to purchasing a car: you buy the car and then purchase services – oil changes or new tires, for example – for it as you go along.

The itemized service model offers transparency. Products are separated from professional services and broken down into an itemized list. Hearing aid pricing is more transparent to consumers, Nechodom said. “We want hearing aids to be as accessible as possible. We provide the patients with the choice to pay-as-you-go or add a service plan.”

Itemization helps make hearing aids affordable – potentially by a thousand dollars – and improves access to hearing healthcare, Nechodom added.

“With internet sales and a push for over-the-counter hearing aid products at the national level, there are more options than ever for patients to purchase hearing aids,” she said, noting that most manufacturers produce hearing aids that can be programmed at Trinity Health. “We want to help people hear – it doesn’t matter where you get the product.”

“We don’t just sell hearing aids. We want to rehabilitate our patients hearing through evidence-based clinical practice. The hearing aid is only one tool in the improved communication toolbox,” Nechodom added, noting that she doesn’t want the cost to prohibit the patient’s ability to hear. “No matter what the budget is, I feel we have a solution to fit our patients’ communication needs.”

Trinity Health’s Audiology department is available to help with your hearing aid and other hearing-related needs. Their offices are located at Health Center – West, 101-3rd Avenue SW, in Minot. For an appointment, please call 857-5986.

May is Exercise is Medicine Month

By Dawn Mattern, MD

What if there was a pill that could reduce your risk of diabetes? Would you take it? How about heart disease and hypertension? What about depression and cancer? What if this pill had very few side effects and was the first line treatment for diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, depression and many other medical diseases? The truth is: we do have this magic pill- it’s exercise.

We all know exercise is good for us, but just how good is amazing. I’m constantly humbled by the medical research that shows that exercise is better for us than many medications and even  procedures and surgeries. Yet, it may not always be in our treatment discussions for many reasons.

The current recommendations state that adults should strive for 150 minutes a week of activity for health benefits. The truth is that any amount helps, the people also get the most benefit from exercise are the couch potatoes that just get up and get moving. More is better, and our goal should always be to improve and add minutes of moving. Initially, we thought that five 30 minute daily sessions was ideal, but new research states that our “weekend warriors”  who get all their minutes on Saturday and Sunday get the same benefits.

The American Diabetic Association has also endorsed exercise as treatment and goes one step further by asking patients to move for three minutes every 30 minutes one is sitting. This brief activity period improves blood glucose control and lowers the need for insulin and other medications. Sedentary behavior has become a new risk factor for all of us and we must aim not only to be active but limit our inactivity as well.

Exercise and activity come in many types, some are easier for others to do and some have more benefits than others. Arthritis patients may feel better exercising in water, either swimming or doing water aerobics, older patients may get more benefit from balance training, and some may want to walk the dog- the bottom line is that it all counts as activity and therefore has health benefits.

In celebration of Exercise is Medicine Month, I invite you to the annual Doc Walk on May 3 at 6:30 p.m., at Oak Park. I hope to see you there!

Dawn Mattern, MD, is a board certified physician with Trinity Health’s Family Medicine and Sports Medicine departments. She can be reached at 857-5500.

TeleSitter Program Helps Insure Patient Safety

Trinity Health is set to implement a new technology that will help keep patients safer and help to reduce the number of falls and potential injuries during their hospital stay.

The AvaSys video monitoring system, known as TeleSitter, will help keep a watchful eye over acute care patients in a more practical way.

Nurses typically round on patients throughout their shift. “We can have several patients that we try to monitor simultaneously to care for and prevent injury on a daily basis,” explained Karen Zimmerman, RN, vice president and chief nursing officer with Trinity Health. “A patient may be at risk for falling, for pulling at IV lines or tubes, or may be a little disoriented and anxious about their surroundings.”

With TeleSitter, a technician would be able to monitor a number of patients at the same time, via the monitoring system, as if the patients were all in the same room.

The implementation of TeleSitter is a positive step toward patient safety, Zimmerman said. The monitoring system is a safeguard for patients to prevent them from falls and injuries. Falls happen when patients try to get out of bed, walk without assistance, or forget they need assistance.

“Across the country, most falls that happen in a hospital setting are unwitnessed,” Zimmerman said. “Someone is trying to get up to go to the bathroom and they fall before caregivers realize they need help. TeleSitter is a way to keep closer tabs on a patient, just to protect them and keep them safe.”

TeleSitter works like this: a trained technician monitors a number of patients through a camera and two-way audio stationed in each room. If a patient needs help, they can use the audio system to communicate their needs to the technician. The technician can then alert a nurse to the patient’s room to attend their need.

Frequent rounding of patients still occurs, but TeleSitter augments that process. Having a nurse in each room, 24 hours a day while the patient is in the hospital, is impossible, Zimmerman said. “But with this technology, we can monitor patients at a higher risk for falls or other injuries, with closer observation.”

As TeleSitter is comprised of mobile units, Zimmerman noted it it will be featured in the new hospital campus.

Burgardt, Wallner Receive Eagle Award

Congratulations to Kathryn Burgardt, FNP-C, with Trinity Health’s Pediatric department, and Ashley Wallner, FNP-C, with Trinity Health’s Neurosurgery department, who were recently awarded the Eagle Award from the Minot Area Chamber of Commerce.

“She goes above and beyond to get to the bottoms of my children’s illnesses,” the nomination letter for Burgardt read. “Specifically on Wednesday, February 8, she gave my son a very thorough exam and got him prescribed the medications he needed. She is always very thorough and listens patiently to all of our concerns.”

“Unequivocally, Ashley is responsible for improving my life in a major way. She went far beyond what any health care professional has ever done for me up to this point, and I can’t thank her enough,” the letter for Wallner said. “What she has done is the reason that these Eagle Awards exist, and I can’t think of any other experience I’ve had where someone is more deserving of this great award.”

Receiving the Eagle Award is validation of the employee’s pursing of the mission of Trinity Health, which values exceeding professional quality standards and customer expectations.


Step Away from the Light

Do you remember being a child and sitting close to the television, only to have your mom or dad yell at your to back up?

Times have changed. Now, instead of the television, mobile devices are the main subject of concern.

Throughout the day, you probably look at your cellphone often. Perhaps it’s to check an email or to show a friend a funny video. Maybe you use a table to binge-watch your favorite Netflix show or play a game you just can’t put down.

You may spend hours staring at a device each day, and you are not alone.

According to statistics from the Vision Council, an optical trade organization, nearly 90 percent of Americans use digital devices for two or more hours each day. Seventy percent of Americans use two or more devices at a time.

Digital eyestrain is an increasingly common issue for youth and adults, and it can lead to short-term and even long-term issues. Symptoms include neck/shoulder/back pain, headache, blurred vision and dry eyes. The Vision Council says 65 percent of Americans report symptoms of digital eyestrain.

“There is a lot of discussion recently regarding the blue light that is emitted by screens and how that can potentially be harmful to the eyes,” says Brad Schimke, OD, an optometrist with Trinity Health. The blue light in digital devices contains a very short wavelength, producing a higher amount of energy. Studies suggest that, over time, exposure to the blue end of the light spectrum could cause serious long-term damage to your eyes.

Schimke says eyestrain can happen whether a mobile device is involved or not. “Normal eyestrain from extended periods of reading, paperwork or studying can come from reduced blinking that can lead to some dry eye symptoms,” Schimke says. “Focusing on one distance for an extended period of time cause some headache or eyestrain.”

Using a mobile device can cause the same symptoms, he says, but the brightness from the screen makes it easier to look at, further reducing the blink rate and adding to more dry eye symptoms.

Soothing the Strain

IF you must spend much of the day looking at a screen, there are some measures you can take to protect your eyes.

For one, Schimke says, lens coatings are available for glasses. “For some people, those coatings can seem to make a nice improvement symptomatically,” he says.

Artificial tears can be of significant benefit as well, he adds. “Using the tears before you start working on a screen, during the time on the screen and after you are done can all help they eyes feel better,” he says. “I generally recommend staying away from any of the ‘redness reliever’ drops and just using lubricating artificial tears that are available over the counter.”

Another solution which might help prevent the damage of long-term exposure to blue light is a filter that can be applied to lens. Anyone who wears glasses, from babies to older adults, can benefit, says Stephanie Stripe, COA/ABO-C, optical sales manager at Vision Galleria, the retail outlet located at Trinity Regional Eyecare-Minot Center.

Protection again the blue light UV rays is important because long-term problems include harmful effects on the lens, macula and retina.

Setting Limits

To combat an abundance of blue light UV exposure, Schimke says the best option is to “put the device down.” He recommends adopting what is called the “20/20/20 rule” to help alleviate the strain. Every 20 minutes, Schimke recommends looking away from your screen for 20 to 30 seconds and focusing on something at at least 20 feet away. This alleviates the “locked-in” focusing system that can contribute to the strain.

The rule is important for kids, too, who “love to hold the device very close to their face, and that can increase the focusing demand and the brightness coming off the screen.”

When you can’t look away, Schimke says, there are other options. “Some screens now have a ‘night’ setting that looks a bit more yellowed and can be more comfortable for some,” he says.

“I’d love it if folks could go anywhere from one to two hours of no screen time before they go to bed at night,” he says. “It’s been shown that exposure to the blue  light from a screen can affect one’s ability to fall asleep. So, when our teenagers won’t put the phone down and then wonder why they can’t fall asleep at night, these issue may be directly related.”

Vision Galleria has two locations: in Minot, at Plaza 16, 2815 16th St SW, and in Williston, at Trinity Community Clinic- Western Dakota, 1321 W Dakota Parkway.