Fuel the Fight Provides for CancerCare Patients

On May 16, the Women’s Leadership Program presented $11,040 to the Trinity CancerCare Center for the Fuel the Fight program that provides financial assistance for fuel purchases to patients receiving oncology related services.

As part of the Women’s Leadership Program through the Center for Technology and Business, Michelle Phillips, Hess Corporation; Candace Brekke, Ackerman-Estvold; and KayLee Bourquin, First International Bank & Trust, have been working to raise funds to help support the patients receiving care at the Trinity CancerCare Center. As a regional care facility, Trinity Health serves a very large geographic area, which can leave patients in rural areas with a lot of travel costs.

“When I was approached by Michelle and Candace regarding what opportunities there were to support our patients, the immediate conversation turned to assistance related to travel costs,” said Shane Jordan, director of Trinity CancerCare Center “Approximately 50 percent of our patients at Trinity CancerCare travel roundtrip distances greater than 50 miles, with around 20 percent of these people traveling 200 miles or more. This can greatly increase the out-of-pocket expenses for these people since many are coming to the center multiple times per week. These ladies took the idea and turned it into something wonderful in a very short amount of time and we are very fortunate to have been a part of this leadership program.”

As part of this financial assistance program, the Trinity Health Foundation will provide oversight to these incoming funds. “We are truly grateful for all they are doing to help save and change people’s lives and make a positive impact in health and wellness in our region,” said Al Evon, director of the Trinity Health Foundation.

For more information about their initiative, please visit: https://www.fuelthefightforcancer.com/.

Immunotherapy can help Allergy Sufferers

As a professional photographer, Mandi Carroll found herself in situations that appeared to exacerbate her allergies. She would be outside, standing in fields taking photos and she would be overcome by her allergies.

In 2012, Carroll made an appointment to see Sean Stanga, MD, an allergist and immunologist with Trinity Health, after she suffered another allergic reaction; on that occasion, it was from some food she ate at a wedding.

Dr. Stanga suggested that she have allergy tests done to determine what caused her allergies. “He suggested I get tested, and it turns out I’m allergic to pretty much everything,” she said. “I have a lot of environmental allergies – mold, dust, trees, weeds, grasses, feathers, dogs, cattle – so I get shots for all those things,” she said.

Those shots are immunotherapy, commonly referred to as “allergy shots,” which Stanga recommended. Allergy shots are for patients who have symptoms refractory to standard medications, he said.

Immunotherapy desensitizes a patient who is allergic to multiple environmental allergens, producing an immunity or tolerance to these allergens, similar to a vaccine without the viral or bacterial component. Immunotherapy involves the injection of the actual allergen in dilute amounts, gradually increasing in concentration over time.

Carroll began immunotherapy in the winter of 2012. Since she wasn’t symptomatic in the winter, she didn’t initially feel the benefit of the shots; however, once spring hit, Carroll said she began to experience relief.

Immunotherapy is divided into two phases. The first is known as the build-up phase, which involves the patient receiving injections with increasing amounts of the allergens about one to two times per week. The length of this phase depends on how often the injections are received, although it generally ranges from three to six months.

The second phase of immunotherapy is the maintenance phase, which begins once the effective dose is reached. The effective maintenance dose depends on the level of allergen sensitivity the patient has and their response to the build-up phase. During this phase, there are usually two to four weeks between treatments, which is decided by the allergist.

Originally, Carroll would do a regimen of immunotherapy once every three weeks; however, in the summer she goes in once a week or every other week, depending on the severity of her symptoms.

Patients with allergies can find relief with immunotherapy, especially since the efficacy is typically much greater than over-the-counter medications. Those who are interested in immunotherapy should schedule an appointment with Dr. Stanga or Michael Reder, MD, at Trinity Health’s Allergy/Immunology Clinic.

“We will discuss your symptoms, talk about what types of treatments there are to pursue, and then likely conduct allergy skin testing,” Dr. Stanga said. “Allergy shots are unique to every individual. We determine their profile by doing an allergy skin test to know what to desensitize them to.”

Allergies don’t always present with itchiness, congestion, or sneezing, Dr. Stanga pointed out. “Most of the time, that’s how they present, but recurrent sinus infections, flares in asthma, and chronic itching can sometimes occur. There can be all sorts of manifestations of being an allergic individual.”

Trinity’s Allergy/Immunology Clinic is located at Health Center – Medical Arts, 400 Burdick Expressway East, Minot. For more information or to make an appointment, please call 857-7387.

Cord Blood Awareness

The goal of Cord Blood Awareness Month, which is observed this month, is to raise awareness of the medical value of newborn stem cells from umbilical cord blood.  These stem cells have been used successfully for more than 20 years to treat more than 80 diseases, the Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood Donation states.

What is cord blood?

Cord blood is the blood that remains in the umbilical cord and the placenta after the birth of a baby, the foundation’s website explained. “Up until recently, this afterbirth was discarded as medical waste,” it added. “Cord blood contains stem cells that may be cryopreserved for later use in medical therapies, such as stem cell transplants or clinical trials of new stem cell therapies.”

In addition to the previous option – discarding cord blood – parents nowadays have options as to how the cord blood can be used.

Banking cord blood

Banking cord blood can be beneficial because the cord blood contains stem cells that can save lives, the website said. “Patients requiring a stem cell transplant can receive stem cells from one of three sources: bone marrow, circulating blood, or cord blood. The first two exist in all healthy adults, but cord blood can only be harvested and stored at birth. It is much easier to match transplant patients with cord blood than with the two sources of adult donors. This is important for patients who come from minority or mixed race backgrounds. Hence, diverse cord blood donations to public banks can save many lives right now.”

Additionally, cord blood could be beneficial if a close family member is in need of blood. “Transplant patients recover better when they receive stem cells from a related donor, instead of an unrelated donor,” the website said. “If a first degree relative of your baby needs a stem cell transplant, the baby’s cord blood stem cells could be a suitable match. Plus, there are now emerging therapies in which children use their own cord blood stem cells to help the body repair itself. In the future, children whose parents saved their cord blood will have better access to those treatments.”

There is only one opportunity to bank cord blood, and that is after birth.

“Traditionally, cord blood banking is arranged by the patients,” said Lorrie Antos, RN, BSN, Director of Women’s and Children’s Services at Trinity Health. “Patients are responsible for obtaining the kit and sending it out. We act as a facilitator; however, we do not have kits. If any patient has a question about this we do offer informational pamphlets in the OB/GYN and Midwifery offices. Please contact your provider if you have additional questions.”


While banking cord blood can be done for private reasons, parents can also opt to donate cord blood for the public good. (The closest hospital that serves as a cord blood donation location is in Chicago, Illinois.) Public cord blood banks accept cord blood donations for free. However, most require the mother to register by the 34th week of pregnancy, as well as pass medical eligibility guidelines.

For more information on cord blood, visit: http://parentsguidecordblood.org/.

Safe Sitter Classes Offered This Summer

Trinity Health is accepting registrations for another round of Safe Sitter® classes this summer for ages 11 years and older. Safe Sitter® is a nationally approved, medically accurate program that teaches young people life and safety skills for when they are home alone, watching younger siblings, or babysitting.

“Babysitting is a valuable service and a great work experience for teens, but it comes with enormous responsibility,” said Kathleen White, Community Education Supervisor for Trinity Health. “Safe Sitter gives young people the tools they need to handle real life emergencies and help children stay safe.”

During the one-day course, students receive instruction and hands-on training in a variety of topics, including choking and rescue breathing, safety for the sitter, accident management, child development, and the business of babysitting.

Classes will be offered on the following dates: July 10, 12, 19 and 30; and August 2 and 9. Classes run from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and are held in the Education Center at Health Center-Riverside, 1900 8th Avenue SE.

To register, call the Trinity Health Community Education Department at 857-5099. Due to high demand, a course fee of $50 must be paid in advance by sending payment (payable to Trinity Health) to Trinity Health Community Education, PO Box 5020, Minot, ND 58702.

Firework Safety

Fireworks may seem like toys, but they can be extremely dangerous, injuring thousands of Americans each year – many of them children. 

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) reports that injuries from fireworks resulted in about 10,000 visits to the emergency department in 2016.  About 9,000 of those visits were for eye injuries.

“Eye injuries can range from cuts and bruises on the face and around the eyes to damaged corneas, and even severe injuries like a ruptured eyeball,” said Brad Schimke, OD, an optometrist with Trinity Health.  “Some of these injuries can cause permanent eye damage and even blindness.” 

The biggest culprits are bottle rockets, firecrackers, and Roman candles.  But even sparklers aren’t harmless, according to Dr. Schimke.  “They can burn at temperatures of 2,000 degrees or higher, and they happen to be the cause of the majority of fireworks injuries involving small children.” 

A few basic rules can prevent a fun-filled Independence Day from turning into tragedy.  The AAO offers the following fireworks safety tips:

•             Never let young children play with fireworks of any type, even sparklers.

•             Do not allow kids to light fireworks.

•             Always have adult supervision.

•             Watch from a safe distance.

•             Never touch unexploded fireworks (it may look like a dud but not act like one).

“The ‘light, and get away’ warning that’s printed on fireworks labels is there for a reason,” Dr. Schimke added.  “Another safety measure is to wear safety glasses when lighting fireworks or using sparklers.”

For more information about eye safety, visit the American Academy of Ophthalmology at aao.org/eyesmart.

Support for K-9 Unit Continues

In 2012, when the Minot Police Department needed a second K-9 Unit, Trinity Health stepped up to fund the initiative.  Now that the canine officer has retired, Trinity has announced that the partnership will continue.

President and CEO John M. Kutch presented a $7,000 check to Police Chief Jason Olson to replace the second unit.  “On behalf of Trinity Health’s Board and entire organization, we’re proud to carry on this partnership as part of our deep appreciation for the service Minot’s police perform for our community each and every day,” Kutch said.  “This supports not just the police but all of us.  We all have a stake in promoting a safe and healthy community.”

Chief Olson said his department will acquire the new K-9 unit this fall after the dog has undergone several weeks of training.  Its mission will be varied, including search and rescue, drug-fighting, and providing a presence at larger public events to enhance safety and peace of mind.   

Trinity Staff Recognized

DAISY Winner- Tamra Innis, RN, Cardiology

Tamra went over and above the duties as not only a nurse, but also as a  person. There was an elderly lady that was found to be outside this winter without shoes (in sandals) when it was freezing and snow covered. Tamra helped this woman down in first care (not her area to work) and selflessly gave the shoes off her very own feet to this woman. No hesitation or thanks wanted. And they were brand new. It is selfless acts such as these that makes someone the epitome of what we look for at Trinity Health. Tamra is positive, caring, and clearly always willing to go more than the extra mile. Way to go! We are so lucky to have her.

The DAISY Foundation was established in 1999 by the family of J. Patrick Barnes who died of complications of the auto-immune disease Idiopathic Thrombocytopenia Purpura (ITP) at the age of 33. DAISY is an acronym for “Diseases Attacking the Immune System”. During Patrick’s eight-week hospitalization, his family was awestruck by the care and compassion his nurses provided not only to Pat but to everyone in his family. So one of the goals they set in creating a Foundation in Pat’s memory was to recognize extraordinary nurses everywhere who make an enormous difference in the lives of so many people by the super-human work they do every day. The DAISY Award is an international program that rewards and celebrates the extraordinary clinical skill and compassionate care given by nurses every day. Trinity Health is proud to be a DAISY Award Partner, recognizing one of our nurses with this special honor each month. Nominations can be made at: http://trinityhealth.org/nursing_daisy.

BEE Winner- Jeannie Holter, OA, Family Medicine

Jeannie – the lovely lady who assisted me at check-in. What a pleasant experience so early in the AM. Professional, courteous, and caring. I wish everyone did their jobs with pride. I don’t always give compliments but you have to shout from the rooftop to give credit when it is deserved. Thank you for being there to assist me.

The BEE Award, which stands for Be Extraordinary Every day, is for non-nursing clinical staff team members. Anyone can nominate a deserving staff member by filling out the form, which can be found at any reception area.

No Bones About It

Over the past few years, Paul Titus of Mohall suffered several injuries to his hip and femur.

“Bones were breaking so easily,” he says. “I used to take harder hits when I was younger, so I thought I’d better look into this.”

In 2016, Titus consulted with Desiree Desjardins, an advanced registered nurse practitioner and certified orthopedic nurse with Trinity Health Orthopedic Associates. “They did a bone scan and found I had osteoporosis,” Titus says.

About five years ago, Sandra Kirkland, now 73, of Watford City, suffered two falls, first breaking four ribs, then her clavicle. At the Bone Health Clinic, established through Trinity Health Orthopedic Associates, X-rays showed that her bones “were very thin.” She too was diagnosed with osteoporosis.

How Osteoporosis Happens

Osteoporosis is a disease that causes bones to become weak and break or fracture easily. It’s most common in women but also affects men. In fact, 1 in 2 women and up to 1 in 4 men will break a bone in their lifetime due to osteoporosis, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. Ten million Americans have osteoporosis, and another 44 million have low bone density, which puts them at risk for the condition.

Two different types of cells play a role in osteoporosis. Osteoclasts are cells that eat away or digest bone, cleaning up dead bone tissue. They also break down bone to provide calcium to the blood if adequate calcium is not absorbed from diet or supplements.

Osteoblasts are cells that form new bone. “Since bones are mostly calcium, calcium needs to be absorbed to grow new bone,” Desjardins says. “Osteoporosis occurs with too much osteoclastic activity breaking down the bone and not enough osteoblastic activity to replace the lost bone. Bones get weaker and weaker until they start to break.”

Who’s At Risk

There are several risk factors that can affect a person’s chances of developing osteoporosis, including:

  • Being a postmenopausal woman
  • Being a man with low testosterone; Two out of 10 men by age 60 and 3 out of 10 men older than 70 are at risk of developing low testosterone
  • Having a condition that affects the structure of the bone, such as diabetes
  • Being lactose intolerant or consuming a low-calcium diet
  • Having diseases of the gastrointestinal tract that affect calcium absorption, such as Crohn’s disease and celiac disease
  • A family history of osteoporosis
  • A vitamin D deficiency; especially problematic in northern states with less sun
  • Taking medications that increase bone loss
  • Having surgery to the stomach or intestine that decreases calcium absorption, such as gastric bypass

How to Treat Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is treated by slowing down bone loss and speeding up new bone growth. By slowing down bone loss, the body can add calcium to the bone at its normal rate of osteoblastic activity without needing to replace the lost bone, Desjardins said, adding that bones get stronger and less likely to fracture.

“It is important to take calcium and Vitamin D supplements,” Desjardins said. “This provides the calcium for the new bone growth.”

Titus and Kirkland have benefited from treatments received through the Bone Health Clinic, such as prescription medications Prolia™, which is used to help stop the development of osteoclasts, the bone-removing cells, before they can reach and damage the bone, and Forteo™, which aggressively regrows bone.

Since treatment, Titus has had a few falls and suffered “some bumps and bruises, but no broken bones,” he says. He will have another bone scan in November 2018 to see if treatment is going well.  In July 2017, Kirkland had a bone scan “and it looked better than three years ago,” she says.

They both commend Desjardins on her knowledge and her personable approach to care.

“I really enjoy going to see her,” Titus says. “She doesn’t just say, ‘here’s what you need.’ We visit quite a bit about different things that can help.”

Kirkland agrees, and says she’s grateful her doctor sent her to Minot to see Desjardins.

“She’s really considerate and tries to help you with anything that is needed.”

Help Fighting Bone Loss

The Bone Health Clinic and Trinity Health Orthopedic Associates are based at Health Center-West, located at 101 3rd Avenue SW, Minot. For an appointment or consultation, call 701-857-5500.

Services at the Bone Health Clinic

The Bone Health Clinic provides information and assistance for people who believe they may have osteoporosis or are at risk of developing osteoporosis.

Services include:

  • Education about osteoporosis
  • Evaluation of risk factors for bone density loss, fractures and falls
  • Identification of risk-reduction measures to avoid fractures and falls
  • Bone-strengthening strategies, such as prescribing calcium and vitamin D supplements
  • Treatment for osteoporosis that includes prescription medications
  • Lab work orders for additional problems that may affect the bone and muscle, such as tests for elevated parathyroid hormone and decreased magnesium levels

A physician’s referral is not needed for an appointment at the clinic.

Trinity Gives Patients a Hand with Therapy

Occupational therapists, specifically certified hand therapists, combine comprehensive knowledge of the upper limb with function and activity.

Using specialized skills in assessment, planning, and treatment, certified hand therapists provide therapeutic interventions to prevent dysfunction, restore function, and/or reverse the progression of pathology of the upper limb in order to enhance an individual’s ability to execute tasks and participate fully in life situations.

Hand therapy is beneficial to patients who are either post-surgery or faced with any type of injury that may not require surgery, explained Danielle Sandstrom, MOT, OTR/L, CHT, a certified hand therapist with Trinity Health’s Occupational Therapy department.

“We see anybody who has a repetitive strain injury, maybe a fracture, a dislocation in a finger joint, or even a shoulder injury,” Sandstrom said. “We see tendon injuries and repairs, osteoarthritis, sports-related injuries in the upper extremity, rheumatoid arthritis, patients who have burns, and anybody who has a neuropathy.”

Taylor Erdmann of Newburg is one of those patients. In April 2017, he suffered an upper extremity loss when the neuromuscular system in his arm deteriorated after he suffered carbon monoxide poisoning; he was laying on his left arm for 16 hours, during which time, he damaged tendons and nerves.

After a little under a week in the hospital, Erdmann began the therapy process.

“I got to start therapy shortly after to get my nerves to wake up and my hand to start working again,” he said, noting that from May to December, he attended hand therapy twice a week for hour-long sessions. “Then, I got down to once a week, and then once every two weeks, weaning me off of it.” The length of time that patients participate in hand therapy also varies, depending on the patient’s diagnosis. “Some patients may come for a one-time appointment to be instructed on a home program, or to be placed in a splint for protection,” Sandstrom explained. “Other patients can be scheduled for therapy twice a week for four to eight weeks.”

On December 21, 2017, Erdmann traveled to Mayo Clinic and had tendon transfer surgery performed. In February 2018, Erdmann returned to Trinity for hand therapy. “Dani was the lucky one to get my hands working again,” he said.

Patients are often referred from a provider, such as an orthopedic or hand surgeon, after surgery or after any type of injury that may not necessarily require surgery, Sandstrom added.

Therapies can vary, depending on the injury and the patient’s goal. Some examples of treatment methods:

• Exercise

• Joint protection instruction, more for arthritis

• Manual therapy

• Modalities

• Custom splints, basically for post-op or post-injury, for protection

• Scar management

• Sensory reduction

• Training in activities of daily living, with use of assistive devices (such as opening a toothpaste cap, brushing hair, peeling potatoes)

• Wound care

• Desensitization and compression therapy

Sandstrom did scar massage, as well as an ultrasound for scar management and swelling, with Erdmann in the initial acute phase. Then, during his therapy, Erdmann completed several physical tasks that involved him using his hand. He would take clips, each with different resistances, and put them on a “laundry board.” Other exercises helped with his basic range of motion and stretching, including weighted exercises to help with his wrist, forearm, elbow, and shoulder.

Since he started hand therapy, Erdmann has seen major improvement. “My doctor at Mayo who did the surgery said I’m eight to nine months ahead of schedule.”

In addition to hand therapy which is located at Health Center-West, Erdmann also completes exercises – stretches, at home. “I use my hand as much as possible,” he said.

Erdmann credits the rest of hand therapy team – Nicole Kutch, OTR/L, CHT, CLT; Amanda Hetzler, OTR/L; and Kara Thomas, OTA/L – with also helping with his recovery.

Hand therapy is “working great,” he said, noting that he has about one month to go. “I recommend it to anybody. From what I started with to what I’ve got now, it’s pretty awesome.”

Germ-Fighting Robots Enhance Infection Control

A germ-fighting robot that uses ultraviolet light to sanitize rooms at Trinity Hospital is  giving a boost to the hospital’s infection control program.

Trinity Health deployed two Xenex LightStrike®  Germ-Zapping Robots® two years ago as part of its ongoing efforts to reduce the risk of healthcare-associated infections (HAI) – infections that patients acquire while receiving  treatment in a hospital, such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE), and Clostridium difficile (C. diff).

Sue Niebuhr, coordinator of Trinity Health’s Infection Prevention and Control  program, says an analysis of data from the first year of using the robots shows that HAI infection rates declined by almost half. “We experienced an average  47 percent reduction in HAIs after adding UV disinfection to our cleaning protocols,” Niebuhr said. “MRSA infections were down by 34 percent; VREs declined by 69 percent; and C. diff was down by 39 percent. These results are in line with what other hospitals around the country have experienced and what research studies have indicated.”

The Xenex robotic system is able to disinfect surfaces in just five minutes using germicidal UV-C light, which is hundreds of times more intense that  sunlight. The system has been shown to be extremely  effective in eliminating viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens on surfaces that could pose a health risk to patients.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has urged healthcare providers to intensify their efforts in the fight against multi-drug  resistant organisms. Trinity Health was already following best practices recommended by the CDC for curbing  infections. However, with funds made available by the Trinity Health Foundation, the  hospital decided to add the Xenex system to its routine cleaning procedures as an extra measure of protection.

“Patient safety is always our first priority,” Niebuhr said. “We’re constantly looking for ways to enhance our infection control efforts. These early results are encouraging and we look forward to continued improvements in the future.”