‘Continuity of care’ connects physicians to Hettinger, N.D. clinic and hospital


Jan Orvick

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‘Continuity of care’ connects physicians to Hettinger, N.D. clinic and hospital

Sometimes things just click.

Josh and Carrie Ranum, new physicians and University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences alums, could live and work anywhere. They found a perfect fit at West River Health Services in Hettinger, N.D.

As a small community (pop. 1,307) in a relatively remote area, Hettinger might seem an unlikely place to find a national model for health care. But it is the base for a medical complex that serves 25,000 people and covers 25,000 square miles of southwestern North Dakota and northwestern South Dakota. West River has community clinics in Bowman, Hettinger, Mott, New England and Scranton, N.D., as well as Lemmon, S.D., and a foot-and-ankle clinic in Dickinson. Its 25-bed regional medical center has been named one of the top 100 critical access hospitals in the nation.

“I was amazed at the capabilities here,” said Josh Ranum. “It’s a cutting-edge medical center that can do advanced diagnostics. I wanted to come back and be part of that.” He began his practice in internal medicine at West River July 2, and also travels to clinics in Mott and Lemmon.

Josh is originally from Scranton, about 30 miles northwest of Hettinger.

“I’ve always liked science and solving problems, and knew I wanted to be a physician,” he said.

He also liked the flexibility. “Medicine allows you to live where you want,” he said. “I’ve always loved southwestern North Dakota.”

Josh lived and trained in Hettinger through UND’s ROME (Rural Opportunities in Medicine) program, which allows future doctors to learn about and provide health care delivery in rural areas. It was a good experience.

Carrie Ranum, who is completing a four-week pediatrics residency rotation in Hettinger, took part in ROME at Devils Lake. After she completes her pediatrics rotation, she will work as a pediatrician at West River and travel to satellite clinics in Bowman, New England and Dickinson.

She was impressed by how much the Hettinger doctors are devoted to their patients.

“They’re caring physicians,” the Stillwater, Minn., native said. She also likes the continuity of care: “With the hospital and clinic, I can admit my own patients, including newborns, and follow their progress. And I can do my own workups instead of sending them to a specialist.”

Josh said his UND medical experience prepared him well for his career. “It’s one of the few with a patient-centered-learning approach, which is right up my alley,” he said. “UND really excels in the third and fourth clinical years – we’ve seen and done more than students at most other medical schools.”

Carrie also appreciated UND’s patient-centered approach. And she wanted to practice medicine in an underserved area.

“Everyone here has been great to work with,” she said. “People are more than willing to help out, and the staff makes you feel welcome.”

Jan Orvik

University Relations

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