From the Dean

We had a special event yesterday when the Interim Health Care Committee of the North Dakota Legislature met for the day in the new building on the Northeast (Grand Forks) campus. The event also was streamed live to the other campuses in the state. It was an all-day meeting, with a special treat at noon when members of the committee, chaired by Rep. George Keiser of Bismarck, sat on a Dean’s Hour panel. Committee members answered questions over lunch that focused on health and health care delivery in North Dakota. There was a good exchange of views and ideas, and the Dean’s Hour discussion occurred between the morning’s committee work looking at health care delivery in the state, and the afternoon session dealing with health facility construction and renovation, and various aspects of health insurance. A good portion of the morning session was on rural health care delivery, with presentations from Brad Gibbens, deputy director of our own Center for Rural Health, and others, including Darrold Bertsch, CEO of Sakakawea Medical Center in Hazen, N.D., and Coal Country Community Health Center in Beulah, N.D.; and Brad Wehe, CEO of Altru Health System in Grand Forks. Darrold is a real expert in rural health care delivery, especially as the leader of two of North Dakota’s 36 critical access hospitals (CAHs) that are essential components of health care delivery in rural regions. Some of the usual characteristics of such CAHs is that they have 25 or fewer acute care inpatient beds, are located more than 35 miles from another hospital, maintain an annual average length of stay of 96 hours or less for acute care patients, and provide 24/7 emergency care services. It was a great learning experience for our students and a wonderful example of effective government in action. By the way, the physicians in the room weren’t the only doctors present, since Chair Keiser also can use that title given his Ph.D. from the University of Utah!

Next week will be a time for some winding down, with Thanksgiving on Thursday. Although UND will remain open on Friday, classes will be suspended. Accordingly, my next column will appear the following week on Dec. 6, 2019. At that time, I hope to have a report and summary of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) annual convention that several of us attended a few weeks ago. We plan to have a debriefing session involving all who attended the AAMC meeting this coming Monday.

Additionally, we will be holding our annual holiday gatherings on each campus starting that week. Here is the schedule of events (all four events are from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m.):

  • Southwest (Bismarck) campus – Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019; Humpback Sally’s
  • Southeast (Fargo) campus – Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019; Avalon West
  • Northeast (Grand Forks) campus – Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019; UND AAF Gorecki Alumni Center
  • Northwest (Minot) campus – Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019; Northwest Arts Center, Minot State University

It’s not too late to RSVP (https://med.UND.edu/events/holiday) for these events.

By the way, we will also hold our annual holiday luncheon event for on-campus folks in Grand Forks on Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019, from 11:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. RSVP for the luncheon here.

Susan and I look forward to seeing you at one of the gatherings.

Joshua Wynne, MD, MBA, MPH
Interim President and Vice President for Health Affairs, UND
Dean, UND School of Medicine & Health Sciences