Two physician assistants opening offices in Ray and Kenmare

Back in April, KX News reported on two physician assistants in Ray and Bowbells that were terminated without cause. Their absence left both communities without medical providers for months — but now, things have changed. 

Brenna Hudson worked as a physician assistant for Northland Medical Center in Ray. She says after she expressed concerns about leadership, she was fired. She was left without a job and her patients without a full-time provider.

“We thought we were just going to kind of fade away into the background, find another job, do our thing, move away. But the communities have just reached out to us and said, ‘Don’t go. We want you here. We need you here,'” said Hudson.

So instead of fading into the background, Hudson and her business partner decided to open their own practice: Compass Health. One office will be in Ray and the other in Kenmare. 

One of their patients says having access to healthcare again will make all the difference.

“There were little emergency type things and we had to find different clinics to go to and it’s difficult with COVID to be able to check-in and to even get into a clinic,” said Ronda Rustad.

The new business move won’t only bring healthcare back to those areas, but it will also make a mark in history. 

“Legislature passed so PAs can practice independently in North Dakota. That went into effect in August 2019. So, PAs have been able to practice independently but none have petitioned to open their own,” said Shelly Bartow, physician assistant.

Until now, Hudson and Bartow, who will run the office in Kenmare, will be the first physician assistant’s in the state to independently run their own practice. 

“It was like a far-off dream. Like someday I’m going to own my own practice,” said Bartow.

A practice that won’t only just focus on physical health but mental as well. There are plans to have mental health experts available for patients, and they will also be a full COVID-19 center, offering testing, and even providing the vaccine. 

Hudson and Bartow both say they are excited and ready to serve the communities they love and the people they call family.

Hudson says the support from the community has been amazing. They have been donated things like chairs, medical equipment, and even an examination table. 

The office in Ray is up and running and accepting patients. They expect the Kenmare office to be open soon.