A local non-profit on the Western Edge had a goal on Giving Hearts Day, and it just didn’t exceed it. . . . it shattered it.
West River Health Services has provided medical service to Southwestern North Dakota for nearly 70 years.
The health service provider has a hospital and emergency center in Hettinger, ND, and clinics in five surrounding communities( Mott, New England, Bowman, Scranton), including South Dakota (Lemmon).
The hospital’s CEO said their service in the rural areas is second to none.
“We have a multi-specialty group. All the way from obstetrics to pediatrics. . . general surgery, radiology to geriatrics,” said Matt Shahan, CEO of West River Health Services.
The health service provider had 15 physicians a couple of years ago, and now they’re down to eleven.
“We have had a few physicians that have retired recently. . . we have also had a few that have left to be closer to family,” said Ted Uecker, fundraising officer for West River Health Services Foundation.
Unfortunately, replacing them isn’t going to be cheap, especially for a rural hospital.
“We are competing with the likes of larger hospitals not just in the state but in the region,” said Shahan.
West River Health Services raised more than $140,000 on Giving Hearts Day, and the health service provider said the money will go into an endowment fund for retaining and recruiting physicians.
“We had a goal of raising $52,000 total, and we raised $147,440.76. We were absolutely elated,” said Uecker.
He also said they are exploring the idea of using the funds to create a program for recruiting medical students, offering signing bonuses, and helping doctors repay student loans.
“When you think about four years of undergraduate school, three plus years of medical school, and residency where you are not paying back your loans. . . its a lot of debt,” said Dr. Joshua Ranum, West River Health Services.
Shahan said they hope to hire about five physicians in the next year or so and continue to provide the the best care possible to their clients for the next 70 years.
Shahan said West River Health Services has more than 3,000 visits a year to its hospital, and its clinics have more than 40,000 visits a year.