Thankful for rural healthcare

Down the road and around the corner from our home is our local hospital and clinic. Built in 1954, it is a 24-bed critical care hospital with three facilities and four satellite clinics in outlying communities–all from a town of less than 1000 people. 

I have driven past the facility almost every day for the past three years of living on the prairie.

I see the hospital administrator every day as we drop off our children together at daycare.

I sit by a nurse practitioner in church.

My good friend is a registered nurse there along numerous other community friends who are employed there.

My husband serves on the hospital’s board of directors.

The hospital and clinic is by far our small town’s largest employer. But, it is not an organization or institution that I often think about and most days I just take it for granted. 

When the kids have sore throats, ear infections, bumps or bruises…or a broken leg, we zip right over to our local clinic or hospital. We are always greeted by name by our neighbors and friends that work there. There is no waiting. We get right in, are cared for and are back home within an hour or less. 

Fifteen years ago our local hospital quit delivering babies. Nathan drove me 100 miles one way twice over the past two years to have our baby girls. In the back of my mind I knew our local hospital still could deliver a baby in the emergency room if necessary or that they would accompany me by ambulance to the large hospital 100 miles away. This was especially reassuring to me when we moved here. I was four months pregnant and due in December, the heart of brutal cold and blizzardy winter season. No local delivery was needed but it calmed my nerves knowing it was possible if there was an emergent situation.

Late this past Sunday night it became glaringly obvious that Nathan was not going to kick this flu bug with out some quick intervention. I will save you from the icky details. However Nathan is a strappingly strong man and had become too weak to do much of anything for himself. He also was grayish green in color. At his suggestion, I called our local hospital. I cannot explain how reassuring it was when the voice on the other end of the phone was my friend Stacy. I was not put on hold. I did not talk to a person sitting at a desk. Stacy, a registered nurse, answered. We decided I would bring Nathan into the emergency room.

I woke Hunter to move him into Miss E’s room and explained what was going on which may or may not have sunk into Hunter’s sleepy gaze. Either way both of them were fast asleep and safe. Anika was congested and already sleeping in her car seat in her crib. Being more upright in the seat was helping with her runny nose and congestion. I was thankful I could just pick up the seat and go with her. Nathan told the nurses that I picked him up and threw him over my shoulder down the stairs. I did not but we did carefully get him out the car. 

Within 10 minutes of me calling Stacy, Nathan was in emergency room. The local physician had already been called and was waiting for us plus Stacy and another nurse. I do not know of any other hospital with care and service at midnight on a Sunday night like we had. Actually make that anytime of day on any day of the week. 

After four liters of fluid, Nathan had his color back. After 18 hours of care and rest he was recovering well. On Tuesday, my friend texted me “Is your husband back at working already?” Yes, of course he was. Slowly, carefully but working. But in that moment of seeing my husband struggling on Sunday night I had never been so grateful for rural healthcare. 

As I sat in the ER late Sunday night, holding our bright eyed and happy baby girl while watching as they got an IV into Nathan, I knew he would be okay but knew he needed our local hospital’s team to help get there. My mind began wandering to the tragedies local friends have witnessed and had to live through in this same ER.

I thought of the consoling and counseling our pastor has done at the same hospital when a family lost their young son in a farm accident or a drunk driver ran a stop signing killing a local couple. As well as the frail elderly that are brought over from the nursing home and spend their last days in a swing bed at the hospital. Or the local young farmer that just recently spent his last days in our local hospital as he lost his battle with cancer.

All were cared for by the same neighbors and friends that make up the medical staff that were now caring for my dehydrated, nauseated husband. In my silence, I said quick prayer for my family, grateful for their health and prayed for their safety. Then I added my gratefulness for our local healthcare.

 Rural healthcare is a lifeline for our community and region. Those that work in it are caring for a full gamut of illnesses, emergencies and trauma. Never again will I drive by our local hospital and not be thankful for its existence. Never again will I take it for granted. 

My brief experience there has turned me into an advocate for supporting and bolstering rural medicine. It is critical for our economy. It is essential to our people young and old.

Above: Nathan is his almost recovered but groggy state, having soup in our basement with his concerned and caring fan.


  1. So glad Nathan is feeling better!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Nice post, Katie. You make me proud to live in Wishek!

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