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Pine River: Essentia Health gathers ideas for clinic - Urgent Care mentioned frequently

Representatives from Essentia Health organized a feedback session Thursday, March 23, at Bites Grill & Bar in Pine River where residents had a chance to meet in small groups, ask questions and share their biggest interests in the upcoming Pin...

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Dr. Steven Fisker, of Essentia Health's Pine River Clinic, guides discussion of the planned clinic expansion in Pine River during a March 23 information meeting at Bites Grill & Bar in Pine River. Travis Grimler/Echo Journal

Representatives from Essentia Health organized a feedback session Thursday, March 23, at Bites Grill & Bar in Pine River where residents had a chance to meet in small groups, ask questions and share their biggest interests in the upcoming Pine River Clinic expansion project.

Planning began 18 months ago for the project to construct an approximately 15,000- to 18,000-square-foot facility between Pine River State Bank and the Pine River Post Office on property Paul and Lynn Hunt previously owned.

The new facility will offer expansion space for the city's Essentia Health clinic, which currently has two physicians and nurse practitioners on hand, as well as other medical staff. The new facility will include at least one additional physician, possible access to specialists and an eventual Urgent Care.

At the March 23 meeting, Essentia representatives heard from over 50 attendees regarding desired specialists and community desires for the new facility. Present at the event were business owners, educators, residents and people from all walks of life. Clinic staff took notes in smaller groups for planning purposes.

"I really enjoyed hearing about the services the people I was with would like to see in town, especially when we brought up Urgent Care," said Ryan Hunt, of Hunt Technologies. "Several of us have families and young kids. You need something. Urgent Care was a big one. Specialty care like orthopedics, oncology and all that stuff could hopefully be rotated through here."

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"The things that came up at our table included having some sort of specialist that deals with all the tick diseases in our area," said Craig Anderson, owner of Trussworthy Components. "We also talked about prenatal care and mental health, having a specialist come around for that, possibly. All of those we thought were good. As a business person, and they are currently doing this now, having an Urgent Care facility for cuts and breaks is important, rather than going all the way to Brainerd."

Clinic staff also guided discussion to answer three specific questions: What type of services/specialists would be helpful to have access to in Pine River? What are the opportunities to partner and support the good work already taking place in Pine River to make the healthy choice the easy choice? At the new clinic, is additional privacy a priority (for example in the waiting area), or are other features of the new clinic a higher priority to you?

Dr. David Laposky, of the Essentia Health clinic in Pine River for the last 30 years, said he heard many of the same interests that were brought up at earlier meetings.

"I think a lot of the things said were things we heard before the meeting," Laposky said. "It seemed like a lot of the people were interested in Urgent Care, a pharmacy and services is one I heard over and over. A lot of the specialties are ones that we've already had coming, but maybe additional things like orthopedics, urology, gynecology and those are certainly things we will be looking at. It's easier for people to come over and not have to drive so far. They think they should be able to get those services near home."

When asked about a faster, possibly more computerized admissions process designed with increased privacy in mind, Laposky said there wasn't much interest in his group discussion.

"The new wave is to have people as they come in not to be sitting in a waiting room so long but to be brought into (an exam) room so with more waiting time in a room rather than a waiting room," Laposky said. "It didn't seem like people thought that was a big deal. Maybe in a small town it isn't something they think of that much. Maybe they enjoy socializing in the waiting room a little bit. I was impressed that it wasn't a big deal to most people."

A tentative plan was given to those in attendance. Planning for the facility is expected to be complete in June, with a board decision possibly in August and a groundbreaking to follow shortly thereafter. Construction is anticipated to take roughly 10 months.

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Essentia Health invited people in the area surrounding Pine River to attend a meeting to discuss their priorities and interests in the Pine River Clinic expansion.
Essentia Health invited people in the area surrounding Pine River to attend a meeting to discuss their priorities and interests in the Pine River Clinic expansion. Travis Grimler/Echo Journal

Related Topics: ESSENTIA HEALTH
Travis Grimler began work at the Echo Journal Jan. 2 of 2013 while the publication was still split in two as the Pine River Journal and Lake Country Echo. He is a full time reporter/photographer/videographer for the paper and operates primarily out of the northern stretch of the coverage area (Hackensack to Jenkins).
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