Generosity Leads Through Crisis

Alex Burns

The past several months have completely changed the way we operate as a society.  The  interactions we once took for granted were swiftly taken away from us,  as  we became all too familiar with the term  'social distancing'  and the abbreviation 'PPE.'   

What has emerged from this crisis has been nothing shy of devastating " lives lost, businesses crippled,  and face-to-face connections halted.  

But if we take a closer look, something incredible has happened as well. The healing power of generosity and innovation are sweeping headlines.  Neighbors rally  overnight  to ensure local children have meals and safety. Manufacturers quickly adapt production lines to  supply  needed medical equipment. Healthcare  professionals  rapidly implement virtual  visits  to ensure families are  cared for  in the safety of their own homes.  

Altru is no different. We have prepared  for  and responded to our calling to care for the health of our entire region. But this isn't the first time. Our roots are filled with collaborative and innovative efforts to do what's best for  our  community. That is  local  healthcare; thatis  altruism.  

Our Innovative Roots

The roots of Altru Health System date back to 1892 when the first hospital  (St. Luke's)  was built in Grand Forks.  Over the years, the greater Grand Forks area and the medical community thrived. By the mid 1960's, the leaders of Deaconess Hospital, St. Michael's Hospital, the Grand Forks Clinic, and the University of North Dakota Medical Center Rehabilitation unit were discussing the problems of lack of space for expansion, duplication of services and a growing community and region. Their  innovative  decision  to  work  together  serving our region, rather than  against  one another,  would be the number one strategic response to the changes and challenges in healthcare in the 90's.  

Emerging from Disaster

Altru Health System emerged as an integrated health system following a devastating natural disaster " the Grand  Forks flood of 1997.  As a community of 60,000 people evacuated, and water and sanitary systems across the city  failed, healthcare professionals worked together to ensure the safe evacuation  and continued care  of hundreds of patients. Together, providers  generously  collaborated to  re-establish medical services  throughout the  region  and keep care close to home.  

A Bold New Era

Nearly twenty years following the devastating flood, crisis strikes again at Altru as a structural failure is discovered in Altru's Main Clinic. Again, leaders are  tasked  to carve a path forward, doing best by our  community.   In  2017,  Altru announced  a bold new era in care for the region including a new 21st century  'Hospital  in the Park,'  of which construction has since been paused to focus our resources on safe, high-quality  care during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Leading through a Global Pandemic

As  COVID-19  spread across the world late 2019 and  early  2020,  Altru paved the way for COVID-19 preparedness efforts in our region by launching and staffing a COVID-19 community screening hotline, being the first institution locally to offer curbside COVID-19 testing, redeploying staff and rapidly implementing virtual care.  As we began caring for COVID-19 patients in a designated unit,  Altru was one of the first hospitals in the  state and nation  to offer convalescent plasma therapy to COVID-19 patients  (with great success!).  

Generosity Heals

Throughout our history, Altru has led with innovative care powered by the generosity and trust of our community.  The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the importance of  accessing and  supporting local healthcare to the forefront.  Neighbors caring for neighbors " the truest form of altruism, and the very act of generosity needed to heal our health system, community, and region.  

Thank you for continuing to trust and support Altru and our providers as we respond to the evolving  pandemic.  We are committed to providing  world-class care close to home, always.  

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