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DULUTH, Minn.—The flu bug has bitten Minnesota's nursing care residents particularly hard this winter, a state health official said. "We've seen a record number of outbreaks," said Kris Ehresmann, director of infectious disease epidemiology, prevention and control for the Minnesota Department of Health, in an interview on Thursday, Jan. 18. "Our long-term care facility outbreaks are way up."
DULUTH — Thirteen Minnesota health systems — including Duluth-based Essentia Health — are joining forces to take on two of the state's most vexing health issues: opioid addiction and mental health care. "They are tremendous societal and health problems that all of us were already working on, but none of us felt that we could come to the solutions within our communities by ourselves," said Dr. David Herman, CEO of Essentia.
DULUTH — When Theresa Wanless learned she was five months pregnant with her second child, she knew something had to change. "I immediately told my OB, 'I'm addicted to heroin,'" the Duluth woman related. " 'I shoot up. I need help. I can't just stop.' I was honest because I was scared for my child, but I couldn't just stop." It was early in 2014, and Wanless was caught in a wave of opioid addiction that was hitting Minnesota and the nation and increasingly affecting pregnant women and their babies as well.
HIBBING — Hibbing Fire Chief Erik Jankila was reading from a news release, but he visibly choked up when he reached a summary paragraph. "This is a heavy day for the Fire Department, and we do want to make sure that we send our most sincere condolences to the family," Jankila said, containing his emotions with an effort. "It is always difficult for emergency services when we have to deal with loss of life no matter who or what it is," he added later in response to a question.
DULUTH, Minn. — The union that represents registered nurses at Essentia Health announced on Monday, Nov. 20, it will file a grievance on behalf of every member fired for failing to comply with the health system's mandatory flu shot policy. But as of late Monday, the day employees who had neither been vaccinated nor applied for an exemption were to have been fired, it wasn't clear how many grievances that would be.
CLOQUET, Minn. — When a jump from a plane went wrong, it did so much damage to Brian Grundtner's body that he couldn't even think about what it did to his brain. "I remember hitting the ground," said Grundtner, 40, who now lives in Cloquet with his wife, Michelle Grundtner. "I remember thinking, 'All right, I'm alive.' I wiggled my fingers, wiggled my toes; those were fine. And I turned my neck side to side, so I thought, 'All right, my spinal cord isn't severed.' "And then I went to move my torso and I felt — "
DULUTH, Minn. — It was last June, and Suzanne Keithley-Myers was driving back to her family's Duluth Township home after mushroom hunting in the Aurora area. As she drove, she spotted a few ticks on her body, and she reacted as any Northlander would. "Driving home, pulling ticks off, chucking them out the window," said Keithley-Myers, 40, earlier this month in the woodsy home she shares with her husband, Billy, their three school-age children and their two dogs.
DULUTH, Minn.—When people suggest to Kevin Rodlund that his job must be depressing, he disagrees. "It's not sad," Rodlund said. "There's a lot of smiles and jokes up here at Solvay." That would be Solvay Hospice House, a homelike building on wooded property in Duluth Heights where residents may be infants or very old, male or female, rich or poor — but all, at least in the opinion of their doctors, are in the very last stages of life. For the past couple of years, Rodlund has been nurse manager at Solvay, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary.
DULUTH, Minn.—The room Jerry Pollard recently moved to in the Wesley Residence is cluttered with boxes, bodybuilding equipment and miscellaneous stuff. There's just enough room for the 70-year-old to perform his daily exercises. Asked if he's happy with the move to the assisted living facility in West Duluth, Pollard quickly answers: "So far — I'm not happy with some of the things that happened during the move."
The percentage of Minnesotans who are obese has dropped, and the obesity rate is lower here than in other Upper Midwestern states, data released on Thursday show. State health officials aren't above some not-so-humble bragging about that. "Minnesota was the only state in the region, including North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Iowa, to succeed in keeping its obesity rates firmly below 30 percent," the Minnesota Department of Health reported on Thursday, citing newly-released data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.