Two providers are joining the staff at Mountrail County Health Center which will alleviate some of the staffing shortages over the past few months. One will be a new face, while the other will be familiar to many of the patients at the facility. Rich Laksonen, FNP-EMP has been on staff since September 25, while Abbey Ruland, PA will rejoin the staff on Monday, Oct. 21.
Rich Laksonen earned his nursing and graduate degrees at Northern Michigan University. He is both an FNP and EMP, meaning that he is certified as the family nurse practitioner, but also an emergency medicine practitioner.
He has worked as an ER nurse, flight nurse and paramedic during his career. He transitioned to the military and was stationed at Minot Air Force Base. He also flew medical flights from Williston, so he has been familiar with western North Dakota. Since returning home to Michigan, he has worked exclusively in the emergency room.
He will be seeing patients in the clinic but will be focusing on emergency room coverage. His position will see him taking call and covering nine to ten days per month. Because the on call is a 24 hour per day job it will be considered a full-time position.
Living in the UP in Michigan just outside of Marquette, he flies into North Dakota on a Thursday and then leaves again on Tuesday. He will continue to work his position in Michigan as well until November. After that point, he and his wife, Katy, may consider a move back to North Dakota. She has a degree in professional sports management and is currently working in human resources.
As a provider he is able to treat the full scope of routine and emergent medical problems, although he knows that the majority of his time will be spent with the on call treatment in the emergency room. To that end, he says that his time in the clinic is likely to be spent dealing with acute or emergent visits.
He says that his addition to the staff is to make sure the schedule is open so that patients can get immediate care. His current position in Michigan has him working exclusively in emergency and critical care medicine, so he says that the ER is where he likes to be.
His hiring is thinking outside of the box for MCHC and is an addition that will work well to meet patient needs. He says that signing his contract was able to help him fill in the needs in Stanley’s healthcare system. He says that he is not taking on patients as a primary care provider, but rather if their primary provider is booked, they will still be able to get in and be seen as soon as possible.
Administrator Ben Bucher say, “Rich brings with him a lengthy history of providing emergency care. His time here will mainly focus on emergency medicine, which will allow our local primary care providers to see more patients in the clinic. So far Rich has impressed our staff with his emergency room skills and willingness to help out in the clinic, nursing home, or assisted living whenever there is a need.”
Abbey Ruland, PA, is a familiar face for many in the Stanley area. She started at MCHC in January of 2013 and worked there through the end of October last year. At that time, she took a position with Trinity working at the clinic in New Town. Now almost a year later, she returns to the MCHC on Monday, Oct. 21. She will be working in the clinic and hospital but will take some daytime call on those weeks that Laksonen is not in Stanley. She will see patients in the clinic Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Ruland earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Montana and her Physician’s Assistant from the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha.
Her return to Stanley, she says, will allow her to provide regular family practice medicine to patients. While she enjoyed her time in New Town and is sad to leave there, she is excited about the opportunity to come home and take care of the people she lives and works with. She says it is an amazing opportunity and is looking forward to getting back, settling in and making a mark by helping as many people as she can.
She also says that without having to take call, she will now look to focus on the kinds of services needed and how she can help to make those a reality. She also says that by adding Laksonen, it shows how far the MCHC facility has come in the last year and it makes her excited to do what she can to help the community.
When she was contacted by Administrator Ben Bucher and Administrator In Training Steph Everett, she says that she was happy to consider coming back to work with the colleagues she learned how to practice medicine with. She enjoyed working in New Town and says that staff there was great, but this is her home. She looks forward to broadening her own horizons while providing services and care that is needed here.
She is also excited to work with Laksonen, saying that as a highly qualified emergency provider it is exciting to work side by side and learn the skills he brings to the table. She says that adding him to an already great staff brings more brains to work together to come up with the best plan of care for patients.
She also says that the way Bucher and Everett are working together, the sky is the limit when it comes to healthcare in the Stanley area. She says that with an eye on the prize to serve the community, the facilities will continue to move forward in healthcare.
Ruland and her husband, Matt, live south of Ross where they farm and ranch. They have two daughters, Cora age 3 and Sloan age 1.
Bucher says, “ We are very excited to be bringing Abbey back to MCMC. Her passion for providing excellent health care resonates with her patients, this is evident with her strong patient following. I look forward to the energy and uplifting spirit she will bring to MCMC, and I’m excited for our patients who get to reunite with Abbey.”
This article is reprinted with the gracious consent of the Mountrail County Promoter.