Collaborative Partnership For Women's Health In Western North Dakota

Watford City - At a time when critical access hospitals across the country are closing or forgoing obstetric services, McKenzie County Healthcare Systems (MCHS) is going against the grain. Pete Edis, CEO of MCHS, said, “In conversations with some of the area employers, I’ve heard loud and clear, the lack of obstetric services is a barrier to recruiting workers with growing families. I have a huge amount of gratitude and respect for our friends at Great Plains Women’s Health Center (GPWHC) both for the work they did to get OB off the ground prior to my arrival and for the steadfast support they continue to provide to this day. In fact, Mr. Leland Tong made the introductions that ultimately led to hiring a full-time obstetrician as the primary physician for MCHS’ soon to be OB service line.”

Implementing obstetric services in a frontier community is no small feat. Challenges exist like securing an adequate blood supply at a time when there is a national shortage of blood products; effectively managing financial resources amid supply chain issues and inflation; and securing OBGYN providers despite the fact that these physicians are in high demand and can typically command a premium salary working in urban areas. In addition to Mr. Tong, Dr. Beverly Tong, and Dr. Sara Solberg, of GPWHC, were integral to developing OB at MCHS.

Edis emphasized that GPWHC’s assistance in cultivating the relationship with the primary obstetric physician that’s been hired may very well have made the difference in her decision to relocate her practice to Watford City. While MCHS has been constructing a c-section suite, hiring additional personnel to staff labor and delivery, and preparing equipment for the obstetrics department, GPWHC has been traveling to Watford City from Williston to provide obstetrics and women’s health services. As MCHS deploys an obstetrics program this fall, both organizations will continue to maintain a strong partnership, where women’s health needs are addressed. GPWHC will provide gynecological surgeries at MCHS and have kindly agreed to serve as resources to MCHS’ new obstetricians.

“Women’s health is the driver here,” said Leland Tong, GPWHC Practice Manager. “Many can tell a tale about labor and delivery programs going away in rural communities. We will continue to look at ways we can participate to serve women.” Both MCHS and GPWHC anticipate continuing to work in collaboration in the future. Obstetric services will be opening at MCHS in early November.


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