West River welcomes first group of Residents

It has been quite a year for West River Health Services. In 2015 the healthcare facility has already welcomed a new CT Scanner, and they are putting the finishing touches on an addition that will hold the new in-house MRI scanner.

(Left to Right) Kumari Singh, Jeff Hostetter and Jeffrey Bruning stand outside the front door of West River Health Services. Singh and Bruning will be the first group of Residents at West River Health. Hostetter is in charger of the program and will communicate with the West River staff on their progress. (PHOTO BY COLE BENZ / Adams County Record)
(Left to Right) Kumari Singh, Jeff Hostetter and Jeffrey Bruning stand outside the front door of West River Health Services. Singh and Bruning will be the first group of Residents at West River Health. Hostetter is in charger of the program and will communicate with the West River staff on their progress. (PHOTO BY COLE BENZ / Adams County Record)

By COLE BENZ | Record Editor | cbenz@countrymedia.net

It has been quite a year for West River Health Services. In 2015 the healthcare facility has already welcomed a new CT Scanner, and they are putting the finishing touches on an addition that will hold the new in-house MRI scanner.

West River will also be welcoming a new addition to their healthcare services, a residency program.

For the first time in its history, West River will have two residents working at their facility and its affiliated satellite clinics through the Rural Training Track.

The Rural Training Track model is a ‘1-2’ program, meaning that the resident will work one year in a larger, metro-like healthcare facility, and then finish the final two years in a rural setting.

Kumari Singh and Jeffrey Bruning will be joining the staff at West River in the next year as they begin their residency.

West River has hosted medical students in the past through programs such as the Rural Opportunities in Medical Education (ROME); however this is the first time that West River will host individuals this far along in their medical training. The two individuals have completed medical school and are now doctors, this portion of their training—residency—is when they hone their skills in the specialty they have chosen. In this case the residency program for West River will be in Family Medicine.

Ellen Ketterling, pediatrician at West River, said they have had medical students before, but not a residency program.

“This is a new program, it’s adding another level of medical education where the physicians can train residents, the residents can train medical students, and its the traditional teaching method in a small rural hospital,” Ketterling said.

So why now?

According to Dr. Jeff Hostetter, Program Director with the Center for Family Medicine in Bismarck, the program is now receiving the appropriate funding to support the program.

“Rural healthcare had become a priority of the Department of Health and Human Services because of the depopulation of rural physicians in the United States, and North Dakota in particular,” Hostetter said. “Our mission is to do things that work to get people to stay in rural areas, and Rural Training Track turns out to have the best data and best retention rate.”

Hostetter said that other states have similar programs, and the retention rate among the physicians working in rural areas through this model is about 80 percent.

When searching for hosts for the program, Hostetter said West River stood out because of the resources the facility has to offer. He said it takes many requirements to qualify for accreditation, some more simpler than others.

Some of the simple qualifications include a faculty that’s interested in teaching, and facility that is equipped to deliver babies. The facility must also offer surgical services, and must have a supportive administration; Hettinger fit the bill.

“All four of those things were already kind of in place in Hettinger and they’ve been talking about doing this for quite a number of years,” Hostetter said.

Hostetter, who will serve as the head of the program and will communicate with West River employees about the residents’ progress, said that initial planning for this began in 2010, funding was received in 2011 and accreditation was granted in October 2013.

•Meet The Residents

Kumari Singh

Singh was born in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada and completed her undergraduate work at the University of Waterloo. She then went to the Caribbean for medical school.

During the last two years of medical school she did some work at Windsor University and completed her core rotations in Chicago, eastern Canada and as far away as the Himalayas.

Singh has always had a desire to work in a rural environment. It was this desire that led her to choose this program for her residency work.

“For me, I want to work in a rural program because I want to run a rural clinic,” Singh said. “I’ve always just wanted take over a clinic for a doctor that’s retiring in a more of an underserved community.”

She also said that she is attracted to the ‘lifetime’ healthcare service. Many times in smaller healthcare facilities you have the opportunity to deliver a child, and take care of them through adulthood; you can build relationships through this type of healthcare and Singh wants to be a part of that.

Outside of medicine, Singh has experience in construction work, hair salons and repairing bicycles. Growing up Singh said she competed in a wide range of competitive dancing.

Singh will start at West River this month and be in the area a few times a week until July 2016 when she will be in Hettinger full time.

Jeffrey Bruning

Bruning was born in Omaha, Neb. and grew up in Geneva, which is 120 miles south west of Omaha.

He attended Morning Side College in Sioux City, Iowa and majored in Bio Chemistry and minored in Spanish. He went to medical school at the American University of the Caribbean. During his third year of school he was in London, England and finished his fourth year on Long Island in New York.

This past July, Bruning completed an accelerated course and earned his Master of Business Administration (MBA).

Outside of school and medicine Bruning has always been involved with music, participating in various choirs throughout his collegiate career.

Bruning said it was curiosity that lead him to this program. Growing up in a town of about 2,000 people, he wanted to know what rural medicine was really like. Working in a larger facility in New York, Bruning said you often would see a patient and send them off to a specialist or to another department. He likes the idea of being the number one source of wellness for a patient in a rural-area hospital.

“(I want to) really utilize my knowledge in all aspects of care and be able to do less referral and take care of the patient more just in the family practice setting,” Bruning said.

Bruning will begin his residency in Bismarck before moving to Hettinger in July 2016 for the last two years of the program.







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