Bruce Gjovig, Grand Forks, column: Grand Forks should support Choice Wellness CenterThe Choice Wellness Center is deserving of support because it is a unique one-stop health and fitness center that meets the needs of our community.
By: Bruce Gjovig, Grand Forks Herald
The Choice Wellness Center is deserving of support because it is a unique one-stop health and fitness center that meets the needs of our community. The project is innovative by its approach to bring together many partnerships for a common goal. It is entrepreneurial by building new partnerships to meet the needs of recreation, medical, research and social interaction for people of all ages. Choice Wellness Center demonstrates that Grand Forks is once again a national pacesetter in health and wellness.
The Wellness Center started out as a one-of-a-kind partnership in the nation between the Park District and the Y, bringing together public and private nonprofits to share memberships, operational fees, and fundraising efforts. Their partnership expanded to include the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center, UND, Altru, Senior Citizens Center, Special Olympics, North Valley Arts Council and more. It’s wonderful to see so many community-based organizations pull in the same direction for enhanced health and wellness. Complex partnerships do not come easy, even with common goals.
Grand Forks has a history of being a national leader in health care.
In 1914, one of UND’s first graduates, Superintendent of Schools Beatrice Johnstone, established the nation’s first county nurse program to make sure our schoolchildren were healthy so they could learn in the classroom. That spread nationwide. Think of the impact on millions of youth across our country.
In 1971, our Catholic and Lutheran hospitals decided to merge to form United Hospital. That unusual partnership developed the nation’s first Medical Park, breaking ground in 1972 for a one-stop health care complex.
That Medical Park developed into a complex of hospitals, clinics, nursing home, treatment centers and a senior living center.
Started in 1971 and completed in 1981, UND President Tom Clifford, Dr. Bob Eelkema and other leaders in the UND Medical School worked on an innovative program to offer a four-year medical degree without a teaching hospital by utilizing hospitals across the state for residency programs in a 2-1-1 program. A four-year medical school seemed like an impossible task with many naysayers and obstructionists in the way. Innovation won and today we have a remarkable medical school ranked as one of the nation’s best in rural health to show for that leadership.
Once again our community has the opportunity to lead the nation with an innovative approach to health and wellness. Change and innovation are difficult for many, but innovation and entrepreneurship are the way to improve our future.
I had the opportunity to coach this unique project in the early stages, and the Choice Wellness Center project has my full support.
Gjovig is director and entrepreneur coach of the UND Center for Innovation.