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Altru doctor honored with two awards

Altru Medical Director of Regional Development Dr. William McKinnon has been recognized as the Outstanding Rural Health Care Professional by the Dakota Conference of Rural and Public Health, and as Medical Director of the Year by the North Dakota EMS Association for his involvement with rural ambulance services.

Altru Medical Director of Regional Development William McKinnon.jpg
William McKinnon

An Altru doctor has been recognized with two awards for his work in rural health care and rural ambulance services.

Dr. William McKinnon has been recognized as the Outstanding Rural Health Care Professional by the Dakota Conference of Rural and Public Health, and as Medical Director of the Year by the North Dakota EMS Association for his involvement with rural ambulance services.

Being an emergency physician takes a special kind of person. It takes even more than just the right mindset to do it well. McKinnon described what it takes to be effective at it.

“I think the thing that is most important is that you have to be able to multitask, and you have to be able to focus,” McKinnon said. “You have to almost have a little Zen quality, where you have to stay calm. You have to take your own pulse first when you’re involved in taking care of emergency situations. It just requires that kind of mentality and that kind of focus in order to do it and do it well.”

McKinnon’s interest in entering the medical field began when he was a medic in the Army. He became an EMT when he left the military and began working on an ambulance in Grand Forks. He received a scholarship through his EMT service to go to nursing school. He became a physician’s assistant and a nurse practitioner and a teacher at the UND nursing college before going to medical school – also at UND.

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Since then, he has been with Altru for 29 years. Now, as the medical director of regional development, he wears many hats.

“My duties in the region involve the outreach that we do at all the clinics, including our own primary care clinics,” McKinnon said. “The non-Altru clinics, we also do some outreach there as well. I maintain relationships with all of those community health systems that are in our region, which is about a 250,000 population region that we serve.”

McKinnon also directs five different ambulance services in the region, as well as an outreach effort to teach EMS skills called the Rural Trauma Team Development Course (RTTDC) to teach to the different health systems.

The RTTDC was developed by the Rural Trauma Committee of the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma (ACS COT). It emphasizes, “A team approach to the initial evaluation and resuscitation of the trauma patient at a rural facility.” The course’s purpose is to help health care professionals decide whether a patient needs to be transferred to “A higher level of care,” such as a hospital.

McKinnon is quick to thank other people for allowing him to be successful, and he is hesitant to take credit, but he is honored to be recognized as the Outstanding Rural Health care Professional and as Medical Director of the Year.

“It means a lot,” McKinnon said. “I certainly don’t in any way overvalue what I do, (but) I just think what I do is important, and so I’m dedicated and focused on it. I really appreciate the acknowledgement, but there are a lot of people that are involved with making my job easy and making my job positive. They all probably deserve as much recognition as I get with this. It’s very gratifying.”

Related Topics: ALTRU
Jacob Holley joined the Grand Forks Herald as its business reporter in June 2021.

Holley's beat at the Grand Forks Herald is broad and includes a variety of topics, including small business, national trends and more.

Readers can reach Holley at jholley@gfherald.com.Follow him on Twitter @JakeHolleyMedia.
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