Yorhom Medical Essentials staff help seniors maintain independence and continue to live at home

With locations in Grand Forks and Devils Lake, Yorhom a provides broad range of services and tools to allow seniors to live safely in their own homes

Yorhom Medical Essentials employees can build custom equipment to help people maintain their independence and continue to live in their own homes. (Photo courtesy of Yorhom Medical Essentials)
We are part of The Trust Project.

Most people, as they age, want to remain independent and continue to live in their own homes, but many are not aware of the wide array of equipment and services that can help them do that safely, according to Shelley Bakke, manager of Yorhom Medical Essentials in Grand Forks.

Yorhom Medical Essentials provides such a broad range of solutions to help people maintain their independence that it often surprises visitors to the store – and those solutions are available at less cost than they may have assumed, Bakke said.

“People tend to think of us as a storefront,” she said, “but we’re so much more.”

Yorhom Medical Essentials provides everything from tools for daily tasks to customized home and vehicle adaptation to respiratory therapy and home infusion services for those who require cancer therapy and intravenous antibiotics.

Its Complex Rehabilitation Team can design and build a manual chair or a self-propelled or power system chair to meet a customer’s specific needs.


“We want to provide the services and tools (customers) need to be safe in their homes,” said Tiffany Rood, supervisor of the Yorhom Medical Essentials stores and the respiratory team.

On first contact with customers, employees begin with a conversation to gather information on that person’s (or their family’s) situation and, if needed, a home assessment is scheduled.

In the free assessment “we look for unsafe environments,” such as throw rugs and the width of doorways, Bakke said. “For example, depending on a person’s mobility concerns, we check to see if doors are wide enough to get in and out.”

Mobility is the number one issue that brings people to Yorhom Medical Essentials, Rood said.

For those who have trouble lifting their legs, a walk-in shower or ramp may be needed.

Also, people don’t take advantage of “the full value of their homes as they age,” Bakke said, noting that, with some modifications, rooms on the upper floors could be used.

“They would have the freedom to use much more of their home,” she said. And with modifications – such as stair lifts and other improvements costing a couple thousand dollars – the investment would be far less than the expense of living in an assisted living or skilled nursing facility.

Consumers could spend as much at $10,000 a month to live in a skilled nursing facility, but for a portion of that amount they could upgrade, and thus be able to stay in, their own home, Bakke said.


Yorhom Medical Essentials offers tools and equipment to make daily living easier, safer or more comfortable – items like reaching devices, grab bars, sleep apnea equipment and oxygen delivery systems – as well as walkers, wheelchairs and lift chairs.

“Our lift chairs are not like those you’d find in a furniture store,” Bakke said. “They are more durable, medical-quality chairs,” specially designed for those who spend all or most of their day in them.

Custom-designed chairs could be controlled by mouth or voice command. Yorhom employees work with other Altru Health System departments, including occupational therapy, to design and build special chairs.

Yorhom Medical Essentials, a division of Altru Health System, serves people of all ages, infants to elderly, she said. “We want to be a one-stop shop.”

Its employees serve residents in a 30,000-square-mile area, reaching to Mayville, Rugby, Rolla and Belcourt, N.D., to the U.S.-Canada border, to Warroad, Minn., and points south of Warroad.

“We pride ourselves on reaching rural residents,” Bakke said.

Some Yorhom offerings are covered by insurance, except possibly customized items, and programs are available to financially help veterans, for example.

At Yorhom Medical Essentials, which also operates a store at the City Plaza Mall in Devils Lake, demand for equipment and services is increasing, Bakke said. “As baby-boomers age, more and more are interested in ways to stay in the home.”


“We’ve seen an increase during the pandemic and people are realizing how much we can do at home that they maybe didn’t realize was possible,” she said.

“People don’t want to go into a (senior living) facility, especially during these COVID times. It is better for our health if we stay in our own homes, where we’re comfortable.”

And families are stepping up to make that happen, knowing that their loved ones' overall health and happiness depends on staying at home, Bakke said. “They carried out a life in that home.”

For more information, go to the Yorhom Medical Essentials website, call (701) 780-2500, or visit the Grand Forks location, 4350 S. Washington, or Devils Lake location, both open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.

Pamela Knudson is a features and arts/entertainment writer for the Grand Forks Herald.

She has worked for the Herald since 2011 and has covered a wide variety of topics, including the latest performances in the region and health topics.

Pamela can be reached at or (701) 780-1107.
What to read next
The labor intensive nature of the work, the length of time it takes for an evergreen tree in North Dakota to grow to a saleable height, and the competition from “big box” stores are deterrents to raising Christmas trees, said Tom Claeys, North Dakota state forester.
Ann Bailey explains why she's thankful for agriculture in professional and personal life.
Seeing Edie's excitement over her upcoming birthday party caused columnist Jessie Veeder to remember a few big events of her own.
Read on as Don Kinzler explains how pine trees shed needles, the benefits of clover lawns and preventing powdery mildew.