DEVILS LAKE – Altru Health System is financially sound and is in a good position to purchase CHI St. Alexius Health if given the opportunity, Meghan Compton, Altru chief clinical operations officer, told about 50 people who attended a listening session in Devils Lake.
Compton and several Altru Health System executives and employees were at the July 15 listening session at Lake Region State College to talk about the importance of local health care to the Devils Lake community and to answer questions from those in attendance.
Compton assured one of the attendees that Altru, which is based in Grand Forks, has the financial wherewithal to purchase CHI St. Alexius and maintain it. Altru is in the midst of a $380 million project to build a new hospital at its current Grand Forks location.
Altru didn’t hold the listening session because it wanted to garner financial support, but because it wants community support, she said.
“We feel really good and confident in our financial position today,” Compton said.
Altru believes a unified health care system is most beneficial to the Devils Lake community, she said. Altru also believes a North Dakota-owned and managed hospital is the best way to serve Devils Lake and that such a system would contribute to the success of the city’s economy.
Altru openly has expressed interest in purchasing the hospital to CHI St Alexius, Compton said.
“We have engaged in aggressive conversations and they are aware of our intent,” Compton said.
Altru also would consider managing the hospital if it was purchased by the city of Devils Lake, she said.
“No matter what, we’re committed to the best solution,” Compton said. “Our intention is to keep people local, and with a hospital, we’re in a position to do that.”
If Altru purchases CHI St. Alexius Hospital, it intends to retain the entire hospital staff.
Devils Lake residents and people who live in counties surrounding it deserve to have local access to health care and Altru wants to provide that through investments in equipment, the facility and physicians, Compton said.
Altru, which has a residency program, has a unique opportunity to give residents experience in rural medicine and tell them about the challenges and rewards of practicing in communities such as Devils Lake, she said.
“Devils Lake serves 11 counties. That’s a lot of opportunities we have,” said Dr. Stephanie Foughty, a family physician at Altru Clinic in Devils Lake.
Besides providing health care in its facilities, Altru is interested in outreach, and is working with the Devils Lake School District to have a school nurse that would be shared by the schools.
“Our goal is to have that nurse in place before the school year starts,” she said.
Altru also is talking with the school district about setting up a program that would allow students to have virtual mental health appointments from their schools so they don’t have to leave for appointments.
Altru will hold a second listening session from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 20, in the dining room at Lake Region State College.