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RTC technologies fueling McKenzie County Healthcare growth

RTC CEO Shane Hart and Dan Kelly CEO of McKenzie County Healthcare Systems
McKenzie County Healthcare CEO Dan Kelly and RTC CEO Shane Hart. (courtesy photo)

During this year’s nationwide observance of October as Co-op Month, the theme “Co-ops Commit” is being declared with pride.

RTC, the telecommunications cooperative serving central and western parts of North Dakota embraces the “Co-ops Commit” motto in its way of doing business.

In Watford City, which RTC serves, the latest chapter in cooperative commitment is being written for McKenzie County Healthcare Systems, Inc. (MCHS).

MCHS is undergoing a major new construction project, leading to a move to a new facility, expected to occur in the spring of 2018.

Just as MCHS has been experiencing the population surge that has swept the oil region in recent years, it has also been striving to keep pace with dynamic changes occurring in information technologies. To help in this regard, RTC has been the trusted neighbor and technology resource MCHS needs at this critical juncture.

Dan Kelly, MCHS CEO, points out that advanced information technology is critical to practically all services MCHS provides.

“We are now so technology dependent, making it necessary that we have robust connectivity,” Kelly says.

He says this connectivity has transformed emergency room care and evaluation, where imaging and status reports must be shared quickly with specialists in other locations, and specialist recommendations must be returned instantaneously.

In pharmacy services, Kelly says MCHS physicians now make use of electronic communication to send prescriptions to pharmacies. This greatly reduces time spent deciphering handwriting, and checking with physicians about what exactly they prescribed.

Lab, imaging and X-ray results are also processed, transmitted and stored electronically, as are individual health records. The new facility will feature technology connections making all these activities happen, in addition to the adoption of Voice Over Internet protocol (VOIP), which is a voice communication system using broadband.

The new hospital will be a 24-bed critical access facility, featuring nine emergency room treatment bays, and greatly expanded room numbers for exam and specialty services. The new facility will bring the hospital, clinic and nursing home in one place on the current location of the Good Shepherd Home.

Shane Hart, RTC CEO, says the cooperative is ready and pleased to be in collaboration with MCHS as it enters a bold new era.

“In the new facility, they will have all the latest in technology and wiring for every room,” Hart says. He adds the new facility, like other modern, multi-faceted health care providers, will feature spacious network rooms, with racks of servers connected to varieties of cable bundles. “This becomes a communications nerve center for this facility, and we’re happy to be able to provide it,” Hart says.

Hart adds that the caliber and capability of RTC employees are the source of these advanced technology solutions.

“This happens because of our people,” Hart says. “RTC employees are vested in this community and are committed to providing technology solutions that contribute to the success of MCHS and others.”

Kelly appreciates the RTC people. “The nice thing about being a community our size is I know Shane and the RTC people and they know us.” Kelly says. He says a feature such as VOIP is new and unfamiliar, but the MCHS staff learns from and trusts RTC explanations, making the transition to such new technologies seamless.

“The future is bright for Watford City and McKenzie County, and our new facility gives us so much more capability,” Kelly says, adding that the new MCHS will have features which can pave the way for specialized services like obstetrics and general surgery. He adds the community is gaining several city assets, while retaining its small town atmosphere.

 Upon its opening, the new MCHS facility will also be served by McKenzie Electric Cooperative, which has headquarters in Watford City.