Primary care physicians do it all...
and do it well.

There was a time in the not so distant past, that all doctors were family physicians, providing comprehensive medical care for individuals and families. As medicine advanced, specialization was born and many doctors chose to limit their practice to only one area of medicine.

Patients who bypassed their family physicians to go directly to a specialist soon found that, in many cases, they were seeing a specialist when they didn’t need to. And, that an appointment with their primary care physician would have been more convenient and less costly.

That’s because getting an appointment with your family doctor is generally easier because you are already one of his/her patients. And, as far as cost, many insurers require smaller co-pays for family and primary care physicians than they do for specialists; this difference can be especially pronounced for providers who are within your network, and may be less pronounced for out-of-network providers.

Comprehensive continuing care

More and more people have come to recognize the benefits of having a primary care doctor handle their family’s day-to-day medical needs. Family physicians provide care that is personal, continuing, and for every stage of life. The doctor knows the patient, knows his/her health history, and is expertly trained to provide:

Even when the family doctor refers a patient to a specialist, the family doctor remains the coordinator of the patient’s medical care throughout treatment.

Choosing the right family doctor

Asking the right questions can help ensure you find a family doctor that is an excellent match for you and your family. A first step might be to ask friends and family for the name of the doctor they use. You can also call Glacial Ridge Health System for a recommendation.

Once you have the names of some family doctors, do a little research. Call each physician’s office to find out if they accept your health insurance, the name of hospital the doctor uses, and the hours s/he is available for appointments. Then, set up a meeting with each doctor just to talk. You want to make sure the doctor explains things in a way you understand, and that you feel comfortable talking with him/her.

At Glacial Ridge Health System, we offer the services of many family physicians, all of whom are advocates for their patients’ good health. More information is available by calling 866.667.4747 or visiting

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Interventional Pain Management
can relieve chronic pain.

Chronic pain can be debilitating, and relief is often hard to find. Many patients end up on a roller coaster of hope and despair as they work their way through a long list of physicians and therapists in their search for a solution.

Interventional pain management may offer the relief those patients seek. This approach to pain management is focused on the diagnosis and treatment of pain-related disorders. The goal is to improve patients’ quality of life by getting them back to their everyday lives and able to move about with little-to-no need for pain medications.

Generally, a multidisciplinary approach is utilized with interventional pain management. The pain management physician may work in conjunction with anesthesiologists, internists, family physicians, occupational and physical therapists, or psychiatrists. A full range of interventional treatments are utilized, such as injections, electrical current, heat, cold, pain medication pumps, and others. Some interventions may even be diagnostic in scope, helping physicians identify the structures that are creating the pain so proper treatment can be determined.

Many patients dealing with chronic pain find that the comprehensive approach offered by an interventional pain management physician delivers the pain relief they’ve been seeking. When choosing a pain management specialist, however, it is important to ask about the doctor’s training and credentials. Only two specialties – Anesthesiology and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation – provide formal training in Pain Management. Even so, these specialists often do an additional year of training to increase their expertise. Other medical specialties generally require additional training for pain management certification.

Interventional Pain Management coming soon to GRHS

Our specialist outreach program will soon be welcoming the services of Interventional Pain Management physician, Dr. Thomas Kowalkowski. Dr. Kowalkowski is dedicated to the diagnosis of acute and chronic pain conditions of complex musculoskeletal, orthopedic, and neurological problems pertaining to pain medicine.

Dr. Kowalkowski is board certified and one of fewer than 100 physicians across the country with his specific training and credentials in pain medicine. He did his residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Minnesota, and completed an ACGME Fellowship in Anesthesiology/Pain Medicine at Oregon Health and Science University.

To make an appointment with Dr. Kowalkowski or to learn more about Interventional Pain Management through GRHS, call 866.667.4747.

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The seven components of wellness.

What exactly is wellness? Most definitions include references to a healthy state of being, a good quality of life, and general satisfaction with one’s current condition. Wellness involves making choices and adopting a way of life that helps you achieve balance across seven key areas:

This article will be the first in a seven part series. Each new issue of the newsletter will focus on a different component of wellness, and offer tips for how to achieve optimum wellness in that particular area of your life.

Emotional wellness

While emotional wellness varies from person to person, in general, it is defined as the ability to accept and manage your feelings, understand your limitations, and maintain healthy relationships. Emotions are extremely important to overall wellness because they let you know when there is an issue that needs to be addressed. Being emotionally healthy enables you to better handle stressful situations and negative emotions.

The following are some tips to help you improve you own level of emotional wellness:

Make friends. People need people. The more social support you have, the happier you’ll be. If you don’t have many friends, sign up for a class that involves interactions with fellow students; it’s easier to make new friends when you have something in common to talk about.

Take healthy risks. Stepping outside your comfort zone to take on a challenge adds a level of richness to your life. Tamp down your fears and give whatever is scaring you a try.

Get moving. Your physical health is important to your mental health. Exercise will improve your mood and quality of life. It’s also helpful to eat balanced meals and get enough sleep.

Plan for problems. We all know life doesn’t always go smoothly. Have a few contingency plans ready, for even very simple problems, and you’ll experience far less stress along the way.

Enjoy your time alone. Take some time to be alone with your feelings. Turn off the radio and television, take some deep breaths, and let your thoughts calm.

Avoid energy drainers. You know those people – the ones who leave you exhausted by the end of a conversation. Limit your time with them by politely breaking off the conversation after listening for a while. Your emotional health will be better for it.

Have some fun. Don’t become consumed with your work life – too much work dulls your personality. Find something positive and enjoyable to do – and then make sure you do it every day.

Write down the negatives. When you make a list of the things you fear, you are no longer letting negative thoughts rule your mind. You destroy their power by turning them into words on paper. Once you finish that exercise, make a second list of the good things in your life. Appreciation helps breed wellness.

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Coming next month: Physical Wellness

In the next issue, we’ll be looking at how physical wellness impacts every area of your life...and how to bring your physical wellness into the best balance possible.

Upcoming events:
Stay Healthy

2011 Expectant Parent Classes
Tuesdays, April 5, 12 & 19
7p - 9p

Our nursing staff will teach and discuss the stages of labor; comfort measures for labor, nutrition and exercise; and baby care, including feeding, bathing and safety. The third night’s focus is on breastfeeding. The fee for all three sessions is $20, but may be waived if you quality. Call Lynn at 320.634.4521 to register.

Pope County
Community Expo 2011

April 2, 8:30a - 5p
Minnewaska Area High School, Glenwood

The expo will feature health seminars, a job fair, business expo, family activities, food and more. GRHS physicians will be speaking throughout the day on a variety of topics.

Medication Disposal Program
April 30
Glenwood and Starbuck

Glacial Ridge Ambulance, in cooperation with the local police departments and BCA, is heading up a safe disposal program for old and unused medications. Bring your old medications to Glenwood and Starbuck.

Bereavement Care Group
Beginning May 18, 1p – 2:30p
Parkview Court, Glenwood

This is a six-week support group for those grieving the loss of a loved one. Each week, we introduce new topics that address the grieving process. Co-sponsored and facilitated by Hoplin - Hitchcock Funeral Home and Glacial Ridge Hospice. For more information or to register, please call Glacial Ridge Homecare and Hospice at 320.634.2221.

Pope County Relay for Life
June 17-18

GRHS’s team, Catch A Cure, will be at the 2011 Relay for Life, the American Cancer Society’s signature fundraising event that goes through the night. Join us at the MAHS track.

15th Annual Riding for a Cause
June 18-19
City Park Glenwood

The Ride Committee’s annual motorcycle ride to raise money for Glacial Ridge Hospice.

Phone Numbers:
Glenwood Clinic: 320.634.5157
Brooten Clinic: 320.346.2272

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Clinic Locations:
10 Fourth Avenue SE, Glenwood MN 56334
111 Pleasant Avenue PO Box 69, Brooten MN 56316
Glacial Ridge Health System