Republican presidential candidate and North Dakota Governor, Doug Burgum, along with his wife, Kathryn, visited Manning Regional Healthcare Center on Wednesday, September 6th to learn about the challenges and opportunities within rural healthcare.
Burgum, a former technology entrepreneur, is hitting the campaign trail in rural western Iowa to connect with rural residents, business owners, and community leaders. Among his visits in the area were stops in Harlan, Denison, Audubon, and Atlantic.
Burgum’s interest in Manning and MRHC centered around the Recovery Center’s influential impact on substance abuse addiction treatment. The couple toured the Recovery Center, learned about the five levels of treatment services offered, discussed the challenges of funding reimbursements, and praised local leaders for the work they are doing and investing in such a beautiful facility for treatment.
“[Addiction] a national issue that touches every family, every community, and every organization,” shared Burgum. “Over 40 million people in our country are touched by the disease of addiction. We are faced now with a crisis related to overdose deaths. We have lost the equivalent of four Vietnams in the last two and a half years in terms of deaths related to overdose, 70% of those coming from fentanyl poisoning. This is an issue for our whole country.”
He continued, “These are sons and daughters [or] nieces and nephews of people who have been trapped in the disease of addiction and this is something we have to take on as a nation. There is a role for communities to play, but it starts right here like what is happening in Manning where great people [are] caring for each other and approaching this as the disease it is to fight against the disease of addiction.”
Kathryn Burgum has been sober for 21 years and champions the Recovery Reinvented program on addiction and recovery. While September is National Recovery Month and many efforts are happening across the country to raise awareness for substance use disorder and treatment services, the couple shared their journey to help addicts return to work and how they strive to eliminate the stigma of the disease of addiction. The couple intends to carry that message as they continue on the campaign trail.
Additionally during the hospital tour, the Governor and first lady stopped in the emergency department and experienced a live-look at the Avel e-Care emergency response system. They were impressed with the quality of care that can be achieved in rural areas despite having limited staffing. They also acknowledged that additional technological advances are necessary in order for rural healthcare to succeed long-term.
In a conversation with hospital leaders, Burgum shared his experience with electronic health records systems and sympathized with the MRHC senior leadership and board members for the challenges they face to implement such a costly system that does not necessarily contribute to improving the quality of care at the end of the day, but a requirement to remain competitive in the healthcare environment.
Burgum is from the small town of Arthur, North Dakota, and uses that platform to relate to rural Iowa voters. In the mid-1980’s, Burgum bought Great Plains Software which became a major supplier of accounting and record-keeping software for small and mid-size businesses. He grew the business to employ more than 2,000 people, took the company public in 1997, and in 2001 sold to Microsoft for $1.1 billion. Since selling Great Plains Software, Burgum founded two more businesses: a real estate development firm and a venture capital firm that invests in software companies. Burgum was elected as North Dakota’s governor in November 2016 despite few people even knowing who he was and having zero prior political experience. Burgum entered the presidential race in June and is seeking the Republican Party nomination in the 2024 presidential primaries.
“We are thankful for the Governor and Kathryn’s visit to MRHC and appreciate them taking time to learn about the unique services we offer here, as well as the challenges we face with regard to rural healthcare funding and staffing,” shared MRHC CEO, Linn Block.
Manning Regional Healthcare Center has recently become a popular site for politicians as the organization has been able to successfully manage rural healthcare challenges and continues to work hard every day to provide exceptional patient care. Last week U.S. Senator Grassley visited the hospital and Recovery Center.