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Dr. Sedo submits resignation, what does this means for Johnson Clinic

Mouse River Journal of Towner, North Dakota

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There wasn't a whole lot on the agenda for the Towner City Commission's meeting last Monday night, but one of the issues discussed made a huge impact on the people present.

Jim Potvin, Clinic Administrator from the Heart of America Medical Center in Rugby, met with the Commission to announce that Dr. Sedo had tendered his resignation on July 7, and will be leaving HAMC and Johnson Clinic.

Potvin said that while Dr. Sedo had been working in Towner and Rugby, his home was in Minot and had been damaged by the flood.

"Even though it was located in a loop of the Mouse River and had water on three sides of it," stated Potvin, "the Sedo home was not considered to be in the flood plain and they were not allowed to purchase flood insurance. When the river crested, the water not only reached the main floors of the house, it reached the attic."

Dr. Sedo and four members of his family have been living in a two bedroom condo since being evacuated from their home in June. There is no way to know when, and if, his family will be able to get back into their home. Since the house will more than likely be a total loss, Dr. Sedo feels like it's time to return to work on a full time basis.

"We offered him full-time in Rugby, but housing in Rugby is an issue," Potvin said. "Crosby offered him full-time work and there's immediate housing available for him and his family."

Potvin said that they were sad to see Dr. Sedo go, but definitely understand the circumstances. "We want to thank Dr. Sedo for his years of service. He has been associated with the Rugby and Towner communities for a long time, and he will be missed. We wish him and his family the very best during this difficult time," says Jim Potvin.

So what does Dr. Sedo's resignation mean for the future of Johnson's Clinic? The Heart of America Medical Center currently owns the Johnson Clinic building, but Potvin pointed out that the building is in disrepair.

"The building has black mold in it, walls need to be fixed and many other issues," said Potvin. "It could be close to six figures just to fix up the building."

Besides issues with the building, the number of patients currently being served at Heart of America Johnson Clinic in Towner is also a concern. The clinic in Towner is currently open two days a week. The other primary provider at the clinic is Physician Assistant Carol Berg, and she will be moving her practice to Heart of America Johnson Clinic in Rugby. Patients who received their care in Towner can still receive healthcare services at Heart of America Johnson Clinic in Rugby.

Also seeing patients at Johnson Clinic was Dustin Hager. Potvin said that both Berg and Hagar were only averaging a few patients a week, and Dr. Sedo was only seeing about 8.5 per day on the two days a week he was in his Towner office. Of that number, about 25% of them came from Rugby to see him.

According to a press release issued by HAMC, this situation has led to a decision to close Heart of America Johnson Clinic in Towner, effective Friday, August 19. Dr Sedo's last day at the Towner Clinic will be August 18.

Potvin also mentioned that for the past few months, even before Dr. Sedo's resignation, the Heart of America Medical Center had been in talks with Sandhills Community Health Center. He said that the Sandhills clinic only averages about five patients a day and he'd been talking with Darryl Birch of Coal Country Health Center in Hazen about ways the two entities could help each other to combine services under one roof and best provide medical care to Towner and McHenry County. Heart of America Medical Center currently has a working relationship with Sandhills Community Clinic in Towner, and referrals for services to Heart of America Medical Center are available through them.

Potvin suggested to the City Commission that a forum be held for the public to discuss matters of the building and of the future of health care in the area. The forum has been set for Thursday, July 28 at the Towner Public School library at 7:00 pm, where area residents can receive further details concerning this announcement. Jeff Lingerfelt (CEO), Jim Potvin (Clinic Administrator), and HAMC Board representation will be available that evening to answer questions.

Copyright 2011 Mouse River Journal, Towner, North Dakota. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: July 20, 2011

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