By Krista Shaw

Our Vision Statement Reads:


The community researches, maintains, enhances and develops new and existing medical facilities that provide affordable, locally available, 24 hour/7 day a week medical and support services to all members of the community in a knowledgeable, friendly, safe, and respectful manner for all ages.

I was there the day we were writing this Vision Statement and someone said, “we want medical care available 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week”…and there was a gasp over the crowd. Perhaps we gasped too quickly. Although our healthcare picture has changed significantly over the years, we still have it pretty good. We no longer have a hospital or even an emergency room, but we do actually have medical care available in our community 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and the quality of that care is exceptional.

To start with we have a wonderful clinic that continues to give us excellent service operated by MeritCare. There are three primary providers a Physician, a Family Nurse Practitioner, and a Physician Assistant. There are also rotating specialists that come into the clinic to provide specialized services. Pelican Rapids also has two nursing homes and although I may be a little biased, I think they are pretty nice too. Both have been found Deficiency Free by the Minnesota Department of Health during their annual inspections for quality of care and service delivery for the past several years. But Pelican Rapids has so much more. We also have Home Health Care Services, Therapy and Rehabilitation Services offered through Healthsouth right at the same clinic location as the old hospital. These services are separate from MeritCare and are available with a referral from the clinic.

The newly opened assisted living complex has 11 of its 20 units occupied so far. This is yet another opportunity for people to receive just the level of care they need in our community. The possibly of funding a Block Nurse program is also being explored by Pelican Valley Health Center which would utilize volunteers to help keep people in their homes longer until the need for a more structured environment is necessary.

Our healthcare services still go beyond this! Let’s look at our First Responders when there is an emergency in our community! Twenty-four volunteer members and six fire trucks make up the Pelican Rapids Fire Department. Also, the fire department owns an ATV, which is used for fighting grass fires or rescue operations. When the department receives a call from a rural location, the first ten volunteers to respond go out in four trucks. If responding to a city call all the volunteers and trucks are sent out. Neighboring towns may also call on our fire department for assistance; this is known as mutual aid.

The P.R.F.D. doesn't only fight fires. They provide search and rescue services. They will respond to automobile accidents, go on search missions, water rescues, etc. Last spring the department acquired many new rescue tools, including a new Jaws of Life. Furthermore, they now have an Air Pack to fight internal fires and a new Foamer for the water hose.

Last but not least is our fantastic Ambulance Service. There are 18 employees on the Pelican Rapids Ambulance Service, five are full time, four of them are Paramedics and one is an Emergency Medical Technician. They average 1.5 calls per day over a year’s time. According to employee Angie Julsrud, they have excellent working relationships with one another and believe in what they are doing. This crew is known for their excellence even beyond our community. Bill Dennis, a First Responder in Rothsay says, “we like working with the Pelican team because they are prompt and always know where they are going. They are knowledgeable and sharp and they know what to do. We have shared equipment and never have issues with communication or follow through. When we get to work with Pelican we know it will be good.” Bill’s wife, Carolynn is a former Emergency Room nurse from Lake Region Hospital in Fergus Falls and she said the staff in the emergency room felt the same way. When the Pelican crew was bringing someone in, the ER staff found them to be very professional and caring. She said they were always a pleasure to work with.

Isn’t it nice to hear sometimes just how good we really have it? Isn’t it nice to hear sometimes that other people think we are doing a good job too? I believe we are staying true to our Vision of serving the medical needs in our community. We may have to break it down once in awhile and look at the many individuals who are playing a role in this but we really are reaching out to, all members of the community in a knowledgeable, friendly, safe, and respectful manner for all ages.”