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Healthcare as a Community Asset

Updated: Apr 8, 2020

Part of what makes Fergus Falls so special is the many businesses that help the community thrive. Fergus Falls is home to a diverse range of industries. From manufacturing and retail to social assistance and healthcare, each has so much to offer the community. With that in mind, we wanted to highlight the industries that serve our community well. This blog series is an extension of our brand-new podcast, “Why I Chose Fergus Falls,” and offers insight into how these industries impact those who live and work in our community.

The first podcast episode features Dr. Joshua Overgaard, who specializes in internal medicine at Fergus Falls’ own Lake Region Healthcare. So, what better industry to first highlight than the healthcare industry? The healthcare and social assistance industries account for nearly 27% of the community’s workforce. These jobs—doctors, nurses, social workers, etc.—are held by our friends and neighbors, ensuring the needs of our community and the people in it are well cared for.

A thriving healthcare industry not only helps our workforce flourish, but also provide residents with a better quality of life, builds on local assets, and strengthens our economy overall. While this is true for any community, Fergus Falls’ healthcare industry is a bit unique. Our primary healthcare system is Lake Region Healthcare, which is a private healthcare system. Unlike a public healthcare system, Lake Region Health is operated by a nonprofit foundation. To have an independent healthcare system in a city the size of Fergus Falls is a rare occurrence—especially one with the range of services Lake Region Healthcare offers.

Whether getting a routine check-up or visiting a specialist, Lake Region Healthcare can accommodate many needs. Receiving care right in the community is a blessing, especially for those battling serious health conditions. For example, the addition of the Cancer Care and Research Center in 2010 has made a world of difference for those receiving cancer treatments. With a state of the art facility right in town, there's no need to travel to nearby cities to be treated at large-scale facilities like Sanford or Essentia.

Lake Region Healthcare's services, coupled with its independent structure, allows the organization to put the community first and profitability second. Dr. Overgaard says, "If we were part of a larger system, administrators in a faraway place might decide that it doesn't make sense financially to have a cancer center, pulmonologist, cardiologist, interventional radiologist, or even a wellness center here." When profits are at the forefront of the decision-making process, it can lead to a significant loss for the community. Should those services disappear, jobs would go right along with them, negatively impacting the economic success of Fergus Falls.

Lake Region Healthcare is consistently named a top 100 rural hospital in the nation, as well as one of the best hospitals in Minnesota. The array of services, excellent staff, and a desire to provide exceptional patient care play a role in those accomplishments. In fact, Lake Region Healthcare has only gotten better with time. Dr. Overgaard notes, "Our group and our system have been growing a lot in recent years. I think folks who think of Lake Region Healthcare as what it was ten years ago would be really surprised at what they'd find if they walked back through our doors."

Have a story about how Lake Region Healthcare has impacted you? We’d love to hear it! Share your story in the comments below—and don’t forget to tune into the first podcast episode on January 16th to hear why Dr. Overgaard chose Fergus Falls!

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