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Melissa Burud to replace Ruth Ganes as First District public health nurse

After a career in nursing that spans four decades, including 16 years with First District Health Unit, Kenmare public health nurse Ruth Ganes plans to retire.

9/15/10 (Wed)

Public health in good hands . . . Melissa Burud, left,
will occupy the FDHU office as the Kenmare public
health nurse beginning October 12th, while Ruth Ganes,
at right, begins her retirement after 16 years
with FDHU and 40 years in nursing.


By Caroline Downs
After a career in nursing that spans four decades, including 16 years with First District Health Unit, Kenmare public health nurse Ruth Ganes plans to retire.
She leaves behind her downtown office, files full of immunization records and a collection of bright bandages, familiar to children and teens in town who have received shots from her hand.
Melissa Burud, current Burke County public health nurse and a friend of Ganes, will move into the Kenmare office and begin office hours there on October 12th.
Wide variety of experience
leads to public health
Ganes earned her RN degree at Allen College of Nursing in Waterloo, IA, graduating in 1970, the same year she married Eric Ganes. The couple moved to Saskatchewan, where Ganes worked at a university hospital for nine years as a nurse with patients in the burn, orthopedics and cancer units, the emergency room, and the children’s rehabilitation center.
She began her role in public health after the family relocated to Iowa City, IA. She worked for a time as a recovery room nurse, then took a position in 1980 that combined public health and home health care.
Ganes continued in that capacity through further moves that included Colorado and North Dakota. When the Ganes family arrived in Kenmare, she found a job with the home health care program operated by the former St. Joseph’s Hospital in Minot.
After three years, First District Health Unit offered her the opportunity to join a pilot program for school nurses. She started at Kenmare Public School in 1994 and became the first permanent part-time nurse to staff the FDHU office in Kenmare, which had previously been served one day each week by a nurse traveling from Minot.
By 1999, the Kenmare school district chose to end their participation in the school nurse program, but Ganes remained in the FDHU office on the downtown square. “I was still involved with the school, doing screenings, education and immunizations,” she said, “and by then I had also increased my assistance [as a public health nurse] to Burke and Renville counties.”
Ganes enjoys the variety of needs she serves in public health. “We see all ages,” she said. “We see young people and have health clinics for the seniors. We do things like health days and safety [education] and exercise classes.”
She said her clients were often surprised at the diversity of her role. “We have seniors who don’t see us until they need their flu vaccine, and then they’ll come here and see so many little kids waiting for their vaccines,” she said.
Her duties in public health are constantly evolving, and she now prepares and offers more types of health education to the community. She has also become well-versed in various types of paperwork and documentation related to the immunization program.
“There have been a lot of changes in vaccines, in what’s recommended and in new vaccine combinations,” she said, adding that public health units can now offer vaccines through private programs for a fee as well as the state program. “So now they bill more private insurance.”
She laughed as she pointed toward the laptop computer open on a stand behind her desk. “Nurses sit here and do data entry and bill,” she said. “We use the computer for absolutely everything!”
Ganes likes the accessibility to online information as she plans programs for senior and school audiences. “I love the resources and looking up information for education purposes,” she said, “but data entry gets really boring.”
She joked about her paperwork skills, especially as the immunization program forms keep changing, and said she wouldn’t miss that aspect of her job.
Many Kenmare residents are familiar with Ganes’s passions for golf and photography, and she intends to spend more time doing both after she retires. “I don’t think I’ll become a hermit or anything,” she said.
She’s hoping to schedule a few extra visits to California to see daughter Natasha and son and daughter-in-law Wade and Melina, as well as grandchildren Donovan, 5, and Olivia, 2.
She can’t walk away from nursing, however. “I’ll sign a contract to do casual nursing and teach CPR,” she said, adding that she wanted to maintain her RN credentials. “That way, I can fill in when needed at any of the FDHU offices, especially for immunizations.”
She paused and laughed. “The biggest thing will be that they can no longer call me at home for scheduling!” she said.
Ganes acknowledged that spending time and visiting with her clients has been one of the favorite parts of her job. “I’m a people person,” she said. “I like serving the community and visiting with people of all ages.”
She said she also enjoyed her tenure with FDHU. “I don’t know if people realize that First District Health Unit is seven counties divided into eight districts,” she said. “This is one of the most progressive and updated units in the state, and they’ve been awesome to work for!”
She praised the FDHU staff across all the county offices. “They’re very supportive of new ideas, new programs and new types of education,” she said. “I really enjoyed getting back into public health when they offered me this position, and I think I’m actually going to miss going to the meetings in Minot and seeing everybody!”
Burud wants more county
services offered locally
The transition at the Kenmare FDHU office will take place during the first full week of October, with Ganes offering a flu vaccine clinic at Kenmare Drug that week and Burud working between the Burke County and Kenmare offices.
“My first official day will be October 12th, and the office hours here will change,” said Burud. “I’ll be taking Mondays off and will have office hours in Kenmare on Tuesdays from 8 am until 4:30 pm.”
As much as she appreciates her patients in Burke County, she’s looking forward to working closer to home and being available for her children Grace, nine years old and a fourth grader, and Justin, six years old and a kindergarten student. Both kids attend Kenmare Elementary School.
“I also want to get to know more about the community I live in,” Burud said. “I know more Burke County residents than Kenmare.”
She will assist the public health nurses in Burke and Renville counties, much as Ganes did. She is also adding duties as the WIC coordinator for Kenmare and Renville and Burke counties. Those services have not been offered locally since former WIC coordinator Martha Harms retired, and families have had to coordinate their WIC services with a Minot office.
Burud is excited to make those services convenient again, and she believes more families will participate through a local office. “I’ll be providing WIC one day each month in the Renville and Burke county offices and two days a month from the Kenmare office,” she said. “I’ve started the WIC training, and I’m hoping to have all that completed by early November.”
Both she and Ganes have been concerned about the lack of WIC services directly available in the communities. “When we had the WIC office here and were doing the nursing, we could see if kids needed other assessments,” Ganes said. “I know in Kenmare right now there are people not receiving WIC who would qualify, but they can’t get to Minot.”
Along with her WIC responsibilities, Burud wants to work with the Kenmare fire and ambulance services, much like she did with Burke County Sheriff Barry Jager for emergency responses. “We need to make sure we have a strong, stable emergency response system here,” she said. “I’d like to see if I can integrate the experience I’ve learned from the emergency response team in Burke County here in Kenmare.”
One of her most important goals, however, is to raise awareness among residents about the types of services they can and should be receiving from FDHU and Ward County. “I want to get people to realize the services are here, that they don’t have to go to Minot,” she said. “And those services should be here, because we’re a part of Ward County.”
Burud plans to get involved on an interagency basis to work toward developing a local presence for county social services, hospice, home health care, and other services that are needed but not currently offered in Kenmare. “I want to make sure the citizens of the community get full services,” she said. “I feel like we’re forgotten, that we get excluded because of the distance from Minot. We are here, and we are supposed to be recipients of county services.”
She emphasized that Kenmare residents’ tax dollars support many of those programs. “We are a strong town, considering our size,” she said. “We need to speak up, to call our county commissioners, and to make people aware these services are available.”
Burud started her career in nursing in 1990 as she graduated from the University of Mary with a bachelor’s degree in nursing and a minor in health administration. She worked in the cardiac telemetry unit at MedCenter in Bismarck during her final two years of college and then took a position with the University of North Dakota Family Practice Center in Bismarck, where she handled nursing, insurance and administrative responsibilities.
When her husband Jim, a game warden for the North Dakota Game & Fish Department, was assigned to the Kenmare district in February 2002, Burud transferred to the UND Center for Family Medicine in Minot in a part-time capacity. She also worked part-time at the Kenmare Clinic in 2003 before accepting an offer from FDHU as the Burke County public health nurse in 2004.
Transition includes open house
on Friday afternoon
Burud and Ganes have worked together for the past few years and they believe the transition will go smoothly. “The biggest change most people will probably see is that the office will be closed on Mondays and open on Tuesdays,” Burud said, “but I’ll offer the same programs Ruth did. And even though I’m adding WIC to my duties, I’ll do my best to make myself available to the community.”
She plans to post local public health activities on the FDHU website at and to keep an updated calendar on her office door for patients.
“As individual nurses, we each have our own ways of doing things,” Ganes added. “Melissa will bring different ideas and organization to the office. And she can still call me if she needs me!”
The calendar for Ganes’s last week includes a community flu vaccine clinic on October 4th, scheduled from 9 am until 4 pm at Kenmare Drug. Another flu vaccine clinic will be arranged later in October for children at Kenmare Public School.
She will celebrate her birthday October 6th and finish moving out of her office by October 8th. “I’m still trying to clean up all the ‘grandma’ mugs,” she said, laughing as she pointed out the collection of coffee cups and picture frames stashed around her office that feature photos of her grandchildren.
Burud is hosting an open house retirement party for Ganes this Friday, September 17th, at Kenmare Drug from 2:30 until 4 pm. Everyone is invited to join Ganes for cake and coffee after the KHS Homecoming parade and wish her well as she retires.
“And if anyone has any questions,” Ganes said, “they can still call the office!”
The First District Health Unit office in Kenmare can be contacted by calling 701-385-4328.