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Wessman: Fargo Cass Public Health nurses deserve recognition

The nursing division of Fargo Cass Public Health deserves recognition for the significant efforts they put forth in assisting all segments of the Fargo Cass population to maintain or attain the maximum healthy lifestyle. This is not an easy task.

The nursing division of Fargo Cass Public Health deserves recognition for the significant efforts they put forth in assisting all segments of the Fargo Cass population to maintain or attain the maximum healthy lifestyle. This is not an easy task. There are multiple groups and sub-groups of the public with specific health needs and requirements, but the nursing division, in our opinion, does an outstanding job in addressing the plethora of demands placed on the department. A specific case in point is the aging population, and programs targeted at this group that assist us in maintaining a healthy lifestyle so we can live in our own homes as long as possible. Lorraine and I recently completed a very helpful seven-week "Stepping On" program targeted towards "falls prevention." This program was made available to local public health groups through a grant from the North Dakota Department of Health.

As an example of the forward-thinking, Fargo Cass Public Health nurses Heather Becher and Jocelyn Johnson expended extra effort to complete the "Stepping On" training as coordinators, and conducted the course at their facilities in Fargo.

The Stepping On program was certainly a plus. The coordinators arranged for several quality professionals to serve as presenters on a host of valuable topics, with group interaction and weekly assignments to assure understanding and compliance with the benefits of the training we received.

An outstanding physical therapist set the tone the first week-discussing the importance and integration of strength and balance activities-as he took the group through a series of basic, but valuable strengthening and balance exercises that served as the basis of the program. These exercises will be lifelong in assisting us with strengthening and balance - how to prevent falls, but also what to do if one occurs.

Other important topics included presentations by the Fargo Cass community safety coordinator on hazards that produce falls, both in the home, and out in the community; discussion of proper footwear, assistive devices for ambulation; and a session of the importance of good hearing, good vision and proper lighting.

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A very knowledgeable pharmacist led a no-nonsense discussion of medication and use of over-the-counter drug products. In all, the program was very valuable, and well worth the time.

With the pressure and impatience that is oft directed toward public services today, it's comforting, actually, to know that a busy entity like the nursing group at Fargo Cass Public Health would take time to educate themselves so they can educate us on prevention of a very real problem like falls that happen with increasing frequency to us old guys.

Thanks for caring.

Henry Wessman is professor emeritus at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine; former North Dakota state legislator; former mayor of Grand Forks; former executive director of the North Dakota Department of Human Services; and retired federal administrative judge for Medicare-Baltimore. He and his wife, Lorraine, have lived in Fargo since 2002.

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