By Lisa Nowatzki, Cavalier County Republican
This article is reproduced with permission and was originally published in the Sept. 4, 2017 issue of the Cavalier County Republican in Langdon, ND.
Dr. Mary O. Aaland is a native of Northwood, North Dakota. She returned to North Dakota from Fort Wayne, IN, where she owned and operated a private medical practice for more than twenty years.
Langdon, Cavalier County Memorial Hospital (CCMH), and the surrounding areas are fortunate to have Dr. Aaland. She comes to our community with an impressive resume. Dr. Aaland graduated with honors from the University of North Dakota School of Medicine in 1982.
She has more than 30 years of experience, especially in general surgery and critical care. She completed her general surgery residency rotations at Yale Affiliated Regional Surgical Residency Programs, University of South Dakota in Vermillion, SD, and University of Illinois at Peoria, Ill.
Dr. Aaland was also a burn research fellow at Shriner’s Burn Institute and a JD Martin trauma fellow at Emory University.
She is board certified by the American Board of Surgery – Surgical Critical Care and by the American Board of Surgery – General Surgery. While in Fort Wayne, IN, she served as president of the Indiana chapter of the American College of Surgeons.
Dr. Aaland began her career as a physician in 1982 and became a surgeon in 1989. Eventually, she decided she wanted to do more for isolated communities by setting up a trauma center in rural areas where it could become a regional facility to care for the injured.
Then, in 2014, Dr. Aaland moved back to North Dakota to head-up the Rural Surgery Support Program (RSSP). Though she is only in Langdon two days a month, she envisions the program growing as more baby boomers get older and retire. “I am there 2 full days a month and will work until the work is done. As the program grows, the number of days will be increased,” she said. Dr. Aaland also reports that the America College of Surgeons and the University of North Dakota’s Department of Surgery both fully support the development of infrastructure to provide more surgical services locally.
The reason that Langdon is such a good fit for the RSSP, Aaland believes, is that Langdon has a referral area that supports the presence of a surgeon. She also wants to increase public awareness about outpatient surgery. According to Aaland, 65 percent of all general surgery is done on an outpatient [basis]. For this reason, Dr. Aaland hopes to train a surgical team, invest in the necessary resources, and eliminate the need for long distance travel for surgical care for rural patients.
The goal of the program is to develop a surgical team locally to perform a variety of outpatient procedures safely and effectively with local staff. The team will be able to perform not only endoscopy but also outpatient procedures such as gall bladder removal, hernia repairs, moles, and soft tissue tumors. The hospital is already set-up to do moles and soft tissue tumors.
Dr. Aaland believes that CCMH has most of the elements for a great trauma team already. She said the required needs include a superb staff, an updated operating room, and administrative support.
The other component of the Rural Surgical Support Program is to become part of the local community. Dr. Aaland is available to discuss the program and to provide educational programs without charge at anytime while she is in the area. She asks that if anyone has any other questions, please call her at 218-779-5760.