VOICES: Starting A Public Fundraising Campaign for SW Healthcare

My name is Debbie (Kunze) Patterson. I am proud to be able to say I’ve lived in SW North Dakota my entire life. Until I was ten, my family lived in New England. My father, Russell Kunze and our family moved to Bowman with dad working for Slope Electric Cooperative as a lineman.

Having lived in this area has been a blessing to me. The people in this area have always reached out to people during difficult times sharing their burdens and hardships. In the good times we celebrate each other’s victories and joys. Recently we celebrated the completion of the new hospital and clinic joining the long term care on one campus.

The recent news of the incredible deficit of SWHS not only jolted the employees, residents, and patients but this entire community. I am so very grateful to the Bowman County Commissioners for their generous support which was announced in last week’s issue of the Pioneer.

When my father was electrocuted in May 1972 it was the medical treatment at St. Luke’s Hospital that saved his life so that he could be stabilized before being sent on to Dickinson for surgery. My Dad was in Bowman’s hospital during his recuperation for another six months having lost an arm and a leg. This enabled my mother, Lois to be near her five children and support Dad during his recovery. This is just one reason I have faithfully supported our local hospital. Without it I know I would not have had my father for the next 40 years.

Many times over my 50+ years of living in Bowman I have received care and support by our local clinic and hospital. During a very difficult time of my life battling depression, the only thing that comforted me was knowing the people that cared for me here did just that – “they cared and loved me back to health!” During Bert’s cancer battle he too felt tremendous comfort being able to be treated in Bowman. The support staff and doctors not only cared for him, but me as well.

For over ten years, I have had the privilege to work for Southwest Healthcare Services Long Term Care in the activity department. It is where God lead me and I know beyond a doubt I have been truly blessed to work with the residents and staff in the entire facility – they are my SWHS family. It’s certainly a dream come true job for me that I enjoy and love.

But this is not why I feel I must write and ask for my community’s support of Southwest Healthcare Services. It goes back to what I first said about our area reaching out in hard times to support one another. The hospital, clinic, and long term care do so much for our area not only recently but since it first opened its doors.

As a member of this community I continue to support the facilities by using them not only in an emergency as they can’t stay open for with only emergency usage. While I wish I had a magic wand or at least an oil well, I don’t. But I will give $10,000 to help get a public campaign off the ground.

My plea is to start a community fundraiser to show our support. Your donation can be less or more. To do nothing is to say we don’t care and it’s someone else’s problem. I feel it is our community’s tremendous loss if things don’t get turned around. Would you please give $5, $25, $50, $100 or whatever your heart and pocketbook says you can. If you never used SWHS, please give it a try as I know you will be happy you did.

Have you or someone you loved been cared for here. Did you work at one of the facilities or have a grandmother that did. Possibly the candy stripper job you did in high school led you to a medical career. Please join me in the fight to share because you cared to help Southwest Healthcare Services.

God bless you board members for your many hours of service to save Southwest Healthcare Services. I truly believe years from now, generations will say, “Look what that community did to save an important part of southwest North Dakota”.

Debra Patterson

Bowman, ND

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