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Boreal Community Media

Sawtooth Mountain Clinic invites the community to celebrate its 40th Anniversary on June 24.

Jun 11, 2019 08:08AM ● By Editor
Sawtooth Mountain Clinic celebrates 40th years as a federally qualified community health center on June 24.  Photo:  SMC

From Boreal Community Media - June 11, 2019

Sawtooth Mountain Clinic invites all community members to celebrate its 40th anniversary of providing quality health care to Cook County on Monday, June 24 at 5:30pm.  The celebration will follow the Clinic's Annual meeting at 5pm to be held in the Clinic's lower level classroom.

In 1979, after 13 years of rewarding but tiring solo practice, Dr. Roger MacDonald joined together with Drs. David Hilfiker, Bill Gallea, and Barbara Banks to brainstorm a better way to do health care in Cook County. These physicians wanted a care model that emphasized quality, compassionate health care for all, offered a wide variety of services, and could withstand the ebbs and flows of this county’s population. What they were envisioning was a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) and in June of 1979, after receiving their first of many federal grants, Sawtooth Mountain Clinic was established.  For forty years, the Clinic has continued to deliver on this vision of providing quality healthcare to Cook County community members regardless of their ability to pay.

The celebration program will include music by Grand Portage artist Briand Morrison and food and beverages for all.  Carol DeSain, longtime Chair of the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic Board of Directors, will lead a program celebrating the Clinic's 
history, key milestones and vision for the future.

Celebrating Rita Plourde's 38 years of Service

Retiring CEO Rita Plourde.  Photo:  Cook County News Herald

The event will also honor Sawtooth Mountain Clinic Rita Plourde's 38 years of services as Chief Executive Officer.  Plourde announced her retirement in February 2019.   Plourde joined Sawtooth Mountain Clinic in 1981 and she is responsible for recruiting and retaining physicians and support staff to provide comprehensive primary care services, securing funding for health care operations and establishing and maintaining public health services.  She is currently Board Chairman of the Northern Minnesota Network and past Board President of the Minnesota Association of Community Health Centers.

Community members who wish to share their thoughts and appreciation for Ms. Plourde's service to be highlighted at the celebration event are invited to email them to Carol DeSain at [email protected]

Community members are asked to consider making a donation to the Clinic's Giving Tree program in honor of Ms. Plourde's service.  The Giving Tree program raises funds to provide Clinic patients with gift cards to defray travel and other expenses when out of town medical treatment is required.  The Giving Tree funds are distributed at the sole discretion of the Clinic's medical staff.  Checks should be made to the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic with "Giving Tree" referenced.

Welcoming Dr. Hansen to Sawtooth Mountain Clinic

Dr. Catherine Hansen, the Clinic's newest M.D.  Photo:  WTIP


The June 24th event will also be an opportunity for community members to meet and welcome Dr. Catherine Hansen, the latest M.D. to join the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic staff of care givers.  Dr. Hansen started at Sawtooth Mountain Clinic in October 2018. She attended the University of Minnesota Medical School and completed residency at the University of Minnesota – North Memorial program in Minneapolis. Dr. Hansen says her professional interests include full spectrum family medicine, women’s health, mental health, and addiction medicine. 

To learn more about Dr. Hansen's journey to Cook County, follow this link. https://www.boreal.org/2018/11/26/184304/cook-county-welcomes-dr-catherine-hansen

Enclosed is a PDF of the invitation to the 40th anniversary celebration.  All community members are encouraged to attend to celebrate this historic event. Join the Clinic for the celebration!


Watch a video highlighting the history of Sawtooth Mountain Clinic here.

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