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Rick Zuti is addicted to the adrenalin rush you can only get from jumping out of an airplane. When he retired after a 20-year career as a paratrooper in the army, he dreamed of learning to sky dive, but years passed, and it didn’t seem like he would be able to make his dream a reality. Then on his 57th birthday, he looked in the mirror and told himself that now was the time.

While Rick had more than two decades of experience as a paratrooper, his military training didn’t include body flight, or freefalling, so he sought out the training he needed to get his first sky diving license. His wife, Debbie, was supportive but she thought this was going to be a one-time thing that Rick had to get out of his system. Instead sky diving became Rick’s obsession.

Parachute Hard Open Yanks His Shoulder Backwards

Rick had just completed his B license in sky diving, (the second of four levels) when he experienced something in the air that had never happened before. He had a hard open when he pulled his parachute and the jolt yanked his left shoulder backwards.

“I went to open my parachute and when it opened I felt like I hit the ground,” said Rick. “I quickly realized that my arm didn’t work too well anymore.”

Surgery Followed by Physical Therapy

Knowing he was badly hurt, Rick went to the Emergency Room at River’s Edge Hospital. The ER team assessed and stabilized his condition. A few days later, he had an appointment with Dr. Jesse Botker at the Orthopaedic & Fracture Clinic who recommended surgery.

The surgery needed to repair his arm took place at River’s Edge Hospital and before he knew it, Rick was home recovering with his arm in a sling. The injury, though serious, was not as bad as first thought and Rick started therapy to get back his mobility – and his life. That’s when he met Matt Tuggle, Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) at River’s Edge.

PT Focused on Patient’s Goals to Sky Dive Again

Matt customized a regime of movements to help Rick stretch and strengthen the muscles and tendons in his arm. At first, Rick couldn’t see the point of the exercises that were included in his therapy, but Matt focused on Rick’s personal goal to jump out of airplanes again.

“I was really surprised at how receptive Matt was to my needs,” said Rick. “He asked me, ‘What’s your biggest goal?’ and I said, to get back in the sky.”

Rick showed Matt some of the movements that he needed to do in a sky dive, such as pull the brake lines, and Matt designed a customized regime of exercises that would slowly increase the strength and range of motion in Rick’s arms and shoulders. Through the next few weeks, Matt helped Rick stay on track with his recovery, giving him suggestions for modifications that were always based on Rick’s goals.

“Pretty much everything we did in therapy had to do with being able to maneuver my parachute. I couldn’t believe how detailed Matt’s training was to my specific goals,” said Rick.

Sky Diver Isn’t Grounded for Long

Before he could get back in the air, Rick needed to return to work and this didn’t go as well as he thought it would at first. Rick admits that he had slacked off on therapy and the price he paid was pain that resulted from his increased activity. When he got back on track with his stretching and exercises, he was successful in transitioning back to work.

Three months after his injury, you would never know that Rick had encountered a setback that grounded his sky diving passion. He’s made about 40 jumps since his recovery and continues to do the exercises that he learned from Matt, though now he does them at the gym and has pumped them up by adding more weight.

As he met his goal to get back in the air, Rick’s thoughts were on Matt and the key role that he had played in helping him resume sky diving. At the first chance he got, he had his wife take a picture of him jumping so he could give it to Matt.

“Matt needs to know that I’m back in the air,” said Rick.

I CAN Prevent Diabetes ®, a diabetes prevention program held at River’s Edge Hospital has received reaccreditation from the Centers for Disease Control.

The class, led by Jennifer Donkin, registered dietician and Nicole Boelter, exercise physiologist at River’s Edge, is a 12-month program for people who are at risk for type 2 diabetes.  It focuses on weight loss and increased physical activity.

Full recognition of the I CAN Prevent Diabetes ® program by the CDC show that Donkin and Boelter have effectively delivered a quality, evidence-based program that meets the CDC standards for accreditation.  The sustained success of the program means that the teaching of lifestyle changes has helped dozens of people at risk for Type 2 diabetes move out of the risk category.

Donkin has been leading the I CAN Prevent Diabetes ® class since January 2012 and has been sending data to the CDC for 6 years.  “It has been rewarding to work with the participants and see the progress they make in changing their lifestyle over the course of a year,” said Donkin.

Evaluators from the CDC noted that River’s Edge has met all the requirements for accreditation.  “This is a remarkable achievement of which you should be very proud.”

Participants are eligible if they have had a blood test indicating pre-diabetes or by taking a risk assessment at their doctor’s office.  Donkin said local providers are supportive of the class because they see the benefits.

The next I CAN Prevent Diabetes® class in February 2019.  For more information, contact Jennifer Donkin at 507-934-7694.

River’s Edge Hospital has been awarded two 2018 Excellence in Patient Care Awards by Studer Group, a Huron solution. Specifically, River’s Edge Hospital is being recognized for exemplary results related to discharge information as measured by the HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) survey. Organizations receiving this award achieved a ranking at or above the 90th percentile for patients discharged in 2017 as measured by the HCAHPS patient experience survey required by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.   The organization is also being recognized for achieving significant reductions in turnover in 2017.

“The entire leadership team has worked very hard to reduce turnover.  Lower turnover means that there is a solid team to provide a high level of quality care to all our patients,” said Jackie Kimmet, Chief Human Resource Officer.

“We are honored to receive the Excellence in Patient Care Award and the recognition for the work that has been done to ensure our patients are prepared for a successful recovery after their hospitalization,” said Paula Meskan, Chief Nursing Officer at River’s Edge Hospital. “By starting the preparation for discharge at the time of admission, the patient care team is able to fully understand the individual needs of the patients as they set goals for education and expectations with the patients.  Using the tools available in the electronic health record and the expertise of the patient care team, patients are discharged from the hospital with an accurate medication list and understanding about their medications, instructions for caring for themselves at home, follow up appointment information, and any identified supports that they will need when they return home.  A follow-up phone call to the patient, caregiver, or care facility 24-48 hours after discharge offers us the opportunity to ensure that the information provided to the patient at the time of discharge is clear, and when needed, allows the opportunity to provide additional clarification and assistance.  We believe that this approach allows us to customize our care to meet the needs of the patient, and we believe that shows in the feedback that we receive.  This award recognizes not only the process, but the people at the bedside making sure our patients are receiving the highest quality care.  We are so proud of them.”

Excellence in Patient Care Awards are presented annually to a select group of organizations from Huron and Studer Group’s partner base. To be eligible for an award, an organization must demonstrate outstanding performance and achievement in areas such as patient care and employee and physician engagement.

“We are fortunate to work with the best of the best in healthcare and are so proud of all the organizations that are receiving awards for their outstanding results,” says Debbie Ritchie, president of Studer Group. “It takes dedication from every individual to provide excellent care and this award should be celebrated by all those who work daily to make a difference. They are what’s right in healthcare.”

The awards will be presented at the 16th annual What’s Right in Health Care® leading practices conference, which will take place Aug. 21-23, 2018, in Nashville, Tennessee.

Al Neely was on the front line in the ER for 40 years as a Registered Nurse. In the fast-paced environment of a hospital emergency room, Al had to think quickly to assess situations, collaborate with the medical team to provide care, and communicate candidly but compassionately with patients and their families in extremely emotional situations. It was a challenging job that Al loved.

When Al retired at the age of 67 it wasn’t because he didn’t find fulfillment in his job anymore. Over the last few years of his career, pain in his knees and back started to slow him down. He thought that retirement would allow his body to rest and help him recuperate from his years of physically demanding work in the ER. His goal was to be able to resume an active lifestyle and get back to the past times that he enjoyed like golfing and working in his yard.

Pain and inactivity sink into weight gain and depression

Al rested but his knees and back didn’t get better. In fact, they got worse. To manage the pain, he went to physical therapy and found relief from medicine injected into the troublesome joints. He got to the point, however, when the medications didn’t do anything. Daily life was painful as he maneuvered up and down the steps in his house. Al noticed that he spent more time resting than he was being active. His decreased mobility led to weight gain, and then he found himself struggling with depression.

Surgery for this ER nurse was foreign territory

Al held off on having surgery as long as he could, but the time came for him to face the fact that surgery was his only answer. With both his knees and his back causing problems, he decided that it would be best to get his right knee replaced first, to help him recover from back surgery later. As a nurse in the medical field for so long, you would think that undergoing any type of medical treatment would not be a big deal, but for this veteran nurse it was foreign territory.

“It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been a nurse and what specialty you were in. When it comes to yourself, you have a lot of doubts,” Al said. “Now it’s you laying on the cart.”

Patient’s experiences guided his choices for surgeon and surgery location

He consulted with Dr. Kyle Swanson at The Orthopaedic and Fracture Clinic (OFC) in Mankato.  Al was very familiar with OFC from his 17 years working in the ER of a Mankato hospital. He even remembers meeting Dr. Swanson on the young doctor’s first day there.

”I’ve always tended to think of The Orthopaedic and Fracture Clinic as top notch in terms of their techniques and their outcomes,” said Al. “I had no qualms about going with Dr. Swanson.”

When it came time to schedule Al’s total knee replacement, Al had the choice to have the surgery in Mankato or at River’s Edge Hospital in St. Peter. He chose River’s Edge, not because he had spent his last seven years of employment there before retirement, but because he knew they could really deliver on patient satisfaction.

Joint Camp at River’s Edge Hospital eases pre-surgery anxieties

Pre-surgery protocol by Al’s healthcare insurance required four months of physical therapy (PT) to gain as much strength as possible to aid recovery. Al did this round of PT at OFC. During this time he also went to River’s Edge Hospital for Joint Camp, an orientation program for surgery patients.

Among the topics addressed at Joint Camp was a discussion about anesthesia. Al had always been hesitant to have surgery with general anesthesia so when he discovered that he had the option of a spinal anesthetic, he felt a whole lot better. Additionally, learning that River’s Edge has a hospitalist on site 24/7 also gave Al comfort and confidence that the hospital staff would be able to react quickly if his post-surgery recovery needed a change in doctor’s orders.

Former nurse is overwhelmed by caring attitude of staff

Going to the hospital as a patient instead of an employee was a new experience for Al. He had relationships with the staff as co-workers, but they didn’t know him as a patient. Overwhelmed by their caring attitude, Al felt that all of the medical staff were cognizant of how their care made a difference in his response to therapies. One Physical Therapist even changed her day off so that she could continue working with Al during his post-surgery recovery. The night nurses were terrific.

“When you’re in the hospital and you’re in pain, everything seems to get worse at night. That’s just the way it is,” said Al. “[The night nurses] were very good at spending time and making sure that everything was done according to your needs and assessing what they had done to make sure that their interactions were appropriate.”

Unexpected setback accelerates second knee replacement

Al was discharged from the hospital and progressing with PT when 2 weeks into his recovery he encountered a very unexpected setback. While walking out to his mailbox with the assistance of a walker, he stepped off the curb and injured his left knee to the point of collapse. Now he needed another knee replacement.

Al had to wait a month before moving forward with a second surgery and he again encountered the pre-surgery protocol of four weeks of PT. This time, it didn’t make sense because of his recent surgery on his other knee. He consulted with The Orthopaedic and Fracture Clinic Physical Therapist, Jon Ellingsworth, who gathered the assessment information that insurance needed to approve the surgery right away.

Recovery means regained mobility and active lifestyle

The care was just as good for Al for his second knee replacement as it was for the first. Now that Al has fully recovered from his knee surgeries, he can manage the steps in his home just fine. He can walk and putter in his yard and go shopping with his wife.

“My knees are doing great!” said Al. “I knew that River’s Edge was the place that would really deliver on patient satisfaction.”

A surgery patient’s feelings of apprehension were put to rest when she went to Joint Camp at River’s Edge Hospital in St. Peter, MN prior to successful knee surgery that helped her regain her mobility and independence.


No Gaps in Care for Surgery Patient at River’s Edge Hospital


Audrey Simonson isn’t used to sitting still. While raising their family, she and her husband were involved in many community organizations. They instilled in their children a love for camping and spending time outdoors. Friends and family frequently enjoy her company along with a good home-cooked meal. Audrey’s been a familiar figure in her North Mankato neighborhood for many years as she daily walked miles along its roadways and paths.

When this grandmother of 11 started to feel some pain in her knees, it slowed her down, but it didn’t stop her. Since her husband passed away 14 years ago, Audrey had been living independently and she would tell you that she has a high tolerance for pain. The last thing she wanted to do was to get her children worried about her when, in her mind, there might not be anything to worry about. Then she took a tumble in her home.

Her condition was worse than she thought

Audrey was able to get herself up and although she knew she was hurt, she didn’t say anything about the pain or the protruding bump on her shin. Two weeks later, when it was apparent that the pain wasn’t getting any better and walking became very difficult, she decided to mention the incident to her daughter who insisted that she see a doctor right away.

Audrey saw Dr. Jesse Botker at the Orthopaedic and Fracture Clinic (OFC) in Mankato the next day. She was surprised that the staff whooshed her into a wheelchair as she walked through the door of the clinic. Looking back, she thinks they immediately recognized the source of the bump on her shin. It was her kneecap.

Dr. Jesse Botker

Even though she had two previous shoulder surgeries at a different clinic, it was Audrey’s decision to go to Dr. Botker at OFC. A recent conversation with friends about their experience with this young, vibrant doctor had instilled her with the confidence that this was definitely the right choice. Her first visit confirmed her feelings as Dr. Botker thoroughly explained what was going on with her body, and how he could help her regain her mobility and independence. Surgery was scheduled to take place at River’s Edge Hospital.

Feelings of apprehension put to rest at Joint Camp

As the surgery date approached, Audrey couldn’t help but feel apprehensive as she anticipated what surgery and recovery were going to be like. She had some unpleasant experiences after her previous shoulder surgeries when the staff who were supposed to help her did not follow through. Her memory of feeling abandoned at her most vulnerable time became fresh in her mind again. As she went into this surgery, she wanted to have the confidence that all her needs would be met. That’s when she was invited to Joint Camp.

Joint Camp is an orientation program at River’s Edge Hospital for surgery patients. The hospital staff understand that surgery is a major event, so they want to help people feel as prepared as they can be. During the two-hour session, they tour the facility and staff from different departments discuss what patients can expect as far as what will happen before and after surgery at the hospital; what they should do at home; how they will manage pain; how physical therapists will be working with them; and how their recovery may continue after they leave the hospital.

For Audrey, it was nice to see the facility, but meeting the staff members who would oversee her care made all the difference in the world to her outlook. Getting to know these people at the hospital and learning that they all had a role in caring for her made Audrey feel like there weren’t going to be any gaps that she would have to manage by herself.

“I felt very confident that I had professional people to help with any need that I had,” she said.

Independence regained after successful surgery and recovery

Audrey had bilateral surgery to repair both her knees. She describes her caregivers at River’s Edge as helpful, pleasant and kind. There was never a time when the help she needed was delayed and she said that the atmosphere was conducive to an optimistic attitude about recovery.

Audrey can be seen walking again in her North Mankato neighborhood. She may not walk as fast or as long as she did before, but she has her independence back.

She told her daughter, “I finally feel happy again. It’s a relief to be able to walk and to not have pain.”

And to the staff at Orthopaedic Fracture Clinic and River’s Edge Hospital she said, “I’ll see you again when I have my hips done!”

The Emergency Department entrance at River’s Edge Hospital will be moving from the east side of the building to the north side of the building on June 7 as site work begins for the construction of the new emergency department.  Please refer to the map included with this notice for details of how to access the Emergency Department and where to park.  The entrance will be visible with a lit canopy and signage will be posted along Sunrise Drive and through the north parking lot.  If you have questions about accessing the Emergency Department after June 7 or about getting to the main entrance of the hospital, please contact Stephanie Holden, Chief Marketing & Development Officer at 507-934-7645.

SAINT PETER, Minn., May 15, 2018 – River’s Edge Hospital & Clinic officials today celebrated the groundbreaking of a nearly $46 million expansion project, alongside USDA Rural Development State Director Brad Finstad and local, state, and national officials.

“Solid infrastructure and modern healthcare facilities play a key role in the economic sustainability of rural communities – attracting new businesses, retaining population and providing opportunities for future growth,” said Finstad. “Not only will these services benefit local St. Peter residents, but they will also address the regional healthcare needs of surrounding communities for years to come.”

River’s Edge Hospital & Clinic serves over nearly 46,000 residents in St. Peter and surrounding communities. The project includes renovation of the existing facility and expansion of approximately 35,000 square feet – providing this facility with the resources necessary to meet the demands of the rapidly increasing populations of the surrounding communities.  Once the project is complete approximately 20 full time equivalent positions will be added.

The new addition will create space for a larger emergency department with adjacent ER and Urgent Care services; a new pharmacy with a medication prep room; and 25 patient beds, nursing and support spaces.

Additionally, renovations to the surgery department will allow space for two additional operating rooms, allowing for continued growth.

Funding for the facility came in the form of a $33.3 million USDA Rural Development Community Facilities direct loan and a $5 million commercial loan through partnership with Peoples Bank Midwest. River’s Edge will contribute $7.6 million to the total $46 million project. Nearly $800,000 will go towards health e-connectivity in the form of nurse call, video, voice and data technology and approximately $160,000 will go towards resources for rural mental and behavioral health services.

For more information on USDA Rural Development programs, please contact your local Area Office by visiting

River’s Edge Hospital & Clinic has been recognized as a DNV GL Healthcare certified Hip & Knee Replacement Center. The DNV GL Healthcare Hip and Knee Replacement Certification, based on standards set forth by DNV GL Healthcare and considering the guidelines of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, recognizes program excellence in patient care and outcomes.  River’s Edge received its first certification in 2017.

DNV GL Healthcare certification as a Hip & Knee Replacement Center validates the hospital’s excellence across the spectrum of hip and knee replacement care, from diagnosis to treatment, rehabilitation, education and outcomes.

“This certification affirms River’s Edge Hospital and our OrthoEdge program provide the best hip and knee replacement care,” says George Rohrich, CEO at River’s Edge. “Our staff and surgeons are amongst the best in the country.”

“Recertification as a ‘Center of Excellence’ demonstrates the commitment to high quality services and care by the OrthoEdge Team (The Orthopaedic & Fracture Clinic and Rivers Edge Hospital), “ said Andrew Meyers, CEO of The Orthopaedic & Fracture Clinic. “It signals to the community and region our combined passion to continually provide quality care for all patients, with this recertification validating the total Hip and Knee Programs quality and value. It’s what patients should look for when contemplating surgical treatment of hip or knee needing replacement.”

“Achieving certification shows commitment to excellence,” says Patrick Horine, CEO of DNV GL Healthcare. “It helps demonstrate to your community that you are performing at the highest level.”

I CAN Prevent Diabetes ®, a diabetes prevention program held at River’s Edge Hospital has received reaccreditation from the Centers for Disease Control.

The class, led by Jennifer Donkin, registered dietician and Nicole Boelter, exercise physiologist at River’s Edge, is a 12-month program for people who are at risk for type 2 diabetes.  It focuses on weight loss and increased physical activity.

Donkin has been leading the I CAN Prevent Diabetes ® class since January 2012 and has been sending data to the CDC for 5 years.  “It has been rewarding to work with the participants and see the progress they make in changing their lifestyle over the course of a year,” said Donkin.

Evaluators from the CDC noted that River’s Edge has met all the requirements for accreditation.  “This is a remarkable achievement of which you should be very proud.”

Participants are eligible if they have had a blood test indicating pre-diabetes or by taking a risk assessment at their doctor’s office.  Donkin said local providers are supportive of the class because they see the benefits.

The next I CAN Prevent Diabetes® class begins on August 29 at 6 p.m.  For more information, contact Jennifer Donkin at 507-934-7694.

Janell Stock knew whatever was making her sick was serious when she called the ambulance to take her to the emergency room.  The nurse of 14 years has had asthma her entire life but when she could not breathe, she knew it was bad.

Now retired, Janell was working as an LPN at the St. Peter Regional Treatment Center.  Other than asthma, she was in good health.  In 2014 she had called in sick to work, something that was unusual for her.  She was committed to her job and went in to work, still not feeling well.  It was an early Monday morning, 4:30 a.m. she recalled, when she called the ambulance because she could barely breathe.

The River’s Edge Ambulance was on another call so Janell had to wait for the Le Sueur Ambulance to arrive.  The St. Peter Police arrived first, with oxygen.  “That was helping,” Janell recalled with tears in her eyes.

When the ambulance arrived, she was taken to the Emergency Department at River’s Edge Hospital.  She was scared.  “I had this nice doctor. He was wonderful in a very confusing time.”

It was during that confusing time that the emergency department doctor made a decision that Janell feels saved her life.  Instead of being intubated and going to another hospital, the doctor administered magnesium through Janell’s IV, which opened up her lungs.  “If I wouldn’t have gotten that care, I would  have died.”

She was then admitted to River’s Edge and received care for her condition for the next six days.  “I finally felt I was in a safe place,” Janell said. “I was not going to die.”

Janell said they care she received from the River’s Edge staff was wonderful and the nurses were smart, helpful and kind.  “I could tell they really cared.”  Now, three years later, Janell is on oxygen all the time when she is at home and can go without it for short periods of time.  She is grateful for the care she received and says because of it she feels great.