For more than three decades, Scenic Rivers has been this region’s fastest-growing health care provider.
That position has been strengthened by the investments in health and dental care made by Scenic Rivers, which now operates clinics in a half-dozen northern Minnesota communities from Cook to Floodwood, from Tower to Bigfork.
In addition to meeting the health and dental care needs across the region, Scenic Rivers has provided good-paying jobs in communities where such jobs are highly valued. When it started in 1979, the business employed between 20 to 30 people. Today it has 110 employees. And expansion of both services and jobs remains in Scenic Rivers’ future.
Scenic Rivers’ success is a product, in some ways, of being in the right place at the right time. The growth in the region’s aging population creates a higher demand for medical services.
But it’s not just timing that has aided Scenic Rivers’ growth. They’ve been attuned to the needs in their communities. A good example is the addition of dental services and the clinic’s willingness to accept patients on Medical Assistance, which is a rarity among dental clinics in northern Minnesota.
Indeed, Scenic Rivers’ three dental clinics attract clientele from across northern Minnesota, and demand is so great, the business is currently contemplating adding a fourth dental clinic in Bigfork.
In addition, you don’t get ahead by standing still. Scenic Rivers has invested in equipment upgrades and remodeled facilities, making good use of the federal grant dollars available to the health care provider as a federally qualified health center.
Both the medical and dental clinics in Cook have been completely remodeled in the last five years while the Tower clinics are relatively new, marking their third year of operation in April.
Likewise, Scenic Rivers has enjoyed success in recruiting doctors and dentists for its clinics. The arrival of three new doctors who serve the Cook and Tower clinics provides assurance that quality medical care will continue into the future for this region. In addition, the doctors’ interest in child care and women’s health issues has broadened the clientele at the clinics.
And let’s not underestimate the value of the relationships Scenic Rivers has cultivated with hospitals at Cook and Bigfork. Scenic Rivers Chief of Operations Nancy Mault credits those connections with helping both the hospitals and clinics thrive in tiny communities where such health care amenities are an exception.
Passage of the Affordable Care Act has also benefited the clinics, making health insurance available to those who previously could not obtain it, either because their employers didn’t offer it, the costs were too great or a pre-existing condition made it impossible for them to obtain insurance.
That’s not to say there isn’t room for more improvement on that front, especially given the recent rise in premiums and deductibles for those obtaining health insurance through the MNsure marketplace.
Having access to quality medical and dental care in remote northern Minnesota is a boon to our communities. And Scenic Rivers’ willingness to invest in providing that care has paid dividends not only to the communities it serves but also to the health care provider.