Staff Report

Devils Lake, N.D. – Lake Region District Health Unit (LRDHU) celebrates 70 years of public health service this year. Due to COVID-19, LRDHU will not be having an open celebration, but they are still gratified to announce this huge milestone.   

Public health’s overall role in the communities it serves is:  Preventing the spread of disease, promoting good health, and protecting the environment. Through the years, public health programs and services being carried out through this philosophy has expanded extensively. 

In 1950 and during many of its beginning years, the core public health services provided in the community were nursing and sanitation and controlling diseases like polio, cholera, yellow fever, diphtheria, tetanus, and many more. 

LRDHU now includes eight programs and 17 staff members. The programs include Public Health Nursing, Environmental Health, Family Planning, WIC (Women, Infants, and Children), Health Tracks, Women’s Way, Tobacco Prevention, and Emergency Preparedness. 

According to LRDHU Administrator, Allen McKay, working in public health takes patience, persistence, and thinking outside the box. Allen quoted Frank Clark with this statement, “If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere” Those engaging in public policy adventures will invariably meet with as many obstacles and defeats as successes. 

Currently in our 70th year, LRDHU is immersed in a worldwide pandemic. While public health professionals tout the values of social distancing, masking, testing, and finally vaccination, the illness and death rates continue to soar across the world. Locally, our public health professionals get thanked with flowers by one person for doing their role in public health, while another is sworn at. 

This year has been a trying one for all of us, with our main focus being on COVID-19 since March 2020. With the close of this year, vaccine now beginning to be administered, we are reminded of CDC Administrator Bill Foege’s words, “Ideas, like viruses, take time to incubate”.  We have all had to think outside the box and come up with creative ideas to address COVID-19, just as we do with many public health topics.  So, as we move into the vaccination phase of this pandemic as we end our 70th year at LRDHU, Allen’s words to the public are to remember that public health takes patience, persistence, and thinking outside the box. 

Lake Region District Health Unit currently provides public health services in Benson, Eddy, Pierce, and Ramsey counties, with each county represented by two health board members. The current board members are Elonda Nord, Lucas Wakefield, Mike Steffan, Doris Griffin, Neal Rud, Glenda Collier, Mike Christenson, Terry Hoffert, and Health Officer Dr. Derek Wayman. 

For more information on the services provided by Lake Region District Health Unit, call (701) 662-7040. You may also find more information and keep up to date on LRDHU events and activities through the website at and the Facebook Page “Lake Region District Health Unit”.