Finding a provider — and a friend — at Essentia Health-Moose Lake

October 26, 2022  By: Louie St. George

Bri Rivord family

Bri Rivord and her family were preparing to move back to the Northland, from Florida, in the fall of 2021. Eight months pregnant with her and husband Devan’s second child, Bri was ecstatic about finding a health care provider with whom she could truly connect — a bond that had been missing during the year they spent in the Sunshine State.

She found that relationship with Dr. Jill Schenk at Essentia Health-Moose Lake.

Dr. Schenk is a physician who specializes in family medicine as well as obstetrics. She came highly recommended from Bri’s mother and sisters.

Dr Schenk Portrait

During her first visit with Dr. Schenk, Bri said it felt “like I kind of knew her my whole life.”

“I was able to sit and talk to her, and she was just so outgoing and happy and bubbly,” Bri said. “Then I could be myself, too. She takes things to heart and she knows, ‘This is your body; you do what you want.’ But she gives you advice. She’s just a really good provider, just a good person in general. I can talk to her about daycare, I can talk to her about anything, so that’s nice.”

That connection was especially important as Bri navigated typical feelings of vulnerability that accompany the third trimester. After meeting with Dr. Schenk and checking out Essentia Health-Moose Lake, Bri felt reassured.

“Just having that comfort of, ‘OK, I can have this baby here and feel really safe,’ ” she recounted.

Dr. Schenk helped deliver Charlie Rivord on Dec. 4. Much like his sister, 2-year-old Mila, Charlie was big for a baby — the byproduct, no doubt, of Devan’s almost 7-foot-tall frame. Charlie is a healthy, happy and impossibly relaxed infant. During a recent virtual interview, he sat silently on mom’s lap for a half-hour, casually taking in his surroundings and the commotion on-screen in front of him.

Bri was so pleased with her provider-patient relationship, as well as Essentia Health-Moose Lake overall, that it wasn’t long before the entire Rivord family was seeing Dr. Schenk. Bri appreciates the ease and convenience of scheduling via MyChart; she likes being able to recall past appointments by reading after-visit summaries on the portal; and she really enjoys having access to high-quality care so close to the family’s Sturgeon Lake home.

“It’s very nice, especially because we love her (Dr. Schenk),” Bri said. “For me, being able to have me, my daughter, my son, dragging my husband in — plus my mom and sisters — it makes it so relatable and so personal. It’s that small-town vibe and having a provider that really truly knows you and cares for you. It really just fits perfectly with what I envision for a doctor.

“It’s hard to find. I haven’t felt this comfortable with a provider in a very long time. I believe that once you have it, you keep it.”

In the fall of 2019, the former Mercy Hospital — seeking a formal partnership to bring greater stability and resources to Moose Lake and the surrounding region — sent out a request for proposal to several health care providers. Mercy’s board of directors selected Essentia Health for its rich history of bringing expert and compassionate care to rural communities. That’s a foundational element of Essentia’s commitment to providing services closer to home for its patients.

Bri can log into the MyChart patient portal and schedule an appointment in Moose Lake for a day or two out.

“And when you walk into the clinic, even if it’s been a month since I’ve been there, they’ll go, ‘Hey, how’s it going? How’s the family?’ They remember you,” she said.

“I think it’s really important to have that hometown feel, but with the resources of Essentia and a larger organization behind it,” Dr. Schenk said. “That means we can practice to the maximum with everything we’re able to do as family physicians in the community, but if we need extra assistance, we have colleagues we can contact that will help us take really good care of patients and allow us to keep those patients in this community.”

Dr. Schenk relishes her role as a family medicine physician providing obstetrics care, precisely because she gets to work with families like the Rivords. She delivers care for every aspect of the patient, from before they’re born to delivery to childhood, and into adulthood. So she’ll get to watch Charlie and Mila grow and thrive and have a front-row seat for all those milestones along the way.

Starting with Charlie’s introduction to this world, which was all but seamless — minus the part about him peeing on Dr. Schenk.

“The delivery went great. He came out screaming and yelling; he peed on me,” the doctor said, laughing. “It was wonderful. It was just a really rewarding experience because the delivery was able to be fairly natural, and Devan was able to be involved. Charlie went right onto Bri’s chest and mother and baby had a wonderful transition.”

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