The best of a big-city hospital in a small community

Jean’s surgery gave her the healing she needed to resume her active life.

Jean Bumgardner loves to bike. She’s biked around all the Great Lakes, and from the West Coast to the East Coast. You can spot her on trails along the Mississippi River, sporting her signature orange helmet. 

But for 25 years, recurrent symptoms of diverticulitis interrupted Jean’s active life. 

“My flare-ups were extremely painful,” Jean recalls. “The side effects of the medication I needed to fix it were almost worse.” 

Diverticulitis is a recurring infection of the digestive tract. In Jean’s case, it affected her about twice a year. 

Last year, Jean was touring New England’s fall colors with her RV club when diverticulitis struck again. “I had three bouts in six weeks and had to go to the emergency room in another state. I knew I needed a different option.”

Surgery services in Princeton

Jean’s doctor, Tori Christiaansen, MD, at the Fairview Clinic in Elk River, referred her to Nhat-Anh Ngo, DO, a surgeon at Fairview Northland Medical Center, to discuss how to relieve her of diverticulitis for good. 

“A lot of people think they need to go to a big city for surgery. They don’t think of a place like Princeton,” says Dr. Ngo. “But we have exactly what you need for surgery at Fairview Northland ― a team of surgeons and wonderful staff to support the surgery and care for patients in recovery.”

Jean discussed her surgical option ― removing part of her colon ― with Dr. Ngo at length. The planned procedure was a laparoscopic hand-assisted sigmoidectomy. With the use of cameras, the surgery wouldn’t require large incisions.  

“Dr. Ngo was informative, she explained the surgery and what it would entail,” Jean recalls. “She took time to hear and listen to me; she was supportive and encouraging. I felt very comfortable, as she talked about the surgery, that she was the person to do it with.”

For Dr. Ngo, making sure patients are informed about surgery is part of her philosophy. “The more my patients know, the better. I want to get my patients involved in the conversation as I tell them what is best for their situation.” 

A sense of community

After surgery, Dr. Ngo visited Jean in the hospital regularly to check on her progress and stay involved in her care.

“Dr. Ngo was in every morning to check on me,” Jean says. “She was always so upbeat. I looked forward to her visits.”

Dr. Ngo appreciates being able to spend more time with her patients. “In a big hospital, a patient might not even see the surgeon who performed their operation until they are in an office weeks later. Here at Northland, we’re a smaller community. I like being able to stay connected to my patients as they recover.” 

Getting back to biking 

Jean began walking around the hospital the day after her surgery. She worked with Dr. Ngo to understand how to build activity back into her life. It didn’t take long.

Within three weeks, Jean was back on her bike. Today, at 71, she tries to bike 20 miles a day. 

“Frankly,” she says, “This is the best I’ve ever felt.”

Learn more about surgery at Fairview Northland Medical Center, recently named one of Becker Hospital Review’s “100 Great Community Hospitals.”


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