Beiswenger: Shop local to support the community

As the pandemic challenges continue to hit, Beiswenger encourages supporting businesses and professional services locally.

Joel Beiswenger, Tri-County Health Care president and CEO
Joel Beiswenger, Tri-County Health Care president and CEO

When you work in health care, conversations about bacteria and sanitation are common, so I’m no stranger to discussing germs. However, I could have never anticipated that one day, every single aspect of life would revolve around a virus. COVID-19 has dominated the popular media with disease trackers complete with ominous dotted maps and an ever-growing death counter.

The impact of this pandemic will reverberate throughout our society for years to come. One particular topic of note is the damage done to our economy and small businesses sector.

In a decade, documentarians will be assembling data and stories of this unprecedented era and will undoubtedly focus on our small businesses. Even in our small community, the effects on small businesses are readily observable. The dining, entertainment and retail establishments have been hit the hardest. Shutdowns and occupancy restrictions have made operating extremely difficult. Additionally, the constant need to clean and sanitize can be frustrating, both mentally and financially.

Fighting a virus is one thing, but then you must add the political and personal challenges about operating a business during a pandemic. Businesses that maintain high compliance with mitigation guidelines risk alienating key portions of their regular customers. Meanwhile, business owners who have chosen not to fully embrace mitigation tactics may lose customers who demand the highest levels of COVID-19 prevention. This balancing act has only added more stress to an already difficult situation.

Please shop local. We need to protect our community and the businesses that make it so unique. Our local shops and professional services cannot be easily replicated or replaced by online shopping. If you want to support local commerce, consider purchasing gift cards. Buying gift cards allows for immediate revenue now versus later. The cashflow can give them a fighting chance, and it may even be instrumental in their survival.


Tri-County Health Care is thankful for the downward trend in COVID-19 transmission. Our area is safer and our hospital is now in a better position to care for our patients. Late 2020 was a massive challenge, but the release of the vaccine has given us some hope. We are making significant progress toward herd immunity which will be achieved when 80% of our population receives the vaccine. When we finally reach herd immunity, we may finally be able to shed some of the mitigation strategies that are causing such a strain on our small business sector. I urge you to take the vaccine when you qualify for it. It has been proven to be both safe and effective.

I can relate to the challenges local businesses are experiencing. Financial challenges exist in all industries and I have seen great hardships in my management career in healthcare. Rural health systems have been at risk for almost my entire 35-year career. Our size, high levels of poverty and older populations make success difficult.

Earlier in my career, there was a five-year period when I was consulting with and helping manage rural hospitals around the country. I had the experience of helping to both open and close hospitals in rural Nevada and North Dakota. The impact on communities after they lose their local hospital is tremendous, from all perspectives. The general health status and their economic well-being always decline.

That’s why I’m so proud to share that Tri-County Health Care is in such a solid position. Not only is our survival ensured but we are proud of our independent status. At this time, we are planning a new replacement campus. Watch for further announcements on the status of that project in the future.

Joel Beiswenger is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Tri-County Health Care in Wadena.

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