Insights From Wapiti

Advice, news and thought leadership from our experts.

Thief River Falls Welcomes New ED Medical Director

The new Emergency Department Medical Director at Thief River Falls, MN, Dr. Justin Harrington, recently offered insight into what sets the facility apart from other critical access hospitals in smaller communities. A culture committed to growth, an updated facility, and a combination of technology and specialists make Thief River a surprisingly urbanized facility in rural Minnesota.



People are the heart of a hospital. Dr. Harrington has nothing but praise for the hardworking providers, nurses, and staff at Thief River Falls. They are, in his words, nothing short of “phenomenal.” The team shares a commitment to improvement and innovation. Dr. Harrington says, “It’s an environment of growth rather than just the ‘this is how we’ve always done it’ approach.”


Technology and Specialties

From cutting-edge technology to specialized services, Thief River redefines what it means to be a rural critical access hospital. “The facility itself is gorgeous with so many capabilities,” Dr. Harrington says. Specialized care, such as Pediatrics, Orthopedics, and Podiatry, covers a broad spectrum of needs. Thief River Falls also employs hospitalists to provide round-the-clock coverage. Technology, such as MRI and an ultrasound—which Dr. Harrington admits “made his mouth water” during his initial visit—reduces the need for the patient population to travel outside the area for needed diagnostics and procedures.


Patient Acuity

Dr. Harrington highlights the establishment of a specialized Urgent Care Center. This allows providers to tackle emergent health issues primarily. “You’re not getting all the sore throats, colds, and things like that in the ER. Those patients go to Urgent Care,” Dr. Harrington states. “You still get some, but much less than is typical for a critical-access hospital. Providers can focus more on what they are trained for.”


Mental Health

Thief River Falls behavioral health facility is another unique feature that enhances local healthcare. “They provide us with a crisis worker that comes in person whenever we have a mental health patient. They help facilitate everything and find a placement,” Dr. Harrington said. This resource enables Thief River to deal more effectively with the challenges facing many rural facilities regarding patients with behavioral health needs.


As some rural facilities struggle to stay afloat, Thief River Falls is poised for success with its forward-thinking culture, state-of-the-art technology, dedicated staff, and talented specialists. If you are a physician or provider interested in joining the team at Thief River Falls, click here to start your journey.