It's All About the Kids
What’s the most rewarding aspect of her work as medical director at the Anne Carlsen Center for Children (ACCC) in Jamestown?
“Oh, it’s the kids, absolutely,” says Myra Quanrud, M.D. ‘90, clinical assistant professor of pediatrics, without hesitation. “It’s all about the kids.”
“It’s their resilience. You can take a little kid and put them through this absolutely horrendous procedure and when you’re done, they give you a hug!”
But, oddly enough, working with children was never a goal she had in mind growing up and considering her future career.
“I had no intention of going into pediatrics,” she recalls. “I was a lousy babysitter.”
Things changed, though, in her third year of medical school when she took a rotation in pediatrics and “fell in love” with it. Under the tutelage of George Johnson, M.D. (B.S. Med. ’58), professor and then-chair of pediatrics, Fargo (“he’s really my mentor,” she says), the experience completely altered her professional aspirations.
Wanting to be a doctor, “that was a ‘forever’ thing,” says Quanrud, who grew up in Jamestown.
“Myra is unique,” says Johnson. “After I became chairman of pediatrics at UND (she) was my first student to go into pediatrics and become chief resident in pediatrics at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, KS. Her intellectual skills were superior and her determination was as great as any student I met, with regard to a career in pediatrics.”
Early on, she had “a need to play an important role in her hometown,” he remembers, and “determined to become a pediatrician in Jamestown, which has had few pediatricians over the years and usually needs pediatric care.”
“Dr. Quanrud is regarded by pediatricians across the state as the model for how children with a multitude of health challenges can best be served... She is both high tech and high touch.”
“I always planned to come back,” Quanrud says. During residency training, she “cold-called” the Dakota Clinic administrator in Jamestown and asked for a job.
“He had a plan. I had an interest in special-needs kids,” she says. They worked out an arrangement whereby she split her time equally between Dakota Clinic and the ACCC beginning in 1994. (She was the only physician on staff at the ACCC until two years ago.)
“The Anne Carlsen Center is nationally and internationally known,” Johnson says, and is fortunate “to have a person of Myra’s intelligence, steadfastness, empathy and work ethic serve as medical director” there.
The ACCC houses 54 children, ranging in age from birth to 21 years, who have varying disabilities including behavioral issues, primarily autism spectrum disorders, and medical issues, either stable or fragile; some require oxygen support. On-site services include speech, occupational and physical therapy; consulting specialists come in to provide additional assistance for patients with more unusual or intense medical needs. The staff focuses its efforts on a three-pronged mission of medical care, education and therapy.
“Nobody wrote the book,” Quanrud says, and “if they had, none of the kids would read it anyway... We make it up as we go along,” noting especially the resourcefulness and innovativeness of employees who create new solutions for the challenges their patients face. They follow the “medical home” program, a movement in pediatrics which embodies a family-centered style of practice.
“I can’t say enough about the people who work here,” she reflects on the staff who provide care 24/7. “It’s very much a family.”
According to Sue Offutt, Ph.D. (Teaching and Learning ’04), chair of the ACCC board of trustees and associate director for operations at the UND Center for Rural Health, Quanrud’s expertise with such specialized medical conditions ensures the children are receiving the best possible care. She takes her time to understand and appreciate each child’s unique circumstances and develop care programs to best suit those needs.”
Stephen Tinguely, M.D. ’78, chair and associate professor of pediatrics, says she “is gifted with a wonderful combination of skill, compassion and passion for caring for children with special health care needs.
“She is regarded by pediatricians across the state as the model for how children with a multitude of health challenges can best be served. She exemplifies the intelligent, down-to-earth, hard-working, kind-hearted, North Dakota-grown physician we can proudly say graduated from our medical school.
“She is both high tech and high touch.”
Quanrud is “contributing to the community as a vitally needed children’s specialist... in a most innovative and personal way,” Johnson says, “continuing as an inspiration to the young people in the Jamestown area and as a fine teacher for our medical students.”
-Pamela D. Knudson
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