MINOT – A great service typically doesn’t stay in one place but moves to areas where it’s most needed.
Mandy Crocker, nurse project manager for Dakota Hope Clinic, said her role is to help Dakota Hope expand to the rural communities.
Crocker began her work for Dakota Hope in August of 2022, and that October Dakota Hope established its first mini clinic in Tioga.
“We had some really great connections up there already, so things were already rolling before I came here,” said Crocker. “My role as a nurse is to then service those mini clinics that are going to open to be that traveling nurse.”
The job would involve conducting ultrasounds and other procedures that she said only a nurse can do.
“I have a portable ultrasound machine that was donated to the clinic,” said Crocker.
Crocker, who lives in Minot, travels twice a week.
“We just signed a contract later in February to open a clinic up in Bottineau,” said Crocker.
Now that Dakota Hope has a space to expand, the clinic is working on a floor plan.
“Some of these individuals may not have the resources to travel so far,” said Crocker. “If the weather’s not so good that’s the challenge for me to travel. I’ve gone through some pretty nasty weather.”
Crocker said the mini clinics provide the same services that Dakota Hope provides in Minot, with the only caveat being one program called Her Journey which is based in Minot but can still provide virtual support to anyone.
“It’s a great opportunity to bring services to those that don’t have much,” said Crocker. “In the outlying areas, their medical care is really challenging.”
Crocker said Dakota Hope is ministering to the Spanish communities because its Earn While You Learn course can be taken in Espanol.
“We see a big population in Tioga that is Spanish speaking,” said Crocker. “So, we do have that opportunity to offer Spanish classes as well.”
Since the mini clinic in Tioga is freshly opened, Dakota Hope has yet to count how many people it’s helped there yet.
“We’ve only had a few clients so far,” Crocker explained. “We’re trying to get the word out that we’re open in Tioga. That’s the challenge so far, in the small communities, getting the word out.”
Dakota Hope is hoping to eventually hire a nurse out in Tioga to take over.
“Once the clientele’s there, we’ll have the ability to then hire,” said Crocker. “Then I would just keep moving to help open another clinic. I’ll always be that traveling nurse.”
Currently Dakota Hope occupies the old Zion Lutheran Church in Tioga, which has a clothes closet and food pantry.
“It’s perfect because then we can offer that to be able to tell clients to go downstairs if they have the need for clothes,” said Crocker. “Youth for Christ is in the building and the Tioga Quilters. So, the building is multi-purpose.”
Dakota Hope tries to stay in buildings that have multiple purposes so people don’t know the reason a client is entering.
“Especially in small communities,” said Crocker. “Everybody knows everybody’s business, so they get concerned why somebody’s coming in. Maybe they went to the quilters or they went to get some clothes, because everybody goes in to buy second hand clothes sometimes.”
The reason Dakota Hope sets up its clinics in certain communities is because those communities have requested it. Crocker said the next plan after Bottineau is to expand to Garrison.
Both Crocker and her husband, originally from Pennsylvania, are involved in Dakota Hope.
“During prayer time they were saying, we’re praying for a nurse for this project manager, and my husband goes, ‘I know a nurse,’” Crocker laughed. “So that’s how it started. It’s exciting to be able to go take what’s been such an amazing ministry in Minot and take it out to the communities. Where the need is, we go and follow.”
More information on Dakota Hope can be found on its website.