“Minnesota is unique in having three specialty burn units at Regions Hospital, Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) and Essentia Health. People from all over the Midwest travel for burn care, and recovery can take many weeks,” says Melissa Stachovich, director of finance and administration at Minnesota Rural Electric Association (MREA) and organizer of the Annual Burn Center Golf Tournament.
Utility line work is in the top 10 of the most hazardous jobs in America, and electrical contacts can result in severe burns. Burn victims from rural areas often travel significant distances for care at specialty burn centers. Longer recovery times can be costly and difficult for families from hundreds of miles away.
Lon Tekrony, journeyman lineworker at Traverse Electric Cooperative, experienced this firsthand when he had an electrical contact on the job in 2005 and spent three weeks in the Regions Hospital Burn Center. “I was blessed in my time at Regions. When I left, I could see that there was need to make it more comfortable for families,” says Tekrony. Tekrony began working with MREA to provide an avenue for rural electric cooperatives to invest in Minnesota’s hospital burn centers. “It’s a really important event to me and my family and I’m overwhelmed with how it’s grown.”
MREA hosts the Burn Center Golf Tournament to support the important lifesaving medical care that specialty doctors provide. MREA has been hosting the charity event for 17 years and has raised more than $500,000 since the first tournament in 2005. This year, Minnesota’s electric cooperatives raised a total of $42,708, with an additional $10,000 matched donation from CoBank, a national cooperative bank serving various industries across rural America.
“The funds raised directly impacts patient care by providing burn-specific education opportunities to our nursing staff,” says Dr. Jon Gayken, burn surgeon at HCMC. “Additionally, it helps support our patient experience in ways not traditionally covered by the hospital stay, such as transportation, housing, and other supplies not covered by insurance.”
MREA also raises money throughout the year for the Rural Electric Cooperative Fund, which supports electric cooperative lineworkers and their families in the event of an electrical contact while on the job.
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