Health Care Foundation Invests in Simulation Technology and Leads Workforce Solutions Initiative

Health Care Foundation Invests in Simulation Technology and Leads Workforce Solutions Initiative

March 2, 2023 – The North Shore Health Care Foundation (NSHCF) today announced the ‘Investing in Our Future Health Care Workforce Solutions’ initiative along with an investment in state-of-the-art Simulation Manikin Technology never previously available in Cook County to benefit the Hospital and Care Center at North Shore Health, other local health providers and First Responder units. This collaborative initiative led by the Foundation seeks to address critical shortages of Emergency Medical Responders and Technicians (EMTs/EMRs), as well as Certified Nurse Aids (CNAs) and Licensed Practical Nurses in the area, and maintain fundamental services such as the Ambulance Service and the Care Center. The addition of simulation training technology in combination with the recently accredited EMT and EMR training programs developed by North Shore Health will improve access to high quality career training at home in Cook County, and will bring the rural hospital up to par with other facilities.

“This investment and collaboration with local healthcare providers will change how and where those interested in health care careers, current health professionals and emergency services units, can complete accredited health care programs and recertifications,” said Valerie Marasco Eliasen, Executive Director North Shore Health Care Foundation. “This investment is one dynamic project in the Health Care Foundation’s ‘Investing in Our Future Health Care Workforce Solutions’ initiative that was identified to address the urgent issue, and is within our reach. The Foundation exists to support healthcare and address gaps in health services; this is a prime example of where our leadership can benefit healthcare and the community.”

“2023 marks the Health Care Foundation’s 30th anniversary,” said Inger Andress, President – North Shore Health Care Foundation. “To recognize this important milestone and our role as a guiding light and support for health in Cook County, we are stepping up to make this investment and work strategically with our partners to identify solutions to ensure we preserve access to health care services for our residents. The Foundation has been working diligently over the last several years to prepare for larger projects such as this, and the timing is right to address this urgent and emerging issue. This will be the Foundation’s largest investment in healthcare training to-date, which is critical to protect the availability of our ambulance service for our residents and visitors, and Care Center at North Shore Health for seniors and families. We have to remove barriers for people if we expect them to step up and take on these important roles. The Foundation is proud to lead innovative solutions that work for our unique area.”

The Foundation is dedicating $30,000 of its 2023 grant budget towards the initiative and launching a community matching fundraising campaign, as well as applying for grants to assist with the costs of the initiative. However, due to the urgent need for this equipment and workforce development, the Foundation is purchasing the Simulation Training Technology through a low-interest short-term loan with Grand Marais State Bank, as time is of the essence to begin these critical training programs. The overall goal is to raise

$80,000 to help implement solutions that will help set up Cook County for the next 30 years. These funds will go towards the purchase of the $57,000 Simulation Manikin equipment, additional workforce training programs with Sawtooth Mountain Clinic including the second year of the Medical Assistant (MA) Training program and the new Pharmacy Technician in Training program, as well as identify and develop new workforce solutions through collaborative planning.

The Foundation helped launch the MA Training program in 2022, by providing a $10,000 grant which allowed for up to six employees to become certified MAs through the unique work-study program. Five employees participated in the first-year cohort, addressing a critical gap in the local health care workforce. This was the first-of-its kind program in Minnesota through the MN Association of Community Health Centers.

“North Shore Health is excited to have this opportunity to provide advanced relevant educational opportunities to our current workforce,” said Kimber Wraalstad, CEO/Administrator – North Shore

Health. “This will also give community members the opportunity to consider health care careers and receive their education here in Cook County. This gives us greater independence and flexibility with workforce development and means we do not have to rely on colleges that are hours away and require a minimum number of students to hold a course. This is a really innovative partnership and unique accomplishment for rural health.”

Simulation Manikins have responsive vitals, the ability to bleed and release fluids and have the ability to communicate through the operator. The manikins can also be used outside of the hospital or clinic environment for training exercises in remote areas of the county to prepare First Responders for real service. The Trauma Manikin NSHCF will purchase offers the most versatility for our health care employees for everything from responding to severe traumatic injuries to cardiac incidents to learning how to place IVs and care for residents of the Care Center. The availability of this technology along with the new curriculum

developed by North Shore Health’s Education Director Jon Moe, will improve hands-on skills training to better prepare those pursuing health careers and come out of training with confidence and muscle memory. Moe is an experienced Simulation Trainer with many years of experience directing simulation training programs at community colleges around the state and recently relocated to Cook County, joining North Shore Health. Moe developed the curriculum for the EMT/EMR training courses that was recently approved by the MN Emergency Medical Services Regulatory Board (EMSRB).

“Simulation allows a student to experience a real-life situation in a safe learning environment,” said Jon Moe, Education Director – North Shore Health. “The student gets hands-on practice in a setting where a mistake does not cause any harm to a patient. This is a dream come true to have accredited programs available right here at the hospital where you can train people as needed, along with state-of-the art technology.”

Having this training available locally removes the need for students to travel outside of Cook County and take these programs through post-secondary education institutions. In combination with the simulation technology, these trainings along with new online training courses for Certified Nurse Aids and programs through Cook County Higher Education, will put Cook County on par with other larger training facilities and provide students with state-the-art hands-on learning experiences.

While the fundraising campaign officially launches today, the Foundation has already received a $10,000 donation toward the initiative from a local Schroeder resident Virginia Erickson, who recognizes the value   of having a local ambulance service and properly trained EMTs after she suffered a cardiac event in    October 2022. Mrs. Erickson dedicated the donation to the initiative in honor of the First Responders who saved her life and even made sure her dog was taken care of while she was taken to hospital.

The Foundation will work with all local health providers and Cook County Higher Education over the next year to identify additional solutions to address shortages in the  health care workforce and develop plans  to implement those solutions.

Now celebrating its 30th year, the North Shore Health Care Foundation was started in 1993, by a group of motivated community residents dedicated to improving health services in Cook County and wishing to take a leadership role in larger health projects. The Foundation has now awarded over $1.16 million in grants for health care and healthy living programs since 1995. The Foundation is an independent nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization benefiting health care and emergency services in Cook County, Minnesota. The Foundation proactively identifies opportunities to expand equitable health care and healthy living in Cook County and champions solutions through funding, education, and advocacy.

Make a Contribution

To contribute to the Investing in Our Future Health Care Workforce Solutions fundraising campaign, donations can be made online at by mail at North Shore Health Care Foundation, P.O. Box 454, Grand Marais, MN 55604 or in person at the NSHCF office at 21 W 2nd St, Suite E, Grand Marais.


Contact(s): Valerie Marasco Eliasen, Executive Director, C: 218-387-5700 or
Todd Ford, Public Information Coordinator – North Shore Health, C: 218-264-9621 or