Two Great Days in Oulu, Finland

Mother’s Day: A personal note

My decision to apply for the opportunity to represent Rotary District 5580 on GSE Team Finland was one made with careful consideration. I have four children: Megan (9), Molly (8), Eli (6), and Emily (4). I am so grateful for the support my family and I have received from family and friends who have helped out while I am in Finland. Kiitos! Yesterday was Mother’s Day here in Finland and back home. Honestly, I had been dreading Sunday’s holiday since I packed my bags weeks ago. I was worried that my self-inflicted sadness was going to result in more tears than laughter.

I am so thankful to my Team for their understanding of a mother’s love and extra support over the past few days. I also have been blessed with an amazing host family, Jukka and Katariina Meikanto, who have welcomed me into their home and treated me like a daughter. Jukka prepared breakfast for me and Katariina and had a flower for each of us. The weather held up and we were able to take a long bike ride around the city before going to dinner. I was also able to meet their oldest daughter and her two beautiful children who were full of life and energy. Most importantly, I am thankful for the gift of technology. I was able to Skype with my mom and Facetime my children in Minnesota! I am so blessed to be surrounded by so many friends who made a difficult day wonderful. Thanks guys! I love you!

A Mother’s Day rose from Jukka!

My Oulu Family!

Oulu Deaconess Institute

Today was a vocational day and I was honored to be a guest at the Deaconess Institute (ODL) in Oulu. The institute was founded in 1896 with the mission of educating nurses to serve in Northern Finland. The group currently works to promote well-being through Christian-base values. Areas of focus include: Sports Medicine, Diaconal Polytechnic (education), Geriatric Services, Diaconal Projects (rehab of torture victims), and Pastoral Care.

I was able to spend time in both the Rehabilitation and Research areas with their amazing staff. I was able to collaborate with their multi-disciplinary team who specializes in prevention and treatment of obesity and related diseases. Even though St. Joseph’s, my employer, is so far away, we share many common obstacles and methods of behavioral change. Positive thinking, ownership, focusing on improving patient’s support network, and techniques of Cognitive Behavior Therapy were important in both places. The main differences were availability and follow-up care in regards to bariatric surgery as well as the length of lifestyle coaching appointments… they have anywhere from 45-minutes to 2-hours with their patients but see them less frequently than we do at The Center for Weight Managment in Park Rapids. I enjoyed the opportunity to network with OCL’s staff and learn about their passion for lasting behavior change and conducting research focused on increasing physical activity in overweight patients.

The Chief of Staff also shared with me OCL’s commitment to vocational rehabilitation, job coaching, work and training trials, and workplace health promotion. Evaluation periods last 1-12 days during which time an individual plan is developed. The rehabilitation period can last up to 21-days and can be provided in either an inpatient or outpatient setting. Many vocational rehab patients struggle with depression or other mental health issues.

I met an amazing physiotherapist (PT) who showcased OCL’s facilities, equipment, staff, and service lines. The positive energy and passion for rehab was remarkable. I left feeling revitalized and excited to make a difference.

Thanks to all the staff I met today, medical doctors, physiatrists, physiologists, social workers, physical, occupational, and speech therapists, and nurses who are committed to working together as a team to provide the best possible care to each and every patient!

One of two pools at Oulu’s Deaconess Institute

Ability to gait train in the pool is available at both pools

I had serious gym space envy! Absolutely great space!

Occupational Therapy handy-craft room. It was huge and provided patients the ability to weave, sew, paint, bead, crochet, knit, and absolutely anything else you could imagine.

Oulu’s International Rotary Club

My host dad Jukka is a member of the International Rotary Club in Oulu and I was able to attend his meeting tonight and give a presentation about GSE, my sponsoring Rotary Club, my profession and my family. This is a unique club as they are English-speaking and have members from all over the world including India, Denmark, Holland, England, USA, and many many other countries that I honestly cannot remember! They are hosting a charity concert on Wednesday night in Oulu to raise money and awareness for Rotary International’s Polio Plus campaign and I am excited to attend and help out. Rotary is truly an amazing service organization that makes a difference every day all over the world.

Club banner exchange with Oulu International Rotary Club

Tomorrow Team Finland reunites! We have been apart for over 48-hours! Our program includes a trip to the Technical Research Center of Finland, Technopolis, and a tour of the Linnanmaa area.


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