Lab Matters Summer 2018 - Page 32

membership

Protecting Public Health in the Roughrider State

by Nancy Maddox , MPH , writer
Grasslands , croplands , badlands and buttes define the Northern Tier state of North Dakota — the fourth smallest US state by both population ( about 755,000 residents ) and population density ( 11.7 people / square mile ). For those raised in this sublimely spare “ roughrider ” land , it is North Dakota ’ s Arcadian pleasures that make the state great . “ It ’ s very rural out here ,” said Christie Massen , PhD , MS , MLS , head of the North Dakota Department of Health , Division of Microbiology , “ but there is a ton to do . It ’ s a quick trip to take the boat out on the Missouri river , go fishing on Lake Sakakawea or go bow-hunting for white-tail deer . North Dakota is a beautiful place .”
Until about a decade ago , the state economy rested heavily on soybeans , wheat and corn , planted in neat rows across 16.5 million acres of open land . Then , after hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling came into use , the state experienced an economic boom , with billions of barrels of oil suddenly recoverable from underground reserves . “ There was a huge influx of population ,” said Massen . So much so , that North Dakota has added new homes at a faster rate than any other state since the 2010 Census and has enjoyed an enviable GDP growth rate of about 8.3 %.
Heather Sease works in the Bacteriology Lab . Photo : ND PHL
Today , “ the extreme growth has slowed substantially ,” said Massen , whose professional interests lean more toward pathogens than petroleum . Given North Dakota ’ s sparse population , Massen explained that some infectious diseases that are prevalent in other states , like HIV , have a much smaller presence here . There are other size advantages as well : “ Our small population allows us to be more innovative . We can move quickly to collaborate or make adjustments that allow us to work better and more efficiently .”
Just last year , the Division of Microbiology began a tick surveillance program and documented the occurrence of deer ticks and the Lone Star tick within the state . “ The general belief has been that the risk for contracting Lyme disease in North Dakota is low , because we are outside the perimeter where deer ticks are found ,” said Massen . “ However , the surveillance program showed us that ’ s not the case ; we do , in fact , have deer ticks in the state .” In 2017 , Lyme disease infected at least 56 North Dakotans . Other notable public health issues in recent years have ranged from hepatitis C to Salmonella .
Up until last year , the state microbiology and chemistry laboratories were both part of North Dakota ’ s Division of Laboratory Services , administered by the Department of Health , Environmental Health Section . However , a government reorganization is moving the chemistry laboratory to the newly-created Department of Environmental Quality and the microbiology laboratory — officially , the Division of Microbiology — to the Department of Health , Medical Services Section .
Facility
The Division of Microbiology takes up part of a 30,500-square-foot building situated on the eastern edge of Bismarck , North Dakota ’ s capital and second largest city , after Fargo . The core of the single-story , white-brick facility is an 18,000 squarefoot space built about 40 years ago . In
2005 , this space was augmented with a 12,500-square-foot addition , which now houses the division ’ s seven BSL-3 suites . Co-located in the building are the chemistry laboratory ( which will remain after the reorganization ) and the health agency ’ s Division of Disease Control . Said Massen , “ One of the biggest benefits we have is being close [ to Disease Control ]. The Environmental Laboratory Certification program manager is three doors down from my office . It ’ s a huge advantage to have them in the building with us .”
The Division of Microbiology shares a small campus with the state crime laboratory , state Environmental Training Center and state morgue .
Director
Although Massen was born in Fort Hood , TX , and relocated a few times with her military family , she considers herself a native North Dakotan . “ Both my parents were born and raised in Bismarck ,” she said . “ I graduated from high school here and spent most of my K-12 years here in Bismarck .”
After high school , Massen went to the University of North Dakota ( UND ) in Grand Fork , where , at her mother ’ s suggestion , she majored in clinical laboratory science . “ I ended up liking it a lot ,” she said . “ My dad is a physician and my mom is a nurse . I kind of grew up in the medical field .” Massen followed that degree with a master ’ s in clinical laboratory science and a PhD in teaching and learning , intending to oversee a two-year-degree medical laboratory technician program .
She said , “ When I started working on my PhD , I was running the medical laboratory technician ( MLT ) program in Fergus Falls , MN , and then ended up marrying my Bismarck-native husband , who was a UND hockey player . We moved back to Bismarck in 2012 , and I got a job with the state .” That job was as a microbiologist in the state microbiology laboratory . From there , Massen filled in as the quality
30 LAB MATTERS Summer 2018
PublicHealthLabs @ APHL APHL . org
membership Protecting Public Health in the Roughrider State by Nancy Maddox, MPH, writer Grasslands, croplands, badlands and buttes define the Northern Tier state of North Dakota—the fourth smallest US state by both population (about 755,000 residents) and population density (11.7 people/square mile). For those raised in this sublimely spare “roughrider” land, it is North Dakota’s Arcadian pleasures that make the state great. “It’s very rural out here,” said Christie Massen, PhD, MS, MLS, head of the North Dakota Department of Health, Division of Microbiology, “but there is a ton to do. It’s a quick trip to take the boat out on the Missouri river, go fishing on Lake Sakakawea or go bow-hunting for white-tail deer. North Dakota is a beautiful place.” Until about a decade ago, the state economy rested heavily on soybeans, wheat and corn, planted in neat rows across 16.5 million acres of open land. Then, after hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling came into use, the state experienced an economic boom, with billions of barrels of oil suddenly recoverable from underground reserves. “There was a huge influx of population,” said Massen. So much so, that North Dakota has added new homes at a faster rate than any other state since the 2010 Census and has enjoyed an enviable GDP growth rate of about 8.3%. Today, “the extreme growth has slowed substantially,” said Massen, whose professional interests lean more toward pathogens than petroleum. Given North Dakota’s sparse population, Massen explained that some infectious diseases that are prevalent in other states, like HIV, have a much smaller presence here. There are other size advantages as well: “Our small population allows us to be more innovative. We can move quickly to collaborate or make adjustments that allow us to work better and more efficiently.” 2005, this space was augmented with a 12,500-square-foot addition, which now houses the division’s seven BSL-3 suites. Co-located in the building are the chemistry laboratory (which will remain after the reorganization) and the health agency’s Division of Disease Control. Said Massen, “One of the biggest benefits we have is being close [to Disease Control]. The Environmental Laboratory Certification program manager is three doors down from my office. It’s a huge advantage to have them in the building with us.” Just last year, the Division of Microbiology began a tick surveillance program and documented the occurrence of deer ticks and the Lone Star tick within the state. “The general belief has been that the risk for contracting Lyme disease in North FF2r&V6W6RvR&RWG6FRFPW&WFW"vW&RFVW"F62&RfVB( Ч6B76V( ĆvWfW"FR7W'fV6P&w&6vVBW2FN( 2BFR66SvRFf7BfRFVW"F62FR7FFR( Ф#rǖRF6V6RfV7FVBBV7@Sb'FFF2FW"F&RV&Ɩ0VF77VW2&V6VBV'2fR&vV@g&WFF22F6VFRFf6b֖7&&w6&W066W2vFFR7FFR7&P&&F'7FFRVf&VFG&p6VFW"B7FFR&wVRWVF7BV"FR7FFR֖7&&wB6V֗7G'&&F&W2vW&R&F'Bb'FFF( 2Ff6`&&F'6W'f6W2F֖7FW&VB'FPFW'FVBbVFVf&VFVF6V7FvWfW"vfW&V@&V&v旦F2frFR6V֗7G'&&F'FFRWvǒ7&VFV@FW'FVBbVf&VFVƗG@FR֖7&&w&&F'( Fff6ǒFRFf6b֖7&&w( GFFPFW'FVBbVFVF66W'f6W06V7Ff6ƗGVFW"6V6Rv&2FR&7FW&w"FB3"EDU%27VW"#FRFf6b֖7&&wFW2W'@b3S7V&RfB'VFr6GVFV@FRV7FW&VFvRb&6&6'FFF( 26FB6V6B&vW7B6GgFW"f&vFR6&RbFR6vR7F'vFR'&6f6ƗG27V&RЦfB76R'VB&WBCV'2vF&V7F FVv76Vv2&&f'BBEB&V6FVBfWrFW2vFW ֖ƗF'f֖ǒ6R66FW'2W'6VbFfR'FFF( &Fג&VG0vW&R&&B&6VB&6&6( 6P6B( Ēw&GVFVBg&v66W&PB7VB7Bbג"V'2W&R&6&6( ФgFW"v6676VvVBFFPVfW'6Gb'FFFTBw&Bf&vW&RBW"FW.( 07VvvW7F6R&VB6Ɩ6&&F'66V6R( ĒVFVBWƖr@B( 6R6B( גFB266Bג2W'6RBbw&WpWFRVF6fVB( 76VfvV@FBFVw&VRvF7FW.( 26Ɩ6&&F'66V6RBBFV6pBV&rFVFrFfW'6VRGvזV"FVw&VRVF6&&F'FV66&w&6R6B( vV7F'FVBv&rאBv2'VrFRVF6&&F'FV66B&w&fW&wW2f2BFVVFVBW''rא&6&6FfRW6&Bvv2TB6WW"vRfVB&6F&6&6#"BvB"vFFP7FFR( FB"v22֖7&&v7BFR7FFR֖7&&w&&F'g&ЧFW&R76VfVB2FRVƗGV&Ɩ4VF'0&p