Your Trusted Leader for Reflux & Heartburn Care
Find advanced solutions and smooth access to care for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) at the Minnesota Reflux and Heartburn Center (MRHC) at Riverwood Healthcare Center in Aitkin. MRHC is Minnesota’s only comprehensive treatment center for GERD. Experience personalized, team-based care, plus convenient appointments to meet busy schedules.
Patients & Referring Physicians, Dawn is Here to Help
Dawn Harcey, RN
Contributing to outstanding patient satisfaction is a concierge-type service with a designated nurse coordinator, Dawn Harcey, RN, to facilitate the entire process of GERD care. She follows each patient through the entire process of clinic appointments and testing.
At Riverwood, you can expect to receive a comprehensive evaluation with a reflux specialist within one to two weeks. Dawn is happy to do a phone or in-person consultation about testing and treatment information at no charge.
For an appointment or information, call Dawn at Riverwood at 218-429-3930.
Our Trusted Team for Reflux & Heartburn Care
National Recognition for Reflux & Heartburn Physicians
- Our team of highly experienced reflux specialists—Dr. Tim LeMieur, Dr. Andrew Loveitt, Dr. Howard McCollister, Dr. Shawn Roberts and Dr. Paul Severson—is nationally known for their expertise in advanced minimally invasive reflux surgery.
- In 2017, they gave 16 presentations on comprehensive GERD care and treatment around the country, including two presentations in France and Germany.
- In 2018, they gave 20 presentations in the United States, including one in Haiti.
Frequently Asked Questions
GERD is a condition in where there is excessive backwashing of gastric contents into the esophagus due to a weak lower esophageal sphincter (muscle).
Heartburn or a burning feeling in the chest is a key symptom but is not always present. Another frequent symptom is regurgitation of sour or bitter liquid, sometimes mixed with food, to the throat or mouth. Other relatively common symptoms include hoarseness or voice changes, chest pain, cough, sore throat, difficulty swallowing or the feeling of food sticking in the esophagus, choking feeling and frequent belching/burping. GERD can cause nausea and vomiting, bronchitis, recurrent pneumonia, poor quality of sleep, dental problems, bad breath and asthma.
The cause of GERD is stomach acid backing into the esophagus due to a weakening of the lower esophageal sphincter, which is a muscular ring of muscles that opens to allow food to pass into the stomach.
Acid-suppressing medications such as Omeprazole or other Proton Pump Inhibitor (PPI) drugs may be prescribed to treat GERD symptoms. PPI’s reduce acid production by blocking the acid pump in the stomach’s parietal cells.
Typically medications are very effective in treating acid reflux disease. However, there may be health side effects with long-term PPI use and they do not stop esophageal cancer from developing.
If medications don’t work to control GERD symptoms, MRHC offers minimally invasive surgery procedures that can help.
The MRHC reflux specialists are renowned for their expertise in advanced minimally invasive reflux surgery. Since 2013, they’ve been performing the LINX magnetic sphincter augmentation procedure, which is not widely available in our region. The LINX System is a small flexible bracelet of interlinked titanium beads with magnetic cores. It is implanted with a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure around the weak lower esophageal sphincter. The magnetic attraction between the beads helps the LES resist opening to gastric pressures, preventing reflux from the stomach from going into the esophagus. Swallowing food temporarily opens the magnetic bond, allowing food and liquid to pass normally into the stomach.
MRHC also offers other minimally invasive procedures, such as Nissen, Toupet and Collis-Nissen fundoplications, to treat GERD. These are surgical procedures in which the upper part of the stomach is wrapped around the lower end of the esophagus and stitched in place, reinforcing the closing function of the lower esophageal sphincter.
Over time, untreated reflux disease can create an abnormal lining called Barrett’s esophagus, which can lead to cancer of the esophagus. This cancer is the fastest rising cancer in the United States, with over a 600 percent increase in the last three decades. Esophageal cancer is very often life-threatening because it is usually detected at late stages when treatment is rarely effective.
The good news is that patients with Barrett’s esophagus can be treated to prevent the progression of the disease to esophageal cancer. New medical detection techniques are now available that can virtually cure Barrett’s esophagus if the condition is detected at an early stage.
No, you don’t need a referral from your primary care physician to make an appointment at the Minnesota Reflux and Heartburn Center. Simply call Dawn Harcey, RN/GI Clinical Coordinator, at 218-429-3930.
Diagnostic testing, medications and surgical procedures for gastroesophageal disease are typically covered by most health insurance plans. Contact our nurse coordinator, Dawn, at 218-429-3930 for any questions about insurance coverage.
Riverwood Patient Success Stories