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Northfield Hospital Board Meeting - October 24, 2013

October 29, 2013 at 10:35 pm
By Dave Emery
Closed Session

The Board met in closed session from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. to discuss marketing activity related to the hospital’s competitive position.  

Medical Staff Reports

1. Chief of Staff—Dr. O’Halloran: The Medical Executive/Patient Care Committee is working with physicians to revise the peer review process.

2. Clinic Medical Director Report—Dr. Reister for Dr. Flannery: The Lakeville Clinic has hired another family practitioner.

3. Allina Clinic Report—Dr. Hogan: Dr. Hogan announced that this would be his last meeting with the Board as he is retiring soon.  Dr. Hogan described Allina’s Partner in Care Program that identifies medically indigent patients when they seek care and enrolls them in the Partners Program.  Participants in the program are not billed for services during the next 12 months.  Dr. Hogan explained that the up-front process avoids collection efforts by the Clinic and preserves the dignity of the patients.  Dr. Hogan urged Northfield Hospital and Clinics (NH&C) to consider joining the program. 

In response to a question, Dr. Hogan reported that Allina Clinics did not make a direct donation to Healthfinders Collaborative of Northfield and Faribault, but staff made personal donations.  A Board member asked if NH&C was training anyone to become a Navigator for the MNSure program.  CEO Steve Underdahl responded that one staff person has been certified and there are more Navigators available at the Northfield Community Action Center and at Healthfinders Collaborative. 

City Business Report

Mayor Dana Graham was not able to attend the meeting.

Special Presentations

Vern Lougheed, from the hospital’s IT staff, distributed iPads to all Board members and instructed them on use.  The Board will now receive the monthly “packet” and other communications via their iPads. Special security software had been installed on the iPads to protect the privacy of communications.

Action Items
  1. The Board approved the minutes of the September Board meeting.
  2. The Board approved the applications for medical staff privileges. 
  3. The Board approved new Conflict of Interest Discloser Forms prepared by the Hospital’s legal counsel.  (I mistakenly reported in Sept. that the forms had been approved.)  
  4. The Board approved a contract for snowplowing at its facilities. State statute requires Board approval for all contracts over $100,000.
  5. Board Chair, Gina Franklin reported that the motion passed at the Sept. Board Meeting, to reconsider the YMCA donation request at the Fall Retreat, was not legal under the Open Meeting Law.  The request does not qualify as “strategic planning”.  A new motion to handle the request via current Board policy was made.  A substitute motion was made to have the CEO meet with the YMCA and bring a proposal to the Board before the end of the year.  Substitute motion passed. 
  6. The Board approved the purchase of endoscopy equipment.  In response to a question, CFO Tim Gronseth reported that the Hospital is being financially conservative and has spent only 36% of its capital budget for the year.  The purchase is within the amount budgeted for the endoscopy project.  
Discussion Items

1.  CEO Steve Underdahl reported that he had made good progress toward the 100 day goals he had set for the hospital when he arrived.  Among the many items he listed were: completed the listening tour with hospital employees, evaluated the Professional Service Agreement (PSA) with Mayo, completed a Master Facilities Plan update, established a program where administrators and physicians talk with patients, is working on software to create cost data for hospital services, is working on the hospitalist (physicians employed by the hospital to work directly with patients) program, is developing metrics to allow better monitoring of hospital services, and is revamping the employee benefit program. 

2.  Steve Underdahl updated the Board following the presentation of the Facilities Master Plan at the last meeting.  Expansion and updating of the surgical facilities is the number one priority, based on the opportunities available and potential problems with current facilities.  The Board gave the CEO a “sense of support” to solicit proposals from experienced architects on the needs of the hospital and estimated costs and asked the CFO to start work on the financing of a possible project.    

Informational Items

1.   Board committee assignments for 2014 were distributed.

2.   The Governance and Planning Committee reported that they were briefed on the new PSA agreement with Mayo; that CC Lindstroth was appointed to fill a vacancy of the Board; and that the Mayor was considering several candidates to fill other Board vacancies. 

3.  CFO Report: Tim Gronseth. The Hospital and clinics were above budget for revenue and income in Sept.  The large write-downs on the investments held by the hospital (mark-to-market) were reversed in Sept. and there was a write-up (increase in value).  The CFO reported that the government shut down and looming default had caused him great concern about the potential for chaos in financial markets.  Therefore he had sold about one forth of the hospitals financial holdings and had placed the proceeds in CDs and money market funds.  As a result, the interest income earned in the remainder of 2013 will decline.  A Board member pointed to this as an example of the cost to the economy and to NH&C resulting from the “silly season” in Washington.   

4.  CMO Report:  A search for a Chief Operating Officer is underway.  The first tasks for the new COO will be to improve the cost data generated by the hospital and to develop operating metrics.

Observer’s Comments

Several people associated with the YMCA were in attendance at the Board meeting but did not speak.  The structure of Hospital Board Meetings does not allow for citizen input.  I think the structure should be changed to allow for some citizen input as is the practice at City Council meetings.  Granted, the time allotted to citizen input needs to be limited as the Board always has a full agenda.  But if a group of people are sufficiently interested in a topic that they give up their evening to attend the meeting, I’m sure they would be more satisfied if they felt the Board had allowed them to express their concerns.


  • October 30 2013 at 8:44 am
    Jand McWillizmx
    Another helpful report. Thanks, David. I suggest that you take your comment about citizen input to the LWV board for discussion. Perhaps the board would consider preparing a statement to go to the hospital board requesting that they consider an "open mic" time at their meetings for public comment.
  • November 3 2013 at 8:37 pm
    Orick Peterson
    Thank you again for another clear and well organized report, David. I believe the LWV Board would welcome an opportunity to support the idea of citizen input at a public meeting.

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