Northfield Hospital Board Meeting: Feb. 2020


  1. Steve O’Neill called the meeting to order at 6:30 p.m. The Agenda and Consent Agenda were approved. The Consent Agenda included Minutes for the January Board Meeting and a policy statement on Verification of Providers Ordering Tests.



  1. Hospital Chief of Staff—Dr. Tom Holt. No report. Dr. Meland presented the applications for Medical Staff Membership/Privileges. Applications approved.


Presentations/Discussions/Action Items

  1. Approval of Ambulance Rechassis—Jerry Ehn. Ehn presented a proposal to refurbish and update the module (box) of Ambulance 315 and remount it on a new Ford van chassis. The refurbishing includes additional safety features for the patient and crew, and installation of a Power Load mechanical patient loader.  Two bids were received and the Administration recommended approval of the higher bid due to familiarity with the bidder and more complete detail in the bid.  The bids were within the $175,000 budgeted for the project.  The Board approved the project.
  2. Approval of Hospital Building Automation and Security System Upgrade—Jerry Ehn. The current hospital Building Automation System (BAS) is at end-of-life and will no longer be supported beyond 2020.The BAS is a computerized system that provides automated control and monitoring of all HVAC systems, door locking schedules, and card access.  The upgrade consists of new software and some new controllers, and combining the BAS system for the Clinic with the Hospital BAS system.  The cost of the upgrade is $175, 545.  The budget for the project was $145,000. The additional funds required will be taken from the Asphalt Replacement Project.  The Board approved the project.
  3. Hospital Board Orientation—Mayor Rhonda Pownell and Ben Martig, City Administrator. Pownell and Martig presented a municipal perspective orientation for Board members, stressing the municipal ownership of the facility and the obligation to consider the needs and concerns of the City when making Hospital Board decisions. Key documents, City/Board Contacts, the City/Hospital Governance Committee, the City Comprehensive Plan, the Northwest Area Process Advisory Committee, and the City’s Vision, Mission, and Strategic Statement were reviewed.  Board members were encouraged to nominate people for the City’s Board and Commission Member Excellence Award.
  4. Election of Board Officers. The slate of Board officers who served in 2019 was re-nominated for 2020. The Board approved.  Chair—Steve O’Neill, Vice Chair—Fred Rogers. Secretary—Bobbi Jenkins, Treasurer—Lynn Clayton.
  5. Nursing Service Update: Long-Term Care Electronic Monitoring—Tammy Hayes. A Minnesota Statute passed in 2019 authorizes residents in older adult service settings, such as nursing homes, to electronically monitor their living spaces. Hayes reviewed for the Board, the procedures NH&C has proposed to comply with the statute. A question was raised regarding one provision: visually identifying rooms where electronic monitoring occurs.  How can electronic monitoring catch mistreatment of patients if the staff is warned on the door that they are being recorded?  Hayes responded that the provision is part of the statute and not optional, and that the rules will likely evolve over the next couple of years.  There was also concern expressed about overloading the facility’s WiFi system that would support electronic monitoring.


Executive and Committee Reports

  1. CEO Report—Steve Underdahl. a) Coronavirus. NH&C has undertaken extensive preparations in cooperation with other health agencies.  Currently there is an extended A & B flu season underway in the Northfield area and the hospital has been busy dealing with flu.  Underdahl stressed the best ways to cope with the flu is not working while ill, staying isolated if you have the flu, and seeing a health provider only if symptoms become acute (e.g. difficulty breathing)   b) Strategic. The $3 million in savings the hospital must find will primarily come from payroll, since the non-personnel costs were reduced in the last round of budget cuts. The downsizing was based on positions/functions and not individuals.  The people let go were valuable to NH&C.  The separation expenses incurred in the downsizing will delay the impact of the savings.  A new organizational chart is being prepared to recognize the changes, which will take a few months of adjustment.  c) Buildings and Services.  The Clinic addition is ahead of schedule and the Birthing Center is on schedule. NH&C has selected a provider for Consumer-Facing-Technology: Luma. Services are expected to start sometime in the spring.  Contrary to expectations, seniors in rural areas seem to be the most eager to embrace the new technology that allows them to connect to specialists without traveling.  d) Spring Retreat.  David Willis from the Health Care Advisory Board in D.C. will present a national perspective on healthcare at the March Board meeting.  e) Operations.  There has been significant growth in services at the various clinics. A primary care physician will be added at the Faribault Clinic soon.  There has been a 40% increase in the number of Faribault residents seen by NH&C over the past year.
  2. Financial Report—Scott Edin. January was a good month financially. Observation days were 56% over budget; clinic visits 29% over budget; and Endo procedures 22% over budget.  Births were 24% under budget.  Net Operating Income was $424K, which was $823K over budget.  The year started with a surplus instead of a deficit, as projected, and it appears that February financial operating results will be above budget. (Comment: On the other side, the non-operating income from the investment portfolio will likely be negative in February due to the “correction” in the stock market.)  Board members expressed concern over the low number of births, relative to predictions, when the hospital is expanding the Birthing Center.  No one appeared to have the answer to the birth-dearth at NH&C.
  3. Community Relations Committee—CC Linstroth. The committee is analyzing data from a health survey in Rice, Scott, and Dakota counties. The concerns expressed in the survey differ greatly between counties.  The Committee will bring the list of recommended grants to local community organizations for approval at the March Board meeting.   


Meeting adjourned and the Board went into a closed session for Strategic Planning.

Next meeting:  Mar. 19, 2020.

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