Northfield Hospital Board Meeting: March 2021

The March Board Meeting was a Webex Virtual meeting arranged by the hospitals IT staff.  The Board Chair, Fred Rogers, called the meeting to order shortly after 5:00 p.m.  

Opening

1. The Consent Agenda was approved.  The Consent Agenda included Minutes from the February Board Meeting and Minutes from a Community Relations Committee meeting. 

Reports

1. Chief of Staff—Dr. Jeff Meland for Dr. Monty Seper.  No report.  Meland recommended approval of the applications for medical privileges.  Applications approved.

2. Conflict of Interest Statements—Teresa Knoedler, Friedemann Law Firm.  Knoedler reviewed the legal intent and mechanics of the statements completed by Board members.  A review of the statements filed by Board members indicated a “small conflict profile.”  Board members were encouraged to contact Knoedler if a problem arises.  

Presentation/Discussion/Action Items

1. Approval of Annual Audit Report—Rob Schile, CLA.  Schile reported that the firm used Federal Audit Standards for the 2020 audit since NH&C had received significant grants from the Federal CARES Act.  The audit was primarily accomplished remotely.  NH&C received a “clean opinion”—no major problems or discrepancies were found.  Schile commended the institution for the quality of its record keeping and its conservative financial practices: the financial ratios are strong compared to other hospitals.  NH&C got ahead of the pandemic and the downturn in the economy.  Schile than presented a financial forecast for the health care sector—very challenging.  Medicare and Medicaid face financial problems that are likely to lead to lower reimbursement to providers, more managed care, and more restrictions.  Health care is becoming a commodity that can be “shopped” like other products.  This erodes consumer loyalty to a particular provider and increases competition, especially as care goes virtual.  CEO Underdahl commented that this scenario will force NH&C to be both “conservative and courageous.”      

2.  City/Board Refresher and Orientation—Mayor Rhonda Pownell and City Admin. Ben    Martig.  The recently completed City/Board Playbook will guide future interactions.  Pownell presented legal issues unique to a Municipal Hospital.  The City’s Comprehensive Plan and Strategic Plan will influence the types and timing of development in the neighborhood surrounding the medical campus: residential to the East and industrial and agricultural to the West.  A new City Strategic Plan is due in May. 

3. Charter Commission Updates—Steve Underdahl and Ben Martig.  There have been conversations between NH&C and the Northfield Charter Commission regarding eligibility to serve on the Hospital Board.  The hospital would like to broaden the candidate pool to include people outside the school district but in the service area, and to allow a physician employee to serve.  The Quality Committee has met with the Charter Commission.   

 Executive and Committee Reports

1. CEO Report—Steve Underdahl.  a) COVID: The 7-day moving average infection rate for hospital-administered tests was 7 positives and 255 negatives. The facility had administered 9,000 vaccinations as of 3/13/2021.  This is outstanding for a small hospital in MN.  Within the given categories set by MNDH, the facility is still prioritizing by age.  The vaccine clinics will likely continue through May.  b) Strategic:  The process for installing a new electronic health records (EHR) system is underway.  Underdahl said, “A new EHR system is on par with a new building.”  The new Wound Center is seeing patients.  The Women’s Health Center is being reengineered—“Easy to Choose Us; Easy to Use Us.” The new Patient Facing Technology went live on 3/4/2021.  An email campaign to promote the service will launch soon.  Discussions concerning support staff for the Hospital Foundation are underway.  The Birth Center project is complete and the Center is seeing patients.   c) Operations: Service volume is building slowly, but expenses are significant.  

2.  Financial Report—Scott Edin.  Most service volumes are still well below those for 2019.  The Net Operating Loss for Feb. 2021 was $515 thousand.  The hospital applied $500 thousand of the deferred 2020 CARES grants to February operations to help cover the deficit. The cumulative Net Operating Loss for 2021 is $1.7 million.  However, the Operating loss does not include non-operating gains or losses, such as the $626 thousand of investment gains during February.                                             

3.  Patient Care Updates—Tammy Hayes.  The COVID restrictions have left patients and families feeling stressed and isolated.  Staff has tried to help.  The staff in the long term care unit have made special efforts to create settings for patients and family to interact.  The nursing staff have made use of the Quality of Care data reports from various sources, including the Quality Committee of the Board, to improve patient satisfaction.   The Board expressed their appreciation for the efforts of the staff. 

Announcements

The meeting was adjourned at 7:25 p.m. 

Next meeting:  April 29, 2021  

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