Northfield Hospital Board Meeting: April 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 at 5:00 p.m.   

Opening & Reports    

My computer didn’t want to let me in to the meeting, so I missed the first 5 -10 minutes.  

Items on the consent agreement: a) Meeting Minutes:  March Hospital Board Meeting, Budget and Finance Committee, Quality Committee, and the Governance and Planning Committee. b) Revision to Employee Events and Recognition Policy.  c) remounting an ambulance box on new chassis plus updates: cost $136,000.  

Presentation/Discussion/Action Items

1.  Wound Healing Clinic.  Brian Witte, Director.  Witte described the process of hyperbolic oxygen therapy (HBO therapy), the many healing advantages, and the benefits of working with their partner, Healogics.  Healogics has accumulated a large body of evidence on what works and when and has developed a benchmarking system.  Witte went on to say that the reception for the new technology has been excellent in Northfield among both providers and patients.  The expectation is that the clinic will serve about 250 patients per year. In response to questions, Witte said that Medicare and most large insurance companies are very accepting of the technology and reimbursement hassles are rare since HBO Therapy saves them money.  

2. Charter Commission Update.  Steve Underdahl and Fred Rogers. Rogers reported that there are currently only 7 members on the Board (the required number for a quorum) —and Lynn Clayton plans to retire in June.  The Board is working with the Charter Commission to expand the size of the Board by allowing an employee MD to serve on the Board, and to add a person from outside the City but within the school district.  Language is being drafted for the City Charter.  The Board is working with Mayor Pownell to fill the current vacancies on the Board.  Mayor Pownell stated that it was important to carefully vet incoming Board members as they may serve for the next 6 years, and she expressed her appreciation for the assistance of current Board members with the process.         

 Executive and Committee Reports

1. CEO Report—Steve Underdahl.  Screen sharing worked on the very first try!  a) COVID: People in the community are still getting sick and being hospitalized. More young people are getting sick and they are surprised at the severity of their disease.  NH&C has administered over17,000 doses of the COVID vaccine.  The number of “no shows” is increasing, including persons scheduled to receive their second dose.  NH&C is launching a local project to reach out to the “vaccine resistors”.  There is information on the hospital website and an information phone line in English and Spanish at: 507 645 1919.  A grateful community has responded with “thank you” cards, phone calls, and donations.  When asked if hospital employees were aware of the community response, Underdahl reported that a large number of the employees served as volunteers for the shot clinics, and had personally experienced the community’s response. 

b) Strategic: the reengineering processes continue.  The process is slow because the hospital is trying to be opportunistic in its choice of processes to improve, and wants the improvements to be durable.  Efforts to expand the scope of practice continue.  evisits are increasing.  NH&C is working on diversity, equity, and inclusion to better serve the emerging markets.  The facility recognizes that “diversity” is no longer enough.  Institutions need to build a critical mass of non-majority employees so there can be a two-way conversation on culture, conditions, expectations, etc. 

c) Operations: patient volume is increasing and the financial results should start to show this.

d) Policy:  Health care administrators are in a quandary about how to react to policy proposals coming from St. Paul and Washington DC.  How much should they invest in adopting a new policy if the policies are going to dramatically change with each election?   Two areas of agreement are that a) the state needs to pay for evisits, and that rural areas need better broadband access.    

2.  Financial Report—Scott Edin.  (The financial data appearing in my packet has dramatically shrunk in recent months.  It is difficult to comment other than to repeat what Edin said at the meeting.)  It appears that NH&C was still experiencing operating losses in March.  The facility transferred another $250,000 into 2021 operations from the 2020 CARES Act surpluses, and experienced $235,000 of investment gains. 

3.  Budget and Finance Committee Report—Charley Mandile.  A report from the financial advisors reveals that one of the investment funds chosen has been liquidated at a loss of about $400,000.   

4. Governance and Planning—Fred Rogers.  Report deferred to the closed session. 

Roundtable

NH&C is distributing a flyer designed to help potential patients make use of evisits. 

Announcements

The meeting was adjourned at 6:40 p.m. and the Board went into a closed session to discuss the CEO evaluation and marketing strategy.  

Next meeting:  May 27, 2021  

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