Northfield Hospital Board Meeting: June 2022

The June Board Meeting was a Webex Virtual meeting arranged by the hospitals IT staff.  I missed the first 12 minutes of the meeting due to a problem accessing the Webex site, in spite of the fact that I started trying at 4:50 p.m. 

Opening & Reports    

I missed this section of the meeting. 


1. Making NH&C Easy to Choose and Easy to Use—SandyMulford and Keri Rateliff.  The team surveyed and interviewed “front line” employees to identify problems encountered while assisting patients and the public.  Results were a list of “Who do you call” names and numbers for a wide variety of situations.  The team also created as series of training modules for new employees to help them get up to speed.  A follow-up survey is planned,  

2. Annual Report on Minnesota Attorney General’s Agreement on Hospital Debt Collection—Scott Edin.  The Agreement specifies a series of protocols to be followed regarding billing and collections by the hospital. NH&C must have a charity care program and a discount for self-payers (uninsured), and an internal debt collection policy. Edin reported that the annual audit found no violations by NH&C for 2021.   

Executive and Committee Reports

1. CEO Report—Steve Underdahl.  a) COVID: vaccines are now available for children 6 and under.  There is an information video on the hospital website.  Routinely, one or two patients are in the hospital “with COVID” daily. b) Strategic: Most of the deliverables from the 2022 Strategic Plan are on target.  Staffing for the new Urgent Care center continues to be a challenge. c) Enterprise: waiting for the new EHR system to come on line.  d) Electronic Health Records (EHR: planned launch date is 6/28/2022.  The launch will likely have a negative impact on revenue for a few months.  Everyone has their fingers crossed.  e) Operations: a power outage resulted in the failure of a backup generator.  A portable replacement generator was brought in.  All the electric systems in the hospital needed to be rebooted, and the process took all night.  An “After Action Review” is underway.  f) Violence at Medical Centers: recent events have led the administration to undertake a review of security procedures at NH&C. Northfield MN is not all that different than Buffalo MN.  Active shooter procedures are coordinated with the Northfield Police Department.  A staff observation: the patients presenting at the Emergency Department are more agitated than they were in previous years.  (g) Policy: The Essential Workers Bonus Plan was passed by the State of MN and is being facilitated by NH&C.   

2.  Finance Report—Scott Edin.  Finances remain challenging.  Inpatient and outpatient visits were above the forecast: clinic visits and surgical procedures were below forecasts. The average hourly wage at NH has risen to $46.35.  NH&C recognized another $142,000 of COVID grant revenue.  While costs are increasing it is difficult to increase revenue because reimbursement is tied to long-term contracts.  Year-to-date, the Operating Loss, including the COVID grant funds moved into 2022, in $3.1 million. Operating expenses and income do not include gains or losses on the substantial investment portfolio of NH&C.  Question: are there more productive ways for NH&C to deliver its services?  Can artificial intelligence contribute? 

3. Quality Committee Report—Sarah Carlsen. The committee is studying the effect of hypertension on pregnancy outcomes.  


Board member, Charlie Mandile, was recognized with a Carleton College Alumni Association Award—In The Spirit of Carleton, for his work with HealthFinders Collaborative.  


Next meeting:  July 28, 2022  

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