The Monticello-Big Lake Hospital board race in Monticello is a two-candidate competition.
Sheldon Johnson and Bill Mickle are running; previously filed candidate Barbara Scanlons recently told the Monticello Times she is not actively campaigning for the city of Monticello position and has withdrawn from the race for medical reasons.
She previously served on the board as a resident of Silver Creek but vacated that seat with a move out of the district into Clear Lake. Scanlon has worked as a nurse at clinics in Hibbing, New Prague and Anoka, and in her retirement she has volunteered four hours every Friday greeting and guiding patients and other visitors from an NRMC help desk.
The Monticello Times asked hospital board candidates to submit biographical information and answer these questions:
1) The Monticello-Big Lake Hospital District Board of Director’s decision to establish a 501c3 non-profit organization represents a landmark operational change. If elected, how will you explain this change to the public?
2) How can the board of directors help New River Medical Center staff overcome an $11 million 2013 budget shortfall?
3) Finally, if elected, how would you work with hospital board members and staff to improve public trust and confidence in hospital operations, and to mend strained relationships with doctors from the Monticello Clinic?
Candidate biographies appears first, followed by question responses.
Sheldon Johnson: Family: Wife, Maurine; children, Kim Lommel and Kent Johnson; Education: B.A. Augsburg College, M.S. Mankato State University; Sixth-year specialist, Minnesota State University, Mankato and Bush Foundation executive fellow. Occupation: School superintendent, 35 years, teacher and principal, nine years; Community Involvement: I helped charter the Monticello Industrial Development Committee; past president, past district governor of Monticello Rotary Club; member of Monticello Senior Citizens Center Board of Directors for more than 20 years. Contact: 763-229-1748
Bill Mickle: Family: Significant other: Sara Peterson, C.M.T., son: Nick, age 12, daughter, Jenna, age 13. Education: Doctor of Chiropractic, Certified Acupuncturist, Emergency Medical Technician. Graduated from Northwestern Health Sciences University in 2007. Occupation: Chiropractor, Acupuncturist, EMT for seven years; owner of Big Lake Spine & Sport, Integrated Care Clinics doing business as (DBA) Great River Spine & Sport. Years in city of Monticello, six; Community Involvement: Member of Monticello Chamber for seven years; Started Great Rivers Referral Chapter of Business Network International in Monticello with Tim Suchy in 2007 and was 2011-2012 BMI president. Member of Monticello Lions since 2011. Contact: [email protected] or 651-238-2006.
Sheldon Johnson: I support the board of directors in moving forward with this decision. First, it is in line with most all of the 5,700 hospitals in the nation that have also moved to 501c3 status. Secondly, since hospitals compete with each other, we can plan and engage in strategic development this is proprietary in nature and thirdly, as a 501c3 entity we can establish a tax-exempt foundation to receive donations and contributions that will enhance our services provided to our residents.
Bill Mickle: A huge benefit for switching to a 503c3 non-profit organization allows for greater tax advantages. This will help manage future debt compilation while NRMC resolves the current problems they face. This will give NRMC power to include or exclude outside media/public from disturbing board meetings than distorting the information to the community. The distorting of the information from many key players, is decreasing the “want” for people to keep their health care local.
Question 2 (Budget Shortfall)
Sheldon Johnson: The key for the board of directors is to explore strategies that will grow our market share by keeping citizens of our hospital district in our local hospital when they are in need of medical services. The board needs to communicate positively with all physicians in the area so that they will refer patients to our hospital when services are needed.
Finally, affiliation with a larger conglomerate will result in debt reduction.
Bill Mickle: Having a seven-year history of treating local residents in this community, I know what the people want in health care services from the hospital and clinic. I have experience with co-treating patients with doctors that work at NRMC, Monticello Clinic and New River Physician’s Clinic. I understand the challenges of referring patients to NRMC, from doctor to doctor and the glitches that take place. Understanding which specialty services NRMC and clinic should capitalize on, so patients do not have to be referred out of town for services they could receive here locally. I want to improve on ease of access for patients to receive care and improve better, strategic methods of communication.
Question 3 (Relationships)
Sheldon Johnson: First, I will continue to meet with clinic personnel within our hospital district to listen to them and in the case of the Monticello Clinic, to develop a plan that will enable them to utilize the services of the New River Medical Center. Secondly, the affiliation process that we are engaged in will result in some positive enhancement in the areas of communication and conflict resolution. Thirdly, I will continually circulate throughout the hospital and nursing home, talking to employees of the New River Hospital District with the goal of increasing morale and responding to questions and concerns that they might have. In closing, if elected, I pledge to do my utmost to rebuild and restore the confidence in the New River Hospital facility.
Bill Mickle: Let “bygones” be “bygones.” Come to a fair compromise. Both sides lay out their Top 10 issues on one another. One side gets 5 things they want, the other side gets 5 things they want. There has to be a give and take policy for a compromise to happen, and know how to get people to “want” to be treated at NRMC and Monticello Clinic. We need to build better working relationships among all of the providers and doctors and teach them how to grow professionally so they can work together for the best interest of their patients.