The Monticello-Big Lake Hospital District Board of Director elections take place during the general election. Members on the eight-member board serve four-year terms.
There is a representative from each city or township in the hospital district in addition to one at-large member.
Geographically, the hospital district area includes Becker Township, Big Lake Township, Big Lake City, Monticello Township, Monticello City, Otsego City and Silver Creek Township. This fall, the Silver Creek Township, city of Monticello, city of Big Lake and at-large director positions are up for election. There was a primary. Interested candidates file with the clerk of the city/township where they reside to be placed on the ballot. Candidate filing opened July 31 and closed Aug. 14.
Silver Creek resident Linda Doerr, incumbent candidate for the at-large seat, is seeking a ninth consecutive term. Monticello resident Bruce Hamond is challenging for the at-large seat after serving on the board as his city representative. Deborah Olson, of Becker Township, is the third at-large candidate running for the hospital board.
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 appear first, followed by question responses.
Linda Doerr: I have lived in the hospital district, including both Monticello and Silver Creek Township for 42 years and my family includes my wonderful son Derrick and an extended family of Doerr in-laws that live throughout our hospital district and receive health care services locally. In addition to more than 30 years on the New River Hospital Board and experience as a past board chair I have more than 30 years as a professional licensed health care administrator and leader. I am the vice president of senior services at St. Cloud Hospital and the CEO for the Saint Benedict Senior Communities, including the Monticello location. I have a Master’s in Business Administration, a license in Health Care Administration, and I am certified by the Minnesota Hospital Association to serve as a hospital trustee. A sample of other community involvement: I serve on the Boards of Care Providers of Minnesota, Aging Services Minnesota, Keystone Community Services St. Paul, St. Cloud Community and Technical College and I am a member of the St. Cloud Downtown Rotary Club. Phone: 763-878-2433
Bruce Hamond: Married to Cynthia Hamond for 41 years, five children, four children married and 12 grandchildren; Monticello resident for 33 years. Education: California State University, Hayward, Calif., Graduate School, International Relations; California State University, San Jose, B.A., International Relations, Math, Computer Science; San Jose City College, San Jose, Calif. A.A. Math, History, Computer Science. Professional Affiliations: Minnesota Hospital Association, Council of Logistics Management, American Management Association, Monticello Chamber of Commerce, Retail Industry Leaders Association. Professional Expericenc: Twelve years executive and board-level leadership, decision making and execution, 24 years strategic planning, joint ventures and organizational leadership. Currently Owner/President of Fit to Be Me, LCC, Monticello and Executive Vice President, Jacobs Trading Co, Hopkins. Contact: 763-295-5049 or email Pob488@aol.com
Deborah Olson: Spouse: Deland Olson; Children: Dan, Jake, Jillian and Jenna Olson; Education: B.A. Degree, Business Communications; Occupation: Territory Sales Manager; Years in Becker: Three; Community/Civic Involvement: Board member for companies Women in Leadership, St. Cloud Chamber of Commerce MS Society member. Contact: Debbiemolson@gmail.com
Linda Doerr: Moving the hospital to a 501c3 non-profit has been an important first step in preparing our health care system to meet the demands of the future which include health reform, the rise of ACO’s accountable care organizations and the tightening of hospital/physician relationships. Very few small, stand-alone hospitals, especially government-owned hospitals remain, most aligning with larger health care systems. The advantages gained by alignment will allow New River Medical Center to grow market share and brand recognition, improve access to providers and services locally and to improve availability of financial resources. Additional benefits allow New River Medical to plan strategically without its competition readily available at open board and committee meetings, to choose board members that have the experience, education, and business talent to proactively move the organization versus an elected board, and allows for the future development of a foundation for tax deductible gifts and donations.
Bruce Hamond: Under the current legal designation, the New River Hospital is set up as a non-profit district hospital. When incorporated in 1964, the intent of this structure was to provide working startup capital through district levy from the local municipalities of Monticello, Monticello Township, Big Lake, Big Lake Township, Becker Township, Otsego Township and Silver Creek Township. The primary requirement was that the board of directors elected from each of the municipalities and all board meetings had to follow the “open meeting law” rules. The makeup and purpose of 501c3 incorporation board of directors when approved by the IRS will be made up of appointed individuals who can bring specialized technical and professional skills to this board. They will be able to meet in closed meetings. They can make strategic and tactical hospital operations decisions, budgetary decisions, affiliation decisions, etc. They will have no taxing authority. They can advise, bring information, and present their decisions to the District Board of Directors. Overall, this is intended to help make better long- range health care strategic and tactical decisions for the Hospital and committee. Currently and with the IRS approval of the 501c3 Board of Directors, the district board will remain in place, meet at least four times a year, be elected from the district municipalities, and be responsible for all decision making, follow the “open meeting law” rules, about the usage and sale of all hospital assets and liabilities including property, contracts with the hospital, bonding, tax levy, etc.
Deborah Olson: Every organization must make decisions based on the best interest of the community as well as its Board members. There are some advantages to a nonprofit status such as grants from foundations, large donations from individuals or organizations. The goal is to attract funds to be put back into the system where the community can most benefit. At the root of it all for the community, is trust. Maintaining (or gaining) the public’s trust is crucial to fulfilling New River’s mission and vice versa. The two are inseparable and interrelated. It is important for the public to know as a nonprofit organization, decisions on expanded coverage will be based on the communities’ health needs. On the flip side, many of the reforms being required or recommended to ensure the for-profit companies achieve greater transparency. The demands are coming from government officials, donors, business partners, media and directors themselves. Any organization like New River looking to get the attention of the larger health systems must get their affairs in order to be considered for alignment. I see this as a positive move in the right direction.
Question 2 (Budget Shortfall)
Linda Doerr: To overcome an $11 million 2013 budget shortfall the board is working with administration and potential alignment partners and independent providers to come to our health care campus and strengthen existing services, introduce new and complementary health care services, and to market the New River brand to draw increasing numbers of individuals and families in our market area to choose New River for their primary care. We will strengthen women’s services, cardiac, cancer care, rehabilitation, etc. We hope to work with existing physicians and to engage new providers as well. It will take greater investments in primary care and internal medicine providers who support local community health care and have an interest in New River Medical Center versus other community hospitals. The current shortfall is related to declining volumes due to providers referring their patients outside the area. The hospital board and administration will need to communicate and publicize our actions to staff and to the public, including transparency in the quality and financial outcomes as we move forward.
Bruce Hamond: Under the current New River Hospital leadership, I do not believe that the $11,000,000 deficit can be made up in 2013. The New River Hospital administration and leadership has shown a strong desire and willingness to manage the hospital finances by closing departments and eliminating hospital positions and employees instead of building bipartisan agreements and relationships with the Monticello group of physicians. New leadership needs to focus on increasing revenue by rebuilding strong bipartisan relationships and agreements with the Monticello physician group and other major health care systems such as CentraCare or Fairview. With those agreements for additional revenue and funding, the hospital can seek capital financing to reopen and staff the hospital departments and affiliated services that can contribute to eliminating the $11 million budget shortfall in 2012 and get the New River Hospital back to the 2009 financial position of an $80 million top-line revenue with an operating income of $2 million. Also, capital funding for the reopened departments can be financed through a bond issuance secured by the physician and or health care system agreements without pledging the tax levy as security. In 2013 the hospital can then proceed to reduce and/or eliminate the tax levy that has been approved for $1.2 million.
Deborah Olson: What’s done is done. We are in fact at a 2013 budget shortfall. No one likes a tax levy. It was a requirement of the district’s bond debt. The focus now moving forward is to use due diligence in selecting the new hospital system for alignment. This is crucial in order for New River to provide more services. Another important factor moving forward is working together with Monticello Clinic physicians. The community does not want to be in the middle of this and be sent even a few miles down the road to another facility when New River is conveniently right next door. Working to keep the correct number of staff employed (proper budgeting) as well as providing services needed by the community will be key in keeping costs under control.
Question 3 (Relationships)
Linda Doerr: The selection process for a larger hospital system partner to align with New River is underway and will be selected by Dec. 13. This process has involved active dialogue about their ability to improve relationships with the clinic and to establish new business ventures, to strengthen access and choice of services available locally, drive high quality outcomes in patient care and safety, as well as their potential ability to provide financial stability. Of course, the board members and leadership staff will also lead in this effort. Either of the two finalists will have the ability to help us communicate to our public and move us forward as the provider of choice for our citizens. I continue to have a sincere passion to serve my community to ensure a high quality hospital that is governed locally. I hope to be re-elected and will be honored to continue my service.
Bruce Hamond: I served on the Hospital Board for 12 years from 1996 through 2009, the last four years as chairman of the board. I also served as a member of the Executive Committee, Finance Committee, Audit Committee, Planning Committee, Governance Committee. All the board members were committed to do their very best for the communities they represented and the hospital district. In 12 years, we accomplished, great achievements. Some, but not all, included the following: New emergency room, new operating room, new hospital west wing, we obtained Critical Access certification, outsourced our adult mental health department to Minnesota Adult Mental Health Group, established a joint partnership with the Monticello Clinic physicians, North Memorial, and CentraCare to build the Big Lake Clinic. We also developed the campus Cancer and Heart Center and the new Monticello medical clinic. I would continue, as I did in my prior 12 years, to work with the board, hospital staff, and doctors to regain trust and confidence by providing good governance leadership listening and working with all to reach bipartisan good health care decisions for the community and regaining a financially sound operating hospital.
Deborah Olson: Front and center of all this is the community, employees of this system to include physicians and all the many patients New River and Monticello Clinic physicians serve. I do not believe that either of these clinic systems has a goal of providing less than exceptional care to our community. Communication between the two systems must continue. I think both sides would agree that there are many fences built. The walls need to come down. New alliances are forming that change the landscape. This may be a window to come back together and find common ground. That is where it must start. The benefits of treating our own and local families, keeping local physicians and employees working right here in our backyard is what keeps me hopeful that communication will result in a working collaboration between the two systems.