Skip to main content

New Ulm Medical Center

Meet the New Ulm Medical Center Board of Directors

New Ulm Medical Center Board of Directors

The New Ulm Medical Center Board of Directors and Administrative photo was taken at the 2011 Annual Meeting in December. Pictured are: (front, l-r) Foundation Director Carisa Buegler, DuWayne Witt, President Toby Freier, Medical Director Joan Krikava, MD, and Ellen Vancura, MD; (back row) Justin Weinberg, Dick Helmstetter (outgoing member), Director of Operations Steve Schneider, Kellie Newman, MD, Marj Frederickson, Director of Clinic Operations Jeff Messenger, Director of Patient Care Dayle Stubbs, Charles Stephens, MD, Administrative Assistant Mary Rosenau. Not pictured are board members Jackie Finstad, Cheri LeBrun, Devin Nelson and Ron Saffert.

The New Ulm Medical Center (NUMC) Board of Directors is responsible for helping to shape the strategy of the medical center in terms of services offered, building projects, and policy.

The group of 10 men and women meet monthly to discuss issues facing the medical center and provide collective input from the communities and people NUMC serves that will result in the best possible outcomes for its patients.

Each member also serves on at least one other committee within NUMC such as the Community Advisory Council, Quality Council and Finance & Facilities Committee.

Because access to good health care is a pillar of a successful community, the role of these individuals in helping to shape the future of NUMC is of paramount importance.

As such, they were asked to share answers to the following questions to help the community better understand their role, the priorities and goals for the future of NUMC, and the accomplishments that have helped to shape NUMC to the facility it is today. Next to each individual's name is the number of years they have served on the board.

  1. What is your background in the community (career, other volunteer positions, family, etc.)
  2. Why did you agree to serve on the NUMC Board?
  3. What is your proudest accomplishment as part of the NUMC Board (i.e.: support to the new cancer center, a specific new program or piece of equipment, etc.) and why?
  4. What have you learned about NUMC since joining the board that you think most people in the general public do not know or understand?
  5. Where do you see NUMC heading in the next year (or next few years)? What are you most excited about?

Jackie Finstad (seven years)

  1. I live on the edge of New Ulm with my husband Brad and our five children. Currently, I own a small business and stay at home with the kids. Formerly, I was director at Ridgeway Assisted Living. I have also served on the Chamber Board and Brown County REA Trust Board.
  2. I believe healthcare is a pillar to a strong community. We are very fortunate in our area to have such a strong provider of health care in NUMC. I wanted to serve on the NUMC board to be an advocate for the community, to learn about what NUMC provides, and to be part of the future of our health care.
  3. There are many new initiatives that I am honored to say I was and am part of, not the least of which are the Virginia Piper Cancer Institute – New Ulm project, the upcoming Birth Center renovation/expansion, upgrading the operating rooms, transitioning to electronic medical records, and the Heart of New Ulm Project. However, I would say that being able to support physicians and health care workers that choose to follow their conscience has been the most important role I have served on the board.
  4. There is so much more happening here than most people realize. NUMC truly is a leader in rural healthcare and has a terrific vision for the future. It is always amazing to me to see how important being part of the Allina Health system is for our community. That structure gives us access to expertise, therapies and financial stability that allows us to focus wholeheartedly on patient care, support and satisfaction. It has also given NUMC the ability to bring affiliations with such esteemed programs like Virginia Piper Cancer Institute and Sister Kenny Rehabilitation Institute to New Ulm.
  5. NUMC will continue to be active in leading the way for health care in our region. As more and more small hospitals are closing or outsourcing, it will be exciting to see how NUMC adapts to the changes in the region and what new services will be provided.

Marj Frederickson (five years)

  1. I worked at KNUJ AM & FM for 28 years in advertising sales and management; serving as General Manager for the seven years prior to retiring in 2007. I was active in local, state and national politics. As a member of Our Savior's Lutheran Church I sing in the church choir and serve on the personnel committee. I have been a member and/or on the boards of Kiwanis, Rotary and United Way. I am on the Oak Hills Foundation board. I'm a DNR volunteer. My husband Dennis and I have lived in New Ulm for 24 years.
  2. As a patient at NUMC I was impressed with the care I received and with the kindness and concern of the providers and staff. I wanted to be a part of maintaining and increasing the quality of health care available to everyone in our area.
  3. The success of the Heart of New Ulm. The Heart of New Ulm incorporates the concept of attaining and maintaining a healthy lifestyle to prevent heart attacks. Through screening and education it has improved the health of an entire community. New Ulm and NUMC have gained state and national recognition as leaders in community health.
  4. Careful, forward thinking and decision making in the past has positioned NUMC to be a strong health care center today and a growing health leader for tomorrow.
  5. I am excited to see more services and specialties become available at NUMC. I believe NUMC will become a regional health center with a reputation of exemplary care, a true "health home."

Cheri LeBrun (five months)

  1. For the last fourteen years I have served as United Farmers Cooperative’s Director of Human Resources. My office is based out of our Winthrop Corporate office. My husband, Steve and I have been a part of the Lafayette Community for over twenty years, where we have raised our three sons, Kyle, Brett and Troy. Over the twenty years in the area, I have had the pleasure of volunteering at St. Gregory’s the Great, Lafayette, where I have served as treasurer for the Altar Society, President of our Church board of Education, choir director and pianist. I have also been a Cub Scout and Boy Scout leader. I have also volunteered at New Ulm Public School along with being a board member of the Football booster club and President of the high school wrestling booster club.
  2. Since the New Ulm Medical Center opened a clinic facility in the community of Winthrop, UFC has utilized many of their services to help our company. We at UFC are very committed to healthy living, trying to control our insurance premiums by taking control of our health, the Heart of New Ulm Project is exactly what we have been doing for years, but I felt this needed to be expanded outside the 56073 zip code area, so when the board was looking to expand their representation outside the boundaries of New Ulm, it gave me the opportunity to become involved with helping expand services that promote healthy living; as an employer, to express what services would help our company; and expand my knowledge of the medical field and health care industry.
  3. I have only been on the board since January 2012, so I really have not been involved in any projects as of yet. What I have seen and am very proud of is the commitment, dedication, enthusiasm that employees, administration and board members have for the New Ulm Medical Center. I did not realize how proactive our little medical center really is. We will be here for the future, providing great care for our people.
  4. I do not think that the general public realizes that our doctors play an active role in the medical center. They have active representation on the board and help with determining the best action/direction the medical center can go. So we truly are a well-rounded, diversified board.
  5. I think New Ulm Medical Center is definitely heading in the direction of becoming a regional facility with many more options than we have had in the past, so in essence keeping our health care as local as possible with the same excellence and expertise you would receive in the metropolitan areas.

Devin Nelson (five years)

  1. I have lived in New Ulm since March 1982. My wife Lori and I have two children. Cody is a freshman at the University of Minnesota, and Carli is an eighth grader at New Ulm High School. I am employed by Habilitative Services, Inc. (HSI), a professional organization that provides residential supports and services to individuals with developmental and other disabilities. Aside from two terms on the NUMC board, my volunteer activities have mirrored family interests and activities; school, church, and athletics.
  2. As a community board member, I was interested in the opportunity to represent the health care needs and experiences of the community in general and individuals with developmental disabilities in particular. The rules governing the services we provide through HSI require more medical contact than I was used to, creating an interest in how health care can effectively meet the needs of the community despite the constraints and inefficiencies created by rules and regulations.
  3. No single event stands out for me. The medical center is a vital, constantly changing organization. We have been fortunate to have strong, forward thinking leaders who have successfully molded the vision of many into concrete, achievable objectives.
  4. The relationship between NUMC and Allina Health is something most people probably don't pay much attention to other than to recognize the Allina logo on signs and brochures. This speaks well of the autonomy regional hospitals like NUMC are afforded while still having access to the tremendous resources Allina Health has to offer. This relationship is truly a two way street with Allina Health realizing a tremendous benefit from the efforts of the physicians and staff of NUMC.
  5. I think the next few years will see NUMC solidifying its position as a regional health care center. Sister Kenny Rehabilitation Institute – New Ulm and Virginia Piper Cancer Institute – New Ulm are two recent examples of leveraging the Allina Health relationship to benefit our patients.

Kellie Newman, MD (seven years)

  1. I am a General Surgeon with the Physicians Group of New Ulm. My husband, Chris, and I have one son, Sean. We are avid hockey fans, which makes Minnesota and New Ulm the perfect place for our family.
  2. I agreed to serve so that I could help shape how we deliver care to our community. Also to get a different perspective from community members on how our hospital is viewed by the community.
  3. There are so many initiatives that I am proud to have been involved with as a board member. The expansion and renovation of the Surgery Center as well as the Virginia Piper Cancer Institute – New Ulm are two projects that come to mind.
  4. Even though NUMC is aligned with Allina Health, we are fortunate to have a great deal of autonomy and make decisions based on what is best for us in our region, while still having access to the tremendous resources of the Allina Health system. We are lucky to have our own local board and this board works hard to help keep us as independent as possible. NUMC truly has the best interests of the community in mind.
  5. I’m excited for our next expansion and renovation project in the Birth Center. Our labor and delivery patients will see great benefits through this upgrade project. I’m also just happy to be here to help care for the New Ulm community.

Ron Saffert (five months)

  1. I'm a New Ulm native and have been a financial advisor for over 22 years. I have worked with Stifel Nicolaus and Co. since 2006 when they purchased my previous firm. I was on the New Ulm Turnverein board for over 20 years, and I still serve on the Church of St Mary's Administrative Council, although my term there will end shortly. I've also served a few terms over the years, and currently serve, on the Junior Pioneer board. My wife Barb and I have three children. Two are in college and one is a sophomore in high school. I like to read almost anything, and enjoy fishing and golf.
  2. I agreed to serve on the board because it is our responsibility to get involved. Whether it is the medical center, our schools, or our churches, our communities need to have strong institutions more than ever, and we all need to do our part. As our politicians bicker about what role government should take in our lives, we all need to make sure our local entities are strong enough to weather the storm.
  3. I've only been on the board for five months, so any credit for things accomplished belongs to previous board members and staff.
  4. I have learned a couple of things. One is that NUMC provides some services which are not provided in many other clinics and hospitals in our service area. Also, we should be proud that our medical center was named to one of "Top 20 Critical Access" hospitals in the nation.
  5. I think there are going to be some wonderful things happening at NUMC in the coming years. Remodeling and updating certain departments, recruiting new personnel, and forming potential partnerships with other local and regional groups should keep our medical center vibrant.

Charles Stephens, MD (four years)

  1. Family physician with the Physician’s Group of New Ulm, Heart of New Ulm Heart Czar, all-weather bicycle rider, soccer referee, past-president of soccer club, step-dad to four kids, lousy mechanic and home-project carpenter, sometimes choir member.
  2. It is a good way to see a different side of the medical center where I work. It provides involvement with non-medical people in the community.
  3. Involvement in Free Bikes 4 Kidz last fall. We got to spend weeks fixing up cast-off bicycles and then got to see happy family members pick them up to give to kids for Christmas presents—spreading bikes to families that couldn’t really afford them. What could be finer?
  4. The quality of the leadership at this hospital and clinic is so very, very good! I have worked at lots of different places in different states and truly have not seen a better-run medical outfit.
  5. Continuing to lead the way in terms of community promotion of stroke and heart disease prevention through the Heart of New Ulm and related programs. Offering an amazing array of services for a smaller town hospital and clinic—I’m not sure that people in our area realize how much there is to offer at NUMC!

Ellen Vancura, MD (one year)

I am the senior partner of the Physicians Group of New Ulm, practicing medicine in New Ulm since August 1979, completing 33 years this summer. I am enjoying practice more than ever, many patients have been with me since I started practice. I have been married for 39 years to Jay Vancura, a consulting pharmacist to long term care facilities. We have three grown children. My parents, Jim and Jane Seifert, also live in New Ulm. I have been involved in many church and school activities through the years but currently all my volunteer time is spent with the New Ulm Buckthorn Removal Project. Family and friend activities, gardening and reading are my favorite ways to spend time away from the office.

This is my first term on the hospital board in the modern era, having served on it many years ago. Having recently completed term limits on the physician’s group board, I was ready to continue as an active participant in the decision making of the medical center. I feel my greatest strength on the board is to bring a historical perspective on how things were and why they are what they are now. My practice started when the city had two hospitals and 10 physicians practicing in the Family Service Center. New Ulm has an amazing history of excellent medical care. Anything I can do to continue this tradition for the sake of the residents of the New Ulm area is time well spent.

Gratefully, forward thinking and wise community and past board members have made excellent decisions in the transition from consolidation of the two hospitals to different corporate management and the decision to combine hospital and clinic to one campus. NUMC is part of the Allina Health system which has honored the differences between metro hospitals and rural hospitals allowing a great deal of local control for the benefit of all who use NUMC for their primary care. This is in the era of predatory takeover of hospitals and clinics where local control of medical practice is all but lost. Please continue to support the NUMC which is the third largest employer in the city. If I could do it all over again, I would make the same decision to practice in New Ulm, the city I love.

Justin Weinberg (two years)

  1. I am a partner with the law firm of Gislason & Hunter LLP and my primary areas of practice are corporate law, banking and construction. I started practicing law in 2001 with a firm in downtown Minneapolis. My wife Jessica worked downtown as well for Target Corporation in their international sourcing division. We had twin daughters, London and Aria, in 2003 and we made the decision that Jessica would stay home with the girls. In 2005 we wanted to move out of the Twin Cities. The opportunity with Gislason & Hunter came up and we moved to New Ulm. I am also an active member of Rotary Club of New Ulm, serving as President in 2011 and have been a member of the Rotary Board since 2009.
  2. Because I thought I would get free perks like use of the helicopter. More seriously, though, I saw it as an opportunity to serve an organization that provides such an important role in not only making people feel better, but also maintaining the health of our community. Having a strong clinic and hospital in New Ulm was one of the things that attracted us here and I was honored to be asked to serve on the board as it was an opportunity to help not only sustain a great organization, but also to help in getting it to being a leader in the nation for rural health care.
  3. Serving on the subcommittee for the transition of Toby Freier as the new president when Lori Wightman left. Toby is an excellent leader for the organization and he genuinely cares about the health of the community and I was proud to be a part of that small subcommittee that informed the Allina Health leadership that while a search was the prudent thing to do, Toby was the clear cut choice to lead this organization.
  4. How important it is for a rural health center to be a part of a larger system like Allina Health. The general public receives bits of information about the high cost of health care and I think has a perception that being a part of a large system leads to increased overhead and eventually higher costs to them, which is not necessarily true. The fact is if NUMC was not a part of Allina Health it would not be a recognized national leader for rural health care and score out in the upper 20 for critical access hospitals in the nation as it would not have the benefit of pooled resources to bring in the best technology and recruit the best staff available.
  5. I see NUMC continuing to expand not only physically, but also in its lines of service and the areas that it serves. I believe NUMC is positioned well for the inevitable change in the pay model that will move away from pay-for-service and I am excited that I will be a part of the NUMC Board as health care reform takes place. While change can, and will be, painful in some regards, it is also an opportunity to seize upon and instantly become a leader in the field and I think NUMC is ready to do just that.

DuWayne Witt (five years)

  1. I am employed at 3M in New Ulm as a process engineering supervisor. My wife, Kay, is employed at NUMC as an assistant nurse manager in the Behavioral Health unit. We have three adult children and two grandchildren and another grandchild due this summer. I have served in a variety of volunteer positions over the years including church council, New Ulm Basketball Association, New Ulm Swim Club, and Math Counts coach at St. Paul’s Lutheran School.
  2. I felt that with my experience as an engineer and supervisor, that I had a skill set that would complement other board members. Having been married to a nurse for many years also meant that I was knowledgeable about many of the issues NUMC dealt with as well as the issues in the health care industry in general.
  3. Seeing the growth in facilities and the overall operation. When I came on the board, the planning for the Surgery Center upgrade was just beginning. It was exciting to be part of such a significant project. Of course the new Virginia Piper Cancer Institute – New Ulm ranks right up there as well. And the Heart of New Ulm Project is such a unique opportunity for our community to show the way toward better health. Now the continued growth of the services that NUMC offers and the added providers is exciting as well. When I joined the board, it would have been hard to imagine so much change and growth taking place.
  4. How fortunate we are in a relatively small community to have a fine facility like NUMC. We have outstanding leadership in place, very fine physicians, and just great providers at all levels. NUMC is one of the better hospitals of its size that you will find anywhere. To be able to offer the kind of health service that NUMC is able to provide is something we as a community should not take for granted.
  5. I believe NUMC is positioned to be a key health care provider in this part of rural Minnesota and that is significant because of all the challenges that rural Minnesota faces. I am excited about being involved in the growth and vision that the leadership at NUMC is facilitating. The health care industry will undergo many changes moving forward, but I believe NUMC is ahead of the curve and well positioned to be one of the leaders of change that will result in better health care for New Ulm and the surrounding area.