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Op-Ed: A year of progress at District One Hospital

FARIBAULT, Minn. 1/18/2019  Last April, I asked Faribault residents a bold and direct question: What does having a community hospital mean to you? I followed with a challenge: If our community wants District One Hospital to remain strong, people need to use and support it.

This year, I am encouraged and upbeat about our future. We still have work to do, but we have made important strides over the past year. Here is what I mean.

More people are choosing to come to District One Hospital for their care.
We’ve experienced significant volume growth among many types of services. Areas in which we have seen the largest growth include cancer services through the Virginia Piper Cancer Institute, rehabilitation services through Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute, surgical services, inpatient care in our Medical-Surgical unit and Diagnostic Imaging. This tells me that people in Faribault value our providers and the range of health care services they can access without traveling a long distance. 

Our financial picture has brightened.
Higher volumes in key areas plays a role in our financial stability, but we also gain efficiencies and access to technology, infrastructure and capital by being part of Allina Health. A brighter financial picture gives us flexibility in planning how we support the health of Faribault residents in the future.

We exceeded our financial goal for 2018, which has been a significant challenge in the recent past. We continue to work on achieving sustained profitability. We look forward to growing surgical services in orthopedics, ear nose and throat, and ophthalmology. We also want to attract more families to our birth center. Our momentum is positive and growth will be a big part of our future success. 

We have implemented changes that greatly enhance the care we provide.
For example, in September we welcomed Emergency Care Consultants to Faribault. They provide high quality physician, nurse practitioner and physician assistant services for our emergency room. This is the same group staffing emergency departments at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis, United Hospital in St. Paul and other Allina Health hospitals. With years of experience, they are known for excellent patient care and service.

We further developed our hospitalist service by hiring a dedicated physician whose sole focus is caring for inpatients at the hospital. He works closely with our other hospitalists, who periodically spend a week away from their busy clinic practice to staff the hospitalist service. A hospitalist is a doctor who coordinates and oversees the care of hospitalized patients. Patients benefit from having a physician who plans and monitors their care throughout the hospital stay, and who understands the “big picture” when making decisions about their care.

We are also taking advantage of technology that gives our patients access to the specialty care they need, including videoconferencing technology for nighttime hospitalist consultations as well as for psychiatric consultations for patients with mental health conditions. 

Our providers, management team and employees have demonstrated a deep commitment to providing high quality, safe care. 
We know that safe patient care doesn’t happen by accident. Like other hospitals, we monitor key safety indicators and continually look for opportunities to improve our performance. We have exceeded most of our patient quality and safety goals for the year. This work involves sharing information and best practices with our colleagues throughout Allina Health — another example of how our connection with a larger system benefits the Faribault community.

However, that does not take the place of our dedicated staff who focus each moment on meeting the highest standards for patient care. This dedication was validated in May when surveyors were onsite for four days for our first Joint Commission (a hospital accreditation organization) survey in 12 years. I am not exaggerating when I say that we absolutely wowed the surveyors. Our team was fully prepared for this important survey, and I could not be more proud.

Employees are enthusiastic about our future.
When leaders, physicians and employees feel good about the hospital and the work they do, they are better able to focus on patients and families. Both our internal survey and the comments I hear from employees tell me that we are on the right track. Our success as an organization depends on our workforce, and we are fortunate to have a talented and enthusiastic team. 

I am proud of the care we deliver to the residents of Faribault and surrounding communities, as well as the role we play in ensuring that Faribault remains a vibrant and attractive community. Thank you for your continued support of this community asset.

About Allina Health Faribault Medical Center

Allina Health Faribault Medical Center (formerly District One Hospital), a part of Allina Health, provides a broad range of inpatient and outpatient health care services to Faribault and the surrounding communities. The hospital is conveniently located adjacent to the Allina Health Faribault Clinic.

Dave Albrecht
Dave Albrecht, President, District One Hospital, part of Allina Health