Five Years - Big Difference at Allina Health District One Hospital

by Dave Albrecht, President, District One Hospital

Five short years ago, District One Hospital transitioned ownership from an independent stand-alone hospital supported in part with taxpayer money to Allina Health, one of the largest health systems in Minnesota with a national reputation for innovation and excellence. As we celebrate our five year affiliation anniversary, I thought it would be appropriate to offer a report out on what the decision has meant for the delivery of health care in this community.

First and most importantly, the hospital remains fully functioning today largely because of its affiliation with Allina Health. Strapped for cash and ongoing operating losses, District One faced a questionable and uncertain economic future, not unlike many other independent stand-alone hospitals across the country. Upon affiliation, Allina Health paid off District One’s outstanding debt and provided capital to stabilize operations. We recognize that more needs to be accomplished and challenges remain for smaller hospitals, but we are in a much improved position relative to the previous trajectory.

Second, Allina Health brought its breadth of expertise in patient care, employment policies, care processes and performance standards to our community to build upon the existing foundation. Today, I am pleased to say that District One Hospital consistently performs to the level that Allina Health has established for all of its hospitals throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin. We have excellent patient care being delivered right here at home.

Third is capital investment. Having lead a variety of hospitals over several decades, I can attest to the difficulty of securing funds to reinvest in facilities and equipment. This is where the affiliation with Allina Health has really shown tremendous dividends for our community. Allina Health has already invested $30 million to upgrade needed medical equipment, facilities, information systems and building infrastructure. The capital investment from Allina Health has been used in many ways, including a new, spacious first-class $13.4 million emergency department and a $1.0 million inpatient pharmacy project, to be completed in early 2020, to bring this area up to current regulated standards for work environment and safety. A total of $5.0 million has been invested into replacing medical equipment, notably cardiac telemetry monitoring, anesthesia delivery equipment, endoscopy towers, radiology/X-ray replacement, 3-Dimensional digital mammography, surgical power tools, beds and stretchers, sterilization equipment, IV pumps and more. With these investments, employees have the tools necessary to do their jobs using many of the latest technologies.

Less glamorous, although equally important, $3.5 million has been invested to renovate the building, significant parts of which date back to 1961. Improvements include new roofs, air-handling unit, replacement windows, security system and a building automation system to control energy, monitoring and efficiency.

Another less visible benefit is access to Allina Health’s electronic medical record system. Allina Health has one of the most advanced electronic medical record systems in the country. The current system has been implemented and enhanced throughout Allina Health over the course of the past 14 years. At District One, $2.9 million has been invested in network hardware to facilitate connectivity to the Allina Health system. This means Allina Health’s advanced system is at the fingertips of all employees at District One, as well as all physicians and care givers at Allina Medical Clinic Faribault. Ultimately this means a more connected and seamless experience for patients no matter where they get care within Allina Health. This provides significant benefits and peace of mind to patients and families. In the event that advanced care is needed and a patient must be transferred to a larger Allina Health hospital, your medical record goes with you electronically and is available for anyone providing care throughout Allina Health.

Allina Health is investing significant resources in expanding and improving online digital access to all those we serve. Through a MyAllina account, you can conveniently make or change appointments, see your laboratory test results, communicate with your provider and renew your prescriptions, among other features. Any patient of Allina Health can create a MyAllina account by visiting

A fifth benefit is access to the breadth of Allina Health specialty services through tele-health technology. Allina Health District One Hospital now has Allina Health-sponsored connectivity to tele-stroke, tele-hospitalist, tele-neonatology, tele-psychiatry and, coming soon, tele-ED to critical care consult. Each of these tele-connections instantly brings a remotely located specialized physician to a patient’s bedside through technology, including voice, visual and real-time vital sign information, in a patient’s time of need. This allows advanced specialty care to be delivered in smaller hospitals, such as District One, and potentially avoids a patient having to transfer to another facility.

Recruiting physicians is often a challenge for smaller hospitals. Fortunately, because of our affiliation with Allina Health, we have been able to recruit many excellent specialty physicians and services to our region. We now have on staff specialty physicians in orthopedics, general surgery, ear nose and throat (ENT), oncology/cancer care, physical medicine and rehabilitation, urology and neurology. The hospital has also been able to bring highly skilled emergency physicians and anesthesiologists to our community. These specialty physicians, along with the talented and dedicated Allina Health primary care and existing specialty physician groups, are the foundation for a strong future of healthcare services in this community.

Allina Health District One is proud to provide hospital employees enhanced salaries, wages and benefits that were previously below market because of the reality of economic constraints. The pay and benefit changes have allowed the hospital to attract and retain talented employees who make the difference in the quality and safety of the care provided to those we are so privileged to serve. The hospital has a dedicated and highly qualified staff who deliver excellent care 24 hours per day, seven days a week and 365 days of the year.

Anniversaries provide an opportunity to reflect and mark the passage of time. Allina Health’s history of serving this community certainly extends well beyond the five years of the hospital affiliation agreement. However, it is important to acknowledge the progress that has been made in five short years. Through partnership, I am happy to say that you do not have to leave the community to find excellence. It is right here for you to use in your time of need.

Posted on January 31, 2020 in

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