North Shore Health Board talks governance, culture survey, and steps to improve communication with public
Kalli Hawkins

North Shore Health Board talks governance, culture survey, and steps to improve communication with public

The North Shore Health Board met on Thursday, Mar. 21, to discuss various agenda items, including an organizational review update, Feb. 2024 financials, legislation that may impact rural hospitals, and a handful of other things. Nine members of the public attended the meeting.

The meeting began with a board presentation by Matt Anderson from Atrede Consulting. Anderson provided a comprehensive presentation to the board about governance and management for healthcare boards. He discussed the board’s responsibilities in governing the hospital versus the CEO’s role in managing the hospital.

Anderson previously delivered a presentation to the North Shore Health (NSH) Board on Jan. 18 concerning fiduciary duties and open meeting laws applicable to district hospital boards.

Following Anderson’s presentation, Milan Schmidt, a member of the public, spoke during the public comment period. Schmidt thanked the board for providing microphones and hearing amplification devices. 

Each NSH board member and staff at the table had a personal microphone. Personal amplification devices were available for the board, staff, and public at the start of the Mar. 21 meeting.

Providing an adequate sound system during board meetings was one of the requests from the Concerned Citizens for Cook County Healthcare to improve greater transparency and availability between the NSH board and the public.

“Thank you. I think it’s a good step and making the organization receptive and accountable to the population,” Schmidt said. “So thank you very much.”

The NSH Board then discussed and reviewed in depth the Feb. 2024 financial reports presented by Chief Financial Officer Lori Ericson. The board discussed the financial challenges NSH is experiencing, similar to those of other rural hospitals across Minnesota and the nation. In addition, the board and administrators discussed the complexities of insurance and Medicare. 

After review and discussion, the board moved on to the organizational review agenda item, which included an update about a culture survey. During the Jan. 18 meeting, the NSH Board decided to move forward with a North Shore Health cultural assessment conducted by Bill Auxier, the National Rural Health Association program director.

Administrator Kimber Wraalstad provided an update on the culture survey during the Mar. 21 meeting. The culture survey was sent to all NSH staff, leaders, executives, and the Board of Directors on Feb. 23. The survey has finished and Auxier is currently compiling and sifting through the results. 

The scope of the cultural assessment involves a four-step process and spans 12 months. The survey process is one step of a longer process utilizing stakeholder-centered team coaching and an evidence-based coaching process, combining workshops, executive coaching, and assessments. 

In addition, the board is working with Stroudwater Associates to conduct a strategic, financial, and operational assessment of the hospital, including an evaluation of physician services and the relationship with Sawtooth Mountain Clinic. Wraalstad said Stroudwater is in the process of developing the engagement letter for the updated assessment. Wraalstad noted in her management report that it is taking longer to develop with the addition of the physician services evaluation.

The board then discussed a new initiative to improve communication with the public. Board Chair Kay Olson said the board is exploring writing a monthly article titled, ‘Getting to know North Shore Health.’ Olson said the article would be distributed to the public via the Cook County News Herald, Boreal, and WTIP.

Olson said it would “give people in the community a better understanding of what we as a hospital board do. Some background.” The board discussed monthly topic ideas, including board governance and legislation. 

“I think we should be really supportive of this,” Board member Mary Sanders said. The board agreed, and Olson and Todd Ford, the public information officer, will work together to implement the monthly article. 

The remainder of the meeting included updates from Wraalstad’s management report. Find the full Mar. 21 agenda with the management report here: March 2024 Board Material