CRMC points to growth, expanding borders

CROSBY - Monday's regular Cuyuna Regional Medical Center's governing board meeting highlighted areas of growth, beyond its immediate borders. Members of the public again expressed frustration in gaining access for public comments during governing...

CROSBY - Monday's regular Cuyuna Regional Medical Center's governing board meeting highlighted areas of growth, beyond its immediate borders.

Members of the public again expressed frustration in gaining access for public comments during governing board meetings.

Kyle Bauer, CRMC chief financial officer, said the hospital's strategic vision going back to 1990 was to build a regional practice. Not to grow, Bauer said, would mean having costs exceed revenues. Looking at where patients are coming from, Bauer said, was an indication that vision was being met with Brainerd now accounting for the largest ZIP codes of patients. Bauer said the Brainerd/Baxter/Highway 371 corridor with Nisswa, Pequot Lakes, Pine River and Crosslake, accounted for 45,349 patient encounters or 36 percent of the market area. The hospital's primary district, Crosby, Deerwood, Ironton, Emily, Merrifield, Outing and Fifty Lakes, accounts for 37 percent of the medical center's market or 46,018 "patient encounters."

Other regions include Aitkin, McGregor and Garrison with 11 percent or 13,524 and Longville, Remer, Backus with 7 percent or 8,660 - all in fiscal year 2015. The Onamia area accounted for 1 percent or 730.

Bauer said one-third of patients are from the primary district and two-thirds are from outside.


"Job completed, I think, would be the message here," Bauer said, referring to the goal of being a regional center. He said Brainerd and Baxter has grown by 20 percent.

"That's pretty unheard of," Bauer said.

Dividing the patients by age category reflects a few more people in the age 65 and older in the hospital's primary district going from 48 percent in fiscal year 2013 to 52 percent in fiscal year 2015. Patients from Brainerd/Baxter/Highway 371 corridor were largely unchanged with 65 percent younger than 65 and 35 percent older.


Patient encounters by ZIP code.

City: Fiscal year 2015, Fiscal Year 2014, Fiscal year 2013

Brainerd: 20,832 16,241 16,030

Crosby: 19,688 18,829 18,535


Deerwood: 11,436 12,218 12,158

Aitkin: 10,814 10,331 10,861

Ironton: 7,629 7,308 6,918

Pequot Lakes: 6,904 6,068 6,488

Emily: 4,193 4,410 4,303

Crosslake: 4,508 3,999 3,980

Longville: 4,453 4,123 2,234

Baxter: 3,609 2,863 2,969


After hearing the report, board member Brian Kimbler said the numbers still indicate to him, CRMC is still a community hospital.

"We are still strongly a community hospital," Kimbler said.

Public access

At the meeting's conclusion, members of the public again expressed frustration at what they point to as limited access to address ongoing concerns to elected hospital board members. No one from the public was given an opportunity to address the board. About 13 members of the public attended, with a number of them standing along the perimeter of the board table next to the wall. As the meeting adjourned and people began gathering items on the table, a former board member raised his voice.

"What are you afraid of," Bill Stimac said.

Stimac was advised to follow the process the board recently put in place to be able to speak to the governing board. All requests now go to the administration office with talking points previewed before permission to speak is given.

"You put together a process that can't be followed," Stimac said. "I'm ashamed of you guys. I used to have deep respect for you guys."

Stimac said he was a board member for 12 years. Then, he said, the board followed a different vision.

"We've seen a drastic change," Stimac said as he was leaving the room. "Who is responsible for that? I can only blame strangers."

In the hallway after the meeting, a board member told them to follow the process.

Kris Hasskamp, former state legislator and member of the Alliance to Bring Back Crosby Cares and Stop the Bullying at CRMC, said she was disappointed. Hasskamp said she wanted to bring up questions on the five-year contract with John Solheim, CRMC administrator. She said board members could meet for a meal before the board session but didn't have the time to listen to the public. Hasskamp said a previous attempt to be heard ended with the governing board's executive committee and a most recent request to speak to the board without the administration present was followed with an email asking for the talking points.

Hasskamp said the process is meant to mitigate an involvement of the public.

"It's almost getting to feel like we are in a different country," Hasskamp said. "... It's like if they ignore us long enough we are going to get burned out and are going to leave."

Hasskamp said that wasn't going to happen.

In other action, Roger Twigg, CRMC board chairman, started the meeting with a moment of silence for Terry Skone, a former board member who served the community and was himself board chairman for a decade.

Sally Stockbridge was introduced as interim human resources director while CRMC recruits for a new director. Mitch Boser, a Concordia College student from Pierz who is studying business administration and health care administration will be following Solheim for three months as a practical section of his studies.

Heard results of a survey, with 54 questions mailed to patients about their experience at CRMC. The Press Ganey survey had a 35 percent response rate.

Amy Hart, chief operator officer, said the questions look at everything from meals, to access, care, outpatient registration, and even items such as access to be able to charge personal phones. Hart reported looking at fiscal years 2008 to 2015, the overall rating given was in the 90s and consistently in the high 80s to 90s during the years measured. The Care Center, which has been a subject of concern for some residents, family members and employees, is not part of the survey.

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