NEW BEGINNINGS AT THE HOSPITAL in Monticello. Pictured above are Hospital Board Member Linda Doerr, Chair Sheldon Johnson and CentraCare Monticello CEO Mary Ellen Wells. (Photo by Jennifer Edwards).

Hospital: A new sense of optimism

Staff Writer
Jennifer Edwards


The Monticello Big Lake Hospital Board met Thursday last week for an update on happenings at CentraCare-Monticello Hospital.
“The merger with CentraCare has gone very well,” said Board Chair Sheldon Johnson. “There have already been positive effects from the transition.”
The task included moving all the hospital’s personnel to CentraCare’s payroll and changing the name of the hospital to CentraCare Health-Monticello.
“The name change is visible,” said Johnson. “The opening of the OB unit is moving forward and they are working on recruiting doctors. Two new surgeons have already been hired. Overall working relationships have improved and things are moving along well. CentraCare is living up to their word.”
CentraCare is seeking experienced OB nurses to staff the unit and the reopening will not happen until nurses have been hired and trained, said CEO Mary Ellen Wells.
“Otherwise we are good to go,” she said. “We have hired a nurse manager but we still have to hire eight nurses.”
Plans to update the emergency room are still in the works. Funds earmarked for the project were diverted to build the new helipad at its temporary location at the west end of the parking lot. The City of Monticello granted CentraCare a two-year variance.
“We need to bury the electrical wires,” Wells said. “And we are still talking about where to put it. It could go on the roof but we do have the ability to add another floor, then build the helipad.”
Healing Relationships
Relationships at the hospital are healing and moving forward, Wells said.
“I hope when you come here you find a sense of hope and optimism,”
 Wells said. 
The Wapiti doctors group continues to provide hospitalist services to all patients admitted to the facility and CentraCare is working with Buffalo Hospital and Allina Health Care for billing and to keep costs down, Wells said.
“We are collaborating to keep patients locally,” said Wells.
Surgery specialist Dr. Troy Ivey left the hospital and two new surgeons, Dr. Bowen and Dr. Kemp, have started working at the hospital.
“We are seeing nice growth there,” said Wells. “All three clinics (Big Lake Clinic, CentraCare Monticello Physicians Clinic and Monticello Clinic), are referring patients and they are here every day, whether they are doing surgery or clinics. We also have full time coverage for anesthesiology, although we still use nurse anesthetist. They are doing 10-12 surgeries per day.”
A medical staff development plan has been drafted, which the clinics are reviewing, Wells said. CentraCare is moving ahead with physician recruitment across the campus.
The hospital’s long-term care center is making the transition to geriatric care services. There is an acute care unit with 10 designated beds. The hyperbaric chamber, working with CentraCare, is seeing more patients, Wells said.
“It’s a nice collaborative effort,” she said.
Results from the hospital’s audit will not be available until the end of November, said Chief Finance Officer Nancy Friesen. The board will review the audit at their April meeting.
“Although debt service is not specifically on the agenda, I wanted to assure you that all deposits have been made for semi-annual payments on the two remaining bonds and the lease payments,” she said.
This is the first year since 1965 there will be no hospital district tax levy.
“There are a lot of exciting things going on here,” said Johnson.
Attending the meeting were board members Linda Doerr, Candace Benoit, Bob Dawson and Brian Doyle.
Three board members did not attend the meeting. They are Tom Campell from the City of Big Lake, Richard Helms from Big Lake Township and Rob VanDenBerg from Otsego.


THE BIG WOODEN CROSS which stood behind the monument known as La Pieta was broken in Our Lady of the lake Catholic Cemetery last weekend. (Submitted photos.)

THE BECKER-BIG LAKE SQUIRT B1 HOCKEY TEAM. Front row, (L-R): Erik Baker, Cooper Fredericks, Josh Lillemo, Jack Beckstrom, Kellen Hurt and Luke Boardson. Second row, (L-R): Dillon Lindenau, Nik Hughes, Ben Piehl, Eli Sheideman, Zack Dembinski, Jacob Polecec and Dylan Pishney. Coaches, (L-R): Eron Boardson, Head Coach Mark Fredericks and Jake Pishney. (Submitted photos).

Pictured above are food shelf volunteer Bob Segler, Big Lake Food Shelf Manager Amy Robertson, Dr. Scott Schulz, Tara Boone and Sara Peterson. (Photo by Jennifer Edwards).

THE SHERBURNE COUNTY CHAPTER OF THRIVENT FINANCIAL donated $1,200 worth of items to the Big Lake Community Food Shelf Tuesday. The donation included 50 hams and some personal care items. Pictured above from the left are Big Lake Food Shelf Manager Amy Robertson, Coborn’s Manager Mitch Utecht, Thrivent Financial Associate Curtis Snesrud, Coborn’s Assistant Manager John Howard, Thrivent Financials Associate Derek Birdsall and food shelf volunteer Bob Segler. (Photo by Jennifer Edwards).

TOMMY ECKSTROM had to think hard about what he wanted to say on the gift card for the present he had just purchased.