Four candidates for two seats on hospital board

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Russ Loven

Anna Moser

Sue Osterhaus

Jim Solomon

Note: This is the third in a series of interviews with candidates for Guttenberg municipal offices in the Nov. 7 election. Following are interviews with candidates for hospital board.

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Russ Loven

1. Why are you running for hospital board member? Guttenberg Municipal Hospital is an outstanding and award winning Critical Access Hospital. I want to represent and be a voice for the community as we move forward through these challenging times for rural health care.

2. How are you qualified to serve voters? My most recent qualification for serving the voters is the experience and knowledge gained from representing the City of Guttenberg on a four member task force this past year from September to June 2017. The task force met for the equivalent of three to four 40-hour weeks of intensive study and research of the American healthcare system. Our specific task was to help determine the type of partnership and collaboration needed to move GMH forward for a financially viable future. We reviewed 18 possible healthcare partnerships and quickly narrowed this down to seven for interviews and further study. This was narrowed down to five, then three and finally down to two – Unity Point Healthcare (UPH) and the Mercy Health Network (MHN). Our final recommendation was MHN.

My second point of qualification for serving the community is my experience being elected to the Board of Trustees for the Winneshiek Medical Center (Decorah) for several years while living in Winneshiek County. I was vice-president and chairman for strategic planning when we began an affiliation with both Mayo Clinic and the Gunderson Health System.

In addition to those valuable experiences, I have had 40-plus years of leadership experiences as a school administrator and city mayor.

3. How will you make a difference? Guttenberg Municipal Hospital as a rural hospital is facing its share of challenges along with all healthcare systems. We need to expand and grow our market share of healthcare services in Clayton County. The permanent population of our county is declining for a variety of reasons. We are being pressured on the north end of our county by the Mayo and Gunderson systems, as well as the Crossing Rivers Health system in Prairie du Chien. It is my goal to expand GMH services through the Mercy system, which is already present in Clayton County through existing clinics, expanded clinics and collaboration with other Mercy Health services in neighboring counties. This could include more surgeries and specialty services, expanded mental health, and the delivery of more babies, which is the gatekeeper to healthcare.

Anna Moser

1. Why are you running for hospital board member? I am running for the hospital board because Our Guttenberg Municipal Hospital has always been near and dear to my heart and I would like to see it have continued success and thrive as a community hospital. My family and extended family have utilized the hospital at the beginning and at the end of life and I believe we are truly lucky to have our hospital here in Guttenberg.

2. How are you qualified to serve voters? I believe my CPA (Certified Public Accountant) certification and my previous contractor status as an accountant at GMH gives me a great financial background and understanding of the operation of GMH.  I hope to utilize my experiences in the business world and in working with non profit agencies, including GMH, in my position as a board member. I have been in business as a CPA for 27 years. My background with GMH actually started in 1979, when I starting working as an admitting clerk while in high school. I was on the hospital board from 1999 to 2003 and worked as a subcontractor accountant preparing the monthly financial reports and budgeting reports for the board and management staff from 2005 – 2017.  I would like to continue my affiliation and support of Guttenberg Municipal Hospital as a board member. 

3. How will you make a difference? Guttenberg Municipal Hospital is a vital part of Guttenberg and the surrounding communities, employing and serving many, many people. I would like to take an active role in serving as a board member to assure that the best decisions are made for the continued success of our local hospital. Our physicians, practitioners and employees are a vital piece to this success. The hospital has had a management agreement with Finley Hospital since 1998 and I would like to see the new management agreement help even more in the hospital’s mission to improve the health and wellness of the communities it serves and to help the hospital in fulfilling its vision to provide the best outcome for the patients.  

I would like to be a voice for the people (community), as well as a voice for the employees and to provide guidance to management. I believe I have the knowledge, passion, drive and desire to be an asset as a board member for Guttenberg Municipal Hospital and ask for your support.  

Sue Osterhaus, 

Incumbent

1. Why are you running for hospital board member? I think the community hospital is one of Guttenberg's finest assets.  I want to see the hospital continue to succeed well into the future.

2. How are qualified to serve voters? I have lived and worked in the Guttenberg area for almost 30 years and have been involved in numerous community groups.  Change is constant and not always welcome, but we need to understand the consequences to maintain our hospital. I have learned a lot during my four-year term on the board and I would like to apply that to deal with the challenges of the changing medical field going forward.

3. How will you make a difference? The hospital has recently made an affiliation change.  The whole medical economy is in an ongoing state of change and I hope

I can continue to serve during these uncertain times. I will keep the best interests of our community and the hospital in mind when considering any changes.

Jim Solomon

1. Why are you running for hospital board member? I am running for the hospital board because I believe we, as residents of Guttenberg, are very fortunate to have such a wonderful, recently modernized facility within our community. I would like the opportunity to help it continue to be successful and provide the medical services our area residents need. 

2. How are you qualified to serve voters? My education, which includes a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration, and career experience, would be an asset for me while performing the duties as a hospital board member. My nearly 40 years management experience with a large company has given me valuable experience and has helped to develop my business management skills as well as a broadened understanding of the financial aspects operating a large company or business. In addition, my years on city council and in the city government have given me additional insight and perspective on the political side of management, which should also aid in interaction with the board members.

3. How will you make a difference? My goals are to increase customer/patient support and satisfaction with the services provided though the facility as well as financial responsibility.  Hospital employees are our greatest assets and they’re the first line when the customer or patients are in need of services from the hospital or clinic. They need to have training and support so they can provide the service our customers want and need, responsively and compassionately, to provide the best outcome for the patient or customer. I am a firm believer in continued employee training and employee involvement in the business operation.  The hospital has an additional challenge of seeking and hiring doctors and medical practitioners to fill a service void. Selecting and hiring skilled employees is always a challenge, however with an involved workforce this becomes easier and the retention time also begins to extend.  

Even though our hospital is a municipality within the city it is basically a stand-alone business and for the most part has not required a lot of capital from the city. Most of us have just paid our September real estate taxes and were surprised to see such a large increase in our tax bill resulting in part from increased city taxing authority spending of 10 to 13 percent. We must be financially responsible and not allow the hospital to become a financial burden on the community. From what I have seen of the hospital past financials this is highly unlikely. But we all need to keep a watchful eye on our check book.

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