Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Lois E. Johnson
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

New Mercy CEO joins Board, discusses strategic plan


Mike Youso, the new CEO of Mercy Hospital, was present at the meeting of the Mercy Hospital Board at its monthly meeting on Monday, April 22. Youso had begun his duties as CEO on April 2.

Youso reported about the strategic plan process that is underway.

“We are in the exploratory phase of the plan,” he said. “There are no changes in the plan except to change the name of the CEO.”

When the accounting process and audit was discussed, it was reported that there was a problem with segregation of duties. That is common in small organizations.

“We don’t have enough people to do a complete segregation of duties,” explained Board Member Joann Collier. “We do as much as possible. That is discussed every year during the audit.”

Board Member Sue Pederson pointed out that a board member should be one of two signatures on checks.

“That makes the board accountable,” she said.

Collier explained that the board is not involved in day-to-day activities.

Board Member Gail Langhorst added that it is a problem for someone from the board to come in and sign the checks.

Board Chair Kelly Goeb said that there is a trust level about signing checks.

Youso reported that at Grand Itasca Hospital, where he had been the CEO, the board members did not sign the checks.

Pederson also brought up a conflict of interest. Both Goeb and her husband, Dr. Shawn Bode, are pictured on the wall of photographs of doctors at Mercy Hospital, she said. Both are doctors at the Cromwell Medical Center.

“Cromwell Medical Center does not receive a paycheck from Mercy Hospital,” said Goeb. “I’m on the courtesy staff of the hospital but the only check that I receive from the hospital is for serving on the board.”

Pederson said that Dr. Chris Thiessen (a former board member) should not have been on the board.

It was explained that Dr. Thiessen had recused himself when there was a vote that could be a conflict of interest.

“When you recuse yourself, you are covered,” said Collier. “We had lawyers talk to us about the whole conflict-of-interest issue.”

Youso explained that a member on the board can be a courtesy provider.

“Most of the doctors are employed by the clinic, not the hospital,” he said. “Courtesy and active staff have the ability to admit patients to the hospital.”

Goeb added that she has patients that come to the hospital for treatment but she isn’t paid by Mercy Hospital for the treatment of those patients.

Staff member Donita Korpela reported about the progress of the Diabetes Prevention Program that has been in place for six months.

The program was implemented after the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recognized that the number of people that are at risk for type-two diabetes can be cut in half with a Diabetes Prevention Program, she said.

“We held information sessions early in October when it was offered to the public,” she told the board. “They had to commit to a year and pay a $50 fee. We have met weekly for six months. There is a big lifestyle change taught by four lifestyle coaches. We received a grant from Healthy Northland. Those funds were used for coaching, showing the participants the need for the lifestyle changes and to help them make the changes.”

Goals of the program are for the participants to lose five to seven percent of their weight and to increase their activity level to 150 minutes a week.

“We split the number of people that signed up into two groups,” said Korpela. “It is so exciting to see the changes that they have made. They are learning from each other. They have to log the food that they eat and the amount of activity that they do, which isn’t easy for the long term. They set up a Facebook chat group where they chat with each other.”

Korpela said that the weekly meetings that have been held for six months are going to be reduced to meeting every other week for three months, and then reduced to monthly meetings for the last three months.

“The people in the groups are feeling better and not craving sugar,” she said. “They are seeing differences. It is fun!”

The next meeting of the Mercy Hospital Board has been changed to Wednesday, May 29, at 5:30 p.m. in the board room at the hospital.


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