(Editor's note: In part two of CCM Health: Past, Present, and Future, CEO Brian Lovdahl discusses the recent difficulties faced by the organization, and the direction the organization is planning to take in the future.)

In 2017, the Chippewa County-Montevideo Hospital (now CCM Health) was named in a Minneapolis Star Tribune article as one of the worst financially performing hospitals in Minnesota. Lovdahl said: “Every business goes through ups and downs. If you look at our historical financial situation, there are some things to note. We have had only three poor years in the previous 40 years, but when our gross revenue doesn't increase year-to-year, we end up having negative financials."

Prior to Lovdahl being hired, the hospital was dealing with some detrimental issues. “We lost six providers in 2016, which greatly impacted our financial situation for the coming years, he said.

“In hindsight, we weren't going in the right direction in 2015 and 2016, which ultimately led to some poor years, financially and culturally. We had to make some pretty dramatic changes to get the organization refocused, which included some leadership changes.”

Those changes ended being expensive for the organization. Nearly $750,000 was paid out to several upper level managers and one former physician. Lovdahl said: “Severances are pretty common, unfortunately., and every situation is different. Sometimes changes are needed because the organization needs a fresh look and approach. Sometimes it is a difference of opinion on the direction of the organization.

“Concerning the severances,” he continued, “we look at their position, how long they were here, and the reasons why their position is being eliminated. Most of the severances that were issued were prior to my arrival, and I respect the decisions made during a very difficult situation; after all, those changes paved the way for us to be where we are today!.”

The fruits of those decisions are finally beginning to pay off. CCM Health has found itself on a much more solid financial footing, which has allowed the organization to look at expanding their services, as well as look ahead at what health care in the 21st century should look like.
Lovdahl said: “Tradi­tion­­al medicine has taken us to a point where people can't afford health insurance, clinic visits, lab tests, or medications. Health care has never seen the level of change as we are currently experiencing.”

In light of this, CCM Health recently took a proactive step forward when it came to the changes taking place in the health care industry when they announced they purchased the Coborns building for a proposed wellness center. “If we don't change how we approach health care, we will not survive.” said Lovdahl. “We are doing what most organizations wish they could do; move quickly into wellness-focused health care. Our community is very fortunate to be getting the CCM Wellness Center!”

Lovdahl went on to list a few of the many things CCM Health has been doing since the beginning of this year. He said: “It has been a busy year for us. We started a community garden where community members can pick fruits and vegetables for free during the summer. We are also integrating behavioral health into primary care; we have a new social worker who recently started, and we have Psychiatric Nurse Practi­tioner joining our staff this winter.”

Last week, CCM Health went online with Epic, their new electronic heath records system, which will increase efficiency and improve overall patient care. “We have kiosks set up in our facility, that are measuring patient satisfaction in real time. We have vastly improved the patient experience in our obstetrics department, too,” said Lovdahl.

“We also expanded hours at the Clara City Clinic, and we also have a walk-in clinic there on Mondays. A new x-ray machine will soon be installed there.

“Overall, I am amazed by how much we have done in such a short amount of time; I give a lot of credit to our employees. We have great employees who are buying into the changes!”

Employee satisfaction was high on the list of priorities when Lovdahl began working for the hospital. One of the first things that was done was the creation of a survey to judge the level of employee satisfaction. “The survey was meant to measure how employees feel they are valued, along with their overall job satisfaction. The initial scores were very high at a 4.1 out of 5.0. I was pleased to see, when we repeated the survey this year, scores went up to 4.4 out 5.0,” said Lovdahl.

The improvement in employee satisfaction correlates directly with policies and procedures that have been put into place within the organization. Lovdahl said: “There are a number of things we have done. We have hired some exceptional senior leaders, improved benefits, improved our relationship with our two unions, improved communication, and we a re holding people accountable. We are listening to our employees when they have ideas about how to do things better, or to create new service lines; our employees are acting like owners!”
Lovdahl is excitedly optimistic about the future of CCM Health. He said: “As we just went live with our new software system we want to make sure we are maximizing its capabilities to improve quality.
“I am looking forward to our expanded services in Clara City.

“I am really excited about the opening of the CCM Wellness Center. It is going to provide something to our community that people have wanted for years. It will be a draw from neighboring towns and a great way for new people in our community to meet friends.

“Our Emergency Depart­ment is on pace to be designated as a Level 4 Trauma Center by November.
I'm looking forward to doing extensive leadership training with our managers.

“And mostly, I am excited to improve our reputation and continue to be the healthcare facility of choice in our region!”

“We are on pace to have our best year in over 45 years! Our independence allows us to remain flexible and move quickly. If a decision is made to look at a system affiliation in the future, the community will be involved in those discussions. For now, we are exceeding all expectations and will continue to provide high quality services to our community. This is really a great time to be CCM Health!”