County Commissioners, City Council hold joint meeting to discuss facilities

Jessica Stölen-Jacobson
Montevideo American-News

On Monday evening, the Chippewa County Commissioners and Montevideo City Council held a joint meeting at the new Public Works building to discuss properties in the community under the ownership and oversight of both. The meeting was held as a work session, with no action being taken on any discussion items. The City and County own the town's library, hospital/clinic, and airport. Much of the meeting's time was spent discussing the hospital/clinic, as the library did not have available staff to meet on Monday. 

CCM Health CEO Brian Lovdahl along with a number of the organization's staff members were on hand for the presentation. Lovdahl began by explaining the organization's structure, with clinics in Montevideo, Clara City, Milan, and Clarkfield. There is also a hospital, ambulance, home health department, and the CCM Wellness Center. Lovdahl reviewed the changes that have happened in the three and a half years that he has been in his position, noting that in that time the clinic has undergone a rebranding with a name change as well as a new website. They have also implemented a new electric health record, integrated a behavioral health program through the clinic, started a childcare center, the CCM Wellness Center, and brought in a number of specialists including dermatology, urology, podiatry, ENT, wound care, and psychology. CCM Health also started a community investment program based on profits that provides grants to different groups in the community. "Historically we in this organization could not take our investments and invest them like you could your personal accounts. Some of those laws changed about three years ago. Those allow us to invest more," Lovdahl said. 

Lovdahl also noticed that CCM Health has increased the number of clinic providers from 14 to about 27 over recent years. Additionally, CCM Health joined the River Valley Health Network, which is a collaboration of clinics in Dawson, Appleton and Madison that work together to apply for grants. "We're working on ways to work together to reduce costs. We're all independent organizations and we're kind of a dying breed. In the United States, there's about 5,100 hospitals, of which municipal independents are fewer than 600 now," he said. "There are not many of us left throughout the country so we've looked at what are ways that we can work together to be successful as independents."

Lovdahl addressed some of the issues with the Emergency Department that was previously staffed through a variety of methods. Previously, CCM Health held contracts with a group that provided about 50 percent of the ER providers. They also employed a couple of providers and contracted individually with a number of providers. "So we ultimately had about 13 contracts we were trying to manage, and to be blunt the quality of care wasn't where it needed to be. It was very fragmented," Lovdahl explained. One of the CCM Health Physicians, Dr. Chase Osbon, decided to start his own group to contract providers to the emergency room. With Osbon working as the primary emergency department physician, he contracts providers annually to staff the department. "We're getting more consistent providers in our emergency department and our volumes have really increased," Lovdahl said. 

Lovdahl attributes increases in the number of patients visiting the Emergency Room Department to growth in other areas of the facility. "When you increase your Emergency Department numbers, that has a downstream effect to clinic numbers, then radiology lab and it's really a gateway into our organization and has bee pretty successful," he said. He also attributed additional growth in-clinic services to the addition of a general surgeon recently. "We partnered with a number of organizations outside of the community that would come here, provide services at the clinic and do some of the surgeries here, but the majority of surgeries would get brought back to their surgery centers because that's where they make the most money," he said. "By hiring someone who's dedicated to us, we're keeping all of those services local." Lovdahl also noted that CCM Health will be adding a new OBGYN on a part-time basis in January that will provide services alongside the family practice providers at the facility for those patients with complex health issues. 

Addressing the financials, Lovdahl presented a slide show that showed that in 2021 there is an estimated profit increase of 9.2% compared to the previous year's profit increase of 2.2%. "That's because of all those different things we've added to our organization. All of those new services. So we're really seeing some significant growth," he said. During Lovdahl's presentation, County Commissioners and City Council members both brought up the topic of the need for dialysis services in the community, as DaVita Dialysis Services recently ended their contract in Montevideo. Lovdahl explained the costs associated with the clinic trying to install their own Dialysis unit, and how it has been looked into but is not feasible at this time. CCM Health staff explained the steps they have been taking to work with other companies that operate much like DaVita to bring the service back to town, noting that these are large national companies that take time to work through planning with. 

After CCM Health's presentation, a discussion was held about the status of the improvement projects at the municipal airport. While there had been some troubles with the construction of additional hangers due to the slope of the land, those problems were resolved and the project has been completed with only a small additional expense of $200. 

The County Commissioners and City Council will hear a report on the library at another time. Whether that will be through another joint meeting or through individual contact has yet to be determined.