Five candidates run for three seats on Guttenberg Municipal Hospital board

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Bill Allyn

Janice Andregg

James Feudner

Karen Merrick

Jim Solomon

Janice Andregg

1. Why are you running for hospital board? I grew up in this area and have seen our hospital grow from a hospital, with a few rooms in a residence on River Park Drive, to the wonderful, strong, modern facility it is today. I want to work to make sure our hospital is here for future generations.

2. What do you see as the most important issues to address as a member of the board?

The proposed partnership with UnityPoint Finley is a very pressing issue.  Finances are always an important issue with any business.  Recruitment  of doctors will continue to be an issue.

3. Please list your qualifications for this position. I have a Master’s Degree in education. I taught middle school for 44 years before my retirement. Most of those years were for the Guttenberg Community School District. I held many positions in the Guttenberg Education Association during my teaching career.  I have served on the church council at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Guttenberg. 

I was a member of the Planning and Zoning Board for the City of Guttenberg until I was elected to serve on the Clayton Ridge School Board. I just finished two terms (seven years) on the school board. I currently serve on the Guttenberg City Cemetery Board. Over the last two years, I have attended more than a few hospital board meetings as an interested citizen.

4. What is your stance on alignment with a larger health care entity? At this point, I need much more information on the difference between alignment, which we have now, and becoming a full partner with a larger entity. I would, also, need more information on why, or if, there is a necessity for becoming a partner.  If we can maintain our current alignment with UnityPoint and stay viable, I would much prefer local ownership and control.

5. What are your ideas for improving physician recruitment? I believe one of the most effective methods of doctor recruitment is for  our doctors to continue working with interns. The interns are here long enough to form a bond with the doctors and grow to enjoy our community. 

James Feudner

1. Why are you running for hospital board? It seems like the hospital is at a crossroads to either stay independent or align with a larger health care entity.  I believe my background in community banking will help the board not only make the best decision financially, but also make the best decision for our community.  

2. What do you see as the most important issues to address as a member of the board?  The most important issue we face is whether we should stay independent or align with a larger healthcare entity.  The second most important issue is keeping and recruiting qualified hospital staff.

3. Please list your qualifications for this position. Experience as a City Council member with the City of Monona; background in financial management/community banking; experience with owning and managing multiple businesses; experience with process improvement studies; experience as a president, vice president, and treasurer for multiple non-profit groups; and I have a Master’s degree in Business Administration.

4. What is your stance on alignment with a larger health care entity?  I think it is important to keep in mind that the original intention for the hospital was for it to stay under city control.  With that said, if the hospital can’t stay viable without merging or aligning with a larger health care entity, then we need to consider all options. The bottom line is that we may not be able to stay independent if that means we could lose our hospital.  I truly hope this isn’t the case, but I think everyone needs to understand that the hospital board and the city council may have to make some tough decisions.

5. What are your ideas for improving physician recruitment?  One of the ways to recruit these type of positions is to find people with some type of local connection.  I think most folks are more likely to stay if they have some type of family connection in the area.  My second idea would be to offer scholarships toward a medical degree in exchange for a work commitment after they receive their degree. A third idea would be to pay off a portion of the incoming physician’s student loans for every year that they work at the Guttenberg Hospital.

Karen Merrick

1. Why are you running for hospital board? The next four years will see ever increasing demands on the Guttenberg Municipal Hospital Board of Trustees to change the very structure of how health care is delivered to the many people who have come to rely on the medical services provided in Guttenberg. These changes could have significant negative impact not only on the patients of the hospital and Cornerstone Family Practice but also on the employees, small business suppliers and, ultimately, the economic viability of Guttenberg and Clayton County. I believe that I have the experience and skills to help the board search out the best way forward, ensuring the continuance of local control and quality medical care.  

2. What do you see as the most important issues to address as a member of the board?

Financial solvency

Loss of local control 

Physician recruitment

Work environment  

Fulfilling the hospital’s ”contract with the community” to provide up-to-date information regarding major changes in the hospital’s governing and management goals and structure  

Loss of retirement benefits for current hospital employees    

3. Please list your qualifications for this position. In the last 35 years as either a volunteer, elected official or as an employee, I have either led or served on multiple boards and committees. Whether building a local swimming pool for our kids or developing and managing statewide funding programs to help entrepreneurs launch their products into the marketplace, I have been fortunate to work with multiple groups of people focused on common goals. 

I have learned much about how boards function and how hard problems are best solved through robust debate between well-informed board members. In addition, I have developed a long list of professional contacts from both government agencies and private corporations that may be of value as the board seeks additional information in its decision making process.  I believe I am, therefore, qualified for this position.

4. What is your stance on alignment with a larger health care entity? Healthcare reform is a given and will require an alignment strategy for GMH. The first step toward alignment has already been taken with the incorporation of the physicians’ clinic into the hospital. I would propose the next step should be to fully evaluate all alignment partnership options and to remember that the “one size fits all” approach is probably not the model to follow. As a very small entity in the health care marketplace, GMH must aggressively protect its capacity to provide onsite the healthcare services which the community of users demands. Achieving this ultimate goal may require changing alignment partners until a proper fit can be found.  

5. What are your ideas for improving physician recruitment? Establish a committee of young professionals and utilize their knowledge and understanding of small town living to lead the development of a focused recruiting strategy for physicians and spouses. Directed by this core group, plan implementation should be carried out by a broader group representing the physicians, hospital, school and civic organizations.

We know and research confirms income is not the main driver of satisfaction for Family Practice physicians. What is?

1. Control over their work environment ie: support staff recruitment

2. Clinical autonomy ie: choice of specialists to treat their patients;  amount of allotted time for individual patient visit

The recruiting strategy must include a message delivered by our current physicians guaranteeing these two critical elements. However, these two drivers of physician satisfaction are impacted by actions taken by the GMH Board. Therefore, the board must analyze its actions and actions of management which may unintentionally undermine recruitment efforts. 

Hospital Board Candidate

Jim Solomon

1. Why are you running for hospital board? I am running for the board because I care about the hospital and believe that we are very fortunate to have such a nice facility.  I would like to see it continue to be an asset to the community.  I also believe that my career experience and background as well as experience in city government would be helpful in rounding out the hospital board team.

2. What do you see as the most important issues to address as a member of the board? I believe that one of the  important issues for the board is physician recruitment. As we all grow older we are faced with the possibility of additional retirements. The board should be proactive in working with our physicians to fill this void. 

3. Please list your qualifications for this position. As for qualifications, I have a bachelor of science degree in business administration and a career background in management with a large corporation as well as city government.

4. What is your stance on alignment with a larger health care entity? The Guttenberg Hospital has been affiliated with the Iowa Health System and UnityPoint Health for several years. I believe this has served us well. I don’t have a lot of the details about the recent proposal with a larger hospital but before anything like this is done we need to look in detail to the benefits to the hospital, its employees and above all to the

physicians. 

5. What are your ideas for improving physician recruitment? Our physicians have been the corner stone of our hospital since its inception. I believe that the most important part of physician recruitment is to involve the physicians in the process.

Hospital Board Candidate

Bill Allyn

1. Why are you running for hospital board? I have been intrigued with the hospital and all that goes into its operation for many years.  Listening to my father (Rick Allyn) and my grandfather (Cornelius Tuecke) speak of their many experiences serving on the hospital board spanning a collective total of 35 years piqued my interest and desire to want to be actively involved with this institution.  As I complete my first term serving on the hospital board, I can honestly say that this experience has been an eye opening, educating, and rewarding experience that I hope to continue in the future to ensure that locally delivered quality healthcare will remain a vital asset to Guttenberg and our surrounding communities. 

2. What do you see as the most important issues to address as a member of the board? Our greatest responsibility as a board is to ensure that this community has an operating hospital to meet the healthcare needs of the people.  The implementation of the Affordable Care Act (Obama Care) has changed the way health care is delivered today and speaking as a board member, our focus needs to be proactive with these ongoing changes to meet the needs of all who use our hospital. There are actually several important issues facing our hospital right now and the board is currently being educated from various resources to explore options so that our hospital does not just survive, but to actually expand the range of services delivered locally in order for our hospital to thrive. 

3. Please list your qualifications for this position. I think first and foremost, my leading qualification is the fact that I truly care enough about our hospital and that as a result of that concern, I want to run again for this position. Following my desire to continue being a part of this organization, I can say that I am finishing my first term on the hospital board. During my first two years I served as board treasurer/secretary and currently hold the position of vice president. I also am serving on the finance committee for the hospital. I have been working for Tuecke-Allyn Funeral Homes for 13 years now and for the past four years, I have managed all operations of the firm. I have also served as compliance officer for the funeral home working directly with federal agencies such as OSHA, the Department of Human Services, Iowa Securities and Regulated Industries Bureau and the Iowa Insurance Commission.

4. What is your stance on alignment with a larger health care entity? Part of my orientation as a new hospital board member was to learn a bit about our hospital’s history. In 1998, the Guttenberg Municipal Hospital Board of Directors voted to affiliate through a management agreement with The Finley Hospital located in Dubuque.  Through this affiliation with The Finley Hospital, GMH also participates as a rural affiliate of the UnityPoint Health as a member of the UnityPoint Health Community Network, so the idea of alignment with a larger entity is nothing new to date.  As the delivery of healthcare evolves in the future, our community needs a board that will face these challenges with an open mind.  During the past two years, I have already committed myself to the possibility that our hospital may need to pursue various avenues to ensure that our hospital stays strong and to guarantee that all who use it have the highest priority.

5. What are your ideas for improving physician recruitment? I think that GMH has done exceptionally well with providing a great place to work for physicians. With the new facility that opened in 2009 to the implementation of cutting edge technology such as EPIC which is the electronic health record that helps coordinate care for patients and providers, GMH offers a fair balance between home and work for physicians and welcomes their input on major decisions affecting the hospital. I think our physicians have done a great job creating a comfortable culture to work in with one another.  I have heard very positive comments from the doctors regarding the new facility they work in and their ability to customize their own work schedule to create the optimum working environment.  The biggest challenge for GMH is to find physicians who welcome the opportunity to work in a rural community.  This has been a major challenge in the past and continues to be on radar moving forward.

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