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What's happening at New Ulm Medical Center

Health Care Happenings

October 23, 2012
By Toby Freier - President, New Ulm Medical Center , The Journal

For several years now, the health care climate across the nation has been changing and nowhere more significantly than in rural facilities like New Ulm Medical Center. We have seen increasing pressure to provide more for less, to focus on preventative health in addition to traditional services and to keep up with federal health reform and mandates such as implementation of an electronic medical record.

Many rural facilities struggle under the weight of all these requirements. At NUMC, we are fortunate to be part of a system Allina Health that provides the necessary support to grow and change as necessary but still maintain the community atmosphere of friends caring for friends, neighbors and family members. Today's update provides several examples of that support.

Change in Services

Article Photos

Toby Freier

We have started construction on creating a new Birth Center, which will be complete in Spring of 2013 and include six labor and delivery suites and many new amenities for mothers and families. This new Birth Center will allow us to provide better care and service and hopefully will support more people entrusting our team with the care of mother and baby.

Additionally, our partnership with Allina Health has allowed us to augment our Sister Kenny Rehabilitation Institute services with Kenny Kids, which opened in August. Kenny Kids is a specialized pediatric rehabilitation program which allows us to provide a special focus for some of our youngest patients in need of physical, speech or occupational therapy from around the region.

This summer we reached our one year anniversary of our Pulmonary Rehabilitation program, one of the only programs in Southern Minnesota. Our team has been able to support 68 patients this past year to improved quality of life. Patients are finding they can walk distances they weren't previously able to and they are building friendships with others in the group, learning from and leaning on each other.

As we look to the future, we have been blessed to add some great new primary care physicians in 2012 and now will focus on bringing more integrated specialty care to our community in 2013.

Recent Performance

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and we are fortunate for the partnership with our communities in improving breast cancer screening. We have improved the percentage of eligible women up to date with their mammograms from 80 percent to 86 percent over the past year. We have also focused more on colon cancer prevention this year by talking with patients about all of their screening options including colonoscopy, which has helped 70 percent of our patients meet national screening guidelines. This year Dr. Kellie Newman joined Dr. Karl Papierniak as General Surgeons who perform colonoscopies.

Keeping patients safe within our hospital is our primary responsibility and that includes preventing at-risk patients from falling. Given various health conditions, new medications, and new surroundings many patients are at risk for falling in a hospital setting. New Ulm Medical Center has implemented several new strategies over the past few years and the outcomes have been promising with falls decreasing by 60 percent. Some of the ways we work on fall prevention include: non-slip footwear, soft floor padding, hourly rounding, bed alarms, and a leaf magnet on the door to identify those at high-risk.

National Rural

Health Issues

Minnesota Public Radio recently published a series on rural health care in Minnesota and the challenges rural hospitals face. Smaller facilities that are not aligned with a larger system, the series noted, struggle with recruitment, providing vital services, and simply keeping up with overhead and equipment purchases. Many facilities that are a similar size to NUMC find implementing high-cost initiatives such as an electronic medical record (EMR) are a challenge.

We are grateful that Allina Health had the foresight to begin implementation of our EMR seven years ago. With that enormous task behind us we are now able to focus on using the EMR to personalize the best care to each individual and to look for larger patterns in the health of the communities we serve and, based on that information, implement preventative healthcare measures to improve overall health in our region.

Thank you for entrusting your health with us. Feedback is an essential part of improving our services and making sure our patients are getting the health care tools that they need. If you have feedback at any time please contact me at



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