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January 14th, 2019 News

Jorgenson New Hospice of Murray County Administrator

By Theresa Nysetvold

On Monday, January 7th, Jessie Jorgenson began her duties as the new administrator of Hospice of Murray County.  Jessie replaces administrator Nathan Schunke, and is grateful for his support as he works with her to provide a smooth transition.

Ms. Jorgenson is originally from Westbrook, and though she has lived and worked in the region for the past several years she is happy to call Westbrook home again.  “For ten years I was a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer at Avera and ACMC in Marshall and with Sanford in Sioux Falls,” stated Ms. Jorgenson.  “But for the past three years I’ve worked in administration.  I worked at Centerville Care and Rehabilitation in South Dakota and at Valley View Manor in Lamberton.  Now I’m really happy to be here in Slayton!”  Jessie earned her AAS degree from Southeast Tech in Sioux Falls and her bachelor’s degree in Healthcare Management from Rasmussen College in Mankato.  Her responsibilities at Hospice of Murray County will include oversight of the daily operations of all programs, management of staff, fundraising and participating in community events.  Hospice of Murray County maintains a 4-bedroom facility for patients on-site and also serves patients and families living in their own homes and nursing homes.  They are currently raising funds for an additional 4-bedroom facility in Tracy.  Ms. Jorgenson said, “We’re hoping to break ground for the new house this spring, so we’re very excited.”  

When Jessie isn’t busy working, she loves to spend time with her husband Scott and their young son, Wesley.  “I love to read, golf, garden, go snowmobiling and go for walks.  We love to spend time with our family and friends.”  

Hospice of Murray County has many opportunities to volunteer your time or share your resources.  Ms. Jorgenson said, “We play Bingo regularly, the big rummage sale is in September, and we’re taking donations for the capital campaign.”  If you have questions or would like more information, call 507-836-8114 during business hours.

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City Council Approves 2019 City Appointments

Slayton City Council met on Monday, January 7th. All council members were present, and the meeting was called to order. The agenda was approved with an addition and the minutes from the December 17th meeting were reviewed and approved. The claims for December were also reviewed and approved for payment.

The first item of new business to discuss was the purchase of forks and a man basket for the loader. These are budgeted items for the Works Department and Weston Mahon explained the value to the Council. They approved this purchase for $5,000, 40% will come from the water fund and 60% will come from the street fund.

They next moved on to the 2019 City Appointments. These were reviewed and approved. They also reviewed and approved the new Slayton Fire Department appointments. These include 2019 Fire Chief Chris LeTendre, 1st Assistant Terry Giesen and 2nd Assistant Mark Staples.

The following items of business are things they address every year. These include the 2019 corporate signers’ resolution, designation of the official depositories (Minnwest Bank and First National Bank), 2019 newspaper contract with the Murray County Editorial Group as well as designating the Murray County Editorial Group as the official newspapers. These were all approved.  Resolution 01-07-19B was presented to the Council. This is the 2019 legislative resolution that lists the City of Slayton’s recommendations on areas to address at the legislative level. These include items like funding for local governments, Small Cities Transportation Assistance program, and completion of the Casey Jones Trail, as well as, clean water initiatives and funding for child care options in rural MN. This resolution was approved.

The last items of business were to consider and approve two separate Fire Department training requests. The first one was to send 4 officers to training in Alexandria and the second one was to send 6 individuals to fire school in Mankato. These were both approved. The Council also approved sending City Administrator Josh Malchow along with two council members to the Coalition of Greater MN Cities Legislative Action Day in January.

With no other business to discuss the meeting was adjourned. The next City Council meeting will be January 23rd at 7pm.

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County Commissioners and Elected Officials Get Sworn In

Murray County Commissioners met on Tuesday, January 8th. The first thing to happen was the swearing in of all elected officials. Scott Kelly conducted these. Sworn in were new commissioners James Kluis and Dennis Welgraven. Also, Evey Larson, County Recorder, Heidi Winter, County Auditor/Treasurer, Steve Telkamp, County Sheriff, and Travis Smith, County Attorney.

Heidi Winter then called the meeting to order taking nominations for the 2019 Board Chair. Commissioner Dave Thiner was elected as Board Chair with Dennis Welgraven taking the Vice Chair position. 

The agenda was approved with additions and the minutes from the December 27th meeting were reviewed and approved.

Heidi Winter was next on the agenda and she presented them with the warrants. These were discussed and approved for payment. They also approved the ditch bill for the week. The next item was the yearly resolution authorizing the Auditor/Treasurer to pay certain claims throughout the year based on deadlines. This was approved. Winter presented the Board with the 2019 appropriations and dues list. These were discussed and approved. The last item Winter had was to set the Final Hearing for CD 22 Improvement, she requested of the Board to approve this, giving her authority to set the date that works for all parties involved. They approved this request.

Howard Konkol was next on the agenda, he presented the Board with two new ditch inspection reports. Both of these were discussed and approved for repair. He also gave the Board a follow-up on JD 2S in Lime Lake Township. This ditch system has a .05 grade on the whole system making it hard for water to move when the tile is not in proper alignment. The Board approved doing the repair taking 2100 feet to a 12-inch corrugated tile. Ditch Attorney Kurt Deter also advised Konkol that the ditch system should reimburse the land owner for the camera work that was done. This amount is $1,822.2. The Board approved this as well. Konkol asked the Board what direction they would like to take with JD17; he suggested a group meeting again. The Board felt it would be better if Konkol and a Commissioner met with the City of Slayton instead of the whole group, as the City is the largest portion of the ditch system. Konkol will look into that.  

The Board next opened the bid for the official paper. They received one bid from the Murray County Editorial Group which is made up of the Murray County Wheel-Herald and the Murray County News and Advantage. The bid was accepted, and the Murray County Editorial Group was designated as the official paper. 

Ronda Radke next presented the Board with the 2019 AMC Policy Committee list. The new commissioners will take over the roles of their predecessors. They also approved the 2019 AMC voting delegates which include the 5 commissioners, Jean Christoffels, Christy Riley and the vacant position of either County Coordinator or Administrator.  They also approved the 2019 Citizen appointments. Commissioner Jim Kluis felt that people didn’t know about these citizen appointments and more people would have applied if made more aware. These positions include Planning/Board of Adjustment, MCMC Board, Fairgrounds Advisory, SAWS, Extension and Parks. The Board also reviewed the entire list of Murray County Committee Appointments assigning those to the different commissioners. Radke also presented the Board with the SRDC orientation for newly elected officials. Welgraven will be attending this training. 

There was no one present for open forum.

Randy Groves was present for the bid opening for the Mason Township Bridge – SAP 51-599-103. They received 4 bids ranging from $565,141.72 to $442,599.90. The low bid was awarded to Prahm Construction, Inc. coming in $91,354.10 under the engineers estimate on the project. Groves also updated the Board on a request from Sunrise Terrace regarding parking on Ironwood Ave. They had requested for parking to be designated to their visitors/residents only and that is something that legally the County can’t do. They could make it 2-hour parking but cannot limit the parking to one individual, group or organization. 

The last item to discuss was an update from Commissioner Lori Gunnink and James Jens on the Interim Search to replace the County Coordinator. They were unable to find an individual who can take over as interim at this time. David Drown and Associates is willing to help the County in their search moving forward. The search committee spoke with Ronda Radke, Human Resources Generalist to see if she would be willing to take on the duties until a replacement can be found. She, along with Amy Rucker and Christy Riley will work together to cover general duties. The committee asked David Drown and Associates to present them with a proposal to enter into a contract with them to assist in the interim process. This will be discussed by the Board. They will present this at the next meeting. The Association of Minnesota Counties will be at the January 15th meeting to discuss general county government structures to help explain the differences to the Commissioners and county employees.  The interim search committee will now be dissolved, and the personnel committee will take over this process. This will take at least 6 months to fill this position.

With no other business to discuss the meeting was adjourned. 

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New Budget Projects Profitable 2019

By: Joanne Bergman

Interim CEO Michael Ladevich presented the Murray County Medical Center Board with an Operating and Capital Budget for 2019 at its January 2nd meeting. Following his proposal presented at the previous meeting, Capital expenses were cut to include only the essential items needed at a cost of $168,739. These were called “must do” items; other items will be considered as finances allow or needs occur during the year. Business office practices are being changed to increase revenue with proper coding of procedures which will result in increased revenue. Up front payment of deductibles will be a priority with the result of lower accounts receivables. A credit card machine will be added to facilitate those collections.  

Following Medicare policy, MCMC will be posting the costs of procedures at the facility. These prices have been reviewed and an effort made to keep them in line with area medical centers. On line figures will be ambiguous, as all costs are not always shown with the same costs included by each facility, according to Ladevich.  

Productivity of the providers will need to be increased to increase income as determined by research undertaken by a contracted firm.  Provider additions will not be considered until a need is proven.  An effort to reach prospective users through online marketing hopes to increase patient numbers. 

According to Ladevich, if all of these efforts are successful, MCMC could show a positive income of $110,000 at year’s end 2019. The facility cannot be sustained if the current deficit of $1.4M continues. He does not expect the financials to show an improvement until March or April 2019.

An employee survey was undertaken in an effort to determine strengthens and failings of MCMC. Surprisingly, contrary to opinions that had been voiced, 75% of respondents do use MCMC for primary care services. As expected, the reasons for not using MCMC, included following a provider to another facility along with feeling uncomfortable with co-workers knowing personal health status. In comments the lack of provider stability, costs too high, lack of pediatrics, lack of privacy (as noted) and a need for extended hours were noted. Highlights included a desire to remain close to home and a friendly/caring staff. 

Statistics for the month of November were in line with those of one year ago although hospital admissions have fallen year to date. Swing bed, surgeries, clinic visits, physical therapy, mammograms and ultrasounds have all increased year to date. Total Accounts receivable on November 30, were $5.5M with most waiting payment by Medicare and commercial insurers. Private pay accounts were at $997,000. 

Sanford representative, Terry Mahar, informed the board that two candidates will soon be presented for interviews by MCMC for the CEO position. Sixty applications had been submitted and have been reviewed. 

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