Northfield Hospital and Clinics President and CEO Steve Underdahl was recognized late last month for his work in educating elected officials on the role hospitals play in communities and broadening the base of community for support of the hospital.
The American Hospital Association Grassroots Champion award, given May 31 at the Minnesota Hospital Association Annual Health Care Awards, honored those who have offered service to hospitals and organizations that have implemented programs deemed successful and innovative in Minnesota.
“Receiving this recognition helps shine a spotlight on the value of educating leaders and community members about ongoing changes in health care,” Underdahl said in an email. “It’s important for everyone in our community to understand the economics of health care, because it affects not just individual care for you and your loved ones, but also our collective well-being as a community.”
Underdahl, who could not attend the event, said the most important part of the award is that it calls attention to the importance of educating public policy makers on health care and health care policy, its effects on families, towns and the broader economy.
“It’s nice to be recognized for efforts in that regard,” he said.
One way Underdahl is impacting the health care landscape in Minnesota was evident last legislative session. A 2 percent fee for health care providers, termed a provider tax, could have been eliminated. Underdahl helped lobby successfully to maintain the provider tax arguing that vulnerable Minnesotans rely on tax revenue through tax-funded programs like MinnesotaCare and Medical Assistance.
Underdahl, chairman of the Minnesota Hospital Association Policy and Advocacy Committee, has spent much of his career educating the public on health care issues, most recently health care policy. He routinely speaks on the economics of health care, especially its impact on individuals and smaller communities.
Underdahl’s recognition comes as he continues a decades-long career in health care. He has served as president and CEO of Northfield Hospital and Clinics since 2013 Prior to that he was vice president of operations at Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin and Albert Lea.
“I started my career in chemical dependency and mental health services, and ultimately moved to hospital and clinic care,” he said.
Northfield City Councilor Clarice Grenier Grabau is aware of Underdahl’s effort through their work together on local boards like Northfield Promise Council of Champions and the Poverty Task Force. Underdahl regularly updates the council on the progress of the city-owned health system.
“We are fortunate in Northfield to have Steve’s leadership,” Grabau said.
Councilor Suzie Nakasian agreed.
“Steve Underdahl has been great for the hospital,” she said. “It is a complicated and changing marketplace, and he has done a good job leading them through that process.
“He has done a great job. We have a really close working relationship with the hospital.”