A proposed amendment to the city’s charter would add a physician to Northfield Hospital and Clinics Board of Directors and loosen residential board member eligibility requirements, moves administrators say are needed to keep it competitive.

One amendment would allow for three Hospital Board members to live outside of the city but within Northfield school district limits, an increase from the current limit of two. The other would allow for an NH+C physician to serve on the board. Currently, retired physician Robert Shepley serves on the board.

Most physicians at NH+C are health system employees. 

During a Tuesday, April 6 meeting, Martig said the amendments would give the council “a little more flexibility” in approving board appointments, noting that at a minimum a majority of the seven members would still be Northfield residents. To him, having medical professionals occupy hospital board positions has had historical value, is common in other health care organizations, and could help NH+C remain competitive.

In a written statement, NH+C President/CEO Steve Underdahl said he supports the changes.

“We’ve been working for many months with our colleagues at the city on governance between the city and the hospital,” he noted. “The two proposed amendments would give more options for Hospital Board membership. This would serve the community well by enabling the Hospital Board to benefit from the best talent in our service area and in the medical field.”

Underdahl said he would be open to having at least one board member from other communities with NH+C facilities to reflect the health system’s expanding footprint. Currently, NH+C has locations in Faribault, Farmington, Lakeville and Lonsdale.

Charter Commission members Lance Heisler, Jack Hoschouer and Scott Oney are expected to bring the proposed amendment back to that commission for discussion. If a majority of its members approve, the council needs to unanimously green-light the change for it to take effect. If approved, the appointment process is expected to begin in June/July.

During the April 6 meeting, Councilor Clarice Grenier Grabau said the recommended changes “make sense,” as did fellow Councilor Brad Ness’ statement that nurses and nurse practitioners would also be a valuable tool on the board. Grabau said physicians provide a valuable perspective through their day-to-day work treating patients.

“These are strong recommendations,” she said.

The charter, established in 1910, is meant to serve as the city’s guiding document. It has been altered several times since, but has retained much of its original language.

Reach Associate Editor Sam Wilmes at 507-645-1115. © Copyright 2021 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

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