As a sign of continued growth and success at Rainy Lake Medical Center, CEO Robb Pastor last week agreed to a contract extending his time at the facility for another five years.
“The Rainy Lake Medical Center Board is very happy to have Robb Pastor extend his leadership of our medical center,” said Dick Peterson, board chairperson. “Robb is a competent, community-centered CEO who will take RLMC to new heights.”
When Pastor accepted the CEO position three years ago, he had a three-prong approach of what he hoped to accomplish: engagement of staff, engagement of the community/improving RLMC’s reputation, and improving RLMC’s profitability to ensure it remains independent.
“The first two things have been accomplished, although we will continue to ensure that we sustain this improvement, and continue to increase where we can,” he said. “I also believe we were on the right track with profitability, however, the challenges, related to COVID-19 haven’t allowed this to happen as quickly as we would have liked. Despite all the chaos, of the last 18 months, we have accomplished many things over the last three years.”
The list of accomplishments to this point is lengthy:
- RLMC led the initiative to continue to the Holiday Lights Parade when the International Falls Chamber of Commerce decided not to have it any more.
- RLMC staff organized and offered to children and their parents to a new trick-or-treat event, “Pumpkinpalooza”.
- RLMC is seen as the primary resource for healthcare and considers the facility an important community pillar.
- RLMC staff have become much more active supporting events in the community and also led most of the COVID activities (testing, vaccines, etc.).
- Despite COVID and dropping volumes, RLMC was able to sustain financial viability through the management of expenses and taking advantage of the Paycheck Protection Program.
- Through the pandemic, all employees kept working at their current FTE salary, which was not the case at most other healthcare organizations.
- There continues to be initiatives around re-engaging RLMC employees through the Icebox Initiative. The results received in Nov. 2019, RLMC was able to move from the 22nd percentile to the 71st percentile as a result of the work that was done. Press Ganey had initially told Pastor and other RLMC executives that the top 10 percent of high performing hospitals would only be able to get to the 43rd percentile in one year’s time and discouraged setting the goal any higher. When the results came back at the 71st, Press Ganey officials reported never seeing employee engagement results move so much in so little time. The results also showed that the organization, as a whole, only had one thing to work on – improving benefits. In 2020, despite the pandemic, RLMC’s engagement score went to the 78th percentile (top quartile of all healthcare organizations in the country).
- David Moyer, MD, was hired.
- RLMC brought on Dr. Scott Johnson (OB-GYN), Dr. Hilary Reich (Dermatology), and behavioral health through Sanford Telehealth.
- Obtained EPIC (the best electronic medical record) through an unowned partnership with Sanford Health.
- Made significant investment in the riverbank to ensure long term stability.
And while progress has been made, there is still a lot of work to do.
Through the shared vision and support of the RLMC board, a few of Pastor’s goals include growing current services to ensure RLMC is the provider of choice for the region, as well as adding services to keep patients close to home.
“The plan is to continue to recruit specialists and look for additional ways to partner with the community,” Pastor said. “I would also like to see us take the lead on community health and wellness initiatives. As we continue to grow, space will also become a concern for us so we are trying to proactively plan for this.”
Pastor said efforts are being made to grow and expand RLMC’s surgical services, as well as recruit and hire emergency room providers.
In addition, the orthopedic group is working on a plan that will allow RLMC to do hip replacement surgery in the not-so-distant future, he said.
“We are also working with an outside firm on improving the flow of our clinic,” he said. “Our goal is to ensure that it’s easy to make appointments and have access to our clinic. We have recognized through the pandemic that we have some bottlenecks and challenges that need to be corrected. We are also working with the firm to identify actions that will improve our providers daily work flow and make it easier for them to practice.”
And, Pastor acknowledged RLMC is still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We will continue to lead when it comes to the pandemic and act quickly as things change,” he said. “Right now, we are looking at our testing procedures in preparation for the Canadian border opening up. Our goal is to ensure that the community is aware of what is happening with the pandemic.”
Overall, Pastor said he and his family are looking forward to the next five years in Borderland.
“We are very grateful for all of the hospitality that we have received during our first three years here,” he said. “We have never been made to feel like outsiders, which has allowed us to embrace the community. Rainy Lake Medical Center is truly a remarkable organization because of our staff, board, providers, and leaders. I am thankful for the opportunity to continue to work for our entire community.”