RiverView Healthcare Association members heard the ups and downs of 2023 virtually Monday, January 29, during the Association’s 126th Annual Meeting. 

CFO Betty Arvidson shared preliminary financial information with Association members. While numbers have yet to be finalized, RiverView will finish with a substantial loss for Fiscal Year 2023. 

Referring to the financial report as “sobering,” President/CEO Carrie Michalski shared some background on why RiverView and similar-sized hospitals are struggling.

“Hospitals, particularly rural hospitals across the country, continue to see strained financial resources. The Minnesota Hospital Association in their most recent financial scan of the hospital industry is predicting that Minnesota hospitals on average will end 2023 with a 2.7 percent negative operating margin this year. That’s the lowest ever predicted with no relief in sight from our federal or state governments.”

Michalski went on to report that RiverView patients are predominantly of Medicare age, with Medicare and Medicaid as primary funding for services. Medicare and Medicaid patients make up over 50 percent of RiverView’s business. Unfortunately, Medicare only reimburses .98 cents on the dollar for care, the State of Minnesota only pays approximately .85 cents per dollar for Medicaid hospital patients, and less than .85 cents per dollar for Home Care clients. 

Skilled nursing care services are also paid at a lower level, which led to the decision to close RiverView’s Memory Care in 2023; as Michalski stated, RiverView could “no longer subsidize the underfunding by the State of Minnesota.” 

“As we go forward as RiverView, we will continue to right-size our operations and maximize efficiencies as we navigate 2024 and beyond.”

Finding a Positive Path Forward
As part of the effort to turn the financial picture around, Michalski reported that RiverView successfully lowered operating costs by $3.6 million in 2023 but said more is needed.

RiverView is now part of a collaborative project with 20 other independent community hospitals in Minnesota, exploring the formation of a clinically integrated health network. The hospitals, mostly in rural parts of Minnesota, are working together to further improve patient care and outcomes, and working toward gaining some economies of scale to negotiate better and more fair contracts with larger insurers. There are 37 independent community hospitals in Minnesota. Michalski said the hope is that they will all join the collaboration.

While finances were a struggle, there were many highlights in 2023, most importantly,

  • RiverView was among 10 percent of hospitals nationwide awarded the Outstanding Patient Experience Award from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. This five-star status was based on patient survey results.
  • Hannah Reski, PA-C, recently joined RiverView’s Orthopaedics Team. As an orthopaedic physician assistant, Reski will see new patients and those who need post-operative care. She will also do most of the in-office casting and splinting work.
  • Senior Life Solutions, an intensive outpatient mental wellness program, recently opened on RiverView’s Crookston campus. The program is designed to help older adults who are experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety, or other mental challenges often associated with aging.
  • RiverView continues to offer the Community Physician Recruiter Incentive Program to engage the community in the effort to connect with and successfully recruit physicians to RiverView. In return, anyone responsible for igniting the spark that eventually brings a qualified physician to full-time employment at RiverView will be justly rewarded financially, up to $20,000. If you know someone who may be interested in a rewarding career at RiverView Health, go to riverviewhealth.organd learn more under the “Community Physician Recruiter Program” heading.

Another highlight was that according to the Minnesota Hospital Association’s most recent report, RiverView’s total charitable community benefit work exceeded $5.4 million.

“Even though we’ve had two years of operating loss, we have not let up in supporting our community and making investments in our community,” Michalski stated. “RiverView remains committed to serving this community as a nonprofit.”

Of that $5.4 million, about $1.8 is support for community events, training for future healthcare workers, education, etc. The other $3.6 million is what RiverView subsidized for the underfunding of the State of Minnesota’s Medicaid program. While this is not a legislative budgeting year, Michalski said RiverView representatives will continue to advocate for relief for rural hospitals to offset inflationary costs and the state’s continued underfunding of Medicaid programs that serve the state’s most vulnerable citizens.

Board of Directors
Tim Brinkman and Dr. Brett Vibeto were reelected to the Board of Directors to serve their third three-year terms. Other Board members are Grant Gunderson, Stephanie Harbott, Garrett Borowicz, Reed Engelstad, Dr. Erik Kanten, Lori Keller and Kari Koenig.

Special Awards
Several awards were announced at the meeting, with more information to be shared at a later date. Those honors included:

  • Employee of the Year: Pam Stainbrook, Inpatient Unit, received the highest employee honor and an award of $1,000.
  • Alta Hermodson Heart and Soul Award: The Auxiliary honored long-time volunteer Judie Kanten with the annual volunteer award.
  • Reaching Out to Serve Award: The Crookston Fire Department received the 2023 community-minded honor.

2023 Proves Busy for the Auxiliary
The RiverView Auxiliary hosted blood drives, the Teddy Bear Clinic, collected items for the Mitten Tree, participated in the Home Delivered Meals Program, and so much more in 2023.

According to Carrie Bergquist, Auxiliary liaison, over $24,000 was raised through memberships, donations, and fundraising events.

Each year, the Auxiliary funds projects that aim to improve and enhance the patient experience at RiverView Health. In 2023, the Auxiliary funded requests for books for RiverView’s Reach Out and Read program, patient activity bags, inpatient clothing, and equipment for Rehab Services totaling more than $11,000.

In 2023, the Limited Addition Gift Shop donated $10,000 to the Auxiliary, with the Auxiliary donating $5,000 to the Giving Hearts Day campaign.

Five hundred dollar scholarships were awarded to RiverView employees working toward healthcare degrees. Recipients were Kalie Magsam and Olivia Huck.

The Limited Addition Gift Shop, run by Auxiliary volunteers, added two new volunteers and two new vendors in 2023. According to Bergquist, the shop is run by 27 volunteers who donated 3,856 hours in 2023 for an equivalent of $122,620.80. Sales from the shop were more than $70,000 for the year.

Auxiliary Board members are Gloria Watro, Deb Normandin, Jacqueline Cournia, Judie Kanten, Deb Sylvester, Marlys Mjoen, Nancy Capistran, Kristie Ricard, and Jean LaPlante.

If you are interested in joining the Auxiliary, contact Bergquist at cbergquist@riverviewhealth.org or call 281-9572.

Foundation Gears Up for Giving Hearts Day 2023
Foundation Director Randy Schoenborn began his presentation by thanking the 2023 Foundation Board of Directors of Marilyn Wentzel, Jerry Lindsay, Jodi Clauson, Marcia Schoenborn, Cory Dallager, Kari Koenig, and Taylor Sannes. After nine years of dedication to the Foundation, Lindsay fulfilled his third three-year term in early 2024. Hunter Plante was elected to fill the position.

Schoenborn reported that 2023 was a successful year for the Foundation, thanks to the support of generous donors. In 2023, the Foundation

  • Received 700 gifts from over 450 donors, totaling $458,000
  • Brought in $210,000 on Giving Heats Day through 245 gifts supporting new analyzers for the RiverView Laboratory and other vital needs within RiverView
  • Raised over $26,000 through the Golf Classic for the Foundation’s priority projects, the RiverView Recovery Center and the Angel Fund. The 2024 Golf Classic will be held on June 10.
  • Received more than $100,000 in gifts from 196 employees
  • Brought in close to $30,000 in scholarship funds for area students pursuing careers in healthcare

The Foundation is now focused on Giving Hearts Day, Feb. 8, an online nonprofit fundraiser. That day, the Dakota Medical Foundation and other generous donors will match gifts to the Foundation up to $60,000.

Undesignated 2024 Giving Hearts Day contributions will assist in the cost of replacing sterilizers in the Surgical Services Department.

Early giving is now open. Go to www.riverviewhealth.org and click on the “Donate” button at the top of the page. For more information or assistance with a donation, contact Schoenborn at rschoenborn@riverviewhealth.org or call 281-9249.