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Sanford presents county with recap of progress

WORTHINGTON -- Nobles County commissioners on Tuesday heard a presentation from Lynn Olson, CEO of Sanford Regional Hospital Worthington, regarding progress made since he was hired by the facility a year and a half ago.

Olson said the hospital is now feeling the impact of the economy, with job losses and layoffs at some of the larger employers in the region. It is noting more budget challenges, from uninsured people to those requiring free care.

Just as it is dealing with financial issues, Olson said one of the conditions of the sale of the hospital to Sanford was to work with other Sanford-owned clinics in the area.

"Starting last year, we began monthly meetings with the clinic (representatives) to better plan services and facilities," Olson said. "Those meetings are going well. We spend a lot of time talking about physician recruitment."

The recent merger between Sanford and MeritCare is anticipated to aid in the recruitment of physicians at some of the smaller hospitals in the network, he added.

"It's a challenge to recruit professional people to rural areas," said Olson. "We need a lot more as we look ahead to the retirements we're facing. We're still looking for a good six physicians in this coming year."

SRHW is also working on addressing space needs. At this time, Olson said $2.3 million has been allocated for a second floor and surgical floor remodeling project, but it is now also looking at a first- floor remodeling project and space for adequate parking for the hospital's ambulances.

In action on Tuesday, the board:

l Approved requests from Sheriff Kent Wilkening to replace a deputy sheriff's position and a full-time jailor position following the receipt of resignations in those departments.

- Approved a grant application for $440 to be submitted to Minnesota's State Patrol Division for the Operation NightCAP program. The funds are strictly for overtime pay for county law enforcement officers during special events such as Turkey Day and saturation programs for DWI and seatbelt enforcement.

- Approved an addendum to a contract for CAD and RMS equipment with Zuercher Technologies. Changes were made to the contract after Wilkening learned he could order computers for the squad cars at a cheaper price through the state contract. The addendum will drop the contract with Zuercher Technologies by nearly $102,700.

- Received a report from Nobles County Auditor Sharon Balster on the annual report of tax delinquency, and the annual report on the county's cash, investments and securities.

- Approved a request to hire a Secretary 1 position at the Nobles County Library in Worthington. This is a 35-hour per week position.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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