Marlys Haug, seated on bed, visits with Renville County Hospital and Clinics caregivers shortly before her discharge as the first total knee replacement patient at the new facility. From left are Michele Hagen, director of surgical nurses; Haug; Dr. Jared Slater, general surgeon; and Andy Johnson, anesthesiologist.

JUNE 26, 2016 – 10:58PM


OLIVIA — Marlys Haug had no reservations and now no regrets about her decision to be the first to undergo a total knee replacement at the new Renville County Hospital and Clinics facility in Olivia.

“This worked out beautifully,’’ said Haug, 80, as she was preparing to head back to her rural Sacred heart home earlier this month. “Best decision I made was to stay here,’’ she said of choosing her local hospital.

“It’s a different atmosphere here. It’s like a family,’’ said Haug, who also rated the care as top notch. “I feel so ready to go home.’’

The $25 million facility on the east edge of Olivia opened last September with the promise of delivering the best in modern health care in a hometown setting. People have responded, according to Nate Blad, CEO. Patient volumes and revenues are ahead of budget for the year, and the hospital has been expanding its range of services thanks to the new facility and its modern equipment, noted Blad.

“I feel very confident that we are offering our patients the best care they can get right in their backyard,’’ said Dr. Jared Slater, general surgeon for the hospital. With two operating rooms, an onsite MRI, and state of the art equipment throughout, Slater said the new hospital and its staff are providing many more services than were possible in the facility it replaces, Haug’s total knee replacement being just one example.

Slater said the new facility has also been a definite plus in recruiting providers. A new family practice physician is soon to join the staff. “Having a facility at this level really helped recruit him,’’ said Slater.

The “old’’ hospital in Olivia will be razed, likely in the coming year.

The former medical clinic on the site will be re-opening as a dialysis center with an open house August 7. The dialysis center is another example of the effort to offer services that Renville County residents once could only obtain elsewhere.

Blad said the county-owned hospital and clinics in Olivia, Renville and Hector are seeing more patients thanks to the efforts to expand services, the visibility of the new facility, and of course, efforts to market what is now available.

A walk-in clinic that opened last March has consistently outpaced expectations for it, attracting new patients that had not been associated with the health care service previously. Blad said much of the growth is organic: The clinic is attracting users who did not identify with a particular care provider.

Since its start, the walk-in clinic has recorded an average 10-to-12-minute wait time from arrival to seeing a provider, with an average turnaround time of 25 minutes.

Timing is everything in the hospital as well. Slater said the new facility has greatly improved the flow for the delivery of services, while making them more readily accessible for patients. It has done so in a way that has protected patient’s privacy and dignity, he added.

Best of all for Haug, the services are right on site and offered by familiar faces. She completed her initial therapy for the knee replacement right on the premises, staying in a swing bed and using services from Big Stone Therapies in the facility. An occupational therapist visited her home and offered suggestions on how it could better accommodate her while she recovers.

Blad said the main challenge for the hospital now is to get the word out about what it can offer. Everytime he brings a new visitor through the hospital, he hears the message: “I didn’t know you did so much stuff here.’’

“A lot of the services here, people just assumed we didn’t provide,’’ said Slater. “Little by little, word is getting out.’’

Haug discovered just how quickly that word is getting out when she began receiving ‘get well wishes’ from all over. “They put this on facebook, whatever that is,’’ she said. The posting of Haug as being the hospital’s first for total knee replacement generated nearly 12,000 views in just a few days, said Sara Maher, communications director for the hospital.


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