Cogwheel Archive

Rotary Cogwheel | 10.24.2013

October 24, 2013

This Week: Transatlantic Relations and Other Perspectives (Yogi and friends)

Birthdays: Barry Carlson (10/22), Rob Martin (10/23), Doug Crane and Brett Reese (10/25).

Next Week: Jon Snodgrass, classification (Rich)

Last Week:

Steve Underdahl calls Northfield Hospital & Clinics “a remarkable treasure.” Many communities our size would love to have a thriving healthcare organization for their own, said the new president and CEO of Northfield Hospital & Clinics. In his words: “This is no rescue mission.”

He praised past hospital leaders for their vision and courage. His reading of the record suggests the decision to relocate and invest millions in a new hospital on the northwest edge of town was not universally endorsed. But it did position the hospital for growth and the expansion of medical services available to the community.

With 30 years of experience in healthcare administration, he passed on numerous invitations to rescue failing hospitals. But here he saw a dynamic, forward-leaning organization located in a progressive, intellectually-engaged community, and he said: “yes.”

Steve’s family has roots in the Kenyon area, but he has lived in Owatonna most of life. He calls his professional trajectory the “mail room” story. He entered healthcare on the ground floor as an orderly, attended night school and worked his way up the administrative ranks.

During his first five months in Northfield, he has been learning about the hospital and clinics and the communities they serve. He and the board are revisiting the strategic plan with an eye toward making sure we are a “high-value” organization, delivering quality care at the lowest possible cost.

The finances of healthcare right now are tenuous. Lots is changing and like farmers, he said, in healthcare you touch a lot of money, but you don’t get to keep very much of it.

Going forward, he sees Northfield Hospital & Clinics being more data driven. We will be measuring customer satisfaction and clinical outcomes. He also sees us taking more responsibility for the health improvement of the communities we serve.

Steve said it is not clear where the Affordable Care Act will take us. More people will be insured and have access to healthcare services. But high deductible policies might increase the hospital’s bad debt. He predicts that two to three years down the road, when the politics are squeezed out of the discussion, it will be judged to have been a good policy move.


James Schlichting is a son of the prairie soil. He was born and raised near Austin, Minn. He grew up on a farm and graduated from Blooming Prairie High School. He graduated from St. Olaf College with a degree in economics before entering the Navy. Upon discharge, he attended law school at Rutgers University. He practiced law for 35 years in southern Minnesota until his recent retirement.

Paul Harris Fellows: Russ Petricka and John Cogan were honored by Charlie Cogan with Paul Harris Fellowships. Russ is the director of the Math Skills Center at Carleton College. John, Charlie Cogan’s son, is an emerging talent in graphic design.

 Guests: Russ Petricka, Pascal and John Cogan (Cogan), Debbie Anderson (Anderson); and Mike Lane (Ness).

Scholarship Enhancement: Our esteemed guest and most recent Paul Harris Award recipient Russ Petricka.


— If you have a nominee for our annual Good Neighbor Award, please share it with Doug Crane by Thursday, Oct. 31. Each year the club recognizes a non-Rotarian for selfless acts of kindness or contributions to community cohesion that reflect our “service above self” motto. Nominees must be residents of the Northfield School District and cannot be a member of a Rotarian’s family.

— It’s not too late to declare your interest in a club committee. Please look over the opportunities for service on Page 3 of the Cogwheel and contact the chair of the committee you would like to join.

— Community Resource Bank’s Junior Board is hosting an American Red Cross Blood Drive Saturday, Nov. 9, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the bank. All are invited to make a deposit. You can make an appointment online at The sponsor code is Community Resource Bank.

Coming Up:
Nov. 7 — Northfield YMCA (Kaczmarek)

Nov. 14 – District Governor Gary Campbell (Bierman)

Nov. 21 – Rep. David Bly and Sen. Kevin Dahl, Legislative Update (Nemo)

Nov. 28 – Turkey Trot