HJ/EDJuly 3, 2006

Buffalo Hospital rep tells about health goals

By Roz Kohls
Staff Writer

Buffalo Hospital and the Allina network are aiming to be a national model for health care.

Sonja Carlson, director of planning and marketing for Buffalo Hospital, admitted June 22 at the Cokato Dassel Rotary Club that a national model is a tall order.

“Yes, it’s complex, but we do think it’s achievable,” Carlson told the Rotarians meeting at Daniel’s Family Restaurant in Cokato.

She pointed out that Cokato Medical Clinic is part of the 11-hospital and 63-clinic network Allina has developed.

Carlson explained how Buffalo Hospital and Allina intend to fix the medical errors, out-of-control costs, and demographic problems caused by Baby Boomers reaching old age.

“Health care is broken,” she said.

It’s time for society to stop tinkering at the edges of the problem, and use imagination to come up with a solution, she added.

Buffalo Hospital, which started in 1955, has set up a four-point plan. The first point is focusing on quality and safety. Buffalo Hospital has had a 4 percent decrease in mortality since the program was implemented, she said.

The second point is creating greater value for its customers. Cokato Medical Center is one of the clinics in an Allina electronic medical record network for the past two years, Carlson added.

The third point is community focus. Allina has invested $1.15 million in Wright County.

Obesity in children, for example, has tripled in the past two decades. Buffalo Hospital started a program to prevent obesity in children called DAAN, a Native American word that means living a healthy, balanced life. DAAN now is in effect in Annandale, Delano and St. Michael, Carlson said.

The other community focus is heart health. Heart disease costs the nation $390 billion annually, she said.

Buffalo Hospital placed dozens of automatic external defibrillators in schools, squad cars and other locations. It started an educational program about women’s heart health, and promotes a heart walk fund raiser, Carlson said.

The fourth point of the plan is the newest, a philanthropic agenda, she said. Buffalo Hospital participated in a traffic accident reduction program on Highway 55 that began June 22. White dots are painted on the pavement so drivers will know if they are tailgating other vehicles. So far, the hospital’s other traffic safety initiatives have produced a 30 percent reduction in injury-causing accidents, she said.

Buffalo Hospital also is initiating a program for families coping with memory loss problems.

Carlson concluded that the Rotarians, Allina and Buffalo Hospital are partners in the plan, because it will take the entire community to work together to reinvent health care.

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