Health & Medical Guide

More services, more clinics

By Liz Hellmann, Staff Writer

Health care in the West-Metro area is evolving from the building of new clinics to the tailoring of hours and services provided – and it’s all about the consumer.

“I think it’s good for the customer. You have a choice, and you need to be comfortable with the physician you select,” Steve Hatkin, president of the Allina Buffalo Hospital said.

“Quality of care is our ultimate goal,” commented Cary Linder, president of the Hutchinson Area Health Care Foundation, which is planning to construct a new building for its Dassel Medical Center.

There are a myriad of health care providers available just within Wright, Carver, McLeod, and Meeker counties, which means there are more options for patients and added incentive for improved health care.

In the past, health insurance dictated what clinics people could visit, which is not the case anymore.

“A lot of those lines have been blurred, which I think is good – people have more options,” Jon Braband, president and CEO of Glencoe Regional Health Services said.

During the past several years, health care providers have been responding to the fact that people have more choices.

“We are looking at what the demographic needs,” Hatkin said.

For example, Allina’s clinic in Cokato recently improved its flexibility with 24/7 appointment making online, along with adding urgent care after hours and on weekends.

Changes in offering extended hours and increased availability are happening across the area as more and more young families move in, and the number of people who commute to work increases.

A major shake-up occurred in the Glencoe health community in 2000 when a merger took place to form Glencoe Regional Health Services.

“One of the reasons we merged was to expand the number of physicians and health practitioners to the areas we serve,” Braband said.

Glencoe Regional is also offering better services to their customers by closing its clinics in Winsted and Lester Prairie and is currently building a new, improved facility in Lester Prairie.

New clinics are also cropping up in Dassel, including a Meeker County Memorial clinic and a new building for the existing clinic that is located in Dassel, served by Hutchinson Area Health Care.

But brick and mortar aren’t the only things expanding health care coverage in the area.

Increased availability of women’s health, pediatricians, podiatry, and nurse practitioners are being made a priority as well.

But even the biggest hospital with the most services isn’t guaranteed to get customer support.

“It is heavily based upon trust built over time, that trust can be strengthened, or weakened over time,” Braband said.

Published August 2006

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