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Renville Co., Minn., hospital boss put on leave after board closes talks

OLIVIA — Renville County Hospital Administrator Glenn Haugo is on paid administrative leave and plans for building a new hospital will go forward at a much slower pace.

Those were among the decisions made by the Renville County Hospital board at its meeting Tuesday in Olivia. They come just four days after the board’s executive committee told Haugo to leave his office for reasons that have yet to be made public.

Board members closed a portion of their meeting to discuss what was described as allegations of misconduct against the administrator. The allegations are for performance issues, according to Renville County Attorney David Torgelson.

Haugo arrived at the meeting after the board had met in closed session. The members closed the meeting again, this time at the administrator’s request to discuss the issues with him.

Hospital Board Chairman John Stahl said Haugo decided during the closed session not to be presented with the allegations until after the hospital employs an outside counsel to conduct an investigation. They would have been made public had he requested to see the allegations.

Hospital board members approved action to contract with Attorney Ann Goering of the Ratwik, Roszak and Maloney firm of Minneapolis, to conduct the investigation. Goering handles public employee issues, and has worked with Renville County on personnel matters in the past.

Haugo had been asked to leave the hospital Friday. Stahl said the allegations pertain to ongoing issues that apparently occurred over a few months, but that he and other board members were first told about them Friday.

Torgelson advised the board that it was important to note that Haugo was not being disciplined.

Hospital board members appointed a three-person team to lead the hospital while Haugo is on paid leave. The team includes Nate Blad, chief financial officer; Jan Dixon, nursing director; and David Dunn, clinic administrator.

Hospital board members also voted to put the brakes on the current proposal to build a new hospital. Board members still are interested in going forward, but agreed to contract with Yanik Companies in Spring Park to conduct public information meetings and open communication with officials in communities in the county.

Board member Bob Ehlers said there has been inadequate communication with the other parties involved, as well as communities in the county. He urged that the board move forward at a slower pace “and do our communication with the public and other entities.’’

Hospital board members also heard anew a plea from the medical staff to focus on provider recruitment and retention. Dr. J. Rob Kemp, M.D., told the board that recruitment and retention needs to be paramount. “It is going to be a long-standing issue I’m afraid, but something that is critical to basically having the horses to pull the cart,’’ he said.

 The hospital board had been looking at selling revenue bonds to finance a $22 million to $23 million project and start construction on a 62,000-square-foot facility at a site yet to be determined this year.

With the decision to slow the process, CFO Blad noted that the hospital could also consider other financing options, including applying for low interest financing through the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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