Granite Falls Hospital in Elite Company

By Scott Tedrick

According to a Medicare and Medicaid new hospital consumer satisfaction rating system, patients of the Granite Falls Hospital and Manor are receiving some of the best patient experience in the nation. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently instituted the new online consumer hospital rating system in an effort to develop a mechanism to help consumers compare hospitals and make informed choices. In the first ratings released this April, the Granite Falls Hospital found itself in elite company as one of only 12 hospitals in the state, and just seven percent of hospitals nation-wide, to be recognized with five stars. In a respective CMS survey for nursing homes, the Granite Falls Manor also received five stars. “Because this was the first time they released the results, we weren’t sure what to expect” said Granite Falls Hospitals Director of Nursing Patty Massmann. “We’ve always made patients the highest priority and I know that we have been fortunate to have exceptional staff here at the Granite Falls Hospital and Manor. I would say that the survey pleasantly affirmed what we had already expected.” The Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers five-star quality ratings are available through CMS’s Compare Web sites. In all, there are twelve HCAHPS Star Ratings presented for consumer comparison; one for each of the 11 publicly reported HCAHPS measures, plus the new HCAHPS Summary Star Rating. HCAHPS Star Ratings will be the first star ratings to appear on Hospital Compare; CMS plans to update the HCAHPS Star Ratings each quarter. Granite Falls Hospital and Manor Administrator and CEO George Gerlach said that he was pleased and proud of the results, and will be doubly so if the hospital can maintain the rating over each of the year’s four quarters. “I like to think it has to do with the fact that we’re a small town hospital, we know our patients and they know us, and that whenever they tell us how we can be better we’re able to adjust to meet those expectations.” Massmann said a few directives recently instituted by the hospital illustrate efforts to constantly improve the level of patient care including initiatives that more fully involve a patient’s family in a client’s care as well as overall care continuity through ‘bedside staff shift reports’ wherein nurses go over a care report at the patient’s bedside prior to nurses making a shift change. Going forward, four full quarters of five star ratings will be the goal. And as long as the hospital and manor staff keep doing what they’re doing — which is to say always improving the patient experience — it’s a goal well within reach. Said Massmann, “It’s been a privilege to work with this level of nursing staff where patient care comes first. It’s professional care with a personal touch.”

The hospital compare website can be accessed at:

Minnesota Hospital Association (MHA) honors George Gerlach with ‘Bruce and Denise Rueban Courage Award’

Bruce and Denise Rueben Courage - George Gerlach Granite FallsThe Bruce and Denise Rueben Courage Award recognizes an organization or individual who has demonstrated great courage in their actions on behalf of Minnesota’s hospital, patients, and their families. George Gerlach has dedicated his life’s work for nearly 30 years to provide quality health care to the Granite Falls area and has been deeply involved in other organizations such as Medi-Sota and MHA to extend quality health care across the region and the state. George began his professional career as an orderly in the National Guard. He later became a registered nurse, then advanced to a hospital nursing supervisor. While he ultimately advanced his career to the position of Hospital and Nursing Home Chief Executive Officer and Administrator, his focus remains on patient centered care. George is a strong advocate for rural health care in Minnesota; providing leadership support for the Comprehensive Advanced Life Support program, the hospital’s trauma designation, and the Telemedicine/Telestroke program to ensure his community has access to high quality care. George is active in numerous local and statewide organizations. He has been instrumental in driving the new nursing home project for the Granite Falls Municipal Hospital and Manor to help others realize the vision of providing a continuum of care from birth through senior care. Through George’s continuous service to his community and state, he continues to find new ways to provide better patient care for his community.

The criteria for the Bruce and Denise Rueben Courage Award:

As president of MHA for 10 years, Bruce Rueban helped catapult Minnesota hospitals’ reputation into the national health policy arena. He led the effort toward transparency and accountability when Minnesota became the first state in the nation to publicly report adverse health events. In 2006, his vision led MHA to create the first statewide report showing the specific benefits that hospitals provide their communities. Bruce showed exceptional courage working on all of these activities while caring for his wife, Denise, as she struggled and showed personal courage with breast cancer. In 2008, Patsy Riley, who worked with Bruce on many of these efforts when she was at Stratis Health, established this award to recognize Bruce’s outstanding leadership and courage in the Minnesota health care community, as well as his commitment and devotion to his family and wife Denise. Judging is be based on the following criteria:

  • Demonstrated leadership and courage in the development of ground-breaking activities to increase patient safety. (20 points)
  • Demonstrated leadership and courage that proactively led to a more transparent and open environment for sharing health care information. (15)
  • Development of programs that showed exceptional attention to issues that focus on improving patient care through advocacy and compassion. (15)

March of Dimes Recognizes Granite Falls Hospital


Definition of language used in this news release:

  • Early term birth:   37-38 completed weeks gestation;
  • Full-term birth: refers to 39 to 41 weeks completed gestation;
  • Preterm or premature birth: before 37 completed weeks gestation; 

Granite Falls Hospital has been recognized for reducing the number of elective inductions and Cesarean deliveries performed before 39 completed weeks of pregnancy. March of Dimes says this will give more babies a healthy start in life. Babies delivered before full term are at increased risk of serious health problems and death in their first year of life.

Babies born just a few weeks early have higher rates of hospitalization and illness than full-term infants. Recent research by the March of Dimes, the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found that although the overall threat is small, the risk of death more than doubles for infants born at 37 weeks of pregnancy when compared to babies born at 40 weeks, for all races and ethnicities.

“The last weeks of pregnancy are important. Babies aren’t just putting on weight. They are undergoing important development of the brain, lungs and other vital organs. ” says Lawrence Massa, March of Dimes Board Member and Minnesota Hospital Association President and CEO. “I commend Granite Falls Hospital for being a champion for babies with their quality improvement effort.”

In partnership with the Minnesota Hospital Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the March of Dimes has been getting out the word that “Healthy Babies Are Worth the Wait”. The campaign urges women to wait for labor to begin on its own if their pregnancy is healthy, rather than scheduling delivery before 39 completed weeks of pregnancy.

In Minnesota, March of Dimes worked with the Minnesota Department of Human Services and hospitals to adopt policies against medically unnecessary deliveries before 39 weeks. This change went into effect in January 2012. Minnesota Hospital Association numbers show the number of early elective deliveries has decreased by 92 percent.

The March of Dimes offers professional and consumer education materials about the importance of a full term pregnancy and the critical development of the brain, lungs and other organs that occur during the last weeks of pregnancy. More information is available at

April is National Occupational Therapy Month!

Occupational therapy is the only profession that helps people across the lifespan to do the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of daily activities (occupations). Occupational therapy practitioners enable people of all ages to live life to its fullest by helping them promote health, and prevent—or live better with—injury, illness, or disability.

Common occupational therapy interventions include helping children with disabilities to participate fully in school and social situations, helping people recovering from injury to regain skills, and providing supports for older adults experiencing physical and cognitive changes.

Occupational therapy practitioners have a holistic perspective, in which the focus is on adapting the environment and/or task to fit the person, and the person is an integral part of the therapy team. It is an evidence-based practice deeply rooted in science.  – See more at:

OT month picture

Noelle, Paulette, Kelly, and Lori


In the arms of Ambulance Angels

By Caitlyn Mahlum, Staff Writer for the Advocate-Tribune

Last year, Chad Borka had a run in with some real-life angels. This year, he had the chance to thank them in person.

After suffering a crash between his FedEx delivery truck and a BNSF freight train, Borka, of Atwater, was rescued by the Granite Falls Ambulance Crew. Thanks to the efforts of the Granite Falls crew, he was later airlifted to the Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis. “Doctors down in the cities commended you guys for saving my life. If it wasn’t for you guys, I wouldn’t have made it,” remarked Borka.

That is exactly why Chad and Lisa Borka decided to meet with the Granite Falls Ambulance Crew on March 20. “Today was about thanking them,” said Lisa. The meeting was filled with teary eyes as Chad Borka got to meet those who saved his life. “I cried and I don’t cry,” he admitted.

The ER doctor stated in his record that “the ambulance crew needs to be commended because they went  above and beyond,” according to Lisa Borka. The Granite Falls Ambulance Crew rose to the call when they were needed. They exceeded expectations with their life-saving work. “For a small town like this, you wouldn’t expect this. You’d expect this in a metropolitan area,” explained Chad Borka.

“I died three times. If it wasn’t for the crew I would have never made it,” stated Chad.

The Borkas were able to finally pour their thanks and gratitude on Granite Falls’ own crew of ‘angels.’ This meeting gave the Borkas closure. Chad is currently on the path to recovery, a path that he would have never been able journey on without the skills of the Granite Falls crew.

borka story

Alisha Handeland, RN; Patti Anderson, LPN; Leslie Niest, EMT-B; Chad and Lisa Borka; David Evenson, EMT-B; Laura Oftedahl, EMT-P, RN; Sam Canatsey, EMT-B

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