The Winnebago City Council has scheduled a special meeting for Tuesday, September 13 at 6 p.m
Executed a real estate transaction with United Hospital District (UHD).
After a long closed session, the City Council voted to purchase UHD’s Winnebago Clinic Building for $1.
While councilors Calvin Howard, Paul Eisenmenger and Jean Anderson were in favour
the purchase, advice
Member Chris Anderson declined to purchase the building.
The agreement was the culmination of a collaboration between Winnebago Mayor Scott Robertson, EDA Specialist Angie Stier, City Manager Judi Hynes and the Winnebago Healthcare Professional Services Task Force, along with UHD to ensure Winnebago residents have easy access to have health care.
The results of Tuesday’s special session were seen as a win-win by many city and UHD officials in attendance.
“I think it’s a necessity to have a doctor.”suggested Bob Weerts of Winnebago, a member of the task force.
Rick Ash, CEO of UHD, who also attended the meeting, agreed, later adding that after determining that further use of the Winnebago Clinic Building was not feasible, UHD determined that the best option was to find a way to maintain its use locally.
“Following difficult discussions about not running the clinic, one of UHD’s key goals was to work with the Winnebago community. We are pleased that our agreement with the City of Winnebago is achieving this goal,”said Ash.
He added, “By delegating the building to the city, it provides a broader platform for collaboration with the city, healthcare providers and UHD for healthcare services in our region.”
He also noted that the transfer of building ownership to the city is a financially healthy development for UHD, which is still navigating the challenging post-pandemic healthcare environment.
At the meeting, Ash cited the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic as the primary reason behind the March 2020 closure of the Winnebago Clinic.
“We had staffing challenges, industry challenges,”explained Ash.
The Winnebago Healthcare Professional Services Task Force anticipated difficulties in hiring a healthcare professional and has already located a nurse willing to bring her services to Winnebago.
Heidi Stevermer, who introduced herself at the meeting, is an Easton resident and a representative of Optimal Performance Specialists Clinics, which currently has locations in Mapleton and Blue Earth.
Stevermer explained that the clinic’s services are unique in that the clinic does not bill for insurance services.
“It allows us to help the underinsured or uninsured.”she explained.
While Stevermer practices family medicine herself, she anticipates partnering with UHD to offer Winnebago patients specialized counseling services typically covered by insurance.
Ash was open to the idea, saying: “We want to work with Heidi and her team where we can try to facilitate.”
Overall, most Council members and Robertson are excited about the opportunities that lie ahead.
“I don’t think we can pass up this opportunity to find another doctor in town.”said Councilor Calvin Howard before filing an application to purchase the property.
Meanwhile, Robertson explained: “I am very grateful that UHD made this opportunity available. The City of Winnebago is committed to giving the community back the services it needs. We look forward to future collaborations with UHD as we navigate these challenging times in the healthcare industry.”