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UHD Receives Distinguished Award
Posted: 9-8-2010 5:30PM


Blue Earth, MN

Every month, Studer Group honors an organization that stands out from its peers and serves as a premier example of what is right in healthcare. United Hospital District (UHD) has been honored with the Fire Starter of the Month award for September 2010.
This distinguished award honors the hospital that not only strives for service-based excellence, but keeps the true organizational essence alive and flourishing. Fire Starter recipients ignite the flame of service and caring for others and show measurable results in positive outcomes–changing the face of healthcare today.

UHD has a legacy of being recognized as an organization completely dedicated to ensuring the patients of our area have the highest quality medical services right at home. UHD is an independent rural health system with a 25-bed critical access hospital, three clinics, home health, hospice, an inpatient adolescent chemical dependency treatment center and ambulance service.  

UHD’s extraordinary path began in 1995 when the organization made the hard commitment to doing what was right versus what was easy and took control over their strategic direction by aligning with a new local clinic who believed rural health care was much more than band aids and transfers. The legacy of this decision is that since that date, the strategic health care direction for the community has been cohesive and consistent, advancing Hospital and community providers toward the same goals.

In 1999, after success integrating the strategic direction between the Hospital and provider community, UHD’s focus shifted to two imperatives; deliver the highest quality local care in an extraordinary way. UHD invested heavily in the quality process and hard wired into the organizational culture, the idea that if we cannot provide the highest quality of service to our patients we have the obligation to send them to where they can receive the highest quality care–what we now know as “connecting to purpose”.  

To “Wow” their customers when they access UHD’s services, they initiated building projects in 1999 and 2005 to transform the physical plant to a truly unique, modern, impressive location to provide care and services. Single patient rooms featured hotel like design and amenities. LEAN principals were incorporated to eliminate needless interruptions and laid the foundation. The only thing missing was the culture change.

In 2006, with the establishment of a partnership with the Studer Group, UHD moved from a “program of the month” philosophy to one that got serious about culture. And today, the culture is second to none.  

UHD is the employer of choice in our market. First, they invested heavily in their leaders to ensure they had the very best leadership team in place for our employees. Second they focused on employee related initiatives and developed employee standards of behavior, a formal employee attitude and improvement process, monthly CEO forums, rounding, thank-you notes, and a managing up process were all put in place. Finally, all of these efforts were bound together with a very high degree of accountability through the leader evaluation manager system.

Because of these efforts:

  • Turnover was reduced from 20% in 2007 to 11% in 2009 and is at 6.6% YTD in 2010. In 2007, total nursing turnover was at 0% annually.
  • Provider vacancies were also filled with UHD successfully recruiting a general surgeon, an orthopedic surgeon, three family practice physicians, and an orthopedic mid level provider in 2007-2008.  
  • Employee satisfaction rates have increased significantly over each of the last three employee perspective reports.  

By integrating the Studer principles amazing results have been achieved.  

  • Patient satisfaction for inpatient and ED went from the 61st and 77th percentiles respectively in 2006 to the 97th and 95th percentiles respectively for 2010 YTD.
  • Since 2008, year-end patient satisfaction scores have ranked above the 90th percentile in the ED and the 95th percentile for inpatient each year.


Quality is core to UHD’s being; it is an intrinsic business strategy. “Zero” is the goal and it is achieved in many areas.

  • Zero surgical site infections (SSI’s) for the last seven quarters.  
  • Zero readmissions within 30 days and zero skin breakdowns since 2009.  
  • Zero skin breakdowns since 2009.  
  • Inpatient fall rate is 0.06 per 100 patient days over the last two years.
  • Medication variances averages 0.09 per 1000 doses from 2005 to 2010.

UHD’s philosophy of providing the highest quality care with extremely high patient satisfaction has been the flywheel that drives the organization’s financial performance.  

  • UHD has been on Modern Healthcare’s 25 most profitable CAH list since 2005.
  • UHD has been a LarsonAllen “Gold Standard” facility every year since 2006.  
  • UHD has achieved net margins as high as 14.6%, 291 days of cash on hand, a 25- day reduction in days in accounts receivable and a debt service coverage ration of 5.2 since 2006.
  • In 2009 two building projects were started with a $19.5 M price tag. The first project–completed this August becomes the nations’ first LEED certified (or “green”) inpatient adolescent chemical dependency treatment facility. The second project consolidates the organization and makes UHD a convenient organization for patients. UHD equity accounts for 50% of the project.

Because of a focus on quality and service, strengthened by virtually no turnover and employer of choice status, UHD has experienced significant growth.  
•    Clinic volumes increased 28.8% from 2008 to 2009 a trend that seems to be continuing in 2010.  
•    Net revenue has grown by an average of 9% over the last three years.



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