Hospital District Board Engages Community in World Café Discussion

The Northern Itasca Hospital District community joined the Bigfork Valley Board of Directors on May 23, 2019 in a World Café discussion about their rural, independent hospital.  The World Café meeting format fosters creative, collaborative thinking to generate new ideas and offer an opportunity to share experiences, learn from one another and develop deep and meaningful dialogue about the things that really matter.

The event was facilitated by Bigfork Valley’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Ed Anderson and Alumna Medical Staff member, Dr. Heidi Korstad.

The community participants were presented with three questions regarding Bigfork Valley’s Success:

  1. What does Bigfork Valley Hospital do well?
  2. What do you see as future opportunities for Bigfork Valley?
  3. How can the community be involved in Bigfork Valley’s success?

Themes of discussion emerged and it became clear that the community supports and intends to contribute their knowledge and resources to help the organization succeed.  There was apparent respect and a sense of pride in the high-quality care that the independent organization has developed and continues to offer.  The community expressed appreciation for the efforts to remain independent while collaborating with other healthcare operations to offer specialty services and a continuum of quality medical care under one roof.

Highlights from Question 1:  What does Bigfork Valley do well?

Discussion on this topic emphasized the organization’s ability to recruit and retain quality healthcare providers and maintain a high standard of services in the rural area.  The group communicated a sense of appreciation and a culture of kind, compassionate, personalized care where patients are truly treated like friends and family.

Highlights from Question 2:  What do you see as future opportunities for Bigfork Valley?

Being an independent organization, Bigfork Valley has the ability to collaborate with a variety of surrounding healthcare facilities to offer outreach and specialty care services.  The group urged continued efforts to maintain and expand on collaborative relationships to provide high-quality specialty care opportunities and leverage relationships with public health and direct consumers.

Secondary discussions surrounded opportunities for leveraging local educational institutions for recruitment efforts.  They encouraged continued collaboration with students and educators to recruit and retain future staff in a “grow your own” methodology.

Bigfork Valley partners with the local schools to offer summer health care internship programs, job shadowing opportunities, and career exploration days to educate students about healthcare career options. 

Highlights from Question 3:  How can the community be involved in Bigfork Valley’s Success?

The group discussed opportunities for increasing the flow of communication between Bigfork Valley and the community.  These initiatives include increasing volunteer work and establishing community committees to focus on issues facing rural healthcare organizations.  With emerging efforts focusing on population health management, the discussion led to patient and citizen advisory committees to gather data and develop strategic initiatives.  The group also encouraged community members to be supportive and become active in the state legislative process to benefit rural healthcare.

Opportunities for future Community Café events were discussed along with options for future questions to continue engaging the community in the hospital’s efforts.

Bigfork Valley is an acute care hospital and senior living community located in Bigfork, Minn., employing over 250 individuals. In addition to a general hospital, 24/7 emergency care, and senior living options, the facility offers a wide range of health care services and specialty care options.  More information about Bigfork Valley can be found at