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HealthEast eliminates positions, changes leadership structure

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The parent organization of Woodwinds Health Campus has let go of a few leaders in an effort to streamline things across the three acute care hospitals in Woodbury and the east metro.

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HealthEast Care System, which employs more than 7,000 people across the organization, is in the process of implementing a restructuring plan, said Scott North, senior vice president/president of the HealthEast Acute Care Hospitals St. John's, St. Joseph's and Woodwinds.

"Unfortunately there were some positions that were eliminated," he said. "There were some positions that have transitioned into other roles in the organization."

There will be one medical director, one nursing leader, an operational leader, a finance director, one human resources director and one communications leader for all three hospitals.

"Prior to this change, we had more than one. We had two or three people in those roles," North said.

The changes began in July when Woodwinds' Chief Executive Officer Tom Schmitt was no longer the direct leader of the hospital. He took on the role of senior vice president of Accountable Care Organization, clinics and outpatient services for HealthEast.

North would not say exactly how many positions were eliminated or who will take on which leadership role. He said HealthEast is still in the transitioning stage.

"We want to be good stewards of our and your health care dollars," he said. "We have financial challenges in our industry these days so part of what we're doing too is reduce the overall cost of care within the organization."

He said each of the hospitals can benefit from how the other two run. By combining leadership, it will be easier to achieve the overall vision of HealthEast.

"We are excited about connecting with all the communities that we serve in acute care," he said.

North was CEO at St. John's hospital in Maplewood for 10 years prior to assuming the role of senior vice president of all three hospitals in July, which was also part of the change.

Each of the hospitals has had its own identity since their inception. Woodwinds, for example, was founded on the basis of community partnership.

"A lot of how Woodwinds works and operates is based on input from the community and that will not change," North said.

He also confirmed there will not be any changes made to the Woodwinds name.

North said patient flow and the way hospitals are run has been unique to each facility. HealthEast is hoping to identify the best processes within each hospital and share it across all three.

"Learn and spread that where all of our campuses can benefit from that and most importantly our patients in the community from the best of the best," he said.

HealthEast Care System operates the three short-term care hospitals, the long-term care hospital Bethesda, in addition to a number of primary and specialty care clinics and home care.

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Riham Feshir
Riham Feshir is a reporter and photographer for the Woodbury Bulletin. Her coverage includes Woodbury City Hall, Washington County Board of Commissioners and business news.  Follow Riham on Twitter @RihamFeshir for the latest updates.
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