An Echo Press Editorial: Accolades keep coming for Alomere Health

By the Echo Press Editorial Board

Alomere Health in Alexandria was named as a Top 20 Rural and Community Hospital in the nation by the National Rural Health Association.
Alexandria Echo Press file photo

When a long-standing business, company or organization becomes a staple of the community, it’s easy to take them for granted. They were here since “forever-ago” and it’s easy to forget how fortunate Douglas County is to have them.

Such is the case of Alomere Health (also known for many years as Douglas County Hospital). Can you imagine how much less this area would be without Alomere’s skilled doctors, nurses and other caregivers?

It’s been providing care in our community since 1899, 40 years after the first log cabin and hotel were built on Lake Agnes. It opened its doors at the corner of Ninth and Elm Street with enough beds for six people.

Over the years it’s gone through many name changes, hundreds of medical providers and many generations of patients, according to Alomere’s website. And during that time, it’s built a solid reputation for providing a quality of care that’s exceptional, not only at the region or statewide level, but nationally as well.

In 2002, the hospital – which is owned by the county – was named one of the nation’s top 100 Hospitals by Thomson Reuters. In 2012, it was named in the top 100 in the nation for joint replacement patient safety by CareChex. In 2013, it was rated by Consumer Reports as one of the top 14 hospitals in Minnesota for safe surgery. Three years later, it was named a top performing rural hospital by the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health. In 2017, it was recognized as a high performing hospital by U.S. News and World Report, with the highest rating possible for hip replacement surgery. Four of the past six years, Alomere was named a top 100 hospital.


And the accolades keep coming.

This week, news broke that the National Rural Health Association named Alomere Health as one of the top 20 rural and community hospitals in the nation. It’s the first Minnesota hospital to ever garner the honor in that category.

This isn’t just merely another award. It’s a testament to Alomere’s continued effort of providing top-notch care in several areas – managing risk, achieving higher quality care, securing better outcomes, increasing patient satisfaction, and operating at a lower cost than their peers.

These groups serve as a benchmark for other rural facilities as they strive to achieve similar results and provide a blueprint for successfully navigating the uncertainty of the new health care.

The determining factors for the top 20 rural and community hospitals are based on eight indices: inpatient market share, outpatient market share, quality, outcomes, patient perspective, cost, charge and finance.

The latest recognition won’t cause Alomere to rest on its laurels. In a news release, Carl Vaagenes, Alomere Health CEO, said, “As your community hospital, we will remain steadfast in our cultural drive to continually improve as we plan for the future and look for opportunities to further expand our services as a regional destination for healthcare. All of us at Alomere Health are grateful for the privilege to serve you and we appreciate the trust and confidence that you have placed in us.”

Alomere Health’s impact goes beyond Douglas County’s borders. With the hospital and its three clinics – Heartland Orthopedic Specialists, Alexandria Clinic and Osakis Clinic – it serves as a health care hub for Douglas County and the surrounding region. It provides care to people living in more than 150 zip codes throughout central Minnesota.

In addition to their health care, Alomere Health delivers a huge economic impact as one of the county’s biggest employers (868 in 2021) – a good subject for another editorial.

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