Michael Delfs, a Langdon native made his way in the world of hospital administration. From the humble beginning as a certified nursing assistant, Delfs gained his master’s and has been serving the Midwest in rural medical care. Delfs served as the CEO at Mercy Hospital in Moose Lake, Minn., and prior to that, was the CEO at the Richland Hospital in Richland Center, Wisconsin.
By Melissa Anderson
When the opportunity arose to come home to North Dakota, he took the chance for many reason. From a professional standpoint, it was an amazing opportunity. Delfs explained that the Jamestown Regional Medical Center has a reputation across the Midwest as one of the most progressive and advanced community hospitals.
“Our team is truly phenomenal with an outstanding organizational culture. This is illustrated by the fact that we have been named in the top 100 hospitals in the U. S. for 6 straight years, and we have also been named by Modern Healthcare to the prestigious Best Places to Work list,” Delfs said.
This opportunity also created the chance to be closer to family. For Delfs and wife Beth, the majority of their family live in North Dakota. Their children, grandchildren, brother, sisters, nieces, nephews and cousins all live within two hours or less of Jamestown.
“It is seldom that one’s professional life and personal life are so closely aligned,” Delfs shared. “My wife and I are so happy to be back in North Dakota. This is truly a homecoming for us.”
As the Chief Executive Officer, Delfs is responsible for “the strategic direction of the hospital and fulfilling the vision that our Executive Team and Board of Directors set together”. This means everything from expansion of existing services to establishing new medical services to assuring Jamestown Medical Center continues to have an “outstanding culture within our hospital team – plus a little bit of everything in between”.
As Delfs begins his duties, he realizes without a doubt that the biggest challenge Jamestown Medical faces is competition from large health systems. This combined with ever-changing reimbursement creates difficulties. Reimbursement from insurers, private groups and governmental programs are a daily challenge for all working in healthcare.
“We have Sanford and Catholic Health Initiatives as our larger neighbors, and they believe bigger is better. Part of the challenge I have, as a CEO, is to make sure that the communities we serve know that our quality for surgeries, procedures and services are as good and, in some cases, better than the larger systems,” Delfs explained.
As CEO, he understands that people do not want to leave their communities, and if they have to, they certainly do not want to travel long distances for healthcare. Delfs is passionate about making sure the communities served by Jamestown Medical Center understand that they do not have to travel 90 miles east or west to get exceptional care. As an example, Jamestown Regional Medical Center will be opening a local infusion and cancer center.
“This has been a long-standing promise to our region when patients clearly told us nearly five years ago that they did not want to travel for cancer care,” Delfs said.
As future generations look at careers, especially in the medical field, which is in need, Delfs had the following advice for those interested in hospital administration, “The constant in healthcare is that there is absolutely no constant other than change. For anyone considering hospital administration, the best advice I have is you have to like and be ready for this nearly constant change. I personally enjoy the constant flux in healthcare and knowing that the work the hospital provides not only jobs for our team and their families but, more importantly, healthcare that is exceptional for our region.”
Healthcare continues to see exponential changes nationally, on the state level, from insurance companies, from medical equipment suppliers and too many others to list here. Every year hospitals are required to adapt to all of these external pressures and endlessly changing regulations. Having the staff to meet those changes will be essential to the longevity of hospitals, especially those in rural settings like Jamestown and Langdon.