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Tuesday December 20, 2022  |  Luke Marinac

Turning into the Storm: How One Minnesota Community Hospital is Facing Rural Health Challenges Head On

The storm came on suddenly and without warning.

It lashed the broad, slate-gray waters of Mille Lacs Lake with stinging rain. The chartered fishing boat pitched side to side while we clung to coolers and rented tackle, huddled beneath awnings, and pulled collars over our heads. There was little we could do but look at one another and laugh.

We were out boating on the rural Minnesota lake as part of a visit with one of our partner hospitals— Mille Lacs Health System (MLHS) —celebrating their recent initiative, “Next Chapter: Building Our Healthy Future.” A massive undertaking, the project involved a 42,000 sq ft. addition and 10,000 sq ft. refurbishment to provide better inpatient rooms, a new emergency department, kitchen, cafeteria, lobby, same-day surgery, lab, sleep center, and more.

But a trip started in high spirits had now taken a turn for the worse.

Seeing our misgivings, the fishing guide, sipping a coffee from the doorway of his small pilot’s cabin, assured us: “It’ll pass soon.”

Almost as soon as he'd uttered these words, the howling wind died, the clouds broke, and the lake again turned a dazzling gold in the evening sun.

A feature of Mille Lacs's climate, squalls—fast and blistering storms—race across its shallow, 207 square-mile surface, catching unwary sailors in a sudden deluge of epic proportions. Those who attempt to stay ahead of the gale, or make harbor, often find themselves caught in the rain and waves indefinitely. Experienced fishermen know that it’s best to turn the bow into the oncoming storm and reach calmer waters that much sooner.

Forecasting for Rural Health Challenges

Rural hospitals today face hiring and retention issues, employees aging into retirement, remote locations, patient outmigration, and outdated technology.

While it’s not easy to outpace these problems, there are solutions available right now: patient-centered technology, innovative partnerships, and forward-thinking actions by hospital leadership willing to steer into the headwinds.

Our most recent testimonial highlights how, through a collaborative partnership with MEDHOST, MLHS has consistently provided exceptional care to the people of Mille Lacs County and the surrounding area, despite undergoing rapid change and contending with the ongoing challenges faced by many rural providers.

Watch the full story here.

About Mille Lacs Health System (MLHS)

After breaking ground in 1956, MLHS began as a community-owned, non-profit hospital with two satellite clinics. In the last 40 years, it has expanded into an organization of five clinics, a nursing home, ambulatory emergency care center, homecare and hospice serving a 60-mile area comprised of almost 25,000 central Minnesotans.


We offer cloud-based clinical and financial solutions and engagement platforms that enable rural hospitals to enhance care, streamline facility management, and maximize patient volumes and profitability along with clinical and financial services that fit any budget. We also drive initiatives like chronic condition management, access to health and wellness content, and community engagement.

To learn more about how MEDHOST can partner with your facility to help weather the storm, please get in touch with us at or call 1.800.383.6278.

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