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Performance Excellence Network Recognizes River’s Edge Hospital

2018 Performance Excellence Awards Presented at PENworks 2019 Conference


The Performance Excellence Network (PEN) today honors River’s Edge Hospital with the 2018 Performance Excellence Award. The Award is based on the Baldrige Framework and is the culmination of a rigorous evaluation of an organization’s management and performance system. The evaluation criteria consider leadership, strategic planning, customer-related processes, measurement and knowledge management, workforce, and operations, and recognize organizations that are systematically improving results.

River’s Edge was one of two organizations featured at PENworks 2018, a conference held Thursday and Friday at the Mystic Lake Conference Center in Prior Lake, MN.

George Rohrich, CEO of River’s Edge Hospital, said, “Baldrige helps us better concentrate and coordinate our improvement efforts. Our recent evaluation by the PEN team validated our strengths and provided us with a road map to continue our improvement.  This award recognizes the commitment of the entire River’s Edge Hospital staff and leadership to quality improvement.

Said Brian Lassiter, president/CEO of the Performance Excellence Network: “Achieving and sustaining excellence – in our organizations and in ourselves – takes hard work.  It takes a commitment of time, of resource, of energy.  It takes focus, persistence, patience, and practice.  These organizations have demonstrated a commitment to continuous improvement and performance excellence.”

The conference featured 30 local, regional, and national speakers from all types of organizations, each sharing best practices and methods to improve leadership, customer focus, workforce engagement and capability, and operational effectiveness.  In addition to the two organizations receiving recognition, some of the organizations presenting included Allete/MN Power, Allina Health, Andersen Windows, City of Brooklyn Park, Mankato Area Public Schools, Strider Bike, and University of St. Thomas.

Seven of the speakers were keynotes, four representing current Baldrige Award recipient organizations, the nation’s highest performing organizations: Sue Dunn, CEO of Donor Alliance (Denver, CO); Lindel Fields, Superintendent & CEO, Tri County Tech (Bartlesville, OK); Richard Panico, CEO of Integrated Project Management LLC (Chicago, IL); and Kathy Raethel, CEO of Adventist Health Castle (Kailua, HI).  The other three keynotes each shared methods for leaders to systematically improve workforce engagement, team and leadership effectiveness, and personal/professional happiness: Jeff Brown, (Experience Happiness), Jenn Lim (Delivering Happiness and Zappos), Stevie Ray (Stevie Ray Improv Co.).

 About Performance Excellence Network

The Performance Excellence Network was founded in 1987 by the Minnesota Legislature and Governor Rudy Perpich, and was spun off into a private 501(c)3 nonprofit two years later. PEN advances improvement and performance excellence within organizations, individuals and communities. It helps leaders identify strengths and improvement opportunities, and it builds networks that bring information, resources, knowledge and best practices to organizations desiring to improve. PEN serves over 250 members and organizations in Minnesota and the Dakotas. For more information, go to

About River’s Edge Hospital

River’s Edge is a critical access hospital that has delivered over 70 years of quality care including family medicine, pediatrics, emergency room, orthopedic and general surgery to the residents of St. Peter and the surrounding communities.  REH has about 175 employees.  For more information:


River’s Edge Hospital made the holiday season brighter for four St. Peter organizations this week with donations that will help each continue their mission in the community.

Receiving donations were the St. Peter Govenaire’s Drum & Bugle Corp, The Children’s Weekend Food Program, The Kitchen, and The St. Peter Area Food Shelf.   River’s Edge Hospital received matching funds from their construction project partners, JJCA, the architect for the expansion project, and American Health Facilities Development, the owner’s representative for the project.

“River’s Edge has made a commitment to ensure food security in the community and making these donations helps to make sure these organizations can continue serving the community.  We greatly appreciate our expansion project partner’s contributions to help fulfill this need,” said George Rohrich, CEO, River’s Edge Hospital.


December 20, 2018 – ST. PETER –  River’s Edge Hospital was not invited by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota to participate in the Medicare Blue Plus Southern MN Network Advantage plan for 2019.  Despite attempts by River’s Edge Hospital administrators to reach out to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, the insurer has denied a request to allow River’s Edge Hospital to be an in-network facility. Also excluded from the network is The Orthopaedic and Fracture Clinic in Mankato, River’s Edge Hospital’s partner in the OrthoEdge joint replacement program.

Although River’s Edge Hospital is an out-of-network facility for the BCBS Medicare Advantage PPO program for Southern Minnesota, people who wish to continue to use River’s Edge Hospital for services can still do so with the understanding that out-of-pocket costs may be higher with this Advantage plan.  If you would like to come to River’s Edge Hospital in-network, you may want to choose a different insurance company that offers a Medicare Advantage plan.  You have the option to change your plan through March 31, 2019.

Both River’s Edge Hospital and The Orthopaedic and Fracture Clinic work hard to provide high-quality, cost-effective care that patients are looking for.  River’s Edge is a nationally certified Hip and Knee Replacement Center of Excellence and ranks in the top 5 percent in the nation for patient experience as reported by Press Ganey.  OFC consistently scores better than others in Southern Minnesota for outcomes as reported by MN Community Measurement.

While not an in-network provider for this Blue Cross Blue Shield Medicare Advantage Plan, River’s Edge Hospital is an in-network provider for all other Blue Cross Blue Shield Medicare supplement plans and Blue Cross Blue Shield commercial plans.  To find out if your plan is in-network, contact your insurance provider or River’s Edge Patient Financial Services at 507-934-7605.

When Dale Heins lived beyond his 50’s, he was a little bit surprised. Both of his parents had passed away before reaching the age of 60, and because he pictured a similar fate for himself, he didn’t pay much attention to how he cared for his body. The result was that he became very obese, and the stress and strain from the extra weight on his joints made walking painful. It wasn’t until he realized that his poor health was affecting his relationships with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren that he decided it was time to do something to change his situation.


Shedding Extra Weight Would Mean a Better Surgery Outcome

Although his knees were giving him trouble, Dale knew that going into surgery in his present physical condition wouldn’t prepare him for the best outcomes, so the first thing he did to begin moving down a path towards inevitable knee surgery and better health was to lose weight. With perseverance and the partnership of his wife, Dale lost 180 pounds over the course of a year.

“It changed my life dramatically,” said Dale. “I couldn’t have done it without my wife doing it with me. She was very supportive.”


Surgery for Both Knees at the Same Time

It was when Dale and his wife returned from a vacation to Alaska that he talked to Dr. Kyle Swanson at the Orthopaedic and Fracture Clinic (OFC) about knee replacement surgery. Dale had been consulting with Dr. Swanson for four years. During the course of that time, he had received injections that controlled the pain. At first, the effect of the treatments was very long-lasting. However, the treatment that he received prior to his vacation only lasted five days. On this visit with Dr. Swanson, they both knew that it was time to consider surgery.

“Both of my knees were bad, so we talked about the pros and cons of doing both at the same time,’ said Dale. “I made the decision to do both knees so that I would only have to go through this one time.”

Confidence in Professional and Personable Doctors and Staff

As Dale anticipated his upcoming surgery that would take place at River’s Edge Hospital, he had the utmost confidence in Dr. Swanson. During consultations, Dale found Dr. Swanson to be very personable. He discovered that they had some mutual interests as they chatted, but when it came to surgery and his care, Dr. Swanson was all business.

“What truly impressed me was that Dr. Swanson talked at length about how professional he and his staff are, and I found that they are every bit as professional as he described,” said Dale.

Impressive Customer Service Doesn’t Happen by Accident

From the first time that Dale walked through the door, right through to his last post-operative physical therapy session, Dale was just as impressed by the professional care that he received at River’s Edge Hospital as he was with OFC. The caring and supportive attitude of the staff was present in all of their actions, and he felt like they empathized with what he was feeling and anticipated his every need.

“I come from a sales background and I understand customer service,” said Dale. “What I received from River’s Edge Hospital was customer service and I know it’s not an accident. People have to be taught and held accountable to do that and that’s what River’s Edge does.”

Increased Mobility Means Improved Quality of Life

Now that Dale is a few months down the road from his double knee replacement surgery, he is already experiencing an improved quality of life. Because of his increased mobility, he can walk and interact better with his grandkids and great-grandkids, and he looks forward to many more years to watch them grow. He’s able to be more involved at his church, whether it’s flipping burgers for an event or being available to assist older congregation members who are in need.

As he looks back on his experience of going through double knee replacement surgery, what Dale remembers most is the support and encouragement from the people at River’s Edge Hospital and the Orthopaedic and Fracture Clinic. Even through the tough parts, like post-op physical therapy, the care he received set him up for success.

“They made me feel like a rockstar the whole time,” said Dale.

ST. PETER – River’s Edge Hospital was awarded the Press Ganey Guardian of Excellence Award for Patient Satisfaction on November 12, 2018 at the Press Ganey National Conference.  Approximately 200 hospitals in the U.S. and Canada received the award.  River’s Edge is one of three in Minnesota earning the recognition.

The Guardian of Excellence Award is given to Press Ganey clients who have reached the 95th percentile and sustain performance in the top 5 percent in patient experience in the designated reporting period.  This is the first time River’s Edge has received the award.

“I would like to recognize the physicians and staff at River’s Edge Hospital for the sustained level of excellent performance.  On behalf of the hospital leaders and the board of commissioners, I congratulate them on this incredible achievement and recognition,” said George Rohrich, Chief Executive Officer at River’s Edge Hospital.

About Press Ganey
Press Ganey pioneered the health care performance improvement movement more than 30 years ago. Today Press Ganey offers an integrated suite of solutions that enable enterprise transformation across the patient journey. Delivered through a cutting-edge digital platform built on a foundation of data security, Press Ganey solutions address safety, clinical excellence, patient experience and workforce engagement. The company works with more than 33,000 health care facilities in its mission to reduce patient suffering and enhance caregiver resilience to improve the overall safety, quality and experience of care.




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River’s Edge Hospital & Clinic provides a wide range of healthcare services, combining state-of-the-art technology with compassionate care, collaboration, integrity and stewardship. 


Find more information at

River’s Edge Hospital continues to work to fulfill its mission to provide quality health services and vision of improving the health of all the individuals served by announcing the formation of the Patient and Community Advisory Council.

The Patient & Community Advisory Council is a diverse group of community members, current or recent patients, and family members who represent the collective voice of our patients and families.   Council members offer advice, information and recommendations to support patient care, planning, and procedures.  Information presented by this group provides leaders and staff with a better understanding of how to improve quality, program development, service excellence, communication, patient and family education, staff orientation, education, and patient/family satisfaction and loyalty.

“The formation of this committee is a way to connect the community to the hospital and to use patient feedback to learn what is most important to our patients and their families,” said Margie Nelsen, River’s Edge Hospital Commission Chair.

Additionally, the administration at River’s Edge Hospital views this committee as an important piece of enhancing the quality, safety, and patient experience at River’s Edge.  “Our leaders and staff work very hard to maintain the exceptional levels of quality, safety, and experience at River’s Edge.  Having input from former patients, family members, and community members is invaluable as we continue make improvements in these areas,” said Stephanie Holden, Chief Marketing and Development Officer at River’s Edge Hospital.

In a 2017 publication by the American Institutes for Research, it was found that hospitals using patient advisory councils saw reduced infection rates, readmissions, length of stays, increases in patient satisfaction scores, and improved efficiencies.

People who are interested in becoming a member of the Patient and Community Advisory Council can download an application at or request one via mail or email by contacting Stephanie Holden, Chief Marketing and Development Officer at 507-934-7645 or

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River’s Edge Hospital & Clinic provides a wide range of healthcare services, combining state-of-the-art technology with compassionate care, collaboration, integrity and stewardship. 


PFAC – application

PFAC – What is the council

This past spring, Wayne Albers did something that he never thought he would do. When the winter outdoor sports equipment went on sale, he and his wife bought snowshoes. Wayne has always been the kind of person to hunker down for the winter and pray for spring, but since he had double knee replacement surgery through OrthoEdge, his outlook has changed and he’s looking forward to enjoying his next Minnesota winter with some outdoor activities.


Knee Pain Was All Day, Every Day

As Wayne anticipates making tracks through in fresh snowfall this winter, he remembers a time not too long ago when he could barely walk, let alone think of tromping through the snow. Pain in both of his knees was an all day, every day thing. He had to be careful when walking and he couldn’t walk very far. Wayne attributes his problems to the strain of carrying too much bodyweight over the years, in addition to a demanding career as a police officer that also required him to strap on 15 pounds of equipment.

When Wayne dropped 60 pounds and switched to a career that didn’t claim most of his weekends, two things happened. He and his wife discovered the joy of hiking through Minnesota’s state parks together, and his knee pain became debilitating.

Everything Clicked When He Heard About OrthoEdge

 Wayne was having limited success with injection treatments through an orthopedist in the Twin Cities, when he started to ponder how long he could put up with the pain. Then he attended a city council meeting in St. Peter and heard George Rohrich, CEO at River’s Edge Hospital, talk about their new partnership with the Orthopaedic and Fracture Clinic.

“I was in the process of trying to figure out what I was going to do when the River’s Edge Hospital administrator, George Rohrich, came and talked about the hospital and what was going on there,” said Wayne. “It was early in the OrthoEdge partnership and he talked about that, but also about the hospital having one of the lowest infection rates.”

That was when it clicked for Wayne. He asked himself, why was he going to the Twin Cities for treatment, when there was a good hospital and the best orthopedists in his own community? The next thing he did was to make an appointment with Dr. Kyle Swanson at the Orthopaedic and Fracture Clinic (OFC). As he moved from consultation to scheduling his surgery, Wayne had no idea that what he would next experience was a series of events intricately designed to give him the best possible patient experience.

Smooth Operations Inside and Outside the OR

“The process that they have in place between OFC and River’s Edge Hospital is amazing,” said Wayne. “It’s seamless, well thought-out, and well-planned. The whole thing operates smoothly.”

From his first appointment with Dr. Swanson, to check-in at the hospital, to completion of physical therapy in the weeks after his surgery, Wayne had all of his questions answered, and his concerns addressed. For Wayne, attending Joint Camp, a pre-surgery orientation program that all patients are invited to attend, was especially helpful in preparing him for his surgery and recovery.

“They walk you through the process so that concerns about what will happen all go away,” said Wayne. “It helps to get straight information from those that are dealing with it so that you know what to expect as you go down the road.”

Communication to Build Confidence

“As the Joint Camp program has evolved, we’ve brought more people in to better answer the questions that routinely come up with patients anticipating surgery,” said Stephanie Holden, Chief Marketing and Development Officer for River’s Edge Hospital. “We listen to the feedback that we get from patients and we have used it to build out some of the topics we now cover in more detail such as general vs. spinal anesthesia, and what happens during physical therapy.”

Communication is the key to helping patients like Wayne enter their surgery experience with confidence, and it’s also communication that keeps River’s Edge and OFC in harmony. The CEO’s and key staff meet weekly, and OFC surgeons are represented on both the medical staff committee and the hospital commission. Whatever the topic of discussion, it’s clear that the two organizations share the goal of getting the best outcome for each individual in their care.

Best Outcome and Care Available Close to Home

For Wayne, that outcome includes the ability to camp and hike with his wife. This fall, they hiked in nine state parks in nine days and they’re looking forward to trying out their new snowshoes.

“My mobility doesn’t restrict me at all. I can go for a walk or chase the grandkids around,” said Wayne. “It’s so much better than it was before surgery. It’s like night and day.”

Wayne tells anyone considering joint replacement surgery that there is no need to look any further than OrthoEdge for the best surgery outcome and the best care; from the initial consultation, through surgery, to the end of physical therapy.

“When you put the expertise and longevity of the Orthopaedic and Fracture Clinic together with a hospital that is really focused on the care of the individual, it’s a different experience,” said Stephanie. “You can be a patient anywhere. Being cared for as an individual is what really is the key and those two things just make for a really good fit.”

George Rohrich, CEO at River’s Edge Hospital in St. Peter has been named to the Becker’s Healthcare list of the top 71 Critical Access Hospital CEOs to know in 2018.  The individuals on the list lead organizations consistently recognized for patient safety, quality, patient experience and financial stability.  They are also leading construction projects or strategic partnerships with other local healthcare organizations.

“I am honored to be recognized in this list published by Becker’s,” said Rohrich.  “Working at River’s Edge is one of the great highlights of my career because the physicians and staff are second to none nationally. This is proven time and again through awards and recognitions like this.”

Mr. Rohrich joined River’s Edge in 2014 after serving as CEO at Memorial Regional Health Medical Clinic in Craig, Colorado for seven years.  During his time as CEO at River’s Edge Hospital, the organization has been recognized at the state and national level for employee retention and satisfaction, patient satisfaction, and patient safety and quality by the Minnesota Hospital Association, the National State Offices of Rural Health, The Studer Group, and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Service Hospital Compare. Currently, River’s Edge Hospital is undergoing a $33.8 million expansion and renovation project that includes increasing the number of patient rooms, a larger emergency department, increased surgical services capacity, dining services, and larger outpatient therapy.

Rick Zuti is addicted to the adrenalin rush you can only get from jumping out of an airplane. When he retired after a 20-year career as a paratrooper in the army, he dreamed of learning to sky dive, but years passed, and it didn’t seem like he would be able to make his dream a reality. Then on his 57th birthday, he looked in the mirror and told himself that now was the time.

While Rick had more than two decades of experience as a paratrooper, his military training didn’t include body flight, or freefalling, so he sought out the training he needed to get his first sky diving license. His wife, Debbie, was supportive but she thought this was going to be a one-time thing that Rick had to get out of his system. Instead sky diving became Rick’s obsession.

Parachute Hard Open Yanks His Shoulder Backwards

Rick had just completed his B license in sky diving, (the second of four levels) when he experienced something in the air that had never happened before. He had a hard open when he pulled his parachute and the jolt yanked his left shoulder backwards.

“I went to open my parachute and when it opened I felt like I hit the ground,” said Rick. “I quickly realized that my arm didn’t work too well anymore.”

Surgery Followed by Physical Therapy

Knowing he was badly hurt, Rick went to the Emergency Room at River’s Edge Hospital. The ER team assessed and stabilized his condition. A few days later, he had an appointment with Dr. Jesse Botker at the Orthopaedic & Fracture Clinic who recommended surgery.

The surgery needed to repair his arm took place at River’s Edge Hospital and before he knew it, Rick was home recovering with his arm in a sling. The injury, though serious, was not as bad as first thought and Rick started therapy to get back his mobility – and his life. That’s when he met Matt Tuggle, Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) at River’s Edge.

PT Focused on Patient’s Goals to Sky Dive Again

Matt customized a regime of movements to help Rick stretch and strengthen the muscles and tendons in his arm. At first, Rick couldn’t see the point of the exercises that were included in his therapy, but Matt focused on Rick’s personal goal to jump out of airplanes again.

“I was really surprised at how receptive Matt was to my needs,” said Rick. “He asked me, ‘What’s your biggest goal?’ and I said, to get back in the sky.”

Rick showed Matt some of the movements that he needed to do in a sky dive, such as pull the brake lines, and Matt designed a customized regime of exercises that would slowly increase the strength and range of motion in Rick’s arms and shoulders. Through the next few weeks, Matt helped Rick stay on track with his recovery, giving him suggestions for modifications that were always based on Rick’s goals.

“Pretty much everything we did in therapy had to do with being able to maneuver my parachute. I couldn’t believe how detailed Matt’s training was to my specific goals,” said Rick.

Sky Diver Isn’t Grounded for Long

Before he could get back in the air, Rick needed to return to work and this didn’t go as well as he thought it would at first. Rick admits that he had slacked off on therapy and the price he paid was pain that resulted from his increased activity. When he got back on track with his stretching and exercises, he was successful in transitioning back to work.

Three months after his injury, you would never know that Rick had encountered a setback that grounded his sky diving passion. He’s made about 40 jumps since his recovery and continues to do the exercises that he learned from Matt, though now he does them at the gym and has pumped them up by adding more weight.

As he met his goal to get back in the air, Rick’s thoughts were on Matt and the key role that he had played in helping him resume sky diving. At the first chance he got, he had his wife take a picture of him jumping so he could give it to Matt.

“Matt needs to know that I’m back in the air,” said Rick.

I CAN Prevent Diabetes ®, a diabetes prevention program held at River’s Edge Hospital has received reaccreditation from the Centers for Disease Control.

The class, led by Jennifer Donkin, registered dietician and Nicole Boelter, exercise physiologist at River’s Edge, is a 12-month program for people who are at risk for type 2 diabetes.  It focuses on weight loss and increased physical activity.

Full recognition of the I CAN Prevent Diabetes ® program by the CDC show that Donkin and Boelter have effectively delivered a quality, evidence-based program that meets the CDC standards for accreditation.  The sustained success of the program means that the teaching of lifestyle changes has helped dozens of people at risk for Type 2 diabetes move out of the risk category.

Donkin has been leading the I CAN Prevent Diabetes ® class since January 2012 and has been sending data to the CDC for 6 years.  “It has been rewarding to work with the participants and see the progress they make in changing their lifestyle over the course of a year,” said Donkin.

Evaluators from the CDC noted that River’s Edge has met all the requirements for accreditation.  “This is a remarkable achievement of which you should be very proud.”

Participants are eligible if they have had a blood test indicating pre-diabetes or by taking a risk assessment at their doctor’s office.  Donkin said local providers are supportive of the class because they see the benefits.

The next I CAN Prevent Diabetes® class in February 2019.  For more information, contact Jennifer Donkin at 507-934-7694.