Trustees, physicians prioritize quality across organization

Mark Paulson, MD, has served in a governance role starting with the North Dakota-based Meritcare Board shortly before its merger with Sanford Health in 2009.

More than a decade later, as one of the longest-tenured members of the now-Sanford Health Board of Trustees, she is grateful for the opportunity to serve.

In fact, he was elected to serve as the chairman of the board in 2018.

“Being on the board gives me the opportunity to see the organization as a whole,” Dr. Paulson told Sanford Health News. “I think it probably opened my eyes more than anything, just being able to see everything that goes into individual patient care.”

Dr. Paulson, a family medicine physician from North Dakota, has cared for Sanford Health patients in the Upper Midwest since 1988.

With that, he’s seen a lot of change at Sanford Health from a regional perspective and in serving Sanford as a whole.

The ‘unique perspective’ of serving on the board

Dr. Paulson is one of three Sanford physicians – and a total of four physicians – currently serving on the Board of Trustees.

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“When I go to board meetings, I almost have to take one hat off and put another hat on to separate my roles and keep my head up to think at the corporate level instead of thinking at the patient and exam room level. Trying to clean up,” he said.

From the very beginning, their mission, philosophy and vision was to bring quality to the health care system, whether through financial stability, expansion of services, or improvement in the care of each patient.

Dr. Paulson explained, “We recently started a board committee with a focus on quality.” “We believe that quality drives patient satisfaction and employee satisfaction. There are many different aspects to this.”

Speaking of providing quality care, one of her passions in the workplace includes emergency medical services and quality care in rural and under-served cities and broad spectrum health care anywhere in the region. In fact, Dr. Paulson served eight years on the Minnesota Department of Health’s Trauma Advisory Council.

As a board member, he is eager to make Sanford re-imagine rural care to improve access to all patients, regardless of their zip code.

Although exciting, he admits this is just the tip of the iceberg.

“From electronic video visits, to new technologies and capabilities to monitor patients at home and other things we’re getting at, this is just the beginning.”

Additionally, Dr. Paulson is enthusiastic about modern medical technology such as cellular biology, CAR T-cell therapy and mRNA vaccines advancing the treatment and care of patients.

delivering and leading rural care

Serving nearly 12,000 patients at the Sanford/Perham Health Clinic in Otter Tail County, Dr. Paulson knows rural health firsthand.

“When talking about the nature of rural, if you’re bringing high-quality health care to every city in your footprint, you’re going to do a good job of providing rural health care,” he said. . “It’s figuring out the barriers and challenges of how to do that, for example, recruiting talent, finances to develop services, services to move patients.”

“In primary care, I get to see that,” he continued. “I transfer patients, work with specialists, refer patients from beyond my practice. Primary care provides a really good perspective of what rural talent should be like.

In addition to patient care, Dr. Paulson is no stranger to additional leadership roles. He has served the medical community in various ways over the years.

outside the clinic

At home, Dr. Paulson’s six children and several grandchildren keep him busy with what ultimately brings him his greatest joy.

“My wife used to say to me, ‘No one will remember you because you went to that meeting or didn’t have perfect attendance… It’s your children and your grandchildren—that’s who will remember you.’

Dr. Paulson’s term on the Board expires at the end of 2022.

“With the quality committee in place and what I wanted to achieve in order to grow the organization, I think has been done,” he said. “I am leaving the board in a great place because the culture of the board is amazing with high quality individuals who have a great vision.”

About the Board of Trustees

The 13-member Sanford Health Board of Trustees oversees administration for the health system, guides the advancement of Sanford’s mission, and oversees the organization’s strategic direction and financial and operational performance.

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Sanford Health trustees are elected by the full board and currently serve three three-year terms. The Board of Trustees Nominating and Governance Committee is responsible for identifying, evaluating and recommending potential new members based on their qualifications and experience. The trustees represent a wide range of backgrounds with extensive experience in business and finance, health care, technology and the non-profit sector.


Posted in Company News, Corporate Services & Governance, Family Medicine, Leadership in Health Care, News, People & Culture, Physicians & APPs, Rural Health, Sanford Stories

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