Tomah Health board chair Oak Moser admits this past year has been filled with challenges, but says the hospital is moving forward despite the obstacles created by COVID-19. “It’s been a very interesting year,” said Moser, who was reelected to a second year as board chair during the hospital’s annual meeting Jan. 19. “Given two years back and our transition into the new Tomah Health facility, I would have said that was full of as many challenges as we ever would have anticipated, and then comes this last year which has been quite tumultuous.”
Moser said the past year has been more challenging since the pandemic affected so many people and on an individual basis. “We had our staff exposed to the same things as the general public and we took care of our staff and changed all our procedures and curtailed operations to be able to account for the COVID-19 cases in our community.”
Moser credited hospital leadership and staff for its flexibility, commitment, extra work and attention to detail. “I feel very confident because I know from even my personal family experiences that patients in our community that required our services would not have the foggiest idea of all the things that have gone on in the background because they received their service seamlessly,” he said. “I have heard nothing but positive feedback from people in the community; and I want to thank the entire staff as well.”
While Wisconsin continues to set records for the number of new COVID-19 deaths, Moser acknowledges that the pandemic will continue to challenge the organization. “When we run into years like we have had here, it impacts our bottom line and people are aware of that. It’s always a balance that the board has to maintain to continue operations, continue enhancing things, continue offering benefits in wages that attract the great staff that we have, and deal with the financial realities that we put up a $63 million facility too that has to be paid for; so there’s a balancing act.”
Moser hopes that the 2021 operational year settles out as early indications point toward a return to some normalcy. “With the vaccine rolling out, we hope to return to more regular operations in providing services to the community. I cannot image that 2021 can bring more challenges than 2020 did for us.”
The hospital board also welcomed Tomah resident Debra Buswell who was elected to a three-year term. “I look forward to learning the operational aspects of the hospital and how both the vision and mission of the hospital are integrated into all the services provided,” said Buswell. “I want to contribute to our community by helping provide health care services that are vital to the wellness of everyone that lives in Tomah. Hopefully, I will bring a background in health care with a laboratory perspective, but also an understanding of how all services within the hospital need to work together for the overall health of our community,” she added.
Buswell fills the seat vacated by Thomas Bramwell who wrapped up two terms on the board including the last year as vice chair. Board member Keith Laugen, who had been treasurer, was elected vice chair. Second term board member John Laufenberg was elected treasurer, while Spencer Stephens was reelected secretary.
Remaining hospital board directors include Tomah area residents Greg Gaarder, Penny Precour and Sue Playter Mubarak. John Robertson III, M.D. and Jeffrey Cavaness, M.D. will also serve on the board as medical staff representatives. Dr. Cavaness had replaced Dr. Rod Erickson on the board after his term ended. Cavaness and Robertson both serve on the hospital Medical Executive committee, which meets monthly and oversees medical practices at Tomah Health.
In 2008, members of the former hospital corporation amended the organization’s Articles of Incorporation to allow for a self-perpetuating board, which relies on a nominating committee of board members and community leaders to nominate the new candidates. “The people that come onto the Tomah Health board of directors really want to give back,” Moser said. “Everyone is interested in recognizing the impact Tomah Health has on our community.”