North Shore Health Media Release States its Case About Recent Public Scrutiny 2.2.24

On Thursday, January 12, North Shore Health (NSH), which operates the hospital in Grand Marais, issued a lengthy media release titled “Findings of Facts and Conclusions” about three issues that have seen public comment in social media and newspapers. Board members met in a closed-door session under the “attorney-client privilege to discuss legal strategy related to potential litigation; to consider certain Review Organization Matters; and to consider contracts related to the Hospital’s competitive position.” 

The release states that NSH CEO Kimber Wraalstad was absent at the closed-door meeting.

The three issues the release addressed were: 

  • Termination of ER physician Dr. Dahlman by the firm Wapiti, which has secured ER doctors at NSH for many years. 
  • Ambulance service
  • Hospital Lab

Regarding Dr. Dahlman, the release reports that his contract with Wapiti was terminated after he was asked repeatedly by Wapiti to cease undermining their administrative decisions. He didn’t stop his behavior, which Wapiti determined was disruptive to its operations.

Next, the release states that Wapiti reviews “Clarity reports from NSH’s Quality Improvement Department and identified certain clinical behaviors.” The release does not spell out the clinical behaviors that NSH reported but implies those may have contributed to his termination.

The section on Dr. Dahlman concluded with a suggestion that the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic could hire him to “ensure that Dr. Dahlman’s medical services would remain available to the community.”

Regarding the ambulance services, the release acknowledges that “there may have been some morale issues in the past.” They say that under the new leadership, the ambulance services are fully staffed and enthusiastic.” The statement adds, “While some former employees are unhappy with their tenure, current employees voice no similar concerns.”

Addressing staff turnover and morale issues in the onsite laboratory, the release said the board requested a meeting with the interim Lab Director. They also spoke with a psychologist from the Sand Creek EAP. This Minneapolis firm is part of AllOne Health, which provides Employee Assistance Programs to various organizations.  NSH retained Sand Creek to improve interpersonal issues and communication among lab personnel in 2022 and 2023.

The psychologist recommended that NSH hire a “Lab Mentor” to support the lab, which it did. With leadership changes, the Lab Mentor was promoted to Interim Laboratory Administrative Director. 

Acknowledging that many lab employees resigned during these two years, NSH says, “The Lab is currently appropriately staffed, and morale is reported to be good.”

The Board has unanimously agreed that in these three matters, all public allegations contrary to its stated positions  are “unfounded and in some cases, misrepresent the facts or are simply untrue.”

The release addresses the local physicians who were vocal about the hospital and its handling of Dr. Dahlman's termination. It states that the board believes personal attacks by these physicians and others, which they don’t identify here, have been “grossly unfair.”

The Board then alleges, “Candidly, they appear to be using Dr. Dahlman’s situation to pursue some unknown personal agenda at the expense of NSH.” 

Without support for those allegations, the release goes on, “The outspoken physicians associated with the Clinic (Sawtooth Mountain Clinic) are people of influence within their organization and in the community. Yet they have not offered to employ Dr. Dahlman.”

The release goes on to imply that there are some deeper secrets at play. “The silence from the Clinic physicians on this obvious solution (retaining Dr. Dahlman) speaks volumes.”

The report concludes with the board spelling out its legal responsibilities and stating it considers all three matters closed. 

The full report is published on the NSH website: