LRH Community Garden honored by MHA for Community Benefit

Minnesota Hospital Association’s annual awards recognize patient safety, volunteerism, innovations in patient care, hospital excellence


PAUL – Lake Region Healthcare’s Community Garden, “Lake Region Takes Root” was among the innovative programs and outstanding leaders in health care honored by The Minnesota Hospital Association (MHA) at its 32nd annual awards ceremony.


Seventeen awards were given for extraordinary achievement in categories ranging from advocacy on behalf of hospitals and volunteerism to innovation and improvement in patient care and patient safety.

“Each day, all across the state, Minnesota’s hospitals and health systems are working to strengthen the health of our communities,” said MHA President and CEO Lawrence Massa. “Lake Region Takes Root” is centered on the concept that to achieve optimal health, members of the hospital’s community and region need access to affordable fresh produce.


Through its community health needs assessment, LRH learned that regularly accessing affordable produce was a concern for the community. To address this issue, a land donation of 1.5 acres in a residential neighborhood within the city limits was leveraged to create a community garden used to grow fresh fruits and vegetables for families in Otter Tail County who have the most difficulty accessing healthy foods. Food grown at the garden is planted, tended to and harvested by volunteers and then donated to families participating in the Women, Infant and Children Program in Otter Tail County, as well as to three area food shelves (Fergus Falls, Battle Lake and Pelican Rapids).


In 2015, Lake Region Healthcare grew 7,781 pounds of food, impacting 3,500 individuals in the community. And it’s done almost exclusively with volunteer manpower. In 2015, over 384 individuals and 18 community organizations such as the Noon Rotary Club, scouting troops, financial institutions, and church youth groups, logged over 2,183 volunteer hours at the garden. “We have fantastic leadership from Jason Bergstrand, Garden Project Coordinator coupled with facilitation of our many faithful volunteers by Laura Gervais, LRH Volunteer Coordinator. As a result, this project has been a great example of our community coming together to improve both the quality of life and the health of neighbors in need,” according to LRH CEO Larry Schulz. “This honor belongs to the community,” he added.


The full list of award recipients honored at the May 20th MHA Awards Banquet includes:


American Hospital Association Grassroots Champion: Dr. Steven Mulder, president and CEO, Hutchinson Health


Best Minnesota Hospital Workplace: Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare, Saint Paul; River’s Edge Hospital & Clinic, Saint Peter


Caregiver of the Year: Dr. Andrew Kopperud, Sanford Westbrook Medical Center


Community Benefit: Lake Region Healthcare, Fergus Falls; Cuyuna Regional Medical Center, Crosby

Good Catch for Patient Safety: Sherrie Eischens, RN, CHI St. Joseph’s Health, Park Rapids

Innovation of the Year in Patient Care: Regions Hospital, Saint Paul; New Ulm Medical Center

Patient Safety Improvement: Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare, Saint Paul; River’s Edge Hospital & Clinic, Saint Peter


Public Achievement: The Honorable Lucinda Jesson, former commissioner, Minnesota Department of Human Services


Spirit of Advocacy: Joy Plamann, section director of hospital medicine, CentraCare Health


Stephen Rogness Distinguished Service Award: John Fossum, CEO, Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital


Trustee of the Year: Ron Osladil, Essentia Health-Sandstone


Volunteer of the Year Award: Bob Nelson, St. Cloud Hospital, CentraCare Health


Associate Member of the Year: Witt/Kieffer


Please visit the MHA website for descriptions of the 2016 award winners:


About MHA: The Minnesota Hospital Association represents 137 hospitals and health systems, which provide quality care for their patients and meet the needs of their communities


About Lake Region Healthcare: Lake Region Healthcare is living out its vision to be Minnesota’s preeminent regional healthcare partner. With over 80 Medical Staff and over 900 employees, its team is dedicated to serving its patients and community with integrity, teamwork, compassion and excellence. For more information about Lake Region Healthcare, visit                                                               


Attached Photo:

MHA Community Benefit Award, Large Hospital accepted by Lake Region Healthcare CEO Larry Schulz, Director of Wellness Natalie Knutson and Volunteer Coordinator, Laura Gervais.

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