The Winneshiek Medical Center will welcome two new members to its Board of Trustees at the end of this year.

There are four candidates for two vacancies on the Board. Board members Arlene Houlihan and David Gehling will not be seeking additional terms.

Houlihan was appointed to the Board in 1999, replacing Brenda Carlson. She was publicly elected in November of 2000 and again in 2006. Gehling was appointed to replace Trustee Don Nelson in April of last year.

Candidates running in this year's election are Steve Hildebrand, Karl Jacobsen, David Kratz and Jim Tweedy, all of Decorah.

Hildebrand is a NICC and Luther College graduate and a veteran of the Air Force and Air National Guard. He works as an inspector for Norwegian Mutual Insurance in Decorah.

He said he believes Winneshiek Medical Center should honor any insurance, as long as the company is licensed by the state.

"But as a Board member, Iwould be one of just seven votes," he said.

Hildebrand added he thinks the most important responsibility of any board is to hire the right person, give them direction and then hold them accountable.

"I've always been a service-oriented person. If elected, I'll serve," he said.

Karl Jacobsen

Jacobsen has been a registered nurse for 35 years and a nursing home administrator for 28 years.

He is also a charter financial consultant for Berthel Fisher Financial of Marion.

He said he feels Decorah is fortunate to have the "health care Mecca" that it does, and he has an appreciation for the quality (health care) competitors in this community.

"It's unbelievably cost effective," he said.

With regard to the issues between Gundersen and WMC, he said he has more questions than answers, but feels the face of health care is going to be changing rapidly. He said the biggest challenge for health care organizations is how they will keep up with technology while maintaining affordability.

David Kratz

Kratz previously served on the WMC Board for 18 years, 10 of those as president. He retired from the Board in 2003.

With respect to the Gundersen insurance issue, he said he's not sure the Board will be in a position to further deal with it until the effects of the Affordable Care Act are evident.

"Insurances are going to be sold through exchanges and the Board doesn't know yet how that's all going to be handled. I'm not sure any resolution can be arrived at at this point in time," he said, adding his Board priorities include maintaining quality care and stabilizing WMC's financial situation.

Jim Tweedy

Jim Tweedy has worked in the health care industry for 38 years, establishing community collaborations and partnerships with various competing health care organizations both large and small.

He said while he understands there are some issues between WMC, Gundersen Lutheran and the Family Care Clinic, he feels the community can't afford to lose any of them.

"It's important to find common ground among these competing entities, " he said.

About the Board

WMC Board members are elected to six-year, revolving terms.

Houlihan and Gehling will serve until the end of December.

Trustee Clark Goltz is currently on the ballot for Winneshiek County Supervisor, District 4. He has said, if elected, he would resign from the Board. In that event, the Board would subsequently appoint a replacement.