Interim CEO of Orchard Hospital Jim Opdahl wasted no time in getting involved in the community when he arrived at his new job last Wednesday.
On Thursday he was meeting foundation members and attending the BBQ held for National Hospital Week after the Teddy Bear Clinic and was arrested the next day spending time in the Unjustice Court Jail for Red Suspenders Day.
On Saturday, Opdahl was invited to sit at the announcers booth and get a good look at the parade up close and personal before spending time in the hospital's free give-way booth in Daddow Park.
Come Monday morning Opdahl was in his office ready for a busy week and looking forward to what needed his attention.
Opdahl and his wife Sandie live in Bismark, North Dakota where he was born and raised. He graduated from the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks in 1977 in General Business Administration after going through a nursing program for two years.
Opdahl decided nursing wasn't for him, he would rather be an administrator, the title he has held since 1983 in several different capacities.
He has served as administrator in long term care facilities, skilled nursing, small critical access hospitals, such as Orchard Hospital and in 1990 formed his own company, Frontier Health Group, specializing in interim hospital administration.
Opdahl has commuted throughout North Dakota, working several years in several different hospitals as an interim and he really enjoys this vocation.
He has worked every facet of health care and looks forward to challenges.
“I like getting a fresh look, seeing the challenges up front,” he explained.
He especially likes the title of “interim” because it usually means short term, anywhere from six months to years.
Opdahl and his wife enjoy golfing and kayaking. They were married in 1977, the year he graduated from college.
Sandie is an RN and they have three sons and one “grand-dog.”
The Opdahl's will be moving to Fort Myers, Florida soon but he knows he is going to be spending his time in Gridley from three to six months while the search for a full time CEO is being done.
Opdahl has enjoyed his short time here so far and especially is grateful for the warm temperature.
“It's great to be able to sit outside and have a meal,” he said.
Bismark, North Dakota is rapidly growing and the population of 60,000 is increasing steadily according to Opdahl.
After having five months off, Opdahl is ready for work.
He met with department managers of the hospital last week and was very impressed with the backgrounds he heard as each one introduced themselves.
“All that background and expertise is priceless. We have more experience in a small facility because everyone has to wear so many hats,” he explained.
“As a critical access hospital we can assess and treat patients, stabilize them if they need to be transferred. The new ER department will be a huge asset. The ER doctors are a great asset, board certified and here 24 hours seven days a week,” he stated.
In hearing the story how the hospital had been sold to another hospital in 2009 and then got it back by raising a huge amount of money I think is excellent. People can come here and learn a lot from the staff,” he stated.
The year to date data for the Medical Specialty Center shows an increase of 17.5 percent over last year at this time and the Emergency Department shows an increase of 11.1 percent.
“The growth of the Foundation shows community support which is so important from an economic standpoint. I think the community realizes that,” he stated.