To honor our Board of Directors, our staff donated $500 to the Moose Lake Area Chamber of Commerce. As a local business, we are grateful for all the support our Chamber provides to the community.
As most of us expected, the COVID-19 virus is still having a major impact in our lives and how we do business. We are very pleased to have kept our lobbies open and be able to serve our customers as needed. We have continued to work hard to provide a safe environment in our buildings and follow all the protocols for COVID-19. For everyone’s safety, we encourage you to use our drive ups, night drops, and electronic banking options when it makes sense for you to do so.
While I am personally a bit old fashioned, technology continues to shape our lives and how we do business. I miss not getting a daily newspaper delivered to my house that I can hold and read. But fewer and fewer people feel as I do, so my newspaper has gone away, and we are likewise finding the need to change to an electronic newsletter next quarter. We will be able to provide information more often and more timely with an electronic format. You will find our electronic newsletter on our website at www.firstmooselake.com.
Speaking of technology, we are planning to offer several enhancements to you in 2021 that we are excited to announce. Please be looking for those announcements, most of them scheduled for later in the year.
I hope you had a wonderful holiday season with your family and friends. We thank you for your business and support again this past year, and as always, we will continue to do everything we can to earn your trust and your business in the years ahead. On behalf of the directors and staff, I wish you all the best in 2021.
By Matt Doffing
COVID-19 could not have struck at a worse time for Mercy Hospital and its CEO Mike Youso. Months into merger talks with Essentia Health in March, the rise in coronavirus cases in Minnesota sent revenues reeling for the Moose Lake-based, critical-access hospital.
“When COVID-19 hit, we largely shut down all outpatient services — a large portion of our patient activity. We also saw the emergency room and inpatient activity drop off dramatically,” said Youso. “That translated to an almost-instantaneous, 50-percent reduction in revenue.”
While Mercy Hospital was a testing site for coronavirus, it sent COVID-19 patients to Duluth for treatment. Furloughs, which began in late March, were unavoidable for most employees. “It was nearly disastrous,” said Youso. “People avoided the hospital just out of fear of getting the virus.”
Furloughs, though, did not resolve the revenue-expense mismatch. Its emergency room remained open, and it needed staff to stay operational, even at the low activity levels allowed by Minnesota’s executive orders. Mercy Hospital needed a Paycheck Protection Program loan.
As Youso prepared to choose a lender, he consulted peers at hospitals in the Twin Cities. They already had gone through the process and highly recommended using a community bank for Mercy’s PPP loan. “One of my colleagues tried to get a PPP loan through a big bank, and they had so many struggles,” Youso said. “They went to a community bank and it got done.”
He decided to go to a community bank first. He chose First National Bank of Moose Lake. “It was the smoothest process I have ever experienced in banking,” said Youso, who was CFO of Fairview Hospital for 28 years and oversaw that system’s banking relationships. “It was so smooth and easy; I was honestly kind of shocked.”
Mercy Hospital chose the community bank’s experience when it chose its lender. “We are a locally-owned, employee-owned community bank; our only locations are in Moose Lake,” said Larry Peterson, president of First National Bank of Moose Lake. “We are deeply vested in the community and its success.
“When COVID-19 hit and businesses were impacted by huge revenue declines, we knew we had to be there for them immediately,” Peterson continued. “Our loan staff worked long hours, seven days a week, to understand the ever-changing PPP loan process, and to contact customers and offer assistance in getting applications submitted. I could not be prouder of our staff and the number of loans we submitted to help keep our community strong.”
Timely access to emergency funding allowed Youso to refocus on finalizing merger talks. “It was one less thing to worry about while we were trying to work through this merger,” he said. “We just closed the deal on August 1.”Download the Article (opens in new window/tab)