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Friday November 16th 2018

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Interview with Former Allina CEO Gordon Sprenger

Interview by Harvey Winje

The Alley Newspaper’s Editor, Harvey Winje, recently interviewed Gordon Sprenger, the former Abbott Northwestern Hospital President and CEO of Allina. The purpose of the interview was to talk with Sprenger about earlier attempts of Abbott Northwestern Hospital to develop ongoing, intentional relationships with the community. The expressed purpose was the mutually beneficial coexistence of the institution and urban community in a time of rapid evolution beginning in the 1970’s within the health care industry.

Gordon Sprenger’s first job within the health care industry began after getting a masters degree in Hospital Administration from the University of MN in 1961, a hospital residency in Milwaukee, WI, and 3 years of running a hospital in San Francisco while in the Air Force. His first job at Northwestern Hospital was in 1967 as Assistant Administrator. He became the Administrator shortly after Abbott and Northwestern Hospitals merged administratively in 1970. He was President/CEO of Abbott Northwestern (A/N) from 1971 to 1995. He served simultaneously as President/CEO of the newly formed LifeSpan (forerunner to HealthSpan), and eventually, Allina, until 2002.

During his time at Abbott Northwestern, Gordon Sprenger began a Community Advisory Committee in 1969. This group of neighbors and hospital leaders met monthly. Sprenger and the Board Chair of the Hospital also met quarterly with the Chair of the CAC Committee. Harvey Winje served as the Chair of the CAC for six years from 1981 to 1987. The CAC was disbanded much to the immediate neighborhood’s dismay in 2008.

ALLEY: Why did Abbott Hospital and Northwestern Hospital merge?
Gordon Sprenger: “The increased sophistication of healthcare personnel and the technology that was emerging necessitated larger facilities with more ability to absorb the changes practically and financially. It was a tumultuous time internally because not everyone agreed with consolidating into larger institutions. For example, doctors at Abbott appreciated their smaller facility and didn’t want to merge into the Chicago Ave site. In many ways, I agreed with them. We all liked the intimacy of a smaller institution. It allowed for great apple pies that were homemade in the kitchen at Abbott Hospital. I’m a small town guy. I like going into the grocery store where people know each other. If one goes into a grocery store now, no one knows each other. But, it wasn’t going to be possible to stay alive in the healthcare industry maintaining small hospitals.”

ALLEY: What are some examples of other major changes to health care institutions which occurred during your tenure?
GS: “There were financial changes and opportunities that became apparent such as the advantage of being able to negotiate with larger purchasers of healthcare (insurers, large employers, etc.,) on a regional basis whereas singular hospitals and clinics couldn’t do that. Also, with the tremendous explosion of medical technology and programmatic advancements in medicine, you needed the scale of volume of patients to afford the investments, which couldn’t happen in small institutions. Metropolitan Medical Center Inc., had been formed in 1966 as a cooperative system linking St. Barnabas and Swedish Hospitals and the latter merged with Mt. Sinai Hospital. We formed LifeSpan in 1982 to be that sort of centralized bargaining unit and healthcare provider. There were subsequent mergers; for example, with Health One (which included Metropolitan Medical Center at that time) so we became HealthSpan in 1993, then became Allina after merging with an HMO called Medica in 1995 to be an integrated healthcare system. And, finally, that was split into two entities, Allina and Medica, in 2002.

ALLEY: What is Allina?
GS: “It is a ‘not for profit’ parent company of various hospitals and clinics spread within the central cities and outstate that are owned by the Allina corporation. These hospitals include: Abbott-Northwestern and Phillips Eye Institute in Minneapolis; United in St. Paul, Unity in Fridley, Mercy in Coon Rapids, St. Francis Medical Center in Shakopee, and many clinics within the city and throughout the state. “

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May What and Where is this in PHILLIPS Community?

May Phillips What Where?

Identify what and where of this photo and win a chance for a drawing for a $10.00 Gift Certificate to Welna Hardware on Bloomington Avenue.
About the March
Phillips What Where
NO ONE had Correct answers in March. So here they are:

  1. Phillips Jr High School demolished in 1984, School Board bought Mt. Sinai Hosp. 4 blocks away 5 years later.
  2. Cowles family, previous owner of Star Tribune was the last family to still live in a Park Ave. mansion.
  3. 6 Phillips schools were torn down— Elementary: Adams, Clinton, Greeley, & Irving; Phillips Junior High, South Senior High.
  4. True; Welna Hardware was across street; previous owner John Dalsin Roofing & Sheet Metal Co. who had the store in the building that is now Na-way-ee, Center School.
  5. Marion Savage buried, Dan Patch, his famous race horse at Savage, MN.
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Minneapolis Park Board Issues RFP for Phillips Community Center

Special to the Alley Newspaper by Robert Albee, Ventura Village Secretary

In its April 21st regularly scheduled Wednesday night meeting, the Minneapolis Park Board voted unanimously to issue a Request For Proposal (RFP) seeking qualified partners to “add programming and services… compli-mentary to the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board [MPRB].” The document issued by the Board is seeking to utilize “all the space available in the building for community use,” by tenants who have the resources to renovate or build out the space and provide income to offset building utilities and operating costs that include long term renovation needs. The Park Board is also seeking “a services provider with a strong interest in the community and a solid reputation for service.”

Reactions were mixed at a Monday, April 19th meeting called by the Park Board at Phillips’ Stewart Park. At that meeting, MPRB Commissioner Scott Vreeland read the RFP aloud to the assembled group of attendees. Several residents spoke out about the responsibility of the Park Board to serve all the people and not just the highest bidders. Others reminded the attending commissioners that there are 7,000 youth and children in Phillips which is far more than other better-served parks.
Robert Albee of Ventura Village spoke in favor of the RFP by saying that he appreciated having real guidelines publicly issued and the elimination of a single entity being expected to “take over” the facility and operate it. Having written many grants and proposals in the past, he said he relished the chance to help get the Phillips Community Center operating again in a sustainable way.
As approved and published, the following schedule was given:

April 21, 2010: Board approved release of the Phillips Community Center Request for Proposals
April 30, 2010: Request for Proposals released.
June 4, 2010 10 am to noon: Walk through at the facility for interested parties
July 9, 2010 at 4 P.M.: Proposals Due 2117 West River Road Minneapolis, MN 55411
To be scheduled in July and August, 2010: Proposal Presentations to Committee
August 18, 2010: Recommendations Presented to the Park Commissioners
September 1, 2010: Final Board Action
By October 1, 2010: Contract(s) Executed
During deliberations between MPRB commissioners, other parts of the RFP were discussed. Commissioner-At-Large and Vice President Annie Young raised concerns received in emails that language included in the document could be construed to give the Park Board free use of proposers ideas while rejecting their proposal. The passage read as follows: “All proposals become the property of the Board and the Board shall have the right to use all ideas, and/or adaptations of those ideas, contained in any proposal received in response to this RFP.” Although the next sentence suggested that materials marked confidential, proprietary, or trade secret would be exempted this seems to address another issue.

For example, if a proposer wants to install or operate a simulated bowling alley and other activities using popular Wii Fit hardware and software, the Park Board can reject that proposal and purchase its own equipment and offer that service, or find another vendor to provide that service even though the chosen vendor never proposed that idea originally. Given that the original proposer would use off-the-shelf hardware and software, there are no trade secrets contained in the proposal. Thus, the original proposer would have the feeling that their good idea was stolen and given to another proposer.

In preparing this report an effort was made to find the RFP online at the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board website. Action was taken on 22 April 2010, but it is not posted. For a copy of the RFP please email me and I will send you one that I had gotten while it was in the proposal stage of approval. I believe that this document is the same as the approved and issued RFP. My email is ralbee4045@aol.com. Ask for the MPRB RFP of 22 April 2010. You can also call the Park Board at 612.230.6400 and ask for a copy of the document.

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Daughters of the War of 1812 , The Second War of Independence, will Honor Sergeant James Nettle

Sgt. Glover's Second Marker

By Sue Hunter Weir

The Daughters of the War of 1812 will rededicate the marker of Sergeant James Nettle Glover, one of three confirmed War of 1812 veterans buried in Minneapolis Pioneers and Soldiers Memorial Cemetery. The other two veterans, Asa Clark Brown and Walter P. Carpenter, will be honored in 2011 and 2012 respectively. John Carpenter, Walter’s brother, may well turn out to be a War of 1812 veteran as well. If that turns out to be the case, four of the approximately 200 War of 1812 veterans known to have died in Minnesota will be buried in Pioneers and Soldiers Cemetery.
All of these veterans were interesting men, perhaps none more so than James Nettle Glover. Mr. Glover was born in Fort Tobacco, Maryland, in 1793. When the War of 1812 began, Mr. Glover enlisted; he was eventually promoted to sergeant.

Following the war, Mr. Glover and all of his siblings, moved to St. Louis, Missouri. It was there that he met and married Elizabeth Dozier. One of the compensations that veterans received was 160 acres of land. Mr. Glover claimed his land and began farming. Although Missouri was admitted to the union as a slave state in 1820, Mr. Glover did not use slave laborers on his farm: all of the men who worked for him were paid for their work. In 1820, anti-slavery and pro-slavery congressmen reached an agreement under which Missouri was admitted to the union as a slave state.

A deeply religious man, Mr. Glover reached the decision that he could no longer participate in slavery in any form. In 1845, he became one of several Missouri residents who pulled up stakes and moved to Grant County, Wisconsin, an area that became known as “Abolition Hollow.” Many of those who migrated brought their former slaves with them, emancipated them and helped them establish farms in the region. The area became an important stop on the Midwest’s Underground Railroad.

In their old age, James and Elizabeth Glover, moved to Minneapolis to stay with Sophie Jodon, the eighth of their twelve children. In 1870, Elizabeth Glover went on a trip back to Missouri. While she was there visiting with friends, she died unexpectedly. Mr. Glover continued living with his daughter and her husband, George Jodon. Mr. Jodon was civil engineer whose accomplishments included constructing a crystal dome on the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. The dome was destroyed in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

On May 31, 1873, Mr. Glover died following a stroke. He is buried next to his granddaughter, Catherine May Jodon, who died in 1885, from an abscessed liver; she was 14 years old. Mr. Glover’s son-in-law, George Jodon, who died in December 1888, from heart disease at the age of 56, is also buried in the family plot.

This year, Sergeant James Nettle Glover will be honored by the Daughters of the War of 1812, a volunteer service organization, dedicated to preserving the memory of War of 1812 veterans. Mr. Glover has two markers: one a family marker and the other a military marker that was placed on his grave in 1942. The rededication ceremony will take place at 9 a.m. on Monday, May 31st (Memorial Day). Please join us in honoring a man who followed his heart and principles.

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SEARCHING – a Serial Novelle CHAPTER 14: Darkness and Light

By Patrick Cabello Hansel
Angel and Luz went on talking for what seemed to be for hours, hours of sitting among the dusty puppets and masks, telling their stories as they had never been told. Their bodies kept inching towards each other, a trusting born not only of desire, but of a calling deep within: a calling to heal and be healed. Just as they were at the point, that fulcrum of leaning into the other, a leaning that could mean kissing each other or helping each other to their feet, there was a loud BOOM! from the street corner, and the lights in the building flared and went out. Completely. Total darkness.

“What was that?” Angel asked, his body shaking.

“I think it’s a blackout”, Luz replied.

“Now what do we do?” Angel asked.

Luz paused in her reply. She knew that a kiss was on her heart and on Angel’s, but that the time for it to be fulfilled had been changed, by the stealing of the light. A first kiss is not good in the dark. You want to see your beloved being born before your eyes, you want to cherish the sight of delight reflected back to your body, your spirit, your self.

“I think we need to go and see what happened”, she finally said.

So they groped and stumbled their way to a window. Outside the street was dark, with a few shadowy figures moving around. Some looked like cops, some like those the cops might be chasing. Across the street there were a few white people holding up signs condemning the raid, and a few Latinos. One of them carried a large statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe, another seemed to be singing.

“I had almost forgotten that today is Guadalupe’s day”, Luz said.

“It’s December 12 already?” Angel replied. He realized that the days he had spent unconscious from the beating and the days of his search had scrambled his sense of time. All he knew now was that he wanted, he needed to stick to Luz. Stick to the girl whose name meant light. He remembered the gifts Mother Light had given him in the backpack.

“Hey, I’ve got a candle and some matches here”, Angel told Luz. “It will help us get out.”
And so, by the light of one candle they found the stairway, and by the light of that same candle they found the door that lead to the alley. New snow had covered the footprints of the chased and the chasers. It was almost as if the world was new for the two

“Which way should we go?” Angel asked.

“I want to find Uncle Jaime”, Luz said, softly

“But we can’t go back to the bakery. The Migra might still be there.”

“But where should we go?” Luz asked.

“I think my teacher might be able to help us.”

“Your teacher? I didn’t know you were studying some where”, Luz said.

Angel realized that what Luz had said was true and not true. He was not enrolled in college or technical school, he was studying anything. But he was learning a lot, about himself and about the neighborhood. Finally, he spoke:

“I’m trying to learn, Luz. I’m trying to study where I came from and where I’m going.”

“And now you have me to help you.”

“Yes”, Angel said. Yes, a simple yes that was stronger than the kiss he had anticipated when they were inside. Yes, Angel thought, yes, now I have a true companion, someone to walk with, someone who would understand.

“Do you believe that owls really speak to humans?” Angel asked.

“I do. I think they speak for us as well.”

“For us? What do you mean by that?”

“Let’s go. I’ll tell you as we walk.”

Luz smiled and took Angel’s hand, and they began to walk.

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“Food Obsession”: IMBY Eating

by Jane Thomson
We all know what a “NIMBY” is: someone who says “Not In My Back Yard” about having an objectionable facility near her home.

But for some good, inexpensive and interesting eating, you might look to your back yard. If your yard is sunny, you might plant vegetables; but that is an article I will leave for a more knowledgeable person to write. You might have something yummy already on your property and not be aware of it. There are many mulberry trees in Phillips. Often the berries are left to fall on the ground and rot for most of the summer. The berries taste like (expensive) blackberries – “better”, my granddaughter says. Pick all the berries you can reach; or use a sturdy ladder; or spread an old sheet on the ground and shake the branches with a broomstick. Also, you might have some rhubarb back there somewhere. It is a perennial and comes up untended for years. Or get some at the Midtown Public Market or at the Midtown Global Market.

Here are some flexible recipes for mulberry and rhubarb treats:
Mulberry Smoothie
Mulberries, milk, ice cream or frozen yoghurt, powdered milk? (for extra nutrition)
If you have a blender, put everything in and run it briefly. If not, smash the mulberries with a fork, potato masher or mortar and pestle. Quickly mix with the other ingredients with a spoon or wire whip. This makes a good breakfast, lunch or snack.
Mulberry Tart
Mulberries, a little sugar, a can of “lite” refrigerated crescent rolls
Open the rolls into their triangle forms. Put the dough triangles into non-stick muffin tins or onto a greased cookie sheet. Put a spoonful of berries and a bit of sugar in the middle of each. Seal dough over berries, and bake using the temperature and length recommended on the can for the rolls.
“What’s the Rhubarb?” (For some obscure reason that’s what I called this dish when I came up with it about twenty or so years ago.)
About 3 c. of rhubarb chunks, one small package each of orange and of strawberry or strawberry-kiwi Jello (I used sugar-free), A small dish of Cool Whip
Cut off the rhubarb leaves – they are poisonous. Wash rhubarb well. Cut it into chunks of about one inch. Cook the rhubarb with about 1 ½ cups of water and a dash of salt until it is very soft, about 10-15 minutes. Dissolve the Jello into the rhubarb mixture. Refrigerate until mixture starts to get solid. Mix in from 2 c. of Cool Whip to the whole dish (wash and save dish for re-use later). Refrigerate until solid. If you did not use all the Cool Whip, top servings with the rest of it.

A CORRECTION: Last month I missed an ingredient in the fruit dip ( I found the recipe later under “desserts” instead of “fruits”): Beside concentrated orange juice and yoghurt, sugar-free vanilla pudding mix was involved, thus making the mixture more solid and less tart. As it was, I found it especially good on bananas; and the thinner dip and just plain concentrated o.j. made good salad dressing.
More low–cal fruit dips at another time.

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Fish Tank & Repo Man

Fish Tank

by Howard McQuitter

Fish Tank (2009)
****

Lagoon
Drama
Running time: 123 minutes
Director: Andrea Arnold
Unrated

The movie starts rather slowly, but the plot becomes more clear as the main character Mia (Katie Jarvis) waddles through meaning her life at age 15. She feels trapped by her environment in the projects in an English city. Her mother Joanne (Kiersten Wareino), is a blond busty woman who loves to party and dance.

Mia’s little sister Tyler (Rebecca Griffins) plays around the tenement though she would often prefer following Mia around. Joanne’s boyfriend Connor (Michael Fassbender of “Inglorious Basterds” and “Hunger”) seems okay, a happy-go-lucky guy with a job at a factory.

The film is seen through the eyes of Misa, a school drop out, teased by boys in the neighborhood and she’s a loner. She often uses a vacant apartment above her own to practice break-dancing while watching break-dance videos. She tries to free a horse but is physically confronted by gypsy boys. Much like Mike Leigh’s films on English working class alienation, Arnold’s “Fish Tank” depicts the alienation of Mia in particular, but the characters in general.

“Fish Tank” won the jury prize at last year’s Cannes Film Festival. Andrea Arnold (“Red Road) won an Oscar for her 2003 short “Wasp”. She picks a cockney Katie Jarvis, her debut, for “Fish Tank” a mesmerizing performance by the 18 year old.

The sexual undertones by Connor toward Mia are very, very subtle. Connor’s fetish is a case of Euphebophilia, not pedophila. “Fish Tank” can be said to be a much milder version of “Precious” with the characters being Caucasians.

Repo Man (2010)
*
Rosedale 8
Drama
Running time: 111 minutes
Director: Miguel Sapachnik
Rated: R

Oh, how wonderful it is for friends to endure to the end of the film in spite of differences along the way? What is not wonderful but very stinky is the move “Repo Man”, morbidly crass, cinematically dull, and filled with vapid dialogue.
Jake (Forest Whitaker) and Remy (Jude Law) work for a med-tech giant called “The Union” run by Frank (Liv Schreider) who provides artificial organs at the low cost with 17.9% interest. But if the customers default their payments, the grim reaper Remy or Jake come take back the organs, leaving the recipients dead. This ludicrous science fiction has the temerity to steal from far better crafts – Terry Gillian’s “Brazil” (1985) and Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner” (1982) and some futuristic films decisively mediocre but still above the ugly duckling “Repo Men”.

The films is a waste certainly for Forest Whitaker and a downer for Jude Law who is coming off an average (if not miscast) character of Dr. John Watson in “Sherlock Holmes”. As for Liv Schreider, a script full of pidgin English is enough for an insomniac to go to sleep.

“Repo Man” is based on a science fiction novel by Eric Garcia (I haven’t read the novel) which spawns Sapachnik’s ill-conceived dystopian film that begs the question, “Why was it ever made”?

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Dave’s Dumpster May 2010

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“Thoughts From Powderhorn Lake”

by Peter Molenaar

At every mid-month, contributors to The Alley are pressed into duty (or are otherwise moved by a profound love). Consequently, this writer missed ice-out day at Powderhorn—so be it. Now, at mid-April, a nice start towards a summer tan has been achieved thanks to the early spring warm-up.

Folks who descend each year to feed ducks and geese are greeted as well by the raucous demands of visiting gulls—intelligent birds who speak directly. Having satisfied them, a small group formed next to me upon the concrete ledge which holds the shore line. I was awe-struck. Gulls are utterly handsome and exquisitely evolved birds. Sensing my new-found admiration, in unison they turned to display the V formed by their black trim tail feathers. I had been invited to join the flock.
Question: Does an early spring coupled with a cold winter mean that the global warming disbelievers club can have its cake and eat it too?

It was supposed to have been a warm El Nino winter. Right? What happened to the associated upper air current which normally then restricts the Arctic air mass to the north of us? Contrary to expectations, we endured the usual infusions of cold air which press south across mid-continent all the way to Texas. Hey, it felt like global cooling to me.

Actually, no one wants to believe in global warming. However, the El Nino effect, associated with the upwelling of warm Pacific water at the equator, has been over-ruled by a new phenomenon induced by global warming (sorry). Specifically, the body of North Pacific water found west of Alaska has begun to heat up. The resulting updraft of warm air will now constrict the annual accumulation of winter Arctic air such that it must spread out to the south across land. Hence, El Nino will be over-powered.

The kicker is this: Given the fact of global warming, our Arctic air when pressed to southern latitudes will heat more rapidly thus hastening the arrival of spring—not all immediately bad for the inhabitants of the North American continent it would seem. But don’t sing “God Bless America” too loudly, please.

We shall assume that our “disbelievers” are familiar with the projected consequences, including the economic and ecological interconnections for which there is no immunity. They simply reject the underlying premise (sorry, once again).

Will we begin a sustained attack on global warming or remain in a fossil fuel/carbon based economy (forever!)? I suggest, dear people, that the solution will require a significant fiscal expansion (not contraction and market forces) coupled with radically redefined priorities.
Meanwhile, the CEO of UnitedHealth, the Minnetonka based health insurer, received a $102 million “compensation” in 2009. Sure am glad we had people rioting in the streets on behalf of Stephen Hemsley’s freedom. Which is to say, I might yet decide to join that flock of gulls.

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Kudos: Little Earth Urban Farm

Little Earth Urban Farm

By Harvey Winje
The May 2010 KUDOS is the Little Earth of United Tribe Urban Farm Project for its ambitious conversion of vacant land into many raised beds for growing food locally.

Last year a busload of people went to Milwaukee to see Will Allen’s farm project. The group came back excited about the possibilities for growing food, developing jobs and even preserving traditional culture.

Last year 40 residents of Little Earth of United Tribes signed up as did 25 people from other organizations. This year on Earth Day the Little Earth Urban Farm project began the growing season by clearing stones and unwanted objects from the very large plot between the Hiawatha sound wall and the road east of Little Earth. People of all ages hauled wood chips, mixed in compost, and thus made rich one-foot beds of soil. They also planted lilacs along the wall and other plants and seeds in the beds.

A sign of pure enthusiasm and optimism was carried in on the shoulders of several adults; a wooden picnic table brightly painted by pre-school students and placed beneath a nearby tree ready for the first harvest picnic.

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