328 West Conan Street, Ely, Minnesota 55731

Hospital Connection

At Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital, our business is caring for people. EBCH wants to make sure everyone in our community has the most up-to-date information about the hospital, its history and our services. That’s why we’re featuring common questions about the hospital each week – questions answered by our own staff! We will provide exciting information about EBCH, our newest services and how we are a partner in the communities we serve.

Week of May 20, 2024 - Mammography

Q: What is a Mammogram?

A: A mammogram is a specialized type of X-ray imaging used to screen for breast cancer in its early stages. During a mammogram, the breast is compressed between two plates, and X-ray images are taken from various angles. These images can reveal abnormal growths or changes in breast tissue that may indicate the presence of cancerous or precancerous cells.

Q: Who should get a Mammogram?

A: The guidance regarding when to start screening with mammograms has recently been in the news, along with updated guidance. We always recommend speaking with your Primary Care Provider to

determine the best course of action for you. Typically, mammograms are recommended for women aged 40 and should be done annually after that. Women at higher risk, such as those with a family history of breast cancer or specific genetic mutations, may need to start screening earlier or undergo additional screening tests, such as breast MRI.

Q: Can I get my Mammogram at Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital?

A: Yes – 2D and 3D Mammograms are available at EBCH. It is always recommended that you contact your insurance company to determine what type of mammography is covered. Contact our Radiology Department at 218-365-8737 for complete details.

Q: What is Hospital Week?

A: Hospital Week is an annual celebration dedicated to honoring the vital contributions of hospitals and healthcare professionals to their communities. At Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital (EBCH), we have a dedicated team that plans activities and events to show our staff how much we appreciate their hard work. This year, activities include an all-staff lunch, BINGO, and Root Beer Making with the Dorothy Molter Museum.

Q: When is Hospital Week celebrated?

A: Hospital Week typically occurs in the second week of May each year. It allows hospitals and healthcare organizations to recognize and appreciate their staff’s hard work and dedication. Hospital Week typically follows Nurse’s Week, which coincides with Florence Nightingale’s birthday.

Q: Why is Hospital Week important?

A: Hospital Week is important because it raises awareness about hospitals’ critical role in providing essential healthcare services, promoting wellness, and saving lives. It’s also a time that fosters a strong sense of pride and unity among healthcare professionals, acknowledging their tireless efforts in caring for patients and supporting their communities.

** EBCH is so thankful for the wonderful team of healthcare professionals that work with us to provide high quality care to the patients and community we serve. **

Q: Why did EBCH commission a study of Emergency Medical Services?

A: As the only local hospital, Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital (EBCH) is an essential part of the healthcare sector, and we take our responsibility of caring for the communities we serve very seriously. We understand and know the challenges Emergency Medical Services (EMS) face at the national, state, and local levels. We acknowledge the instability of the current climate facing EMS and have proactively taken the initiative to commission a study that examines all possible options to create a sustainable and viable solution for EMS in our region.

Q: Did EBCH see the results of this study?

A: Yes – on April 30, 2024, the SafeTech Solutions Team presented the EBCH Board of Directors with a comprehensive report on their commissioned study. The report presented four models as potential solutions for the EMS sustainability problem. While many models were considered, the proposed solutions were meticulously analyzed and presented to the board clearly and concisely. The board was impressed with the quality of the report and looks forward to sharing the results publicly.

Q: What are the next steps?

A: To show respect and inclusivity toward all the parties involved in the study, EBCH has decided to develop a rollout plan that will include a public presentation. This presentation will be open to all those who participated in the study and any members of the public interested in the future of Emergency Medical Services in our service area. Coordinating the presentation will take some time, but we will advertise the date well in advance.

Q: What is the difference between a Doctor and a Provider?

A: Provider is a generalized term for individuals with varying healthcare-related education, degrees, and training. Mainly used interchangeably with Doctor or Physician, the term Provider could also refer to a physician’s Assistant, Nurse Practitioner, or Hospitalist.

Q: Who are the Providers at EBCH?

A: The main entrance point into the hospital is through the Emergency Department (ED). EBCH currently employs six Physicians who work in the ED. If we cannot ensure the 24/7 coverage required in the ED, EBCH utilizes additional Physicians through a contracted service. If you are an inpatient at the hospital, you may also see your Primary Care Provider. This group of doctors comprises our current medical staff, led by our chief medical officer, Dr. Brock Urie.

Healthcare can be confusing. As you navigate our healthcare system, please remember that three separate entities share our campus: Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital, Essentia Health—Ely Clinic, and Boundary Waters Care Center.

Q: Are there other Doctors available at EBCH?

A: Yes – EBCH works with visiting Providers to offer additional access to specialists on our campus. These Providers, experts in their respective fields, are available to consult and treat specific conditions, providing a convenient and comprehensive healthcare experience. They currently include:

  • Dr. Sam Harms, Orthopaedics
  • Dr. Katie Evans, Podiatry
  • Dr. McKee, Gastroenterology
  • Dr. John Bollins, General Surgery

Other Physicians may utilize our Surgical suites to perform procedures such as colonoscopies. EBCH is also proud to partner with Christian Cavalier of Lake County Anesthesia, LLC, to ensure the highest level of patient care during surgical procedures. For more information on scheduling an appointment with one of the Specialty Providers, please contact us at 218-365-8793.

Q: What is the DEA National Rx Takeback Day?

A: The DEA National Rx Takeback Day, scheduled for Saturday, April 27, 2024, is an initiative by the Drug Enforcement Agency that relies on the active participation of our community to collect and safely dispose of unused medications. According to the DEA website, 332 tons of unused medication were collected during their April 2023 Takeback Day. Too often, unused prescription drugs find their way into the wrong hands, resulting in dangerous and often tragic outcomes. By participating in this initiative, we can all play a part in preventing such incidents.

Q: Why should I dispose of unused medication?

A: Unused or expired prescription medications are a personal concern and a public safety issue. Proper disposal of unneeded drugs is a crucial step that saves lives, protects the environment, and enhances the health of our community. By preventing medication misuse, overdose, and addiction, your decision to dispose of your old, unused, or unneeded medications can make a significant difference in our community’s safety and health.

Q: Locally, where can I safely dispose of unused medications?

A: Sites are available throughout the communities that EBCH serves. These sites are available for anonymous medication disposal; no questions will be asked.

  • Ely City Hall/Police Department: 209 E Chapman St. Ely, MN 55731
  • Babbitt Police Department: 71 South Drive Babbitt, MN 55706
  • Vermilion Pharmacy: 1613 Farm Rd. S Tower, MN 55790

For more information, you can visit the DEA website at https://www.dea.gov/takebackday.

Q: Why did I get a survey after my hospital stay?

A: The HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) survey, the first standardized, national survey to publicly report information on patients’ perspectives of how well they were cared for, is a crucial part of our operations at Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital (EBCH). CMS (Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services) requires us to survey our hospital inpatients. These surveys are sent out and tabulated by a third-party vendor, Press Ganey, and are a vital tool in our continuous improvement efforts. The results of these surveys, which reflect your experiences, are used to enhance the quality of care we offer.

Q: What is a Community Health Needs Assessment?

A: Every three years, non-profit hospitals like EBCH must conduct a Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA). These assessments are about understanding the needs and expectations of the communities we serve and hearing your voice as a patient. You play a vital role in this process. You may receive a survey in the mail or be invited to participate in a Key Informant or Focus Group interview. Your honest feedback is not just valued; it’s essential. It helps us make the best decisions for the future of our hospital and the patients we serve. The results of our last two CHNAs can be found on our Community Health Needs Assessment page. If you want to participate in our 2024 CHNA, please get in touch with us at 218-365-8739.

Q: How can I give a compliment or make a complaint?

A: At EBCH, we are always happy to hear what we are doing right. We also need to know when there are areas we can improve. If you are on campus, you can talk to any member of our team and let them know about your visit. If you have already gone home but would like to let us know how we have done, there are several ways available, including the CONTACT US page, calling 218-365-8787, or mailing a letter to 328 W. Conan St. Ely, MN 55731. Our Patient Relations Committee handles each instance.

Q: Why did EBCH decide to commission an EMS survey?

A: Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital (EBCH) has always been a supportive contributor to the Ely Area Ambulance Service (EAAS). We have provided them with various in-kind and financial support. However, in recent years, EBCH leadership began to hear concerns from our medical staff regarding emergency medical transportation of patients in relation to EAAS. Simultaneously, EBCH was asked to contribute more funding annually to support the service. As with any concerns, the EBCH Board of Directors conducted their due diligence by requesting financial and operational information from the EAAS before providing additional “cash” funding. This request resulted in further communication breakdown. EBCH looked for other ways to support Emergency Medical Service (EMS) throughout our service area. EBCH hired Safe Tech Solutions to complete a comprehensive regional study of EMS. In doing so, EBCH hopes to identify new, collaborative models that could be innovative and ensure that all of our local ambulance services are successful.

Q: Is EBCH’s goal to bring in a third-party ambulance service?

A: No. EBCH’s primary goal is to provide the highest quality patient care possible. Part of that care is the peace of mind in knowing that, when needed, we can get our patients to a higher level of care as quickly as possible. EMS services nationwide, not just locally and statewide, are struggling. The team at Safe Tech Solutions includes working paramedics who help develop a sustainable model that can ensure viability for the future of EMS in our service area. Our decisions will always be in the best interest of our patients to ensure emergency medical transportation is available in the communities we serve.

Q: Has EBCH seen the survey results?

A: No. EBCH has not seen the survey results. Our experience has been that there are often delays with any large-scale project. They are typically unintended and certainly should not contribute to rumors or speculation. This work aims to provide high-quality care for our communities, and we will do everything possible to ensure this goal is met. However, since EBCH is the primary contact for the survey and has paid for its completion, we eagerly anticipate the results. We assure you that we are committed to transparency and will review the results

Q: What is Transitional Care?

A: Often, the road to recovery doesn’t lead straight home. Patients may need a little extra care following surgery, major illness, or injury. This is when they may need the services of a Transitional Care bed. In Transitional Care, patients can get the extra help they need to recover in a safe and secure environment with plenty of help and encouragement through hospital-based services such as Physical and Occupational Therapy. These stays are typically short and last ten to fourteen days.

Q: Why was this type of care formerly called a Swing Bed?

A: The term ‘Swing Bed’ was previously used by Medicare to describe extended care provided in a hospital setting. It was designed for patients who didn’t require a Skilled Nursing Facility like a Nursing Home but weren’t ready to return home. This program, now known as Transitional Care, was initially created for rural hospitals that might not have other care options available locally.

Q: How can I find out more about EBCH Transitional Care?

A: Our dedicated social worker is here to assist patients who need a Transitional Care bed. She plays a crucial role in connecting with discharge planners from larger facilities when patients are transferred from our Emergency Department to another hospital. She can advocate for patients to return to EBCH and recover closer to home, ensuring their needs are met. If you know in advance that you may need a Transitional Care bed (such as after surgery), we can work with you to help facilitate the process and ensure that your insurance will cover the costs. For more information, visit our Transitional Care web page or contact our social worker at 218-365-8758.

Q: What is Change Healthcare?

A: Change Healthcare is owned by UnitedHealth Group. It is an essential “pipeline” between healthcare insurers and providers. It electronically facilitates the flow of claims to insurance companies and the payments from insurance companies back to providers (e.g. EBCH). In addition to United Health Care, many payors (insurance companies) use Change Healthcare, including Atena, UCare, and Medica. Their claims clearinghouse processes approximately $2 trillion in claims annually.

Q: What happened with the breach?

A: In February, Change Healthcare was the victim of a cyberattack. A breach of this magnitude lends itself to the potential disclosure of confidential information, so they were forced to completely shut down their systems to prevent greater information loss. They have slowly worked to bring systems back online for the last month. However, electronic insurance verification for most companies remains down.

Q: Could this breach affect me?

A: Possibly. Because we cannot quickly verify insurance coverage electronically, there may be delays if you need a service or procedure that requires Prior Authorization. These Prior Authorizations must be verified manually, which entails calling the company. When we call the companies, hundreds of other healthcare providers nationwide are also calling. It can be an extensive and time-consuming process. Additionally, claims are taking significantly longer than usual to process. This means you may not receive a bill for your (patient responsibility) portion for some time following an appointment.

Q: What is Telehealth or Telemedicine?

A: Telehealth and Telemedicine have become prominent in medicine throughout the pandemic. These terms are often used interchangeably to describe a general distribution of healthcare-related services using electronic means and methods. The difference is often related to scope, with Telemedicine referring more to actual clinical services such as diagnosing and treating. At the same time, Telehealth often includes additional non-clinical work such as provider training or administrative work.

Q: What are some of the various methods of Telemedicine?

A: There are three main types of Telemedicine care delivery.

  1. Remote Monitoring allows providers to get real-time information through various medical devices and is most often used to manage a patient with a chronic condition.
  2. Store and Forward when data about a patient is collected through a medical device that the provider can later download.
  3. Real-time interactions include live interactions between patients and providers using electronic devices. These interactions can include video conferencing platforms or adaptive technology for patients with disabilities such as hearing impaired.

Q: Is Telemedicine used at Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital?

A: Yes —EBCH utilizes technology to deliver care for our patients in various ways. We have the option to contact with a Specialty providers through the Emergency Department for consultation on cases such as Mental Health crises. The Cardiopulmonary Department offers a Zio patch home device to monitor heart-related diagnoses. Even the Refill Rx app can be used to communicate with Ely Community Pharmacy and refill prescriptions.

Q: What is Medicare?

A: Medicare can seem complex and confusing, but essentially, Medicare is a federal insurance program that provides coverage for all individuals over 65, individuals under 65 who have specific disabilities, or individuals with end-stage renal disease.

Q: Why are Medicare Parts A & B considered “Original Medicare”?

A: Medicare Parts A and B were the original blueprint for Medicare coverage. Part A is typically free for individuals who paid into Medicare for a certain period throughout their career. It primarily covers hospital insurance for major medical events and possibly some home health or skilled nursing facilities. Medicare Part B is typically the medical insurance that costs you an out-of-pocket premium for annual physicals, diagnostic, or lab services. You may not need to purchase Medicare Part B if you or your spouse still work and insurance is offered through employment.

Q: What about Parts C and D?

A: Medicare Parts C and D are considered additional coverage. Part C is Medicare Advantage, which is private insurance that covers everything the original Medicare covers and often provides extra benefits for a monthly premium. Part D is specifically designed insurance to cover the cost of prescription drugs. Private insurance companies only offer Part D, which can often be part of a Medicare Advantage plan or purchased separately.


A: EMTALA stands for Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act. Congress passed this act in 1986, ensuring access to emergency care for all individuals regardless of their ability to pay. This act states that any individual presenting to any emergency department will receive a medical screening and stabilizing treatment before deciding to transport the patient to another level of care.


A: HIPPA stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. A federal law was created in 1996, establishing national standards to protect sensitive patient health information. HIPPA ensures that a patient’s health information is kept private and secure and that patients are notified if there are any breaches to their health information.


A: HCAHPS stands for Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems. In 2006, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) implemented the system to create the first standardized and publicly reported system for surveying patients on their hospital care. The surveys focus on 29 standard questions that address various aspects of a hospital stay. Hospitals utilize data for quality assurance and process improvement.

Q: What is a Critical Access Hospital?

A: In 1997, the federal government created the unique Critical Access Hospital (CAH) designation for rural facilities with fewer than 25 beds and typically located at least 35 miles from a higher level of healthcare. Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital is one of 78 CAHs in Minnesota.

Q: Is EBCH a not-for-profit hospital?

A: Yes, EBCH, like most hospitals in MN, is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3). This means that we provide care to all residents regardless of their ability to pay. It also means we must survey our community every three years with a Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) and identify community needs gaps. We must develop an implementation plan to identify partnerships and strategies to help meet those needs. Some of the past projects that EBCH has worked to address include access to specialty providers (such as orthopaedics and podiatry), daycare, and transportation.

Q: How is EBCH reimbursed as a Critical Access Hospital?

A: EBCH receives “cost-based” reimbursements as a Critical Access Hospital. CMS (Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services) establishes payment based on hospital volumes and proximity to other healthcare facilities. In 2023, nearly 64% of individuals were covered by government insurance programs, with reimbursement rates currently around 20% less than the cost of the care provided.

Q: What is the Price Transparency Act?

A: The Hospital Price Transparency Act put in place regulations by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that require hospitals to make information about their standard charges available to the public. In doing so, patients have a better foundation for patient-driven healthcare, allowing them to see the costs associated with care before scheduling their appointments.

Q: Does EBCH offer Financial Assistance?

A: Yes, EBCH understands the burden of medical bills and how they can affect your family’s budget. We offer a variety of opportunities to ease the burden of medical expenses, including a Financial Assistance Program (FAP), payment plans, prompt pay discounts, and AblePay Health services. More information about these programs is available by visiting our Billing & Insurance page.

Q: Navigating healthcare billing is difficult; who can help me?

A: Ely-Bloomenson understands how difficult it can be to navigate your healthcare insurance and billing information. We have a wide variety of professionals who can help you understand your billing and payment options, including a fully staffed Business Office Team, a Patient Access Team Leader, and a Social Worker. Call us at 218-365-3271 during regular business hours, and our receptionist can direct your call to the appropriate support staff to get you the help and understanding you deserve.

Q: What are Outpatient Services?

A: Outpatient care is a type of healthcare service that does not require an overnight stay at a hospital and is usually scheduled by appointment. These services are typically separate from your routine primary care visit. They can include procedures, treatments, and consultations such as lab work, radiology services, physical and occupational therapy, or a diagnostic colonoscopy in the Surgery Department.

For instance, suppose you visit a Clinic for your annual physical, and your provider orders a follow-up test for your bone density. In that case, you can schedule an appointment as an outpatient with the Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital (EBCH) Radiology Department. Separate entities are working together to care for you.

Q: Does EBCH offer Outpatient Services?

A: Yes, EBCH offers a wide variety of Outpatient Services. Some services include mammography, infusion therapy, chemotherapy, cardiopulmonary rehab, physical and occupational therapy services, and surgical procedures. For a complete list of what each EBCH department offers, visit ebch.org/services or call us at 218-365-3271. We have knowledgeable Receptionists who answer the phones during regular business hours and can answer your questions or direct your call.

Q: Do you need a referral for Outpatient Services?

A: You will need a provider referral for most procedures, such as colonoscopies or diagnostic imaging procedures. However, it is a patient’s choice where they would like their referrals to be sent. You can have an open conversation with your provider and let them know if you would prefer to have your services close to home. Let your provider know if you have barriers such as transportation or taking time off of work so they can help make the best decisions about where to get your care and always check with your insurance company to ensure coverage.

Q: What will happen in the upcoming legislative session that affects healthcare?

A: Our current legislative session in Minnesota is set to convene on February 12, 2024. There was much talk in last year’s session about the Keeping Nurses at the Bedside Act. This was a bill that would have imposed statewide staffing mandates for Hospitals. We anticipate these potential staffing mandates to be a topic again this year as the MN Nurses Association (MNA) is currently meeting with legislative leaders.

Q: What won’t we see during this session?

A: This session is not a budgeting session, so we most likely won’t see much happening regarding bonding or funds distribution throughout the State. Although we know many healthcare entities, including Hospitals and Emergency Medical Services statewide, ended last year with negative margins, we most likely will not see much funding during this session.

Q: Do hospitals need funding from the government?

A: According to a Press Release issued by the MN Hospital Association (MHA) on January 31, 2024, patient discharge delays cost Minnesota hospitals nearly half a billion dollars in 2023. A new comprehensive survey of patient care in Minnesota hospitals has found persistent, ongoing delays in discharges from emergency departments and inpatient care, resulting in tens of thousands of days of unnecessary hospital-level patient care and staggering financial losses. “Minnesota hospitals have gone from being a safety net, to being a catch-all for patient care,” said MN Hospital Association CEO and president Dr. Rahul Koranne. “This is a function they were never intended for, can’t afford, and isn’t good for patients. This gridlock is preventing Minnesotans from getting care that their lives depend on. Policy makers must act.” EBCH is not immune to these delays in getting patients to another level of care. It is currently challenging to find a facility for a patient who needs mental health or substance use disorder care, and they often wind up staying at EBCH for an extended time. If you would like a complete copy of the recent MHA Press Release, please contact jmartin@ebch.org.

Q: How will Artificial Intelligence (AI) impact healthcare in the future?

A: AI is all around us. We hear about it almost daily on the news. While it is unclear how AI will affect healthcare, we know it will likely impact how healthcare is delivered. We can only project that AI might allow for greater access to healthcare for patients, reduce human error, or assist medical professionals through advanced technology. EBCH is always working on strategic planning and looking at the future of healthcare. What will EBCH look like in 2030? We are excited to see!

Q: Can AI be used in scams?

A: Yes. We recently had an incident where the Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital CEO Patti Banks “seemingly” left voicemails on some of our patients’ phones. That was not the case. These are typically scams perpetrated by using AI and cloning an individual’s phone number or, in some cases, even their voice. We want to remind you to be cautious when confronted with a potential scam; never give out your personal information or pay money to them over the phone.

Q: How can I find out more information?

A: Call us at 218-365-3271. During regular business hours, a receptionist typically answers our phones and directs our calls. We pride ourselves on making as many personal connections with our patients as possible. If something seems wrong, trust your gut and call us. You can also visit our website at www.ebch.org for a full range of information about EBCH. We generally post urgent announcements on our Facebook page and share them with the “What’s Up, Ely, MN” and “What’s Up, Babbitt, MN” pages.

Q: Which Specialty Clinic Providers can I currently see at EBCH?

A: There are currently three Specialty Providers seeing patients monthly at EBCH. Dr. Harms and his staff from Orthopaedics Associates see patients twice monthly for all of their Orthopaedic needs. Podiatrist Dr. Katie Evans is on campus typically twice per month to see patients. She provides a full range of services to men, women and children for their feet and ankles. EBCH is also grateful to partner with Dr. John Bollins of Advances Surgical Associates of Northern Minnesota to supply expert surgical services using our da Vinci surgical robot. Dr. Bollins is typically on campus four days per month for consultations, performing surgery, and seeing our patients for their follow-up.

Q: Do I need a referral?

A: It depends, some of our visiting providers can see you without a referral: however, you may want to be sure your insurance will cover the visit if you make the appointment on your own. We highly recommend that you talk with your Primary Care Provider and your insurance company if you would like to make an appointment with one of our Specialty Providers.

Q: How can I find out more information?

A: Call us at 218-365-8793 and our knowledgeable Specialty Clinic Team will answer your questions and get you started in the right direct. You can also visit our website at http://www.ebch.org for a full range of information on all the services offered here at Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital.

Q: Who owns Ely Community Pharmacy?

A: Although Ely Community Pharmacy (ECP) is located next to the Essentia Health – Ely Clinic waiting area, ECP is owned and operated by Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital. ECP is a full-service retail pharmacy that offers easy prescription refills and transfers, vaccinations, and diabetic testing supplies.

Q: Is it too late to get my vaccinations?

A: It is not too late to get your vaccinations. Currently, Ely Community Pharmacy has vaccinations available on a walk-in basis every Monday through Friday from 8:00 am until 6:00 pm. Influenza, RSV, Shingles, Pneumonia, and Tetanus (Boostrix) vaccinations and the latest COVID-19 boosters are fully stocked and waiting for you!

Q: How can I refill my prescription?

A: You can refill your prescription at Ely Community Pharmacy in various ways.

  • Stop in and request a refill at the counter during regular business hours.
    • Monday – Friday: 8:00 am to 6:00 pm
    • Saturday: 9:00 am to 1:00 pm
  • Call us at 218-365-8788 and follow our automated prompts.
  • Use our convenient mobile app, RxLocal.
    • Download for free from your phone’s app store.