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Get To Know: Todd Forkel, CEO of Altru Health System

Get To Know: Todd Forkel, CEO of Altru Health System

On February 28, 2022, Altru welcomed Todd Forkel as our new Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Todd joins Altru with a strong background in healthcare leadership, most recently as the Regional President and CEO of Avera St. Luke’s and CEO of Avera St. Mary’s Region since 2011. Todd is also a father of three, avid Vikings fan and self-proclaimed soon-to-be UND hockey fan. We sat down with Todd recently to get to know him and understand his point of view on healthcare, leadership and life.  

Why did you choose to work in healthcare? 

I was hospitalized as a young boy with pneumonia. I was positively impacted by those that helped me in such a way that from that time on, I wanted to work in healthcare. I started my clinical career in radiology. I loved the mix of patient care and technology. Eventually, I would go on into leadership roles which I always have felt is about empowering people to become the very best that they can.  

What are you most looking forward to with your new position as CEO at Altru? 

The thing I am most looking forward to is getting to know the people who serve the mission of Altru. I have heard great things about the level of commitment to purpose in the physicians, staff and leaders at Altru. The number one job of a CEO is to get people excited about what they do and the difference they make for those that they do it for. Altru team members improve health and enrich life for those they come in contact with. I’m excited to be part of a group of difference makers like that.  

What are you most looking forward to about living in Grand Forks?

I cannot wait to experience a UND hockey game, as well as other signature events such as the 4th of July celebrations and the Potato Bowl, to name a few that we have heard great things about. We love the downtown area and the local business vibe. My wife and I are Midwesterners and love living with salt of the earth people. Grand Forks strikes us as a place where people are hard-working, love their family and want to do what is right. We are looking forward to being active community members.  

What is your educational background and career history? 

My clinical training and degree are in radiology sciences, which I obtained from Presentation College. I have business and leadership degrees from Northern State University and University of Mary. I worked in the radiology department taking x-rays for the first few years of my career, prior to going into leadership. For the past 25 years I have been in leadership. I have served in executive roles at Avera Health, Essentia Health and Mayo Clinic.  

What is the best part of your career so far? 

The best days that I have professionally are spending time with the people who care for those we serve and those who support those that do. I have always felt that no matter the physical act that you perform for the organization, you are carrying out the mission through your actions. It takes a village to make that happen. In healthcare, teamwork is vital and required. Everyone, no matter their role – makes a difference towards that end.  

Outside of the office what are your hobbies? 

I love to read, exercise and garden. I also love spending time with my family. My wife Amy and I have been married nearly 30 years. We have three children, Shelby (27), Noah (22) and Kallie (17). Our daughter Shelby is a registered nurse. Our son Noah is a senior in college at Moorhead State University. Kallie will be graduating high school in May 2022 and attending UND in the fall. We are HUGE Minnesota Vikings fans and try to attend several games a year if possible. We live by the “just once” in our lifetime mantra to FINALLY see a Super Bowl win for the Purple.  

What excites you most about Altru’s future? 

Altru’s vision statement is to deliver world-class healthcare to the residents of our region. That excites me greatly! To be part of an organization that strives to always find a way to be better at what we do. That is the true measuring stick of greatness – incremental improvement. I hope to help expand upon all the success that Altru has already achieved to bring that level of quality, safety, service and employee engagement to come to bear for those we serve.  

How do you measure success? 

I had a phenomenal leadership mentor, albeit for a short time. His name was Don Meyer. He was the all-time winningest coach in NCAA men’s basketball until getting passed by Mike Krzyzewski from Duke. Don coached in the final years of his career at Northern State University in Aberdeen, SD. I got to know him better as he was fighting cancer and receiving care at the facility that I led. He had three rules for his players – everyone takes notes, everyone says please and thank you and everyone picks up trash. The mindset behind his three rules was that you must be a lifelong learner, you must treat each other with grace and respect and finally – we should leave each place better than we found it. That is how I measure and define success, leave each place better than you found it. 

What inspires you? 

I love a great underdog story. I am inspired by people, teams or organizations who overcome great odds to achieve great things.  

If you had an extra hour every day, what would you spend it doing? 

If I had an extra hour in the day, I would spend it reading or exercising.