At Emergency Physicians Professional Association (EPPA) our strong leadership consists of hospital medical directors and a senior management team focused on the success of our providers, employees and the care we deliver. The strong support provided by this team greatly contributes to the overall success of our organization. We work together to provide excellence in emergency medicine.
Robert Thomas, MD
President and Chief Executive Officer, EPPA
Dr. Thomas obtained his medical degree from the Medical College of Wisconsin and completed his emergency medicine residency at Hennepin County Medical Center where he was chief resident. He is board certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. He joined EPPA in 2002 and served as the emergency department medical director at Mercy Hospital, a Level II Trauma Center before becoming the President and Chief Executive Officer of EPPA in 2013. Dr. Thomas has been an integral part of bringing innovation and new care delivery models to the EPPA team.
Tom Klassen, MHA
Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer, EPPA
Mr. Klassen obtained his Master of Healthcare Administration degree from the University of Minnesota in 1988. He has more than 20 years of healthcare administrative experience in both provider and health plan operations. Mr. Klassen joined EPPA as its Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer in 2010. Prior leadership roles include Chief Corporate Officer at Saint Mary’s/Duluth Clinic Health System (SMDC); administrator at Duluth Clinic, Managed Care Development Director at Wisconsin’s Physicians Service Health Insurance and at Abbott Northwestern Hospital/Lifespan. Mr. Klassen is passionate about and committed to building high performance teams, providing strategic focus and achieving operational excellence.
Michael Rock, MD
Executive Medical Director, Emergency Department Clinical Operations
Dr. Rock graduated from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and completed his emergency medicine residency at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis. He joined EPPA in 1997 and began clinical practice at Methodist Hospital. In 2001, Dr. Rock became the Medical Director & Chair of Emergency Medicine at Fairview Ridges Hospital, and shortly thereafter opened the new Emergency Department there. He led this Emergency Department for 14 years. In 2013, Dr. Rock also became Medical Director & Chair of Emergency Medicine at Fairview Southdale Hospital. Along with many talented team members, he opened the Carl N. Platou Emergency Center in 2015. While leading Fairview's South Region Emergency Departments, the combined patient volumes exceeded 110K. Through transformation change and operational optimization, Dr. Rock and his teams achieved top decile patient experience and improved clinical environments. He served as Medical Director until October 2017 until transitioning to his current role. Dr. Rock has served EPPA in many capacities outside the ED including participation on the Board of Directors, Peer Review Committee, and Physician Management Committee. Outside EPPA, Dr. Rock has played a key role in the emergency services initiatives throughout the Fairview Health System. He has served as Chief of Staff at Fairview Ridgesand served on the Board of Directors of both Fairview Ridges and Fairview Southdale Hospitals for many years. Dr. Rock is a member of the Physicians Advisory Council to the Fairview CEO. He has served on various committees with MN ACEP, National ACEP, and AAEM.
Brenda Sommerdorf, MD
Medical Director, Allina Health, Buffalo Hospital
Dr. Sommerdorf obtained her medical degree from the University of Colorado–School of Medicine and completed her residency in Family Medicine at the University of Minnesota. She is board certified in Emergency Medicine with the American Board of Physician Specialties and board certified in Family Medicine with the American Board of Family Medicine. Dr. Sommerdorf joined EPPA in 2016. Before EPPA, she served as the Medical Director of Fairview Northland Regional Hospital for seven years. Dr. Sommerdorf has devoted her 23 years of practice to emergency medicine. She sits on a number of medical committees including Peer Review, Patient Care and is the Emergency Services/Trauma Committee Chair at Buffalo Hospital. She became the Medical Director of Allina Health Buffalo Hospital in 2018. Dr. Sommerdorf is an avid competitive softball player bringing that 'Team' approach to her strong leadership style. She is a key member of our EPPA physician leadership team.
Luke Dandelet, DO
Medical Director, Allina Health, Cambridge Medical Center
Dr.Dandelet obtained his medical degree from A.T. Still University, Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2003. He completed a general surgery internship and residency in emergency medicine at Wright State University in 2007 where he was a Chief Resident in Emergency Medicine. He is currently board certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Dandelet became Medical Director at Cambridge Medical Center in 2017 and facilitated the center's full transition as an EPPA affiliated emergency department in 2018. Previously, he served as the Department Chair and as an Assistant Medical Director at Mercy Hospital - Unity Campus. Dr. Dandelet joined EPPA in 2007 and has worked clinically at Mercy Hospital, Mercy Hospital - Unity Campus, St. Cloud Hospital, Cambridge Medical Center as well as The Urgency Room in Eagan, Woodbury, and Vadnais Heights. He has been active in various clinical and administrative roles within EPPA and Allina Health.
Michael Schwemm, MD
Medical Director, Allina Health, Mercy Hospital
Dr. Schwemm graduated from the College of Medicine at the University of Iowa, and completed his emergency medicine residency at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics where he was Chief Resident. He is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine, and practiced as an emergency physician in Maine for two years before joining EPPA in 2009. Within EPPA, Dr. Schwemm has served as the Medical Director of Mercy Hospital since 2013 and currently is serving as the interim Medical Director of Mercy Hospital -Unity campus. Prior to 2013, he held the role of Assistant Medical Director beginning in 2011 and Assistant Medical Director Meeting Chair in 2012. He also served as Vice Chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Mercy Hospital. In addition to these roles, he continues to be an active member of the hospital’s Quality Council and Stroke Committee.
Eric Haug, MD
Medical Director, Allina Health, Mercy Hospital -Unity Campus
Dr. Haug obtained his medical degree from the University of Minnesota Medical School and completed his emergency medicine residency at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is board-certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Haug joined EPPA in 2003 and has served the organization in a variety of administrative capacities including EPPA's Board of Directors, Finance & Audit Committee, and Shareholder Advisory Committee. Dr. Haug was previously the Medical Director of Allina Buffalo Hospital and in 2018 became the Medical Director at Allina Mercy Hospital -Unity Campus. He serves as an Educational Liaison within the Mercy campuses, with responsibilities of educating, orienting, and acting as a preceptor for medical students, physician assistant students, and residents. Dr. Haug is also an Assistant Professor in Emergency Medicine at the University of Minnesota. He is a proven leader and respected clinician and administrator.
Kurt Belk, MD
Medical Director, CentraCare Health, St. Cloud Hospital
Dr. Belk graduated from the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and completed his emergency medicine residency at Darnall Army Community Hospital where he was Chief Resident. Dr. Belk served as a physician in the US Army, serving as department chief of the ED and Associate Residency Director at Darnall Army Community Hospital; he was deployed to Kuwait in 1996. He is certified through the American Board of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Belk joined EPPA in 1999 and served as Medical Director for Unity Hospital and Chief of Staff. He has developed a mid-level provider program for EPPA that has been piloted and integrated into the Unity Hospital Emergency Department care delivery model. Dr. Belk went on to serve as the Medical Director for The Urgency Rooms in Eagan, Vadnais Heights and Woodbury and has since moved to become Medical Director of CentraCare’s St. Cloud Hospital in July of 2016.
John Houghland, MD
Medical Director, Fairview Ridges Hospital
Dr. Houghland obtained his medical degree from the University of Washington School of Medicine and completed his residency training at Denver Health Residency in Emergency Medicine, where he was a chief resident. He is board-certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Houghland joined EPPA in 2011 and in 2015 was named Medical Director and Chief of Emergency Medicine at Fairview Ridges Hospital, where he co-chairs the Emergency Services Quality Improvement Committee. In addition, Dr. Houghland has served as the lead physician liaison for EPPA Scribes at our Fairview sites and has had an active role in process improvement initiatives within the Fairview system. He was the Assistant Medical Director at Fairview Southdale Hospital prior to his current role as Medical Director at Fairview Ridges Hospital.
Brandon Trigger, MD
Medical Director, Fairview Southdale Hospital
Dr. Trigger completed his emergency medicine residency at the University of Iowa, where he was the chief resident in his final year of residency. He has a track record of clinical excellence as a physician with EPPA since 2008, and has served as the Assistant Medical Director (AMD) of Southdale’s ED since 2012. As the AMD, he has participated in numerous process improvement and quality initiatives, and served on multiple hospital committees. He is an experienced and trusted member of the Southdale ED leadership team.
Brent Walters, MD
Medical Director, HealthPartners Park Nicollet Methodist Hospital
Dr. Walters received his undergraduate degree from the University of Minnesota where he majored in Genetics and Cell Biology. He received his Master’s in Medical Genetics at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and graduated from the University of Minnesota Medical School in 2007. He completed his Emergency Medicine residency at Regions Hospital in 2010 where he served as Chief Resident. He is currently boarded in Emergency Medicine and is a Fellow of the American College of Emergency Physicians. Dr. Walters has a strong interest in quality improvement and completed an Advanced Training Program project surrounding the total cost of care in patients with cellulitis. He worked on the development of several clinical guidelines including management of patients with cellulitis, atrial fibrillation, and antibiotic stewardship. He also contributes to the continuing education of physicians and nurses. He teaches physician simulation events in patient experience and Emergency Medicine critical procedures as well as participating as a regular lecturer during EPPA’s annual emergency education courses.
Jeffrey Elder, MD
Medical Director, North Memorial Health Maple Grove Hospital
Dr. Elder obtained his medical degree from the University of Minnesota in 1990. He completed his residency in emergency medicine at the University of Cincinnati in 1994. He is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine and has been providing emergency medicine for over 20 years. He has been the Medical Director at Maple Grove Hospital for almost 10 years. He joined EPPA in 2018.
Christopher Palmer, MD
Medical Director, North Memorial Health Robbinsdale Hospital
Dr. Palmer obtained his bachelor’s degree at St. John’s University in Collegeville, MN and went on to get his medical degree from the University of Minnesota. He completed his residency at Hennepin County Medical Center. He is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine and currently serves as the Medical Director at North Memorial Hospital in Robbinsdale. Dr. Palmer joined EPPA in 2018.
Carolyn McClain, MD
Medical Director, The Urgency Room
Carolyn McClain, M.D., is a practicing emergency physician at Methodist and Unity Hospitals as well as the medical director of The Urgency Room in Eagan, Vadnais Heights and Woodbury. She graduated from Johns Hopkins Medical School and completed her residency in emergency medicine at Hennepin County Medical Center. As a partner with Emergency Physicians Professional Association (EPPA) she is the Medical Director of the Urgency Rooms. She sits on the Board of Directors for MMIC, a medical malpractice insurance company. Dr. McClain also has a passion for teaching and has lectured on emergency medicine topics throughout the Twin Cities as well as more exotic locations such as Buenos Aires, Argentina. She developed and teaches a twice yearly 2 day educational course in emergency nursing to help nurses achieve their Certification in Emergency Nursing. She is currently the President of the Twin Cities Medical Society and is the former Chair of the Minnesota Medical Association Quality Committee.
Michael Bryant, MD
Medical Director, EPPA Scribe Program
Dr. Bryant graduated from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and completed his emergency medicine residency at Michigan State University Kalamazoo Center for Medical Studies. He joined EPPA in 2003 and serves as Medical Director of the EPPA Scribe Program. Dr Bryant has implemented our scribe program in each of our hospital systems as well as external sites. He also serves as an EPIC emergency medical record consultant for each of our hospital systems. Past roles have included Assistant Medical Director at Mercy Hospital and Chair of the Assistant Medical Director Committee. In addition, Dr. Bryant was integral in the development of The Urgency Room.
Peter Currie, MD
Medical Director of Quality, EPPA
Dr. Currie graduated from the University of Minnesota Medical School and completed his residency in emergency medicine at Hennepin County Medical Center. He is certified in emergency medicine by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Currie joined EPPA in 2005 and has held a variety of leadership positions including Quality Assistant, Peer Review, and Assistant Medical Director at Unity Hospital. Dr. Currie is currently the Medical Director of Quality with responsibilities including quality improvement, peer review, education, and risk management.
Timothy Johnson, MD
Reimbursement Advisor, EPPA
Dr. Johnson graduated from the University of Washington School Of Medicine and completed his emergency medicine residency at Hennepin County Medical Center. He joined EPPA in 2003 and is certified through the American Board of Emergency Medicine. He is a fellow of both the American Academy of Emergency Medicine and the American College of Emergency Physicians. He is currently EPPA’s Physician Reimbursement Advisor. Dr. Johnson is Chairman of the Reimbursement Committee of the Minnesota Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and is Minnesota’s Emergency Medicine Representative to the Medicare Carrier Advisory Committee.
Chad Strathman, JD
General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer, EPPA
Mr. Strathman is a graduate of the University of Iowa, College of Law. Prior to joining EPPA, his primary practice areas included litigation, labor and employment law, and commercial disputes. He joined the EPPA team in 2008 as the in house counsel, and his areas of responsibility for the group include malpractice litigation, contractual development and review, consultation to EPPA’s limited liability corporations, peer review, risk management, human resources, corporate compliance and quality improvement. Mr. Strathman’s expertise is readily available to EPPA physicians for consultation in all areas of their practice.
Kristi Rennich, CPA
Director of Finance, EPPA
Kristi Rennich is a certified public accountant with more than 20 years of experience in tax planning, public accounting, and medical industry financial management. As leader of the Finance, Accounting and Payroll Departments, Ms. Rennich directs EPPA’s financial reporting, cash management, payroll, accounts payable, and physician benefits. In addition, she provides business consulting and financial modeling analysis to support EPPA’s strategic initiatives. Before joining EPPA, Ms. Rennich as a Senior Accountant with Olsen Thielen & Co., Ltd., and served as Director of Sales Tax Audits Division for the South Dakota Department of Revenue.
Director of Revenue Cycle Services, EPPA
Erin Goetz is a graduate of Boston University with more than 10 years of experience in the healthcare revenue cycle. She joined EPPA in 2007 and currently serves as the Director of Revenue Cycle Services. In addition to overseeing the Business Services and Coding departments, she is responsible for EPPA and the Urgency Room’s billing processes, accounts receivable systems and data analysis.
Manager, Information Technology, EPPA
James Galicia was born and raised in the Bronx, New York where he started his information technology career. He worked as an IT consultant for Verizon until September 2001 then decided to look for new opportunities and settled in Minnesota and working for Fairview Health Services. Mr. Galicia joined EPPA in 2010. His dedication and passion for information technology helps EPPA with everyday IT challenges. James also supplies all of the technical support for The Urgency Room, EPPA’s three stand-alone emergency care facilities. His extensive experience in healthcare technologies and his ablity to implement change make James a valuable asset to EPPA.
Manager, Marketing & Business Development, EPPA and The Urgency Room
Becky Leagjeld received her education at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. She has over 10 years of experience in the healthcare field. Becky joined the EPPA team in 2009 and currently operates as the Manager of Marketing and Business Development. She is responsible for the marketing objectives for EPPA and The Urgency Room. Becky worked as part of a core team responsible for the build and implementation of the three Urgency Room sites. She works closely with leadership to support the overall business goals of EPPA and The Urgency Room with strategic marketing, business development, and communications goals.
Manager, Human Resources & Benefits
Char earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Metropolitan State University and is a member of Society for Human Resources Management and Twin Cities Human Resource Association. Joining EPPA in 2001, Char has over 20 years of experience working in human resources generalist roles supporting benefits, employee relations, compensation, worker compensation, compliance and more. Prior to joining the EPPA Team, Char provided human resources support in small to mid-sized post-secondary, allied health organizations.