Leadership Team

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 P. Rock, MD, CPE
Executive Medical Director, Emergency Department Clinical Operations

Dr. Rock graduated from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and completed emergency medicine residency at Hennepin County Medical Center. He joined Emergency Physicians Professional Association (EPPA) in Minneapolis 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.  Shortly after assuming this position, Dr. Rock opened the newly designed ED at this location.  He led this practice for 14 years. In 2013, Dr. Rock also assumed the Medical Director & Chair of Emergency Medicine position at Fairview Southdale Hospital.  He opened the newly constructed Carl N. Platou Emergency Center in 2015.  Through transformation change and operational optimization, Dr. Rock and his teams achieved and sustained top decile patient experience at both Emergency Departments. Dr. Rock currently oversees twelve Emergency Department medical directors across five health systems. 

Laura Contreras, MD
Medical Director, Allina Health Buffalo Hospital 

Laura Contreras attended the University of Minnesota Medical School and completed her emergency medicine residency at Wayne State University/Sinai-Grace Hospital in Detroit, Michigan. She is board-certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine and is a Fellow of the American College of Emergency Physicians. Dr. Contreras joined EPPA in 2001. Her clinical practice has been primarily at Mercy Hospital, but she has worked at Buffalo, Unity and the Eagan and Woodbury UR’s. In additional to her clinical practice, she has served in numerous administrative roles, including Chair/Vice-Chair of Mercy Emergency Department (2013-2020), ED Mercy Trauma Director (2012-2020) Assistant Medical Director at Mercy Hospital (2012-2020), Mercy Quality Performance (2004-2012) and as an EPPA Board member. Dr. Contreras has been an active member in Allina administrative serving on Mercy Medical Executive Committee (2017-2020) and Mercy Credentials Committee (2013-2017). She served on the ED Split Flow Committee and COVID Incident Command at Mercy. She served as a member of the Allina EMS Advisory Council member (2004-2013). Dr. Contreras has been involved in trauma education for both nurses and EMS providers. In 2020, Dr. Contreras as named as the Medical Director and Chief of Emergency Medicine at Buffalo Hospital. 

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. 

Jill Donofrio, DO, MPH
Medical Director, HealthPartners Hutchinson Health Hospital and HealthPartners Olivia Hospital

Jill Donofrio is a board-certified emergency physician with a focus on quality, reimbursement, health equity, collaboration, and physician wellness concepts. Prior to medical school she obtained a Master's in Public Health at the University of California, Los Angeles, and worked in public health research, yielding multiple publications. She graduated from the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2009, and completed a residency in emergency medicine at UNECOM/Kent Hospital in Rhode Island in 2013. She also joined EPPA in 2013, and practices at Allina Mercy Hospital and HealthPartners/Park Nicollet Methodist Hospital. Dr. Donofrio assumed the Medical Director role at the HealthPartners Olivia Hospital Emergency Department in 2020. She worked as an Assistant Reimbursement Advisor for 4 years at EPPA, and has completed the HealthPartners Quality Academy. She is a member of the interdisciplinary HealthPartners COVID Expert Panel, assisting in the development and implementation of safety protocols and order sets to streamline care and ensure staff safety. Dr. Donofrio has demonstrated her commitment to caring for her colleagues as a founding member of the Professional Satisfaction Committees (EPPA and Methodist Hospital), EPPA Peer Support Network and EPPA Health Equity Committee. 

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.

Craig Matticks, MD
Medical Director, The Urgency Room

Dr. Matticks obtained his medical degree from the University of Virginia School of Medicine and completed his emergency medicine residency at Hennepin County Medical Center where he was Chief Resident in 1994.  He is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine and is as Fellow of the American College of Emergency Physicians.  He began his clinical practice in emergency medicine at North Memorial Medical Center, practicing clinically in the Emergency Departments in Robbinsdale and Maple Grove as well as the Urgency Centers in Blaine and Minnetonka.  While at North Memorial, Dr. Matticks held several leadership roles.  He was the Medical Director of Emergency Services for North Memorial and of Emergency Care Plus, North Memorial’s rural emergency services line, from 2004 to 2013.  During that time, he served as Chief of Staff for North Memorial Health Care in 2009 and became a permanent member of North Memorial Health Care’s Credentials Committee from 2010 to 2020. Towards the end of his tenure as the Medical Director of Emergency Services he initiated and led the development of North Memorial’s Urgency Centers, replicating EPPA’s success with the Urgency Room model.  In 2012 he was asked by the CMO of North Memorial Health to develop an integrated physician network of employed and affiliated primary and specialty care physicians to pursue governmental and commercial value-based insurance contracting.  This work led to the creation of the North Collaborative Care Network of which Dr. Matticks became President in 2012.  His work overseeing the network’s value-based contracting coincided with the health system’s adoption of the principles of population health and the creation of a new role for Dr. Matticks as the Medical Director of Population Health in 2016.  He continued in these system level roles until joining EPPA in September of 2018.  He then returned to full clinical practice until taking over as the Medical Director of the Urgency Room in April of 2020.  He strongly believes in the value EPPA creates for patients, employers, and insurers through the Urgency Room care delivery model, especially for moderate to high acuity clinical conditions.  

 

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.

Wendy Laine, MD
Medical Director, Wellness

Dr. Laine graduated from the University of Minnesota School of Medicine and completed her emergency medicine residency at Michigan State University, Kalamazoo Center for Medical Studies. She joined EPPA in 2004 and serves as the Director of Wellness and the Assistant Medical Director for Mercy Hospital-Unity Campus. She is passionate about creating a culture of wellness within EPPA along with supporting individual wellness. She chairs the Women's Group, the Combatting Burnout Committee and the Social Committee. She has been instrumental in bringing the Clinician Experience Project and the Well Being Index to EPPA, and has partnered with the U of MN Masters Health Coaching to become a host site for health coach interns.

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.

Kristy Grunder, MBA
Vice President of Finance, EPPA

Kristy Grunder is the Vice President of Finance. With over twenty years of finance and accounting experience, Kristy oversees the strategic financial management, as well as the day-to-day financial operations for EPPA. She provides financial counsel to the EPPA executive team to achieve optimal performance. Prior to joining EPPA, Kristy held various financial leadership positions in the healthcare industry. Kristy holds a master’s degree in business administration from the University of St. Thomas and a bachelor’s degree in finance & economics from Northern State University.

Jeremy Nebelsick, MBA
Director of Operations, The Urgency Room

Jeremy obtained his Master of Business Administration degree from the University of South Dakota in 2012 and has over 10 years of experience in the healthcare field. Jeremy joined EPPA in 2018 as the Director of Operations for The Urgency Room. Prior to joining EPPA Jeremy was a Director of Operations for the Cleveland Clinic Health System in Ohio. Jeremy is passionate about helping The Urgency Room continue to provide the highest quality of care for all of our patients and grow for the future.

Erin Goetz
Director, 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.

James Galicia
Manager, Information Technology, EPPA and The Urgency Room

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.

Becky Leagjeld
Manager, Marketing & Business Development, EPPA and The Urgency Room

Becky Leagjeld received her education at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. She has extensive 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.

Charlene Sorenson
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.