In Case of Emergency

Old friends unite in support of Fairview Southdale’s expansion project
Childhood Friends Ann Pohlad and Nancy Platou Steinke reunite for a great cause

Fairview Southdale Hospital will soon have a spectacular new emergency room expansion. The Carl N. Platou Emergency Center is set to open in August 2015. Transition of services from the old 15,000-square-foot space, with 29 rooms on one floor, to the new 65,000-square-foot facility, with 43 rooms on two floors, will likely happen by mid-August, after which they’ll “be open for business,” says Robb Gruman, Fairview Hospital System (FHS) vice president of construction, projects and space.

The project is an ongoing undertaking not only for FHS, but also for two Edina childhood friends, Ann Pohlad and Nancy Platou Steinke. “I was the tag-along little sister,” Pohlad confesses about being part of a huge circle of friends in a 1970s-era, family-centered Edina neighborhood. But before their campouts and pond hockey, in 1952, Steinke’s father, Carl Platou, was hired to lead Minneapolis’ small and struggling Fairview Hospital. Over the next 36 years, he oversaw and directed the growth of FHS to ownership of six hospitals, operation of more than 50 primary care clinics and employment of more than 22,000 Minnesotans, including 700 physicians. Platou is universally cited as a visionary hospital administrator as well as a kind and caring friend, father and neighbor. “He was one of the most genuine souls,” Pohlad says.

“He saw the best in everyone,” adds Steinke.

Shortly before Platou died in 2012 at age 88 of pancreatic cancer, FHS informed him and his family that a planned emergency room expansion would be named in his honor.

And when Pohlad’s mother, Sandra R. Pohlad, died a year and a half later, her family asked that any memorials be donated to the planned Platou Emergency Center. Soon thereafter, Shawn Teal, vice president of development of the Fairview Foundation, helped an old friendship blossomed into new partnership. Pohlad and Steinke volunteer for Fairview Foundation to help raise funds for the Carl N. Platou Emergency Center expansion.

Pohlad’s fiancé, Dr. Tracy Powell, is a long-time Pohlad family friend and an FHS emergency room physician. “Wait times are too long” in the current ER, Powell says. While the department was built to treat 30,000 patients annually, he says, 44,000 patients arrived in 2013 and more than 47,000 in 2014. Space and improved patient access are two priorities of the expansion. Individual exam rooms are twice the size of present cubicles and are equipped with doors on each side for efficient access of staff and family as well as for patient privacy. Visitors to the new ER will be triaged to one of several departments and can also be sent to the second floor of the new emergency center for prolonged observation or to the Popp Center for Chronic Disease Care.

Named in honor of philanthropists Bill and Teri Popp, the Popp Center addresses the growing needs of an aging population more likely to have diseases such as diabetes and cancer. When chronically ill patients are triaged to the Popp Center, rooms open up downstairs for incoming emergency cases.

Steinke and Pohlad want to remind future donors to the Carl N. Platou Emergency Center that additional naming opportunities remain. Their philanthropic goal is $8 million, $5 million of which has been raised as of this writing.

Steinke speaks proudly of how the new center, honoring her father’s memory, will do so much to improve emergency service delivery to Edina and surrounding communities.

Inquiries about how to donate to the Fairview Foundation can be made at