Archived Story

Integration will bring numerous benefits

Published 5:22am Sunday, December 23, 2012

Column: Hometown Health, by Mark Ciota

We are quickly approaching our Jan. 1, 2013, integration, when Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea and Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin become one organization. That means we will have one Board of Trustees, one set of corporate by-laws, a single tax ID number and single corporate address. We have been working diligently to accomplish all legal, licensing and accreditation requirements for the State of Minnesota, Centers for Medicare Services and other approval bodies to become one legal organization.

Mark Ciota

The benefits of becoming one organization are many, but our overarching integration goal is to provide increased value for our patients and our communities. Simply put, we will be able to add services, specialties and more successfully recruit physicians to our new, expanded organization.

There are very specific formulas for determining how many physicians we need and in which specialties to meet our community’s unique health care needs. These formulas take into consideration the ages of our population, disease prevalence, incidence of heart attacks, cancer, etc. and then calculate how many physicians and in which specialties we need to meet those needs.

That information might reveal that our population could support a part-time rheumatologist, for example. Part-time physicians are challenging to recruit. But as one large Albert Lea and Austin organization we may discover that each community could support a part-time rheumatologist which would allow us to recruit a full-time physician much more successfully. Generally, physicians want full patient schedules and to share call with more physicians. A larger organization, then, with more physicians serving a broader population, is appealing to physicians who want the quality of life available in smaller communities, but also want to stay busy and limit the time they’re on call to have more family time.

And, yes, physicians sometimes leave Albert Lea or Austin to pursue other opportunities. Most often, those physicians who choose to leave are moving to be closer to families or for a spouse’s career opportunity. The requirements of being a physician in a small community usually requires after hours work and call. Some physicians opt for other opportunities in larger communities where those requirements do not exist. So, like any organization, we experience turnover in all of our departments, even with physicians.

The ability to add and retain physicians, specialties and programs will be evidence of a successful Albert Lea and Austin integration. We hope to further add value by becoming more efficient as we share resources and staff, reduce redundancies in our work and position ourselves to move into community-based, team models of care in our communities, with a focus on health and wellness.

Thank you for your continued support of our organizations. We remain committed to putting the needs of our patients first and to maintaining our heritage of partnering with our communities.


Mark R. Ciota, M.D., is CEO of Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea and Austin.