Editorial: Tribune Thumbs

Published 10:15 pm Friday, June 30, 2017

To Albert Lea doctors and nurses.

In the last few weeks, many people have expressed concern about the Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea and Austin announcement to move most inpatient services from Albert Lea to Austin. One thing that remains unchanged, however, is the care from the doctors and nurses in our community. Thank you for your dedication in serving patients and for the time and effort you give for us. Many of you have worked in the community for many  years — some even decades. Your dedication does not go unnoticed.

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To the civility shown at the Mayo Clinic Health System community forum this week.

Though there was clearly some tension at the meeting Thursday night surrounding the hospital system’s announcement to move most inpatient services to Albert Lea, we were pleased to see the civility residents portrayed in addressing their concerns to the panel of hospital, city and county leaders. Though there were a few moments when a few residents were a little aggressive, we believe it was necessary to make sure the community was heard. We are proud to be a part of a community that did so well at calmly expressing their opinions on such an emotional subject.

To Mayo Clinic Vice President Bobbie Gostout for comparing health services to driving for ice cream.

Bobbie Gostout, leader of Mayo Clinic Health System and vice president of Mayo Clinic, made a statement during the community forum Thursday night that compared traveling 23 miles for childbirth services to traveling the same distance to buy ice cream.

“Twenty three miles — not what you’d choose, but come on folks, people are driving 23 miles to get their favorite ice cream; people are driving 23 miles to go shopping.”

The comment was received with immediate reaction from the crowd. While it appears Gostout was trying to make the point that people are already driving out of town for entertainment and dining, we agree it was an insensitive statement. Not only is childbirth in a different category than leisure — it can be a life or death situation — but we believe it also showed that Gostout is out of touch with rural living.

To Mayo officials agreeing to look into a few of the concerns brought up at the community meeting.

It was good to hear Mark Ciota, the CEO of Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea and Austin, admit that he and other officials are looking into some of the concerns that have been brought up by area residents since the announcement was made to transition most inpatient services to Austin. Among those concerns he addressed were the idea of keeping low risk overnight stays available in Albert Lea and coming up with a solution to the transportation burden for spouses and family of patients staying overnight at the Austin hospital. City Manager Chad Adams also noted the city is looking into options with SMART Transit.

Keep pushing, Albert Lea. We can fight more.

To the likely negative economic consequences from moving most inpatient services from Albert Lea to Austin.

Though some of the long-term effects of moving inpatient services from Albert Lea to Austin are unknown, we think it’s a given that there will be negative economic consequences for area businesses once the changes are in place. Family members of people traveling to Austin to visit their loved ones will likely purchase gas, food and other necessities from stores in that community instead of using those dollars in Albert Lea.

To the community coming together.

Albert Lea resident Don Sorensen said it well at the community forum when he said that the community has been unified in its response to Mayo’s decision. People are finally setting aside their political differences and other biases to work on this issue together. It is great to see this united front.