Letter: Hospital decision is a blow to Albert Lea

Published 9:07 pm Monday, June 19, 2017

Albert Lea without a hospital is unacceptable! Like Paul Overgaard, I feel betrayed. Just drafting this letter, I’m getting mad.

This was not a decision made between Albert Lea and Austin medical centers about sharing key equipment and personal, which is reasonable, but a business decision mandated by Mayo corporate to improve profit. My opinion.

Closing the hospital will be a major blow to the community and its economy, sealing Albert Lea’s fate as a second-class city.

If you were logical and had to close one hospital, Austin would be the obvious choice. It is closer to Rochester. Now a large portion of residents residing west of Albert Lea will begin to choose Mankato for medical care.

Don’t believe the line, “The Albert Lea facility will continue to play a major role in future health care in the community.” Slowly, one step at a time, the Albert Lea facility will be decommissioned, becoming nothing more than an outpatient clinic and drug treatment center — a white elephant sitting on the most beautiful, expensive plot of land in the community.

Don’t believe the statement implying “better health care.” This decision had nothing to do with patient care.

No longer will you be able to stop and check on grandma during your lunch break. Twenty miles may not seem like much, but to families of those hospitalized, especially the poor, it will be a major inconvenience.

Our emergency room will become a stabilize and transport facility.

I’ll wager the number of medical staff living in Albert Lea will drop by 70 percent within 10 years. There will be a major exodus of medical personnel. Historically, doctors live in close proximity to the hospital they practice in. They may work at the Albert Lea clinic, but they will live, shop and play in Austin. Albert Lea’s upper end housing market will take a major hit, resulting in everyone’s taxes going up.

A shuttered hospital is a glaring example of a failed community. It will become more difficult to attract new business to the community. A vital part of Albert Lea’s promotional kit has been eliminated.

City and county officials must accept much of the blame for this fiasco — either they were blissfully ignorant of discussions taking place, they did not understand the implications or they simply did not have the courage to stand up and fight for their community. Elected or hired, they had an obligation. They failed and should all be fired!

Is any action plausible at this late date? I don’t know. What is obvious is that the average citizen had no voice in the future of their health care. An astute citizen may have known discussions were under way, but the implications were kept carefully shrouded.

Is there any individual or group with the backbone to stand up and lead the fight to keep the hospital that we all paid for and need? Or do we go quietly into the night?

If there is no outrage, we deserve what’s coming!

Don Sorensen

Albert Lea