Ebenezer Howe: Time for A.L. and Austin to work together for both

Published 9:51 pm Monday, July 10, 2017

My Point of View, By Ebenezer Howe

Thursday evening, June 29, I attended the first public forum on the restructuring of Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea and Austin. My intent had been to get information for use in a press release urging folks to work together, to ensure choices that were best for our communities. From talking to people just finding a place to sit, it was apparent that working together was not yet possible due to the level of emotion.

Ebenezer Howe

During my working career, I was with a business machine and computer company for 35 years, and after returning to Freeborn County, I spent 14 years doing industrial maintenance. During those years I endured many upsize, downsize, re-size and right-size reorganizations, plus takeovers and mergers — some hostile. Some changes — those when I was in management — were very traumatic and emotional, especially when I had skin in the game. It is hard to watch what you worked tirelessly to build be dismantled, reconstructed and reorganized, and then assigned to others.

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Because of my working years, I have a somewhat different perspective on the reorganization and restructure of Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea and Austin. This different perspective is due to three things: First, outside experiences from being gone for 40 years. Second, two years down the road, seeing the results of changes that I was not in favor of turning out to be positive. Third, and possibly larger than I think, being in rural Alden I never had any real ties to Albert Lea except it being a larger town to shop in and the county fair is held there.

So, where the heck is all this going?

Well, I really have no emotional tie to Albert Lea over Austin — just Albert Lea is closer, and I like the fair. I have only been in the hospital one night since being taken home after my birth. I’m doing everything I can to prevent going back for an overnighter. So, being farther away is OK with me.

In my years working with computers, I found that the heavier the concentration of one model or series, the better we were at repairing them and getting them back into the hands of the user. I would almost bet my life that doctoring and nursing would see the same benefit from a higher number of folks to take care of. People, just like computers, have common failures. People are not all the same and just like computers that run different software, failures or illness will show different symptoms. The more you see, the better you get. I know I want to go to the facility that has had more opportunity to see and fix more illnesses and injuries.

There is one issue that folks in Albert Lea and Austin must get behind them and that is their inability to accept each other. The female pastor who spoke at the meeting mentioned this, at least that is what I heard.

I can relate, somewhat, to the folks who have invested their time, talents and money in building and adding onto the current facility in Albert Lea. They have skin in the game.

Does Albert Lea need a top-notch medical clinic and emergency room? Absolutely. We have been assured (so far) that will continue. Does Albert Lea need a birthing center? Probably. Decisions have been made, but they can be modified. It’s time for Albert Lea and Austin to work together for the benefit of both communities.

Closing thought: Never in all the reorganizations I experienced in my working years did a change plan implement bumplessly, and never ever were the naysayers correct or even close.

Alden resident Ebenezer Howe is chairman of the Freeborn County Republican Party. His views do not necessarily reflect the views of the local party members.