Letter: It’s about Albert Lea’s future

Published 10:36 pm Wednesday, July 12, 2017

I am not going to pretend to be the brightest bulb around town, nor have I ever been part of the “in” group. But, I have watched, with dismay, from the periphery for 50 years, as a beautiful, but basically leaderless city, failed miserably to live up to its potential.

We have a number of very successful old guard — war horses — who are very willing to harness up again. But, I question their energy and our citizens’ willingness to rally with them to prevent the medical and financial abyss that is looming.

The community needs the energy and vision that can only be provided by the next generation. The old guard can provide wisdom, but if no one from the next generation is willing to step forward and lead, what are we fighting for? If there is new blood willing to lead, we need to groom them not block them!

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Ted Hinnenkamp and I am polar opposites politically. But, I agree with his comments about the chamber playing a lead role. It should not! If there is any hope of success, the process must be totally nonpolitical and the unions must be part of the process. Unless we are totally unified, there is no chance.

Don’t believe for one minute that Mayo has lost millions over the past several years. It’s very easy to manipulate charges and make the financial books read any way you want. If the goal is to shut down an operation, you simply make it lose money.

I remain convinced we need to hire a legal adviser, experienced in the nuances of hospital management, able to determine and explain our options in layman terms. Such advice does not come cheap. However, without such counsel, I believe we will fail. If we fail, the community will lose countless millions over the coming years.

Without a hospital, there is no reason to even consider a new fire station or city garage. Financially, they are a total no-go.

The window of opportunity is incredibly short. Once Mayo starts dismantling the hospital, it will become exceedingly difficult to stop.

I will wager that if Mayo achieves its goals, the Albert Lea Medical Center will see its staff cut by 30 to 50 percent or more within a few years. The most skilled jobs will go first. The impact will totally devastate Albert Lea.

Many towns in Minnesota much smaller than Albert Lea run independent hospitals successfully in the black. There is no reason we cannot do the same.

We don’t need cheerleaders, we need sharks with the skills and courage to take on an organization like Mayo.

We are fighting for far more than our local hospital; we are fighting for the very future of our community.

We can dither and fuss or take action. I, for one, would like to see a divorce.

As I said earlier, “this is one issue the entire community will rally behind.” Let’s not waste a golden opportunity to unite the city.

If you agree with the above, please pass it on.

Don Sorensen

Albert Lea