Letter: The outcome is not yet determined

Published 9:36 pm Tuesday, July 25, 2017

On Tuesday, July 18, I listened to Dr. Gostout, Mayo vice president, warn our county commissioners not to dwell on the potentially negative local impacts of Mayo’s plans to close most inpatient services at Albert Lea’s hospital. She said that such attitudes “could hurt this community.” She urged them to focus instead on the ways Mayo is “optimizing” our hospital.

With salary and benefits approaching $700,000 per year (for 2015), it’s revealing that this is the best possible framing Dr. Gostout could give to Mayo’s plans.

Our county commissioners cut through Mayo’s spin and were undeterred in pressing for a six-month moratorium, re-evaluation of Mayo’s plan, or the possibility of Mayo selling the hospital to another entity that would keep inpatient services open. Dr. Gostout said no.

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Mayo is telling us that we should be happy paying more for less. We already pay 15 percent more for health insurance in Freeborn County compared to Waseca County and 29 percent more compared to Hennepin County. Now Mayo wants to move vital health services farther away from us. That’s monopoly power, and it’s outrageous.

We’ve been taken for a ride, but the outcome is not yet determined. The only way we lose for sure is if we forfeit —that is, we give up and accept the changes. Part of Mayo’s power is in getting people to perceive Mayo’s decisions as unstoppable, so they don’t try to fight it. A few grumbles is all. That makes an easy mark for Mayo.

A lot of people around here, though, have a stubborn streak and pride in a community that has struggled back to its feet after hard blows and is worth fighting for. They don’t take a raw deal with a bowed head.

If you have energy and time to spare, please get involved in Save Our Hospital. Our public meetings are at 6 p.m. Sundays at the American Legion downtown. Bring friends. Chin up, Albert Lea.

Jennifer Vogt-Erickson

Albert Lea