Steering committee set for Save Our Hospital group

Published 9:01 pm Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Albert Lea-Save Our Hospital group has formed a steering committee after expressing concern the city will no longer have a full service, acute-care hospital after Mayo Clinic Health System announced last month it intends to transition most inpatient services from Albert Lea to Austin.

Brad Arends and Mariah Lynne have been named co-chairpersons for the committee, and Andrea Jensen has been selected secretary. Rachel Christenson is treasurer of the organization, and eight subcommittee chairpersons have been named:

Political: Jerry Collins

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Legal: Linda Egge-Pedersen

Research: Bill Buege

Fundraising: Al Arends

Public relations: Jean Eaton

Local organizing: Angie Hanson

Second provider: Craig Ludtke

Internal communication: Joel Erickson

The steering committee was formed to provide organization and leadership to the community’s efforts to keep a full-service, acute-care hospital in Albert Lea, Brad Arends said. Commissioners approved appointing 4th District Freeborn County Commissioner Chris Shoff to the steering committee, and the organization is also reaching out to the Albert Lea City Council.

“There was a large group of citizenry that was concerned about what was happening at the hospital, and they just felt that they wanted to be involved, and it just took organization to do it,” Brad Arends said.

According to a statement from Mayo Clinic Health System, the residents of Albert Lea will continue to have great medical care available at the hospital.

“Albert Lea will continue to have a top-tier medical center with a full-service emergency room, primary care providers and specialists, pregnancy and women’s health care, a beautiful Cancer Center — the regional hub for dialysis — and outpatient surgical services that position this community for current success and future growth,” the health system states.

The committee plans to meet weekly on Mondays during the late-afternoon hours. Brad Arends said the timing of the meeting is meant to occur shortly after weekly community meetings on Sunday evenings.

The steering committee aims to be inclusive, trustworthy, informative, respectful and committed.

“We want to be committed to achieving that goal,” he said.

State and national lawmakers have been contacted to request Mayo Clinic for a copy of agreements made at the time the Albert Lea hospital transitioned to Mayo Clinic ownership and when the Albert Lea and Austin hospitals merged, to see if the hospital is in compliance with agreements.

He said Mayo Clinic officials have refused to delay the planned timeline for the transition and have admitted they have not conducted social or economic analysis on how the plan will impact Albert Lea.

“We’ve asked them to do that,” he said.

Though the transitioning of the intensive care unit to Austin is planned in October, Brad Arends said the organization will continue to work to ensure the community’s needs are met.

“There’s a lot to do in a short time, but we are committed to this mission,” he said.

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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