Bennett, local leaders meet with Mayo officials

Published 9:10 pm Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Local and state representatives  met with Mayo Clinic Health System officials Monday as the hospital system’s planned transition of most inpatient services from Albert Lea to Austin unfolds.

The meeting included District 27A Rep. Peggy Bennett, R-Albert Lea; Albert Lea City Manager Chad Adams and City Councilor Rich Murray; Freeborn County commissioners Dan Belshan and Chris Shoff; Save Our Hospital co-chairpersons Mariah Lynne and Brad Arends; and Mayo officials Mark Ciota, Tricia Dahl, Annie Sadosty, Douglas Parks, Bobbie Gostout and three other Mayo employees.

The meeting came after Bennett reached out to Mayo officials last week to request the meeting to continue dialogue between stakeholders in the decision, according to a press release from Bennett’s office.

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“My goal for this meeting was to foster productive, face-to-face conversation in a small group setting so stakeholders on all sides could share their perspective and work to better understand where they were coming from,” Bennett said. “There’s understandably a great deal of anxiety and fear about Mayo’s plans to shift services out of Albert Lea — I share those concerns, and I too am frustrated by how the decision was communicated to the public.” 

Peggy Bennett

In an email Tuesday, Bennett said local representatives asked Mayo officials if they could put a short hold on the transition so city and county leaders could have more time to get answers to questions they have, but the hospital said it could not because of the implementation of a new system throughout its network.

“I would like to follow up with them and discuss a short pause further to see if there is any wiggle room there, as I think the city’s request for a pause is reasonable, considering the very short notice that was given to our community for this reorganization,” she said.

In a statement Tuesday, Mayo Clinic Health System said it is pleased “that there is a shared desire to continued conversations.”

“We very much appreciated the opportunity to have a productive discussion and look forward to continued collaboration and open dialogue as we move forward,” the health system stated. “It is clear that we have a shared commitment to Albert Lea and ensuring the long-term sustainability of the Albert Lea campus.” 

The meeting was productive, and there seemed to be a shared desire to communicate as the process moves forward, Bennett said in the press release.

“I will continue to push Mayo to be as transparent as possible and to over-communicate with the community about next steps as this process unfolds,” Bennett said. “If further meetings are the best avenue for these discussions to take place, I will continue to organize them as often as necessary.”

She said she appreciated “the grassroots efforts by the Save Our Hospital group.”

“I share (its) desire to preserve jobs and health care services at the Albert Lea hospital, and will continue to attend as many meetings as my schedule permits,” Bennett said. “If a solution exists that will keep jobs and services here in Albert Lea, all while ensuring the long-term sustainability of the campus, I hope those on all sides of the issue will work to make it a reality.”

About Sam Wilmes

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

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