Board of Trustees did not vote on Mayo decision

Published 10:19 pm Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Mayo Clinic officials said Wednesday that their decision to consolidate most inpatient services from Albert Lea to Austin was in full compliance with corporate governance documents and applicable Minnesota law.

The statement came as part of a response to the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office about a series of questions posed in mid-August regarding the June announcement that the intensive care unit, inpatient surgeries and childbirth services would be consolidated to the Austin campus. Mayo Clinic provided the Tribune with a summary of the response submitted; however, there were also “a significant number of business confidential documents” that were not available as of press time that the hospital system said were for review only by the Attorney General’s Office.

When asked whether the board of directors for Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea and Austin “reviewed, deliberated or voted on the consolidation of services in advance of the decision,” the health system said the Board of Trustees for Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea and Austin was “fully informed and supportive of the decision to consolidate certain services across the two campuses of the hospital.

“Because MCHSAA is not discontinuing or terminating any services, but merely consolidating certain services across the two campuses of a single corporation and hospital, a formal vote by the MCHSAA board was not required or sought.”

Mayo Clinic Health System’s Albert Lea and Austin campuses merged into a single corporate entity in 2012. As part of the merger, the health system adopted an amended set of bylaws governing the new single corporation. Though it has two locations, it is considered a single hospital and clinic provider under Medicare and Medicaid regulations, and a single hospital operating under a single hospital license.

The health system said a supermajority vote on the decision would have been needed if any major medical services were to be discontinued or if there was a motion to sell or distribute assets in the event of a dissolution of the corporation.

“Because neither of these provisions applies to the consolidation of certain services across the two campuses of a single hospital and single corporation, no supermajority vote was required,” the health system wrote. “There is no discontinuation of a major medical service by the corporation. Rather, MCHSAA is maintaining all major medical services provided by the corporation. Certain services are being consolidated across the two campuses of MCHSAA, but they will continue to be provided by MCHSAA, a single corporation, hospital and clinic.”

When asked to identify any local, state or federal regulatory agencies from which Mayo received approval for the consolidation or to which it gave advance notice, the health system said Mayo Clinic had informal conversations with The Joint Commission and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to alert both organizations to the planned changes. It will provide formal notifications consistent with the notice requirements with these entities when required.

The health system noted that no approval was required from either agency and it was not required to provide notice or receive approval from local or state agencies regarding the decision.

It said after an 18-month review of the two hospitals, it found that the Austin campus provided the most optimal layout for the expansion of hospital inpatient rooms, a larger intensive care unit and room for additional growth to the facility.

The response came one day before Lt. Gov. Tina Smith was slated to come to Albert Lea to meet with city and county officials and leaders of the Save Our Hospital organization.

Save Our Hospital Co-Chairwoman Mariah Lynne issued the following statement after reviewing the summary released by Mayo.

“It’s evident from our initial review of the summary document that Mayo Clinic feels it can continue to be vague — even with the AG’s office. As we do not have access to attachments and supplements, we can only make assumptions based on the summation. We are confident in Attorney General Swanson and her staff, that they will request any additional information and detail necessary to thoroughly review these points of concern for the safety of rural health patients in our area.”

She said she will continue to rely on elected and appointed officials to hold the health system accountable for its actions.

Look for more details about the hospital’s response to the Attorney General’s Office at albertleatribune.com on Thursday and in Friday’s newspaper.