Editorial: State leaders are taking Mayo plans seriously

Published 9:18 pm Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Thank you to Minnesota Lt. Gov. Tina Smith and Attorney General Lori Swanson for coming to our community to find out more about the concerns of local leaders and residents regarding Mayo Clinic Health System’s announcement to move most inpatient services from Albert Lea to Austin.

Smith, who is also the chairwoman of the Destination Medical Center Corporation, was expected to meet this afternoon with city and county leaders, as well as leaders from the Save Our Hospital organization. Swanson came to town last week to meet with officials and then took more time the next day to meet at the Capitol with the leaders of the grassroots organization that is striving to keep a full-service, acute-care hospital in Albert Lea.

From the minute Mayo announced the changes for its Albert Lea campus in June, the community has rallied together week after week — sometimes multiple times a week — to ask questions, conduct research, fundraise and spread the message that Albert Lea’s full-service hospital matters and that the community deserves more answers about how Mayo’s decision was made.

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Residents of Albert Lea and the surrounding areas are known to be strong-willed, and in this case, that strong will and diligence is paying off and garnering attention from some of the top officials in the state.

We hope these state leaders take these pleas seriously and ask tough and appropriate questions of all involved. Albert Lea residents — and in turn, all of Minnesota — need to have further transparency on this issue, and these state officials have the capability to put a little pressure on Mayo leaders to get questions answered.

We applaud the inquiry made from the Attorney General’s Office to Mayo Clinic and hope it will shed light on many questions the community has, including the facilities analysis completed prior to the decision being made. The office also requested the health system provide information of all current and former board members, directors and officers of the health system and whether they “reviewed, deliberated or voted” on the transition.

The inquiry will lay to rest once and for all questions about donations received from The Hormel Foundation, as well as information about the health system’s financial picture.

Though the Tribune received a summary of the health system’s response Wednesday evening, many documents were kept confidential and sent only to the Attorney General’s Office for review.

We look forward to the review of these documents by the Attorney General’s Office and the office’s findings.

Though we think Mayo officials are making a better effort to meet with news organizations and others to answer questions, there is still more work to be done.