Lt. governor to visit Albert Lea

Published 10:58 pm Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Smith to hear concerns about plans for hospital

Lt. Gov. Tina Smith is slated  to meet with local government officials and leaders of the Save Our Hospital group on Thursday about Mayo Clinic’s plans to transition most inpatient services from Albert Lea to Austin.

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The meeting will not be open to the public or news media, but is slated to take place at 1:30 p.m.

Mariah Lynne, chairwoman of the Save Our Hospital organization, said members of the group began reaching out to Smith last week to make sure she was aware of the impact of the hospital system’s announcement in June.

Tina Smith

Plans call for moving the intensive care unit, inpatient surgeries and the birthing center to Austin, while the behavioral health services would move from Austin to Albert Lea. Services such as doctor visits, emergency room care, lab work and outpatient surgery would remain in both locations.

Lynne said people made phone calls and requests for Smith to meet with local leaders.

“We are pleased that she is going to be visiting our community and that we will be able to share our experience — our point of view,” Lynne said. “We’re seeing that outreach is working, and the unity between the city, county and Save Our Hospital has an extreme impact on conversations.”

Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson  met with the Save Our Hospital leaders last week in St. Paul after a visit to Albert Lea to visit with city and county leaders.

Smith is the chairwoman of the Destination Medical Center Corporation, the governing board appointed to provide public oversight of the Destination Medical Center initiative planning and implementation.

The state Legislature has approved more than $500 million for the initiative.

Lynne said she and others plan to discuss what she described as Mayo’s “poor corporate citizenship” in rural communities including Albert Lea.

“We’re looking forward to sharing with her what our experience has been with Mayo in rural Minnesota,” Lynne said. “We think it’s important she have the conversation.”

“We welcome Lt. Governor Tina Smith’s sincere interest in the rural health care challenges that are impacting communities locally and across the state,” Mayo Clinic said in a statement. “We appreciate her commitment to engage with key stakeholders, including her ongoing conversations with Mayo Clinic as well as this visit with city and county stakeholders in Albert Lea.”