Mayo responds to Walz Albert Lea visit, letter

Published 11:57 pm Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea and Austin officials said Tuesday they are committed to working closer with the community as they face the challenges of rural health care.

The statement came as part of a comment released Tuesday afternoon in response to 1st District Congressman Tim Walz’s visit to Albert Lea on Monday and a subsequent letter he sent to Mayo Clinic CEO John Noseworthy regarding the hospital’s decision to transfer most inpatient services to its Austin campus.

Tim Walz

Walz, DFL-Mankato, said in the letter he was disappointed in the hospital system’s failure to “fully and proactively engage the Albert Lea community on this decision,” after hearing that many community members and officials did not know of the planned changes ahead of the announcement. Others said they were disappointed they did not have a chance to provide input and were still seeking data and answers about the decision.

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After the visit with community members, Walz stopped at Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea  to meet with CEO Mark Ciota and have a brief tour of the hospital.

“We value open communication with Congressman Walz on a wide range of issues,” the statement said. “We appreciate his visit to our Albert Lea campus on Monday to see firsthand the challenges Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea and Austin — like all rural hospitals across Minnesota and the nation — are facing regarding recruitment and retention of physicians and the dramatic impact of the change in health care from inpatient care to outpatient care delivery.”

According to the statement, Mayo Clinic received the letter from Walz following his visit.

“The congressman reaffirmed his appreciation of the work of Mayo Clinic and our dedicated employees, and reinforced his ‘long and frank working relationship’ with Mayo,” the hospital system said. “We respect and value Congressman Walz’s service to all his constituents, and his engagement in the work ahead to strengthen rural health care.

“These are not easy issues. We believe that as we work together with the people of Albert Lea, these changes will strengthen the Albert Lea campus and protect jobs. … We are confident that patients will continue to have access to high-quality patient care in both Albert Lea and Austin, and that Mayo Clinic Health System will remain an integral contributor to the health and economic vitality of both communities.”