Save Our Hospital group members hit the Capitol

Published 9:39 pm Tuesday, August 22, 2017

On the heels of the Minnesota attorney general’s visit to Albert Lea on Monday, leaders of the local Save Our Hospital organization traveled up to St. Paul on Tuesday to discuss their efforts to keep a full-service, acute-care hospital in the city.

The organization’s leaders, Mariah Lynne and Brad Arends, visited with Attorney General Lori Swanson, along with former Albert Lean John Morrison and committee member Al Arends.

Brad Arends said the meeting was organized to figure out what kind of assistance the attorney general’s office could give toward the group’s efforts to keep services locally.

The organization was formed after Mayo Clinic Health System officials announced in June plans to transition most inpatient services from Albert Lea to Austin. Mayo leaders have said services including the emergency room, primary and specialty care, outpatient surgeries and procedures, pregnancy care and lab, radiology and pharmacy services will remain at both locations.

“It was evident in the room that everybody wants Albert Lea to succeed,” Lynne said about the meeting with Swanson.

The group discussed one of its first priorities with Swanson to delay the October date that the intensive care unit is slated to move to Austin.

“There was so little time given when this timeline was set up,” Brad Arends said. “We said, ‘How could we possibly get our arms around this?’”

Lynne said she looks forward to continuing to meet with members of the attorney general’s office.

“This is more than just an issue for Albert Lea,” she said.

She noted the organization is receiving messages of support and donations from all across the country.

The organization’s next goal is to meet with Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, who is also the chairwoman of the Destination Medical Center Corporation.

The attorney general’s office last week sent a four-page letter to Mayo Clinic, confirming a review of Mayo’s consolidation plans in Albert Lea and Austin. It asked several questions regarding how the decision to consolidate services was made and about the organization’s finances.