City officials in talks with other hospitals, clinics

Published 9:31 pm Monday, September 25, 2017

The city of Albert Lea is still considering several options as the completion of the first phase of Mayo Clinic Health System’s planned transition of most inpatient services from Albert Lea to Austin draws near.

Three to four hospital entities and three to four clinic entities have expressed interest in moving to Albert Lea, said City Manager Chad Adams, who called the possibility of bringing in a separate clinic provider “very speculative.”

Chad Adams

“Some of these conversations have been going on for a few months now, but they are starting to maybe reach another level in terms of interest and more structured dialogue,” he said.

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The health care entities that have discussed serving Albert Lea have not been identified.  

Adams said the community and health care entities that could come to Albert Lea to provide clinic services both have questions about the option.

“They (health care providers) want to learn more from us what the capacity is in the community,” he said. “But at the same time, I think the community wants to hear from other providers their perspective on our situation.”

In a statement Monday afternoon, Mayo spokeswoman Mandie Siems said the hospital “is firmly committed to the people and economic well-being of Albert Lea. We take very seriously our responsibilities as the community’s largest employer and longtime partner for health. We are focused on preserving access to quality local care, now and for generations to come. Despite what some may say, the hospital in Albert Lea is not closing. We are here to stay.”

A health care finance accountant could be hired this week after the city, Freeborn County and Albert Lea-Save Our Hospital organization each agreed to separately contribute up to $35,000 to hire the accountant, who would evaluate the long-term feasibility of the Albert Lea hospital.

Interviews for the project were made on Monday, Adams said in an update he provided Monday night to the Albert Lea City Council. The city has a firm they are looking to engage with this week to reach an agreement. The name of the firm was not announced at Monday’s meeting, and the accountant process is expected to take about 1 1/2 months.

In response to the plan to hire the accountant, the hospital system has stated the transition is coming after an 18-month process that included research and an exploration of options. They said a critical staffing shortage that is putting patients at risk is the driving factor behind its decision to transfer the decision, along with recent financial losses at Albert Lea and Austin campuses.

Adams expects the city to have a clearer understanding of the path it will take during the process in the next 90 to 120 days, and he wants the community to have a say in the approach the city adopts.

Thursday is expected to be the final day for admissions into the Albert Lea intensive care unit. Inpatient surgeries are slated to move to Austin in January 2018, and the behavioral health center is expected to move from Austin to Albert Lea in 2019. Labor and delivery services will be the last to relocate to Austin in late 2019 or early 2020.




About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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