Editorial: Grant delay in Mayo transition

Published 10:30 pm Tuesday, September 5, 2017

We have watched from the sidelines as residents, local and state government officials, and leaders of other state and national organizations have jumped behind the effort to keep Albert Lea’s full-service, acute-care hospital.

Starting next month, the intensive care unit at Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea is slated to move to Austin, followed by the inpatient medical/surgical unit in early 2019 and childbirth services in 2020.

A common thread among all the groups that have been vocal about keeping these services in Albert Lea is that they question how little communication Mayo officials had with the community before announcing their decision in June to consolidate most inpatient services to Austin.

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Where was the community dialogue and input and why wasn’t the community as a whole given the opportunity to provide feedback? Even though Mayo is a business and ultimately will be the one to make its own decisions, it’s important to remember that it has a business that affects not only Albert Lea’s 18,000 residents but also the residents in the surrounding areas — totaling about 55,000.

Though Mayo has already started work to begin moving the first set of services from Albert Lea to Austin in October, we encourage the health organization to take a step back.

Allow time for people — both within the Mayo organization and on the outside — to see if another solution can be reached. Talk to other hospitals about how they are making it work in rural America. Though the task does not come without challenges, other hospitals are surviving, and Mayo — which has been called the nation’s best — should be able to do it, too.

It is a request that could benefit both Mayo and the community and that, in our opinion, would be a good public relations move to restore some of the lost trust from the community.

There is clearly a need to do so.

Both young and old, wealthy and poor, Medicaid patient and private-insurer patient — we all need health care.

And we need it readily available.

What must happen before Mayo takes a pause, listens to the wishes of the community and reconsiders its plan? How many people and at what level will it take to ask for a delay before the health system listens?

In the meantime, Albert Lea residents, state officials and other health care leaders around the nation are watching, and the area residents working around the clock to keep full services locally aren’t giving up any time soon.