Guest Column: Save Our Hospital group is full of energy

Published 9:45 pm Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Guest Column by Jane Johnson

Like many of you, I have experienced a multitude of emotions since Mayo’s June bombshell that it was yanking a major portion of hospital services from Albert Lea: disbelief, confusion, frustration, anger. My first reaction, however, was to sit back and trust Mayo. I figured they knew what they were doing, for were they not the gold standard in health care? 

Jane Johnson

My family has always been grateful for Mayo’s research and cutting-edge specialties that allowed my late husband to lead a relatively normal life. Due to Pete’s many surgeries, we knew Mayo-Rochester well — our children navigated the Rochester subway as well as they did our own neighborhood. We trusted Mayo implicitly, believing they had the knowledge and know-how to make life better. We experienced firsthand Mayo’s primary value that the patient came first.

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Three months ago I still held the Mayo system and model in high regard. But now I’m seeing things with better-informed eyes and am outraged by what has been uncloaked — an intentional, carefully crafted scheme to increase Mayo profits at the expense of a community’s health and livelihood. No longer does the patient come first.

My goal in this column as part of the Save Our Hospital (SOH) team is to share information gleaned from my involvement in this grassroots organization. In this first column, I want to explain the makeup of SOH itself.

The first thing I learned from joining Save Our Hospital was how a grassroots group organizes and launches itself. Before I entered the fray, the tough organizational work had been done. A mission statement had been adopted; core values had been written; a steering committee (with co-chairs) and support committees (with chairpersons) had been formed. People volunteered to serve on these committees, putting their time, talent and focus into the effort. SOH is bipartisan, involves committed individuals from all political/religious leanings and it’s civil.

At the forefront of the cause is SOH’s mission statement, one that most team members can cite straightaway: “to maintain a full-service, acute-care hospital in Albert Lea, Minnesota.” The core values are adjectives describing how the group conducts itself on this mission: respectful, trustworthy, inclusive, informative, committed.

To fully unveil, decipher, and confront the Mayo fiasco in Albert Lea, each week the following committees report in: political, legal-research, fundraising, public relations, local organizing, alternative provider and internal communications. It’s evident that those chairing and volunteering on these committees are dedicated to the SOH mission, most working full time at their paying jobs, and full time in this volunteer position as well.

I’ve been able to attend most 6 p.m. Sunday meetings at Albert Lea’s American Legion.  These 90-minute events are led by smart, savvy co-chairs.  The atmosphere pulses with positive, encouraging energy.  One is acutely aware that this group is well organized, well informed, well intentioned.  Leadership keeps each meeting’s focus on its mission and core values. In so doing, SOH can change the course of the community’s health care by standing up for the right and having a say in the matter.

Jane Johnson is a member of the grassroots Save Our Hospital organization aiming to keeping a full-service, acute-care hospital in Albert Lea.