Letter: Give the Albert Lea hospital back

Published 9:43 pm Thursday, September 14, 2017

This letter is in response to Annie Sadosty, vice president of Mayo’s Sept. 5 column in the Rochester Post-Bulletin. I have read several of her letters, and they all say pretty much the same thing.

One: She states it is increasingly difficult to hire and maintain staff for the hospitals. Mayo needs to rethink its treatment of doctors and nurses. The stringent time restraints of how long an appointment can last is stressful for both doctors and patients. There are doctors here and at Mayo in Rochester who have resigned because of unrealistic time restraints for appointments among other things. I’ve heard doctors say they couldn’t stand working in the Mayo system any longer.  I guess there must be other medical systems that don’t have such strict requirements.

Geographic location:  Albert Lea would be a much better location to have an ICU and birthing units. We serve a 4,200-square-mile area with the only acute care hospital in that area. We serve around 60,000 people in our area of southeastern Minnesota. People in Austin could make the choice of going to Mayo Rochester or to Albert Lea for surgery or childbirth. They have the best of both worlds. We don’t. Many of our patients in southeast Minnesota and Iowa have to drive more than 23 miles to get to Albert Lea.  Traveling all the way to Austin from Lake Mills or Kiester is way too far. It makes no sense to us why you would choose Austin rather than Albert Lea for ICU and birthing services. Could Hormel have had an influence on the decision guiding this location?

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What did you really learn from your visit with the small towns in southeastern Minnesota? Did you not hear the Lake Mills city councilor tell you about his ambulance ride from Lake Mills to Albert Lea?  His doctor told him he would likely be dead if he would have had to go any further. Going to Austin was not an option for him. Did you not hear the person who told you that people in rural southeast Minnesota had lost faith in Mayo? 

You said in your letter that “these initiatives were the direct result of community feedback.” What? We have never talked to anyone in Albert Lea who is in favor of this change. Would you please let us know who you are referring to?

Ms. Sadosty states, “We take decisions such as these very seriously. In fact, a multi-disciplinary team consisting of staff from across both Albert Lea and Austin carefully studied the issue for more than 18 months before determining this best coarse of action.”

Really? Who are these people who thought this was such a good idea? It should not be a secret! Did they take into consideration increased costs for ambulance rides, personal transportation costs for citizens, nursing home residents and hardship for our elderly and their families? We already pay the highest health insurance rates in the state, due to Mayo’s higher prices. This is not a good deal for anyone in Freeborn, Worth or Winnebago counties. If you can’t profitably run this full-service, acute-care hospital in Albert Lea, give it back!

Karen Trow

Albert Lea