Letter: Questions about hospital that need to be answered

Published 10:00 pm Monday, September 25, 2017

Prior to retiring in 2016, I traveled in most of Minnesota. People in rural Minnesota brought up comments about Mayo Clinic Health System and their presence in their communities. Springfield, Fairmont, St. Peter and Mankato are examples that come to mind when I think of negative statements about how Mayo has changed their medical services. My comments had been that MCHS-Albert Lea Medical Center in Albert Lea has provided excellent care to those needing medical care, since we have had a full-service hospital and clinic. 

Traveling through northwest Wisconsin, I have seen small towns having their own full-service hospitals. Listing a few: River Falls, Hudson, Osceola, St. Croix Falls and Rice Lake, Wisconsin. Rice Lake, as an example, has an impressive list of medical providers that includes Mayo Clinic Health System. The question that came to mind is how can these small towns have their own hospitals if the economics of medical care are so dire? Is there is a monopoly in southern Minnesota when Mayo Clinic Health System prevails in almost every town in southern Minnesota?

Some questions I would like answered:

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1. At the Hormel Corporation’s 2016 annual stockholder’s meeting, Dr. Mark Ciota, CEO of Albert Lea and Austin MCHS, was escorted with a group of business-suited people to the VIP reserved seating located front and center at the Austin High School Auditorium. Everyone else attending was already seated when the VIPs were escorted to their seats. I thought of this now because I know the Hormel Foundation is required to gift back profits for the good of the Austin community. Question: Did Hormel through its foundation provide financial influence prior to this recent announcement by Mayo regarding to Albert Lea’s hospital? Who else in this VIP group was Hormel giving the VIP treatment at this meeting? I did not recognize others in this group. Could Hormel influence Mayo on these hospital changes?

2. Looking at proximity to Rochester, a more logical choice is Albert Lea’s hospital for inpatient care, being 30 minutes further west from Rochester?

3. Would the city of Albert Lea have approved MCHS’s new ambulance garage and facilities if Mayo had announced these upcoming changes prior to the building permits and approvals?   

4. Why was Albert Lea caught by complete surprise when Mayo Health System announced their long-range plans? When did Austin, (Hormel) learn of Mayo’s plans?

5. How is it that the state of Minnesota can provide such large sums of money for Rochester’s Destination Medical Center without regards to other cities and towns in Minnesota? Did Mayo share it’s plans with the state when it asked for money?

6. Can these changes have no effect on employment at MCHS in Albert Lea?

Jim Rorvick

Albert Lea