Guest Column: One thread of opposition can change history

Published 8:58 pm Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Guest Column by Jane Johnson

I recently visited my sister who lives in Italy and by chance met two couples from Minnesota.  As travelers do, we exchanged names of our hometowns, and when they heard I was from Albert Lea, one gentleman from Waconia said, “Albert Lea — you’re having some issues with your hospital there.”

Jane Johnson

I assured him his information was correct and commented that though a mere 5 percent of our hospital services was being transferred to Austin, these were the most income-generating services, and we had wanted Mayo to reconsider this move. But, suddenly as I talked, I saw that my issue with Mayo was so much more than a mere 5 percent relocation of hospital services.

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“They didn’t do an economic impact study; they blindsided the community, and … and … and … ” I found myself sharing so many additional frustrations other than the transfer of hospital services. I mentioned the trust issue — the now broken promises made to the hospital board, staff and community. I mentioned the arrogance I believe Mayo demonstrated by not listening to our local and state politicians. I caught myself and realized my answer was probably a lot more than my fellow Minnesotan had bargained for. My passion for my hometown was palpable.

For me, the initial dismay of losing inpatient hospital services, the ICU and the Baby Place has grown exponentially with each carefully orchestrated step Mayo has taken to rebuff SOH and the Albert Lea area:  the initial letter I received from Dr. Sadosty claiming it is a “privilege to be entrusted” with the health of the community,  her comment that SOH was spreading fear, the phone interview poll many received wondering whether unions and organizers might have played a role in the organizing of SOH. The poll asked only about medical services in terms of PR positioning rather than asking about patient need. It contained elements of a “push poll,” a type of poll whose true objective is to sway people using loaded or manipulative questions.

I wonder when the paradigm shifted — when did Mayo health care move from a patient-centered model to a business model. When did this shift begin to affect facets of its health care delivery? I suspect it began years ago.

I’ve come to realize Mayo is really on its own separate plane.  I think Mayo seems to have no interest in learning how to effectively run and manage rural community health.  No delay, no meeting with Dr. Noseworthy or Jeffrey Bolton, no move whatsoever from the top brass to indicate even mild curiosity about Albert Lea’s concerns. We’ve heard Mayo’s perspective online, in personal letters and in the media. I call their rhetoric “Mayo-speak.” It’s repetitive, composed of strategic talking points and in no way addresses the questions and concerns of SOH and the communities involved.

As I toured Italy in September, I visited many historic sites — battle sites, burial sites, ancient city sites. One unnamed element seemed to permeate these sites — and that was the threat throughout history of the foe. Sometimes just one battle, one decision, one thread of opposition changed the course of history. I see SOH has a role to play here today.

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