Health care accountant hired as transition unfolds

Published 5:57 pm Monday, October 2, 2017

The city of Albert Lea signed a contract on Monday with a national health care consulting firm to evaluate the long-term feasibility of the Albert Lea hospital.

The maximum $75,000 contract with Quorum Health Resources LLC — described by the city as “one of the top-ranking health care consulting firms in the nation” that serves more than 700 hospitals in the United States — is evenly split between the city, Freeborn County and Save Our Hospital organization.

The assessment — expected to take 45 to 60 days — will include analysis of the financial and operational performance of the Albert Lea hospital, analysis of market conditions for sustainability and future options.

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The contract came days after the first part of Mayo Clinic Health System’s planned transition of most inpatient services to Austin unfolded — the moving of the intensive care unit.

“In the absence of getting information from Mayo — why the hospital is losing dollars, as they are stating — we need to try to find out if that’s true and if that’s sustainable long term,” Adams said. “Is that an issue long term, or is there something else that can lead this hospital to be profitable in this community?”

Mayo Clinic Health System has stated finances are part of the reason why the transition is unfolding, with the driving factor a staffing crisis the hospital system said leaves patients at risk.

A second clinic provider is more likely to enter the community than a second hospital provider, Adams said, adding the assessment could answer questions posed by state and federal lawmakers.

Adams stated the hiring of a health care accountant only came after the hospital system denied the city’s request Mayo Clinic Health System delay its planned transition so the community could gather more information about the plan and other options could be discussed.

“We would have preferred to work with Mayo on trying to determine that, but they chose not to partner with us and step back and pause as we’ve requested multiple times to try to find a solution together,” he said.

The hospital system has stated the transition cannot be delayed because of the reported staffing crisis.

Adams described hospitals as pillars in communities and noted Mayo Clinic Health System’s status as the city’s largest employer.

“Strong community also means strong health care, in our opinion,” he said.

Mandie Siems, Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea and Austin spokeswoman, said the hospital system is aware that the city and county committed taxpayer dollars for the audit.

“Several different versions of what that audit might entail have been circulated,” Siems said. “We have not been contacted by a private auditor, and cannot speculate at this point what might be requested or what Mayo’s response may be.

“As we have made clear, the main factors driving the transition of services between campuses are the severe shortage of providers and other hospital staff, and the accelerating trend of fewer hospitalizations as care is mostly delivered in the outpatient setting. Our goal has always been to keep the hospital in Albert Lea strong and viable for current and future generations, and to deliver safe, high-quality care to all our patients.”


About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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