Letter: Health care critical to economic well-being in Albert Lea

Published 10:47 pm Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Primary value: The needs of the patient come first.

No one is arguing that having the Mayo Clinic near us provides excellent additional medical care when needed. The conflict we’re having with Mayo was caused by CAO/VP Jeff Bolton, Mayo Clinic’s board of trustees, and CEO/President Dr. John Noseworthy. They have made decisions that affect our community and yet refuse to talk to the citizens.

A facilitated dialogue is planned with a Mayo spokesperson, city leaders and county leaders. I hope that in these meetings, the Mayo Clinic spokesperson will give new answers to questions posed. They have repeatedly given nothing but canned responses for why these changes are being made. They have already said they won’t even consider revisiting decisions already made. So what’s the facilitated dialogue going to do?

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Mayo Clinic says they’re only taking 5 percent of the total services here at the Albert Lea campus. Of course, they’re taking the most lucrative services. The 95 percent we get to keep are the clinic and behavioral health inpatient in 2019. However, this 95 percent is already going down. Mayo has been pulling our doctors here to work part time in Austin. Every time this happens, we lose the ability to make appointments here in a timely manner.

The value statement for integrity says: Adhere to the highest standards of professionalism, ethics and personal responsibility, worthy of the trust our patients place in us.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, “Communities know that health care is critical to citizens’ physical and mental well-being. But health care is also critical to the community’s economic well-being. It is a vital source of jobs, economic growth and retirement or relocation incentives. If local health care disappeared, as much as 20 percent of the economy would also disappear.” Having health care taken away from a community can result in the service sector not paying employees and dollars stopping for those households. Along with the employees, the hospital will no longer be purchasing goods, causing the flow of money to cease to other businesses.

There are no professional organizers at work here, just hard-working citizens from this area working to find a solution to this problem created by those in Rochester. I’m sure they gave us last-minute notice of the changes being made because they didn’t think we’d fight. Well, they were wrong!

We invite everyone to attend our Save Our Hospital meetings, even if you disagree with us. Find out what’s really going on, not just rumors. All we want is a full-service, acute-care hospital in our community, whether under Mayo or some other entity. We may be a rural community, but we’re showing them we can fight for our rights to keep hospital services without traveling an extra 25 miles. Also, come out on Wednesday evenings to the New Denmark Park on Bridge Avenue from 5 to 6 p.m. to show your support or come to a meeting on Sunday nights at the American Legion from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Everyone is invited, even Mr. Noseworthy.

Kathy Diaz

Albert Lea