Guest Column: Save Our Hospital group is moving forward

Published 10:07 pm Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Guest Column by Jane Johnson

Happy 2018! To be sure, Save Our Hospital is alive and well. We’re energetic and committed. As this grassroots initiative enters eight months of existence, our goal and core values are solidly in place, yet our initial focus has shifted due to Mayo administration’s choice to adhere to its business decision of moving most inpatient hospital services to Austin.

Jane Johnson

Save Our Hospital seeks to allow citizens to have a choice in local health care, and we are well on our way to creating opportunity and choice for the 55,000-plus people who need affordable, accessible health care in our area. Mayo has made its choice; now we can make ours.  Alternative providers are interested in speaking with the city, county, and Save Our Hospital about entering into the health care market here.

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Choice represents a consumer-driven health care environment. Alternative providers offer choice. The patient’s choice. Your choice. If you choose to stay with the Mayo-run clinic, you will receive quality care, though perhaps not local care. Mayo decides where the services you need are located. You may be required to transfer to another Mayo-run facility.

But is there another way, another choice? What if the community itself decided what services would be offered locally? If health care is about the needs and wants of a community, should not the community have a voice in the services to be offered? What if a community health care board were formed with the purpose of directing and advising health care for the county and surrounding communities? The local group would represent the needs of the patients — patients would come first. These are some of the ideas Save Our Hospital is pursuing.

Part of Freeborn County is federally designated as being medically underserved and as having a health professional shortage.  Grants are available to help alleviate this issue, so why should we not take advantage of these moneys locally? Local control, local choice.

With our national spotlight, Albert Lea can become a model for what communities can do to support patients and improve rural health care.

Save Our Hospital is moving forward to bring back local control of health care services, increase consumer choices and lower costs. To this end, we are pursuing health care expertise, legal advice and legislative methods.  We continue our fundraising efforts, as these paid consultants will guide us in choosing the best alternative health care provider for the community. 

Save Our Hospital is inclusive, trustworthy, informative, respectful and committed, and we continue to stand up for vital, locally provided hospital services for the very sick, elderly and expectant mothers. We meet at 6 p.m. the first and third Sunday evenings of each month at the American Legion. All are welcome. Save Our Hospital is still driven — still strong.

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