Mayo Clinic, various community health groups begin new collaborative

Published 10:21 pm Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Mayo Clinic Health System and local community groups are trying to tackle local health care needs after the forming of a community engagement organization.

The Community Healthcare Collaborative launched Tuesday at Thorne Crest Senior Living Community at an event attended by approximately 20 Albert Lea health, nonprofit, private and public leaders.

The group began through facilitated dialogue sessions between Mayo Clinic Health System and the city of Albert Lea following the hospital system’s transition of most inpatient services from Albert Lea to Austin.

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The group includes a core team for setting the strategy and priorities and assuring alignment. Work groups are expected to focus on a key population or issues of importance to the community and share their work with the core team to ensure success. Initial focus groups are expected to include families, emphasizing addressing barriers and concerns related to the transition of labor and delivery services to Austin; seniors, featuring the collaboration of a variety of senior groups; mental well-being, partnering with existing efforts; worksite wellness, featuring enhancements to the existing Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce committee; and populations being impacted by barriers to health care.

Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea and Austin Operations Administrator Tricia Dahl noted the hospital system understood some perceived the hospital system was not being receptive to the community and spoke highly of the accomplishments of the facilitated dialogue sessions.

“We really focused a lot on our senior population,” she said.

Dahl spoke of the community partners the hospital system has engaged in the past year at community events, including Wind Down Wednesdays and the Freeborn County Fair. 

“Mayo Clinic really took seriously the concerns people had,” Dahl said.

Freeborn County Public Health Director Sue Yost noted the top issues on the last two community health surveys in partnership with Mayo Clinic Health System have been mental health and obesity, adding she expects the 2018 community health survey to feature similar top concerns.

Yost noted the partnership on the 2018 study is being undertaken by Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin, Red Wing and Albert Lea and Freeborn, Mower and Goodhue counties.

Blue Zones Project of Albert Lea Organization Lead Ellen Kehr said work groups are expected to include community members. The core group is expected meet the third Tuesday of every other month.

“We really would like all of you to be involved,” she said. “It’s so important, really, to our community.”

According to a press release, the Community Healthcare Collaborative’s mission is, “Community partners collaborating to improve the health and well-being of the community through awareness, education and resources. Members include representatives from Blue Zones, Senior Resources of Freeborn County, the city of Albert Lea, Freeborn County Public Health, Albert Lea Family Y, Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea and Austin and Thorne Crest Senior Living Community.

Dahl said in the press release the most significant initiative “brought forward by this group has been the increased collaboration with community partners, particularly Freeborn County Public Health.”

About Sam Wilmes

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

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