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Ceremony next week for new MercyOne clinic in Albert Lea

About 3 1/2 years after the grass-roots movement began to take control of local health care options, the Albert Lea Healthcare Coalition and MercyOne North Iowa officials will break ground on Thursday for the new MercyOne Clinic at the former Herberger’s at Northbridge Mall.

The groundbreaking is slated to begin at 10:30 a.m. outside of the building, at 2440 Bridge Ave. The groundbreaking will be a drive-in event, where those attending will be directed to park on the west side of the building and listen to the event through KATE Radio.

The event will also be shown live on the Tribune’s Facebook page.

A press release states the first 100 people entering the event in their vehicles will receive appreciation gifts from the health care coalition and MercyOne.

Albert Lea Healthcare Coalition President Brad Arends said in addition to representatives from the coalition and MercyOne, others have also been invited to attend, including contractors, large donors, Gov. Tim Walz and the group’s consultant, Colleen Spike, who he said was instrumental in helping the project become a reality.

“Never have I been so proud to be from Albert Lea,” Arends said. “The doubters said this could never be done, but our citizens and business community kept this effort alive for over three years with their voice and pocketbooks. … We have proven to ourselves and others across the country that with passion, dedication and collaboration a community can control the health care services offered to its citizens.”

He said the coalition has raised close to $5 million for the project.

The new MercyOne clinic location is owned by the health care coalition and is leased to the MercyOne to provide patient care services. MercyOne will provide a primary care clinic with visiting specialists. There are future plans for an outpatient surgery center and potentially other services dependent upon patient needs and provider capability.

Other specialty healthcare businesses will have locations inside the building as well. Some of these specialty health care services include physical therapy and audiology, just to name a few.

Rod Schlader, president of MercyOne North Iowa, said though the year 2020  was a year filled with challenges, including delays for the project, the organization’s commitment to the project and the community of Albert Lea remains strong.

“We are excited to continue our momentum toward opening MercyOne Albert Lea Family Medicine,” he said.

Arends thanked all of those who have made the project happen.

“All the credit goes out to our loyal followers that have kept this movement alive,” Arends said. “We wouldn’t be where we’re at if they wouldn’t have kept coming and supporting this.”