Mayo kicks off $14.9M enhancement project at Albert Lea campus

Published 9:08 pm Thursday, September 22, 2022

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Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea hosted a wall-breaking ceremony Thursday afternoon to kick off a $14.9 million enhancement project.

Actual renovations and relocations are scheduled to start in October and will occur in a phased approach over 18 to 24 months.

The event was held outside the main lobby of the medical center at 404 W. Fountain St.

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“Tonight is extremely exciting, we’ve got a very marvelous celebration tonight for something that’s transformative,” said Dr. Robert Albright Jr., regional vice president of Mayo Clinic Health System. 

With him were Dr. Prathibha Varkey, president of Mayo Clinic Health System; Dr. Sumit Bhagra, physician lead in Albert Lea and Austin; Larry Baker, mayor pro tempore for Albert Lea; and Chris Hasse, the new chief administrator of Mayo Clinic Health System.

Albright described the upcoming project as an investment for loved ones and the community.

“We’re excited to invest in the communities and the facilities across the health system,” he said.

He also wanted to clarify that it was not just an emergency room project, and said several of the phases in the project are supporting what was found in a community assessment.

“One of the issues that comes forward time and time again is behavioral health and mental illness being such a scourge in our society right now,” he said.

To that effect, the first phase of the project will include the relocation of the center’s chemical dependency treatment program and behavioral health. The services will move to the second floor of the hospital, and a reception area with separate waiting spaces for outpatient behavioral health and Fountain Centers patients will be built. New office and treatment rooms, including space for telehealth visits and pediatric appointments, will be constructed, and the expanded space should accommodate two new health care professionals while still providing space for more potential growth. 

Another highlight includes the relocation of ambulatory surgery and infusion therapy to the area where outpatient Fountain Centers and behavioral health used to be. The space will have 16 presurgical and postsurgical rooms, as well as a procedure room. The area is co-located with operating room suites at the front of the building.

The Emergency Department will be enlarged to include 16 beds, with 10 general care rooms, three safe rooms and three observation rooms. There will also be new patient and visitor waiting areas and include a reflection space. Staff will be more easily able to see patient rooms, and telemedicine equipment will be installed in each room and available on mobile workstations.

“We are truly honored to be part of the Albert Lea community transforming health care and partnering with our community and the multiple community organizations,” Varkey said. “… It’s truly the heart and soul that will help us become a category one community health system.”

She thanked the community for their trust in the health system’s care.

“Community involvement and support went all the way back to the beginnings as the Naeve Hospital here [and] has been a huge part of the Albert Lea hospital district,” she said. “To me that tradition continues to the inspiring work of the Naeve Healthcare Foundation and the Naeve Hospital Auxiliary.”

She concluded her portion of the ceremony by thanking Bhagra and his team, as well as the hospital staff.

She was also hopeful the enhancements will help attract and retain health staff, who in turn could provide safety and comfort to patients, families and visitors.

“Across Mayo system we are committed to investing in our regions as you have cut across all four regions in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and really tremendously committed to investing in our staff with state-of-the-art facilities and technology to serve the people of our regions, and I believe [it] will be an important contribution to the health and wellness, as well as economic vibrancy, of the community,” she said.

Bhagra noted that as he stood in the shadow of the old building of Naeve Hospital and looked at the new building, he saw a picture of what the future could be.

“It’s not just about the space, it is what the space brings to the patients that come to us and the quality of care enhancement that the new spaces will bring to them,” he said.

He added there were passionate health care providers who wanted the best space for caring for patients, and said the new space would provide that.

In his remarks, Baker thanked Mayo Clinic Health System for their investment in the area.

Despite the scheduled work, all departments will remain in full operation throughout the project.

“We will keep our operations stable,” Albright said. “We will not decrease our operations, and we will make sure to continue to serve the community.”