Forum centers on effects of health care consolidations

Published 9:42 am Monday, October 16, 2023

More than 50 area residents gathered Saturday to address problems of access and affordability arising from the ongoing consolidation of health care systems, both locally and at the state level.

The Albert Lea People-Centered Health Care Forum, sponsored by the Rural Organizing Project of Isaiah MN (an interfaith organization focusing on economic justice) included the stories of 10 local speakers. The speakers shared their personal experiences dealing with health care consolidation, which ranged from the shortage of hospital beds to a significantly delayed mammogram that will likely result in the speaker’s death from breast cancer.

State Sens. Erin Murphy and Liz Boldon also attended the event, which was at Riverland Community College in Albert Lea. Both senators responded to the speakers.

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Murphy, a registered nurse, is working with the Legislature to develop a Public Health Commission. In a summary statement, she said, “What was once a system with shared purpose around care has been replaced with a business model and decision making driven by market sharing profit. It’s time to establish a public entity with the authority and responsibility to counter the forces of market competition.”

Boldon, also a registered nurse, encouraged all present to actively engage in facilitating change.

“Elevate the stories,” Boldon said. “Elevate the issues. Ask senators and representatives what they’re doing.”

She added, “It doesn’t have to be this way.”