Letter: I never imagined what the future would hold

Published 8:30 pm Tuesday, January 2, 2024

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From 2004 to 2008, I spent day and night in Albert Lea managing the first (successful) capital campaign for the Albert Lea Medical Center (ALMC). It was one of my most challenging life experiences. First, in gaining the interest and collaboration of the employees when the most recent survey showed a very low morale. But, the majority of them joined our efforts and made generous contributions.

Secondly, I formed a capital campaign board of several respected community members. I soon learned that ambiguous feelings toward Mayo Clinic were present and the love for Naeve Hospital ran very deep.

I had conducted many years of political fundraising, but this was my first capital campaign with a $4.5 million goal. It was also the first year the community met the new CEO of ALMC who assured me we would “figure it out together.” And we did.

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My years in Albert Lea created many close friendships that I value and maintain to this day. And just looking at the beautiful medical center our efforts produced is very pleasing for me. However, it appears to be only a shadow of what I left in 2008, and that is very difficult for me to understand. As a former state senator, I traveled the challenging path of rural health care for many years and am very cognizant of the problems it presents. But, to invest millions into a facility and then not totally utilize it to its fullest potential is difficult to reconcile.

I am fond of the city of Albert Lea and visit often, When I do, I always fear I will bump into those faithful supporters who received my call for donations and gave very generously! I hope they never feel that I misled them because I believed completely in the upgrading of their beautiful medical center and could never have imagined what its future held.

Betty Soukup
Retired Iowa state senator
Clear Lake