As current and former public trustees of the Mayo Clinic, we and the Mayo leadership are 100 percent committed to putting the health of patients first throughout southern Minnesota (“Is Mayo living up to Minnesota mission?” editorial, Aug. 26).
We believe the recent decisions to move overnight hospitalizations, ICU and childbirth services from the Mayo Clinic Health System campus in Albert Lea to the campus in Austin and behavioral health services from Austin to Albert Lea will ensure that Mayo can continue to fulfill that commitment.
Access to high-quality, affordable health care as close to home as possible is a belief we share with Albert Lea, Austin and all the communities we serve. In shifting select procedures to the nearby hospital in Austin, we are committed to preserving high-quality care in both communities, taking these steps proactively to address some of the many challenges facing rural hospitals nationwide. To accomplish this goal, Mayo is investing $5 million to strengthen the Mayo hospital in Albert Lea in order to make this community a regional hub for in-demand services, including: $720,000 in improvements to the Cancer Center; $600,000 in a new CT scanner; $2.75 million in a new hospital cooling system; an integrated environment for behavioral health care and addiction services; and the building of short-stay observation beds adjacent to the emergency department to reduce transfers to other facilities.
These were difficult decisions that were made after careful study and analysis, and collaboration with community leaders in order to minimize their impact. The traditional model of duplicate hospitals operating in isolation from nearby locations is unsustainable. Instead of neighboring hospitals competing, they must collaborate and share certain services, not duplicate them. Organizations that fail to respond to similar market conditions often end up closing entire facilities: More than 80 rural hospitals across the country have closed since 2010, with another 670 on the brink. To put Albert Lea and Austin in that position would be irresponsible, especially when we have identified a way to keep 95 percent of the services patients use most at both campuses. These changes will ensure patients’ health and safety, and will provide both communities access to quality care for the long term.
After careful study and review of the current state as well as future trends of health care in Albert Lea and Austin, the board fully supports these changes on behalf of patients throughout the region. We support local leaders as they work with their communities to manage these changes in ways that minimize their impact and provide for a better health care future for all.
Bradbury H. Anderson, Richard K. Davis and Bill George are members of the Mayo Clinic Board of Trustees. Michael Dougherty and Marilyn Carlson Nelson are emeritus members of the board.