One might think that a world-class provider of medical care might better support health care reform than threatening to take its billion-dollar ball to another playing field ("Mayo sends warning over health legislation," front page, May 6). Claiming that its unique electronic staffing program is exceptional is fine — until that system goes down or is hacked. The system can most certainly work in tandem with a committee that provides human input, can't it? And there shouldn't be anything wrong or problematic with addressing the high costs of medical care unless the institution itself is a beneficiary of those high costs and the holy bottom line. Mayo Clinic may indeed take on more complicated cases than other systems, but I am willing to bet that the overwhelming majority of profit comes from average citizens who get plenty of diagnostic tests performed "in-house," especially if insurance companies are reimbursing.
Improving medical care and outcomes does not mean that reform has to take a back seat. Mayo, you can still make a ton of money without needing to be a bully.
Paul Waytz, Minneapolis
The writer is a retired physician.
The Star Tribune story about the Mayo Clinic threat to pull expansion plans in Minnesota if proposed legislation regulating nurse staffing is passed by the Legislature didn't indicate the source of the funds for the expansion. There is merely a reference in the article about it as "private money."
Is this a case where private equity is holding a gun to the head of Minnesotans? Exactly where are the funds coming from? And how does this rapacious attitude fit within Mayo's mission or, more generally, within the overall mission of compassionate health care?
The situation is strongly suggestive of ethical erosion within the medical community — especially in the context of the well-known burnout of health care workers over the last three years. I've heard nothing in the press about Mayo suggesting alternative strategies that could be implemented to protect the health and well-being of workers or to address the staffing shortage — which makes its action seem all the more imperious.
It's time for the Star Tribune to dig in and provide more information about this outrageous act by Mayo.
Denise Beusen, Eden Prairie
The Mayo Clinic's threat to withhold investment from Minnesota is wrong.
If Mayo thinks proposed legislation is not appropriate, the clinic should participate in a public dialogue to create better legislation. Instead Mayo is simply saying it does not like the legislation and it is going to take its clinic expansion elsewhere if the legislation passes.
Look at the issues involved. One bill considers how nurse staffing decisions are made. When we are ill, the nurse is our lifeline. The nurse monitors our condition, administers medication and communicates with our doctor if there is a problem. Nurses skills and caring are essential for good patient care. Most nurses will tell you that hospital administrators are saving money by increasing the number of patients a nurse needs to care for. Nurses are stressed by difficult and unsafe work loads. It makes sense for nurses to have a role in determining staffing levels. Why does Mayo think hospital administrators are the only ones who should make nurse staffing decisions? As a physician, I can tell you I never saw the administrator at the hospital in the middle of the night when the nurses and I were trying to save a patient's life.
The other reform Mayo is opposed to is the Health Care Affordability Board. It seems Mayo does not care that U.S. health care costs per person are double that of other modern countries while our health care outcomes are worse than the other modern, prosperous countries. What is Mayo proposing to make sure all Minnesotans have excellent, affordable health insurance? It seems Mayo is only concerned about its profitability, not the welfare of Minnesota residents.
Wasn't Mayo founded to help sick people? We all eventually get sick and need health care. I am profoundly disappointed to see the Mayo Clinic putting its profits ahead of the welfare of Minnesotans.
Mark Brakke, Coon Rapids
The writer is a physician.
UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA
Weak options, shoddy process
The Star Tribune Editorial Board is mistaken in its assertion that the individuals considered by the University of Minnesota Board of Regents were "strong candidates for the interim role" of president ("Timing critical in U interim pick," editorial, May 6). While a large university has significant administrative and financial concerns, these concerns cannot override the fact that the primary reason for the existence of the institution is its dedication to scholarship and to developing thoughts and ideas aimed at the betterment of mankind. It is rather appalling, therefore, that two out of the four individuals considered to lead the university (Jeffrey Ettinger and Myron Frans) had no experience to speak of with academic matters and one other candidate (Mary Holz-Clause) had at best a very narrow and limited acquaintance. The remaining candidate (E. Thomas Sullivan) fared significantly better in this regard but he also had a record in such leadership positions and, in fact, even at the University of Minnesota. It would have behooved the Board of Regents to consult more broadly to understand this record and its implications for the university before making any decisions.
There undoubtedly was an urgency to appointing an interim president, but urgency cannot be an excuse for overlooking important qualifications for the job or for not seeking advice from the constituency that has a better understanding of what the institution is about and knows what matters in its day-to-day functioning. That the board appeared to proceed on such an important matter without such consultation is extremely disturbing.
Gopalan Nadathur, Roseville
The writer is a professor at the U.
Thank you for publishing the reflection "New U president should follow Gabel's path on power sharing" (Opinion Exchange, May 6) by past and present U faculty member-leaders regarding President Joan Gabel's practice of shared governance during her tenure, especially regarding her impact on the integrity of the university and its ongoing mission.
It's worth noting that Gabel graduated from Haverford College (her major, philosophy), one of the most remarkable liberal arts colleges in this country. Haverford has always been about "power sharing," and from a unique perspective. Founded by Quakers (Society of Friends) in 1833, the college continues to reflect the Quaker philosophy, its unbending tradition of decisionmaking, one which requires consent of the entire membership body. In 1897, Haverford students and faculty together created an "honor code" of ethical conduct. For over a century, this ethic has remained a vibrant force in creating and sustaining college life. Each year, the honor code is reviewed by the student body, exclusive of faculty input, updating its guidelines as deemed appropriate.
At every academic institution in this country, it is our ongoing collective hope (faculty, staff and alums) that graduating students should never forget their roots, understanding what it means to be truly human, working in community with others. President Gabel, as she departs, has clearly never forgotten who she is regarding where she began. Thanks to the respective chairs of the Faculty Consultative Committee (2019-2023) for reminding us of Gabel's unique contribution, one to be cherished. So may it remain, to be firmly established in future considerations of our university's administrative guidance.
Judith Monson, St. Paul