Governor Mark Dayton says he has “serious concerns” about Mayo Clinic’s plan to move most inpatient services from its Albert Lea campus to Austin, and Attorney General Lori Swanson is meeting today with city and county officials. Jennifer Vogt Erickson with the group Save Our Hospital says they want to protect vulnerable citizens. “We serve about 55-thousand people in Albert Lea and the surrounding communities here, and it’s in southern Minnesota and in northern Iowa,” she says. Freeborn County Attorney David Walker questions whether Mayo’s business practices violate state or federal laws. A Mayo spokesperson says they’re confident they have complied with all the requirements of their bylaws and the law. Mayo says they undertook a thorough evaluation with input from many stakeholders before making a decision to consolidate services.
Erickson says, “There are other hospitals in rural Minnesota that are our size or even smaller and they are operating in the black, so if Mayo is not interested in changing to one of those models to help us have community health care here, and full-service acute care, then we wish they would sell us.” Some warn Albert Lea could lose up to 500 of its highest-paying jobs. Mayo officials say that figure is completely incorrect and the actual number is much lower — plus positions will be added in Albert Lea when the inpatient psychiatric services unit is moved there from Austin.