2 Minnesota providers work to fill care gap left by MercyOne closure

The Albert Lea (Minn.) Healthcare Coalition is in lease negotiations with Blue Earth, Minn.-based United Hospital District and Albert Lea-based Mason City Clinic to help ensure care access after West Des Moines, Iowa-based MercyOne closed its clinic in the city Dec. 31.

"We are in negotiations with UHD now on a lease; that's in the early stages," Brad Arends, president of the Albert Lea Healthcare Coalition, said in a video on the coalition's Facebook page. "Our other partner is the Mason City Clinic, who we've been partnering with before. They didn't want to leave Albert Lea."

Mr. Arends said Mason City Clinic is ready to grow in the area and that the coalition is in the late stages of completing a lease agreement.

"They'll probably be opening up, it looks like April 1 now," Mr. Arends said. "We tried desperately to get it done so there would be no gap in coverage."

The target date to get United Hospital District providing care in the area is Sept. 1.

"We'll have specialty care here, before we'll have primary care, which is kind of the opposite of what we wanted to have happen, but we had schedule problems," Mr. Arends said. "The last thing we wanted to do was to open something up and then have it just not be a good onboarding there."

MercyOne's decision to close its family medicine and specialty care clinic came after "extended efforts" to keep it open.

"MercyOne must reduce costs and redistribute resources to ensure we can continue to fulfill our mission to provide high-quality patient care," according to an Aug. 30 community update from MercyOne. "The global pandemic, an increasingly challenging workforce recruitment environment and navigating differences in regulatory clinical practice crossing into Minnesota have created unsurmountable barriers." 

MercyOne told Becker's it declined to comment on the lease negotiations.

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