100+ protest outside Mayo corporate headquarters over Albert Lea hospital consolidation

Protestors, including residents of Albert Lea, Minn., and nurses represented by the Minnesota Nurses Association, rallied Thursday outside Mayo Clinic's corporate headquarters in Rochester, Minn., over the system's plans to move certain services at its Albert Lea hospital to its Austin facility.

MNA said more than 200 protestors participated, while Mayo said its security team counted a crowd of 146.

Thursday's rally marks the latest protest against Mayo's plans to consolidate Albert Lea's inpatient surgeries, overnight hospitalization, maternity and intensive care at the Austin campus. In June, when Mayo announced the plans, the "Save Our Hospital" group formed. This grassroots campaign group of patients, local leaders, and MNA nurses aims "to pressure Mayo to keep a full-service, acute-care hospital in Albert Lea," the union said.

MNA said Thursday's rally is among many events the group is planning.

"The Albert Lea group is bravely standing up to a huge, powerful corporate entity more interested in its bottom line than patients or the people of Albert Lea," MNA President Mary Turner said. "The community knows losing their hospital would damage patient care and put at risk the health and welfare of not only the citizens of Albert Lea, but also the 60,000-some people in the three-county region who come to Albert Lea for medical care. The 22,000 members of MNA commend and stand with Albert Lea residents as they continue their campaign."

Mayo noted the right of residents to weigh in but expressed disappointment at some of the dialogue being put forth.

"We respect and appreciate the right of community members to voice their opinions. But, we are disappointed by the fear and misinformation being spread by some members of the Save Our Hospital group," the system said in an emailed statement to Becker's Hospital Review. "Frightening patients and the community with terms like 'life-threatening' and 'economically devastating' is irresponsible and not grounded in fact. Albert Lea's hospital is not closing. To the contrary, Mayo Clinic Health System is committed to Albert Lea and to preserving jobs and high-quality healthcare, and we intend to work with the community and elected officials to minimize the impact on individuals and the community."

Mayo also noted the challenges rural healthcare organizations face, saying, "While our solutions to those challenges may differ, our purpose for finding those solutions is shared: doing what's best for patients and their communities. We want to help community members gain a better understanding of … how this plan positions the Albert Lea campus for stability and growth now and in the future."   


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