Bennett: I share concerns about Mayo’s plans

Published 1:39 pm Saturday, August 19, 2017

By Rep. Peggy Bennett

It’s been a busy week here in the district, as well as doing some traveling throughout the state. I wanted to pass along a quick update to keep you as informed as possible.

Ongoing Hospital Issue

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This past Monday, I met with key officials from Mayo Hospital, the City of Albert Lea, Freeborn County, and representatives from the Save Our Hospital group, with the goal of fostering productive, face-to-face conversations and sharing of perspectives in a small group setting. I had reached out to Mayo officials the week before to request a meeting to continue dialog between all stakeholders as Mayo moves forward with plans to shift services to their location in Austin.

Though this meeting did not produce the changes to Mayo’s plans that most in our community desire, I felt the meeting was productive in communication, and there seemed to be a shared desire to continue conversations by Mayo and local government leaders.

I also reached out to the offices of Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson, and Lt. Governor Tina Smith concerning the hospital issue. I want to make sure that the people’s local voice is heard, and these are two important state leaders who need to hear that local voice.

Attorney General Lori Swanson announced on Wednesday that she will come to Albert Lea on Monday to meet with local city and county officials concerning Mayo Clinic’s plan to consolidate services between the Austin and Albert Lea campuses. I will be attending that meeting as well and look forward to the discussions. I’ll be sure to update you on how the meeting goes.

There’s understandably a great deal of anxiety and fear about Mayo’s plans to shift services out of Albert Lea—I share those concerns and I too am frustrated by how the decision was communicated to the public.

My desire has and continues to be to protect jobs and health care services for Albert Lea and surrounding communities, all the while ensuring the long-term sustainability of the campus. As this process continues, you can count on me to listen, to facilitate dialog between all stakeholders, and to be an aggressive advocate in my discussions with Mayo on behalf of this community.

Committee Tour

As a member of the House Capital Investment Committee, I took part in a three-day statewide tour to visit a number of bonding projects. A bipartisan group of committee members and staff traveled by bus to view 20 different bonding request projects in 15 different cities throughout northwestern Minnesota.

We visited a number of state colleges and universities, flood mitigation projects, a food bank, rail grade separation projects, and more.

One of the most interesting spots to me was in Fergus Falls, where we saw a project request for the old state regional treatment center that’s located there. Such beautiful and intriguing old buildings!

It was so interesting to see other parts of our state like this. I’m looking forward to seeing more parts of our state in future committee tours!

Please Contact Me

As I said before, I’ll continue to keep you posted on any current news regarding the hospital issue. If you’d like to discuss that, or anything else, please call or email my office so we can chat.