Albert Lea hospital rally draws 300

Published 7:42 am Monday, October 2, 2017

Albert Lea Tribune

ALBERT LEA —About 300 people rallied Saturday afternoon in Albert Lea’s Central Park to showcase the community’s continued commitment to keeping a full-service, acute-care hospital in Albert Lea.

The rally came after the intensive care unit moved to Austin last week. That marked the first service to make the transition.

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“They are hoping that we’re done,” said Save Our Hospital Co-Chairman Brad Arends. “They are hoping that we’re through. Our mission today is not only to rally the community and the 35,000 people around Albert Lea that use this hospital. Our mission today is to emphasize that commitment  —  that we are not done.”

The event began with remarks from state and local representatives and concluded with a march from Central Park past the emergency room at the Albert Lea hospital, where participants held protest signs.

Prior to the march, former House Minority Leader and candidate for governor Paul Thissen called on the hospital system to pause the planned transition to give the community a chance to stop the elimination of services in Albert Lea. The hospital needs to be open and transparent, he said.

Over the past five years, Mayo Clinic has made profits that range between $400 million and $800 million per year, said Thissen, who discussed the responsibility he said the hospital has to taxpayers based on the state investment in the Destination Medical Center project. He said he is open to re-writing
language regarding the DMC, as well as making it easier for communities to bring in a health care provider.

Thissen predicted if the hospital system transitions most inpatient services, similar situations could unfold in other communities.

In a statement after the rally, Mayo Clinic Health System spokeswoman Mandie Siems said the community and the hospital system have some of the same goals.

“We see the people here at this rally,” she said. “We see that they’re passionate. They’re fighting for quality health care in Albert Lea, and on that we agree. We do. We have a common goal of keeping that high-quality health care here in the Albert Lea community, and we are here to stay, to partner and just continue to be a part of the Albert Lea community.”