The Baby Place to move to Austin mid- to late-2020; Construction expected to start in July

Published 3:02 pm Monday, March 11, 2019

ALBERT LEA — The Baby Place is now slated to move from Albert Lea to Austin in mid- to late 2020.

“We’re closer to a date now than we were,” said Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea and Austin Operations Administrator Tricia Dahl. “We were expecting it to be 2020, but now we’re looking at mid- to late-2020.”

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The birthing center is expected to be in the current women’s special care unit on the third floor of the Austin hospital and have additional space added to accommodate the renovations.

Dahl noted the hospital system aims to start construction in July, but that is contingent on state approval.

“With the labor and delivery, we still continue to have all of the services for prenatal care, postnatal care, our pediatricians,” she said. “We have four pediatricians here right now, so that care continues. We hear a lot of rumors that our emergency room is closed or that we don’t have our OB-GYN team, or that we don’t have labor and delivery here, so I think we’re still open for business.”

The hospital system is having the former psychiatric services unit in Austin remodeled, and when that is completed, 13 additional med-surg beds will be in Austin.

Dahl estimated the medical-surgical unit will move to Austin the week of June 24.

To her, the transition “has been going well.”

“I think there’s always some glitch,” she said. “I think we made it through some of these winter storms with some real positive stories.”

There will be telemedicine services in the emergency room with a Rochester-based neonatologist.

Dahl said the hospital system is undergoing a facilities master plan in Albert Lea and is looking to expand the emergency department and evaluate the spaces being vacated by the transition. She noted behavioral health and outpatient surgeries are two services that could fill the void.

“There’s no shortage of people who want to expand into that space,” she said.

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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