Mayo Clinic closes hospital, clinics in SW Minnesota

Published 6:08 am Friday, December 6, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS — The Mayo Clinic has announced that it is closing some of its facilities in southwest Minnesota, blaming a lack of patients and doctors, and reflecting the financial challenges faced by rural health care facilities statewide.

A hospital, ER and clinics in the city of Springfield as well as clinics in nearby Lamberton will close March 1, the world-renowned health care provider said in a statement this week.

The clinic noted that the closure will affect about 60 employees, the Star Tribune reported. Mayo Clinic is Minnesota’s largest private employer with a five-state network of hospitals and clinics.

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“For the past several years, Mayo Clinic Health System in Springfield has experienced several challenges, including an inability to recruit and retain physicians, declining hospital admissions and extremely low use of the emergency department,” the clinic said in a statement. “Despite robust efforts to implement a new care model in October 2018, many of those challenges remain, and the hospital and emergency department now face new concerns regarding future accreditation.”

This year, the hospital has admitted nine inpatients in addition to 28 patients for overnight observation, clinic officials said. The ER has treated a daily average of three to four patients.

Mayo Clinic Health System in Springfield lost nearly $1.5 million in 2018 and had a negative operating margin of 10.8 percent, according to the most recent earnings report.

Dr. James Hebl, a regional vice president of Mayo Clinic Health System, said he was proud that Mayo served Springfield for 22 years and that it would work with patients to find new sources of medical care.

The health system has been consolidating health care operations across its hospitals and clinics in and around southern Minnesota.

Mayo announced in August that it would close a clinic in La Crescent, and it has already moved some maternity services from its hospital in Albert Lea to another 20 miles (30 kilometers) away in Austin. It said in October that it would close its clinic in Waukon, Iowa, this month.

Recent financial data shows that many of Minnesota’s small critical-access hospitals in rural areas are struggling and that more than 30 meet the state Department of Health’s definition of financially distressed.

The Minnesota Hospital Association said in a statement that the Mayo closures reflect struggles of rural hospitals, which must reform to attract doctors and maintain high-quality medical care.

“These concerns raise broader policy questions about building, financing and staffing more sustainable models of care for all residents,” said Minnesota Hospital Association spokeswoman Wendy Burt.