AARP AARP States Minnesota Advocacy

AARP Letter to Mayo Clinic re: Albert Lea Hospital

August 30, 2017

Samuel A. Di Piazza Jr.
Chair, Board of Trustees

Dr. John Noseworthy
CEO and President

Mr. Jeff Bolton,
CAO and Vice President
Mayo Clinic
200 1st St. SW, Rochester, MN 55905

Dear Chairman Di Piazza, Dr. Noseworthy, and Mr. Bolton:

As a leading voice for the 50+ population, AARP Minnesota & AARP Iowa are writing to express
serious concerns with Mayo Clinic’s decision to restructure and reduce hospital services in
Albert Lea, MN, including the elimination of ICU and inpatient services. The loss of these
services will not only have an adverse impact for residents in Albert Lea and Freeborn County,
but for residents served by this hospital in a number of additional Minnesota counties as well as
counties in north central Iowa.

AARP has long recognized the importance of Mayo Clinic as a rural health care leader, but the
decision to relocate critical hospital services appears to have been done in haste and without
input from the very people who will be affected most directly. AARP Minnesota met recently with
members of the Save Our Hospital coalition and agree with them that full access to hospital
care is critical not only for quality health outcomes, but also for the economic vitality of Albert
Lea. AARP is concerned that longer travel times and distance is an issue especially for elderly
people who may not be able to drive and who otherwise may lack viable transportation
alternatives. Moreover, these changes could result in job losses and could hinder economic
growth compounding the very same economic strains that Mayo Clinic cited in their decision to
restructure the hospital services in the first place.

While we recognize the challenges rural hospitals face due to changing demographics and
healthcare financing, we want to be clear that the challenges being faced by older adults in rural
communities are on their own pressing and highly complex. However, at this point the community and particularly older adults have expressed grave concerns to AARP that Mayo Clinic leadership has not engaged in a genuine process of community engagement and dialogue in an effort to understand the significant impacts on the health, safety and economic vitality of several Greater MN and Iowa counties, cities and residents that your decisions will have. In short, your decision seems to have been made without a genuine effort to understand the impact of your decision on those you serve.

As a result AARP respectfully asks that, at a minimum, you delay your decision until you are able to truly engage with the affected communities and hold further discussions with the residents of Albert Lea and the surrounding communities.

AARP urges Mayo to work with the community to ensure all stakeholders are involved and a full assessment of local needs and planning can be done. As a not-for-profit organization that seeks “to transform medicine and expand its unparalleled patient experience to people everywhere” we believe that it is your obligation to fully and transparently engage with this community, and AARP stands ready to assist in that effort.

AARP Minnesota had the opportunity to work with the Albert Lea community in 2009 as part of the “Blue Zone” project to develop healthy communities. We are confident the community can coalesce again to help Mayo solve this issue as well.
On behalf of AARP Minnesota and AARP Iowa, thank you in advance for your consideration of our request.

Will Phillips and Kent Sovern
State Director State Director AARP Minnesota and AARP Iowa

Cc: Governor Mark Dayton
Attorney General Lori Swanson
Brad Arends, Co-Chair, Save our Hospitals – Albert Lea
Mariah Lynne, Co-Chair, Save our Hospitals – Albert Lea

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