MercyOne North Iowa to build a clinic in Albert Lea, Minn.

MercyOne North Iowa signed a letter of intent to build a new clinic in Albert Lea, Minn., where Mayo Clinic began to scale back services in 2017.

Community leaders who formed the Albert Lea Healthcare Coalition following the Mayo Clinic fallout lured MercyOne North Iowa as they seek to bring a competitive balance to the rural community.

MercyOne pledged to open a primary-care clinic in summer 2020. The health system plans to phase in space for more specialists, an imaging center and an ambulatory surgery center.

“This outcome is even better than we expected in that we not only are on a path to restore services that have been removed from Albert Lea, but we also will have more specialists available, and our cost of care will be substantially lower than most communities in south-central and southeastern Minnesota,” said Brad Arends, chairman of Save Our Healthcare and president of the Albert Lea Healthcare Coalition.

In 2017, Mayo announced it would shift intensive and overnight care, inpatient surgeries and childbirth services to its Austin, Minn., campus, about 22 miles away. Officials cited financial losses and staffing issues as reasons for the move. Albert Lea residents said it has crippled the local economy.

Mayo Clinic said in a statement that it continues to offer a wide range of services in Albert Lea, Austin and surrounding communities including emergency care, outpatient services and pregnancy care.

Service-line consolidation is happening throughout the country as growing health systems look to eliminate duplicative services and low-volume facilities. Executives constantly weigh quality, financial viability, market competition and community access as they debate rolling up certain business lines. Without the proper due diligence and outreach, these decisions—or lack thereof—can have damaging consequences.

MercyOne North Iowa is the largest system in the state, with $3 billion in annual revenue. MercyOne, which is operated by Trinity Health and CommonSpirit Health, owns or jointly owns 18 medical centers and hospital campuses and oversees 420 ambulatory-care locations.

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