September 11, 2017 11:11 PM
(ABC 6 News) -- The Albert Lea City Council Monday approved spending up to $35,000 to hire a group to explore the feasibility of a full-service, acute care hospital in the city.
The move comes hours after Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson sent Freeborn County Attorney David Walker a letter recommending the move. Swanson, who visited Albert Lea in August to learn more about the issue, also said her office found no evidence that the Mayo Clinic Health System broke any laws in its plan to consolidate some inpatient services from its Albert Lea hospital to one in Austin.
In addition to the city, the Save our Hospital group will also contribute $35,000 to the effort. Freeborn County is expected to take up the issue as well.
If the county doesn't approve funding for the health care accountant, Albert Lea could come back to the city council and ask for more money, city manager Chad Adams said at the meeting, though both the city and Save our Hospital have budgeted some extra money in case that happens.
After announcing the move in June, Mayo Clinic Health System has said the consolidation is caused in part by staffing shortages and the financial difficulties of rural health care, and that the plan will result in better care. The Save our Hospital group has challenged those assertions.
"Mayo under the Mayo way cannot make money on this hospital, but there are other hospitals that are non-Mayo facilities that are proving that it can happen," the group's co-chair Brad Arends said Monday.
The consolidation of the Albert Lea hospital's special care unit with Austin's intensive care unit is scheduled for October 1, with other units transitioning between 2018 and 2020.
Created: September 11, 2017 11:11 PM
Copyright 2017 - KAAL-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company