The future of the Albert Lea Healthcare Coalition

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(ABC 6 NEWS) – It has been about four months since the MercyOne Albert Lea Family Medicine and Specialty Care Clinic opened in Albert Lea. It has taken years to get to this point, but the Albert Lea Healthcare Coalition is not done yet.

It has taken more than four years to get to this point.

It all started when Mayo Clinic announced it would be moving some services from Albert Lea to Austin.

The coalition tried to negotiate with Mayo Clinic but was unsuccessful.

The community came together with donations, and the coalition was able to get MercyOne to bring a clinic to Minnesota for the first time, fulfilling the dream of keeping healthcare in Albert Lea.

The first 14,000 square feet of the clinic opened in July with doctors and nurses, as well as specialists who visit periodically.

Officials say the first few months have gone well.

"The feedback has been overwhelming quite frankly and very positive. From a number of standpoints. Number one is just the time to get in, how long it takes to get an appointment. Number two cost, MercyOne’s cost structure is really really affordable high-quality care," said President of the Albert Lea Healthcare Coalition, Brad Arends.

The clinic will eventually hold services such as urgent care and outpatient surgery.

They also hope to bring labor and delivery back to Albert Lea with a few inpatient hospital beds.

The coalition has already raised more than $6 million for the clinic, but they still need more to add the other services.

"We will probably have to raise another 8 to 12 million dollars when you think about it. MercyOne puts money towards this to, I mean MercyOne has already committed 2 million dollars to get where we are today," said Arends.

He said without the community support this would not have been possible.

"The citizens of Albert Lea basically sat back when all of these services were being removed and they said not in our town! Albert Lea needs to have these services, not only for the benefit of its citizenry but to be a competitive community for the attractions of new jobs to come to Albert Lea," said Arends.

He added that this impacts everyone in Albert Lea and surrounding communities.

Arends said it feels good to finally have part of the clinic open and the next step is raising the funds to add the other services.