MercyOne to close Albert Lea clinic at end of 2023

(ABC 6 News) – MercyOne announced plans to close their Albert Lea clinic this week, just a couple of years after opening.

Shocking news hit the Albert Lea community this Thursday morning as health care provider, Mercy One, announced it will be closing at the end of the year. It comes as a shock to many in town as the clinic just opened in 2021.

Many people that live in or near Albert Lea were flustered by Mercy One’s decision, but not too concerned. Finding a new provider is something they’ve done before and this time around, they say they’re much better prepared.

In 2019, Mayo Clinic Health System announced it was reducing it’s services in Albert Lea. Some things would require a trip to Austin, or even Rochester. The community soon began to work together to find another option.

Iowa-based Mercy One answered that call. The clinic opened in 2021… but just two years later, and it’s already planning to shut down.

“We were surprised and had no forewarning,” said Brad Arends, chair of the Albert Lea Health Coalition, which owns the building Mercy one operates in.

“We’ll continue to own that building. We’ve got 5,000 patients unique patients in town and come to our clinic and they’ll stay at that clinic regardless of if it’s mercy one or it’s another alternative,” he added.

ABC 6 DID reached out to Mercy One for answers as to *why the clinic is closing. They would *not go on camera with, but they did email us this statement. In it, Mercy One cites recruitment struggles, and a difference in regulations in Minnesota as to why they are closing their doors.

Tom Minehart was one of five thousand people that took up Mercy One’s health care options when they came to town. He’s unsure of where he’ll go for healthcare once they’re gone.

“I personally had my health insurance through them which is a much cheaper premium than what I had before with Mayo Clinic. So when they got here we were very, very excited to have options,” Minehart said.

The future is still uncertain for Arends, Minehart, and many others in albert lea. But none of them doubt the town’s resilience to rebound from Mercy One’s decision.

“It is very heartbreaking but I guarantee you, this community, freeborn county, will not give up. We’re going to pursue and be taken care of. I know we can do it,” said Minehart

“We have money in the bank, we didn’t have any money back then. We have raised money, we spent millions of dollars on this building and we have money in the bank today and we expect to fulfil that business plan and grow this clinic. But with a new partner,” Arends said.

The Albert Lea Health Coalition will be hosting a community meeting this upcoming Tuesday, September 5, at Wedgecove golf course at 6 p.m. They hope to have more answers on mercy one’s decision for the community by then.

The Albert Lea Healthcare Coalition, a group of residents, spent more than four years petitioning the hospital system to move into Minnesota for the first time, after Mayo Clinic moved services to Austin.

RELATED: The future of the Albert Lea Healthcare Coalition – ABC 6 News –

In the clinic’s first year, the grassroots coalition worked to expand insurance coverage to include the new clinic.

RELATED: Albert Lea Healthcare Coalition’s call to action on medicare – ABC 6 News –

However, according to coalition members, MercyOne leadership told trustees Wednesday that the Albert Lea clinic would close Dec. 31, 2023.

MercyOne spokespeople shared the following statement:

“Like all health care systems, MercyOne must reduce costs and redistribute resources to ensure we can continue to fulfill our Mission with a focus on providing high-quality patient care. Despite our best intensions, the impact to health care systems caused by the pandemic and worsened by an increasingly difficult workforce recruitment environment, paired with the differences in regulatory clinical practice crossing into Minnesota have created barriers we’ve been unable to overcome. Therefore, MercyOne has made the painful decision to close our location in Albert Lea by the end of the year. There are opportunities for colleagues to transition to other MercyOne facilities. Patient care remains a top priority and all patients will be invited to continue their care at another MercyOne location most convenient to them.”

Clinical communications specialist Angie Anstine with MercyOne said the hospital would not offer interviews.

According to a statement shared with ALHC members, the city’s Home Medical Shop remains open at this time.

RELATED: MercyOne opens home medical shop in Albert Lea – ABC 6 News –