The Mayo Clinic has been on the receiving end of some unwanted national headlines this week, following the release of a two-part story by CNN.
In February 2017, police were called to a report of a "patient abduction" at the famous Rochester facility, after then 18-year-old high school senior Alyssa Gilderhus, of rural Sherburn, left the facility with the help of her mother and stepfather.
But Gilderhus, who had undergone surgery for a ruptured brain aneurysm on Christmas Day 2016, told CNN that it wasn't an abduction, but a rescue attempt.
She claims she was unhappy with the care she was getting at the Mayo, and she and her parents repeatedly asked to be transferred to another hospital, only to be refused.
Gilderhus told CNN that she was effectively being "medically kidnapped."
On Monday, the Mayo Clinic issued a strong rebuke in response to the story, which it says makes "inaccurate and incomplete points" about Gilderhus' care.
"We believe that we acted in the best interest of the patient, including providing life-saving surgery.
"We are deeply disappointed that our subsequent actions to care for and to protect the patient seem to be misunderstood, as we were focused on the best interest of the patient."
Patient safety is always our highest priority, and it is at the forefront of the care we deliver to each patient. We are unwavering in our dedication to do what is best for every patient, every time. This patient’s case was no exception. This case was escalated to the highest level of leadership, and the care team worked with this family on a daily basis to listen to them and resolve their concerns. The same care, focus on her well-being and level of professionalism that this patient experienced during her life-saving surgery were also part of her post-surgery experience. This was a very complex situation with very challenging dynamics.
"Following a thorough and careful review of the care in question, we have determined that the version of events provided by certain patient family members to CNN is not supported by the facts nor do they track with the direct observations of numerous other providers on the patient’s care team. Our internal review determined that the care team’s actions were true to Mayo Clinic’s primary value that the patient’s needs come first. We acted in a manner that honored that value for this patient and that also took into account the safety and well-being of the team caring for the patient."
It also accuses CNN of choosing not to use "further clarification and context" about Gilderhus' case of which it was aware.
The teenager's escape was captured on a GoPro camera operated by her 9-year-old sister on Feb. 28, after he family made up a story about taking her outdoors to visit her grandmother, before placing her in a van as medical staff shouted at them.
CNN spoke to Alyssa and her family, a family friend, law enforcement officials and a former Mayo Clinic board member for the story, as well as perusing Gilderhus' medical records. It reached out to the Mayo for a comment, but the hospital initially wouldn't give answers on the record.
Her family had several complaints about Gilderhus' care, including a decision to take her off strong painkillers following surgery, the use of a breathing tube that was the wrong size, and a bladder infection that was treated but only because the family – not doctors – that discovered it.
The family shared several of these complaints at the time on Facebook, while arguments with staff at the Mayo then escalated to the point Gilderhus' mother, Amber, was escorted off the premises.
For all the complaints post-surgery, the family were more than happy with the surgery itself, with stepfather Duane Engebretson saying: "They are the reason she (Alyssa) is here today, plain and simple."