The Mayo Clinic has announced it will close down a hospital and two clinics in southern Minnesota this coming March.
The Mayo Clinic Health System announced Wednesday it had made the "difficult decision" to close the hospital and emergency department in Springfield.
Furthermore, it is closing its clinics in Springfield in nearby Lamberton.
The closures will affect 60 staff between the hospital and clinics, with the closures set to go ahead on Mar. 1, 2020.
The facilities opened 22 years ago and the decision was taken to close them, the Mayo said, following a "careful review of patient volumes, ongoing staff challenges, and regulatory concerns."
"This is not the outcome that we wanted for our patients, our staff or the community; however, it was a necessary decision to make," a letter to the community from the Mayo Clinic Health System read.
The Mayo clinics are the only health facilities in Springfield and Lamberton. The nearest Mayo Health Systems clinic to Springfield will be in St. James, though other health providers are closer.
In fact, the Mankato Free Press reports that patient numbers had dwindled in recent years partly because local residents are within a half-hour drive of other facilities in Sleepy Eye, New Ulm and Redwood Falls.
The Springfield hospital's emergency department saw only 3-4 patients every day on average, and admitted 9 inpatients and 28 overnight patients so far this year.
"For the past several years, Mayo Clinic Health System in Springfield has experienced severe provider shortages, an inability to recruit and retain physicians, declining hospital admissions and extremely low utilization of the Emergency Department," the Mayo said.
"Last year, we openly shared our challenges with staff and the community and developed a new care model in October 2018. More than a year later, many of those same challenges remain, and we also now face new concerns regarding future accreditation."
Some of the steps the Mayo took to try and keep the Springfield hospital going included staffing the emergency department with physician assistants and nurse practitioners, while doctors from Mankato and Rochester would be available via video conferencing.
It also reduced the number of hospital beds "to a number we thought would improve the utilization of our staff."