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Mayo avoids lawsuit in plan to downsize its Albert Lea hospital

The Minnesota attorney general has decided not to sue the clinic.

An effort to keep a Mayo Clinic-affiliated hospital in Albert Lea running at full force appears to have suffered a major setback. 

Mayo announced earlier this year that it would be downsizing its Albert Lea location, and moving some vital services – such as ICU and childbirth – to their campus in nearby Austin. 

The decision sparked controversy and protests (you can read more about that situation right here), leading the Freeborn County attorney to ask Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson for help.

She agreed to get involved last month, but on Monday announced she will not block Mayo from moving ahead with its plans after all, the Post Bulletin reports.

Albert Lea community leaders had wanted the attorney general to sue Mayo on their behalf, with some arguing the world-famous clinic violated certain rules by not allowing enough public input on the plans. 

But according to a quote in the Post Bulletin, Swanson said her office "cannot file a lawsuit simply because a corporation that is abiding by the law undertakes an unpopular action." 

Swanson is now advising the city of Albert Lea, as well as Freeborn County, to "hire a health care finance consultant to look into the planned transition" to a scaled-down local hospital, the Albert Lea Tribune reports

One of the primary concerns in Albert Lea is that the downsizing will cut people off from healthcare, and hurt the local economy.

Under current plans, the changes would start going into effect this October. 

Why Mayo is downsizing

According to a fact sheet put out by Mayo, they're scaling back the Albert Lea hospital because of "challenges in today's health care landscape," including staff shortages (i.e. not enough doctors in the area), rising costs, lower demand for inpatient care, and "declining payments from insurers for our services."

The decision to downsize was announced in June. 

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