ALBERT LEA and AUSTIN, Minn. — Health care organizations across the country are facing staffing shortages, rising costs and declining reimbursements for their services. Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea and Austin, a single practice with two campuses located about 25 miles apart, is no exception.
“We must make changes to the way we provide health care in order to be available to our patients and communities in the future,” says Bobbie Gostout, M.D., vice president, Mayo Clinic and leader of Mayo Clinic Health System. “It’s no longer feasible to duplicate some of our most complex and expensive health care services in neighboring communities. We are navigating challenging times in health care, so we are taking proactive steps to adjust the services offered on each campus. This work will ensure that emergency room, primary and specialty care, pregnancy care, lab, pharmacy and other services that are so important to our patients, remain available in both Albert Lea and Austin as part of a viable system of care for the future.”
According to Mark Ciota, M.D., CEO of Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea and Austin, many medical center staff have devoted more than a year to careful analysis of the health care services provided on both campuses. They used a patient-centered evaluation process to understand which services are most frequently used.
The results of the analysis showed:
More than 95% of services are delivered in the clinic (outpatient) setting, including:
- Emergency room
- Primary care, including pediatrics and pregnancy care (pre- and post-natal)
- Specialty care (orthopedics, cardiology, endocrinology, neurology, etc.)
- Outpatient surgeries and procedures
- Laboratory, radiology and pharmacy
“We know that our patients have come to expect the convenience of receiving primary, specialty and emergency care, along with common services like outpatient procedures, lab and pharmacy, in their own community,” says Dr. Ciota. “And we are pleased to say that those services, 95% of the care patients use most, will remain available in both Albert Lea and Austin.”
Fewer than 5% of patient visits are for hospital (inpatient) services such as:
- Major surgeries requiring hospitalization
- Overnight hospitalization and Intensive Care Unit (ICU) stays for illnesses and injuries
“To make the best use of our resources, the 5% of care we deliver in the hospital (inpatient) setting will be consolidated on our Austin campus,” says Dr. Ciota. “Thankfully, most people may only need these services a few times in the course of a lifetime. When and if they do, top quality hospital and surgical care will still be available close to home, within 30 minutes for most patients.”
A detailed facilities analysis showed that the Austin campus offers the best layout for the expansion of hospital rooms, a larger intensive care unit (ICU), and room for additional growth, making it the right choice for housing all of these services in one location. Albert Lea’s campus will continue to offer primary and specialty care, emergency care, pregnancy care, radiology, lab, pharmacy and other frequently used services. In addition, the Albert Lea campus will house inpatient behavioral health care (also known as the PSU) and addiction services.
Making the best use of staff and capital resources is particularly important in today’s health care environment, according to Dr. Ciota. “By adjusting our services across both campuses, we’ll be able to offer higher levels of care to patients in larger, state-of-the-art units. We’ll be able to invest more in the latest technology and equipment because we won’t be staffing and equipping two identical units in neighboring communities. We anticipate higher staff satisfaction as our talented providers, nurses and other staff are able to care for more complex patients and have fewer nights on call.”
The changes to the Albert Lea and Austin campuses will take place over time, probably several years, as further planning and remodeling will be needed. “We are at the very beginning of the implementation process,” says Dr. Ciota. “The work we are doing will require change for our staff, patients and community partners, and we realize change is hard for everyone. But these changes are necessary in order to keep health care close to home and available for present and future generations.”