Overview of services in Albert Lea and Austin
- Transition Timeline
- Investing in the Future of Albert Lea and Freeborn County
- Making Decisions Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow
- Frequently Asked Questions (and Answers)
- Engaging With Our Communities
- In the News
- Submit Your Comments
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Frequently Asked Questions (and Answers)
We've received a number of questions about why we're making these changes, and how they'll impact our communities. We've also seen a significant amount of misinformation circulating about what this transition will mean for patients. We want to take this opportunity to correct any myths and answer important questions.
If a patient needs to be transferred by ambulance between Albert Lea and Austin campuses, will the patient be billed for the ambulance ride?
No, patients will be transferred between our two campuses at no cost. Mayo Clinic Health System is obtaining exemption from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) current billing regulations so we can waive these costs for patients. It is our intention to continue to cover the cost of transfers between the Albert Lea and Austin campuses as permitted by CMS regulations that govern ambulance charges, and we will adapt as necessary if regulations change in the future.
What will continue to be offered on both campuses?
Both the Albert Lea and Austin campuses will continue to offer the vast majority (more than 95 percent) of the services our patients use on a regular basis, including emergency room care, primary and specialty care, pregnancy care, cancer care, outpatient (same-day) surgeries and procedures and services such as lab, radiology and pharmacy.
Are these changes just a way to transfer more patients to Rochester/Mayo Clinic?
Actually, that's the opposite of our intent. Our goal is to keep more patients close to home and avoid unnecessary transfers to Rochester. In order to do that, we have to optimize the services that we do have in the local community. Maintaining two identical hospitals in neighboring communities means we must have 24/7 staffing for two ICUs, two inpatient medical/surgical units, anesthesia and surgical teams at both locations, etc. With today's national provider shortage, we are sometimes unable to keep both hospitals fully staffed, and we end up having to transfer patients to Rochester. That's not acceptable to our patients, or to us.
Will childbirth services (labor and delivery) only be available on one of the campuses?
Yes, over time, all childbirth services will eventually transition to Austin.
- Research has shown that mothers and babies have better outcomes in higher-volume labor and delivery units where staff members' skills are kept sharp by doing more, and more complex, deliveries.
- The volumes at the separate units in Albert Lea and Austin are relatively small. Combining the two separate units into one will lead to an optimal situation for both patients and staff.
- It is becoming increasingly difficult to recruit and retain enough OB providers and nurses to staff two labor and delivery units so close together. Consolidating to a single birthing unit will lessen the call burden and help to stabilize staffing so we can continue to offer deliveries and post-partum care close to home for our patients.
How will the changes in services impact patients?
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. This will lead to 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. This should help us reduce staff turnover, which results in more continuity of care for our patients.
Will there be transportation for patients who will need to travel to a different campus for care?
If a patient needs to be transferred between the Albert Lea and Austin campuses by ambulance, Mayo will absorb the cost - there is no cost to the patient, and they will not be billed. It's important to remember that the outpatient (clinic-based) care that most people use regularly will remain available on both campuses, so there will be no change in transportation needs.
Will the cost of these changes be passed on to the patient/consumer?
While we have no control over some costs for patients, such as insurance premiums and deductibles and co-pays, we are committed to delivering high-quality care as efficiently as we can in order to keep care as affordable as possible. Being careful stewards of our resources is part of that commitment. The long-term goal of these changes is to maintain a sustainable system of care in the Albert Lea and Austin area, where health care will be both available and affordable for patients. Maintaining two fully staffed and equipped hospitals in neighboring communities is becoming increasingly difficult due to costs, a nationwide provider shortage and declining inpatient volumes.
Was the hospital in Albert Lea not sustainable?
This hospital has a rich history, going all the way back to its beginnings as Naeve Hospital. Throughout that time, the hospital has adjusted to respond to changes in the community and health care, overall. Those changes continue and we need to proactively address them.
The staff of the Albert Lea hospital, and the care they provide, is second to none. We don't want anyone to think that there is a problem with the care being provided here. What is unsustainable is having two fully staffed hospitals fewer than 25 miles apart. In today's environment of declining inpatient volumes and critical staffing shortages, that model does not work from a staffing or financial standpoint. What works is to create larger hospital units and make the best use of all the staff available, and to keep the majority of outpatient services used on a regular basis available on both campuses. We are absolutely sincere when we say 95 percent of the the care you use most often will remain in Albert Lea, and you'll continue to visit your doctors, be seen in the emergency room and come here for labs and x-rays without anything changing. If the time comes that you need a major surgery or a stay in the ICU, you'll be admitted to a unit just down the road with the latest technology, and cared for by our great team of staff from both Albert Lea and Austin.
How will length of service be determined if staff transfer between the two campuses?
Length of service is determined by the employee's original hire date, whether is was with Naeve Hospital, Albert Lea Medical Center, Austin Medical Center or Mayo Clinic Health System. Everyone (union and non-union employees) preserves their length of service, no matter which campus they work on, because Mayo Clinic Health System - Albert Lea and Austin is a single organization.
Will these changes improve your ability to recruit and retain providers and staff?
Provider recruitment and retention is a nation-wide challenge. There simply are not enough providers to fill all of the open positions. These changes will improve our ability to recruit and retain physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and nurses to the practice. Whenever an organization makes improvements and enhancements to its services and improves working environments, such as reducing on-call schedules for providers, it can be a positive draw for potential new providers, as well a positive for current providers to stay and be a vital team member in the organization.