ALBERT LEA, Minn. (KTTC) — The Albert Lea Healthcare Coalition has partnered with MercyOne North Iowa to open a primary care clinic in 2020.
From Save Our Hospital to Save Our Healthcare, the citizens of Albert Lea have responded to the consolidation of services between the branches of Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin and Albert Lea.
“The quality that we get here from our healthcare professionals is exceptional but we were not going to get as much of it,” said Brad Arends, chairman of Save Our Healthcare.
When Mayo decided to go ahead with the moving of services, the group changed its name and goals.
“Number one is to replace the services that are being taken away from our community,” Arends said. “Number two, to regain some sort of control over the healthcare services that are made available. Lastly, to reduce the cost of those services.”
The culmination of the group’s work led to Thursday’s announcement that Central Iowa based MercyOne would be extending its healthcare services to Albert Lea, even with a Mayo Clinic Health System already in town.
“It’s not about interfering with them, it’s really about trying to deliver quality and low-cost care here and providing better access,” said Rod Schlader, CEO of MercyOne North Iowa.
The positive response to bringing MercyOne has not just come from the citizens in Albert Lea but also the businesses. Brad Arends believes this could possibly be a model for rural healthcare and will lower the cost for all.
“The cost of their health insurance is somewhere between 20 and 30 percent cheaper,” Arends said.
MercyOne says the first phase will start with a primary care clinic with enough space for visiting specialists and extended hours for urgent care.
It plans to include an imaging center and an ambulatory surgery center.
“The only way this works is if people elect to go there. The sooner people elect to go there, the sooner the buildout is completed,” said Arends.
While he may be the chairman of the group, Arends credits the people of Save Our Healthcare with bringing the second provider to town.
“The SOH crew, that’s how I refer to them, have been inspiring,” said Arends. “They have been the ones that have kept this thing going.”
MercyOne said in a news release that they don’t know the exact location of the clinic but the plan is to open in early summer.