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U.S. Representative Tim Walz (MN-01) released the following statement after assisting the City of Albert Lea and Mayo Clinic in reaching an agreement in principle to enter into facilitated dialogue on the future of health care in Albert Lea after Mayo Clinic’s decision to discontinue certain services on its Albert Lea campus and consolidate them in Austin:

“I am pleased that Albert Lea and Mayo Clinic have agreed to discuss the future of health care in Albert Lea. I believe these actions and their commitment to a facilitated dialogue is in the best interest of my constituents, and moves the ball forward to what I believe will be constructive communication. I am particularly thankful for Former Rep. David Minge’s leadership in this moment. I stand ready to continue assisting both parties as they move forward in serving their communities, and remain prepared to do whatever I can at the federal level to be a partner in dealing with the many challenges facing rural health care.”

The City of Albert Lea and Mayo Clinic released a joint statement on the announcement:

“We have a responsibility to the communities we serve to engage in constructive communication going forward. Facilitated dialogue is a very positive step in meeting our shared goal of providing quality health care and we are dedicated to the hard work ahead of us. We thank Rep. Walz for his service to his constituents and for working to bring us to the discussion table.”

Former Rep. and Retired Judge David Minge also released a statement on the agreement:

“I am pleased that Albert Lea and Mayo Clinic will be meeting. Hopefully, their discussions will help build a framework for a productive relationship between the community and Mayo.”

Facilitated dialogue is a regulated discussion in which a facilitator aims to bridge the communication gap between two or more parties while ensuring adherence to parameters said parties agreed upon. This process offers a potential path forward in understanding the drivers behind Mayo Clinic’s decision, the challenges facing rural health care and, most importantly, defining solutions to work together on the future of health care in this community. The parameters of Albert Lea and Mayo’s agreement in principle are as follows:

Facilitated dialogue is completely voluntary and non-binding;
Albert Lea and Mayo Clinic will split the cost of any services equitably;
The parties have agreed upon a professional facilitator who is a neutral third party;
In the beginning of the process, the parties will decide jointly on: the scope of the dialogue; issues to be covered; timeline; budget; and other critical items needed to create the conditions for productive problem-solving discussions.
In June, Mayo announced its plans to consolidate overnight hospitalization, inpatient care for major surgeries, the intensive care unit (ICU) and childbirth services from Albert Lea to its Austin campus. In addition, Mayo announced the transition of Behavioral Health unit from Austin to Albert Lea. Earlier this month, Mayo Clinic began transitioning its ICU to Austin.

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