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Health care views drop in Albert Lea resident survey

City’s image increases by 3 percent

 

Positive views of local health care by Albert Lea residents declined by more than 20 percent in the last three years, the largest drop in a recent survey conducted as part of a survey conducted by the city. The change coincides with Mayo Clinic Health System’s planned transition of most inpatient services from Albert Lea to Austin.

The results gathered this year are part of the city’s National Citizen Survey, the third survey since 2012 designed to provide a baseline on how city government is serving residents, to gauge perceptions of the city and to make comparisons with peer cities.

Residents were asked questions ranging from their feelings of community safety, the local economy, religious atmosphere and other subjects.

Albert Lea City Manager Chad Adams released survey findings during Monday’s Albert Lea City Council meeting, which included a decrease in positive feelings of local health care delivery from 55 percent to 32 percent.

The decline came after Mayo Clinic Health System announced the transition in June 2017,  a move that sparked division in the community and the formation of Save Our Hospital, which later became Save Our Healthcare.

“That’s probably the biggest adjustment we’ve seen in all of the variables that we’ve sampled across compared against over the last few years here,” Adams said.

In the survey, 37 percent of Albert Leans viewed preventative health services positively, a 23 percent decline from 2012.

The survey was mailed to some residents, and it was also available online.

Fourth Ward Councilor Reid Olson said the transition is likely the No. 1 reason for the drop in health care ratings.

“Whenever you lose any health care services, it’s going to affect community health and people’s perceptions of well-being,” he said.

Olson expects local feelings on health care to improve “if we can we can work to replace some of the services through other providers.”

In a statement Tuesday afternoon, Mayo Clinic Health System spokesman Ricky Thiesse said hospital staff “continues to receive high marks for quality of care — including earning a 5-out-of 5-star rating from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.”

“Our Albert Lea campus exceeds key quality metrics in percentage of patients who are discharged without experiencing harmful events,” he said. “We continue to invest in the Albert Lea campus with improvements and expansions such as the new inpatient Psychiatric Services Unit opening this fall and the addition of observation beds in our emergency department.”

Thiesse said the hospital has increased staff in pediatrics, hospitalists, emergency physicians and urgent care, which are “dedicated staff to help us strengthen our presence in the community with offerings for senior citizens, families and children.”

Resident views on the city’s overall image increased since the 2015 survey, with positive public views on public safety increasing from 66 percent to 69 percent, and 61 percent stating the community has a positive quality of life, a 5-percent increase from 2015.

As a place to raise children, the city saw a decrease from 68 percent to 63 percent, but views on it as a place to retire increased from 61 percent to 64 percent.

Resident feelings on mental health services decreased from 38 percent to 33 percent.

Olson spoke highly of how citizens view the city.

“Other than health care, I feel most people believe the city is moving in the right direction,” he said.

Olson said the city plans to conduct the survey again in 2021.

“It’s a valuable resource for us to see where we are going,” he said.

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