Protesters gather in front of Mayo Clinic in response to Austin- - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Protesters gather in front of Mayo Clinic in response to Austin-Albert Lea campus consolidation

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -

"Save our hospital in Albert Lea!"  Their chants echoed throughout downtown Rochester, right at Mayo's front steps.

They rode in on buses from Albert Lea, to voice their concerns loud and clear. 

"We want everybody to know that Albert Lea is united in keeping a full service hospital," Jennifer Vogt-Erickson, a protester, said.

Mayo Clinic is planning on moving the ICU, major surgery, and childbirth services from Mayo Clinic Health System-Albert Lea to its Austin campus, and bring the Psychiatric and Addiction Services from Austin to Albert Lea.

Mayo says this is all being done so people don't have to make the drive to Rochester, by keeping both hospitals staffed while avoiding redundancies.

However, the protesters say they don't buy it.

"I don't really think there is a barrier to be honest with you," Angie Hanson, another protester, said. "I think it's a manufactured crisis by Mayo."

According to Mayo, 95 percent of all services will be the same at the Albert Lea, and the 500 people that come in every day won't notice the change.

The protesters say it's that 5 percent that makes the difference economically.

"Each time I gave birth that was about $10,000," Vogt-Erickson said. "Whereas when I bring my children to the clinic for a cold or whatever, that's about $150, big difference isn't it."

And it's that topic of babies that many of these folks are taking issue with.

After the move is done in 2020, they say there will be no more children born in Freeborn County.

So The goal for the protesters is a full service hospital in Albert Lea, even if that means Mayo out of the picture.

"If they don't want to provide all services at our hospital, we are looking at every other option," Hanson said. "A possible community hospital or another provider taking it over."

After all, if it's a money issue, the protesters say patients should come before profits.

In response to the protests, Mayo Clinic says it respects the right of community members to voice their opinions but they say the protesters are spreading "fear and misinformation."

It has put up a website it says addresses any concerns and "myths".

You can find it here.
 

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