Springfield and Lamberton Closure
Dec. 3, 2019
By James R. Hebl, M.D., regional vice president, Mayo Clinic Health System; Terry L. Brandt, regional chair of administration, Mayo Clinic Health System; Laura K. Evenson, R.N., regional chief nursing officer, Mayo Clinic Health System; Stephanie Kivi, M.D., medical director, Mayo Clinic Health System in Springfield; Scott Thoreson, administrator, Mayo Clinic Health System in Springfield
Dear Community Members:
Mayo Clinic Health System has made the difficult decision to close our hospital and Emergency Department in Springfield, as well as the Springfield and Lamberton clinics, effective March 1, 2020. The decision follows a careful review of patient volumes, ongoing staffing challenges and regulatory concerns. This is not the outcome that we wanted for our patients, our staff or the community; however, it was a necessary decision to make. It has been an honor to serve the patients and the community for the past 22 years.
The closures will affect approximately 60 employees. Decisions that affect staffing are always difficult and never decided upon lightly. We are committed to supporting employees during this time of change, including helping them identify and apply for new positions within the organization if available.
While a hospital and Emergency Department will no longer be operating in Springfield, another Minnesota health care organization has expressed serious interest in working with the Springfield community and city officials to establish outpatient clinic services for the area. More information will be shared as those discussions take place. Mayo Clinic Health System will help ensure a seamless transition should this new organization enter the community.
For the past several years, Mayo Clinic Health System in Springfield has experienced severe provider shortages, an inability to recruit and retain physicians, declining hospital admissions and extremely low utilization of the Emergency Department. Last year, we openly shared our challenges with staff and the community and developed a new care model in October 2018. More than a year later, many of those same challenges remain, and we also now face new concerns regarding future accreditation.
As a reminder, the Springfield care model pilot implemented in October 2018 included:
- Managing the Emergency Department with advanced practice providers (physician assistants and nurse practitioners) with support from Mankato and Rochester physicians through secure video conferencing technology.
- Reducing the number of hospital beds to a number we thought would improve the utilization of our staff.
- Leveraging the capabilities of our digitally connected physician assistants and nurse practitioners in the Emergency Department to cover hospitalized patients.
- Having an outpatient clinic staffed by advanced practice providers.
Unfortunately, the care model has not generated the results we had hoped for. For example, only nine inpatients — and 28 overnight observation patients — have been admitted to the hospital in 2019. The Emergency Department has seen only three to four patients per day. Without diminishing the sense of urgency and distress our patients feel when they come to the Emergency Department, we identified that most of the problems seen in the Springfield ED could have been safely cared for in either Urgent Care or our regular clinic. The rest could have been transferred safely to a nearby facility. Additionally, caring for so few patients makes it difficult for providers and staff to maintain high levels of competency across a variety of disciplines (e.g., both Emergency Department and hospital inpatient care) to deliver safe, high-quality care, and it is not sustainable.
Achieving necessary patient volumes and staffing to sustain the hospital is challenging given the large number of competing facilities within a sparsely populated and narrow geography. For example, Mayo Clinic Health System in Springfield is currently one of eight hospitals within a 38-mile radius (New Ulm, Redwood Falls, Sleepy Eye, Springfield, St. James, Tracy, Westbrook and Windom). Most patients who need specialty and hospital care travel to New Ulm, Redwood Falls and Sleepy Eye already.
We understand many patients will want to seek care close to home. However, we are committed to serving community members who wish to remain Mayo Clinic Health System patients at other Mayo Clinic Health System sites or through virtual care options, such as Patient Online Services, Express Care Online and Nurse Line. Mayo Clinic Health System also is exploring new ways to bring convenient, expert care to patients where they live through digital tools, reducing the need for travel and traditional office visits.
Our Mayo Clinic Health System leadership team will continue meeting with staff, community leaders and legislative officials to answer questions and discuss the transition plan.
Once again, thank you for your input and partnership over the past 22 years as we have strived to maintain high-quality, viable care at Mayo Clinic Health System in Springfield and Lamberton. We will keep you informed through local media and mayoclinichealthsystem.org/springfieldinfo as details emerge.
James R. Hebl, M.D., regional vice president, Mayo Clinic Health System
Laura K. Evenson, R.N., regional chief nursing officer, Mayo Clinic Health System
Terry L. Brandt, regional chair of administration, Mayo Clinic Health System
Stephanie Kivi, M.D., medical director, Mayo Clinic Health System in Springfield
Scott Thoreson, administrator, Mayo Clinic Health System in Springfield