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Will Albert Lea seek 'eminent domain' in Mayo dispute?

Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea.

ALBERT LEA — Eminent domain may throw a twist into a dispute between the city of Albert Lea and Mayo Clinic over the hospital in Albert Lea.

The Albert Lea City Council met in closed session Monday night.

City Clerk Daphney Maras declined to share any details of that meeting with the Post Bulletin, but she confirmed that eminent domain was discussed.

Eminent domain allows governments to purchase private property for public use when the property owner does not want to sell.

Last summer, Mayo Clinic announced plans to consolidate most inpatient services at Mayo Clinic Health System — Albert Lea and Austin. The plan was widely criticized by Albert Lea residents and local officials, prompting protests and strikes. The planned changes even drew attention from Gov. Mark Dayton, Attorney General Lori Swanson and First District Congressman Tim Walz.


Options to keep hospital services in Albert Lea were explored, including seeking other providers to take over the full-service hospital, but Mayo has repeatedly expressed its intent on serving the community and isn’t "planning on going anywhere."

In June 2017, Minnesota Nurses Association representatives asked the Freeborn County Board to explore bringing another provider to town to operate the full-service facility, while wresting control of the hospital from Mayo.

Some "aggressive responses" included filing a temporary injunction or invoking eminent domain, the latter of which MNA organizer Jay Armstrong said would be "the nuclear option" and could trigger a legal response from Mayo Clinic.

After Monday’s closed-door meeting of the Albert Lea City Council, a Mayo Clinic spokesman issued this statement:

"Mayo Clinic Health System remains focused on our primary responsibility of offering high-quality health care to our patients in the community and surrounding areas," the statement reads. "We continue to work with city and county leaders and community members to meet the community’s health care needs."

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