Dear Dr. Noseworthy,

In 1995, when Mayo assumed ownership of Naeve Hospital it covenanted with people of Albert Lea to maintain a full service, acute care hospital in their city in the greater region. The covenant was received with joy only to be drained dry in 2017. The abandonment of this covenant began when you declared Austin and Albert Lea hospitals as one entity even though the 55,000-people served by the Albert Lea hospital didn't know your full intent. At no time leading up to the breaking of this covenant did Albert Lea leadership receive any contact, any warning from you.

It is now declared one hospital so you can claim legally that the 55,000 people still have a hospital even though people in need of hospital care must drive 23 –65 miles farther. This may be a legal move but is it moral? With this unilateral action, a covenant with 55,000 people is broken. You have violated the people's trust in you and when you don't have trust there is no relationship.

At the forum held at Albert Lea High School, June 29, 2017, Dr. Gostout informed the 700 people gathered there that the birthing services and ICU must be together, because it wasn't safe for the mothers not to have an ICU close by. Yet, based on your announced plans, you are moving ICU to Austin as of October 1, two years before moving the birthing services. This means for the next two years based on Dr. Gostout's words, the health and safety of mothers giving birth will be in jeopardy. Yes, you have the means to declare it legal, but is it moral?

Legally, you are breaking a covenant and jeopardizing the health of young mothers but in our opinion, you are not standing on moral high ground only surrounding yourself with lawyers. Trust can’t be obtained legally, it is earned and sustained by a history of mutuality and respect.

If you can't uphold the covenant with 55,000 people and insure the safety of young mothers, or other patients forced to take an ambulance, then return their treasured hospital to them that has been in this greater community for over 100 years.

Amid this broken covenant and deep loss of trust, we pray for a change of heart. The 55,000 people in this region deserve better than what they have received.

With Hope and Conviction,

Reverend Joel B. Erickson,

Austin, Minnesota

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