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Mayo acquires Fairview Red Wing

Fairview Red Wing Health Services will become Mayo Clinic Health System in Red Wing as of July 1.

Thursday's announcement ended months of speculation as the community awaited word on negotiations between Fairview Red Wing, Fairview Health System and Mayo Clinic. Officials signed the agreement that morning, told staff in person and via videosteaming around noon, and then made a public announcement shortly after 1 p.m.

The official statement described the agreement as tentative, because the parties must finalize details in the coming weeks. But the smiles and comments that accompanied the announcement were confident.

"There was enthusiasm and, I think, a bit of relief on the part of our organization to finally be able to have clarity on the future direction," Fairview Red Wing CEO Scott Wordelman said of staff reaction. "It really does create an excitement for a very, very bright future for health care in Red Wing. You could read that in the body language."

Wordelman said he will serve through the transition and then step aside June 30.

Dr. Tom Witt will serve as CEO of the new Mayo Clinic Health System in Red Wing, a position he holds and will continue to hold at the system's Cannon Falls and Lake City facilities. Red Wing -- with its integrated medical campus, the satellite clinics in Zumbrota and Ellsworth as well as auxiliary services including hospice, home care, Downtown Plaza and Seminary Home -- will be the hub.

"We've worked together to try to meet the needs of these communities in the past and I think we all look forward to the potential of all being on the same team, to make that happen. That's the unique opportunity we intend to capitalize on," Witt said.

Working here won't be new for him: Witt practiced medicine with the former Interstate Medical Center, a predecessor to Fairview Red Wing.

Mark Koch is Mayo Clinic Health System's chief administrative officer. He noted that negotiations were complex, but everyone at the table had the same goal.

"All three organizations are absolutely focused on the needs of patients in this community. Of that, we are incredibly aligned," Koch said. "We trust, hope, plan to improve on the kinds of services that are offered in this community and, working much more closely with our colleagues in Cannon Falls and Lake City, hope to leverage the three organizations to a point where we see more efficiencies in care."

Word of negotiations became public in November. Work on shaping a new future, however, began nearly three years ago, Fairview Red Wing Health Services Board President Barb Haley said. Members saw the rapidly evolving health care industry and knew they couldn't sit back.

"We looked at other opportunities and other options. It was a very disciplined and diligent review process that the board went through for over a year, frankly, before we even approached Mayo," Haley said.

Board members were well aware, she said, that when Fairview Red Wing Health Services began taking shape 14 to 17 years ago, the goal was to have the highest quality care by highest quality providers delivering not only primary but secondary care close to home, right in this community.

"Reflecting on that, we have to guarantee that for the next 20 years. And this partnership is how we're going to do that," Haley said.

"Mayo is very excited for this day," said Dr. Dave Ageter, CEO of Mayo Clinic Health System's southeastern Minnesota region. "It's a great way of looking at 20 years of Mayo Clinic Health System. Now on the 20th anniversary, we're adding in a premiere medical center to part of this organization."

Haley reminds Red Wing area residents that it's highly unusual for a city of 16,000 to have the type of facility and care this community does.

"We've talked to a lot of consultants, not just in Minnesota but around the country, and they've said, 'We can't believe what you've got. And now you're going to partner with Mayo? Call us when you get that done.' It really is remarkable," Haley said. "People in the community need to be proud and ready to work hard to make it even better."

Anne Jacobson

Anne Jacobson has been editor of the Republican Eagle since December 2003. 

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