The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

January 16, 2013

St. Peter hospital, clinic accuse Mayo of questionable business practices

(Continued)

ST PETER —

“We had refused to become part of Mayo,” Spike said. “And he said ‘We will take you down.’”

The Free Press was unable to contact that executive.

When asked why she didn’t seek redress at that time, Spike said she didn’t want to make waves.

“I never really wanted to bring this into the public. To me it was kind of like airing your dirty laundry in the public,” Spike said. “And you learn early on, it’s difficult to say no to Mayo.”

Ever since that conversation with the executive, Spike says, the working relationship with Mayo has grown rocky.

One of the biggest issues surrounds the concept of so-called “swing beds,” a term that refers to the legal ability of small rural hospitals to offer hospital beds to people who need a three to five days of rehabilitation following surgery or hospitalization in a larger hospital. Swing beds are covered by Medicare and Medicaid.

The swing-bed concept is very important to River’s Edge. Spike says the same doctor who vowed to “take them down” also told her they’d no longer be referring patients to River’s Edge for swing-bed care.

Mayo Clinic Health System, as Burns said, is responsible for 75 percent of all admissions to River’s Edge. But the number of swing-bed admissions has dropped somewhat, from a height of 140 in 2008 to a low of a little over 100 in 2010.

Other figures have dropped, as well.

Acute admissions have gone from more than 600 in 2004 to about 250 in 2012. The number of echocardiograms performed at River’s Edge has gone from about 800 in 2004 to about 100 in 2012. Ultrasounds, nearly 1,600 in 2004, about 550 in 2012.

Financially, the hospital is struggling overall.

St. Peter City Administrator Todd Prafke said that it’s operating at a deficit of about $1 million, although Spike put that figure at closer to $1.6 million.

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