The Free Press, Mankato, MN

St. Peter news

January 16, 2013

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

ST PETER — When it happened to her friend, Colleen Spike had had enough.

Spike, the CEO of River’s Edge Hospital and Clinic in St. Peter, says she and other staff for the past few years have been hearing stories about questionable businesses practices by Mayo Clinic Health System.

What kind of stories?

Patients being told by Mayo Clinic Health System staff that the city-owned River’s Edge is full and their only recourse is to use a Mayo hospital such as the one in Mankato or Waseca. Or patients being told River’s Edge isn’t certified to do certain procedures or that they don’t offer a specific type of test.

But Spike says that something her 88-year-old friend told her over lunch one day was among the final straws: The friend, a Mayo Clinic Health System in St. Peter patient, said she was told she needed an ultrasound. But when she said she wanted to have it done at River’s Edge, the scheduler told her River’s Edge doesn’t perform ultrasounds.

Spike says she told her friend the ultrasound could very well have been performed that day and that they do ultrasounds all the time.

“She said, ‘Colleen, did they lie to me?’” Spike said in an interview this week. “And the answer is yes.”

That story, and many more, prompted Spike to write a letter to Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson requesting an official investigation into Mayo Clinic Health System. She wants Swanson to look into allegations of MCHS staff falsely telling patients the St. Peter hospital was full, or telling patients that River’s Edge staff couldn’t do certain procedures such as ultrasounds, or weren’t certified to carry out certain tests such as mammograms and echocardiograms.

“We have now reached a point where someone has to listen to our concerns,” Spike’s letter to Swanson says. “The Mayo Clinic Health System has become very silently and swiftly a dangerous monopoly in rural southern Minnesota and we are seeking your assistance. … The communities of St. Peter, Fairmont and Springfield have been challenged and ravaged over the past several years by MCHS-Mankato’s predatory threats, restraint of trade practices, attempts to monopolize the market and deceptive trade practices.”

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