ST PETER —
Several years ago, Prafke said, it was a different story. The hospital was running year-to-year surpluses. But the hospital business, like any other, has ebbs and flows. Right now, it’s in an ebb.
Prafke said that last summer when Spike announced her retirement at the end of fiscal year 2013 (which will be at the end of June,) they revisited the issue of potentially selling River’s Edge to a larger provider. Prafke himself analyzed the issue and recommended to the hospital commission — of which neither he nor Spike are voting members — to stick with the current situation … for now.
“That could change in two years,” he said.
If they did sell, they wouldn’t be the first. In fact, a lot of smaller community hospitals have opted to sell to larger entities. In Waseca, formerly a community hospital, their governing board opted to sell to Mayo Clinic Health System, as did hospitals in Springfield, New Prague and Madelia. In New Ulm, the hospital opted to sell to Allina, another health care giant.
In addition to full-scale sell off, there are other, smaller levels of partnering that Prafke says go on all the time, including granting physicians privileges to work there. He cited one example of a North Mankato physician who performs bariatric surgeries, but isn’t a member of the hospital’s medical staff. They also partner with the Orthopaedic and Fracture Clinic in Mankato.
In the aftermath of the situation between Mayo and River’s Edge, a new effort has been planned to come up with recommendations to strengthen communication between the two and address concerns that may come up.
An editorial published in the Herald said, “We appreciate the quick action of those on both sides of the issue as well as their willingness to step back and put patients’ needs first. A protracted argument and finger-pointing would have been in no one and no entity’s best interest — not the city of St. Peter, not MCHS, not River’s Edge Hospital and certainly not all of us who rely on their services.”