SPRINGFIELD — Mayo Clinic Health System will close its Springfield hospital and clinic in March, the health care organization announced Tuesday.
The health system’s Lamberton clinic also will close, resulting in about 60 job losses between the Lamberton and Springfield facilities.
Declining patient volumes, physician shortages and upcoming accreditation concerns prompted the decision, said Dr. James Hebl, Mayo Clinic Health System’s regional vice president.
“Rural health care continues to face incredible challenges, and our Mayo Clinic Health System is no exception,” he said.
Avera Health explored taking over operations in Springfield in early 2019 before opting not to proceed at the time. Hebl said Tuesday a Minnesota-based health care organization has since expressed strong interest in opening an outpatient clinic in Springfield.
The Springfield and Lamberton facilities opened 22 years ago. Patient numbers dwindled in recent years in part because patients had a relatively high number of other care options nearby. The Springfield area has hospitals within a roughly half-hour drive in Sleepy Eye, New Ulm and Redwood Falls, among other nearby options.
Springfield’s hospital admitted nine inpatients and 28 overnight patients so far this year. The emergency department serves about three to four patients per day, according to figures released by Mayo Clinic Health System.
Patients can continue receiving care in Springfield and Lamberton until March 1, 2020. Once the hospital and clinics close, their options include seeking care elsewhere within Mayo Clinic Health System or switching to another health care organization.
“We recognize this is a difficult change for our patients and the community, but we’re committed to seeing them through this,” Hebl said.
Recruiting and retaining physicians has been a persistent issue at the hospital and clinics. It led the health system to pilot a new care model relying more on nurse practitioners, physician assistants and an around-the-clock emergency room physician available via telemonitoring starting in October 2018.
“The model has not generated the results we anticipated as volumes continue to decline both within the hospital and the emergency room,” Hebl said.
The hospital was also up for reaccreditation in early 2020. Meeting the regulatory standards with such low patient volumes and the new care model could’ve proved challenging.
Staff in Springfield and Lamberton found out about the closure Tuesday. The health system’s regional leadership released a letter to the community shortly afterward.
“This is not the outcome that we wanted for our patients, our staff or the community; however, it was a necessary decision to make,” the letter stated. “It has been an honor to serve the patients and the community for the past 22 years.”