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Mayo confirms early end to OB services in Albert Lea

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The Mayo Clinic's Gonda Building
Mayo Clinic's Gonda Building in Rochester, Minn., in January 2016. Mayo Clinic has confirmed that it will terminate labor and delivery services at its Albert Lea facility, about a year earlier than originally planned.
Alex Kolyer for MPR News

Mayo Clinic Health System Thursday confirmed that it would accelerate the end of obstetrics services at the hospital in Albert Lea.

Mayo telegraphed the decision in June.

Labor and delivery services will transfer to the Austin hospital in late October instead of late next year.

The consolidation plan has been in the works since 2017, and drew strong opposition in Albert Lea.

Dr. Sumit Bhagra, medical director for both Mayo locations, said retirements and unexpected departures left severe staffing shortages.

"It became clear that by mid-October we were going to be down to a critical number of physicians, whereby if we continue staffing two units we're going to have our physicians on call every second or third day, which in the long term is not sustainable."

Mayo said obstetrics services will begin to move to Austin the week of Oct. 28, with all labor and deliveries consolidated in Austin effective Oct. 30. 

"Labor and delivery requires a full team of medical professionals to be available around the clock, every day of the year," Bhagra said in a news release. "This includes a delivering physician, a team of nurses, a doctor for the baby, and a surgical team including anesthesia. Despite our best efforts to recruit and retain staff, along with drawing on staff from other Mayo sites; keeping these large teams available for two birthing units is no longer possible."