Albert Lea, MN (KROC AM News) - An Albert Lea organization that was organized after Mayo Clinic announced it was cutting services in the Freeborn County city says it will enjoy an “extra sweet” Valentine’s Day this year.

The Albert Lea Healthcare Coalition has announced it will close on the purchase of the former Herberger’s building Friday, the result of “two years of planning and activism.”

The coalition first announced the plan last October. The building will be converted into a full-service clinic and out-patient surgery center in partnership with MercyOne and become Albert Lea’s newest healthcare campus.

The Albert Lea Healthcare Coalition was originally organized in 2017 as Save Our Hospital – Albert Lea. It was formed by hundreds of concerned community members in response to news that the Mayo Clinic would be cutting critical healthcare service offerings at the Albert Lea site, such as labor/delivery and in-patient hospital services.

Together, the citizen group and the City of Albert Lea/Freeborn County hired an outside consultant to assess the viability of an alternative healthcare campus and the reintroduction of lost services. The assessment was positive and the group began their journey toward the procurement of a new site-building and partnership with a new service provider to cover the healthcare needs of the 55,000 immediate and neighboring area residents.

“Through the commitment of our community, and local giving by private citizens and area businesses, we now have the ability to close on the building purchase and move into the next phase of our plan,” said ALHC Trustee Brad Arends. “We are one step closer to regaining some control of the medical services offered in our community, dramatically reducing the cost of care to our citizens, and eventually restoring services that have been stripped from the Albert Lea area.”

News update: Slick roads in SE Minnesota.

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