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Fairview Red Wing, Mayo talks proceeding

Work continues on the potential merger of Fairview Red Wing Health Services into the Mayo Clinic Health System, officials said Friday.

Nearly five months after announcing they had entered negotiations, the two parties as well as Fairview Health Services continue researching and evaluating if the new relationship would best meet the needs of the region's patients. Due diligence began last fall.

"We are nearing the end of that process," Fairview Red Wing officials said in a statement. "At this time, no final decision has been reached. We expect to have that decision in the next several months."

If the local system -- which includes the medical center, professional building, Downtown Plaza, hospice and Seminary Home -- becomes part of Mayo, that would end Red Wing's current affiliation with Fairview Health Services.

The potential change has roots in strategic planning that Fairview Red Wing Health Services started two years ago. At that time board members directed administration to look at demographics, health care reforms and other influences when preparing for the future. That led to looking toward Mayo.

Fairview Red Wing has offices in Zumbrota and Ellsworth. Lake City and Cannon Falls are part of the Mayo Clinic Health System, and Red Wing already provides physician outreach services to those two facilities.

The local health system has seen several mergers and partnerships in the last two decades.

The former Interstate Medical Center joined with the University of Minnesota Hospitals in the 1990s. Fairview and the university then reached an agreement.

By 1997, Red Wing's clinic, St. John's Hospital and River Region Health Services' auxiliary services had merged. They then became a formal affiliate of Fairview Health Services.

Since then, Fairview Red Wing has grown into a regional health care system. The 50-bed medical center opened in 2001, combining the hospital and main clinic into one building.

When they announced talks were under way with Mayo, Fairview Red Wing officials noted that they want to remain a regional system and could be a Mayo hub.

Decisions such as this one involve complex issues and therefore take time. They require thoughtful consideration, officials said.

"Whatever the final decision, Fairview Red Wing will continue to provide exceptional care to our patients, their families and our communities," the statement said.

Anne Jacobson

Anne Jacobson has been editor of the Republican Eagle since December 2003. 

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