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Lack of communication to blame for this local medical problem

By Staff | Jun 28, 2008

Does the left hand always know what the right hand is doing? I would guess not.

That seems to be especially true when it comes to medical issues.

When the Register started looking into some of the issues surrounding the Mankato Clinic closing its Blue Earth Medical Clinic, it became obvious that there were some questions that were not getting answered.

Most of those questions concerned St. Lukes Lutheran Care Center, as you can tell from the story on the front page of this week’s paper.

Board members at St. Lukes had a lot of concerns, and they were not getting a lot of answers. It almost seemed as though no one knew exactly what was going to happen after Aug. 29 when the clinic closes.

An open line of communication between all of the parties involved seems like such a simple solution. I suggest that they all get together in one room and discuss it.

That notion might be a little naive, I guess. There are policies, practices, and forces at work here that I don’t totally understand. Some of those have to do with the practice of medicine, and some of them have to do with economics and business practices.

Still, one would think that with the common goal of excellent medical care for the residents of the Blue Earth area, it can all be worked out.

As you will note, there are several letter to the editor writers who are weighing in with their views on the situation. There also is a lot of ‘talk-on-the-street’ about it.

Some people are looking for a conspiracy of sorts, or someone to blame for it all. After time spent asking questions, that is probably not a valid answer to the question “why?”

Medicine is a business, and a big business at that. This is a business decision first and foremost. Yes, it is slightly different than a downtown business in Blue Earth closing, or a factory in Winnebago. But it has many of the same aspects.

This not only hits people who shop, but it affects their healthcare, a lot more precious commodity than a shirt.

People are upset, and we can’t blame them. They are concerned about what happens next, where to go for healthcare. They are concerned about what all of this will mean to them, personally.

There are questions galore, with not many answers. But we were happy to see that some of the medical facilities involved are trying to meet together and work on getting some answers.

It is certainly time to get together and figure out what is going to happen to the local patients, especially those who are elderly and are nursing home residents.

John Huisman is fired up about this issue. As the president of the board at St. Lukes, it is a big item on his agenda.

Huisman expressed a lot of surprise at the way the announcement of the closing of the Blue Earth Medical Clinic was handled. He said that he would have thought St. Lukes would have been informed before it was announced to the media.

He said it came as a complete shock when he heard it on the radio, then saw it on the front page of the Register.

St. Lukes is a very important part of the community, Huisman said, but it is also very special to him personally.

He spent a lot of Christmas and Easter celebrations there, as he had an aunt who spent 17 years as a resident of the nursing home. The family rented a meeting room there for their family celebrations, just so the aunt could be part of it.

That spurred an interest that translated into Huisman doing a lot of work for St. Lukes as a board member. He has been deeply involved in many of the expansion projects there.

He said that some of those projects, such as Southview Estates and Friendship Courts, were done for financial reasons, as they are areas where St. Lukes makes money. The nursing home facility is not the profit area, and can actually cost money to operate, due to insurance reimbursements that are pre-set.

Huisman said there are more expansion projects in the planning stages for the future. But for the moment, the focus is on quality medical care for the current residents of all the areas of St. Lukes.