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Albert Lea, Minnesota no longer has general in-patient hospitalization beds. We did, for decades, but that ceased within the past two years. Read on to learn more about how our community went from full-service to low-service.

Residents of Albert Lea and the surrounding area had enjoyed a high level of hospital and outpatient medical care for many years. It began when the home of Theodore and Dorothea Naeve was donated to be used as a hospital in 1905. Later $21,000 was raised locally in just two days to help build a 40-bed hospital. Three more expansions were completed over the next 90 years. All were paid for by generous local donations and proceeds from the hospital. In 1974, $5 million was raised locally to build a new hospital just behind the original building with its two additions.

During this time, the number of physicians in the thriving community increased. Medical partnerships were formed which eventually resulted in two similar clinics in Albert Lea locally known as the “East” and the “West” clinics. Both were composed of a balanced staff of primary and surgical specialties with excellent support personnel. They functioned well in friendly competitive cooperation.

The doctors provided up-to-date out-patient care in the clinics and 24-hour in-patient and emergency care in the hospital. Excellent medical care was also provided by 10-12 physicians in surrounding communities who also referred patients to Naeve Hospital when in-patient care was needed. The doctors, nurses, and other staff members ensured their patients received the best possible care.

In 1985 the two local clinics and surrounding doctors merged to form the Albert Lea Regional Medical Group PA (ALRMG). Outpatient medical care was provided in the two Albert Lea clinics and the six surrounding satellite clinics in Alden, New Richland, Kiester, Wells, Lake Mills, and Northwood in Iowa.

These were golden years. Patients had their choice of doctors in convenient locations. Doctors, nurses, and qualified staff took care of patients’ medical needs and the office personnel and administrators took care of the business needs. All staff in the clinics and hospital were more than qualified and enjoyed caring for their patients.

In order to continue providing the best medical care possible for their patients in a world of rapidly progressing technology, the ALRMG followed the national trend of affiliating with a large medical center in 1995. After much discussion, the hospital followed in 1996. The new corporate partner touted their commitment to the continuation of full hospital services, supply of physicians, and a new clinic building. Because no money was exchanged and the deal was brokered in December, a Naeve official commented, “(They) got a nice Christmas present.”

Subsequently, the corporate partner and Naeve Healthcare Association (NHCA) split the cost of a new clinic building attached to the hospital—2/3 paid by them and 1/3 paid by NHCA. Now, everyone felt, all the doctors and staff of both the hospital and clinic could work together under one roof.

The executive officers of the clinic and hospital were soon terminated. The corporation's chief negotiating official was appointed president and chairman of the Board of Directors. A local physician was made CEO. A Chief Financial Officer from SE Minnesota was hired. The “Naeve” name was removed from the hospital but allowed to be used for the Naeve Foundation and Naeve Auxiliary, two very active and important organizations.

Following the merger, a lot of time and effort were expended melding corporation's culture and the past culture of our clinic/hospital—there was a learning curve of how to do things the 'new' way. This did not adversely affect patient care, and over the years, more specialty services became available and patient volume increased. Two floors and a new enlarged entrance were added in 2008. Most of the cost was borne by the medical center, but $2 million was donated locally.

Patients and staff greatly appreciated the new clinic building, but grumbling was noted, mainly because staff members thought too many decisions were made remotely by leaders unaware or disinterested in what was going on in Albert Lea. Doctors complained they were being controlled too tightly and patients began complaining of limited access to appointments. However, patients were satisfied with the treatment they received and enjoyed the surroundings of the remodeled clinic. Little notice was made in 2013 when the Albert Lea and Austin Medical Centers were legally combined. The majority of citizens didn't know what a pivotal point this would be for the future of healthcare in Albert Lea. The new corporation became a dual-city (Albert Lea / Austin, MN) entity under one hospital license structure. The sole member (owner) of the corporation was the new medical provider corporation. 

This matters, and is pivotal, because the combination of the two sites - under one corporate entity - created a combination of the hospital licenses. Albert Lea's in-patient hospital bed licenses were wrapped into the entity structure and applied where the corporation deemed most appropriate... in Austin, MN. Leaving Albert Lea with 'licenses' but no inpatient beds beyond the few devoted to psychiatric. Thus, even though our campus was upgraded over the years and kept very up-to-date with equipment, we are now the largest city in the state without general in-patient hospitalization. 


55,000+ PATIENTS






The Albert Lea Healthcare Coalition was established to promote the overall health and wellness of the residents of Albert Lea, Freeborn County and surrounding communities.  This objective includes the promotion of healthcare market competition, the expansion of access to essential healthcare services, and the improvement of healthcare outcomes for the residents of Albert Lea, Freeborn County and surrounding communities.

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