Community Voices Discontent as Allina Health’s Decision Sparks Outcry
In a public hearing conducted by Minnesota’s Department of Health, Allina Health faced severe criticism from community members and healthcare providers regarding the relocation of its adolescent mental health unit. The move, disclosed earlier this year, has stirred dissatisfaction among those relying on these critical services.
The controversy emerged when 5 INVESTIGATES obtained an internal memo from Allina officials, revealing the decision to transfer children and mental health services from United Hospital in St. Paul to Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis.
During the virtual meeting on Thursday, community members voiced their concerns, emphasizing the undue stress placed on parents and families who now have to travel across cities for inpatient care. One resident from Inver Grove Heights, identified as Ann, expressed, “It’s an extreme stress to ask a parent and their families to drive across the cities to receive inpatient care.”
Critics argue that the healthcare agency failed to communicate the relocation to state regulators and the families dependent on these services. Many individuals have come forward, highlighting the importance of the existing service to their families and expressing apprehension about the upcoming changes.
State law mandates a public hearing before closing or relocating specific hospital services. Without the public hearing, Allina could have faced a $1,000 fine, as disclosed during a previous interview with 5 INVESTIGATES. Dr. Mary Beth Lardizabal, Allina’s Vice President of Mental Health and Addiction Services, admitted the violation, stating, “It was our error; they told us that we did not interpret that regulation correctly.”
The controversy surrounding the relocation underscores the challenges faced by healthcare providers and the impact on the communities they serve. As the discussion unfolds, the public’s discontent and concerns become pivotal elements in shaping the future of adolescent mental health services in the state.