The article "Allina changes tune in new-hospital bid" (July 12, p. 16) suggested that merged, integrated companies are somehow duplicitous if they compete for business. This premise is truly perplexing.
(The article said Allina Health System has touted the cost-saving benefits of mergers, but when it sought to build a hospital in one-hospital St. Cloud, Minn., it extolled the virtues of competition.)
One reason companies like Allina merge and integrate in the first place is to become more competitive, not less. Allina's proposal to compete in St. Cloud is simply the latest in a long series of examples of Allina's flexibility in serving emerging healthcare needs.
Anyone who thinks Allina is new to competition doesn't understand Allina or Minnesota. For years, Allina has had to work hard for business in an extremely competitive market. Fierce competition is evidenced by healthcare expenses in Minnesota, which are about 9.8% lower than the national average.
The anomaly in Minnesota is St. Cloud, a region that has grown rapidly, to the point where it is now the largest Minnesota city with just one hospital. St. Cloud's citizens want their healthcare infrastructure adjusted to meet this tremendous growth. Allina is simply serving the emerging need.
The bottom line is this: Allina hasn't changed, but St. Cloud has. Allina is doing what it has done throughout its history-responding to emerging markets by offering patients a high-quality choice.
Abbott Northwestern Hospital