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Nurses, Doctors Protest In St. Paul Over Potential Closure Of 2 Fairview Hospitals

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Nurses, doctors and patients rallied outside the Intercontinental Hotel in downtown St. Paul Thursday.

They were protesting the plans made by Fairview Health Services last month to cut more than half of the beds at Bethesda Hospital in St. Paul, and the elimination or reassignment of roughly 340 employees in the hospital system.

When asked about reports that Fairview will also be eliminating the Recovery Services Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program at Bethesda, a spokesperson said it would be combined with an existing program.

Several employees protesting say they learned about the cuts in the news.

"Their mission [values] statement says we say what we mean and do what we say, we communicate openly and honestly," Bethesda nurse Modesta Okorie said. "This statement is inaccurate."

There are also reports that Fairview is considering closing down St. Joseph's Hospital. A spokesperson for Fairview said no decisions had been made regarding St. Joseph's.

The Minnesota Nurses Association wrote a letter to Hereford Thursday, inviting him to a community forum on Jan. 28 to discuss the future of Fairview healthcare.

A spokesperson for Fairview Health Services told WCCO in part:

"Nationwide, healthcare is facing an affordability crisis; for far too long the rising costs of healthcare have been passed on to patients and their families. Fairview is experiencing the effects of this nationwide trend, and must make decisions to ensure we are well-positioned to provide quality care to our patients now, and for the long term."

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