ALBERT LEA, Minn. (AP) — It’s the final day for infant deliveries at Mayo Clinic’s hospital in Albert Lea.

Mayo is closing the labor and delivery unit and moving the services to its hospital in Austin, about 30 minutes away.

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Mayo says the decision to consolidate services reflects larger financial, demographic and staffing challenges facing rural hospitals all over the country.

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Operations administrator Tricia Dahl tells Minnesota Public Radio News the Albert Lea hospital has seen a decline in inpatient stays over the years and a drop in deliveries.

In 2009, roughly 500 babies were born in the Albert Lea hospital. A decade later, that number hovered at about 300 — less than one baby a day. Dahl says Mayo’s Austin campus is opening an expanded delivery ward and will have more inpatient beds available.

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