This past week I had the opportunity to go with a family member to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. This was my first encounter with the stately medical institution and my first visit to Rochester in over 30 years. I helped in Rochester back in the late 70’s when the river flooded and several people died. I guess there is not a whole lot of reason to go to the city unless you’re visiting the Mayo Clinic, although I found Rochester to be progressive, clean, friendly and diverse.
The downtown city center is built and centered around the Mayo Clinic, which consists of several 20 story buildings and attached Methodist Hospital. 12 city blocks are interconnected by a series of subway/tunnels and skywalks which lead to many of the hotels near the clinic. These tunnels are well appointed with carpeting, accent lighting, art work and are lined with many shops and food establishments. On a cold day looking out one of the upper windows of the clinic down to street level, it is amazing to believe that there is a bustling world of thousands of people just below. Many of the restaurants have $5.00 box lunches to go accommodating people between appointments. This world beneath the street is strictly a morning and afternoon function as by 4 pm most of the stores are closed.
The Mayo Clinic itself is a wonderful facility. It has a fully staffed library and resource center where patients can research subjects of interest using magazines, books and computers. Free DVD’s covering many medical subjects are available. Several auditoriums have daily seminars on various subjects ranging from stress relief to living with a diabetic. The ambiance of the buildings themselves is tremendous, with art work adorning many hallways, ceilings, and walls. From frescos depicting the history of the clinic, to huge body forms, to displays of White House Presidential China, to Andy Warhol paintings, art fills the buildings. In fact there is an art tour of the Mayo given daily at 10:30 am.
During the 3 appointments that I attended, the doctor was one on one with us for over 2 hours…something I have not experienced in my medical dealings. Both times he recorded his report / findings over the phone while we were present, obviously making sure we hear just exactly what he was saying. The Mayo has lately come into the health care debate with President Obama singling them out as a model of efficiency. Last week the Star Tribune ran an article talking about how the Mayo Clinic is promoting a payment formula called a “value index”. Instead of paying the same amount every time a hospital or doctor did a procedure, Medicare (or some government payment system) would pay for value, which would combine patient outcome, safety, service and total cost over time. Hospitals on the East and West coasts complain that they are efficient, but are at a disadvantage because the treat sicker and poorer patients in more urban settings. The article goes on to say that looking at individual procedures, the Mayo Clinic is much more expensive than many hospitals (a colonoscopy at the Mayo is $1177 and only $577 at Minneapolis based Allina Health systems). But the Mayo Clinic is much more selective on use of procedures and therefore holds total costs down. It is interesting that the Mayo Clinic is considered OUT OF NETWORK for my family member’s insurance plan …which is United Health Systems out of Bloomington, MN., one of the largest providers in the United States.
We are very fortunate to have such a facility in our state as the Mayo Clinic. I would highly recommend if you get the opportunity to visit Rochester and the clinic under “good” circumstances to see what it offers.