Finally, after years of prodding by a good friend, my husband and I visited the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota for a general physical. After two days of poking, prodding, and wondering how many ways a gown can tie, we felt it was well worth our effort to go there.
Our visit began six months earlier when I called to make inquiries. A real person answered and immediately gave me two clinic numbers and placed us on the waiting list. We had no referral or anything that needed immediate attention and so we were told to wait until contacted. The first call was in August. We were contacted in January for a mid-March appointment. Early in March we received letters with many instructions among which were to collect records from local doctors and to bring all medications along in their containers. So armed and ready we went to find out a bit more about ourselves.
We were spurred on by the positive stories of Mayo experiences told by friends and friends of friends. I even have a friend who lives in Rochester who has had two heart attacks and is an ongoing Mayo patient. And her story has been told in the New York Times and a recent issue of AARP magazine. Stories abound.
The clinic started as a single, small outpatient facility, and later became America's first integrated group practice, a model that is now standard in the United States. However, Mayo Clinic integrates the practice of over 1,700 medical doctors, making it much larger than the typical group practice of 3 to 100 doctors.
Since about the year 2000, Mayo Clinic has also become renowned for achieving high quality at low cost. One extensive study found that the cost paid by insurers to treat Medicare patients in their last 3 years of life (the most expensive years), was only 54% of comparable costs in nearby clinics and hospitals.
Employing more than 40,000 people, Mayo Clinic operates hospitals and clinics in Scottsdale, Ariz., Jacksonville, Fla., and Rochester, Minn. More than six million patients have been treated at Mayo Clinic from all 50 states and around the world. Since its beginning, Mayo has focused on three areas of excellence: patient care, education and research.
Our experience began at around 6:15 the day of our first appointments. Though we arrived early for registration, not wanting to get lost, we found ourselves behind a large group of people who seemed to appear from nowhere. The lines moved quickly and pleasantly and soon we were finding our way to the first doctors. Consideration was given to the fact that both my husband and I were coming together. In order for us to make the most of our time, our first appointments were arranged to be within fifteen minutes of one another. Fortunately we began very early because this gave us a full day to complete a myriad of tests and x-rays. The hardest part was not getting lost in the complex of tunnels and adjoining buildings. However, volunteer guides and employees were everywhere and always pleasant and helpful.
At each station, I was registered and told to wait, sometimes for a beeper to go off and sometimes for my name to be called. Instructions were always clearly presented and I never felt rushed. I was very impressed when the technician who took my blood explained that 800 to 1200 individuals pass through this station daily. (This is only one of some amazing statistics on the website.) My last exam was an abdominal ultra sound and I left the clinic at 4:30 with two overnight “assignments”.
The evening was pleasant and clear and the small downtown area was charming and filled with many restaurants. We met our friend, Naomi Atrubin at Victoria’s and along with a lovely dinner had the chance to learn first hand how Mayo had helped her to manage a healthy active lifestyle after two heart attacks.
Victoria’s was charming and we thought the food was very nice. It was easy to hear one another and catch up. But what impressed me the most was our waitress, Tiffany, who not only brought me a gluten free menu, but also immediately brought me the loveliest, warm gluten-free roll I have ever tasted. The meal was delicious, the conversation pleasant and the day ended.
On our second day we were scheduled to see a series of doctors. These doctors reviewed the findings from the first day and gave an in depth explanation of the findings. They then offered possible solutions to the problems noted. We were originally told to allow 4-6 business days for a workup, so we were very pleased to be “released” in only two. We left with a much better understanding of our body as a whole.
There were some unexpected and lovely aspects to our visit. Rochester is pretty and charming. Moving around the Mayo Clinic, there are beautiful collections and outstanding art–paintings, sculpture, collections, glasswork and lovely music playing. There is also a piano in the lobby where volunteers play. There are two museums and the tunnels reveal many more surprises that include murals that tell Mayo’s history, beautiful shops and pleasant restaurants in addition to clinic services.
Before we left, we were offered advice that we expect to follow including the suggestion that we return next year.
200 First Street
Rochester, MN 55905
507-284-9786 (hearing impaired TDD)
7 1st Avenue Southwest
Rochester, MN 55902