Month: September 2013

Flowers of life

Flowers of lifeSometimes, simple gestures can have a big impact on those who need it most. And for the past six years, John and Barb Meyer, of Potsdam, Minn., have been having just that kind of impact on the lives of patients at hospitals and nursing homes in Rochester by cutting bouquets of flowers from their gladiola field for patients in need of a little pick-me-up.

The Meyers say that what originally started out as a hobby after they received some gladiola bulbs as a gift from their son has now (ahem) blossomed into a full-on passion. “This has been our sixth year doing this, and we have developed more than 1,000 varieties of gladiolas,” the couple says. “It’s become a labor of love … When we see people smile with appreciation, the planting, cutting and delivering is all worth it.”

One of those smiles of appreciation can be found on the face of James Mitchell, who’s spent 20th months at Saint Marys Hospital battling his way back to health after from a severe gastrointestinal condition that’s almost cost him his life. He says he was flown to Rochester “on the verge of death” by air ambulance almost two years ago and has now celebrated two birthdays with his care team at Saint Marys, though he says “that was never the plan.”

As his long and sometimes rocky medical journey continues, Mitchell says the Meyers’ weekly gladiola deliveries to Saint Marys have been a most welcome distraction and represent just one more way that Mayo Clinic takes care of the “entire” patient. “For me, the gladiolas symbolize that there is life outside the hospital and help remind me of the seasons,” he says. “I carry that with me — that this season in my life will also pass, and I will get to go home.”

Mitchell says that whether they realize it or not, the Meyers are a part of his care team, along with the many doctors, nurses, therapists, housekeepers and other Mayo staff who frequent his hospital room. “I think of the Meyers planting, growing, cutting and delivering those flowers to hundreds of people like me — they’re part of the integrated care that is Mayo Clinic,” he says. “They will never know how truly grateful I am.”

Nor can he, Mitchell says, fully communicate how grateful he is for his direct care team at Saint Marys, who have become like a second family to him. “They have been my blessing,” he says. “I see the care in their eyes. I have had the best medical team available, and I am thankful. I am forever grateful to Mayo Clinic.”

When superheroes drop in

superheroesFor more than 30 years, Roger Corcoran has been cleaning the grime off the windows at Mayo Clinic. But, on Sept. 25, Corcoran and two of his fellow window washers, John Carroll and Kyle Smith, went from being everyday grime fighters to superhero crime fighters.

The crew from Child Life Services gathered pediatric patients together in the third floor atrium of the Mayo Eugenio Litta Children’s Hospital in the Mayo Clinic Children’s Center to have a superhero celebration. Dressed as superheroes themselves and standing in front of the atrium windows, they had some fun with the kids, until, outside, Batman dropped into view. A collective gasp of surprise came from the kids, their parents and their caregivers when the first superhero dropped in. About a minute later, the Incredible Hulk dropped in, and then, finally, Spiderman made his entrance to even more cheering.

The three superheroes played a short game of tag on the windows and then dropped out of view. A few minutes later, they arrived inside the atrium to meet with the patients and the crowd that had gathered.

When not creating oohs and ahs as superheroes, Corcoran (Batman), Carroll (Spiderman) and Smith (Hulk) are employed by ISS Facility Services, a longtime Mayo Clinic contractor. Charles Kleber, managing director, explains how Mayo asked them to consider doing a superhero drop in. “We had never done anything like this before, but, once they mentioned it, we wanted to make it happen,” says  Kleber. “Roger, John and Kyle volunteered to don the costumes.”

After serving cake and punch to the group in the atrium, the superheroes visited patients in the children’s hospital who weren’t able to make it to gathering. Earlier in the day, the three superheroes also made a stop to see the pediatric patients in the transplant ICU. When one of the little patients saw the superheroes, he made a beeline for Spiderman and wrapped his arms around his legs. “The look on the little guy’s face was why we did it,” Kleber shares. “We did this for the kids.”

This story was originally published by Mayo Clinic in their internal News Center.

What are ways like this that DMC and Mayo Clinic can transform experiences for patients? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


A fresh twist on bland hospital food

Chef Justin Johnson picks banana peppers in the garden at UW Health Partners Watertown Regional Medical Center. (Photo from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)
Chef Justin Johnson picks banana peppers in the garden at UW Health Partners Watertown Regional Medical Center. (Photo from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

The term “hospital food” often conjures up images of clear broth and mashed potatoes, with a splash of color from an occasional Jell-o square.

But Justin Johnson, executive chef at UW Health Partners Watertown Regional Medical Center, is “pulling the plug on heat-and-serve-chicken, frozen vegetables and prepackaged pudding,” according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, which profiled the hospital’s new approach to hospital nourishment in August of 2012. The article includes some of his recipes – such as Roasted Yellow Heirloom Tomato Bisque and Steamed Little Neck Clams and Mussels with Roasted Fennel and Yellow Coconut Curry Broth.

Johnson incorporates fresh vegetables from a new 11,000 square-foot garden on the hospital’s grounds. The hospital also sources ingredients from a farmers market it hosts every Thursday in front of the hospital. Patients are able to order from room service at times convenient for them. And a new bistro featuring delicious and locally-sourced fare will serve employees and visitors.

Johnson’s efforts garnered him a nomination for a National Restaurant Association Award in the “Operator Innovations in Sustainability” category.

Not bad for a 50-bed regional hospital in a rural community between Madison and Milwaukee.

It gets one thinking about the possibilities with DMC – to have an organization like Mayo Clinic work with local farmers and farmers markets, to promote sustainability, to make nutritious foods fun, exciting and palatable, and to get rid of the institutional Jell-o once and for all.

Rochester offers health care that is world-class. Many local restaurants such as Sontes, Prescott’s and Four Daughters Winery are already developing locally-grown and sustainable menus that are being met with rave reviews. Having an organization like Mayo Clinic promote healthy lifestyles through its food service would continue to help set it apart from its competitors.

Do you think it’s a good idea? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Here comes the neighborhood

Christopher Leinberger
Christopher Leinberger

“Back to the future” is how land use strategist and development consultant Christopher B. Leinberger describes the shift from “sub-urbanism” to “urbanism.”

(For us laypeople, that means there is a renewed interest in urban areas where you can walk everywhere, rather than suburban settings that require cars to get around. In the DMC world, we call that “livable city.”)

Leinberger spoke at the APA Upper Midwest Planners Conference in Rochester this week. He noted that Rochester, particularly with the Destination Medical Center initiative under way, is poised to successfully embrace emerging trends like urbanism to optimize economic development.

“The Back to the Future movies contrast an idyllic time of the town square, which anchors mixed use, walkable space with the modernization of the town square, which is now a parking lot,” he told the group of about 300 planners. “The second movie shows a future that shifts back to the mixed use, walkable space. We’re seeing that same trend in urban centers across the country as they plan their futures.”

Leinberger said the underlying market reason for the shift is demands from millenials, who are drawn to urban living, as well as baby boomers who are retiring and down sizing.

“Baby boomers are moving to small towns with close access to health care – towns like Rochester,” he said.

Leinberger shared examples of towns like Chattanooga, Tenn., Ann Arbor, Mich., and Lancaster, Penn., which have revitalized urban areas to offer a choice between drivable suburban and walkable urban centers.  The result has driven economic activity and improved residential and retail property values.

Christopher Leinberger is President of Locus; Responsible Real Estate Developers and Investors, and is The Charles Bendit Distinguished Scholar and Research Professor at George Washington University School of Business.

Leinberger writes about walkable neighborhood development in this article, published in The Atlantic.

Leinberger also presented on urbanism at the Kansas City Public Library Series on “What Makes a Great City.”

What are your thoughts on suburban vs. urban living? What ideas do you have to make Rochester’s urban areas more livable? What are the advantages you see in suburban living? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Join DMC at Taste of Rochester this weekend

6Z8C4055Join in the DMC discussion at Taste of Rochester this weekend – Saturday, Sept. 7 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Olmsted History Center, 1195 West Circle Drive SW, Rochester.

DMC Ambassadors will be on hand to answer questions and discuss your ideas. You can also add your thoughts to the DMC vision boards.

Hospitality: Be our guest

Hotels and Hospitality is one of the 7 areas of focus for Destination Medical Center. The availability of clean, comfortable and accessible places to stay is an expectation for patients and visitors. But providing an optimal experience that people remember requires area lodging staff to take things a few steps further.

In this installment of “Gabe on the Street,” Gabriel talks to area lodging staff about what makes a stay memorable.

What hotel and hospitality experience did you have that was memorable? Share your story in the comments section below.