Activating and beautifying underutilized public spaces like alleys integrates exciting and healthy public spaces into our existing urban environments. It also tends to increase the perception of safety and reduce unwanted behaviors in those areas.
Over the past few months, the Rochester Downtown Alliance (RDA) has been working on a new project that aims to repurpose the Third Street Alley (behind Café Steam, Kathy’s Pub, and 318 Commons) in Downtown Rochester by integrating art and design installations into the space.
Airports are more than just a center through which people travel. They play a vital role in social and economic development, and, in a health-focused community like Rochester, a quality travel experience is vital for patients, visitors, and community members.
With up to 13 flights daily, Rochester International Airport (RST) is home to three of the “Big Four” airlines: American, Delta, and United. The regional hub has seen a 27% passenger growth over the past year, serving more than 290,000 passengers. A $12-million-dollar airport renovation to provide new, improved services and amenities for travelers is almost complete.
From walking and biking in the summer to snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in the winter, people are looking for fun ways to get fit, stay healthy, and – as a bonus – leave their cars parked in the garage.
The future City Loop is an ideal way to safely connect residents, employees, visitors, patients, and companions to places and spaces throughout the DMC District all year long.
Rochester residents and visitors are now able to provide feedback on their local hospitality experiences in a one-minute online survey.
The Experience Dedicated Destination survey is just one facet of the Experience Accreditation program launched in April as a partnership between Mayo Clinic, the Rochester Convention & Visitors Bureau, and Destination Medical Center. It’s part of an overall effort to help make Rochester competitive in the worldwide healthcare market and position Rochester as a medical destination.
Getting feedback from visitors and community members on their experience with the program is important, says CVB Executive Director Brad Jones.
Winter is upon us! Rochester’s two favorite cold weather events, WinterFest and SocialICE, draw thousands from the region who embrace tugging on long johns and snow boots and heading out into the elements to enjoy all the activities. Quality public spaces contribute to the health, happiness, and well-being of a community and the development of such spaces is a key focus of DMC. These events, taking place in the Heart of the City, continue to evolve and move us closer to making the DMC vision a reality.
“It’s critical that we make the Rochester experience positive for patients and visitors — not just
inside Mayo, but everywhere in the community,” says Joe Powers, owner of The Canadian Honker Restaurant and Catering in Rochester.
Powers, a Rochester native, cultivates an environment where employees are mindful of the medical visitor experience. “You never know what the customer may be going through,” he says. An estimated 50 percent to 60 percent of The Canadian Honker’s customers are Mayo patients and their families. “Sometimes, they come in with heavy hearts; they are going through difficult times. Our employees are conscious of the big picture and the importance of offering food for the soul.”
Outside of Mayo Clinic, the patient experience needs to be embracing and uplifting, according to Powers. “Mayo does a great job within their environment,” he says. “The outside is where all of us can also make a difference. Tourist communities work hard for visitors to have a positive experience. Mayo shouldn’t have to take care of that experience alone. As a community, we want all of our visitors to go back and talk about the good experience they had while visiting.”
Because of its location across from Saint Marys Hospital, the Canadian Honker becomes a home away from home for many patients and their families from all over the world. Restaurant staff often become extended family to many medical visitors — with the all-important warm smile, offering hugs and a listening ear when needed. Because many patients stay for weeks, staff have forged friendships.
“There are many heartwarming stories about hospitality making a difference in patient experience,” says Powers. “Sometimes that’s the best medicine of all.” His managers have been through Certified Tourist Ambassador (CTA) training and can provide accurate information about lodging, transportation and recreation to visitors. The Canadian Honker also features gluten-free options and other dietetically sensitive offerings, such as low-salt, low-fat and sugar-free foods that patients might require.
According to Powers, Mayo has partnered well with the community in patient experience efforts. “Mayo realized that all the partners in the hospitality sector are very important,” he says. “They opened up their arms to us, and have engaged the community as part of Destination Medical Center (DMC). Together, we will make our system stronger all the way around.”
From Powers’ perspective, transportation, roads and parks will be significant for DMC, along with city beautification and the arts. “Building the world’s premier destination medical community will require lots of options for visitors,” he says. Around the world, medical tourism is increasing in focus and competition. “Rochester and Minnesota have an advantage and can build upon the Mayo Clinic brand strength and reputation of excellence. Our community is poised and ready to embrace the growth.”
I was walking back to my office from a meeting on Wednesday when I came across two young women bearing signs that said, “Free Hugs.” One of them came up to me and said, “Would you like a hug?” When I said, “absolutely,” she gave me a quick squeeze and told me to have a great day.
After that, how could I not?
Our office got several phone calls that afternoon and Joe Kane, one of our wonderful Mayo photographers, caught Katie Norris and Morgan Blair in action. They hugged (among many others) a woman who was a Mayo Clinic patient who was headed to an appointment to receive a diagnosis. The offer of a hug was welcome and appreciated – and it brought happy tears.
One of DMC’s platforms is to provide optimal experiences for patients, visitors and community members. And, as Katie and Morgan showed us this week, caring and compassion are two of the easiest, least expensive and most meaningful ways we can help give patients the experience they want and need.
What are ways the community can help optimize experiences for patients who come to Rochester for care? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Karen Trewin is a manager for the Destination Medical Center team and works in the Division of Community Engagement for Mayo Clinic Public Affairs.