Roger White, M.D., a Mayo Clinic expert in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest intervention, tells NBC Nightly News (Oct. 22, 2013) about the pioneering program that put defibrillators in every police car in Rochester, Minn. The program is saving lives because first responders no longer have to wait for the paramedics to begin life-saving care. “Whoever gets there fast enough is the one who saves the patient,” says Dr. White.
A patient experience worth honking about
“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.”
As experiences go, nothing beats a hug
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.