Sharing Mayo Clinic

Stories from patients, family, friends and Mayo Clinic staff

Posts (15)

Oct 1, 2010 · Heritage Days Film Celebrates the Franciscan Tradition of Mayo Clinic

There are two films for Heritage Days this year – both are original productions funded with generous support from benefactors. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at one. It’s a documentary called Healing Hands: The Sisters of St. Francis and Mayo Clinic. The film will be shown on every Mayo campus throughout Heritage Days, Oct. 4-8.

This project began on a beautiful evening in September 2007. Mayo Clinic had just dedicated the Opus Building in Rochester, and we hosted a dinner to express appreciation to benefactor Gerald Rauenhorst. Dinner was held at Assisi Heights, and Sister Ellen Whelan spoke informally about the historic collaboration between the Franciscan Sisters and Mayo Clinic.

Now, most Mayo events are carefully scripted and orchestrated – but this one took an unexpected turn. Inspired by Sister Ellen’s comments, Mr. Rauenhorst stood up at the end of her remarks and, on the spot, pledged a generous gift to produce a film about that story. Sister Ellen and I took a deep breath, shook hands with Mr. Rauenhorst and promised to fulfill his wonderful intentions.

We knew there were great colleagues and resources to bring this story to life. Sister Ellen had recently published a two-volume history called The Sisters’ Story: Saint Marys Hospital – Mayo Clinic. And Mayo film producer Mark Flaherty has vast experience with historical documentaries. Mayo Clinic Heritage Days was the perfect venue to show the film.

The production process has been an adventure – thanks to Mr. Rauenhorst’s generosity, we were able to conduct interviews with many Sisters … use vintage movies and photos from the Saint Marys Hospital Archives … and film on location in places such as Assisi, Italy (birthplace of St. Francis and St. Clare); Remich, Luxembourg, (birthplace of Mother Alfred Moes, who founded Saint Marys Hospital); and Bogotá, Colombia (where the Sisters have an education and health care ministry today). In addition to the footage you will see in this production, we obtained images that can be used in a wide range of exhibits, films and social media for years to come.

Franciscan values are one of the most important cultural taproots of Mayo Clinic, and we hope this film will help bring them alive for you.

Visit the Heritage Days web site for schedules and more information, and plan to attend one of the showings.

The following story was submitted by Matt Dacy, Mayo Clinic Development Office.

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Sep 10, 2010 · Heritage Days Film Celebrates 100 Years of Our Primary Value

What does a 1910 Packard automobile have to do with the future of Mayo Clinic?

Dr. Will

Plenty, it turns out – because that car is the “vehicle” for dramatizing the story of how Dr. William J. Mayo formulated the concept that we uphold as the primary value of Mayo Clinic: “the needs of the patient come first.”

The vintage car, along with costumed actors who represent some key figures in Mayo’s history, will be featured in a new film that will premiere during Heritage Days, Oct. 4-8. The film is called In the Words of Dr. Will: The Primary Value of Mayo Clinic. It’s sponsored by the Mayo Clinic Program in Professionalism and Ethics, with generous support from Whitney and Betty MacMillan and Gerald and Henrietta Rauenhorst. The film will be sold in Mayo-affiliated retail outlets starting Oct. 8.

Like today, 1910 was a period of rapid transformation in medicine and society. That year, Dr. Will was invited to give the commencement address at Rush Medical College in Chicago. This film shows Dr. Will en route to the train station, talking over ideas with his colleagues, who ride with him in the car as they prepare for journeys of their own. The car stops at the Mayo family farm, where Dr. Will consults his father, Dr. William Worrall Mayo (played by Clyde Lund, who also portrayed W.W. Mayo in last year’s Heritage Days performance of A Leap of Faith).

The movie was filmed at the Oliver H. Kelley Farm, a 19th century homestead near Elk River, Minn., owned by the Minnesota Historical Society. Based on research and told with humor and warmth, In the Words of Dr. Will shows that while much has changed, our commitment to teamwork in serving patients remains the heart of Mayo Clinic.

Visit the Heritage Days web site for a brief preview of the film, as well as the Heritage Days schedule and more information. Then grab your goggles, button up your linen duster and get set for a ride into Mayo’s history!

Feel free to click on the link to view a brief preview of the film.

The following story was submitted by Matt Dacy, Mayo Clinic Development Office.

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Aug 10, 2010 · Hearing Bells at Mayo Clinic in Rochester? It’s the Carillon!

Annenberg Plaza in Rochester, Minn., is a beautiful spot on the downtown Mayo Clinic campus. In the summer when the flowers are in bloom, it can be a relaxing place to spend time between appointments or to eat lunch. It is also a great place to hear the bell music of the Mayo Clinic carillon. Housed in the tower atop the nearby Plummer Building, the bells of the carillon have been ringing in Rochester since 1928.

This summer, I had the privilege of meeting Mayo Clinic’s carillonneur, Jeff Daehn, for a tour. After climbing up a long, steep and narrow spiral staircase, we arrived in a large, open room that is home to Jeff’s office. Aside from the typical office items such as a desk, chair and computer, the room had an instrument with a keyboard. It looks very much like the real carillon located a floor above, but its “keys” are not hooked up to the bells in the tower. This is the instrument he uses to practice the songs he will play. Similar to a piano, the music from this practice instrument can only be heard by those in the room.

From Jeff’s office, we climbed up yet another flight of stairs to the actual carillon. What an amazing musical instrument.

The Mayo Clinic has a large carillon consisting of 56 bells and offering a range of 4.5 octaves. The largest bell weighs in at four tons while the smallest bell weighs 17 pounds. What makes the carillon a unique instrument is that the bells do not swing. Instead, the bells are fixed to supporting beams and the clappers hit the sides of the bells to make the ringing sound.

Here’s an interesting piece of trivia about Mayo Clinic’s carillon: 23 of the bells were a gift from the Mayo Brothers. These 23 bells were cast in England, consecrated by the then-Archbishop of Canterbury and shipped to Rochester.

Jeff plays the carillon eight times a week year-round. He plays at the end of the work day Monday through Friday, at noon on Wednesday and Friday and at 7 p.m. on Monday. Although Annenberg Plaza is a great place to listen to the music, there are many other spots in downtown Rochester where you can hear the carillon.

This story was submitted by Barbara Sorensen, communications consultant at Mayo Clinic in Rochester.

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May 12, 2010 · The Health Benefits of Pets

According to scientific research, being in the presence of a pet can have many benefits.  In fact, the simple act of petting an animal can lower a person’s blood pressure.  In the medical profession, there are many physicians who recognize the positive impact a pet can have for an owner who may be hospitalized or dealing with a serious illness.

Dr. Edward Creagan, an oncologist at Mayo Clinic, believes strongly in the healing aspect of pets.  In fact, he feels so strongly about it, he writes down the name of a patient’s pet when he takes a medical history.

At Mayo Clinic, where physicians use a team approach to care for patients, you may even find a “furry” member of some care teams.  A care provider with fur?  Yes! He may not have a medical degree, but he comes with his own credentials and specialized training.  His name is Jack, and he is a nine-year-old miniature pinscher who is Mayo’s first, and only, facility-based service dog.  If you read the Sharing Mayo Clinic post from May 7, 2010, you will know he was the inspiration for a new children’s book, “Dr. Jack the Helping Dog,” now available at all Mayo-affiliated retail outlets on each campus (Arizona, Florida and Minnesota).

In the video below, Dr. Creagan talks about the healing aspect of pets.

Barbara Sorensen is a communications consultant in the Department of Public Affairs, Mayo Clinic.

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May 7, 2010 · Dr. Jack the Helping Dog

When thinking of ways to share what makes Mayo special, Matt Dacy (a Mayo employee) along with a handful of colleagues decided on a children’s book. They didn’t have to look far for inspiration. They looked to Dr. Jack, a very special member of the Mayo Clinic care team.

In mid-April, I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Jack when he came for an interview about the book. So, who is Dr. Jack? He is a nine-year-old miniature pinscher who is Mayo’s first, and only, facility-based service dog. Jack is truly an amazing dog. He is a very sweet, laid-back little guy who instantly draws people to him. After our meeting, I could easily see what made him special and why he was selected as the main character in the book, “Dr. Jack the Helping Dog”.

Dr. Jack is part of the Mayo Clinic health care team that helps patients with physical activity, rehabilitation and speech therapy. He also provides stress relief and brings a sense of comfort and normalcy, which a hospital setting can take away. Escorted around the hospital by his owner, Marcia Fritzmeier, Dr. Jack wears an official vest and sees about 8-10 patients a day. During his tenure at Mayo, Jack has helped more than 2,000 patients.

In the book, Dr. Jack wears an ID tag with the words “Mayo Clinic” and a picture of the three shields. When a young boy at Saint Marys Hospital meets Dr. Jack and rubs his tag, they are off on an amazing adventure to learn about Mayo Clinic, past and present. During their adventure, Dr. Jack and his young friend ride Mayo One and even get to see the Mayo Brothers, Dr. Will and Dr. Charlie.

In the following video, Matt, the author of the book, shares how the book came about.

In the video below, Bob, the book’s illustrator, talks about how he created the illustrations in the book:

In addition to the fictional story written by Matt, the book consists of several parts:

1. A welcome by John Noseworthy, M.D., president and CEO of Mayo Clinic

2. A foreword written by Barbara Bush, Mayo Clinic trustee, advocate of literacy and author of books about Millie the White House dog

3. Original illustrations created by Bob Morreale, head of Medical Illustration and Animation at Mayo Clinic

4. A biography of the real Dr. Jack written by Jenee Marchant

5. A medical essay on “The Healing Dimension of Pets” written by Edward Creagan, M.D., a Mayo Clinic Oncologist

The book is sold at Mayo-affiliated retail outlets on each campus (Arizona, Florida and Minnesota). All proceeds of the book support Mayo’s programs in patient care, research and education. If you’d like to get a copy of the book, please contact the Mayo Clinic Stores (1-888-303-9354;

Barbara Sorensen is a communications consultant in the Department of Public Affairs, Mayo Clinic.

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Dec 25, 2009 · Warmth on Cold Snowy Days

As a life-long Minnesotan, I look forward to winter. No, I don’t like bitter, below zero temperatures, and I am definitely not a fan of shoveling anything more than a couple inches of snow. However, I do enjoy other aspects of the season — going cross country skiing, seeing snow on the branches of the evergreen trees, watching children and dogs romp in freshly fallen snow and sitting in a warm location, drinking a hot chocolate (or a mocha) and watching big, fat, lazy snowflakes fall to the ground.

When I talk to people from outside the Midwest about what a nice place this is to live in the winter, I’m usually met with a fair amount of skepticism.  They have heard the stories in the news about bitter cold, below zero temperatures with even colder wind chills. They have seen pictures of thermometers located in International Falls, Minn., the Icebox of the Nation, at -35 below (and that’s not the wind chill). They have heard stories about blizzards that can bring a city to a standstill. They have seen the pictures online of cars almost completely buried by snowplows on the streets and cars and trucks stuck in the ditches. And, they have watched countless videos clips on TV of people walking (or more likely waddling like a penguin) from their parking spots to their places of employment that were so bundled up that only their eyes were visible.

Yes, this is what Minnesota can be like during the winter. But it’s not the norm. Below zero temps for the daily high typically last for a few days, if we have them. Blizzards and snowfalls of over a foot in the area are rare. In fact, there have been winters, where we didn’t get our first snowfall until February and our first 3 inch snowfall until March. Unfortunately, December 2009 seems to be one of those strange and unusual winters when it comes to snowstorms; one probably headed for the record book.

One of the things I like about living in Minnesota in the winter is the way we all come together and help each other. Early in December 2009, Rochester (along with other areas of the upper Midwest) had a major snow storm. It was a blizzard, actually. By the time it was over, we had over 12 inches of snow (some areas up to 16 inches). In addition, strong winds left deep snow drifts in open areas. Even for a hardy Minnesotan like me, that’s a lot of snow. While it was going on and in the aftermath I found myself wondering: why do I live here? Then I remembered why.

Big winter storms bring out the best in people. After the storm was over, I saw first hand and heard of numerous examples of kindness shown to others. There were people who helped their neighbors remove the snow from their sidewalks and driveways. There were people who helped push the cars of complete strangers out of snow banks. There were people who offered an unsteady person next to them an arm to hold on to when the going got slippery. And, on my overly crowded bus that had far too many people standing in the aisle, I witnessed a young (20-something?) gentleman graciously give up his seat to an appreciative older individual carrying what appeared to be a heavy backpack and who was working hard to not fall every time the bus came to a stop and started up again.

The kindness and best in people could also be seen on the Mayo Clinic campus. Here at Mayo we talk a lot about teamwork and putting the needs of our patients first. But these aren’t just words to Mayo employees; they are a way of life. Everyday, Mayo Clinic employees live out our mission and value, and the Blizzard of December 2009 did not change that. There were employees who stayed past their work shift to care for patients because colleagues were unable to make it in to work. There were employees who, thanks to their four-wheel drive vehicles, picked up colleagues unable to make it in with their own transportation. There were employees who invited colleagues from out of town (and who couldn’t make it home) to spend the night in their homes. And, there were people who volunteered to take on the responsibilities and job duties of snowed-in colleagues.

To me, no matter how bad the weather gets in the winter, it always feels warm in Minnesota and here at the Mayo Clinic.

This article was submitted by Barb Sorensen, a communications consultant in Public Affairs at Mayo Clinic in Rochester.

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Sep 15, 2009 · Finding Answers at Mayo Clinic

After seeing numerous medical professionals in her hometown for a stabbing pain in her face, Amy Abts was referred to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. At Mayo Clinic, Amy saw a neurologist who diagnosed her with Trigeminal Neuralgia, a rare condition named for the three-part (trigeminal) nerve. It is this nerve that delivers sensations to the face.

To get the pain under control, her neurologist tried a couple different medications. When the medications did not work, her neurologist and a neurosurgeon determined the best option was a surgical procedure called a Microvascular Decompression. The surgical procedure consisted of separating the nerve and blood vessels and inserting a Teflon plate between them to alleviate the pressure.

In the following video, Amy talks about her visit to Mayo Clinic and her diagnosis and successful treatment of trigeminal neuralgia.

To learn more about Trigeminal Neuralgia, visit:

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Sep 1, 2009 · Destination: Rochester, Minnesota

As a patient, visitor or student at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., I invite you to experience and explore our city. It’s a great place. And, yes, I have to admit I am a little biased since I live and work here.


Let me tell you about the Rochester I know and enjoy. With a population of just over 100,000, it is considered a large city; however, despite the population and physical size of the city, I find it has a friendly, smaller town feel. Mayo Clinic is located in the heart of downtown with easy access from all the major highways. It takes less than 15 minutes to get from our airport to the downtown area.

Being a lifelong Minnesotan, I would be remiss if I didn’t start by talking about the weather. Yes, it’s true; a favorite topic of conversation of many long-time Minnesota residents is the weather. Rochester has approximately 200 sunny days a year. In July, our warmest month, the temperature averages around 82 degrees for a high and 60 degrees for a low, while in January, our coldest month, the temperature averages around 21 degrees for a high and 3 degrees (above zero) for a low. Before coming to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, especially in the winter, you may want to check your favorite weather web site to find out what type of weather we are having. One of my favorite seasons here is fall: temperatures are what I consider ideal and the colors are beautiful. The Sugar Maples, with their bright orange-yellow leaves, offer some of the best color around.

As Minnesota’s third-largest city (only Minneapolis and St. Paul are larger), Rochester enjoys numerous big-city amenities: a nature center, a history center, a symphony orchestra, a handful of choral ensembles, a couple community theaters, concerts and national touring theater groups, an art center that focuses on contemporary art, a comedy club, seven options for post-secondary education (from certificate programs through Ph.D. and M.D.), public and private K-12 schools where students consistently score above the national average in academic testing, a summer collegiate baseball team (go Honkers, the Northwoods League Champions!), a Junior Hockey team and an international airport. In addition, there are numerous places to dine and shop.

Within the city limits, you will find over 100 parks, two public outdoor swimming pools, a Recreation Center (complete with an indoor Olympic length swimming pool and two ice skating/hockey rinks), a National Volleyball Center, nine public and private golf courses, and numerous walking and biking trails. If you are in town around the end of May and you are runner, I invite you to consider participating in Rochester’s Med-City Marathon. The marathon, which offers a USATF-certified course, is held the Sunday of Memorial weekend.

North of the Mayo Clinic about seven blocks is Silver Lake Park. It’s a nice, tree-filled park that offers a walking/biking path, picnic areas and a small, man-made lake (it was created as a result of a dam on the Zumbro River). Here’s a fact I find interesting: in Minnesota where we have “Land of 10,000 Lakes” as our state nickname, Olmsted County (where Rochester is located) is the only county in the state that does not have a natural lake.

Silver Lake Park is a great place to walk the dog, ride a bike, take a casual walk, jog, rollerblade or just sit and relax. During the summer months, canoes, paddleboats and bicycles are available for rental. Depending on when you visit Silver Lake, you may even be able to watch the Rochester Rowing Club practice.

On the south side of Silver Lake Park and across the street is a large, handicap-accessible playground. I appreciate that there are plenty of places for parents to sit as they watch their children. There is even a picnic shelter right there should you want to pack a lunch or snack. One of the city’s swimming pools is a quick walk across the parking lot from the playground. If you have younger children, it is a great place to spend part of your day.

Approximately six blocks south of Mayo Clinic is Soldiers Field, another park. On the park grounds, you will find a walking path, a golf course, tennis courts, running track, baseball diamond, playground, swimming pool and a Veterans Memorial.

During the summer months, Rochester offers free concerts in the park on Sunday evenings; a weekly summer Market & Music Festival in the downtown area called Thursdays on First and Third; a downtown Art Walk held the first Thursday evening of each month; and a large outdoor farmers’ market (open Saturday mornings) located just a few blocks east of the Mayo Clinic. In June, we have a weeklong celebration (called Rochesterfest) complete with food vendors, events and activities, musical entertainment and a large parade.


Every Wednesday and Friday noon those in the downtown area have an opportunity to hear Mayo Clinic’s Carillon. Performances last around 30 minutes and can be heard from a variety of outdoor locations close to the Plummer Building. After the concert, if you are interested, you can meet at the bronze entrance doors of the Plummer Building to meet the carillonneur. He is happy to answer any questions you might have.

During early October, Mayo Clinic celebrates Heritage Days. This weeklong celebration is a way to share and remember Mayo’s history. If you are on the clinic campus during that week, feel free to check out the displays, listen to the noon-time entertainment and attend the ice cream social on Annenberg Plaza.

One of my favorite features of downtown Rochester is the pedestrian subway and skyway system that encompasses much of downtown. It’s how I go from building to building on the downtown campus on rainy and snowy days. Many of the downtown hotels are connected to either the subway or skyway. If you would like to enjoy a climate-controlled walk to your next appointment, to your hotel, to your next class, to one of the shops in the downtown area, or to get a bite to eat, consider using the subways/skyways.

For those who have the time and want to explore beyond Rochester, consider visiting the Twin Cities. The metropolitan area is only a 75 minute drive north of Rochester and is home to the Mall of America; numerous professional sports teams (Skol Vikings!); the Minnesota Zoo; Adventures Aquarium, under the Mall of America; Fort Snelling; and many professional theaters, including the world-renown Guthrie Theater…to name but a few places you could visit.

If you have any questions about Rochester or your visit while at the Mayo Clinic, do not hesitate to ask an employee or one of Mayo’s many volunteers. Our volunteers are stationed at key locations throughout the campus and are easily identified by the royal blue jackets or vests they wear.

For your convenience, here is a link to a map of the downtown Rochester campus showing the subways and skyways:

Barbara Sorensen is a communications consultant in the Department of Public Affairs, Mayo Clinic

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