Speaking directly to the patient… respect, concern and grace.


Catherine Benson is a Public Affairs Consultant at Mayo Clinic.


We recently received a letter from Annie Heilman, about her mother who became a Mayo Clinic patient in December 2008. Mrs. Heilman’s mother had an aortic aneurysm along with other health issues. She died in early February 2009 after deciding against any type of surgery and instituting a DNR (do not resuscitate) order. Mrs. Heilman wanted to thank the staff for the extraordinary care that her mother received. She has given us permission to reprint a portion of her letter here.

By Anne R. Heilman. 

The reason for my letter is that it is important for my brother and me that you be made aware of the remarkable care our mother received from the moment we walked through the doors of the Gonda Building in early December until the moment he and I walked out of St. Mary’s. Every clerk, every nurse, every cafeteria worker, every technician, every receptionist, every physician, everyone treated us with respect, concern and grace.

What struck me most throughout the entire process – and I think this is so vital – is that everyone spoke directly to our mother. It was evident that she was the patient, and no one ever forgot that. I, of course, was included in every conversation that was appropriate, I had my questions answered, Mom and I were able to make calls and leave messages, and each of those calls was returned promptly.

I will not forget during that final Friday session with Dr. Oderich, his reaching out to hold our mother’s hands while he talked to her about her options. I will always remember, too, his crouching down in front of me and grasping my hands, while looking into my eyes and assuring me that he would take good care of our mother.

I will never forget seeing Ms. Hofer [Jan Hofer, RN, PE] walk into the ICU to check in on us and be with us during Mom’s final hours. Someone had called her at home – she was not on duty. We have even since received a sympathy card from the staff of the ICU.

I need to make note of several people who were involved in our mother’s care: Drs. Paul Wennberg, Gustavo Oderich, Jeffery Rabatin, Thomas Bower, Mark Fleming, Manju Kalra, Francis Whalen, and Tuhin Roy, all of whom gave Mom their full focus. And, of course, the special care of Jan Hofer and Deb Gillen (Mom’s nurse at St. Mary’s) cannot go unacknowledged.

You have extraordinary people on your staff, and you have an incredible facility. It is simply astonishing that in an organization that large, our process through it was seamless.


If you would like to leave a comment for Annie Heilman, please use the comment box below.


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3 Responses to “Speaking directly to the patient… respect, concern and grace.”

  1. Maggie Turner Says:

    Mayo Clinic is not what it used to be. I have been going there for a problem which is still undiagnosed despite tests which show there is definitely something wrong. Doctors just shrugged their shoulders and said come back in several months. And FYI, the tests involve a vital organ, and Mayo touts its expertise in this area. I have received no treatment and a blow off.

  2. Pat Brown Says:

    Dear Annie,

    You don’t know me, but I read your letter to Mayo Clinic on their site.

    I just wanted you to know, that I am deeply sorry for your loss, but happy that you were well taken care of while at the clinic.

    My husband works there too, and I know that we feel that many of the people who come here for their care, are like extended family.

    May God sustain you in your loss.


    Pat Brown

    • Annie Heilman Says:

      Ms. Brown ~ Thank you so much for your kind note … who knows if we crossed paths with your husband on our visits in December and February, but I’m sure if we did, we received a gracious word and kind smile from him!

      Thank you ~ Annie Heilman

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