Archive for the ‘Employee Stories’ Category

Mayo and the Telephone

January 24, 2011

Mayo has been committed to using the latest communication technology in service to patients since the earliest days of practice.

According to family tradition, young Charlie Mayo – 14 years old at the time – set up the first telephone link in Rochester in 1879. It connected his father’s downtown office with the Mayo family’s farm in southeast Rochester. A natural mechanic, Charlie worked without plans, simply following photos and descriptions he had seen in various publications. The telephone itself was a novelty. Barely three years before, Alexander Graham Bell filed a patent to develop “an apparatus for transmitting vocal or other sounds telegraphically.”

Charlie’s father, Dr. William Worrall Mayo, quickly realized how the innovative technology could improve patient care. He became the first physician in town to install a telephone. Still, it was a challenge to get the public to accept this unusual means of communication. The Rochester Record and Union offered a helpful explanation on Dec. 12, 1879:

“The telephone line between Dr. Mayo’s office and his residence is now set up, the machines, or instruments, whichever they are, in position, and everything working splendidly. Conversation can be carried on just as rapidly and accurately as though the persons talking were only separated by a few feet instead of a mile, and familiar voices can be recognized as easily. Parties wishing to summon the Dr. between 6 in the morning and 9 in the evening can do so by making their wants known as Messrs. Geisinger and Newton’s drug store. After 9 p.m. and before 6 a.m., it will be necessary to find Mr. George Tilsbury, the night watch, who will operate the instrument between the hours named when occasion demands. This will prove not only a convenience but a positive benefit for the Dr. and his patients.”

The Mayo brothers were innovators in all areas of medical practice, finding the best way to serve patients more effectively, including use of the latest communications technology.

That’s why we see formation of the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media as very much in keeping with the Mayo legacy. And it’s why we’re passing on the Mayo brothers’ wisdom through a social medium we believe they would have used if it were available in their day.

Check out the “What would Dr. Will and Dr. Charlie Tweet?” initiative, with new wisdom from our founders every working day in 2011.

If Charlie Mayo installed a telephone system at age 14, how could he not tweet today?

Sister Generose & Intern Jena Rose

January 21, 2011

I was 9 years old and had arrived in Rochester for a minor, surgical procedure. While navigating our way around Saint Marys Hospital, my family and I ran across several portraits of the Sisters of St. Francis hanging in the hallway. Being raised Lutheran, I had never seen a nun before, and my parents patiently explained that these women were former administrators of the hospital. A few moments later my dad added, “And, Jena, I know it’s not spelled the same, but the sister on the end—that’s Sister Generose.” My first thought? “That’s my name!”

To clarify, the combination of my first name, Jena, and my middle name, Rose, sounds exactly like the name Generose. As a 9-year-old, I was ecstatic that I had a phonetically-shared name with a woman of such strong devotion and prestige. Learning of the existence of the Generose Building only added to my excitement because that had to mean she was a big deal! It was this joy I carried with me and that provided me with a sense of peace and comfort throughout my impending surgery.

Fast forward 11 years: I find myself spending my college J-term as an intern in the Department of Public Affairs at Mayo Clinic. The first couple days in the office were mainly spent becoming familiar with my surroundings and expectations of the position. Little did I know that I would be presented with the opportunity for my “Mayo experience” to come full circle.

On Thursday, January 6, I was fortunate enough to attend “The Values Thread at Mayo Clinic: A Conversation with Sister Generose Gervais and John H. Noseworthy, M.D.” This event was facilitated in order to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Sponsorship.

As moderator Matt Dacy explained, the Sponsorship Board was formed in 1986, when Saint Marys Hospital, Rochester Methodist Hospital and Mayo Clinic formally integrated.  Its mission is to promote the Mayo Clinic values, and to maintain and reinforce the Catholic identity of Saint Marys Hospital.

As I was told, this event was a rare chance for employees to hear both of these notable figures speak—a chance I’m glad I did not miss. Both individuals were asked to share their journeys to Mayo and their experiences along the way.

As I’m confident many attendees would agree, while Dr. Noseworthy, Mayo Clinic’s president and CEO, is indeed a brilliant, passionate man, it was Sr. Generose who truly stole the show (even Dr. Noseworthy good-naturedly said it was difficult to offer his thoughts following her answers to the audience questions). Her wisdom and faith were evident in her confident, straightforward delivery peppered with witty stories and one-liners as well as valuable pieces of advice for the audience. I left the auditorium that day amazed and feeling as if I had traveled back in time to being a young child anxiously awaiting surgery at Saint Marys.

It has been over a decade since my first experience at Mayo, but my positive feelings toward the institution remain constant. I never dreamed I would land an internship with one of the world’s leaders in healthcare—ultimately creating a definite connection between my past and present. As an intern spending time with the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media, this connection forms a parallel specifically with regard to the newly-formed “What would Dr. Will and Dr. Charlie Tweet?” project. A fusion of 20th century insight and 21st century technology, this project chronicles a Mayo brothers’ quote for each business day of 2011 via the Mayo Clinic Twitter account.

Similarly, Sr. Generose, a representative of Mayo Clinic’s rich history, possesses stores of wisdom applicable to today’s society. This became even more apparent in meeting her, when Sister discussed Scripture in relation to current events, education of today’s young people, and the plans God has in store for each of us.

This story represents what I like to call my personal “Mayo effect.” However, I now know there is much more to “Generose” than just the name of a building: she’s an icon, a living symbol, of the strength of Saint Marys and the blessing of caring compassion bestowed upon each patient.

Helping the Girls of the Congo – Overview

November 23, 2010

For those of you wanting to read through the entire series or for those wanting to find a specific part you may have missed, here is an overview post including links to all the series parts.

Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four
Part Five
Part Six
Part Seven
Part Eight
Part Nine
Part Ten
Part Eleven
Part Twelve
Part Thirteen
Part Fourteen

Helping the Girls of the Congo: Part Fourteen

November 22, 2010

Phil Fischer, M.D. is one of the Mayo Clinic physicians who recently went to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In the video interview below, Dr. Fischer offers a personal reflection on the trip.  

He also explains the potential for future research and how those plans are already advancing.

Also, many of you have inquired as to how you can donate so we can continue to help the girls of the Congo. You can mail checks to the Mayo Clinic Department of Development at 200 1st Street SW, Siebens 9, Rochester, MN, 55905. Be sure you write “Girls of the Congo” on the memo line.

Helping the Girls of the Congo: Part Thirteen (Saturday & Thanks)

November 19, 2010

The following is another update from the Mayo Clinic team that was in the Democratic Republic of the Congo last week, written by Dr. Deborah Rhodes. While this is the final update from their trip, please check for additional posts next week including video interviews with some of the team describing their experiences.

“After a long drive through the beautiful countryside of Rwanda, in a fierce rainstorm that only made the hills more luminous, we reached Bujumbura. We said good-bye to our good friends and trusted drivers, Bercky and Benge, and boarded the plane. We were so anxious to see our families, but we were quieter than usual. We stared out at military forces boarding a neighboring plane and thought about how much more needs to be done.

Our flights were seamless, as has been our entire itinerary. For this, and for so many other things, we have Jane Gould to thank. Without her, we would still be trying to book our flights. She was our greatest defender from bureaucracy, our solver of any problem, and our most enthusiastic advocate when our own belief that this trip would happen wavered.

We have so many others to thank:

  • Jim Hodge, who initially said, “We can find a way to make this work.”
  • Roger Dearth, who found a way to make it work. Roger kept us smiling when the chips were down. When we realized we needed to purchase additional pieces of critical cystoscopy equipment 2 days before our departure, Roger made them appear by the next morning.
  • Shirley David, from Carlson Wagonlitt, who answered hundreds of phone calls and coordinated our flights.
  • Terry Gorman, who connected us with Tom Griffin, who worked his magic to get 5 pallets of medical supplies to travel thousands of miles and arrive safely at a destination with no street address.
  • Mayo Medical Laboratories, for all the help they provided in delivering the pallets of medical supplies.
  • Leo Wagner and the staff at the Mayo Warehouse, for helping us to collect and pack the supplies.
  • Beth Creedon, for all of her help collecting and cataloguing the supplies.
  • Federal Express for their generosity and precision in delivering the pallets.
  • Rebecca Buss at Rochester Medical, for her generous donation of supplies.
  • Dr. C. R. Stanhope, who was instrumental in gathering many of the medical supplies and advising us on appropriate goals for an international medical mission.
  • Paula Boos, without whom our six boxes of medical supplies would never have made it on the plane.
  • The Stryker company for their generous donation of cystoscopy equipment.
  • The Stortz company for their donation of supplies.
  • Donna Springer and Etta Meinecke, for protecting us against all things infectious with innumerable vaccinations.
  • Stacey Rizza, for her outstanding lecture on HIV transmission and prophylaxis and for her donation of medications.
  • David Claypool and the team at Preferred Response, for providing us with safety advice and medications for any emergency (thankfully, we did not need the Imodium).
  • Mitch Nelson, for security advice in Burundi and DRC.
  • Jan Swanson and Mark Williams, for helping us to prepare for the trauma we would encounter.
  • Elizabeth Rice, who recognized the importance of documenting this trip, and along with Makala Johnson, assisted with this blog.
  • Dr. Bobbie Gostout, Dr. Don Hensrud, and Dr. Robert Jacobson, for supporting our trip.
  • Lenae Barkey and Jim Yolch , for solving the administrative hurdles on our behalf.
  • Our spouses, for their support, patience and sacrifices: Beth Creedon, Jill Dowdy, Julie Fischer, Ned Groves, Bill McGuire and Mariana Trabuco.
  • Shirley Weiss and John Noseworthy.
  • Carolina Owens, from the U.N. Office of Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict.
  • Eve Ensler and V-day, the model for effective, courageous, transparent and noble activism – words cannot express our admiration for you.
  • Christine DeSchryver, an angel warrior, our hero.
  • Pat Mitchell, for telling me the story that launched this trip and connecting me with Eve.
  • Our anonymous benefactor, without whom I would still be crafting a letter to Ben Affleck!”
  • Helping the Girls of the Congo: Part Twelve (More from Friday)

    November 18, 2010

    The following is another update from the Mayo Clinic team that was in the Democratic Republic of the Congo last week, written by Dr. Deborah Rhodes .

    Dr. Sean Dowdy and Dr. Emanuel Trabuco had another long day in the OR, with two large fistula repairs and a radical hysterectomy for advanced cervical cancer – what would be an easily preventable disease if Pap smear screening was available. We wrapped up our clinical and teaching work, and then Dr. Mukwege called us together for a final meeting. Earlier in the day, we had seen a magazine in his office in which he appeared on the cover. One sentence in the article stuck in our minds. It said, “Many visitors come here to eat sandwiches and cry, and then they return home.” We had brought a container each day with a sandwich for our lunch, and we had certainly shed our fair share of tears. But we were determined not to be the next in a long line of passive sympathizers. Dr. Mukwege presented us with a flag of the DRC and his words reassured us that he understood our intent and commitment to build a long-lasting relationship in support of Panzi.

    Dr. Denis Mukwege, the founder, director and chief surgeon of Panzi Hospital in Bukavu. Photo source:

    As we were walking out of the hospital, Dr. Mukwege’s secretary ran up to deliver a message to him. She had just received an e-mail on which she was apparently copied inadvertently. The e-mail, from an American organization at which Dr. Mukwege is scheduled to speak, conveyed concern that his remarks might stray into the causes of the conflict in the DRC rather than strictly the medical response. He sat down on a bench, shook his head and smiled. A four-year-old boy wandered over and lay his head down on Dr. Mukwege’s lap. I remembered this boy. On my first day at Panzi, I almost tripped getting out of the car as two little arms grabbed me around the knees. I looked down, and a boy was grinning up at me. He took my hand and led me into the morning prayer service, but then we were separated. Now, Dr. Mukwege stroked his head while we talked. He lay perfectly still for 45 minutes, his eyes closed in contentment. In my right peripheral vision, I saw a young woman staring at him, knitting and undoing the same small crocheted hat as if in a trance. At the age of 15, she had been forced to watch rebel forces kill her entire family and village. She was taken by the forces and held as a slave, during which time she was impregnated by her captors. This boy was the result of that pregnancy. She would stand close enough to watch her son, but could not bring herself to get close enough to mother him. They now both lived at Panzi Hospital. A few days earlier, I had seen him jump into Christine’s car at the end of a long day. She told him she needed to leave, but he refused to let go of the steering wheel. “Take me home, Mama Christine,” he pleaded. As she pulled out some candy to coax him out of the car, there were tears in her eyes, even though I’m sure she has witnessed this routine innumerable times. How could you watch these things day after day, year after year, and not have an opinion on the genesis of the problem or the outline of a solution? Dr. Mukwege had always intended to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a pastor. But he realized that he could not care for peoples’ spiritual needs if their physical needs were so great. And so he turned to medicine. Yet it is clear that no amount of medical care – nor the food and safe haven that he provides – can solve this. The solution, ultimately, will require an open discussion of the root causes of this conflict without fear of reprisals.

    On Friday night, we drove to Christine’s mother’s house, overlooking beautiful Lake Kivu. The house where Christine was born had been destroyed in an earthquake several years earlier, but a new house had been built just above it. We were joined by Eve, Christine, and Elaine Doughty (the trauma therapist from San Francisco who is training the staff at City of Joy). Christine’s mother treated us to an incredible Congolese dinner, complete with tilapia, feuilles de manioc (cassava leaves), and red beans. Dr. Mukwege arrived and gave the most eloquent tribute to Eve and Christine. Christine stood up and said that her faith was starting to come back. She was referring to a story she had told us the night we arrived. She had been handed a six month-old baby who had been raped. She cradled the baby and drove quickly to Panzi hospital, but the baby had already died. She cried out to God to ask how this could be happening. Alysa, a young girl who had arrived at the hospital at the age of 8 after she and her mother were attacked in their village, ran to comfort Christine. Alysa said, “Christine, sometimes the clouds cover the sky, but the sun is still there.” I had not known or even heard of Christine at the time I began planning this trip, but I recognized this story. I asked Christine if this had happened in May of 2009. She said yes. This was the same story that was told to me by Pat Mitchell in Rochester, Minnesota in late May of 2009. At the exact moment that Christine’s faith had faltered, this story had traveled thousands of miles and lit a flame that we carried back to her. As Bercky said to us when he first picked us up in Bujumbura, it will take many sticks to light this fire.

    Dancing is a great part of the culture in DRC, and the therapy for the survivors. All week, Eve had warned Dr. Sean Dowdy that she would have him dancing by the end of the week. Those of us who knew Sean were skeptical, but we have witnessed many miracles this week. When we got back to the lodge, we were all very tired. There was no dancing. And we all simultaneously said…..’next trip.'”

    Helping the Girls of the Congo: Part Eleven (Friday)

    November 17, 2010

    The following is another update from the Mayo Clinic team that was in the Democratic Republic of the Congo last week.

    “We started the morning surrounded by the staff and patients of Panzi, gathered in the courtyard for morning prayers. We looked out on the beautiful women wrapped in colorful pagnes. We felt like we understood Bercky’s inspirational devotion. Then Dr. Mukwege invited Dr. Phil Fischer to give our thanks and good-bye in Swahili. Dr. Fischer responded that the Bible says we should love God with mind, body and heart. This week, we have seen God’s love as we see all the staff here teaching, healing and caring for minds, bodies, and hearts. We will leave here with them in our hearts, and we leave half of hearts here with them. It was beautiful benediction and everyone cheered.

    Dr. Fischer evaluating a 4-day old infant with vomiting, Panzi Hospital

    We then joined the women survivors for morning dancing and singing in the courtyard, and we were welcomed as part of the group. Dr. Sean Dowdy and Dr. Emanuel Trabuco went to the OR to facilitate the ongoing adoption of the new cystoscopy instruments. Dr. Fischer made rounds and did more teaching, as did Dr. Doug Creedon. Lois McGuire, R.N., C.N.P., gave a lecture of incontinence. Dr. Deb Rhodes met with Bev, the administrator for Panzi, to discuss long-term strategies. Lois also played tic-tac-toe with some young girls at the hospital.

    Lois McGuire, R.N., C.N.P., giving a lecture on incontinence, Panzi Hospital

    We are leaving the hospital a little earlier than usual today in anticipation of a traditional Congolese farewell feast at the home of Christine’s mother. We are so sad to realize that we will be leaving early tomorrow. We would like to thank beyond words the individuals without whom this trip would not have happened – please check back for our final post from Amsterdam so that we can acknowledge the extraordinary contributions of those in Rochester and beyond who are as devoted to this cause as we are.”