Archive for the ‘Services’ Category

A Patient’s “PAL”

August 6, 2010

Mayo Clinic patient Sharon Klemm enjoys some cuddle time with Murphy

Let’s face it, it’s never fun going to the doctor.

But for some patients coming in to receive radiation at Mayo Clinic’s Phoenix campus, sitting in the waiting room just got a little more relaxing, thanks to a furry, four-legged Mayo Clinic ambassador named Murphy.

“I think Murphy helps people forget they have cancer.  He is such a sweet, loving and gentle dog and people feel that immediately from him,” says Phil Whitton, manager of Radiation Oncology at Mayo Clinic in Arizona.

Murphy is part of a pilot program called Pets are Loving Support (PALS) that’s being tested at Mayo’s Phoenix campus.  Since February, this white Bichon-Poodle and his handler, Mayo employee Kellye Wagner, have been delighting patients as they make their rounds in the waiting area of the Mayo Clinic Specialty Building (MCSB).

“I will let him take the lead and he will make his rounds and greet,” said Wagner, of Murphy who appears to enjoy snuggling up to patients and entertaining them with an array of tricks including hi-fives.

Wagner, a quality improvement specialist, said she always knew there was something special about her loveable, mellow dog. “He has been calm in all environments since he was a pup. I knew I wanted to do something with him,” said Wagner, who took the advice of Murphy’s obedience trainer that he’d be a great therapy dog.

After the cute canine completed a year of obedience training, Wagner, along with Murphy’s trainer, began six months of animal assisted activities and therapy training with two-year-old Murphy.  Murphy and Kellye became certified last fall for animal assisted activities and therapy through the Delta Society, a non-profit organization that trains, screens and certifies volunteers and their pets so they can visit patients in a number of facilities including hospitals, hospice, therapy centers and nursing homes.

“I think pet therapy is so important for our patients.  Murphy seems to take away some of their stress by giving patients a nice distraction while they wait for their appointment. He really brings a smile to people’s faces,” said Whitton, who helped Wagner get the PALs program started at Mayo earlier this year. Wagner said her managers were also receptive to the idea of her volunteering some time (on her lunch hour) taking Murphy to see patients a few times a week.

Murphy seems to have an innate sense of which patients seem to need his attention most, said Wagner, recalling a time when a patient got teary-eyed when Murphy laid beside him on the loveseat he was sitting on and nudged his head under the patient’s hand.

“The patient said he was having such a hard day and was so touched by Murphy that it made his day,” said Wagner. 

She also remembers another patient encounter where a man, who suffered a stroke and was now battling cancer, broke into a smile when he saw Murphy. The patient pet Murphy and spent some time with him before his appointment.  “It really touched his (the patient’s) wife that he was so happy,” said Wagner.

Wagner said she’s seen patients and their family members react to Murphy in different ways. “Some want to play with him, pet him, snuggle or hold him. Some even want to take their picture with him,” said Wagner, adding her dog often evokes positive memories for patients who like to talk about their own pets or pets they had growing up.

And it’s not  just patients who enjoy seeing Murphy.

 “In radiation oncology, Murphy is known as their mascot,” said Wagner.  “They will ask when he is coming in next so they can have some ‘Murphy time’ as well.”

 “It’s as if he knows he has a job to do today,” said Whitton, “And that job is to brighten someone’s day.”

This story was written by Julie Janovsky-Mason, a communications consultant at Mayo Clinic in Arizona.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Soothing patients with the sound of music

July 30, 2009

Editor’s Note: This article is from the Spring 2009 issue of the Sharing Mayo Clinic newsletter.

James Jenkins, concert tubist with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra

James Jenkins, concert tubist with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra

Most would not consider the tuba to be especially calming or gentle. But James Jenkins, a concert tubist with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, proves that not only do people enjoy his music, but patients at Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus actually request it.

As part of its commitment to holistic healing, Mayo Clinic offers patients and the community, art and music entertainment through Humanities in Medicine. The program partners with local entertainers and artists to bring performances to the campus and musicians like Jenkins to the bedsides of hospitalized patients. (more…)

“Joe Clinic” — the model Mayo employee

April 27, 2009



Doorman and Ambassador

"Joe Clinic" escorting patients down the front steps of the Plummer Building

"Joe Clinic" escorting patients at the Plummer Building


Patients often comment on the quality of Mayo Clinic employees. You typically hear statements about how the people who work here are friendly and helpful.  Well, that’s a long tradition at Mayo. 


Let me introduce you to a colleague from our past, an employee who lived out the qualities that we strive for today. His name was Joe Fritsch, but he was such a great ambassador of our organization that everyone called him “Joe Clinic.”  He was the Mayo Clinic doorman, and beloved by patients and colleagues alike. (more…)

End-of-life Care at Mayo Clinic: The needs of the patient come first

April 8, 2009

The following letter was sent to Mayo Clinic leaders by two Mayo employees, Don and Sharon Gabrielson, about the care Don’s mother received from Mayo Clinic during her last days.

Dear Colleagues,

On March 13, 2009 we brought our 81 year old mother, Ruth Gabrielson, to St. Marys Emergency Room. In a few short hours we learned that she had a perforated bowel and bilateral pulmonary embolisms. She was alert and oriented, and capable of making decisions about her care and next steps. Given her age and the high risk of surgery, as well as the diminished quality of life that she would have afterward, she courageously made the decision to decline the surgery and let nature take its course. This meant that within a matter of days, she would die from infection.

She was admitted to Domitilla 6 and from that point on, we focused on the plan for palliative care. Dr. Siddarth Singh was kind and caring, and spent a significant amount of time with all of us discussing options, and being truly transparent about what we could expect. He was a godsend in helping us to begin to formulate a plan knowing that Mom’s primary goal was to be kept comfortable.

The next morning we met the entire team of GI physicians: Drs. Chang, Oxentenko, and Loftus who provided more information in the most compassionate and empathetic manner we have ever witnessed. Mom made the decision to remain in the hospital and receive hospice care on Joseph 3 where she was then transferred later that morning. The hospice room was a blessing, it was decorated beautifully, and had a warm, homelike feel with all the amenities we needed. We were so grateful that mom could spend her final days in such a beautiful environment with plenty of room to accommodate her family.


Olympic Runner Part of Mayo’s Marathon History

March 3, 2009

Joan Benoit Samuelson was one of the 6,000 people who came to Jacksonville, Fla., on Feb. 15 to help find a cure for breast cancer. Samuelson, who won a gold medal at the Los Angeles Summer Olympics in 1984, the year that the women’s marathon was introduced, joined racers from every state and 15 countries – including Brazil, Puerto Rico and Kenya – to run in the second annual 26.2 with Donna – The National Marathon to Fight Breast Cancer.

Created by Donna Deegan, a three-time breast cancer survivor, local news anchor and Mayo Clinic patient, the event is the only national marathon dedicated exclusively to raising funds for breast cancer research and care. Seventy percent of the money is given to Mayo Clinic for research and the rest goes to The Donna Foundation, Deegan’s organization that helps women battling the disease. Last year, more than $800,000 was raised.

Samuelson, 51, began the race alongside Deegan and Edith Perez, M.D., oncologist and director of the Breast Center at Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus. She placed second in the half-marathon, crossing the finish line in 1:23:21.  “What a great event,” Samuelson says. “It’s very special and an inspiration to be with all of the other cancer survivors who are out there.”

More than 200 Mayo Clinic employees from all three of campuses participated in the marathon as well. Among them were Laurie Simon, Oluyinka Ajirotutu, Cayla Johnson and Michelle Mungo – all from the Florida campus. The women, who all trained together, say they were inspired by family members and friends who battled the disease but also by the thousands of other women who may benefit from the funds raised by the event.

Next year’s event is already scheduled for Feb. 21, 2010. Details are available on the marathon’s Web site.

Helping Cancer Patients at Mayo Clinic Arizona

February 25, 2009

By Celeste “C.C.” Chervenka
My name is Celeste “C.C.” Chervenka and I am the American Cancer chervenka_celeste_m_6332_2x2Society Patient Navigator who supports Mayo Clinic Arizona patients who have cancer and their families. Through this partnership between the American Cancer Society and Mayo, I work one on one with cancer patients and their family members to provide information on American Cancer Society programs, wigs, prosthesis, local resources and answers to questions. All services offered through this site are provided at no charge.
Often times patients who have cancer become lost, as a result of their diagnosis and sometimes do not know where to turn. With programs onsite at the Mayo Clinic and resources readily available, patients have the opportunity to receive direct services by the direction of their healthcare provider.

I also work to provide the same services to patients who have cancer out of the Mayo Hospital. With the support of many dedicated volunteers, all patients can receive American Cancer Society services and support, free of charge.

The American Cancer Society welcomes all Mayo Clinic staff and patients to visit the Patient Navigation sites – at Mayo Clinic, located in the Patient Library on the concourse level near the gift shop and at the Mayo Hospital volunteer site located at the Mayo Clinic Specialty Building on the concourse level in the radiation/oncology area.

For more information about Patient Navigation at Mayo Clinic, please call me at 480-301-5990 or e-mail

Celeste Chervenka is an American Cancer Society Patient Navigator, based at Mayo Clinic Arizona.

Lessons Learned from Mayo Clinic: A Caregiver’s Perspective

February 13, 2009
Three generations of Mayo Clinic patients

Three generations of Mayo Clinic patients

I work in the Public Affairs Department at Mayo Clinic, and I’ll be writing about patient support tools and patient support groups at Mayo Clinic.

For my first post, I’m going to share a presentation from a longtime Mayo patient and caregiver. She found that her friends and neighbors all had the same questions about Mayo Clinic – so she put together a great presentation to empower patients and caregivers.

Lessons I Have Learned from Mayo Clinic

by Brenda McGuire

When the third generation of our family was being treated by Mayo Clinic staff, I realized that I knew things about coping with illness that my waiting room companions did not. Past experiences had forced me to learn lessons that made subsequent illnesses easier to bear. While negotiating the world of medicine can be intimidating, learning those lessons was empowering. There was no need to be passive any more–just polite. After all, those medical types needed patients as much as we needed them. (more…)