The Sentinel had a chance to sit down with leaders of the local Mayo Clinic Health System facility last week. First and foremost, we were impressed by their willingness to talk about issues that have long festered in town. Secondly, they were friendly and not threatened by the questions. They gave candid answers. Finally, they were convincing. As leaders of the local facility, they are carrying out a vision that Mayo has for the future of health care. They have every right to hold to that vision and to see it through.
Whether that vision meshes with everyone's expectations for health care, or whether every medical provider agrees with it, is not really relevant. Serious changes are occurring within the medical industry, and will continue to occur in coming years. Mayo is trying to implement a model that focuses on tried-and-true treatments and best outcomes for patients, while at the same time keeping costs in check. The model also includes a team component that can be upsetting to go-it-alone physicians.
It's true that the Fairmont medical center has seen something of an exodus of doctors over the past decade. Several doctors have gone on to establish their own practices in town. But while the core group of doctors may have moved on, Mayo has brought in a whole host of other providers. That is not always easy in a rural area, but the local facility keeps working to do so.
On another front, Mayo officials make clear that Fairmont is not going to become simply a triage station that will shuffle patients off to Mankato or Rochester. While patients may need to see specialists in those cities, the local medical center has seen millions of dollars in improvements over the past 15 years. And more are coming, including an upgraded cancer treatment center and emergency room.
In the end, people are free to disagree with anything and everything happening at the medical center. They can and do see other local providers. But this doesn't make Mayo "wrong." The medical center will continue to be a vital component of this community, in terms of the service it provides, the people it employs and the patients it attracts. That is a good thing.