Mayo Clinic in Springfield update

Next week marks “National Hospital Week,” and our medical center is in a much different place than this time last year. With the transitions that took place in late 2018, we have moved to make our local health care delivery system sustainable.

Keeping rural health care sustainable is a challenge for many. National publications have highlighted many rural communities that are working to develop alternatives to their historical hospitals in light of personnel shortages, low volumes and adverse payer mixes, which create negative financial issues. We are doing the same.

Today, we continue to have our Emergency Department open 24 hours per day, receiving ambulances and providing care to those who we can treat, just like before. Patients who we need to transfer to other facilities have the ability to determine where they want to go, just like before. Onsite providers in the Emergency Department have the resource of telemedicine from Mayo Clinic in Rochester, as well as from the Emergency Department in Mankato.

Our Emergency Department visits have stayed fairly consistent over the winter, which suggests that our area residents continue to believe in our nurse practitioner/physician assistant staffing model of that area. In fact, our patient satisfaction surveys indicate that the Standard Overall Assessment of the Emergency Department was at the 92nd percentile nationally.

One of the changes that was made last year was a change to having a clinic that was mainly staffed by three nurse practitioners — Ashley Schmitt, Christie Vogel and Val Folkens. We weren’t sure how the community would react to not having a physician physically present and if the clinic would be utilized. As it turns out, our patients couldn’t be happier based on their experiences and as of our last review the “Likelihood to Recommend” question for our clinic was rated at the 92nd percentile nationally, which placed our clinic in elite company within the Mayo Clinic Health System.

Besides having “happy customers,” our clinic has also been busy to the point of us now considering obtaining another nurse practitioner or physician assistant, as the market for these providers is much more conducive to rural living and rural practices than physicians. Nurse practitioners and physician assistants can perform the majority of services provided by primary care physicians, including ordering tests and prescribing medications.

Community Partner

In June we will oversee the Summer Wellness Challenge, the 11th straight summer we have developed a daily calendar and worked with area businesses and residents to start a new healthy habit and make a bit of a competition out of it. Additionally, we are offering a Mayo-organized “Slim Your Screen Time” challenge, which highlights different activities and a way to measure your progress toward achieving a healthier life in the months of June and July. Community Walks will resume on Mondays in June with the gathering point being the Springfield Area Community Center at 7 p.m.

During National Hospital Week we will be involved in Adopt a Highway to pick up trash on Highway 14 west of Springfield. We are making plans for the annual 5K Fun Run/Walk as part of Riverside Days on Saturday, June 29. We will also be hosting a bouncy house as part of Kids Party in the Park the weekend before Riverside Days.

Mayo Clinic Health System in Springfield is working with Brown County Public Health and the New Ulm Medical Center to develop a Community Health Needs Assessment. Meetings have taken place with community members, and data has been gathered to help determine the area’s top health needs. Topics of mental health, including anxiety and stress; chronic conditions, including obesity; and tobacco and substance abuse, including e-cigarettes, have risen to the top and will now be subject to the development of tactics and a collaborative team will build action plans to implement in 2020.

The Commitment Continues

As a leader of our local medical center and member of our regional Mayo Clinic Health System leadership group, I am reminded of the many challenges faced by the health care industry. Change happens faster than ever and is showing no signs of slowing. Many people don’t realize this, but Springfield has now been a part of the Mayo Clinic Health System for the past 21 years, beginning Jan. 1, 1998. During this time of National Hospital Week, we celebrate the 75 employees who are the key to providing the high-quality health care we have in Springfield and Lamberton.

We continue our commitment as we provide six area students with $1,000 scholarships to pursue a healthcare career, and this marks the 22nd year of this program, having issued $66,000 in financial assistance. Our medical center is a leader in many ways within Mayo Clinic Health System, and we are being looked at as a model for the future of rural health care.

We view ourselves as taking care of our friends, family and neighbors. If you weren’t one when you came through the door, we bet that you are one as you leave our building. Take care and enjoy the summer!