In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

June 30, 2015

Reluctant Tourists Offer Their Reviews of a Medical Destination

By In the Loop

Downtown Rochester viewed across the Zumbro River. Those of us who call Rochester, Minnesota, home like to joke about its landmark corn-cob water tower and say we'd like to leave in the winter, but our cars won't start. But it's no secret that the city is known more as a medical destination than a place to find frozen vegetables. And it's hard to deny the city has become more citified. The Boston Globe, in an article last week titled, "Destination for reluctant but hopeful travelers," paints a pleasant picture of Rochester as a "medical oasis in the Minnesota cornfields." (Hey, we have soybean fields, too.) The article is peppered with perspective from those who come to the city for care.

Abdullah Al Obaid, of Kuwait, extols Rochester's convenience and hospitality. He's in town for an extended stay, seeking help for multiple sclerosis. "Everything is right here," he tells Globe reporter Robert Weisman, who notes that Al Obaid and his wife are guests of the Kahler Grand Hotel. "It's easy to move between the hotel and the clinic," he tells the reporter, adding, "I like the people here." Weisman also talks with patients from Colorado, Texas and Russia, all seeking hope and help for complex medical conditions. He notes that Mayo draws about 40 percent of its patients "from outside a 500-mile radius, including more than 8,500 international patients."

Weisman calls Mayo Clinic a "world-class medical center that draws presidents, kings and entertainers." But patients, he writes, "arrive in all seasons and from every corner of the earth: the chronically ill, the suddenly stricken, the worried well … seeking answers, guidance and healing." Mayo's Mikel Prieto, M.D., medical director of the International Center, tells the Globe it all makes for a "very cosmopolitan" atmosphere.

Mayo Clinic and the city of Rochester, however, aren't ones to rest on their laurels. The Destination Medical Center initiative, which calls for "$5 billion to $6 billion in expansion projects envisioned for Mayo and Rochester," aims to "build on that tradition and further extend Mayo's reach." Lisa Clarke, executive director, Destination Medical Center, tells the Globe, "Mayo Clinic decided we're going to grow" and the city needed to step up its game. "We wanted to make sure that Rochester lifted up its brand to support what Mayo is doing," she says. "Patients expect something different than they did 10 years ago — a different kind of lodging, retail, arts and culture."

Of course, it's the medical care, backed by research and education, that brings so many to Rochester, as the patients tell Weisman. But we're thinking our slogan idea, "Rochester, Minnesota. Come for the medical care, stay because your plane is grounded by a snowstorm," still needs a little work. Especially when it's 80 degrees and a bit muggy.

Tell us why you stay (or visit) by sharing a comment below. Share this story with others using the social media tools atop this page.

Tags: Destination Medical Center, Dr. Mikel Prieto, Practice story

When my husband and I starting visiting Rochester regularly for his diagnosis of lung cancer 8 years ago, I was impressed with the city and felt comfortable in it. Then…when we were residents of Hope Lodge for 3 1/2 weeks, I got to know the city very well with my attempt to keep myself “busy” while he was recovering from his chemo and twice a day radiation. Since then, we have been fairly regular visitors to this city. I feel like I am coming home when we drive into Rochester. It’s been fun to see the growth and addition of so many stores and facilities in these 8 years. Of course, the care my husband and I have received at Mayo has been excellent. We recommend it all the time. The care from the doctors and the staff is THE BEST! Thank you for allowing comments on this blog.


When I visited Rochester in 2013 because of surgery scheduled at Mayo, I was immediately impressed with everyone from the airport personnel, the shuttle and cab drivers (who rarely accepted tips), to the hotel personnel (who assured me all my things would be alright while I was in the hospital since I traveled alone.) Every person I came in contact with throughout the city was kind and personable. The Care Teams and doctors, well, they were beyond amazing.
I was dreading my return through TSA and airport security on the way home because I was in a prosthetically molded brace from armpits to hips with one arm immobilized, and I was so worried about how I was going to manage being that I could not remove it. All my anxieties were put immediately at ease. They still did their job with screening but with tact and empathy. I will be forever grateful for how amazing the people and accommodations were from start to finish.


After going through a nightmare at a major Boston hospital, we we were fortunate to be able make our way to Rochester and The Mayo Clinic. I actually thought I was on Candid Camera, from the shuttle bus driver, the doorman, everyone was extremely polite and courteous. Beyond all that, the medical care was amazing. There wasn’t any arrogance or piety. Thank you Rochester and thank you Mayo Clinic! Please come to Boston Mayo Clinic!


I grew up in the Rochester area. As an adult I realized how formative for my life the Mayo Clinic was living in its shadow. My earliest memory is of its great works of art spanning the buildings. My parents received excellent care from the Mayo Clinic throughout their lives. I do not hesitate to recommend the Mayo Clinic and a visit to Rochester not only for health care but for its cosmopolitan atmosphere, it’s museums and art, and the beauty of southeastern Minnesota’s valleys and rivers.


My husband and I traveled to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester 3 different times from the Florida Panhandle. He was a 36 year old husband, father, and son looking for hope after complications from kidney failure. The doctors, nurses, staff, and community were ALWAYS friendly, patient, and true patient advocates. The city offered parks, restaurants, and sidewalk paths that literally
connected all neighborhoods. Rochester and the Mayo Clinic changed my life. I found a purpose while hiking, biking, and waiting for answers. Everyone can be an advocate for others and the Mayo Clinic is that- an advocate for better health for the patient and their family.

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