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On DMC, Simmons has 'passion for Rochester'

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Dr. Patricia Simmons of the Mayo Clinic, left, is pictured Friday with Senator Amy Klobuchar at the University of Minnesota Rochester. Klobuchar discussed a bill allowing international doctors to remain in the United States if they practice in underserved and rural areas.
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In addition to her work as a Mayo Clinic physician and professor in pediatrics at Mayo Medical School, Patricia Simmons has logged many hours working on Mayo's Destination Medical Center initiative.

She worked through the legislative process last year, including several days at the Capitol speaking on behalf of the clinic in various committee meetings. Today, she is chairwoman of the DMC Economic Development Agency's board of directors and is working with EDA staff to set up its operations and hire third-party consultants that will put together the overall DMC Development Plan.

She's also working with Lisa Clarke and the EDA's community engagement team in reaching out to Rochester residents and visitors to gain their input on what the Development Plan should contain. Simmons said this part of her DMC work touches her personally.

"The reason that I have so much passion about Rochester is not only that I've gotten to have a rewarding life, raise my family, have a fulfilling career, but Rochester has welcomed the people I serve in my work — the patients and the families that come. So, having that iterative process with the community ... is a very important part of the activity going on," she said.

Simmons grew up near the small town of Tarkio, Mo. She first to came to Minnesota to attend Carleton College, where she earned a bachelor's in biology. After Carleton, she earned her medical doctorate at the University of Chicago. She moved to Rochester in 1973 to do her residency and fellowship at the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine. And she stayed here.

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"I didn't know I was going to, but once I'd lived in the community and worked at Mayo Clinic, I saw that that's where I wanted to be. That's where I could be most happy and successful in my personal life and in my professional life," she said.

In addition to teaching in Mayo Medical School's Department of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Simmons is chairwoman of Mayo Clinic's Division of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology and holds a joint appointment in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Simmons said she was a logical choice to be a DMC leader for Mayo because of her passion for the community, her experience in the public sector — she has been a University of Minnesota regent for 11 years — and she has business development experience within Mayo. She helped create Mayo Clinic Health System, which has clinics and hospitals in more than 70 cities in Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and Georgia.

"I also had responsibility as chair of the board of Mayo Medical Ventures. And beyond Mayo Clinic, during my time as a regent at the university, we developed the University of Minnesota-Rochester, the newest campus of the University of Minnesota," Simmons said.

Like other key players in the DMC initiative, Simmons devotes many hours, on top of her regular work load. And like the others, she said she finds it rewarding.

"One of the great rewards that comes out of it is the relationships you build and the knowledge you gain from developing it in conjunction with other people in the city, with our state and county, and with people in the private sector interested in participating in this sort of rational growth and development," she said.

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