Richard Dooley and his wife, Karol, have been staying at the Hope Lodge in Rochester while he undergoes prostate cancer therapy at Mayo Clinic.
Dooley said he loves "everything" about Mayo Clinic and Rochester.
"We both love the town. It's nice and clean and neat and everybody's respectful and nice," Dooley said.
They have spent their free time taking strolls in the Mayo subway and the Rochester skyway system.
"We get a chance to walk without going outside," Dooley said. "That's a plus."
It's common theme for Rochester residents and patient-visitors alike to express appreciation for both the clinic and the community. The oft-repeated saying goes, "as goes Mayo, so goes Rochester." That's whyplanning for the Destination Medical Center can seem a little bit like asking your kids what they want to see when they go to Orlando, Fla. — site of Disney World — next year.
But DMC planners are working to turn the one-horse-town concept of Mayo into a positive attribute rather than a flaw.
"I talk to people outside of Minnesota," said Dominique Layfield, who works on behalf of elderly residents in food service at Charter House. "The Mayo Clinic, like, symbolizes Rochester."
The friendliness of the community's residents is a strong point, he said.
What would he add to Rochester for entertainment if he had a magic wand?
"Laser tag. That would be cool," Layfield said. "I would do that."
He'd also like to see more outdoor activities. He's not sure how the Affordable Care Act will affect Mayo because some people can't afford health care. And he's curious about what Mayo will do in the future with the building that used to house Lourdes High School.
Danny Solis, of Rochester, said he likes that "Mayo is a world-class medical institution that's very innovative and seems to really want to be engaged with its surrounding community and not be an ivory tower."
He also noted Mayo's interest in fine arts.
If Solis had a magic wand, he said, he would have Mayo introduce a "Louder than a Bomb" poetry program to both Mayo Clinic patients and to Rochester community members.
That program has helped young people close to dropping out of school get energized, Solis said. He'd like to see local poets read to Mayo patients, and Mayo patients encouraged to write and read poetry.
"I think it would be great to have people come in and perform for patients," Solis said.
How about a patient poetry program similar to the Mayo art program to help patients and their loved ones tell the story of healing, and even loss?
"I think that would be incredible, not just for the patients, but for the friends of the patients," Solis said.
Adam Pettey, of Rochester, an automotive service technician student at Riverland Community College in Albert Lea, said he loves Rochester because "they have a lot of activities for youth and a lot of activities to go out and do and a lot of activities to do during the day."
He especially likes that Rochester has places like the skateboard park and Quarry Hill. That "gives youth a place to go and stay out of trouble," he said.
Pettey is into "the car scene." He likes imports and Hondas and "building Hondas, making them fast and see what they can do."
"Maybe Rochester can get a track some day. That'd be legit," Pettey said.
Dooley, at Hope Lodge, said he's happy with how he's been treated, both in the community and at Mayo, during his stay.
"I feel like I'm being treated by the best doctors in the world, and friendliest doctors and nurses in the world," he said. "So I wouldn't change anything about that."