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Guest house for patients gets some fixing up

Guest house for patients gets some fixing up
Katy Pappan, part of a Christian youth group from the Nazarene Church in Winfield Kansas, clears brush at the Nazarene Well House in Rochester.

The Rev. Pat Thomas was ministering in inner city St. Paul when his life took a major turn several years ago.

"I sensed the Lord saying that I should come down to Rochester to start a ministry for Mayo Clinic patients," said Thomas, who is pastor of the Rochester Church of the Nazarene.

So three years ago, he and church members started the Nazarene Well House in a 93-year-old Victorian house along the Zumbro River at 47 13 1/2 St. N.W. Guests are all patients at Mayo Clinic, with some of them arriving from as far away as New Guinea, Croatia and Guam.


This summer, the 12-bedroom Well House is being remodeled, with the front porch and other areas being restored to original specifications. Eleven teenage missionaries from Winfield, Kan., are doing most of the work.


The idea for the teenager's mission project came from an adult guest, Patrick Shannon.

David Powers, the on-site chaplain at Well House, said that Shannon had a life-changing experience during a stay, including spiritual care.

"He said he got more healing here than he did from Mayo Clinic," Powers said.

The Well House building began as the Howe Hotel. It was used by Mayo Clinic for office space for a while and later by Aldridge Memorial Nursery School and by Zumbro Valley Mental Health Center as a drop-in center and for outreach programs.

The Rochester Church of the Nazarene invested the equivalent of $500,000 in volunteer labor and cash to start the Well House three years ago. Much of the added furniture is Amish-made.

Well House, a nonprofit charitable organization, tries to keep its fees to a minimum so low-income guests can afford to stay there.

"It's costly to travel across state lines for medical care, and the hotels. We have had people who were going to be in Rochester for three days, and it becomes three months. It's very expensive," Thomas said.

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