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Mayo Clinic Care Network adds Montana member

The Mayo Clinic Care Network is making its first connection in Montana, affiliating with the Billings Clinic in the state's largest city.

The Billings Clinic is a community-owned health care organization that includes a multi-specialty physician group practice, a 272-bed hospital, and a 90-bed rehabilitation and assisted living facility, according to the Billings Clinic. Billings' population is 105,636 and the clinic serves patients from Montana, Wyoming and western North Dakota.

The Billings Gazette reported that Dr. David Hayes, medical director of the Mayo Clinic Care Network, said the Billings hospital was on its wish list of those they wanted to include. The partnership is a logical step for Billings Clinic, which considers itself "a small Mayo Clinic," and has long used the Mayo Clinic as a mentor, the newspaper reported.

"Mayo has always been an organization we felt we wanted to emulate and learn from," said Dr. Nicholas Wolter, CEO of Billings Clinic, the Gazette reported. "We've actually had a long relationship with them in other areas such as laboratory and many of our physicians trained at Mayo. For us, this was a very enticing prospect."

The care network has been expanding recently with affiliations to medical providers. The agreements offer access to Mayo protocols and e-consults. But Mayo also gives care network patients, when specialty care is needed, the option of referral to Mayo's centers in Rochester; Jacksonville, Fla. and Phoenix, Ariz.


The network has also become a primary way for the clinic to spread the "Mayo model of care" — one of its strategic priorities. Mayo's care network includes sites serving patients in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, South Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming.

Mayo leaders have indicated they expect rapid expansion to continue for about the next five years. Already, some states, such as Arizona, include more than one care network site.

At the same time, Mayo is reassessing all of its projects to make sure they are financially feasible. For example, the clinic said in December that it will not, as previously announced, be part of the Mall of America's 2013 expansion. It also told the Pioneer Press newspaper that has stopped providing clinical services at its retail outlet in the Mall of America.

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