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Mayo Clinic sesquicentennial celebration starts today

Mayo Clinic kicks off a yearlong celebration of its 150th year today, starting with a change that will be heard throughout downtown.

The Rochester Carillon atop Mayo Clinic's Plummer Building returns today via newly installed computerization to playing chimes on the quarter-hour, as it did in its early days.

Long ago, the mechanical means to automatically play the chimes ceased working. The only time bells have been heard is when a human carillonneur climbs the spiral staircase into the Plummer bell chamber.

As part of Mayo's sesquicentennial history celebration, new traditions will be started, longstanding ones continued and long-abandoned ones restored.

• During the holidays, the Plummer Building will once again feature holiday-themed lighted windows in the shape of a Christmas Tree facing Second Street, as it did in its early years.


• In May, a signature opening ceremony for the sesquicentennial will be held, "built around the themes of healing, hope, impact and mission, told through surprise guests, patient stories and the arts," said otorhinolaryngologist Dr. Kerry Olsen, chair of the Mayo Clinic Sesquicentennial Planning Committee.

• Mayo will also launch a traveling exhibit about its history, Olsen said. It will travel the U.S. and Canada "telling the story of what Mayo Clinic has done in the past to serve humanity for 150 years, but more importantly what Mayo Clinic is doing today to transform medical care."

As part of the celebration, Mayo's Heritage Days begin Monday. The Mayo Heritage Days website says the goal of the Monday through Friday event at all three Mayo campuses nationally is "to thank employees and volunteers for their service to patients, and to present Mayo Clinic values and history as an inspiration for our work today."

There will be posters, musical performances and displays to recognize historical Mayo milestones.

Also in 2014, Mayo plans to create a collection of 150 Mayo stories "that will tell life-changing medical care events now and in the past," he said.Mayo will pick the top 150 such stories to share publicly.

Mayo will also create a new "150 Patient Care Fund" to "support patients and families in need to come to any Mayo Clinic site for health care," Olsen said.

Mayo traces the clinic's founding to 1864, when Dr. William Worrall Mayo first opened his Rochester office.

"His practice, and personal values, strongly influenced his sons and they continue to shape the culture of our organization today," Olsen said.


How has medical care changed since the time of the clinic's founding?

"The Mayo Brothers I believe would never have imagined that diagnosis and treatment of disease could be based on a patient's genome," Olsen said, "or that using one's own cells, that stem cells could be used to regenerate tissue and treat disease, and lastly that we would be able to share trusted Mayo Clinic knowledge with physicians and people anywhere, instantly, via our information systems and through social media.

Health reporter Jeff Hansel writes the Pulse on Health column every Monday. Follow him on Twitter @JeffHansel.

Mayo Clinic's sesquicentennial celebration includes events starting Monday and continuing throughout the next 12 months.

They begin with Mayo's Heritage Days and continue through Heritage Days 2014 next fall.

"Heritage Days is a week-long event at Mayo Clinic locations in Florida, Arizona and Minnesota, as well as the Mayo Clinic Health System," says a Mayo announcement. "Its mission is to thank employees and volunteers for their service to patients, and to present Mayo Clinic values and history as an inspiration for our work today."

During the year, Mayo 150th souvenir items will be available for purchase. Money received will "help Mayo Clinic patients who have financial needs." Souvenirs will include sesquicentennial coffee mugs, T-shirts, bags, hats and other items.


Events scheduled during the next 12 months include:

Sept. 30

A reading of the history of the two Rochester Mayo Clinic hospitals

Noon, Saint Marys Hospital,Joseph Building, Main 59

Oct. 2

A reading of the history of the two Rochester Mayo Clinic hospitals

Noon, Gonda Building18-102

Nov. 29 (through Dec. 27)


Holiday lighting of the Plummer Building. This will be a return to a 1950s-era practice when custodians performed a complex process to light the windows in the shape of a Christmas tree of varying colors.

"Mayo electrician Fred Reed and his colleagues planned the annual designs," says the Mayo sesquicentennial site. "Night watchmen, as security personnel were called, manually turned lights on to create the tree pattern each night."

Mayo archives say there were 60 lighted windows on the south wall of the Plummer Building facing Second Street S.W. The tree they created extended 128 feet high and 131 feet wide, from floor 4 to 12. A 5-foot plywood star with a light on each point topped the tree.

The Plummer Building lights are expected to return this season for the first time in decades.

"The 2013 illumination will use energy-efficient technology and restore a long-lost 'glow' to the Mayo Clinic campus," the clinic reports.

Throughout 2014

Lobby exhibits at Mayo campuses to honor Mayo's heritage. Exhibits will be updated with new looks in January, April, July and October.

June 12, July 10 and Aug. 14, 2014


Thursday evening open houses. The open houses will leapfrog from Thursdays on First and Third in the Peace Plaza. They'll take "good food, music, handicrafts and fellowship" and add to the mix.

"Now we're adding a Mayo Clinic open house," the clinic's site says. "on each of these three nights, we will have a theme related to Mayo's story, along with displays."

Aug. 20 to 24, 2014

"Healthy Human Race: A Healthy & Wellness Weekend with Mayo Clinic" will include a half marathon, a half-marathon relay, a 5K run/walk a children's run and activities for kids.

Also included will be a health-and-wellness expo and an expert-speakers series.

"Don't just save the date," clinic organizers emphasize.

History of Mayo Clinic

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