Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Mayo mobile clinic brings health care to rural communities

Blooming Prairie and Kenyon are part of the regular route for the mobile clinic

Rita Millam.JPG
Rita Millam made her first trip to the Mayo Clinic Health System Mobile Health Clinic in Blooming Prairie on Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022. Millam said she plans to use the mobile clinic again.
Brian Todd / Post Bulletin
We are part of The Trust Project.

BLOOMING PRAIRIE — Rita Millam was more than satisfied with her care.

"Anything I was addressing today, they handled it," Millam said.

Millam, a resident of Blooming Prairie, had booked an appointment Tuesday in the Mayo Clinic Health System Mobile Health Clinic, a 39-foot Winnebago outfitted with two examination rooms, a laboratory, medical-grade freezer and refrigerator units, satellite communications systems complete with mobile hotspot, and more.

The mobile unit is a response to Mayo Clinic's need to close brick-and-mortar clinics in several communities in southern Minnesota.

"We have one mobile clinic right now," said Dr. Robert Albright, regional vice president, Southeast Minnesota region of Mayo Clinic Health System. The program was conceived of in late 2020, and the clinic was on the road by June 2021.

ADVERTISEMENT

"We're open four days a week, and we share this (mobile clinic) with our colleagues in southwest Minnesota."

Each week, the clinic spends two days each in Kenyon and Blooming Prairie in Southeast Minnesota, then goes to Southwest Minnesota for two days each in Sherburn and Butterfield.

Mayo Mobile Rural Clinic.JPG
The Mayo Clinic Health System Mobile Health Clinic sits in Blooming Prairie on Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022. The clinic goes to four rural communities across southern Minnesota on a regular schedule.
Brian Todd / Post Bulletin

The clinic recently passed its 10,000th mile on the road and its 1,000th visitor, Albright said.

"We're looking to see if we can demonstrate the use for this," Albright said. "I would love to see us have a fleet of these."

Delivering health care to rural communities can be difficult, he said. Mobile clinics bring primary care to those cities where having a permanent clinic does not make financial sense.

Furthermore, when the mobile clinic comes to town, patients who have telemedicine appointments can use the clinic's internet connection as a wifi hotspot, which is necessary in communities that often have slow internet speeds.

Also Read
The GOP candidates for governor and lieutenant governor flew into Rochester International Airport on Saturday as part of a 6-city tour.
While Bruce Rodgers headed to Sanibel Island, Florida, to deal with a family member's home, Jessica Bradford of the Rochester Salvation Army returned from two weeks of providing emotional and spiritual support to the storm's victims.
Michael Steven Drury, 53, of Pine Island, was accused of kidnapping a woman last year and setting a house on fire. He was sentenced to 48 months in Olmsted County District Court on Friday.

The internet connection means patients no longer need to take their appointments at the public library in order to have a solid wifi signal.

Albright said the mobile clinics not only bring clinical care to these communities but expand access to the communities for research through the lab facilities.

ADVERTISEMENT

"It can be a barrier (for patients) to travel and get blood work done," he said. "This allows us to do community-based cancer studies and expand our research footprint."

Emily Majerus, a physician's assistant who staffs the clinic when it visits Blooming Prairie, said the clinic has steadily had more and more patients during the eight months it has been open.

"I do have some regulars," Majerus said. "When people call in for appointments from these ZIP codes, they're offered to come here first."

Mayo Clinic Team.JPG
Staffing the Mayo Clinic Health System Mobile Health Clinic in Blooming Prairie on Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022, are Heather Ho, Lisa Simonson, and physicians assistant Emily Majerus.
Brian Todd / Post Bulletin

One of the big benefits for the community, Majerus said, is being able to bring clinical care to the elderly residents of the cities rather than make them drive to Austin, Owatonna or even Rochester for basic appointments.

"We have elderly patients who have mobility concerns and transportation concerns," Majerus said. "And we're here meeting their needs."

Albright said patients sit in their cars and get a text message when their appointment begins. From there, they are ushered to one of the two exam rooms where staff can handle the patient's needs or, if a consultation is needed, they can connect to a doctor.

Furthermore, based on the needs of the patients' appointments, the mobile clinic can add a physician on the staff for a day if needed, he said.

Millam said she often went to the clinic on Main Street in Blooming Prairie before it was closed, but the mobile clinic has everything needed for a primary care appointment.

ADVERTISEMENT

She needs an x-ray in Austin, she said, and in two weeks when the clinic returns to town, she'll come back for lab tests followed by a second appointment two days later to go over her medications.

On a snowy, blowy day Tuesday, Millam said she was impressed they had come, not canceling or rescheduling her appointment.

"It's really nice," Millam said. "I was so glad to hear they were coming back to town."

Brian Todd is the news editor at the Post Bulletin. When not at work, he spends time with his family, roots for the Houston Astros and watches his miniature dachshund sleep, which is why that dog is more bratwurst than hotdog. Readers can reach Brian at 507-285-7715 or btodd@postbulletin.com.
What to read next
Gay and bisexual men had once been barred from donating blood due to HIV concerns. After easing the restrictions over time, the FDA may significantly ease the restrictions once again to expand the donor-eligible population.
Shingles can come to anyone with the varicella-zoster virus in their body for various reasons, including age and weakened immune system.
When your alarm clock goes off, do you hop out of bed feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the day? Or are you groggy, tired and would rather hit snooze and sleep longer? A new study shows that the secret to feeling more energetic in the morning is to do three things. Viv Williams has the details in this episode of NewsMD's "Health Fusion."
What are your favorite holiday foods? In this NewsMD column, a local chef demonstrates his mother's amazing Christmas lasagna. And Viv Williams explores how holiday food traditions can be good for your health.