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Patient: Build Destination Medical Center on Rochester's foundation

Cathy Kleinbart is from Boston, but has been coming to Rochester for her medical treatment for a variety of reasons.

Cathy Kleinbart could get her medical care from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston or Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.

She has been to both of those highly ranked medical destinations.

But Kleinbart instead consistently spends time and money to visit Mayo Clinic in Rochester. While in town, she enjoys dining spots such as Pescara.

She said she knows both Brigham and Cleveland Clinic are excellent, but neither could diagnose her autoimmune illness — which has yet to receive an official name.

She enrolled in a Mayo research study through happenstance because the Rochester clinic stumbled upon her while searching for a patient with a specific antibody.


Elsewhere, "I had probably 10 different doctors and was in 10 different 'silos' and I felt like a bunch of body parts," Kleinbart said.

But at Mayo, she found a sense of cohesion when her health providers worked as a team and provided her with a diagnosis nobody else could give — because Mayo discovered the autoimmune illness.

"So I was the first person in the world to be treated," she said.

Mayo Clinic is poised to undertake a 20-year Destination Medical Center initiative to make Rochester a destination for patients from around the world. It plans to invest $3.5 million and leverage $2 billion in private investment; another $585 million in public money approved by the legislature will build supporting infrastructure.

ThePost-Bulletin recently gave readers an insider's view of Cleveland Clinic as a destination medical center. Today, we turn our lens toward Mayo Clinic in Rochester, and what DMC hopes to achieve.

Cathy Kleinbart's experience is exactly what DMC organizers hope to give all new patients. In so doing, Mayo essentially hopes to replicate not only Kleinbart's experience but her level of praise and word-of-mouth that will attract other patients, worldwide, to Rochester.

The bond of her Mayo team, Kleinbart said, "helped me to feel like a whole person … and I think that's where Mayo stands out. It had this sense of 'cohesion.'"

When she got to Mayo in Rochester, she had many specialists, she said, but they were led by a sort of "quarterback" who kept her care organized.


Suddenly, "I wasn't managing all of these doctors." Rather, the doctors collaborated in a way that let her focus on improving her quality of life. She spent an entire year in Rochester to undergo testing and get a treatment regimen going that helped her get to the point where she could see the world, beyond her illness, once again.

"I have five different doctors here, but they work cohesively," she said in June while once again visiting Rochester. "They work together as a unit. They're a team and they get it done efficiently, I don't have to stay on top of everyone all the time like I did at other world-renowned institutions."

The "synergy" among her team of Mayo doctors keeps her coming back, she said, even though she could go to Brigham or Cleveland instead every six to eight weeks to get her treatment.

Her appreciation extends beyond the Mayo campus to Rochester, which itself has Destination Medical Center goals to attract patients from around the world.

"I decided to continue to come here. it's a complete inconvenience to my life, but I do it because I feel safe not only in the clinic, but outside. I love the culture here. I think that Destination Medical Center is great, but you guys have a great foundation," Kleinbart said. "Everyone's like a host here — I don't know where that comes from — they're hosting. I feel like a guest."

She continued, saying, "the Destination Medical Center, that's why I think it's going to work so well, because you have the culture here — this guest/host thing — going on, too, that other cities don't have. So I hope that you will build on that foundation and keep that intact."

At Thanksgiving time, Kleinbart said, "I probably got seven different invitations to people's homes. They wanted to make sure that my family and I were not alone and I had a place to go. That doesn't happen in big cities."

She said she enjoys the city's home-grown nature of Thursdays on First versus the more carnival-like atmosphere of Rochesterfest, both of which she has attended.


It's the delicate balance between those two types of entertainment that will be key to the success of Destination Medical Center, Kleinbart said.

"That high touch, both at the Mayo Clinic and outside, you have the best of both worlds," she said, "and you don't have that in other cities. So when you build, I hope that the Mayo will build on that foundation and it doesn't become kitschy, like with flashing lights. That's what I'm afraid of. I'd like to see a good balance."

In fact, Dr. Brad Narr, Mayo's DMC medical director, said the DMC expansion will indeed "build on the character of Rochester."

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