Clinic consultation

Mayo Mobile Clinic brings health care to rural communities – Post Bulletin

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

“Everything I was talking about today, they handled it,” Millam said.

Millam, a Blooming Prairie resident, had made an appointment Tuesday at the Mayo Clinic Health System Mobile Health Clinic, a 39-foot Winnebago equipped with two exam rooms, a lab, medical-grade freezers and refrigerators , satellite communication systems with mobile hotspot, and more.

The mobile unit is a response to Mayo Clinic’s need to close physical clinics in several southern Minnesota communities.

“We have a mobile clinic right now,” said Dr. Robert Albright, director of the mobile clinic program. The program was designed in late 2020 and the clinic was on the road in June 2021.

“We are open four days a week and we share this (mobile clinic) with our colleagues in southwestern Minnesota.”

Each week, the clinic spends two days each in Kenyon and Blooming Prairie in southeastern Minnesota, then travels to southwestern Minnesota for two days each in Sherburn and Butterfield.

The Mayo Clinic Health System mobile health clinic is in Blooming Prairie on Tuesday, February 22, 2022. The clinic visits four rural southern Minnesota communities on a regular schedule.

Brian Todd / Publish 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 of this,” Albright said. “I would love to see us have a fleet of them.”

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

Additionally, when the mobile clinic comes to town, patients who have telemedicine appointments can use the clinic’s internet connection as a Wi-Fi hotspot, which is necessary in communities that often have speeds Slow Internet.

The internet connection means that patients no longer need to make their appointments at the public library to have a strong wifi signal.

Albright said mobile clinics not only bring clinical care to these communities, but expand access to communities for research via laboratory facilities.

“It can be a barrier (for patients) to travel and get blood tests,” he said. “It allows us to conduct community-based cancer studies and expand our research footprint.”

Emily Majerus, a physician assistant who runs the clinic when she visited Blooming Prairie, said the clinic has steadily had more and more patients in the eight months it has been open.

“I have regulars,” Majerus said. “When people call for appointments from these postcodes, they are offered to come here first.”

Mayo Clinic Team.JPG
Heather Ho, Lisa Simonson and physician assistant Emily Majerus are on staff at the Mayo Clinic Health System mobile health clinic in Blooming Prairie on Tuesday, February 22, 2022.

Brian Todd / Publish Bulletin

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

“We have elderly patients who have mobility issues and transportation issues,” Majerus said. “And we are here to meet their needs.”

Albright said patients sit in their cars and receive a text message when their appointment starts. From there they are taken to one of two examination rooms where staff can attend to the patient’s needs or, if a consultation is needed, they can connect to a doctor.

Additionally, based on patient appointment needs, the mobile clinic can add a doctor to staff for a day if needed, he said.

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

She needs an X-ray in Austin, she said, and in two weeks when the clinic is back in town, she’ll be back for lab tests followed by a second appointment two days later to see again. his medications.

On a snowy and windy day on Tuesday, Millam said she was impressed that they came, without canceling or rescheduling her appointment.

“It’s really good,” Millam said. “I was so happy to hear they were coming back to town.”