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Mayo celebrates one year in Red Wing

Dr. Tom Witt took over as CEO of Mayo Clinic Health System in Red Wing following the acquisition of Fairview Red Wing Health Services last year. (Republican Eagle photo by Michael Brun)

Just over a year ago, Fairview Red Wing Health Services was acquired and rebranded as Mayo Clinic Health System in Red Wing.

The transition wasn't always easy, but the clinic has since cemented itself as a community partner with a growing reputation, said Dr. Tom Witt, CEO of the Mayo medical centers in Red Wing, Cannon Falls and Lake City.

"The whole idea was to bring our local healthcare system closer together," Witt said "Our job ... is to bring more services closer to home."

Being part of the Mayo Clinic Health System means local physicians can access resources in Rochester without requiring patients to drive an hour away.

"As I've been in the exam room with patients, the message has been, 'Can't I do that here?'" Witt said.

Although the Red Wing clinic focuses predominantly on primary care, it has expanded its services to cover certain surgical procedures and cardiology services. "And do them safely, efficiently and cost-effectively," Witt said.

Of course, such a large transition was not without a few bumps along the way - down to the logistics of merging two separate email systems for staff.

But Witt said the preparation done in the weeks leading up to the acquisition paid off.

"There was a tremendous amount of due diligence leading up to it," Witt said. "There was a great job done by the staff here working with our colleagues in Rochester ... to make sure it was going to be a smooth transition."

Community commitment

Witt has only been CEO of Mayo Clinic Health System in Red Wing since last July, but his involvement with the community goes back to the late 1980s when he began practicing medicine in Red Wing.

"I've worked with a lot of these folks while I was here in the past," he said. "We worked together even though we were different health systems."

That local connection and involvement with the community is one of the local medical center's greatest strengths, Witt said.

He added: "As we think about how we're going to work to not just take care of sick people, but also keep people well, that's going to involve a lot of partnerships with our communities."

One of those partnerships is with Red Wing Area Seniors, which interacts with the medical center regularly for referrals and educational resources.

"We work with Mayo Clinic all the time," RWAS Executive Director Nancy Swanson said.

The Senior Center has teamed with current and former Mayo staff for a number of services and events, including the durable medical equipment loan program, Swanson added.

The medical center also works with or supports the free CARE Clinic, Red Wing Family YMCA's yearly River City Ramble event and the Live Healthy Red Wing organization, Witt said.

Moving forward

With the transition from Fairview complete, Witt said the Red Wing facility will continue to expand services and treatment options through education and research.

Specifically, Witt singled out the clinic's oncology department as something he would like to see enhanced.

But more than just bringing in medical students and resident physicians, Red Wing's facility will join the Mayo Clinic Health System at large to look into ways of improving care delivery for the future, Witt said.

One of those ideas is the concept of a patient-centered medical home, which combines a patient's personal physician with a network of specialists to create a more comprehensive care team.

"With a shortage of primary care providers on the horizon, it's not just going to be one (physician) a patient is tied to," Witt said. "It's going to be a team of people who know a patient's medical history and what their needs are."

In the meantime, Witt said the Mayo Clinic name has already attracted physicians to the area who may not have applied otherwise.

Michael Brun

Michael Brun joined RiverTown Multimedia at the Red Wing Republican Eagle in March 2013, covering county government, health and local events.  He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls journalism program.

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