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Year in review: Mayo takes over Fairview

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The Red Wing region is living the health care reform the nation is debating, local medical professionals say. Two major consolidations in 2012 have set the stage for developments in 2013 and beyond that officials predict it will lead to innovations, efficiencies and far-reaching changes.

Mayo Clinic Health System acquired Fairview Red Wing Health Services. That brought the international "Mayo" brand to the community but also brought Red Wing's style of integrated care system -- hospice, home care, assisted living and nursing home care, among other services -- into Mayo's primary care system.

Also on July 1, Mayo spun off Seminary Home into the hands of the Benedictine Health System. That organization will break ground next summer on the new St. Crispin Living Community adjacent to the Red Wing medical center. The clinic/hospital and new facility hope to redefine both the nursing home concept and how an aging population receives care.

Dr. Tom Witt is the CEO of the new Mayo Clinic Health System serving all these communities. Reaching this point took the Red Wing community several years, but things have taken off since July 1.

"The big thing has been the excitement of the people involved -- on this campus and the Zumbrota, Ellsworth, Lake City and Cannon Falls campuses," Witt said last week.

"There's a lot of pent-up enthusiasm to move. We can't move fast enough now," he added.

Witt noted patient visits are up since July 1 in Red Wing. Referrals are up, too, and some Mayo Clinic specialists from Rochester have started holding office hours in Red Wing, the northern hub of Mayo's extensive 40-plus local clinic network in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

There was no "Mayo blueprint" for completing the local acquisition, which officials sometimes describe as more of a continuing consolidation or merger. The merging and integrating of online patient-accessible medical records that also takes advantage of broadband connectivity and new technology, for instance, will go into 2014.

At the same time, crafting and implementing a new Mayo Midwest model is under way, said Mike Larson, chief administrative officer for Mayo Clinic Health System for Cannon Falls, Lake City and Red Wing.

"We're on track," Larson said of all the changes.

Six months ago Witt said, "This is really: 'What can we bring locally in treatment for people close to home that's effective and efficient?' We want to open the door for furthering health care to community care."

Whether you call the change a merger, an acquisition or consolidation, the creation of Mayo Clinic Health System in Red Wing is proving "a good fit," he said.

@Sub heads:Skyrocketing costs and demands

@Normal1: Two major drivers behind nationwide health care reform are the aging population and the rising cost of care. Contributing factors include technology, the cost of prescription drugs and a rise in chronic diseases.

Society faces an unprecedented need for better coordination of care across the continuum, said Jake Goering, St. Crispin CEO, and that's where St. Crispin Living Community will become a key player -- not only at the local but in the statewide discussion.

The latter may sound lofty, but state officials anticipate a new model to emerge after granting Benedictine Health System and the former Fairview Red Wing Health Services a waiver from the state's moratorium since 1983 on construction of new nursing homes. The creation of the St. Crispin Living Community took an act of the Legislature.

Goering said to outlines some of the facts propelling the plan:

• The United States experienced a tremendous boom in childbirth the two decades following World War II. The aging population will peak in 2030 when the number of baby boomers reach 77 million.

"At minimum, this means a dramatic upswing in demand for human and material resource expenditure at the same time the available workforce is declining," he said.

• In 1940, when Social Security benefits were first paid out, an estimated 41 workers paid into the fund for every recipient. The projection is that there will be 2.1 workers per beneficiary by 2030.

• U.S. health care expenditures neared $2.6 trillion in 2010, more than 10 times the $256 billion spent in 1980.

• The average employer-sponsored family health premiums have risen 97 percent in 10 years.

"We must ask the right questions and best use community resources to develop a new model that is more efficient without sacrificing outcomes," Goering said. "This is certainly not a new discussion, but one that provides a good framework for discussing the direction several Red Wing health care providers are taking to meet the challenge."

St. Crispin Living Community will offer 40 post-acute care and 40 traditional long-term care suites. Upon its completion scheduled for fall of 2014, the existing two nursing homes will close.

Locating the new facility next to the hospital will result in a smoother admit-and-transfer process, Witt and Goering said. Nurse practitioners and doctors will coordinate to monitor people moving between facilities, and help residents retain the highest level of independence. The ultimate goal is to return people home quickly, without the need for hospital readmission.

"This translates into savings for Medicare, Medicaid, insurance companies and, of course, taxpayers," Goering said. "Red Wing health care providers are moving in the right direction to create an increasingly efficient and effective care delivery system."

Anne Jacobson

Anne Jacobson has been editor of the Republican Eagle since December 2003. 

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