The Mayo Clinic
Fom New Mexico this seemed like a mythological place; everything the medical model currently has to offer; the best minds, machines and research, all available in a gentle small Midwestern city named Rochester. Their preparation is so complete that by the time you meet your temporary assigned PCP he/she is already familiar with your problem, your records, and has a preliminary game plan in place. This itinerary is scheduled yet by design is fluid and mutable, always responding to each new piece of information. Additions and deletions to your daily schedule are aimed at fully utilizing the patient’s time here. How can that work? I think it is because this is a Clinic. If this Dr isn’t available, another one is, this system appears to be more hive than hierarchy. “Could you come in at 7:45?” Need an MRI? Could you come now?”How long are you staying? I think I can get that appointment tomorrow.” What does this feel like to the patient? Competent, caring and safe. This looks like, feels like a medical collective.
In the atrium of the Gonda Building there is a tapestry of people and art and even music. Different musicians play the grand piano here in this glass space all day. http://www.mayoclinic.org/mayo-experience-360/landow-atrium-south-enlg.html
Women in black burqas, surrounded by family, Arab men, tall people with African faces, midwestern Executives and spouses in for their pricey “executive physicals” and, of course, our jean-clad ponytailed patient carting in 3 computers to spend the day waiting for a Muscular-skeletal consult. Opting to shorten our stay by utilizing a system, not un-like flying stand-by, makes for some extended observation opportunities!
So how did Mayo come to be so different? I think it’s the owls. I think owls bring everything out of the mudane; from profane to sacred. Notice the owl atop the original medical school? The man pouring over plans with the owl present is Dr. Plummer, one of the originals with the Mayo brothers. Most of the design of this medical system happened there in his building. How about all those mythological beings right there at the front door? Dragon, griffon, phoenix? The powerful forces of mythology and ancient history. In a scientific place in the 1920’s they seem an unusual motif. I sure would like to know what those owls meant to Dr. Plummer.