Mayo Clinic

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Winning Nomination

Patient care, medical research and education were priorities instilled in young William and Charles Mayo by their parents, Dr. William Worrall and Louise Wright Mayo. Born in England, the elder Dr. Mayo began his practice in Indiana before heading to Minnesota in 1854. After almost a decade in St. Paul and Le Sueur, he settled his family in Rochester. Known for his adventurous and giving spirit, this hard-working country doctor had already earned a reputation as one of the finest surgeons in the new state.

Will and Charlie followed their father into the practice of medicine, developing an internationally-recognized medical and research facility now known as Mayo Clinic. In doing so, they effectively changed the face of medicine by creating a new entity: the multi-specialty private group practice. Early associates Augustus Stinchfield, Christopher Graham, E. Starr Judd, Henry and William Plummer, Donald Balfour and Louis Wilson all helped to create the foundation on which this new idea took hold. Dr. Henry Plummer – whose hiring Dr. Will Mayo once said was the best day’s work he ever did -- put his considerable organizational and clinical skills to work establishing procedures and protocols for this new way of practicing medicine.

As the Clinic grew, these early medical pioneers each became specialists in various medical sub-fields and collectively developed a broad expertise in the innovations of their day. By sharing research and resources, they created efficiencies that ultimately allowed Mayo Clinic to diagnose and treat complex medical problems with great effectiveness. Just as they did under the direction of the Clinic’s founders, the priorities of patient care, research and education continue to direct Mayo staff as they move the institution forward. These values have led Mayo Clinic to its current status as one of the foremost medical centers in the world, whose more than three thousand physicians are actively working on campuses in Minnesota, Florida and Arizona to treat illness, advance knowledge and train the next generation of medical professionals.
~Steve Williams, Rochester, MN

Runner-up Nominations

The health people of our Planet relates to the dedication of the Mayo Brothers and consistent records of the County they lived and practiced in.
~Phyllis Webb, Grand Rapids, MI

The Mayo Clinic is the third best research clinic in the world. It attracts many people from all around the world. The Mayo Clinic helps find cures to illnesses that others cannot do.
~Evelyn Norris, Minneapolis, MN

The Mayo Brothers. The Mayo Clinic is known throughout the world and world leaders come to Rochester for excellent care.
~Sandy Tuzinski, Bloomington, MN

This world-renowned hospital and clinic have become the destination for the finest and most cutting-edge medical treatment around. It became the model for others to emulate.
~Patricia Stahl, Minneapolis, MN

Charlie and Wilbur Mayo and Mayowood House and grounds Mayo raised geese on his homesite and worked with Rochester to get geese in Silver Lake, Rochester, Mn. We now have thousands that come there yearly.
~Carole A. Miner, Rochester, MN

World-renowned medical expertise.
~Jo Ann Gross, Minneapolis, MN

Makes Minnesota famous for its medical facilities.
~Julie Hinseth

The Mayo Brothers, because they started the Mayo Clinic.
~Courtney Schwartz, Minneapolis, MN

The Mayo Clinic is a beacon of hope for thousands of people each year, who come for anything from routine check-ups to help with life-threatening illnesses. It offers a theraputic environment for the soul as well as the body, providing visual art displays and music of all sorts around the campus. Most importantly, there is a comraderie among the patients who come from all over the world and from all socioeconomic backrounds, which is healing in itself. It reminds us that our humanity is the same regardless of our race, sex, or country.
~Ann Diedrich, Rochester, MN

Changed the practice of medicine to a group practice of cooperation, not competition between medical professionals.
~Jim Miner, Rochester, MN

These brothers transformed not only Minnesota, but indeed our country and or world, with state-of-the-art medical procedures. From a small rural clinic to today's world-renowned hospital and clinics, the Mayo brothers are pioneers, heroes, and Minnesota's lasting legacy. The Mayo Clinic is the one thing Minnesota is known for the world over.
~Bruce Hall, Maple Grove, MN

The millions of lives being saved there has really put Minnesota on the map.
~MaryAnn Urban

The healthcare improvments for ALL the WORLD.
~Frank Schadewald

Where to begin... At the Mayo Clinic it was recognised that blood values are a powerful diagnostic help;Cortisol was produced there first, helping countless patients around the world with various inflammatory diseases to live a life with their disease controlled; introducing to this day cutting-edge solutions for all kinds of medical problems, and leading in several fields, like colon surgery (which I had there, being from the Netherlands) and endocrinology.
~Henk J. Damhoff

People from all over the world travel to Mayo to seek the highest level of care available. The name Mayo is synonymous with world class health care.
~Brenda Madsen, Fairmont, MN

The story of the early Doctors Mayo is very interesting.
~Evelyn D. Harne, Roseville, MN

The Mayo Brothers changed modern medical ideas and set a standard for modern doctors and is still the height of hospital care and treatment.
~Noam Freshman, St. Louis Park, MN

The Mayo has changed many lives worldwide for the better. They have provided us with a very identifiable history which has strong ties to Minnesota in numerous ways.
~Jack & Cindy Hillegass, Plymouth, MN

Mayo Clinic is nationally renowned and represents Minnesota's excellence in education and innovation.
~Diane Kretsch, Roseville, MN

Center of health care, excellence in medical core research. World-famous.
~Kathleen Patten-Marsh, Minneapolis, MN

Changed all aspects of medicine to the way it is now. Largest employer, largest taxpayer, second in the world for medical care. First place to go for cardiac care.
~Joan Musel, Spring Valley, MN

The Mayo Clinic has given us a wonderful gift - wonderful health care.
~Phyllis Schadewald, Bloomington, MN

Through their passion of wanting to heal, and to find solutions and answers to causes of diseases, they chose Minnesota to start their healing. Still driven today, as yesteryear, now the whole world looks to them for treatment for their conditions from world leaders to everyday people. Always moving forward in health care and healing practices.
~Cindy Pothen, St. Paul, MN

Ongoing influence on the world as people from all over come for medical attention. Our quality of life has been improved by the clinic in Rochester. MN
~Jan Johnson, Bloomington, MN

Dr. Mayo and his two sons came to Minnesota to help following a tornado. Sister Joseph approached Dr. Mayo after the crisis and asked him to help with a hospital. St. Mary's eventually developed into the world-famous clinic in Rochester, MN.
~Vickie Gangness, Minneapolis, MN

Mayo Brothers William and Charles William and Charles Mayo made medicine and modern medical practice a top priority and brought team practice to medicine, establishing a world-known medical center in Rochester, MN.
~Steve Williams, Rochester, MN

It set a standard of health care that is recognized throughout the world for excellence.
~Mary Parker



The development of an integrated group practice, a family’s passion, and an intrepid group of pioneering doctors working together in a private practice, revolutionizes the world of medicine

On May 31, 1819, a boy was born in a small village near Manchester, England. His father died when the boy was only seven, leaving his mother to raise him and his five siblings. She worked hard to provide a good education for her children; the boy was tutored in Latin and Greek and began studies in medicine and science with John Dalton, who would later be known as "the father of modern physical science" for his groundbreaking work in developing the atomic theory of matter.

The boy grew into a man, and at twenty-seven he left Manchester for the United States. He landed in New York and soon moved west, working as a pharmacist, a tailor, a census taker, a farmer, a newspaper publisher, a justice of the peace, a ferryboat operator, and a veterinarian before completing his medical training in Indiana in 1850 and moving to Minnesota four years later.

Thus begins the story of Dr. William Worrall Mayo, whose name is synonymous today with high-quality, compassionate health care. Drs. William and Charles Mayo, Stinchfield, Graham, Plummer, Millet, Judd and Balfour, helped put our state on the map when they founded the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

In 1861, William Mayo, then living in Le Sueur, Minnesota, volunteered for duty in the Union army, but his application as regimental surgeon was denied. Two years later, he was appointed the examining surgeon for an enrollment board based in Rochester that selected military recruits. In January 1864, William Mayo, his wife, Louise—a skilled milliner who would later become her husband’s medical assistant—and their children settled down in Rochester for good.

At first, the Mayos’ private practice was a family affair. Mrs. Mayo instructed her sons, Will and Charlie, in botany as they worked in the garden; their father taught them chemistry and anatomy, and if an emergency called for it, he invited them, their sisters and their mother to accompany him on patient calls. “We came along in medicine like boys on a farm,” Charlie later said. After earning their medical degrees—Will from the University of Michigan in 1883 and Charlie from Chicago Medical College five years later—they both returned to Rochester to join their father's growing practice.

On August 21, 1883, a devastating tornado swept through Rochester. The Mayos and other Rochester doctors soon established an emergency hospital in the town’s dance hall. Recognizing the need for round-the-clock care for patients, the Mayos enlisted the help of Mother Alfred Moes and the Sisters of St. Francis. Though trained as teachers, the nuns remained at the temporary hospital until it closed. Mother Alfred didn’t forget her experience, though, and she began working with the Mayo family to establish a permanent hospital in Rochester. In 1889 St. Marys Hospital, a three-story brick building equipped for twenty-seven patients, opened. This hospital formally joined with the Mayo Clinic in the late 1980's, along with the Rochester Methodist Hospital.

In 1892, Dr. William Worrel Mayo retired, but not before inviting Dr. Augustus Stinchfield, a well respected mid-career physician working in Rochester, to become a partner in the practice. Eventually, Drs. Graham, Plummer, Millet, Judd and Balfour were also invited to join the group. The development of the integrated private group practice by these doctors helped make Mayo Clinic an international name today. Teamwork—groups of specialists working together to teach, to learn, and to treat patients, is at the heart of the clinic’s practice of integrated care.

Dr. Henry Plummer, who became a partner 1901, established other innovations. Credited with operating the clinic’s first x-ray machine, Plummer was also the architect of the system of patient record keeping—in which each patient is assigned a number and a unique medical history chart—that is the foundation of today’s record systems.

In 1919, the private practice became a not-for-profit entity, the Mayo Clinic. The remaining partners, Drs. Will & Charlie Mayo, Stinchfield, Henry Plummer, Judd, and Balfour, created the Mayo Properties Association and gave the entire practice as well as the all the properties and furnishings to this newly formed association.

"The sum-total of medical knowledge is now so great and wide-spreading that it would be futile for one man to attempt to acquire, or for any one man to assume that he has, even a good working knowledge of any large part of the whole. . . . The best interest of the patient is the only interest to be considered, and in order that the sick may have the benefit of advancing knowledge, union of forces is necessary."
Dr. William Worrall Mayo, 1910

Resource Links

Related photos from the collections of the Minnesota Historical Society - Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mayo Clinic Tradition and Heritage: The History of Mayo Clinic

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