A woman from Missouri, June Thompson, contacted me a while back to pitch a story she had written about a visit to Rochester in early February. Here it is...might be of interest to the people planning the Destination Medical Community project.
It was February 11, 2012, when we started out from the southern tip of the state of Missouri from a small town called Campbell. It is the Peach Capital of Missouri, and has a little over 2,000 people. We were embarking on our trip to the famous Mayo Clinic. This is the place where everyone has two things in common - a bag of medicine and hope. The first several miles we got used to the GPS system and managed it through the St. Louis area, which was not a big deal. As we drove on north we talked a lot and played the CDs my husband made especially for the trip. (Oldies but goodies.) We sang with many of them as we enjoyed the sights along the way. We enjoyed seeing Hannibal, Mo., the home of Mark Twain. Before we knew it, we had traveled the entire state of Missouri and we entered the beautiful state of Iowa.
It was our first time coming that far north. We had always been warned how the people up north are, and that meant, not friendly! So we were ready for that to be the case. The state of Iowa was so beautiful to see. It was rolling hills and huge two story farm homes. Growing up on a farm myself, I noticed how meticulous those farms were. (Not one lazy farmer in those homes) The land was all well taken care of and the houses and yards were in perfect condition. As we traveled along we were amazed at all the old barns and the fact they even had silos. I was snapping pictures all the way. In our part of the world, most barns have worn out and been replaced with metal ones. But in Iowa they have preserved them and kept them painted and in nice condition. It was such a peaceful journey. We left ringing telephones, problems and just erased our world to take a break as we were hoping for answers to my many health conditions.
Every time we stopped to get gas, people were very friendly and helpful to give us traveling information. The GPS had sidetracked us some through small towns because we had it programmed for the shortest route, so it took more time than we expected. But what did it matter as we saw such beautiful country? We became tired as we were in northern Iowa. We finally stopped in Centerpoint, Iowa, where we were guided to a place called Jonesy’s, which boasted of the best and largest pork tenderloin in Iowa. It was delicious! We stopped and something strange began. If we said a couple of sentences people would say, “Where are you all from?” We couldn’t figure it out. We didn’t think we sounded any different! Did we? But, in the next week we learned that happened every time we opened our mouths! I guess we are “the southern couple,” as some called us.
The Minnesota line . . . could we have finally made it this far and in one day? Yes, we were in Minnesota! That sounded so northern to us. Columbia, Mo., was as far north as I’d been and my husband had been to Des Moines, Iowa. However he had flown and missed the country views. We finally made it to our hotel. We were so tired, it was 10 degrees and the wind chill was who-knows-what. The people were so unbelievably kind and helpful. It had been that way the entire trip. And since we were in a northern state, that wasn’t supposed to happen. But it did!
The Mayo Clinic was shocking to us. We expected a hospital setting. Instead we arrived to a place that took on the look of a New York hotel. Wherever we turned, someone was there saying, “May I help you?” The entire structure was so beautiful and immediately we were struck with the incredible artwork on display every way we turned. Then without warning we heard the baby grand playing and a beautiful voice singing, “Oh, what a beautiful morning!”
We were surrounded by beauty on all sides. There were carvings, blown glass art, modern art, Steuben glassware, sculptures and much more. Everyone was polite and trying to find ways to help and make us more comfortable. There was privacy as the doctors worked us in, and the people who work in the waiting rooms seemed happy to help us. Every waiting room is loaded with free written information on health. They have thought of every way to make life better while at Mayo Clinic. All the inner workings of this place are happening with complete organization and it all goes on like clockwork. It is evident that people planned for years to achieve this marvelous place to serve others. It is awesome to just sit and observe.
The doctors ate very serious about you and give you the feeling they will not miss anything about your health. They want your input and ideas. They try to learn all about you and come to conclusions on your whole being. Dr. Hurt was my main doctor and he was super in every way. He made one feel as if he knew exactly what he was doing. We felt like we were taken care of in a kind and professional manner.
One day we had an extra hour in the late evening and walked around window shopping. A nice young man off the street went with us, and took us all the way to the bookstore where we could buy a cup of Starbucks coffee. What a gentleman he was.
We were very surprised to get the feeling, that we hated to go home. We have both lived in Campbell, Mo., all our lives, which is 60 and 61 years. We expected people with short remarks and not much friendliness. But we got just the opposite. The city of Rochester is very kind, friendly and goes out of its way to accommodate their guests. The hotel was comfortable and the days at Mayo Clinic were pleasant.
We plan a return trip in about eight months and look forward to it. We look forward to the people and how they treat their visitors. Never again will we allow people in the south to mention northerners as being unfriendly, for it is not true.
Thank you, Rochester, for all you have to offer the people who come for help, with hopes and dreams of a healthier life. You are an exciting and beautiful city.