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52 posts categorized "Destination Medical Center news"

February 23, 2015

Delta to end Rochester-Detroit flights in April

Despite their popularity, nonstop flights to Detroit will soon end for passengers using the Rochester International Airport, after only a few months.

5403bad42fa22.imageAfter about six months, Delta Air Lines has notified the airport that it will be pulling the plug on the daily nonstop flights to Detroit on April 9, according the new Airport Director John Reed.

Reed says he received notification from Delta on Feb. 17, his second day on the job. Delta launched the Detroit and Atlanta flights in September with great fanfare with many saying it was needed for the anticipated increase in air travel expected due to Mayo Clinic's Destination Medical Center initiative.

While the City of Rochester owns the airport, Mayo Clinic is contracted to manage it via its Rochester Airport Co.

Delta confirmed Monday that the flights will end with a short statement that said it "has made the decision to indefinitely suspend Rochester service to Detroit to ensure we’re matching capacity with demand."

This is not the first time Delta has ended flights from Rochester to Detroit. It killed a similar flight back in 2011.

While the Detroit will come to an end, Delta did stress that its daily flights to Atlanta and Minneapolis will continue. In fact, Delta intends add another Minneapolis flight as the Detroit one ends, according to Reed.

"Essentially, our seat capacity will remain the same," he said.

Numbers from the airport shows that the new flights did bump up its Rochester passenger numbers in 2014 by 20 percent over 2013. Rochester Airport Co. President Steve McNeill, who works for Mayo Clinic, recently reported that Delta had 120,474 passengers here in 2014. From September through December, the months of service to all three of its hubs, the count was 41,854, an 18 percent or 6,500 increase over the similar period in 2013.

"We're certainly happy with the new, expanded service," said McNeill earlier this month, "and I'm sure Delta is, too." Flight payloads, or occupancy levels, were slightly above expectations, with flights to Atlanta averaging at about the mid-80s percent, and to Detroit slightly lower, he added.

Reed says data shows that the Detroit flights ran about 75 percent filled, most of the time.

"It wasn't that the community wasn't supporting us, because they were," he said.

Mayor Ardell Brede hadn't been notified yet about the change on Monday. He said, if true, it would a loss for Rochester.

"I liked that flight," he said. Brede added that it was full when he recently used it.

Reed and Brede both said that they had heard that a shortage of pilots was one reason that Delta ended the flight.

Another possible factor could be a $950,000 "risk mitigation fund set up to guarantee Delta a profit on the new flights during the first year. The rub is that the fund, made up of federal grants, a city match and private donations, doesn't cover the Detroit flight. It only guarantees a profit for Delta's Atlanta fight.

A Delta media representative didn't know about the fund or if it could have played a part in this change.

The ending of the Detroit flights does cast a pall on the airport's future requirement of airlines, to add flights, like ones to Denver.

In May, a national air service consultant said in a Rochester Area Chamber-sponsored forum that, "Adding Atlanta and Detroit is a game changer."

He followed that by saying that many other airlines will be watching how those flights fare.

"This is an important test case to prove that you can fill the larger airplanes. If they (Delta) have to pull it, it would be a big red flag," Joseph Pickering told the crowd of local business leaders.

January 27, 2015

Mayo looks to attract more patients from China

To take advantage of the rapidly growing medical tourism market, Mayo Clinic has deepened its relationship with a Hong Kong firm to bring more Chinese patients to Rochester.

Medisun Holdings Ltd. announced Monday it has signed a collaLogoborative deal to "Ensure efficient referral of patients" to Mayo Clinic. The agreement also calls for Mayo Clinic "to provide health care consulting services to aid Medisun’s work" in Hong Kong and mainland China.

This will allow Mayo Clinic to enlarge its patient pipeline from China. It has added a Web page in Mandarin Chinese and has hired interpreters, the article notes. The Wall Street Journal recently reported increasing numbers of Chinese residents are going overseas "in search of treatment that is either unavailable or ineffective in China."
800px-Gonda_building,_closer_up
Mikel Prieto, medical director of Mayo Clinic's international office, told the Wall Street Journal that "China, probably of all countries, is the one where we see the greatest growth right now."

Melissa Goodwin, Mayo Clinic's manager of global referrals, told China's Caixin Media this summer the number of Chinese people going to Mayo has climbed to 200 in 2013. That's up from just 30 in 2008 and 100 in 2012. She estimated that number would reach 400 by the end of 2014. 

H3-treesDetails of the new Medisun/Mayo Clinic arrangement still are being hammered out, according to Dr. Jason Zhang, of Medisun.

Zhang did confirm that a $1 million office being built in Titan Development and Investments's new H3 Plaza complex on South Broadway will house Medisun's Rochester operations. It's being built under the name Alphaomega Healthcare, though Zhang said he expects it to eventually change to Medisun.

He explained the office will be used to support Chinese patients traveling to Rochester for treatment.

"The medical service will be provided by Mayo, and everything else will be provided by Medisun," Zhang said.

The Medisun office is expected to open in March or April in the west corner of H3 Plaza at 300 S. Broadway, he said. The office will occupy parts of the second and third floors of the seven-story complex, which is being developed by Titan's Andy and Gus Chafoulias.

“Consulting with Mayo Clinic, and leveraging Medisun’s top-quality medical institutions in Hong Kong … Medisun’s experienced medical team will facilitate access to Mayo Clinic’s world-class model of care in order to provide patients in China and Asia with superior medical services,” Medisun's Chairman Danny Wong said in Monday's announcement.
20150126_03A
Wong visited Rochester this summer in connection to his company's investment in Cardio3 Biosciences. Cardio3, a Belgium company with deep business and scientific ties with Mayo Clinic, is negotiating a lease deal with the City of Rochester for the fifth floor of the Minnesota Biobusiness Center.

While in Rochester, Wong had his photo taken at the clinic with local leaders, including Gus Chafoulias and Mayo's Lisa Clarke, who leads the Destination Medical Center initiative.

Wong recently showed his interest in Rochester by buying two large estates here. On Oct. 31, he bought an estate at 2515 Crest Lane SW for $1.4 million. Wong followed that up by buying a Pill Hill house at 615 10 Ave. SW for $1.31 million.

Options abound for one of Rochester's oldest storefronts

While many are speculating about the future of a 129-year-old building in the heart of Rochester's downtown, the owners say they haven't locked down a plan yet.

549b9e10ed075.imageThe long-empty former Paine Furniture store at 313 S. Broadway was purchased by local developers Hal Henderson and Grant Michelitz in November. The deal also included the attached 309 S. Broadway building now occupied by Big Brad's bar on Broadway.

Some renovation work and installation of new windows is being done on the second floor, said Henderson. They also hope to build a skyway across the alley to connect the Paine building to the 318 Commons building, also owned by Henderson and Michelitz.

The University of Minnesota Rochester leases space in the 318 Commons building for student housing, office space and classrooms. A connecting skyway could make the second floor of Paine building attractive to UMR.

"We do foresee space crunches in our growth plan prior to the development of the future campus," said Jay Hesley, assistant vice chancellor for institutional advancement. While no decisions have been made, Hesley acknowledged the university had looked at the second floor of the Paine building.

"We've certainly explored all of the different opportunities that are available, and that was certainly one of them on the list," he said.

Henderson said there have been preliminary talks with UMR officials about the Paine building. He also said an option is to demolish the Paine complex and put up a building that would be a sibling to 318 Commons.

"I do have more real estate on that block," he said. "In the future, we may have a plan that we may try to unveil or look at pretty seriously." Henderson owns the adjacent Cafe Steam at 315 S. Broadway and the Canvas & Chardonnay building at 317 S. Broadway. "It all depends on what transpires in the next three to six months" with Destination Medical Center and the university's plans, he said. "I think right now, everyone is still leaving their options open."

January 07, 2015

Cardio3 buys cancer-fighting firm for $10 million

Cardio3 BioSciences, which works closely with both Mayo Clinic and the City of Rochester, has paid $10 million for the oncology division of a New Hampshire firm.

The Belgium-based Cardio3 agreed to pay Celdara Medical $6 million in cash and $4 million in new shares for the division called OnCyte. Celdara could receive up to $50 million, if its lead product in-development CM-CS1 hLogo_cardio_3its specific development and regulatory milestones.

The same type of payments for milestones could also reach $21 million per product for others in the pipeline. If CM-CS1 reaches market and net sales top $1 billion, Celdara will receive up to $80 million in payments from Cardio3.
OncyteCM_png
This is Cardio3's second acquisition in recent months. In November, it purchased a virtual company called CorQuest Medical Inc. Corquest is developing a sheath to provide a minimally invasive way to insert therapeutic devices. The CorQuest technology platform is complementary with Cardio3’s C-Cathez and C-Cure systems. Financial terms were not released.

The OnCyte expands Cardio3's reach beyond regenerating cardiac tissue by entering into the rapidly growing immuno-oncology cancer treatment area using chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells. OnCyte's CM-CS1 uses (CAR) technology to destroy cancer tumors. The Federal Drug Administration has cleared CM-CS1 to begin a clinical trial using patients with acute myeloid leukemia /advanced myelodysplastic syndrome and multiple myeloma. Juno Therapeutics, Amgen and Kite Pharma and others are developing products based on this concept.

In an interview with Bloomberg News, Cardio3 CEO Dr. Christian Homsy described acquiring OnCyte as “Our first foray into an area that is of very high interest… It opens a new reach, a new broad area of growth for the company that is of very high value to us and our shareholders.”

Those shareholders include Mayo Clinic, which held 3 percent ownership of Cardio3, as of Aug. 4. Mayo Clinic first acquired equity in Cardio3 in 2007, when it licensed stem cell research by Mayo Clinic's Dr. Andre Terzic and Dr. Atta Behfar. The cardiopoiesis technology uses to repair patients' hearts by re-programming their own stem cell to regenerate cardiac tissue.

When announcing the acquisition, Homsy said that four of Cardio3's top shareholders supported the move. A Belgium family-owned holding company called Tolefi SA is the lead shareholder with 32.23 percent of the shares. The Hong Kong-based Medisun, which is building an office in Rochester, owns 8.08 percent.

In the years since 2007, Mayo Clinic has developed a close working relationship with the Belgian company. Mayo Clinic is leading the U.S. clinical trial of Cardio3 and is using a lab in the Minnesota Biobusiness Center in downtown Rochester.

A possible deal is in the works for Cardio3 to occupy the entire fifth floor of the city-owned Minnesota Biobusiness Center. Gary Smith of the Rochester Economic Development Inc. said the company has not signed a lease yet and some financial details still need to be worked out.

If Cardio3 does decide to occupy the fifth floor, Mayo Clinic will need to move its staff that currently fills the space.

December 01, 2014

Ramada = Kahler Apache

A 37-year-old Rochester hotel is trading a national brand for a local one.

The Ramada Hotel & Conference Center, owned by Dan and Terri Penz, of Rochester, officially became the Kahler Apache on Friday. The 149-room hotel is at 1517 16th St. S.W.

Neither of the Penzes were available for comment on Sunday.

01122014ramadakahlersignWhile the southwest hotel now shares a name with four downtown hotels, Kahler Hospitality Group Marketing Director Cherylanne Thomas said it is not financially linked to the other hotels, and KHG is not licensing the name. KHG, which is led locally by businessman Javon Bea, owns the Kahler Grand Hotel, the Kahler Inn & Suites, the Marriott Rochester, the Residence Inn and the Textile Care Services industrial laundry.

"We're just managing this for Dan Penz. We're just consultants," she said. "We just lent him our name to his property because he chose to de-flag it as a Ramada. We're saving him on the franchise fee, which is savings he can pass on to his guests."

KHG and the Penzes signed a contractlast summer that turned the management of the hotel over to the Kahler hotel team. In a similar relationship, KHG hired Colorado-based Richfield Hospitality to manage the Kahler hotels in 2013. Thomas said because KHG doesn't have ownership in the Kahler Apache, Richfield does not have any involvement that hotel.

This name change for the former Ramada will have no effect on the hotel's about 60 employees, said Thomas.

"They are still under an employment contract with Dan Penz. That has nothing to do with us," she said.

01122014kahlerapchesignA longtime Kahler employee, Chase Albrecht was recently named as general manager of the hotel.

"He (Albrecht) now is an employee of Dan Penz," Thomas said. "The previous GM had left on his own."

The Penzes originally purchased the hotel when it was under the Best Western brand in 2002. It became a Ramada franchise in 2004. The hotel originally was built by well-known developer George Baihly in 1977, and it opened as a Midway Motor Lodge. This is the first time the hotel will not have a national brand name over the entrance.

Driven by loyal return visitors coming for Mayo Clinic, Rochester has long been a stronghold for independent hotels without a national brand. While the Kahler name was franchised nationally in the past, Rochester has always been its primary base of operations. Other local independents include the Fiksdal Hotel and the adjacent Aspen Suites.


Local developer Ed Pompeian also has found success with his two Brentwood hotels.

Independent hotels struggled for many years nationally as the big chains established online reservations and rewards program. However, that is changing, said industry expert Smith Travel Research Inc. STR data shows occupancy and revenue at independent hotels growing quickly this year. Analysts point to local market knowledge and online review sites, such as Tripadvisor.com as keeping independents competitive with big chains like Marriott and Hilton.

Hotels, always important in Rochester, are growing quickly as part of the new Destination Medical Center economy. Almost 400 new rooms to be added in 2015 to the current 5,443 rooms.
Brad Jones, executive director of the city's Convention and Visitors Bureau, expects Rochester will pass the 6,000 room milestone in 2017.

November 17, 2014

Buckeye Liquor to stay in downtown Rochester

Much like peanut butter and chocolate getting together, a downtown Rochester liquor store is moving in next to a pizza place in early 2015.

11172014buckeyeliquorRobert Satterwhite, who owns Buckeye Liquor with his wife Diane Satterwhite, plans to scoot the store a few dozen yards from its spot on the corner of Third Avenue Southeast and Fourth Street to the Domino's Pizza building at 438 Third Ave. S.E.

The shift is expected to happen in February or March 2015.

"We're pretty excited to be moving next to Domino's. Who doesn't like a beer or a nice wine with pizza?", said Satterwhite.

The coming development of a $15 million, 110-unit apartment complex on that corner is spurring the move of the 49-year-old liquor store. Stencil Homes of Sioux Falls, S.D., has purchased three buildings — Buckeye Liquor, the empty Flowers By Jerry shop and the 3rd Avenue Pet Hospital — on Third Avenue. The Satterwhites now lease their corner building from developer Nate Stencil and his partner, Sean A. Kaufhold.

While there is not a deadline for Buckeye to move, it's clear that the current building will be demolished to make way for the coming project.

"They are not pushing out us or anything. We just wanted to make sure to secure another space in downtown as soon as we could," he s11172014dominoson3rdaid.

Satterwhite and two employees will have more room once they move in next to Domino's. The new 1,800-square-foot space is about 500 feet larger than the original Buckeye store, which Stanley Mohn, built in 1965. An international grocer was the last tenant next to Domino's.

Marty Gritz, who owns Domino's as well as the building, renovated it in 2013. He re-divided the building into two equal parts to give his dough makers an additional 600 square feet

The good news for Buckeye is that Domino's location is often the busiest of  the 120 Domino's franchises in the Midwest region.

November 14, 2014

Ex-Mayo doc "feared retribution against himself and his family"

It has been an interesting week in the Mayo Clinic vs Dr. Franklin Cockerill legal tussle. So Cockerill's lawyers filed a motion Wednesday to modify the temporary restraining order that blocks Cockerill from working for Quest Diagnostics PLUS a detailed affidavit from Cockerill explaining his side of the case.

So the PB court reporter Kay Fate printed out the documents for me on Thursday and I wrote an article based on the filings last night. The twist here is that Cockerill's legal team withdrew the filings Thursday, after we printed them out.

The upshot is that my article is still running today in the PB. Here's some of it. The full piece is in today's paper:

A former Mayo Clinic doctor and executive said he did not tell Dr. John Noseworthy about his plans to work for a Mayo competitor because he "feared retribution against himself and his family."

CockerillDr. Franklin R. Cockerill III, the former CEO of Mayo Medical Labs, took early retirement at the end of September. However, instead of retiring, he stepped into a new job on Oct. 1 with Quest Diagnostics Inc.

The clinic filed a lawsuit against Cockerill over his decision to not tell Mayo Clinic he had been hired by a competitor; he told co-workers he intended to run his elderly mother's farming business.

The suit claims he misled everyone so he could acquire sensitive competitive information for his new employer. As part of that suit, a temporary restraining order was issued on Oct. 14 that prevented him from working at Quest because he could cause "irreparable harm" to Mayo Clinic.

Members_009-questCockerill filed a motion Wednesday to modify that order to allow him begin his role as Quest's chief lab officer because the person he is to replace will retire at the end of December. However, his lawyers withdrew the filing on Thursday and also withdrew an affidavit that detailed his version of the events surrounding his departure from Mayo after a more than 30-year career there.

However, the withdrawal came after the Post-Bulletin obtained a copy of the affidavit.

"It is now plain that the draconian restrictions that Plaintiffs obtained from this Court and that Dr. Cockerill had no opportunity to oppose are not consistent with Minnesota law and are entirely inappropriate," according to the original filing made by his lawyers from the Minneapolis firm of Lindquist & Vennum.

Cockerill contends Mayo Clinic had approached him with an attractive early retirement offer as his final two-year term as a department head was coming to an end. When asked for a response, Mayo Clinic denied that.

"Claims of an early retirement offer are completely false, and we were prepared to file documentation to prove it," said Mayo spokesman Bryan Anderson this morning.

In his affidavit, Cockerill says he announced his retirement in July, with plans to help his mother, and then he was asked by a Quest recruiter to interview for a position there. He eventually accepted a job with the condition that he work from Rochester, instead of the company's New Jersey headquarters.

Cockerill stressed in his filing he did not make the change to make more money. Mayo Medical Labs is the third largest laboratory company in U.S. and generates "a significant proportion of Mayo's profits." He had made about $580,000 a year at Mayo Clinic. At Quest, he will earn an annual salary of $400,000.

"I left my employment at Mayo reluctantly and only due to the convergence of several factors that arose as I enter the last stages of my professional career," he wrote in the filing. "Finally, in addition to limitation on the role I could still play at Mayo, my interest in the Quest position, and the attractive Mayo early-retirement offer, my decision to change employment was also influenced by my belief that the environment at Mayo had negatively changed over the past five years. Staff satisfaction has declined, burnout has significantly increased, and many people have grown afraid to speak up and voice their opinions."

November 08, 2014

Mayo Clinic docs make millions by consulting with drug/device companies

Here's some from the lead article in my package of stories about Mayo Clinic doctors and their financial relationships with drug/medical device companies in this weekend's Post-Bulletin.

FYI, the front page article is continued on page A2 and more articles and data are printed on page B4.

An unprecedented disclosure of payments from drug companies shows that $3.07 million for consulting was paid in 2,388 payments to Rochester-based Mayo Clinic researchers, doctors and hospitals during five months last year.

11082014drugmoneygraphicHowever, Mayo Clinic officials point out that they have a strict policy about such payments, which all must be approved by its Conflict of Interest Committee. Such policies, which many medical centers have, are a way of preventing medical professionals from being unduly influenced by money from drug companies in their decisions, such as what drugs they prescribe.

For the same period, Cleveland Clinic staff collected $4.3 million in private money for consulting, while Johns Hopkins Hospital employees took in a mere $4,627.

Dr. Richard Ehman, vice-chair of the Conflict of Interest Committee, said that Mayo Clinic's restrictive policies are unusual within the medical industry.

"We know all of the financial relationships of our staff. That's unheard of," said Ehman.

Cleveland Clinic and Johns Hopkins urge their employees to disclose their private contracts, though they stop short of requiring it in every case, according to their policies posted on their websites. Mayo, Cleveland and Johns Hopkins all agree that a physician or scientist serving as primary leader of a research project are banned from having private contracts with the companies involved.

800px-Gonda_building,_closer_upHundreds of Mayo Clinic doctors are receiving millions from drug companies and medical device makers for private consulting every year, while many others are paid one-third of the royalties generated by their work.

Disclosing all of the financial contracts between private companies and doctors is the goal of the Open Payments website run by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. It features a database of doctors and the money they receive from outside sources. It's now required by the Physician Payment Sunshine Act, which was part of the Affordable Care Act health reform.

In late September, data from August to December 2013 was released on the site. This batch of records includes about 4.4 million payments made to about 550,000 doctors and 1,360 teaching hospitals. However, some of the information reported by private companies is incomplete, confusing and, in some cases, incorrect.

For Mayo Clinic doctors, 100 percent of the payments for private consulting go directly to them. Mayo began allowing such consulting contracts in 1999, when it changed the rule that required all consulting payments to go to the clinic.

The payments for those five months show all different types, including royalties, research money and royalties.

In addition to the consulting payments during those five months, a total of 68 payments totaling $3.01 million were made to Mayo Clinic for research, according to the database.

All research money, like grants, goes directly to Mayo Clinic.

However, physicians or researchers receive one-third of the amount of royalty payments received by the clinic from drug companies, according to clinic policy. During the five months of reports, Mayo Clinic received a total of $1.9 million in royalties.

Just one company -- DePuy Synthes Sales Inc., a subsidiary of heath care giant Johnson & Johnson, reported paying a total of more than $1.15 million to Mayo Clinic or its doctors in 278 payments from August to December.

In the wake of the recent federally-mandated deluge of information about the financial ties between doctors and private drug/medical device companies, Ehman explained that Mayo Clinic does allow its employees to personally profit from such agreements. However, every financial relationship must be approved by the Conflict of Interest Committee.

Mayo Clinic approved 1,003 consulting contracts for 308 doctors and researchers in 2013 to personally work with private companies on their own time. The Mayo Clinic committee, which meets every other week, approved 953 such agreements with 301 individuals in 2012 and 1,071 for 292 employees in 2011.

November 04, 2014

Developer to build $15 million apartment complex near Roch. city hall

A South Dakota developer plans to build a $15 million, 110-unit apartment complex near downtown Rochester, plus 179 more apartments on the far northwest side.

Stencil Homes of Sioux Falls, S.D., has purchased three buildings — Buckeye Liquor, the empty Flowers By Jerry shop and the 3rd Avenue Pet Hospital — on Third Avenue Southeast and Fourth Street, across from the Olmsted County Government Center and Rochester City Hall.

11042014stencilaptsDeveloper and builder Nate Stencil and his partner, Sean A. Kaufhold, plan to build a six-story apartment complex with 3,100-square-feet of retail space on the main level and underground parking for residents.

"We're really excited about this project," Stencil said on Monday. He expects construction to begin in early spring 2015 and the complex to be completed in spring 2016.

To clear the way for the project, his company purchased the former flower shop at 410 Third Ave. S.E. for $450,000 on Oct. 15 and followed up with a $600,000 buy on Oct. 22 of the Buckeye Liquor building and nearby parking lots. Stencil bought those properties from Kevin Patton, the owner of Flowers By Jerry.

"I just think it is going to be nice to put something there to revitalize the neighborhood," Patton said.

Diane and Robert Satterwhite, who operate Buckeye Liquor and now lease from Stencil, said they will move their liquor store and continue to serve Rochester. However, no timeline for that has been determined.

The developers also recently purchased the 3rd Avenue Pet Hospital at 414 Third Ave. S.E. Dr. Caroline Baihly, who has owned 3rd Avenue since 1998, is essentially merging her clinic with the Quarry Hill Animal Hospital. After Nov. 24, Dr. Baihly and the other doctors at Quarry Hill will serve her client list.

"At this point, I looking forward to the change," she said.

With the surge of Destination Medical Center-driven development, this was something Baihly expected to happen eventually.

"I looked at the practicality of the whole thing," she said. "It seems when I look at the DMC map that this whole area is included. I think DMC has a lot to do with it."

Stencil said DMC did have something to do with the Third Avenue project, though it cropped up after they already had decided to invest in Rochester. He began working with Rochester Realtor Merl Groteboer about three years ago.

"When we started, DMC wasn't even on our radar. We were well into planning before we even heard about it," he said. "Though the project in downtown was probably influenced by it."

Second project

Stencil and his partner also have lined up property near the 65th Street Northwest interchange across U.S. 52 from the new North Menards store. Construction of the 83-unit Woodland Park apartments began there a few weeks ago. Stencil said he expects Woodland, which architecturally will be similar to the Metropolitan Marketplace complex, to be completed by late spring to early summer.

Work on Stencil's third complex, Kascade Place, is expected to begin nearby soon after Thanksgiving. It will have 96 apartments.

Those apartments, along with the proposed downtown ones, will be priced comparably to other market rate units in Rochester, he said. That means rents ranging from $900 to $1,000 a month.

"We feel very good about the market apart from DMC," said Stencil. "We believe the need for housing is coming as part of Rochester's natural growth."

October 15, 2014

Ex-Mayo exec accused of stealing trade secrets

A former top Mayo Clinic executive is being sued for allegedly hiding his hiring by a competitor of Mayo Medical Laboratories for months while he continued to work for Mayo and for stealing trade secrets.

Franklin-cockerillMayo Clinic filed a lawsuit alleging misappropriation of trade secrets and breach of contract against Dr. Franklin R. Cockerill III, who was president and chief executive officer of the for-profit Mayo Medical Labs for eight years. The case was filed Tuesday in Olmsted County District Court. Mayo Clinic released the lawsuit to the media this morning.
 
A Mayo Clinic statement released by Bryan Anderson this morning said, “We do not take this action lightly. Dr. Cockerill was a valued Mayo Clinic clinician, leader and colleague.  We will vigorously defend and protect our intellectual property to ensure we can continue to meet our charitable mission,"

A call to Dr. Cockerill's southwest Rochester residence went unanswered this morning. Asked to comment, Quest Director of Media Relations Wendy Bost said the company received the complaint this morning and is reviewing it. "We do not comment on pending litigation," Bost said.

According to the complaint:

On July 17, an emotional Cockerill told his department that he was "retiring" to help his 85-year-old mother run her fertilizer business in Nebraska. Co-workers lauded his almost 30-year career with Mayo Clinic and gave him an appreciative send-off that built up to his final day of work on Sept. 30.

All of that changed on Oct. 1. Instead of retiring to Nebraska, Cockerill went to New Jersey to work for a major MML competitor, Quest Diagnostics Inc. He stepped into the position of vice president and chief laboratory officer for the multibillion public company.

Using emails as evidence, Mayo Clinic contends Cockerill had been talking to Quest about a job since February. He had a phone interview with Quest in March followed by a face-to-face interview in May, when Cockerill said he needed the time off to help his mother with a business problem. The lawsuit alleges he accepted the Quest position in June. Instead of informing Mayo Clinic, he continued to work at Mayo and attend confidential meetings, where issues were discussed that could cause irreparable damage to MML and Mayo Clinic in the hands of Quest.

Cockerill exchanged emails discussing business strategies with Quest CEO Stephen Rusckowski in August, according to Mayo's suit.

Mayo Clinic alleges Cockerill left with at least seven clinic-owned USB memory drives and that he used four of them to "download information from Dr. Cockerill's computer in the days before … (he) started working for Quest."

Mayo Medical Labs and Quest vie for millions in medical test contracts. Mayo Medical Labs performs about 20 million tests for more than 4,000 hospitals annually. Quest says it does 1.5 billion tests a year. Many of the clinical tests conducted by both MML and Quest are proprietary and generate millions in revenue.

The lawsuit also claims Cockerill attempted to recruit "at least one long-term key Mayo employee to consider retiring early to 'consult' with the lab industry," though he did not specifically mention Quest to the female executive.