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133 posts categorized "Non-profits news"

July 28, 2015

Mayo Clinic-linked NeoChord on 'Hot Devices We Can't Get in US' list

NeoChord, a medical device firm I first wrote about in 2007, made a top 10 list this week on the Medical Device and Diagnostic Industry news site.

They posted a "10 Hot Devices We can't Get in the US" list on their Device Talk blog with this set-up text block:

Patients in the United States enjoy some of the best medical care in the world, but many observers worry that the country's regulatory environment is pushing medical innovation to other shores. Whether you believe FDA oversight is too stringent, too lax, or strikes the right balance, there are numerous medical devices that have achieved CE Marking, but aren't yet FDA approved.

NeoChord's DS1000 made the list. It earned a CE Marking in December 2012 but does not have FDA approval.

 

The Eden Prairie-based NeoChord surfaced locally in 2007, when it licensed technology designed byMayo Clinic cardiac surgeons Dr. Richard Daly and Dr. Giovanni Speziali. Speziali was named as the company's chief medical officer in 2013. 

NeoChord-DS1000Beside licensing its technology, Mayo Clinic has also previously invested in NeoChord. 

The NeoChord DS1000 device is used to treat a heart condition called mitral regurgitation. Mitral regurgitation means the valve or leaflet that controls the flow of blood from the left atrium to the left ventricle is not working properly.

Treatment typically consists of “cracking the chest,” stopping the heart and doing surgery. NeoChord's approach is much less invasive and can be done on a beating heart.

A tool is inserted between the ribs and into the heart. Then it is used to attach a chord to the faulty valve leaflet, which is tethered to the heart.

The market for less invasive techniques for mitral valve repair has been estimated at more than $2 billion. 

July 06, 2015

Clients defend Rochester ADA lawsuits

The clients behind recent costly disability lawsuits against Rochester businesses say the money they collect will create programs to help disabled people.

"We all suffer with access issues," said Melanie Davis, a student from Jackson, Minn. "The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) has been effect for many years. We've gotten tired of not having the same level of access everybody else has,"

Davis, who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, is one of four board members of the Minnesota-based Disability Support Alliance. She, a Parking_lot_sign_largelong with other alliance members, filed at least eight lawsuits in the last two months against Rochester businesses over ADA violations. The non-profit Disability Support Alliance was formed on July 3, 2014.

Davis and her companions recently stayed in Rochester for about week. When asked why they were here, she replied, "We travel. There were various reasons for being in Rochester, like medical things. We like touring and stuff like that."

Surprised by lawsuits

Many of the local businesses, such as Bilotti's Pizzeria and Hillcrest Shopping Center, were surprised by the lawsuits. Neither Davis nor any of her companions made complaints directly to the businesses during their visit to Rochester.

The DSA's Minneapolis attorney, Paul Hansmeier, approaches businesses about settling the lawsuits for amounts, like $5,000. That has led some of the businesses to wonder if the suits are more about making money than resolving accessibility issues.

"These people (from the DSA) had no intention of supporting my business when they drove in here. They came in here with every intention of getting rich quick," said Bilotti's owner Karla Sperry, who is addressing the problem with signage for her handicapped parking spots.

Davis disputes that claim. She said none of the board members receive salaries or part of the settlements. However, they did receive travel expenses to attend their board meetings, which occur every three months. She said DSA board members are mostly supported by payments from Social Security.

"We're getting paid for damages, and we donate the money back into the DSA. That's basically how it works," she explained.

The money from the settlements goes into a fund to be used by the DSA to develop programs to help disabled people in Minnesota, Davis said. 

"All of those (programs) are in the works. Nothing is working yet at the moment," she said when asked about the support programs.

Hansmeier, who works for law firm Class Justice, handles all of DSA's lawsuits and does collect a portion of the settlements, she said.

"It's not a salary, but he gets a portion from each case," Davis said. "Paul receives his own salary from his law firm, which is a contract which we developed between our organizations."

When asked what percentage of each settlement that Hansmeier collects, she declined to answer.

Litigious past

Hansmeier has filed a large number of this type of lawsuit throughout the state, including in Marshall and Mankato. Before pursuing ADA cases, he was well known for suits against Internet users, charging they had illegally downloaded copyrighted pornography. A federal judge ordered Hansmeier and others to pay sanctions related to that practice. Prenda Law, the firm Hansmeier worked with on the porn cases, has been dissolved.

He has been quoted in the media saying, "We consider ourselves to be an advocacy association more than we consider ourselves a law firm. With the porn reputation, I wanted to shift my focus and focus on something more positive."

In 2013, Hansmeier began filing a number of ADA-related cases for a disabled Minneapolis client named Eric A Wong. In a deposition for one of the cases, Wong testified that Hansmeier's brother, Peter Hansmeier, and others working with Hansmeier would take him to businesses to see if he could access them.

Hennepin County District Court Chief Judge Peter Cahill flagged six of the cases at the end of 2013 and ordered them all assigned to one judge to make sure they were all managed the same way.


The judge wrote that the manner in which the lawsuits were filed "… raises the specter of litigation abuse, and Mr. Hansmeier’s history reinforces this concern."

Davis said Wong is chairman of the DSA board. He recruited her to the board after she appeared in a documentary called "Independence to Inclusion" by Twin Cities Public Television in April 2014.

"He (Eric) had a vision for a better life," she said.

As far as Hansmeier's controversial past as an attorney, Davis said that doesn't concern her or any of the other board members.

"For us right now, it comes down to this, everybody has a past. What he did then is very different than what he's doing now," she said. "We're thankful for someone who's willing to help us exercise our civil rights."

In an email to the Post-Bulletin, Hansmeier reiterated the reason for the lawsuits is to make businesses more accessible, not to make money.

"Regardless of whether everyone agrees with my clients' efforts there can be no question that more attention to these issues will encourage more business owners to obey the law without the need for a lawsuit," he wrote.

Hansmeier also clarified in his email that a lawsuit he filed for DSA against Rochester's Kahler Grand Hotel in March plus a counter-suit filed in response by Kahler were settled in April.

July 02, 2015

Goodwill store proposed for northwest Rochester

A Minneapolis developer is proposing to build a 28,000-square-foot Goodwill thrift store near Costco in northwest Rochester.


The Driessen Group, led by Vince Driessen, has filed plans to build a store at the corner of 19th Street Northwest and Scott Road Northwest. That's the 19th Street entrance to the Costco commercial area. The store is slated to sit opposite the Kwik Trip station across Scott Road.

Goodwill plansThe plans describe the project as a Goodwill store. However, Goodwill Minnesota Retail Marketing Director Mary Beth Casement cautions that the nonprofit has not committed to any such store yet.

"We do not have a signed lease, so your best source is the developer rather than Goodwill-Easter Seals Minnesota," said Casement in an email.

Driessen has not yet responded to a request for comment about this project.

It's common for developers to build stores with a plan, and then lease or sell them to nonprofit organizations or corporations.

Driessen recently built a 33,000-square-foot Goodwill store in St. Paul, which opened in March.

The plans, drawn up by DJR Architecture Inc., of Minneapolis, show a building with 13,730 square feet of retail space and 8,787 square feet of office. It also includes 4,955 square feet of warehouse space.

In 2008, a Goodwill store with 15,000 square feet of retail space was built at 239 28th St. SE near the Broadway Commons commercial area. The nonprofit organization moved into it after leaving its old Rochester spot at 660 37th St. NW.

It's unclear if this proposed store would be a second location or if it would replace the 7-year-old southeast store. A second store seems the most likely possibility. Salvation Army opened a second northwest location in 2014.

June 19, 2015

Bingo is coming back to Rochester

Get your scorecards and ink daubers ready.

Rochester's Elks Club is bringing Bingo back to the Med City.

"We want to open an old-fashioned Bingo hall," said Sue Foster, the current president (Exalted Ruler) of the Elks Club.

18_black_vector_fan-5-sm_1_1Fans of the popular game haven't had a regular place to play since the Rochester Senior Center closed its Flamingo Bingo in December. 

The plan is to open the club's doors at 1652 U.S. Highway 52 North in the Hillcrest Shopping Center on June 30 and start calling numbers. The Elks will host evening bingo games on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, plus on Sunday afternoons.

The club, which has 378 members, has worked its way through the state's complex charitable gambling process and is almost ready to go.

"We have a charitable gambling manager, an assistant gambling manager, callers and a concession stand," Foster said.

In the run up to the opening, the club will have trial runs for the staff with its members to work out the bugs before allowing the public in to play, he said.

Of course, the Elks already know the rules of the game. Flaming Bingo operated in the Elks Club for about eight months until it closed. It had been displaced from its former building at 2828 Highway 52 North, which was sold to a Twin Cities car dealership and eventually demolished.

With construction of the new Senior Center addition to the Rochester Recreation Center underway, Senior Center Executive Director Sally Gallagher said the center's board of directors decided to focus on that instead of the seven-year-old Flamingo Bingo. In addition, the center's charitable gambling manager resigned and the bingo venture saw declining revenue.

ElksThe Senior Center raised $100,000 in funds in 2013 with the Flamingo Bingo parlor, but the dollars started fading after moving in with the Elks.

"We did not have the visibility we'd hoped for. We had a significant attendance decline after the move. Though, it is a lovely space," Gallagher said last year. 

After investing in creating that "lovely space," the Elks Club saw an opportunity to raise more funds for their organization and other local nonprofits.

"We did this years ago at our old location (at 917 15th Ave. SE). So we thought, why not try something like this and give more back to the community," Foster said. 

May 28, 2015

Mayo hires consultant to map out Discovery Square

To help fire up Discovery Square as "a catalyst" to create jobs in downtown Rochester, Mayo Clinic has contracted a feasibility study, independent of the Destination Medical Center Corp.

Mayo Clinic has hired the DMC development manager, Hammes Co. of Madison, Wis., to analyze the Discovery Square piece of the DMC vision and offer a market plan of how DiscoverySquarethe medical and technology research area might be developed. Mayo is paying Hammes $1.5 million to conduct the study, which is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

One expected tenant is Epic, a Madison-based software system that recently signed a contract to help build an electronic health record system for Mayo Clinic. It's planning on having many employees based in Rochester.

"They've indicated a strong interest in the Discovery Square concept, and we're exploring ways they may participate in that," said Bolton.

Discovery Square is described as "the focal point" for Mayo Clinic's expansion of its science and technology institutes, and it's designed as a place for private companies and others to work with Mayo on research and other projects. It's marked on the DMC map as being central to the Gonda Building and the Mayo Medical School.

"The Square is designed to be playful and artful, similar to the Google Commons in order to, quite simply, attract the best and the brightest, the most creative minds in the world," according to the DMC plan.

Mayo Clinic owns about 35 percent of the property within the proposed Discovery Square area.

The goal of the new study is to map out the area more specifically and identify potential partners and funding streams to make it sustainable.

Jeff Bolton, Mayo's chief administrative officer and the chair of DMC's Economic Development Agency, said Mayo funded the study because it's not part of the DMC EDA's scope.

"The EDA budget is really to provide staffing to support the DMCC board, to work with developers and help market the DMC concept," he said. "Mayo Clinic views this as area where we could serve as an important catalyst to advance the DMC vision. That's why we stepped up and are making this investment."

Mayo Clinic's relationship with Hammes dates back to the very early days of the DMC concept in 2008 before it became public. Mayo Clinic first officially contracted with the company about DMC in 2011. When the EDA signed its own contract with Hammes last year for $2.3 million a year, it had no ongoing Mayo contracts.

Bob Dunn, president of Hammes, explained that this study will be similar to his company's work on the overall DMC plan but will be much more detailed.

This study will include a master plan, a conceptual design, preliminary engineering, financial analysis, financing plan, a market analysis, a review of effective land use and operational aspects for Discovery Square.

"This will be a block-by-block plan," he said. "But we're not starting at ground zero. Mayo, which owns a good portion of the land in Discovery Square, has already thought a lot about this development."

Meanwhile, Mayo is actively working with companies to try to get them to locate there, Bolton said.

"We're out marketing the concept," said Mayo's Bolton. "Obviously, we have an interest in terms of attracting groups to collaborate with us."

The project's success likely will be driven by what partners want to work with Mayo Clinic.

"If I were to forecast, I'd say there will be multiple of owners of facilities in Discovery Square. Many will probably be owned by private developers," predicted Bolton. "There won't be a monolithic owner of the facilities. The free market will play out in this environment."

He added that Mayo Clinic may participate "directly or indirectly" in some of the development.

The multimillion dollar question is when actual development of this new job generator area will begin.

"We'll need a critical mass of corporate engagement in order to have a developer to put that first shovel in the ground," said Bolton.

Dunn said this is a fascinating feature of what is already a unique project.

"DMC and Discovery Square, to me, is one of the most interesting things that I can think of nationally in terms of major economic development," he said. "It's unique because impact Mayo Clinic can bring to something like this in a market that's now beginning to mature and evolve very quickly."

April 22, 2015

UMR prepares land for campus

The University of Minnesota Rochester started cleaning up its land on South Broadway this week as an early step toward building a new campus.

Crews are removing asphalt, concrete and top soil on the former sites of China Dynasty and Rico Mex buildings at 701 S. Broadway and 617 S. Broadway. UMR bought the properties in 2009 and 2010 for a combined cost of $2.2 million. It demolished in the buildings in 2011.

UMRcampussite"We always we knew at some point in time we'd have to do some environmental remediation," said Jay Hesley, UMR's assistant vice chancellor for institutional advancement.

The plan is to remove a layer of possibly contaminated top soil, replacing it and landscaping the area with grass, trees and shrubs to provide natural "passive remediation." Basically, that will let the soil "breathe."

However, UMR wants to make it clear that this will not be a park, though the public will have access to certain areas.

"This is a temporary action for holding and maintaining the property in the long run," he said "The land will eventually be redeveloped. It will become an eventual building site for the campus.".

The timing for that eventual campus construction is unknown at this point, according to UMR.

The master plan is to build its long-proposed 10.5-acre campus in the area near Soldiers Memorial Field. The university, which opened in 2011, is now based on the third and fourth floors of the University Square mall in downtown Rochester as well as in he nearby 318 Commons building. The school is already getting close to outgrowing those spaces, officials say.

In recent years, UMR has acquired and demolished six buildings in the area as it moved toward the campus plan.

In 2014, it wrapped up a long-planned purchase of 601 First Ave. SW., 609 First Ave. S.W. and 114 Sixth St. S.W. from the City of Rochester. That included the former KTTC facility, a small office building and a small place last used as a halal meat market. UMR paid $1.32 million for the properties.

The now empty ex-KTTC site is slated to be the first phase of the eventual campus project. Hesley expects the Broadway properties currently being cleaned up will be the site of the second phase of the campus.

While work on the campus master plan "depends on our needs and requirements," it could start within four or five years, he said.

However, it might not be UMR's needs that eventually trigger the start of campus construction. Hesley said the university is looking at this as "a community campus" that might involve private partners to help develop it. UMR used a public/private model for 318 Commons, which houses most of the students, many classrooms and faculty offices. That tower was built by Rochester developers Hal Henderson and Grant Michelitz. They lease the majority of it to UMR.

"Many other organizations are going to have the opportunity to participate in the campus to develop a real community asset," he said. "They might drive demand for building sites ahead of UMR's needs."

April 06, 2015

Mayo Clinic's Noseworthy makes top physicians list, though down from 2014

Mayo Clinic CEO Dr. John Noseworthy made Modern Healthcare magazine's 2015 list of most influential physicians, though he dropped down four places from the previous year.

Noseworthy was ranked at 6th in the 11th annual 50 Most  influential Physician Executives and Leaders. That's up from down from his previous ranking of second in the 2014 and 2013 lists. He was listed at 11th in 2011 and 31st in 2010. He was named president and CEO of Mayo Clinic in 2009.

Noseworthy-730The magazine describes the criteria of making the 50 Most Influential Physician Executives and Leaders list as "physicians working in the healthcare industry who are deemed by their peers and an expert panel to be the most influential in terms of demonstrating leadership and impact."

In recent years, Noseworthy has also made the magazine's annual list of 100 most influential people in healthcare. In 2014, he was ranked at No. 16. That list typically comes out in August.

That list also included the salaries of the leaders. The 63-year-old Noseworthy's salary was $1.75 million in 2012. It increased to $1.9 million in 2013.

The leaders of Mayo Clinic's perennial competitors, Cleveland Clinic and John Hopkins, also made the 2015 influential physicians list. However, they were much further down than Noseworthy. Cleveland Clinic's CEO Delos “Toby” Cosgrove was listed at 13th and Johns Hopkins Medicine CEO Paul Rothman came in at number 20.

Modern Healthcare named Dr. Robert Wachter as the most influential physician in 2015. He's the chief of the medical service at University of California San Francisco Medical Center and chief of the division of hospital medicine.

Richard Gilfillan, president and CEO of Trinity Health in Livonia, Mich., was ranked second. The Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Thomas Frieden, was third.

March 06, 2015

10 years of blogging Rochester

On March 4, 2005, I wrote my first blog post. Kiger's Notebook blogo 2x

It was my sixth year at the Post-Bulletin. I created the "Heard on the Street" column about three years before the blog began. 

More  than 6,200 posts, stacks of columns, mountains of tweets and many gray hairs later, I'm still here writing about business and things vaguely related to businesPhoto on 2015-03-03 at 18.11s in southeastern Minnesota.

It'syou, the readers, who make this career such a fulfilling and entertaining one. Thank you everyone for your feedback, criticism and support over these past 10 years. 

10 years of blogging Rochester

On March 4, 2005, I wrote my first blog post.Kiger's Notebook blogo 2x

It was my siPhoto on 2015-03-03 at 18.11xth year at the Post-Bulletin. I created the "Heard on the Street" column about three years before the blog began. 

More than 6,200 posts, stacks of columns, mountains of tweets and many gray hairs later, I'm still here writing about business and things vaguely related to business in southeastern Minnesota.

It's you, the readers, who make this career such a fulfilling and entertaining one. Thank you everyone for your feedback, criticism and support over these past 10 years.  

March 05, 2015

Three local biotech start-ups win funding

A regional economic development fund is giving three local medical technology start-ups a financial boost.

Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation recently announced it's giving funding to three local companies: Ambient Clinical Analytics, a Mayo Clinic spin-off software firm in Rochester; Xcede Technologies Inc., a Rochester company that makes surgical sealants; and Sonex Health, a Byron-based company that markets a carpal tunnel surgery device device called Stealth Microknife.

G_southern-minnesota-initiative-foundation-1395-1410186849.1865SMIF, which typically doesn't release the amounts of its economic development investments, is tapping its new $3 million Southern Minnesota Equity Fund for the capital for these three companies. The fund was created to to invest up to $600,000 per year for five years. The maximum investment is $100,000, according to SMIF.

The fund provides capital and expertise to early-stage and start-up companies. SMIF partners with organizations and individual investors to leverage capital and expertise to grow these companies to provide economic opportunities for Southern Minnesota.

"We're pleased to invest in these high-tech businesses through our newly-created equity fund program. Our Foundation remains committed to providing resources to grow local businesses," stated SMIF President/CEO Tim Penny in the announcement of the investments.

Ambient Clinic: Ambient Clinical is based in the newly opened expansion of the Mayo Clinic Biobusiness Accelerator in the Minnesota Biobusiness Center. It's CEO is Al Berning, who previously led Pemstar, Hardcore Computing and other Rochester companies. Drew Flaada, a former Rochester IBM executive, serves as chief technology officer.

Ambient raised $1.18 million in funding in early 2014.

Xcede Technologies Inc.: Xcede, subsidiary of Watertown, Mass.-based Dynasil Corp. of America, designs, develops and manufactures innovative hemostatic (bleeding prevention) and sealant products for surgical application.

Xcede is based at 1815 14th St. NW. Ambient's Berning was listed as an executive director in 2014.

Dynasil acquired Mayo Clinic technology initially invented by Dr. Daniel Ericson in 2011.

Sonex Health: Sonex Health is the creator of the Stealth MicroKnife. The Stealth MicroKnife is a medical device that allows clinicians to perform carpal tunnel release surgery under ultrasound guidance in the office

Sonex is listed as being based in Byron as well as having a presence in Mayo Clinic Mayo Clinic Biobusiness Accelerator.