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Extraordinary Care. Unmatched Expertise.

St. Elizabeth Healthcare and the Mayo Clinic Care Network
Many patients and doctors reap big benefits over first year in network

Tony & Mary LuebbersOver the past year, dozens of local patients have benefited firsthand from the expertise of some of the greatest minds in medicine today, thanks to St. Elizabeth Healthcare’s membership in the Mayo Clinic Care Network. As the only healthcare organization in this region selected for membership, our doctors are able to consult directly with Mayo Clinic’s world-renowned specialists about patients and their treatment, through an electronic process called eConsult.

Over the course of the first nine months of St. Elizabeth’s membership in the network, more than 20 local physicians in 11 different specialties conducted eConsults with Mayo’s world-leading medical experts to obtain help with some of this area’s most complex and unusual cases. And the results have been impressive.

Just ask Tony Luebbers. The Edgewood man’s oncologist, Dr. Lawrence Brennan, consulted with Mayo Clinic’s physicians about his very rare case of Ewing’s sarcoma shortly after St. Elizabeth joined the national network last November. As a result, the 65-year-old retired accountant ended up actually going to Mayo for surgery on his difficult-to-remove tumor early this summer.

Mr. Luebbers and his wife, Mary, said they were simply bowled over by the entire experience.

“It’s just an amazing place,” said Ms. Luebbers shortly after her husband’s surgery there.

“You walk in the door and you just feel the healing. … Part of it is their specialization. Like Tony has Ewing’s sarcoma, so he saw the department for sarcoma cancer. …

“And in surgery, he had the liver doctor come in and take out the (cancerous) spots on his liver. Then the colon doctor stepped in and did his surgery. In all we stayed three days and flew home. It was just that quick and they were just that good that he recovered that quickly.”

Healing patients, helping doctors
Mr. Luebbers is one of 12 local patients who have gone to Mayo Clinic for treatment as a result of their physicians’ consultations with Mayo doctors through St. Elizabeth’s network membership over the last year. But most of the patients whose physicians have consulted with Mayo specialists have remained here for their treatment, thanks to the network’s eConsult process, which allows St. Elizabeth doctors to exchange patients’ case information with Mayo’s doctors via computer.

St. Elizabeth Physicians Neurologist, Dr. Angela Rackley, said though she was a little hesitant about the eConsult process initially, she is now one of its biggest fans. In fact, she’s consulted with Mayo specialists regarding more than a half-dozen patients, all with great success.

Dr. Rackley said patients with very complex and treatment-resistant cases are benefiting greatly from the expertise of Mayo’s specialists, who regularly treat some of the most challenging medical cases in the world. But, the patients aren’t the only ones who are gaining from the relationship, Dr. Rackley said.

“For instance, I have had one patient who has had very significant cramping that we were having trouble getting under control, and when they (Mayo) made their recommendations, I was like, ‘Oh, I wasn’t aware of that. That would be a really good thing to try in the future with other patients.’

“So, it’s kind of nice that I can learn from them and what they have to teach because they have so many specialists in different areas. … I think that I really learn.

“That’s especially true about rare conditions like cerebellar disorders and ataxia, where there is a degenerative process in the brain that’s slowly progressive. I just don’t see that very often. So when I can communicate with their experts, it gives me an idea of what to do next time, too. … I think it does make me a better doctor.”

Improving our organization, too
St. Elizabeth Healthcare is also learning and growing through its membership in the network. In fact, in just the first nine months of the relationship, more than a dozen St. Elizabeth administrators, physicians and nursing leaders tapped into the network to gain Mayo’s insight on better ways to handle their responsibilities to improve things like patient satisfaction and total joint replacement protocols. And the results are clearly showing up in the care delivered.

In fact, many patients who have been to both Mayo Clinic and St. Elizabeth hospitals for treatment have remarked how similar the two are in quality of care delivered. Tony Luebbers, for instance, has received some of his most intensive inpatient chemotherapy at St. Elizabeth Edgewood, following his June surgery.
  Throughout his repeated stays in the Edgewood hospital, he says he’s been impressed to find that the nursing here is so similar to that he received at Mayo Clinic in Rochester.

“The experience we had here was on the same level as what we had at Mayo. And, the efficiency was really just the same, too.”

“We have,” his wife said, with a smile, “been very impressed.”

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