Mayo Clinic Health System: A look back on 2017

With a new clinic, an additional way to screen for breast cancer, and a few big announcements, 2017 was a busy year for Mayo Clinic Health System in La Crosse.

The year came with some changes, including the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration ending their official sponsorship of Mayo and a shift to a new electronic health record system.

In June, Mayo opened a new clinic in Belle Square downtown.

“It’s a bit of a new concept,” regional vice president Tim Johnson said. “It’s convenience care, but also heavily into primary care and trying to serve the needs of the employees that live and work in the downtown area.”

In July, Mayo announced it would provide a plot of land along Ferry Street for a new Coulee Council on Addictions building, and although its location was controversial, construction is now underway.

“It’s a huge need in this community,” Johnson said.

In November, the Franciscan Sisters, who were partnered with Mayo for more than 20 years, made the move to end their oversight and sponsorship with the health system to better focus their attention on issues such as homelessness.

“They still will be incredibly influential in all we do and bringing their Franciscan mission and all that that means to our organization,” Johnson said, adding that the sisters will still sit on Mayo boards.

Mayo announced in November that its cancer center is expanding, adding nine exam rooms and doubling treatment chairs to care for patients

“We desperately need more room to take care of our cancer patients,” Johnson said.

Also last year, Mayo began taking part in a nationwide breast cancer study with the goal of detecting cancer earlier, and brought a new way to screen patients for breast cancer — molecular breast imaging.

“Patients are benefiting from MBI today, as we speak,” Johnson said.

And finally last year, La Crosse’s Mayo Clinic was one of the first in the Mayo system to make a nationwide shift to Epic, an electronic health record system.

“It was an incredible amount of work,” Johnson said, but he believes it will pay off for patients in 2018.

“I think you will start to see the benefits of having a single electronic health record be implemented, and what that means as far as ease, patients going back and forth between our institutions, (and) what it means as far as adding more safety elements to our care,” he said.

Johnson said a priority this year is addressing mental health issues and recruiting psychiatrists, which is challenging because of the nationwide shortage. He also said Mayo is working to change the traditional model so that primary care doctors do more to address mental health.