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Launched in 2014 by journalist Sean Baker, Med City Beat is an independent news source covering government, business and culture in Rochester, Minnesota.

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What role does the community play in the care of patients?

What role does the community play in the care of patients?

Each year, Rochester — a city of just 116K inhabitants — welcomes nearly 3 million visitors from across the globe. Many of them come here seeking hope, comfort and healing from a team of professionals who comprise one of the finest practices anywhere.

The top-notch medical care, they expect. The history and spirit of innovation, they soon learn about. But as they find themselves wandering the city between and after appointments, it can be the contributions of the collective community that leave a lasting impression.

By some estimates, patients and their families spend about 70 percent of their stay outside of the clinic walls, leaving them time for trips to local shops and restaurants. It is also not uncommon for longer-term visitors to find themselves integrated into a neighborhood or within the school district.

To better understand the role the community plays in the care of our patients and visitors, Med City Beat is teaming up with a group of students [Amarachi, Angelina, Johnathan and Sam] from the University of Minnesota Rochester. Through our journey, we are talking with local residents across different touch-points who work outside of the clinical setting. This includes, but is not limited to: restaurant waiters, police officers, religious leaders, airport employees, and volunteers of nonprofits that provide services to patients and families. And along the way, we will document the side of Rochester we all see everyday, but perhaps don't appreciate enough.

The project is a follow-up to a column we published here back in July from Dr. Gary David, a sociologist from Bentley University in Boston. Dr. David will be consulting our group at times throughout the semester.

‘It’s the people’

For our first interview, we visited Larry Pederson, an employee of the city's tourism bureau who helps navigate visitors from the information booth in Peace Plaza. Larry tells us "it's the people" that has kept him manning the booth for 12 years now. The retired IBMer adds, "it gives me something interesting to do."

"I’ve got more than enough to keep me home with kids and grandkids, but still I enjoy this," says Larry. "It’s fun to feel that you’re contributing something.”

Larry says he appreciates the cultural connectedness and genuine positivity visitors bring to Rochester, though he acknowledges the experience of coming to a hospital can be stressful for some. As an ambassador for the city, he takes pride in being able to make them feel safe and welcomed. He also tries to keep a running list in his head of different activities to keep families entertained while they are not in for treatment.

“They are coming here and they got some real issues," says Larry, "and so I think if we can make life a little easier for them, it's very beneficial. Whether it is a server at a restaurant who talks to them ... Even cab drivers can make them feel safe and at home."

Follow along on Facebook and Instagram for more stories in the coming months. If you know someone worth profiling, send us a message through the website contact form.

Cover photo by William Forsman

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