Mayo Clinic’s First Disaster

This article was written by Phineas Upham

William Worrall Mayo came to the town of Rochester, Minnesota during the American Civil War. The army had posted him there as an examining surgeon, but he found that he had grown to love the town. When the war ended, Mayo attempted to take a bigger role in community leadership. He and his two sons became prominent members of the Rochester community, and he had both of his sons attend medical school to follow in his footsteps.

Both boys joined their father’s practice by 1888.

In 1883, the Mayo clinic experienced its first major crisis. A tornado had struck the region, and the Mayo family had managed to escape relatively unscathed. They immediately set up a temporary hospital and treated the injured brought there. They also brought in the Sisters of Saint Francis to act as nurses.

That crisis put Dr. Mayo in touch with Mother Alfred Moses. The two talked and decided that Mayo should begin his own hospital in the town, staffed by candidates chosen by Moses. The group practice experienced fairly steady growth throughout the 20th century. Today, almost 405 of those earnings are reinvested into research operations.

Mayo Clinic also maintains an extensive database of health knowledge online, which is free to access for patients and non-patients alike. It prides itself on patient care, research and education, represented figuratively by the company logo (a three-sided shield). The Mayo Clinic has also embraced technology in the hospital, using iPads and iPhones to sync up with existing health systems.

Phineas Upham

About the Author: Phineas Upham is an investor at a family office/hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phineas Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media & Technology group. You may contact Phineas on his Twitter page.

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