Mayo clinic presents $5 billion new Rochester campus in the works

Rendering of clinic03
Rendering of Mayo's newest campus plan in downtown Rochester, Minn.
Kristyn Jacobsen | Mayo Clinic

On Tuesday, Gov. Tim Walz and a host of Mayo Clinic officials unveiled a new, $5 billion campus in downtown Rochester, Minn.

Mayo says the project will upend our current concept of what it means to go to the hospital and will lean into emerging technologies including artificial intelligence.

MPR News correspondent  Catharine Richert joined Minnesota Now more about the massive proposal.

Use the audio player above to listen to the full conversation.

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Audio transcript

CATHY WURZER: And right now, Governor Tim Walz and a host of Mayo Clinic officials are unveiling a new $5-billion campus in Downtown Rochester. Mayo says the project will append our current concept of what it means to go to the hospital and will lean into emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence. Rochester reporter Katherine Richard is with us to tell us more about this massive proposal.

Well, Katherine $5 billion. That's a big number. What's Mayo saying it's going to use the money for?

KATHERINE RICHARD: OK. So on a very basic level, this is a 2.4 million square foot expansion of its downtown campus. If you've ever been to Mayo, you've certainly seen and maybe you've been inside the Gonda Building. It's an extremely tall, glittery high rise where most of Mayo's outpatient care is conducted.

This project will connect to Gonda and serve as what Mayo officials are calling health neighborhoods, where all the services a patient needs will come to them rather than the patient having to ping pong around Mayo's campus over the course of a few days or even weeks. They argue it will streamline care for patients and for staff and hopefully improve outcomes too.

CATHY WURZER: It sounds like another hospital, Katherine, but Mayo says this is different. How so?

KATHERINE RICHARD: Yeah. They've been really careful not to call it a hospital, saying the entire concept blurs the lines between hospital and digital health care and clinic experiences. Here's how Dr. Craig Daniels, who's helping lead this project, described it.

CRAIG DANIELS: Health care is often felt by patients as being fragmented and episodic. We have outpatient care models and inpatient care models, and we move patients back and forth, in between. And by we, I mean the world of health care. We do our best, but we're really working in a 20th century model of health care with patients who have 21st century health care needs.

KATHERINE RICHARD: OK. But practically speaking, what this means is that patients who come to Mayo with complicated diseases or multiple medical challenges, Daniels used an example of a cancer relapse patient who's also pregnant, will go to a single place. Then they will receive services that Mayo offers, and it'll all come to them and quickly. So diagnostics, imaging, lab work, surgery, and of course, the practitioners you normally see while you're here.

And baked into all of this is lots of flexibility to adapt as health care further evolves. That's really different from the current model where you have hospital floors that can only be used for surgery or hospital floors that can only be used for hospital beds.

CATHY WURZER: So a patient is in one place, right? Kind of a different experience for a patient instead, as you say, ping-ponging around the Mayo Clinic campus. But how about for folks who work at Mayo?

KATHERINE RICHARD: Mayo officials argue there's a benefit there too. So for instance, this facility will be infused with emerging digital technologies in ways that are kind of hard to imagine right now. Think relying on automation and artificial intelligence to free up doctors to spend more productive time with their patients. Here's how Dr. Amy Williams, who's also working on this project, described it to me.

AMY WILLIAMS: It has to do with remote monitoring and easily getting data from your local-- let's say from your local physician what has happened to you medically, surgically prior to coming to Mayo Clinic. So that our team can get the information that they need, and it can help them offload some of what they do on a daily basis that would allow them to pay more attention and to have more time with their patient.

KATHERINE RICHARD: Williams said that all these efficiencies combined could actually lead to faster discharge times for patients as well.

CATHY WURZER: So we have some renderings of the project up online right now at mprnews.org. It looks like a lot of this construction, Katherine, is in pretty much the same area of town where Rochester has seen some pretty decent development in recent years. So how does this project fit into the expansion that we've seen more broadly?

KATHERINE RICHARD: Yeah. You know, Rochester's been undergoing a big transformation for almost a decade now, and that is expected to continue. Most of that development is tied to Destination Medical Center or DMC as we call it. It is this $5.6 billion, 20-year economic development project that's meant to do a lot of things for Rochester and Mayo. Make the city more appealing to people who come here for care. Make the downtown less of a dead zone that's only busy during the workday. Expand the area's economy beyond health care by attracting new workers, building more housing sort of across the affordability spectrum.

And there's been a lot of fits and starts in all of this. And of course, the pandemic didn't help much in terms of pushing retail and commercial development forward in this downtown area. But what we see here is Mayo to some degree expanding on its part of the deal. Wrapped up in DMC was Mayo ensuring that it remains a major economic anchor in Minnesota. Maintaining its status as a world class medical institution that's on the leading edge of health care and bringing more patients and workers here.

I think it is notable that the investment from Mayo on this single project is $5 billion. That's roughly the same amount as DMC over 20 years. I also think it's notable that this development is happening on a swath of town that connects the oldest part of Mayo's campus, so Saint Mary's Hospital, with its downtown facilities.

It's the same stretch that's slated for bus rapid transit systems where we've seen more hotels and commercial development crop up. So in some ways, this project further connects these two parts of the city that have physically been a bit of a hassle to get between, and it also comes with 800 additional parking spots, which is always a concern here.

CATHY WURZER: Yes, true. I remember talking to Dr. Gianrico Farrugia, the CEO of Mayo earlier this summer. He was kind of hinting at this. So does this project have a name?

KATHERINE RICHARD: It does. Mayo is calling it Bold. Forward. Unbound. And they've been hinting at it for some time. That is true. You even see that logo on our buses around town, and I can say locals have been wondering what this is all about. But we will start to see the work start in earnest in early 2024. Mayo's already been talking to the city and destination medical center officials about all of this. And we'll get to work on those permits and hope to start construction next year.

They're also going to be getting feedback from the surrounding neighborhoods, which is actually pretty residential in the early part of next year. They hope to have the first buildings open in 2028 and for it to all be done in 2030.

CATHY WURZER: All right. Katherine Richard, thank you so much.

KATHERINE RICHARD: You're welcome, Cathy.

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