On Air
0:00
0:00
Open In Popup
MPR News

How MPR News reported the CNN-Mayo 'medical kidnapping' story

Share story

It's very unpleasant work to assign a reporter to follow-up on another news organization's story. 

But sometimes there are stories that demand additional reporting. That was the case with  CNN's three-part report  on a Minnesota family's claim that a daughter was "medically kidnapped" by Mayo Clinic. 

The CNN report shows dramatic video of people whisking a young woman from a wheelchair into a waiting vehicle, apparently in Rochester at Mayo Clinic. 

The mother and stepfather told CNN they wanted to transfer their 18-year-old daughter to another hospital because they were unhappy with the care she was receiving, but that Mayo refused. 

The family told CNN they created a ruse to get their daughter to the lobby where she was quickly moved into the waiting vehicle.

Claims that Mayo held a young patient against her will? A family sneaking their daughter out to move her to another hospital? 

That's a story that bears follow-up, especially if it's happening in our backyard. I assigned Catharine Richert from our Rochester bureau and her editor Bill Catlin to chase the story. 

Oddly enough, Richert had already had contact with the mother — back in March 2017. That was just after the teen was whisked from her hospital room and away from Rochester. 

At the time, Mayo Clinic was in the news after its CEO made statements to employees that made it appear the hospital preferred privately insured patients over publicly insured patients. 

We surveyed members of our Public Insight Network, a database of tens of thousands of listeners who have agreed to be contacted by reporters. In this query, we asked if members had experiences they'd like to share. 

Richert went back to her files and found the note from the mom featured in the CNN report. The mother's name and other details provided by the mother in 2017 matched those at the center of the CNN story. 

The mom did not tell Richert about "medical kidnapping." Rather, she wrote that her daughter had been "pushed out the door" of Mayo after the family's private insurance changed. The mother did not respond to Richert's emails or phone calls at the time. 

The mother told CNN her daughter was held captive by Mayo. But in March of 2017, the mother told MPR News her daughter was kicked out by Mayo.

This week, Richert has repeatedly tried to talk to the mother and the daughter but so far neither has responded to emails or phone calls.

As you can see from reading this story, it's a complicated one.  Mayo said the CNN report is wrong. CNN stands by its report.

Our mission is to report on stories of importance to Minnesota. And that's why we took this one on.

 Disclosures

We also believe in transparency. 

Richert's husband is Dr. David Jones and he is a Senior Associate Consultant in Mayo's Department of Neurology. He completed his residency and fellowship at Mayo Clinic as well. 

He splits his time between seeing patients with cognitive impairments and conducting research on Alzheimer's and dementia. His practice does not overlap with the departments that treated the patient. 

Here's his  bio. 

MPR has another connection to Mayo. Dr. Patricia Simmons, a retired physician with deep ties to Mayo was elected to the  MPR board of trustees  in 2014.

She has no direct ties to MPR News, but Cokie Roberts, a former reporter for National Public Radio and now a commentator for National Public Radio is a  trustee of Mayo Clinic.

National Public Radio and Minnesota Public Radio are two separate organizations. 

We will continue to follow this story. 

If you have any questions about our coverage you can reach me at medgerly@mpr.org.  

Thanks for reading,

Mike Edgerly, MPR News executive editor