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Longtime Owatonna doctor steps into lead role in Owatonna, Faribault clinics

After two decades providing family-based health care, Dr. Jason Wray-Raabolle says his favorite part of being a doctor is still helping deliver babies.

“It’s about the thrill of being there as a new life comes into the world and watch the family welcome their newest member,” Wray-Raabolle said. “I just feel very fortunate for all the times I have been able to do that.”

Having been a part of the Mayo Clinic Health System – Owatonna immediately following his residency, Wray-Raabolle has been able to watch many of those babies grow up as he continued to care for them as their family medicine physician throughout the years. Though family medicine remains his passion, Wray-Raabolle is excited to take on a new leadership role.

Beginning Wednesday, Wray-Raabolle begins his new role as site lead physician for Mayor Clinic Health System in Owatonna and Faribault. He steps into this role following Dr. Brian Bunkers’ decision to step down from his role as CEO of the two clinic sites and return solely to family medicine. Wray-Raabolle’s role will also absorb the responsibilities of former medical director Dr. Diane Wallner, who also recently stepped down from her leadership role but continues to practice at the Owatonna clinic.

Though he admits that growing up, he never had “administrative role in health care” as one of his career goals, Wray-Raabolle said he was able to learn quickly in his residency the importance such roles have in a clinic setting.

“I really appreciate the fact that while you may not be in a room seeing one patient, you are actively trying to influence the practice and operations of the clinic in order to improve the care delivered,” Wray-Raabolle said.

Originally from Northfield, Wray-Raabolle said he always knew he wanted to be a doctor. He specifically recalls good experiences with his own family physician growing up and how it shaped his view of medicine in a way that he was able to envision his own career.

“Family medicine has always been my passion because it’s really the full spectrum of care,” Wray-Raabolle said. “I really enjoy that it’s a full breath of care from the newborns through the end of life and everything in between.”

Wray-Raabolle has served in administrative positions since he began practicing in 2001 in Owatonna. He has previously served as the vice chair of primary care for Southeast Minnesota Region and as chair of the Department of Family Medicine in Owatonna. Though he has spent most of his time in Owatonna, Wray-Raabolle said he has spent some time in Faribault and is looking forward to interacting the clinic’s team more.

“With my previous role of leading primary care, it was really about helping lead an amazing team in both Owatonna and Faribault, especially during the pandemic,” Wray-Raabolle said. “It’s an exciting time to be in a leadership position coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic and being able to leverage the momentum that a number of innovations were launched with. We made a lot of changes as a result of the pandemic – some that had been put on the table as 2030 goals – and now it is about how to incorporate that into the practice and continue to grow those opportunities to access care in new and different ways that better fit into our patients’ lives and schedules.”

One of the things Wray-Raabolle is most excited for in terms of his new role is the community engagement aspect it entails. Noting that Bunkers was a great mentor for him when it comes to being a community leader from Mayo, Wray-Raabolle said he believes in the importance his roles holds as an advocate for both the communities he serves.

“One focus that we have that I am passionate about is chronic disease management such as those living with diabetes,” Wray-Raabolle offered as an example of an area he would like to get more involved with in the community on a health platform. “I want to look at the aspect of that population that is growing and be able to demonstrate how to receive optimal diabetic care and also reduce the risk of complications and improve their overall quality of life.”

Wray-Raabolle said he also hopes to continue working on the various ongoing public health issues, such as the vaping epidemic and opioid crisis, that he believes the pandemic took the spotlight off for the last year.

Most importantly, however, Wray-Raabolle said he will still be seeing patients on an essentially normal schedule as he has been.

“It’s important to be in the trenches and to be providing that care to experience what my partners are experiencing and what the patients are experiencing,” Wray-Raabolle said, adding that things such as patients struggling with insurance coverage is one of the many things a physician hears firsthand that he could then bring to his administrative role. “I want to be an advocate for the practice and to represent the Owatonna and Faribault clinics.”

“I am very excited for this opportunity,” he continued. “I am both honored and humbled by the chance to continue to represent the community that I call home and to help lead us into this exciting future we have ahead of us.”

New ranking lists Medford among top Minnesota high schools
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The Medford school district has a new badge of honor after a recent independent ranking report.

Principal Kevin Babcock told the Medford School Board Monday that U.S. News and World Report has ranked the Medford secondary school as No. 150 in Minnesota for 2021. There are over 870 Minnesota high schools that were ranked for the report.

The school earned the rank as a result of the school’s robust offerings, including its Advanced Placement (AP) coursework and tests. 

“We were among the top 35% of schools in America and top 15% in Minnesota,” Babcock shared in his monthly report to the board

Babcock recalled the message informing him that the school had received the placement. Upon first glance, the email appeared to be a standard message, but a closer look revealed the impressive ranking and Babcock was delighted to see Medford High School had been ranked so high. The school is looking to get a banner announcing the ranking to hang in a highly visible spot as a point of pride.

Babcock pointed out that very few small schools of Medford’s size made it on the top 150 list. The smaller schools who did make the list tended to be charter schools. There are only about 20 traditional Minnesota high schools with a population of 275 or less ranked higher than Medford High School, according to the ranking website.

Medford's secondary school is ranked No. 8,315 nationally in a pool of nearly 18,000 public high schools.

The schools were ranked on a handful of factors based on student performance on state assessments and how well the school prepared students for college. Factors include college readiness, math and reading proficiency, math and reading performance, underserved student performance, college curriculum breadth as well as graduation rate.

AP participation rates at Medford secondary school is 31%. The total minority enrollment is 19%, and 33% of Medford Secondary students are considered economically disadvantaged, according to the U.S. News and World Report.

Highlights on the U.S. News and World Report show Medford secondary as having a 94% graduation rate, a score of 70% in reading proficiency and a score of 36% in mathematics proficiency. A look at these factor’s rankings across Minnesota places Medford High School at No. 140 for graduation rate and No. 203 for math and reading proficiency.

A glimpse at graduation this year

In other news, the Medford High School graduation will be held at 7 p.m., May 28. Following the ceremony, graduates will move out to their vehicles where they will line up for a car parade around Medford, beginning around 8 p.m. This drive-thru event was popular last year, so school officials thought it would be good to bring it back this year. More details regarding the parade are in the works. Seniors' last day of school is Thursday, May 27.

Defense moves to dismiss murder charge in Dartts Park homicide

The attorney representing the Owatonna man facing charges in relation to a 2020 homicide in Dartts Park has filed a motion asking the court to dismiss a second-degree murder charge.

Hassan Nur Hassan, 29, was charged in July with two counts of second-degree murder, one count of second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon, and one count of theft of a motor vehicle, all felonies. The charges stem from the July 12 stabbing and death of 32-year-old Mohamed Aweis Mohamed in Owatonna’s Dartts Park.

Hassan’s attorney filed a motion to dismiss the first count of second-degree murder on Jan. 21 and the brief detailing the reasons was filed last week.

In the original criminal complaint, witnesses told law enforcement they saw Hassan argue with Mohamed at two Owatonna parks that day, beginning in Manthey Park and ending in Dartts Park. Hassan reportedly stabbed Mohamed in the chest and stole a witness’ vehicle to flee the park. The Southern Minnesota Regional Medical Examiner’s Office in Rochester found that Mohamed died of a single stab wound to the chest and ruled his death as a homicide.

Hassan was arrested without incident in Minneapolis two days later.

In the brief filed on May 12, the defense attorney requested that Judge Joseph Bueltel dismiss the first second-degree murder charge that states Hassan intended to cause the death of Mohamed, but that the act was not premeditated. According to the court documents, the defense states there is lack of probable cause that Hassan “intended to effect the death” of Mohamed when he struck him in the chest with a brass knuckles/knife instrument.

The attorney, Frederick Goetz of Goetz and Eckland P.A. based in Minneapolis, wrote that there is no direct evidence of the state of mind Hassan was in when he stabbed Mohamed. Goetz added that the defendant’s state of mind “may be inferred from all the circumstances surrounding the event” and that the intent element depends on circumstantial evidence. Goetz also wrote that because it is seen on video that Hassan punched Mohamed a single time in the chest with the combined brass knuckles/knife weapon, there is not probably cause that Hassan intended for the blow to kill Mohamed.

The motion further goes on to explain that Hassan did not “plunge the knife in straight” but from the side consistent with a “roundhouse swing motion” seen on the video evidence. The defense is arguing that the nature of the wound itself is “not an act from which the intent to kill can be inferred alone.” In the motion, it reads that this action is not comparable to pointing a firearm at a victim and pulling the trigger, beating a victim repeatedly in the head with a tire iron, repeatedly stabbing a victim, or other conduct that clearly would show that the defendant had no other intent than the intent to kill.

Goetz also says that while the video shows Hassan walking away from Mohamed as he falls to the ground, it “cannot be said that he left him to die as there were a number of other people rushing to Mr. Mohamed’s side.”

The defense is also arguing that the evidence does not support the conclusion that Hassan was the aggressor during the incident and that surveillance video could lead one to surmise that Mohamed had pursued Hassan following the first argument in Manthey Park.

Goetz also says that while Hassan had an argument with Mohamed that day, there is no evidence that any threats to kill Mohamed occurred.

The motion is only asking the court to dismiss the first count of second-degree murder. The second count of second-degree murder states the act was committed without the intent of death.

Hassan’s last court appearance was on April 13. His next court appearance has not yet been scheduled.

Hassan remains in custody at the Steele County Detention Center and bail without conditions remains set at $1 million.