Blooming Prairie and Kenyon residents will now have access to health care for four to six days a month through a mobile health clinic.

Operating on a part-time basis, the clinic will stop every other week in Kenyon from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays beginning June 28. It will be in Central Farm Service’s parking lot at 806 Second St., at the intersection of Highway 56 South and Second Street. The mobile unit includes two exam rooms, an on-site laboratory, pharmacy services and is Americans with Disabilities Act compliant.

Jennifer Horn, regional chair of clinical practice in the southeast Minnesota region, said staff will be able to help patients navigate the technology and set up virtual visits.

“We’re excited for the community to engage with us and figure out how to make it work for them,” Horn said.

Since February 2020, Mayo Clinic Health System representatives and Kenyon city leaders had been discussing alternative options for health care in the community. The COVID-19 pandemic sped up the plans for exploring other health care options following Mayo’s decision to permanently close two of its part-time clinics in Blooming Prairie and Kenyon last fall.

CFS Environmental Health & Safety Manager Shannon Bode said the location works out well for Mayo and CHS because CHS customers typically don’t use that parking lot. The mobile clinic is also self-sufficient, and doesn’t rely on the use of the facility’s water and other utilities. Parked in Owatonna when not in use, the mobile clinic unit will also be shared with communities in the southwest region.

Kaia Yngve, operations manager of Mayo’s mobile clinic, said through September, three people will be on staff during its stop in Kenyon: the driver/staff member, a LPN (licensed practical nurse) and an APP (advanced practice provider). At that time, Yngve said they will asses the current situation, as the ultimate goal is have all virtual visits.

At a previous discussion earlier in the year, Kenyon City Council members expressed concerned over some members of the community navigating the challenges virtual visits can present. With a mobile clinic, the unit has both the technology and the equipment to connect patients virtually through video appointments with Mayo experts. Mayo officials hope the mobile unit will help bridge the gap with those who don’t have internet or are unsure of using the technology.

Horn also encourages members of the community to reach out to Mayo representatives to provide feedback — positive and negative.

“To make this work, we need your feedback, we want to know what’s working for your citizens,” Horn said during a presentation to the council at its June meeting. “We want to hear from them if there are not needs being met by the current plan. It’s designed to be agile. We want to partner with our communities and make sure its meeting their needs.”

Concerned about the future of Mayo in the community, Mayor Doug Henke asked if Mayo could assure the citizens of Kenyon the health system will be there for the long term during the June meeting.

Noting what she deems to be the long-standing relationship Mayo has had with the community of Kenyon through the practitioners and staff who have worked at the previous facility, Horn said though their way of providing services has changed, Mayo’s commitment has not.

“We are so excited to be for this opportunity. We are committed to you, we want to be here with you,” Horn said.

Echoing Horn site lead physician for Mayo in Owatonna and Faribault Jason Wray-Raabolle said they are committed to making the mobile unit work in Kenyon. Wray-Raabolle thanked city leaders for partnering and engaging with Mayo as plans were made.

Reach reporter Michelle Vlasak at 507-333-3128 or follow her on Twitter @apgmichelle. ©Copyright 2021 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

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