Businesses Building Healthy Communities


Mankato Clinic

Celebrating A Century – Celebrating Community

Mankato Clinic’s century celebration is collaboration at its best. As the Mankato Clinic celebrates its 100-year anniversary in 2016, it wanted to not only reflect on its past but to also focus on the future and how Mankato Clinic can play a bigger role in helping the community achieve better overall health. The “Thrive” campaign was developed with this in mind. Its goal is to create awareness and provide practical tools and resources around the key areas of healthy diet, physical activity and optimal sleep. Building on principles from the book “Eat, Move, Sleep” by Tom Rath, the primary message is that small choices each day can lead to big changes in achieving healthier lives. As a provider of health care services, Mankato Clinic saw the Thrive campaign as a way to go upstream to help the residents of Southern Minnesota achieve their health goals.

CEO Randy Farrow says the program has been well received and the clinic has been able to create some great partnerships with a number of organizations to help move it forward.

“This really needs to be a community-wide effort to be successful and have an impact,” says Dr. Farrow. “KEYC News 12 has been a key partner in creating awareness through their weekly Thrive segments featuring expert advice from Mankato Clinic specialists as well as human interest stories from community members. The library systems in Mankato, North Mankato and St. Peter have promoted the book “Eat, Move, Sleep” and the kids version “The Rechargeables” in support of the initiative. Other organizations and communities have also gotten behind the effort. But the most powerful indicator of success has been the numerous testimonials we’ve received from community members that have shared how their experience with Thrive has lead them down the path to a healthier and more fulfilling life.”

For more on the Thrive campaign and for some healthy living tips, go to


Mankato Family YMCA

Workplace Wellness – Why It’s A Good Investment

For any business, large or small, losing an employee to frequent sick days or an extended absence can really harm productivity. That’s one driving force behind a surge in the popularity of employee wellness programs. In fact a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, shows that generally speaking a company-wide wellness program can save $2.43 for every $1 spent. A report from U.S. Corporate Wellness shows a commitment to an employee wellness program can result in a 20% to 55% reduction in health care costs for the business.

Workplace wellness doesn’t have to mean on-site gyms and in-house personal trainers. There are some simple ways you can incorporate a plan into your business without investing a lot of time or money. One way is to partner with a local gym or YMCA.

This is not a new concept to the Mankato Family YMCA as it has had employee wellness programs in place for more than 30 years. One, known as the Shape-Up Challenge, runs for one month a year.

“It started as a means to promote employee wellness and to help jump start exercise programs for people who may not be moving as regularly as they should be,” says director of the program for the Y, Barbara Mullally. “It also was designed as a community event where local businesses competed against one another in a friendly and fun exercise competition.”

The 2016 Shape-Up challenge is just coming to an end. This year 45 area businesses participated.

Mullally says, “The idea is for employees to cheer each other on as they compete against other businesses to exercise the most minutes within a four week period.”

The Y believes programs like the Shape-Up Challenge are important not only for the health of the people involved, but for the health of the business too.

“A team of healthy employees can bring lowered expenses in return, often in the form of better performing workers, lower absenteeism and health care costs,” she says. “Employees are the most valuable assets to any company. By providing workers with healthy incentives, companies are improving well being and job satisfaction, as well as raising retention rates. The welfare of the employees has a direct impact on the success of the company.”

For businesses thinking of starting an employee wellness program it can be overwhelming. Here are some best practices to keep in mind:

Begin with employee health screenings and health risk assessments. The assessment is simply a questionnaire employees fill out regarding quality of life, family health history and lifestyle choices. The screenings can check things such as cholesterol, blood pressure, weight and mental health. The results of these can be used to help employers know how best to develop a program and which areas to focus on.

Businesses can also encourage employees to incorporate healthy activities throughout the workday. For example, have walking meetings, extend lunch hours so employees can work out or offer standing desks as an option.

Investing in pedometers is another idea. You can purchase pedometers for just a few dollars. Pass them out and encourage employees to keep track of the steps. Setting goals to increase that number periodically. Some insurance providers may offer pedometers for free.

Providing rewards and incentives to participants when they reach milestones is another way to get everyone engaged. For instance, monetary compensation when someone stops smoking, or lowers their cholesterol level.

Experts say to be sure to include variety in your program to cover a range of healthy lifestyle issues. For example, offer a smoking cessation program, discounted gym memberships, ergonomics training, and stress management workshops.

As health care is transitioning to a more preventive approach, employers can get in the game. Employee wellness programs not only reduce overall health care costs, they can lessen worker’s compensation claims, decrease absenteeism, and help with employee retention.


Mayo Clinic Health System

New Physician Leader – Same Community Mission

James R. Hebl, M.D. now leads Mayo Clinic’s community practice in southwest Minnesota. It’s a region that includes six hospitals and 22 clinics. Dr. Hebl took the reigns as regional vice president in July 2016 and states that he’s confident Mayo Clinic will continue to meet the challenges of serving such a demographically diverse and geographically expansive region. He also notes these challenges are minimized by being part of an integrated health care system.

Dr. Hebl says, “Our integrated Mayo Clinic network allows us to coordinate care in small community clinics, local hospitals, regional medical centers like Mankato, as well as tertiary referral centers as in Rochester. Being part of this integrated health care network allows Mayo Clinic Health System to provide world-class health care to patients all across southern Minnesota.”

That network includes adding specialty services to serve the southern Minnesota region, with one of the newest growth areas being in the field of orthopedics.

“Mayo Clinic Health System has expanded and continues to grow its multidisciplinary Orthopedic Surgery practice to ensure community members get the best care possible without having to travel too far. Mankato-area residents are fortunate to have many great options for health care right in their backyard. At Mayo Clinic Health System, our Orthopedic surgeons offer comprehensive diagnostic, surgical and rehabilitative care for issues related to muscles, bones and joints. Services include fracture and trauma care, hand and wrist care, sports medicine, joint replacement, foot and ankle care, and arthroscopy,” says Dr. Hebl.

Dr. Hebl’s charge for the future is to help Mayo become even more engaged with the communities it serves. Mayo sees that promoting health, wellness, and disease prevention is vital in the ever changing health care industry.

“These strategic goals and priorities will be achieved by transforming the way we practice, achieving operational excellence in everything we do, investing in talent and technology, and expanding our reach to all patients and families who hope to receive Mayo Clinic care close to home.”

Lisa Cownie

Editor of Connect Business Magazine