- By Karl W Oestreich
Health and Human Services Secretary Azar tours Mayo Clinic, meets with leaders
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. ― As part of a visit to Florida on Friday, May 22, to discuss reopening the country's economy, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar toured Mayo Clinic and discussed the clinic's response to COVID-19, the expansion of new telehealth capabilities and in-person care and other Mayo Clinic activities to address the nation's health care needs.
"Mayo Clinic was proud to host Secretary Azar in Jacksonville today," says Gianrico Farrugia, M.D., president and CEO of Mayo Clinic. "We welcomed the opportunity to discuss compelling research and treatment related to COVID-19, as well as health care innovation efforts more broadly. The pandemic has challenged Mayo Clinic and our country in extraordinary ways, but it has also brought out the best in our staff and community. We appreciate the partnership with the HHS team as we address patient and community needs together."
This month, Mayo Clinic expanded in-person appointments and procedures for patients utilizing multiple additional steps to enhance safety in order to protect patients and staff from exposure to the COVID-19 virus. Patients who delayed care during the pandemic and patients with current medical needs may now seek care at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, as well as Arizona, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
"We had a very productive discussion with Secretary Azar about our work with the community to help ensure everyone’s safety as our economy reopens," says Kent Thielen, M.D., vice president and CEO of Mayo Clinic in Florida. "We're grateful for the opportunity to share Mayo Clinic's leadership in the national pandemic response, as well as our efforts within the Jacksonville community, the region and across the country."
Mayo Clinic offers diagnostic and antibody testing to patients across the nation, and Jacksonville is a leading site for testing of COVID-19 patients in Florida. In March, Mayo Clinic installed a high-capacity testing machine in Jacksonville that can process more than a 1,000 samples per day and return results within a few hours. Combined with recently added equipment, Mayo Clinic's location in Jacksonville is providing testing services for hospitals across Florida and the Southeast; first responders, including personnel at Jacksonville's two Naval bases; and Mayo Clinic patients.
Staff in the Mayo Clinic Innovation Exchange in Florida also are advising local businesses about ways to re-open and ensure the safety of their employees and customers. In addition, scientists in Florida are supporting Mayo Clinic's national leadership of the Convalescent Expanded Access Program, which is studying the utilization of antibodies from recovered COVID-19 patients as a potential treatment for the virus.
"We were proud to share our activities with Secretary Azar and look forward to the progress that we'll make, together, to help effectively address the challenges of COVID-19 while also advancing medicine in new and innovative ways," Dr. Thielen says.
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