• Sharing Mayo Clinic

    “Joe Clinic” — the model Mayo employee

Doorman and Ambassador

"Joe Clinic" escorting patients down the front steps of the Plummer Building
"Joe Clinic" escorting patients at the Plummer Building

Patients often comment on the quality of Mayo Clinic employees. You typically hear statements about how the people who work here are friendly and helpful.  Well, that's a long tradition at Mayo.

Let me introduce you to a colleague from our past, an employee who lived out the qualities that we strive for today. His name was Joe Fritsch, but he was such a great ambassador of our organization that everyone called him "Joe Clinic."  He was the Mayo Clinic doorman, and beloved by patients and colleagues alike.

Joe was born in England, the birthplace of Dr. William Worrall Mayo. W.W.'s sons, Dr. Will and Dr. Charlie, founded Mayo Clinic.

From 1929-1954, Joe was the doorman at the Plummer Building, whose vast bronze doors were the main entrance to our Rochester, Minn., campus. Joe served with flourish, helping patients as they began and ended their day of appointments.  He made a lasting, positive impression.

Stories are legion of Joe's exceptional memory for names and faces. A year or more would go by between a patient's appointments at Mayo, but Joe gave a warm welcome -- invariably by name -- when the patient returned.

Joe also had a repertoire of jokes, most of them pretty cornball, which put people at ease. Celebrities and statesmen, farmers and children, he had a smile and a story for each one. Dr. Will Mayo, watching Joe banter with patients one day, said: "Joe, if I could figure out what you do, I'd give you a raise!"

In Heritage Hall, we have a letter on display. Dated September 1, 1950, it was written by the executive of a prominent corporation. I think the qualities described in this letter are emblematic of how we work to serve patients at Mayo today.

The letter is addressed simply to "Joe Clinic, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn."

Dear Joe:

In discussing the Mayo Clinic today, it occurred to me that while I was writing to Dr. Walters and Dr. Butt to express my appreciation for the many courtesies that were extended to Mrs. Bergen and me while we were at the Clinic, that I would be very unfair to myself if I failed to drop you a note to let you know that I deeply appreciate the many nice things you did for my wife and me on my many visits to the Clinic. It is no wonder that people everywhere who have been patients at the Clinic throughout the years always remember Joe Clinic.

I am happy because I am one of those of your many friends who have had the opportunity, for quite some time, to be the recipient of your splendid welcome, radiant smile and helping hand. I think you are a great guy, Joe, and it makes me feel nice all over to have had the opportunity to meet you and be one of your many friends.

That's a letter that anyone who works at Mayo would like to earn, and it sets a standard that we can all work hard to live up to. Joe Clinic passed away in 1967, but his example still speaks a lot about the spirit of Mayo Clinic.

Matt Dacy is the director of Heritage Hall, the museum of Mayo Clinic.

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