Mower Refreshed: A new tool for accessing healthcare

Published 10:05 am Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Have you ever wondered:

How do I decide when to get care?

Where should I go when needing care?

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What choices do I have in the Mower County area?

How much might the care cost?

If you answered yes, you’re not alone. These very questions have surfaced frequently as we all adapt to the continuous changes in healthcare. While I was facilitating a conversation at the Community Learning Center in an English Language Learner Class on wellbeing, similar questions began to be shared. Stories of parents who were uncertain if their child needed care, not aware of the Nurse Line they could access to receive support in determining if care was needed and how to best get the care, rather than accessing through Urgent Care was common. This is a story heard from many community-wide. The stories that surfaced in terms of confusion on when, where, and how to access as well as cost were powerful yet not new.

Mower Refreshed, a community-driven wellness initiative and the venue Mayo Clinic Health System Albert Lea-Austin delivers their commitment to community engagement through, creates access to conversations and innovative collective solutions regarding health. This unique approach to community engagement gives opportunity to engage with people, hear their stories, and assess if the work aligns with the Community Health Needs Assessment our work is linked to Mower Refreshed holds high the principle that if it is about them, we engage them to make sure the solutions that are surfaced to address a challenge are meaningful to those it is impacting.

This principle was key to the Mower Refreshed Workforce Wellness team who led this project. It was this team and many community members that developed over time, a booklet that could begin to address the challenge in accessing healthcare locally. This journey has been laborious. Determining how to begin to put information in a format that was not overwhelming to the reader, accurate, and reflected the many voices that spoke life into the creation of the booklet was an opportunity that at times was overwhelming for those of us responding to the expressed need.

The very commitment to authentically engaging people impacted by initiatives we undertake means our work rarely moves quickly. Honestly, this was at times a frustration for those at the table. These community volunteers, who meet nine times per year at team meetings as well as times beyond to build a culture of wellness in our county, were tenacious in forging ahead, yet taking the needed time to assure we did not leave behind the voices we served. This meant many revisions, focus groups, surveying those who would potential use the booklet or offer it to their employees, individual input, and our final stop back at where it began: an English Language Learning class at the Community Learning Center.

I wish I could adequately communicate the genuine gratitude expressed by the class, the pride that they had a part in creating something that would serve people in the community they now called home. The book isn’t perfect, continual review and adjustments will need to be made, but it’s a start. We hope that you and those you might share it with will find this tool useful in determining the right care, right setting at the right time.

If your organization is interested in having the booklet available at no cost and you are located in Mower County contact us at or you can simply access the booklet online at