Mower Refreshed: Booklet helps address access challenges

Published 9:44 am Wednesday, July 6, 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 to any of these questions, you’re not alone. These very questions surface frequently as we all adapt to the continuous changes in healthcare. So while facilitating a conversation at an English Language Learner (ELL) class in the Austin Public School’s Community Learning Center, it wasn’t a surprise when similar questions began to be raised.

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 care through Urgent Care was common. These stories and others from the community at large began to give direction that would be later confirmed by a community health assessment in 2013.

Families listen during classes at Austin Public School’s Community Learning Center. -- Photo provided

Families listen during classes at Austin Public School’s Community Learning Center. — Photo provided

As the community engagement effort of Mayo Clinic Health System Albert Lea-Austin, Mower Refreshed has the privilege to partner with community groups and individuals directly in creating solutions to health needs they identify. Access to healthcare, more specifically, how and when to access care surfaced as one of the top three needs in the 2013 Community Health Needs Assessment completed in collaboration with Mower County Community Health. The need was officially named, now implementing meaningful actions steps began to take place.

The Mower Refreshed Workforce Wellness team who led this project, developed over time, a booklet that could begin to address the challenge in accessing healthcare locally. This journey was laborious. Determining how best to put information in a format that was not overwhelming to the reader, accurate, and engaged those who would utilize the booklet was an opportunity that at times felt daunting.

The very commitment to authentically engaging people impacted by initiatives Mower Refreshed undertakes means the work rarely moves quickly. Community volunteers, who meet only nine times per year at team meetings, were tenacious in forging ahead, yet taking the needed time to assure we did not leave behind the voices they 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 ELL class at the Community Learning Center.

The genuine gratitude expressed by the class participants, the pride that they had inspired the project and had a part in creating something that would serve all people in the community, a community they now called home, was powerful. The book isn’t perfect, continual review and adjustments will need to be made, but it’s a start. Response from organizations and businesses both large and small has been extremely positive. 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 in the Mower County area!

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