Children who are born with a disability, or who experience a traumatic injury, come from all walks of life and hail from all types of communities. All have one commonality:  they need easy access to specialized medical care to live the healthiest and happiest lives possible. 

Dedicated to Rural Communities
Helping kids thrive in their home communities — whether city, suburb or small town — is why Gillette’s Outreach Clinics exist.  It’s also why we join in celebrating the 5th annual National Rural Health Day today.  We treat children from every county in Minnesota — thousands of whom live in rural communities.  And we’re committed to making sure these patients receive the care they need just as easily as those who live near our St. Paul, Minnesota-based hospital and clinics.

Close-knit and with a strong work ethic, rural communities play a vital role in shaping our country’s culture and economy. But increasingly, many small towns face issues with access to, and availability of, health care providers.  Barriers to care for people living in non-urban areas are sometimes more than just physical. Many families are uncomfortable driving into major urban areas for care—or, they simply can’t afford to do so.  

Towards Seamless and Accessible Care
As seen on the map to the left/right, Gillette operates 15 clinics in smaller cities and rural areas throughout Minnesota. Those clinics mean children from some of the poorest and most remote areas of our state have access to specialty services like rehabilitation medicine, neurology, neurosurgery and orthopedics. Patients can also receive adjustments to their wheelchairs, braces, and other assistive devices from the comfort of their hometown.   

Besides filling a gap in care for children who have rare and complex conditions, Gillette also serves as a resource to rural and small town primary care providers. Their collaborative relationship gives local providers more confidence in the care they provide, and gives patients and families greater trust in their community physicians. 

Supporting Entire Families
For the Meyer family of Hibbing, Minnesota, Gillette’s Outreach Clinics do more than make their daughter Sara’s (pictured right) complex condition manageable.  They also provide a lifeline—a sense of normalcy—when it’s needed most. “Outreach clinics in greater Minnesota have drastically reduced the number of trips we make to the Twin Cities each year,” says Sara’s mom, Diana Meyer. A self-professed “groupie” of outreach physician Kevin Murphy, M.D., the family relies on Murphy to help sift through medical records from Sara’s many providers.

But Meyer says Gillette’s support isn’t limited to Sara’s medical care—it extends to the entire family’s well-being. “A lot of clinics forget that as parents of complex kids, we don't get to have many social interactions where someone is asking about us also and not just our child,” she adds. “Dr. Murphy and the outreach clinic team has gotten to know our family and makes sure we, as, parents are ‘hanging in there’ too.”

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