A Stay on the Duluth Waterfront Part Two




February 3, 2018

You may want to read my first post on this subject “A Stay on the Duluth Waterfront (Almost).

I am sitting in a room at St Mary’s/Essentia again. I had a six-day break while I was at Ecumen rehab and a less than full day at home.

This visit will tone down my effusive praise for this facility. I don’t mean to denigrate the facility because the issue is really with the healthcare system.

However, I can only tag the effects of the references to my stays in this hospital.

Men of a Heavyset Form Factor

A few caveats for men over 280 pounds.

The commodes for use at the bedside are too small. The hospital has at least one powered commode that appeared on my last day.

I didn’t get a chance to use it.

Also, risers that fit over the top of a toilet are available but they too are a bit small for my size.

You will also need a bariatric walker. Yes, the smaller aluminum ones work but you will be immensely more comfortable using the heftier one.

The Problem

Now the crux of this post. It is not specific to St Mary’s but it is a glaring screwup in the health care system.

After the initial hectic craziness of the Emergency Room or Urgent Care, YOU need to take the initiative and ask if you are being admitted to the hospital as a patient or just being admitted  ‘for observation’.

Observation is a fast way to perdition.

If you are in for observation your insurance company will probably not cover the cost of your medication.

An example: I went to the emergency room with a problem with my legs.
I was in the hospital. But I found out later I was NOT IN the hospital. I was only there for ‘OBSERVATION’.
I found out later from my insurance company in such a situation your hospital pharmacy is considered ‘OUT OF NETWORK’.
In which case they cover only a MINIMAL amount of expenses.
In my case, the bill for one day’s medication was $890. The insurance company was covering only about $120. So I am on the hook for almost $800 of medical expenses!
When I was talking with an account representative I admonished her that I should have been up told ahead of time.
If I had known I would have brought my drugs from home. “ON NO YOU CAN’T DO THAT!  We don’t allow you to bring drugs from home!

To Add insult to injury:

Before the insurance company will reimburse you; YOU HAVE TO PAY THE TOTAL AMOUNT UPFRONT.

Only then will they send you the 80% or whatever your policy stipulates@


What is a person to do? I don’t have the answer. It is up to each individual to answer that. In my case, Essentia sent me to a collection agency.
What is a person to do?
Thanks for stopping by.

A very wise and caring nurse explained that patients were bringing medications that were not in their original containers.

That leads to a very dangerous situation because the hospital does not REALLY KNOW what you take, the quantity and the dose.

I keep trying to figure out how to keep the good features of St Mary’s at the forefront of this article.
I keep coming back to its people.

To say that it’s staff is younger is to imply age discrimination which is probably not true.

But I queried almost every team member as to how long they have been at St Mary’s and there was only one that has been there for seven years.

The RN’s are predominantly young women that have been with St Mary’s for five years but most two or three.

CNA’s even less.

Most CNA‘s have longevity in the two to three-year range.

Many are studying for their nursing degree.

They are articulate, knowledgeable, confident, and smart.

Management has done a good job in hiring and training their staff.

An example of the staff’s exceptionalism occurred last evening.

I was scheduled to be No Foods after midnight (including water!).

So I ordered breakfast to come by 7 PM since the kitchen closed at 7.

This was the only major, major screw up by the kitchen staff.

My ‘breakfast didn’t show up.

The staff was well aware that my last meal would have to last at least 17 or so hours.

A young CNA graduating in May as an RN went today to a cafe and bought me a bacon cheeseburger and fries. OUT OF HIS OWN POCKET.

His name was Zach.

I hope many people read this blog so he gets the recognition he deserves.



Thanks for stopping.
A dear friend (even though he may not know that, has given me permission to use his images in my posts). Thank you Rick Rice Duluth MN.

A larger display of his talent and God-given gift is on display on a separate website.

As he makes more images I add them to that site several times a year.


A Stay on the Duluth Lakefront (Almost)


Steam Plant City of Duluth Rice Rice


August 20, 2018

This post was originally on my blogger platform. I am trying to decide which platform to use if I have to reduce my costs even further. Please bear with me as I reformat the post.

A Stay on the Lakefront (Almost)

Date January 16, 2018
It has been my good fortune to spend five days at a 4-Star Bed and Breakfast in Duluth! Great Staff! Great Food! Great Results!
OK. I will stop with the games! My stay has been at St Mary’s Medical Center. It seems that the older I get the more I frequent this Duluth Landmark.
I do not mean any slap in the face to St Luke’s but I have not had the good fortune to visit their accommodations.
I know several doctors in that establishment and I used to donate blood in an office there.
I know the staff is excellent I just can’t speak to any other classic evaluation categories.
So what do I base my evaluation of a hospital on?
I will share my judgments if you don’t mind.
First I look to the staff.
A well-trained staff will not be regimented.
Their personalities show thru the corporate mask of ‘must does and do nots’ in other words they can toe the corporate line without being stiff and regimented.
They are given the opportunity for their personalities to show thru. Characteristic of Excellent management.
I have always believed that you can walk into an establishment and know almost immediately what the management is like. We are off to a great start.
The most important part of what I expect in a hospital is the medical team.
The nurse that is assigned to you straddles both the staff and medical team categories.
At least I haven’t figured out a way to separate the two.
The doctors are a big part of the final score.
I have them second in line only because I want to make sure the staff gets the ‘Attaboy/Attagirl’ they deserve.
The doctors at Essentia/St Mary’s have always been excellent.
Skilled, professional and friendly each and every time.
Dr. Mary Boylan for a quadruple bypass.
Dr. Kevin Treacy. Wait a minute, he and his eye surgeon clinic are associated with St Luke’s.
Yes indeed he is but I have to give him the extra big kudos he deserves.
I had a cataract removed under his skilled care. After the second one was removed standard procedure called for me to visit his office the following Monday morning so he could confirm all was as it should be.
Well, during the weekend I was assaulted with a virus that attacked my small bowel.
While I was laying in a temporary room in comes Dr. Treacy.
He had borrowed the equipment he needed to evaluate my eye from St Mary’s and began his examination.
What impressed me the most that he was performing this exacting feat using extremely expensive equipment while sear next to a commode of my sweet smelling vomit!
Imagine that!
Going out of his way, after normal business hours, making the arrangements for the equipment AND SITTING NEXT TO A BIN OF MY PUKE running an exam.
That is “going the extra mile”.

I had heard he was an excellent doctor but he is immensely more than that.

The next most important aspect of a well-run hospital is the commissary/food service program.

St Mary’s operates a meal on-demand service for patients.

When you want to eat grab a menu, grab the phone, call room service, order your meal, and wait forty-five minutes.

Your meal is delivered.

The best part is that the food is good.

Maybe not great at times but well prepared and delivered hot.

Salad greens are fresh.

Beef and gravy are not overdone and full of flavor.

Grilled salmon was not to my liking but that is no doubt because it was salmon. Baked cod was firm and flaky. Walleye! YES.

Yes, I did miss some salt but that is what I will have to learn to live with. Mrs. Dash is barely an acceptable substitute.

The next category to evaluate are the facilities.

Clean and orderly can’t be beaten.

Messes were cleaned up normally within minutes.

It was a busy time at St Mary’s.

There was talk that it was the peak of the flu season.

That was the same report as on the national news.

Beds were getting an air mattress for patients that needed them.

It was nice to sleep on but maneuver around or exit the bed was another story.

I am used to pushing off with my right hand but with only air for resistance that was a bit difficult.

I am sure there are workarounds but I didn’t have the energy to figure them out.

I rate the facilities for cleanliness and safety as excellent.

The staff seemed to take care of making sure that a patient was following the hospital’s safety program.

Another point on the facilities is that I was on the campus between Third and Fourth Streets East.

This is not the new construction.

I have been in that building and the towering glass windows framing the Duluth Harbor are beautiful.

I believe St Mary’s has positioned itself as the preeminent medical facility in the Northland.

My opinion is that thru the facilities,  the staff especially, the food service and all of the intangibles that St Mary’s Hospital has achieved its mission.

I spent part of the time with a second patient in the room.

This man was from central Wisconsin and was a bit concerned trying a new hospital.

But to each staff person he talked with, or a personal friend on a phone call, he sang the praises for each phase of Essentia’s environment including doctor’s thoroughness, support personal availability (physical and occupational therapists etc) and food (quality and quantity).

I must give one ding though.
Yesterday and last night the wind was blowing very hard.
The old inside wood windows were no match.
The temperature in the room dropped dramatically.

I am sorry to end on a sour note but such is life. Good first impressions can always be erased by lousy second impressions.

Thanks for stopping.
A Dear Friend (even though he may not know it), has given me permission to use the images he makes in my postings. Thank You Rick Rice

Laker's last Port of Duluth Entry for 2017 Rick Rice Duluth MN


There is a website where more of his images are displayed. I update this site several times a year as he adds to his collection. I only scratch the surface of the images he has.
Rick Rice standing on Palisade Head Image by Rick Rice Duluth MN