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Noseworthy defends Mayo Clinic's 'mild' response to immigration order

Noseworthy defends Mayo Clinic's 'mild' response to immigration order

In an interview this weekend, the head of Mayo Clinic defended the organization's reaction to President Donald Trump's executive order suspending travel and immigration from seven predominantly-Muslim nations, arguing that a more aggressive response would not have been in line with "Mayo's style." 

Dr. John Noseworthy, president and CEO of Mayo Clinic, was a guest Friday on the Twin Cities PBS show AlmanacAsked about criticism that Mayo's response was "a little mild," Noseworthy answered: "You know, we could have signed a petition, we could have written a letter, we could have gone on television. That's not Mayo's style. We would rather work with them to try to support our patients and support our staff. So that's just the way we do things." 

Noseworthy said the travel ban was, however, brought up this past Tuesday during a meeting with Trump Administration officials at the White House. "They heard our message that America requires this global talent pool, particularly in science and medicine, but in many sectors. They repeated the message that I gave to them, and I believe they've heard it from many others."

Related: 25% Of Physicians Are Born Outside The U.S.

On Jan. 29, two days after Trump signed the executive order (which has since been blocked by the courts), Mayo issued a statement on behalf of Noseworthy. It refrained from any direct criticism of the administration, and instead served as a reassertion of Mayo's commitment to its international staff and patients.

"Mayo Clinic is a place of compassion, respect and trust, and our collective diversity helps make us the best place to work and receive care," the statement read, in part. 

The next day, Mayo sent out a second statement saying it was aware of about 80 staff, physicians or scholars associated with the organization who have ties to the seven countries included in the executive order. It added that "a number of Mayo Clinic staff and trainees have expressed concern about the potential impact this order may have on their future plans," but once again shied away from any institutional-level criticism of the administration's policy.

As a result of Mayo's diverse workforce, coupled with the area's large population of Somali refugees, the Rochester metro has the 5th highest share of residents from the seven affected nations. According to an analysis from the Brookings Institute, 11.4 out of every 1,000 residents are from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen.

Related: Key takeaways from Noseworthy's speech to Rochester business leaders

Cover: Screenshot / Twin Cities PBS

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