By Holly Kelsey-Henry

Care You Can Count On

Superior’s Mariner Medical Clinic Is Living Its Mission: The Patient Above All Else

Two years ago, Mariner Medical Clinic family practice physician Dr. Jon Stephenson had the unique opportunity to learn firsthand what it was like to be a patient at the clinic he works for. After exercising, Stephenson experienced chest pains and immediately thought, “This is what my patients with heart disease feel like and this can’t possibly be happening to me.”

After attempting to put the notion out of his heard, the good doctor eventually sought help from the team of cardiologists at St. Luke’s, which oversees the Mariner Clinic and shares physicians with the facility. Dr. Lee Giorgi recommended an angiogram, which revealed a four-vessel bypass was needed. Dr. Mary Boylan and her team performed the surgery and a week later,  Stephenson was sent home to recuperate.

Oddly, a week or so later he found himself in cardiac rehab exercising alongside some of his own patients. The experience went a long way to drive home the doctor’s faith in, and dedication to, community-based, family-centered medical care.

“I feel quite fortunate both from a personal and a professional level that we have an amazing cardiac team here in the Twin Ports,” said Stephenson.  “As I continue to practice family medicine at the Mariner Medical Clinic and St. Luke’s Hospital, I am reminded daily of all the dedicated professionals that it takes to take care of a community, and I am proud to be part of it.”

Mariner Medical Clinic Manager Charlotte DeRosia is the first to attest to Stephenson’s commitment to his patients and the families living in Superior and the surrounding region. She notes that Stephenson has been with the clinic since 1998 and is entrenched in the community.

“I feel quite fortunate both from a personal and a professional level that we have an amazing cardiac team here in the Twin Ports.”
– Dr. Jon Stephenson, Mariner Medical Clinic

“He is a doctor who enjoys with all his heart that when he’s walking through Menards, someone might yell out, ‘Hey, Dr. Jon,’ and he gets to stop and chat with a patient,” DeRosia said. “He has such a great presence and he truly has that small town doctor charm.” While Dr. Stephenson no longer practices obstetrics at the Mariner Medical Clinic, DeRosia said he also belongs to a very special group of doctors who are “medical grandfathers.”

“One of the first kids he delivered was the first-time father of one of the last kids he delivered,” DeRosia explained. “That makes him a medical grandfather, which is a pretty unique club to belong to. And it shows how our doctors are committed to families throughout their growth and milestones.”

For DeRosia, that family-based medical care is paramount.

“I can honestly say that at the Mariner Medical Clinic, our focus is the patient and the family,” she said. “And being able to come over to Superior and work in what is truly a family community has been such a bonus for me.” DeRosia notes that by providing primary and specialty care services, Mariner Medical Clinic can offer families a total package of health care services at a facility staffed by an experienced, compassionate team of physicians and backed by the expert resources of St. Luke’s Hospital in Duluth.

“It is care you can count on for generations,” DeRosia said. “We watch families grow up here, and working with doctors in a clinic where we affect patient care like that is a good place for me to be.”

“St. Luke’s recognizes that the Superior location is so important to our Wisconsin patients’ care. We wanted our patients to have a choice.”
– Clinic Manager Charlotte DeRosia

Along with Stephenson, the clinic is staffed by five family practice physicians: Dr Sonja Swenson, who joined the team in 2002; married couple Dr. Brian Riddle and Dr. Anne Riddle; who’ve been with the clinic since 2011; ophthalmologist Dr. Jon Yoon, who’s been at the clinic since its inception; and a new physician who just started in November – Dr. Debbie Hatanpa, who moved to the area from Maine.

All are American Board of Medical Specialties certified. The Mariner Medical Clinic – which began in the Mariner Mall but is now located at 109 N. 28th St. E. – employs a total of 54 staff. The clinic’s Urgent Care services are also staffed with a rotation of St. Luke’s physicians.

DeRosia explains that the decision to branch out to the Wisconsin side of the bridge was made in the best interest of Northwest Wisconsin residents. “St. Luke’s recognizes that the Superior location is so important to our Wisconsin patients’ care,” she said. “We wanted our patients to have a choice.”

She is quick to acknowledge the issue of “the bridge” – whether it’s the Blatnik or Bong bridge connecting the Twin Ports of Superior and Duluth. DeRosia explained that some patients, especially elderly ones, fear getting across the bridge and not being able to get home.  “There certainly are folks who don’t want to drive across the bridge, who want the convenience of easy parking, who are afraid they’ll get over to Duluth and it will start snowing and they will never get home,” DeRosia said. “It’s a true fear and a barrier to care and services for some people.”

A few of these convenient services offered by the Mariner Medical Clinic are digital mammography, ultrasound, outreach physicians and cardiology specialty physicians.

“Working closely with the staff of St. Luke’s, we ensure their communication needs are identified and fulfilled. It’s good for us and it’s good for them.”
– President Dale Thompson, DSC Communications

While modern medicine continues to evolve by the second, hands-on patient care remains the same. DeRosia notes that while her job entails a wide variety of tasks – from arranging vendors to fixing a leak in the roof, to ordering new chairs, to bringing new doctors on board – she gets to witness that consistent patient care on a daily basis

“I love that no two days are the same for me,” she said. “And I love it that I get to work in this beautiful community and know we are making a difference. As the clinic manager, I am responsible for [the] beginning to end of the patient experience here, and this is just a great clinic and community to do that in.”

Recruitment of doctors to the community, however, can prove to be an interesting task for DeRosia and her team. After all, 30 below zero won’t be attractive to everyone, and making sure the physician’s spouse and family are happy in the area long-term is part of the whole package.

Once they have candidates, the recruiters will set up interviews and bring physicians to the Twin Ports for a visit, during which they will learn about the clinic, the schools, the housing market and recreational opportunities. “What we look for,” explained DeRosia, “is quite simply this: fit. We look for what our patients are looking for and what the doctor is looking for in a clinic. With our new doctor, Dr. Debbie [Hatanpa], we sensed a deeply compassionate person. On her CV [resume] she talks about a foundation for good patient care. She gets it – the patient above all else.”

For many recruits, the Big Lake is a huge selling point. “It’s beautiful here in summer,” said DeRosia. “And … it’s a wonderful place year-round with the many outdoor activities.” While she admits they don’t host a lot of recruiting dinners in January, the staff does make sure it educates the potential physicians and their families on the need for work/life balance, making sure both partners understand it’s a commitment, and a joy, to live in the Northland.

“Not only do I appreciate their business … I appreciate that we have this caliber of medical care right here on this side of the bridge. It’s peace of mind.”
– Owner Arlyn Jensen, Dunbar’s Supply

Physicians are also attracted to the fact they are backed by the excellent resources of St. Luke’s. Mariner Medical Clinic doctors do rounds at St. Luke’s as well, visiting any of their patients who are admitted there. “Because of this,” explained DeRosia, “our doctors are able to make face-to-face connections with their peers on a regular basis. They have no problem picking up the phone and giving the specialists a call when they need help. They can wonder what ‘Dr. Cardiologist’ would say about this or what ‘Dr. Psychology’ would say about that, and they can pick up the phone and call them. They feel fortunate to have these excellent resources at hand.”

And the Mariner Medical clinic team stands alone as experts in its field as well. The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), in conjunction with the American Diabetes Association, has recognized the physicians of Mariner Medical Clinic for meeting criteria for 10 evidence-based measures in the Physician Diabetes Program. These physicians demonstrate they are part of an elite group that is publicly recognized for skill in providing the highest level of care to their patients with diabetes.

Along with its commitment to expert medical care, DeRosia notes the clinic’s economic importance to the entire region.

“We are a substantial employer and we do a lot of business in our community,” she said.

President Dale Thompson of DSC Communications agrees, saying his company enjoys working with the organization and recognizes what it brings to the community.

“We at DSC Communications realize that in the St. Luke’s and Mariner Medical Clinic community, communication is a vital component for their success during day-to-day activities,” Thompson said. “Working closely with the staff of St. Luke’s, we ensure their communication needs are identified and fulfilled. It’s good for us and it’s good for them.”

A-1 Movers in Superior also works closely with the Mariner Medical Clinic, and President John Nye says he is thankful for both the business relationship and the fact that top-notch medical services are easily accessible to Superior residents.

“It’s most certainly good to have them on this side of the bridge,” Nye said. “And as a bonus, we get to work with their staff, who are always so helpful and friendly.”

Superior-based Dunbar’s Supply has done business with the Mariner Medical Clinic for more than 10 years and according to owner Arlyn Jensen, the clinic goes a long way toward supporting the regional economy.

“Not only do I appreciate their business and what it means to my business and the economy at large, but I also appreciate that we have this caliber of medical care right here on this side of the bridge,” said Jensen. “It’s peace of mind to know that we have weekend urgent care as well.”

St. Luke’s Urgent Care at the Mariner Medical Clinic is open Monday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. It is closed on holidays. The urgent care physician treats minor medical problems that require prompt attention when your primary care doctor is unavailable. Commonly treated illnesses and injuries include sore throats, earaches, minor cuts, burns, bruises and various sprains and strains. No appointment is necessary.

St. Luke’s Outpatient Surgery Center at Mariner Medical Clinic provides a convenient location to receive outpatient surgical procedures. The center features two operating suites, an endoscopy room and private pre-op and recovery areas. Surgeries performed include general surgical procedures, as well as orthopaedics, ophthalmology and ear/nose/throat services. Surgeries may be scheduled at this center through the patient’s surgeon’s office.

Ophthalmology care is also available at the Mariner Medical Clinic. From complete eye exams to complex surgical needs, St. Luke’s ophthalmologist John Yoon, M.D., offers a full range of ophthalmology services:

Mariner Medical Clinic is proud to provide these ophthalmology services.

Complete eye care

Cataract with intra-ocular lens implant
– standard and multi-focal

Glaucoma diagnosis and management

Diabetic retinopathy diagnosis and treatment

Macular degeneration diagnosis and treatment –
includes Lucentis and Eylea injections when indicated

Sudden eye concerns and injuries

Contact lens evaluations and fitting

Sports, school, driver’s license and other exams

Laser treatment

Surgery – refractive, cataract, eyelid

Thanks to the Mariner Medical Clinic, Superiorites and their families can count on receiving the best of care for generations to come.  P.S.

Holly Kelsey-Henry is a freelance writer based in Northwestern Wisconsin.


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