Mayo Clinic Physician to Serve as Taste of the Town Keynote Speaker

Mar 22, 2023

Dr. Nandan Anavekar, Mayo Clinic Cardiology, began volunteering as a physician of The Salvation Army’s Good Samaritan Health Clinic in 2017 at the recommendation of his philosophy teacher. His teacher had told him to serve others without seeking recognition and stick to it, so that’s what he did.

When he took over as the program director for the Cardiology Fellowship in 2021, he started inviting fellows to join him in volunteering at the Good Sam. The first fellow to join him was Dr. Katie Young.

There was already a clinic specifically providing care for diabetes and hypertension, and Dr. Anavekar, along with Dr’s Katie Young and Mayra Guerrero (Associate Program Director for the Cardiology Fellowship), began to ask the question of why there couldn’t be a clinic that specifically utilized the skills and knowledge of Mayo Clinic’s Cardiology Dept. to help Good Sam patients. They wanted to make sure they were fully able to use their skillset to benefit the patients coming to the clinic, to champion the service if it didn’t already exist, and it didn’t.

They put together a proposal to The Salvation Army, and within a year, the HEART Clinic was regularly seeing patients at the Good Sam, all of whom are ineligible for health insurance and who represent the working poor of Olmsted County.

When asked what the experience of working with the Good Sam has taught him, Dr. Anavekar’s response was that there is one consistent thread in all of his interactions with patients of the Good Sam: that physicians often have different priorities than their patients.

“We assume that our patients’ health is the top priority for them like it is for us, but health isn’t always able to be their top priority,” said Dr. Anavekar, “Many patients come to the Good Sam asking for as little medication as they need to go back to work, and many of them have to work two or three jobs to pay for rent, utilities, and meals alone.”

This lesson has changed Dr. Anavekar’s approach to interactions with all of his patients. He now views every interaction as an experience and an opportunity to learn. “You have to assume that every patient is doing their best, and so we have to do our best in turn.” He says it’s important to gain a deeper insight into each patient’s social history, because the best care is achieved when physicians treat the whole person.

One patient who stands out in his memory is a patient he treated at Mayo Clinic after he had begun volunteering at the Good Sam. She had been to six different departments at Mayo Clinic, and there was something about her chart that seemed off.

She happened to visit Dr. Anavekar on a day when her regular cardiologist was away. He took the opportunity to really speak with her, to learn about her social history. It turned out that she was in an abusive relationship, and her erratic visits to the Mayo Clinic were a means of escaping that situation.

Dr. Anavekar recalls this patient being so surprised that he had asked about more than her immediate symptoms, and that he and his team were able to provide her with resources and support to help her escape her dangerous home situation. That, in turn, had a drastic, positive impact on her health.

“Victims of abuse are not uncommon visitors to the Good Sam, either. At this clinic, care is being provided to individuals who have a lesser voice in our community. They have many more obstacles to health and healthcare, and the Good Sam helps them to overcome those obstacles.”

Dr. Anavekar says it’s not uncommon to see obesity, high blood pressure, and an inability to regulate or modify diet because of financial limitations. He recalls one patient who came into the Good Sam with a top blood pressure figure over 200. She was struggling with obesity, a majority of her diet consisted of fast food, and she said that genuinely believed that she wasn’t worth the effort it would take to improve her health.

He took advantage of this opportunity to educate her about the miracle she was, as much as to teach her how to better care for her body.

“She and I both happened to believe in God, and I told her, when you look up and you see all the stars in the sky, there’s an intention and an order to all of that. If God can create an entire universe of stars, he could create her just as she was.

“Whatever defects she saw in herself were very intentional, and overcoming that negative perception of herself was a challenge she uniquely had to learn. I said to her that we should work to see if we could overcome that challenge together, and I saw this little flicker of hope in her eyes.” This patient is now a regular patient of the HEART Clinic, and is continuing to meet the challenge of improving her care of herself and her feelings of self-worth.

Dr. Anavekar says this story is actually very common, and that patients face psychological challenges that come with living in poverty as much as the tangible detriment to their physical health.  “There is a bit of you in every patient you come across. It is so easy to look the other way, but when one member of our community is hurting, all of us are hurting.”

Dr. Anavekar also stresses the importance of the quality of care that patients receive at the Good Sam. In a community with such capacity for exceptional healthcare, there is no reason that any patient should receive less than that high standard of care. “The patients of the Good Sam are getting the care they deserve.”

The quality of care and the scope of services provided by the Good Samaritan Health Clinic are only made possible by volunteers and by support from the community of Taste of the Town, the one event of the year that raises funds exclusively for the benefit of the Good Sam. “Investing in Taste of the Town, in the Good Samaritan Health Clinic, is investing in yourself. We are one community, and we need to, each and every one of us, roll up our sleeves and do our part.”

Taste of the Town will take place at Hilton Hotel Mayo Clinic Area on Friday, April 28th. The Salvation Army is grateful to have Dr. Nandan Anavekar as this year’s keynote speaker, and to have Mayo Clinic as the event’s title sponsor.

To reserve tickets to the event, or to learn more about The Salvation Army’s Good Samaritan Health Clinic, please visit

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