Claustrophobic and Nervous about Subway at Mayo MN

Posted by pamela5 @pamela5, May 31, 2022

Hello, I'll be visiting the clinic in Rochester for the first time in June. I'm very claustrophobic and I'm nervous about the subway level. I have to get a blood test and urinalysis on that level. Can you walk through and are there any windows? I'm also nervous about taking the elevator to the 19th floor. I hope it's fast and reliable. I'm very thankful to be able to go – just nervous because of my odd fears.

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Good morning, @pamela5 As a fellow claustrophobic person, I can help you out with navigation the Clinic! I don’t think you’ll have any problem with the subway. These walkways are underground, yes, but they are well lighted, wide and you never get the feeling that you’re closed in! Here’s a photo of one of the Subways from our hotel (Marriott Res Inn) to the clinic…during morning rush hour!
Getting to the lab is super easy and you don’t even need to take an elevator depending on where you’re entering the building. If you’re walking in a subway and enter from the subway level, there is a large stairway in the Charleton building that goes right up to the lab level! So you avoid one elevator ride. Don’t worry, everything is marked really well and there are always Mayo helpers around in Blue Jackets to assist you in directions!

The elevators are pretty quick and they’re not packed with people. There is a limit of 6 per elevator at this time. I’m really not a fan of elevators either, but there is so much distraction with all the people and artwork around the clinic that it seems I never feel confined and the trip up to the 19th floor is faster than you think! The view from up there is STUNNING.

While you’re on the elevator, if you’re nervous at all try the calming method that’s easy to remember.
Be aware of 5 things you can see…purple sweater of the lady next to you. The scuff on the toe of your shoe.
4 things you can feel…your hand holding your purse strap, the feel of your fingers rubbing on each other…
3 things you can hear…the elevator dinging on each floor, the sound of someone nervously tapping their foot.
I’d give more but you’ll be on the 19th floor by then. 😉

Are you all set for lodging? Do you have your patient portal set up?


Thank you so much for the reassuring information and tips! It was so kind of you to reply to me.


Oh, I'm set for lodging and will complete my patient portal login. Thanks again!


Oh, I'm set for lodging and will complete my patient portal login. Thanks again!

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You’re most welcome. I know Mayo Clinic can seem daunting but it’s so user friendly and I think you’ll be amazed with the entire atmosphere there.

Your patient portal will be your link to ‘all things Mayo’ with notes from your visit, appointments and reminders, preparation guides for appointments, etc.

One note, when going to the lab for blood draw, go a 1/2 ahead of your scheduled appointment. Especially if it’s first thing in the morning. The lab is pretty busy and there can be a waiting time.

If there’s anything I can help you with don’t hesitate to ask. How soon will you be heading to Rochester?


The "subway" is just a network of wide, tall hallways that connect buildings so you don't have to go out in the weather or out into the street with traffic to go from building to building. You can always go out into the street to go to another building if you really want to.

The subway is not a train or shuttle, though occasionally someone will get a ride from a cart driven by an employee. Typically, people who can't walk the distances between the buildings will be pushed in a wheelchair by their companion or will be dropped off at the building they have to visit at the door, while the driver parks or while the valet parks their car.

I like to park in the same parking structure each time and then walk from there as it gives me some exercise and simplifies driving and parking for me. I can walk longer distances than some patients can, though.

Although I'm not extremely claustrophobic, I am in very tight situations. Having been to Mayo and used the subway (roomy hallways below the ground floor, sometimes with big windows to the outside) many times, it has never occurred to me that the subways would bother someone who was claustrophobic. Those hallways are just like interior hallways in any hospital, and some are very wide and have tall ceilings. They are generally well lit as well and there are large waiting areas, restaurants, shops, help desks, various helpful centers for information, spiritual needs, etc. along the way. They are not dark tunnels underground but rather large open hallways and at Gonda are even wide open to huge tall glass areas that allow one to see out to a patio and up to the street. At Baldwin, one can see some landscaping through the large windows.

These are not long, underground tunnels that go a long way between buildings because the buildings are generally very close to one another. Gonda and Mayo are even connected aboveground so you can walk from one to the other at higher floors without even feeling as though you changed buildings.

I really don't think that most people who suffer from mild claustrophobia will have any issues with the "subway" network of hallways and open areas below the street level. As long as you can walk the distances at your own pace or use a wheelchair if needed, it's much easier and faster to use the subway than to exit the buildings, cross streets with lights and traffic, enter another building, and so on. You don't actually have to use the subway, but once you're there and see it, you'll probably realize that it's fine for you and so much more practical and pleasant. Also, it's safer in very cold weather with ice and has not safety hazards that traffic entails.

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