Minneapolis residents got their first look at the newly expanded M Health Fairview Health Commons – Cedar Riverside during a reopening event and free community flu shot clinic on Thursday, Sept. 24.
Located within the Riverside Plaza housing complex in Minneapolis, the Health Commons is a drop-in health and wellness center that has provided free healthcare services to the diverse and under-served Cedar-Riverside neighborhood since 2014. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, however, many of the programs at the Health Commons shifted to virtual-only services to reduce the spread of the disease.
Today marked the return of those free, in-person services – and much more. In addition to the previously available services, work is underway to develop:
“At M Health Fairview, we are committed to our partnerships with the diverse, multicultural communities that make this region great,” said Fairview Health Services President and CEO James Hereford, who attended the reopening event on Thursday morning. “The expansion of this Health Commons space will improve access to services we know make a difference to the health and wellness of a person, and a community.”
The Health Commons mission is to provide free, culturally sensitive healthcare services based on respect, relationship building, hospitality, and collaboration in order to reduce health disparities and improve access to care. Programming at the Health Commons is supported by M Health Fairview in partnership with the Augsburg University Department of Nursing, East Africa Health Project, and People’s Center Health Services.
In 2019, there were 6,512 visits by community members to our Health Commons drop-in center in the Cedar-Riverside and at a similar site in North Minneapolis. The sites primarily serve East African and African American community members, including the Somali community in the Twin Cities. More than 80 percent of participants reported they are making positive changes toward a healthier lifestyle because of Health Commons services.
The free flu shot clinic that took place on Thursday is an example of the direct impact the Health Commons can have in local communities that have traditionally numerous barriers to primary care. Through its MINI clinic program, M Health Fairview expects to administer roughly 7,000 free flu shots this fall at Health Commons and other community sites.
"M Health Fairview Clinic – Smiley’s and the University of Minnesota Department of Family Medicine and Community Health are committed to providing outreach for our patients," said Family Medicine Physician James Pacala, MD, department head. "We are working with a wide range of stakeholders to support the residents of the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood. As part of the Smiley's care team, our full-time Health Commons nurse will provide care to community members while helping educate future health professionals."
“Successful collaborations like Health Commons are important steps to creating a healthcare ecosystem that is simpler, more culturally intelligent, more equitable and more accessible to all in our community,” Hereford said.