“The Cedar-Riverside neighborhood is home to a large East African population,” said Nawal Hirsi, one of the engagement managers on our Community Advancement team. “Many people are first-generation immigrants and are not familiar with our healthcare system and available resources.”Each Health Commons partner plays a unique role in the collaboration, allowing a wide range of services to be offered. Community members can attend yoga or an exercise class, get a massage, visit with a doctor or nurse for a consultation, attend an education session, or meet with a bilingual liaison to learn about other community resources such as food shelves.
“Being located right in the heart of the neighborhood helps us gain community trust and makes services easy to access,” Nawal said. “We have people that have been coming to activities for more than three years.”
“The center offers massage, aromatherapy, health consultations and education, nutrition and physical activity classes, resource referrals, and a place to connect with other community members,” said Pa Chia Vue, another of our engagement managers. “We work hard to create a safe, welcoming environment and build relationships with community members. People need to trust us before they are willing to come to us for resources or help.”
The services at both Health Commons locations are free and open to all community members.
Results from a recent survey show that the Health Commons model, adopted from Augsburg University, is working. Over 90% of survey participants say they’re making one or more lifestyle changes because of Health Commons. Participants reported eating healthier, exercising more, and coping better with stress.
“We are making an impact in these Minneapolis communities,” said Pa Chia. “It’s exciting to see people connect and make positive changes to their health.”
Health Commons is just one of the ways we’re living up to our role as an anchor institution, extending our care beyond our walls.