Health Commons: A not so common way to support health outside our hospitals and clinics

Locations immersed in neighborhoods offer health and wellbeing services to the community

Health Commons at Cedar-Riverside
Inside a room at the Cedar-Riverside Plaza apartments in Minneapolis, neighborhood residents gather for a forum. Today’s topic is navigating healthcare. Members of our Community Advancement, Interpreter Services, Patient Relations, and Behavioral Health teams are sharing what services we have at our hospitals and clinics and getting feedback on the residents’ experience.

The forum is just one of the services provided through Health Commons at Cedar-Riverside, a community partnership with M Health Fairview, Augsburg University Department of Nursing, East Africa Health Project, and People’s Center Health Services. It’s funded in part by the Fairview Foundation.

“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.”

An oasis in North Minneapolis

Only a few miles away at Redeemer Lutheran Church, Health Commons at the Living Room is serving the Harrison neighborhood in North Minneapolis. The partnership between M Health Fairview, Redeemer Center for Lifeand the Cora McCorvey Health & Wellness Center is key to its success.

“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. 

Making positive lifestyle changes

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.

“The Community Advancement team is working with the communities surrounding all of our hospitals and clinics to improve the health of our neighbors," said John Swanholm, Vice President of Community Advancement and President of the Fairview Foundation, “because we know that health and wellbeing start where we work, live, learn, play, and worship.”

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