By Charles Hallman
Chemical healthcare needs in the Black community historically have been emphasized less than they should be. Turning Point since 1976 has provided both culturally specific inpatient and outpatient chemical dependency treatment services and other related programming. It served nearly 500 clients in 2013; 42 percent of the provided services were chemical dependency treatment with 94 percent of its clientele Black.
The nonprofit agency’s mission expanded several years ago with the establishing of its Culturally Specific Services Center (CSSC) for “providing social services, public health programs, and culturally specific solutions” to meet the community’s needs. One result is that Turning Point and North Memorial Medical Center have joined forces.
“As we look at this relationship and we started having discussions, we recognized that we have to do better in our healthcare system than what we have been doing,” said North Memorial President Jeff Wicklander in his remarks during the October 23 open house that announced the partnership between his hospital and Turning Point.
North Memorial now holds daily office hours at Turning Point, located on Minneapolis’ North Side, for “anybody who needs emergency, on-the-spot assistance,” explained Ray Richardson, who joined the organization’s board of directors earlier this year. “If they need additional care, this facility will help them get where they need to be. To have a paramedic unit right here on site, you can’t put a value on that.”
In addition, if a North Memorial patient needs chemical dependency treatment, Turning Point will be a first-choice assignment as well, continued Richardson. “That’s one thing that hasn’t been official until now. But now there’s a formal relationship and a very important connection.”
Richardson later told the MSR, “To get a hospital like North Memorial to partner with Turning Point, that’s a major collaboration, because a lot of agencies like Turning Point don’t have a connection like this to do the work they need to do.
“This has to be a groundbreaking collaboration. This has nothing but tremendous potential to really become a reliable resource for people who really need the help,” Richardson said.
He applauded both Wicklander and Turning Point Executive Director Peter Hayden for their visionary leadership in this effort. “You know, it’s kind of hard to get big business and the community together, but when it happens, it’s a beautiful thing,” he told the audience, which included elected officials, North Memorial staff, and community members.
“There’s always been a gap of care in our community,” said Turning Point Board Chairman Don Bryant. “This partnership is bridging that gap and minimizes that gap, and I hope will eliminate that gap from our community.”
The new partnership “will bring something to our community that has not been here before,” stated Turning Point Chief Operating Officer Elizabeth Reed. “I am just so excited. I think this is going to make such a difference in our community.”
Reed and Hayden afterwards talked further with the MSR. “When we opened the CSSC, it was all about health care and also about employment. This is just another level so that we can fight some of these healthcare problems that we are working with,” noted Reed.
“The thing I think is most important is that someone cares. Someone is looking at the disparities in North Minneapolis, and Turning Point is that person.
“We want to be small enough to provide quality and personalized services, and the only way to do that is to also merge with someone that’s larger than we are or partner with someone that’s larger than we are to provide all that,” Reed said
The North Memorial partnership “is big-time,” explained Hayden. “We started looking for people, not only African American programs but also Euro institutions…to find ways we can work together. This is a two-billion-dollar hospital, and it is not all about medicine. It’s about understanding and being comfortable with your community.”
“We look at this as a great partnership,” said Wicklander. “We think this will help the families and the community at large.”
“Now they have that opportunity, and that’s bridging the gap” in providing chemical health care in the community, said Hayden.
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.