New partnership aims to reduce disparities in health care

Q munnity 2 mobile

There is a new community partnership in Minnesota, and its goals are to get more people to seek health care and to have individuals take control of their health by understanding and being comfortable with the resources available to them in their neighborhoods and the greater Twin Cities community.

This program is called the “Medtronic Healthy Twin Cities Communications Program.” It is a year-long partnership and project looking to improve the gaps in health disparities while improving the dissemination of community information and resources.

Health disparities in Minnesota are a hot topic. Minnesota is known for many things, including financial and physical health. But the disparities between people of color, rural populations, and urban Caucasian Americans are drastic. The many barriers include lack of access, lack of knowledge, lack of resources, and lack of transportation to appointments and health and wellness events.

Changes are needed in the healthcare field, and partnerships are needed to reach the masses with important information and opportunities to improve the overall health in minority communities across Minnesota.

For this project, community partners include Medtronic, Health Fair 11, the “Q”mobile, Ampers Radio and the MSR. All have something to offer this program.

Medtronic, a leader in health care, was founded in 1949 as a medical equipment repair shop. Since 1960 the company has had a mission and a top priority to contribute to human welfare. Medtronic does this by the application of biomedical engineering in the research, design, manufacture and sale of instruments or appliances that alleviate pain, restore health, and extend life, all of this in an effort to improve the quality of life for individuals and the community.

As a nonprofit organization, Health Fair 11 also hopes to improve the quality of life for individuals and communities. It has a mission to provide healthcare education, materials for consumers, and free or low-cost screenings to members of our community.

The organization was incorporated in 1987 under the official name of Minnesota Health Fairs, Inc. “Health Fair 11” is used for most business purposes to help improve health and wellness. Some of these purposes are:

  • Health Fair 11 at the Fair — a traditional-style health fair staged annually at the Minnesota State Fair
  • Flu Fighter Clinics public flu shot clinics held at various retail locations
  • Know Your Numbers
  • Monthly PSA campaigns, aired by KARE 11 TV, covering a variety of health topics
  • Free basic health screenings provided via a mobile screening unit “Q”mobile. The “Q”mobile is operated by Q Health Connections, a division of Southside Community Health Services (SCHS).

Southside Community Health Services serves the community by offering patient-focused friendly, high-quality and comprehensive medical care. They strive to provide fiscally responsible health services in an environment that fosters learning and respect. They do this through collaboration, empowerment, and communication with patients with the goal of improving their health.

Last year the “Q”mobile had nurses perform over 3,900 free health checks, which include blood pressure readings, glucose checks, cholesterol checks, and BMI assessments. This community mobile can be found at various community events at which community health is featured.

Craig Hotvedt, executive director of Health Fair 11, is excited to bring this mobile health vehicle to the community because, he says, “Simple screenings save lives. We get a lot of people who are okay. However, with these screenings we come across a handful of people who need additional care.

“So, what we do with this particular program is when we find someone [who needs additional care] we connect them to resources in their own neighborhoods, in their own communities, so they can seek the help that they need.”

He continues, “I get excited when people take charge of their health. I get excited when we have a healthier community, when we have a healthy economy, and when we function better as a society.”

Another partner in the Medtronic Healthy Twin Cities Communications Program is Ampers Radio, a collection of 18 independent community radio stations throughout Minnesota. From the North Shore of Lake Superior to the city streets of Minneapolis, from the Blue Earth River near Mankato to the natural beauty of Grand Rapids, Ampers has got Minnesota covered.

Joel Glaser, CEO of Ampers Radio, tells the MSR, “Ampers has a very strong commitment to serving diverse populations. One thing we have all heard about is the gap [that exists] in underserved communities…communities of color and indigenous people or rural communities.  The healthcare gap is even wider [in rural areas].

“We want to help out our communities,” says Glaser. “Thus [we are] teaming up with other partners for the community program in an effort to bring more health education as well as hopefully making health care more accessible. While we cannot bring down the costs of health care, we can inform communities about where they can find lower or free healthcare options that they may not already know about.

“We believe education is power when addressing healthcare needs,” Glaser continues. “We want to empower the community to take control of their own health through providing them with information, and providing them with easier access, and also providing them with information about how they can more easily navigate the healthcare system. Hopefully this will make it easier and less intimidating, so that people actually seek the help they need early on [and] get the help they need.”

A final community partner is the Minnesota-Spokesman Recorder (MSR), a leader in community education through media channels for the last 81 years. Established in August 1934 by Cecil E. Newman, the MSR today is the oldest Black-owned business in the state of Minnesota and remains a family-run newspaper that is African American- and woman-owned, led by CEO/Publisher Tracey Williams-Dillard, granddaughter to Mr. Newman. The paper hits the newsstands every Wednesday and mailboxes every Thursday and has an estimated 40,000 weekly readers.

When all is said and done, these partners aim to provide the community with:

  • Peer-to-peer guidance by hearing and responding to the voices, thoughts and concerns of community members, patients and community workers
  • Support and education on community resources by connecting visitors, listeners, and readers to local healthcare providers.
  • Helpful, implementable ideas to community members on how to take first steps in a health journey.

For this project, monthly health-related radio credits will be aired on three stations in six languages. Articles will be circulated and translated for Minority Media Coalition Partners including La Voz, Hmong Times, La Prensa and The Circle (a Native American publication).

Other events and venues you can look forward to with this partnership include Sister Spokesman events and health and wellness symposiums; daily radio credits on Ampers stations, with possibility of peer-to-peer Take Control segments; and “Q”mobile screening events along with Kare 11 advertising and promotional events.

Upcoming topics to be explored by the partnership include getting a handle on your health; promoting baseline screening and testing and where to get that done; the community clinic vs. urgent care/ER; and the importance of exercise and other activity.

Stay tuned for upcoming events to get your health screenings. For a list of events the “Q”mobile will be at, go here.


Brandi Phillips welcomes reader responses to