20/07/2024

Care Health

Prioritize Healthy life

Weekly health screening events seek to improve health care access in Minneapolis’ Phillips neighborhood

Weekly health screening events seek to improve health care access in Minneapolis’ Phillips neighborhood

Nursing students at Metropolitan State University are learning to consider a holistic approach to health, looking at many factors that go into wellbeing when caring for patients. 

The pilot program aims to provide free health screenings in Minneapolis’ Phillips neighborhood.

Every Thursday for six weeks, the Partners in Prevention Clinic will offer health services like checking blood pressure, going over oral health tips, discussing diabetes management and prevention and offering hand massages – as part of their holistic approach to health. 

Partnering organization Hue-MAN, which seeks to address health crisis among people of color, has helped put on events like this for nearly a decade, but the clinic is now in the Phillips area for the first time, said Debra Eardley, the Partners in Prevention clinic lead and associate professor in the Department of Nursing at Metro State. 

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The clinic opened Thursday at the Center for Changing Lives building on Park Avenue. Outside the screenings room, representatives from Hue-MAN and UCare spoke with people about the clinic’s goals and offered health supplies. 

The students involved are in a public health clinical course, and the group of students from it will rotate turns at the clinic throughout the weeks. 

“This is really cool because we get a chance to connect with the community members and address health from a different perspective. It’s not just an acute setting,” said Logan Giambruno, one of the nursing students onsite. “We’re talking about food insecurity, housing insecurity, mental health, all of those sorts of things that you don’t get the opportunity to generally talk about with an individual.” 

In the Twin Cities, around 45% of households are considered cost-burdened, meaning they pay more than they can afford on housing. That stress affects a person’s well-being, Giambruno said. 

“There’s more and more research helping us understand how things like food insecurity or traumatic childhood experiences affect a person’s life, literally their life expectancy, she said. “All those things … are often considered separate from health, but really it’s so interrelated. A person’s health and addressing them in silos, it doesn’t really make any sense.” 

At the blood pressure table, Amy Western, a student in the program, explained the importance of blood pressure readings — something people without regular access to health care might not get frequently.

Every Thursday for six weeks, the Partners in Prevention Clinic will offer health services like checking blood pressure, going over oral health tips, discussing diabetes management and prevention and offering hand massages – as part of their holistic approach to health. 

MinnPost photo by Ava Kian

Every Thursday for six weeks, the Partners in Prevention Clinic will offer health services like checking blood pressure, going over oral health tips, discussing diabetes management and prevention and offering hand massages – as part of their holistic approach to health.

“We’re interpreting the blood pressures that we find and giving people advice based on that,” Western said. “I had a patient come in, and she had pretty high blood pressure that she hasn’t normally had. So I advised her that we should really bring this up to her primary care provider.” 

At the other tables, Western’s classmates discussed diabetes and dental care with patients. 

Nicole Ashton said she walked out of the clinic knowing more about how to get proper dental care than she had before she entered. And, she said the clinic referred her to a dental office for her kids.

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By talking with people about their experiences and symptoms, health concerns can be caught sooner rather than later, Western said. 

“You can see evidence of diabetes in your eyes and your teeth. People with unchecked diabetes have a really hard time healing, so if you’ve got wounds … those wounds can get infected, and they have a really hard time healing when they have diabetes. Having that conversation can sort of help,” she said. 

The holistic approach makes their program unique, Western said. She hopes she and her classmates gain an understanding of the needs of the many communities in the Twin Cities. 

“I think becoming more aware of what this community needs, like the community here in Minnesota and the Twin Cities, is really important for nurses. Our program is a holistic program in the sense that we are looking at the whole person, not just a collection of symptoms and like fix the symptoms,” she said. “We’re looking at the root problems. We have a heavy emphasis on public health in our program.”