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In the Community: Commissioner visits Health Commons at Dar Ul-Quba

DHS Commissioner Lucinda Jesson (second from left) plays with Fadumo Aden, Abdullahi Hersi and Muhamed Hersi (left to right) June 29 at Health Commons in Minneapolis’ Cedar-Riverside neighborhood while their mothers attend a nutrition class at the drop-in health and wellness center.

Not a lot is common about Health Commons. Colorful curtains, layered rugs and comfortable seating fill the community health and wellness center where all programs are free. Partners behind the organization in Minneapolis’ Cedar-Riverside neighborhood hope the warm setting is a gateway to connect members of the Somali community and other visitors to primary health care and wellness resources.

Minnesota Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson toured Health Commons, located in the Dar Ul-Quba Cultural Center June 29 to experience the unique community-based approach firsthand.

Health Commons, which opened in September 2011, is a collaboration of the University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview, the Augsburg College Department of Nursing and the East African Health Project. It is supported by a $50,000 grant from the UCare Fund, which seeks to improve health through innovative partnerships across communities and reduce disparities for disadvantaged populations.

Sahra Noor, director of language services and community health for University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview (left), explains the partnership behind Health Commons to DHS Commissioner Lucinda Jesson (right) during a visit to the drop-in health and wellness center June 29 in Minneapolis.

Health Commons was founded on the philosophy that hospitality and developing relationships leads to transcultural understanding and health benefits for all participants. Its mission is to provide health education and wellness services, link people to existing resources and health services, provide basic supplies to those that can’t afford them, and provide a welcoming space that promotes social connection and sense of belonging.

The drop-in center is open two afternoons each week. Free of charge, participants take nutrition, parenting and exercise classes offered by community partners like University of Minnesota Extension Services and the Somali Women’s Education Network. Dr. Osman Harare from the East African Health Project and Augsburg nursing faculty provide individual consultations for health-related issues, medication clarification, blood pressure monitoring and advice about navigating the health care system. Volunteers offer alternative health therapies, such as healing touch and massage.

Students in Augsburg’s transcultural nursing program who help staff Health Commons also benefit from the unique opportunity for transcultural experience providing health services.

Fardousa Yossuf, executive director of the Somali Women’s Education Network (left to right), tells DHS Commissioner Lucinda Jesson and Ghita Worcester, senior vice president of public affairs and marketing for UCare, about the ways Health Commons is serving the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood in Minneapolis June 29.

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