For Thanksgiving, the old emergency room at the former St. Joseph’s Hospital in downtown St. Paul will store floor-to-ceiling crates of non-perishable food for Second Harvest Heartland, a food aid organization. The nearby emergency departments will serve as the distribution center for the grocery bank. A pop-up shelf with food for those in need will periodically appear in the hospital parking lot.
By next summer, at least a few primary care physicians will again walk the corridors of a facility that was once synonymous with medical care.
Almost a year after St. Joseph’s Campus, including a senior day program and a community primary health care clinic targeting low-income, uninsured or underinsured patients.
The clinic will be a new platform for the expansion of Minnesota Community Care, the largest federal health center in the state, and will play a leading role in the new Fairview Community Health and Wellness Hub.
“We know that 80 percent of the factors that affect health are not really addressed within the walls of the hospital. It’s food, it’s the concerns of older people, it’s our ability to deliver mental health and drug addiction services, ”Fairview President and CEO James Hereford said Tuesday. “If you give me your zip code, I can tell a lot about how healthy you are and how it will affect your health and wellbeing in the future. Saint Paul and the East Metro offer great proving grounds for this, but this is not unique to Saint Paul. Almost every community in the country sees this inequality. ”
Construction of the clinic is scheduled to begin in January, and primary health care visits will begin by July. Fairview will provide medical imaging and other support services onsite to approximately 10 providers, including dentists, nurses, mental health consultants, social workers and at least a couple of doctors, as well as 20 support and administrative staff. They expect 8000 patients annually.
“We haven’t done all the demand analytics yet, but we expect there will be more than one MD,” said Ruben Moore, president and CEO of Minnesota Community Care. “The demand is huge. The loss of St. Joe’s hospital created a huge gap in care for the 10,000 or 20,000 people who received treatment there. ”
Moore said the site, dubbed the “10th Street Wellness Hub” in early planning meetings, will be the 18th clinic for the medical center to open around the same time as the locations in Frogtown and Farmington. All services will be offered on a sliding scale, meaning they will be free for many.
“Anyone who wants to access health care can turn to us for a wider range of primary health care services that cannot be obtained in a hospital,” Moore said. “If you want to come and get vaccinated against COVID, we will. If you would like to bring your grandchild on a wellness visit, we will do it. A visit to a chiropractor, a psychologist, a dentist – we do it, no matter how much you earn. What has reappeared is something better and more consistent with the community. The nursing model simply doesn’t work. Our goal is to keep people out of the hospital. ”
EBENEZER THE ELDER LIFE, SECOND HARVEST OF THE HEART
Other partners at the Fairview Community Health and Wellness Center include Second Harvest Heartland, a food bank chain in Brooklyn Park, and Ebenezer Senior Living, which will provide daily care and activities for seniors on site.
Second Harvest Heartland is in talks with direct service agencies such as the Sanneh Foundation, Keystone Community Services, and the Christian Cupboard Emergency Food Shelf to host pop-up events and on-site food giveaways.
O’Toole noted that one in ten children in Minnesota suffers from hunger, and this rate is at least twice as high in communities of color. The pandemic hasn’t helped, especially in a motley city with high poverty rates like St. Paul.
“It took over a decade to repair the damage caused by the Great Recession 10 years ago,” she said. “It was really difficult for people to get well. At the same time, supply chains are narrowing again, making food more expensive. We hear that this year’s Thanksgiving dinner will be the most expensive in history. … We are in a difficult position again. ”
Moore said his clinic will also host a USDA-approved Food is Medicine program aimed at healthy eating, which will go beyond the food bags his clinics often give out to patients.
The St. Joseph campus will continue to operate long-term emergency services, which were transferred to the hospital in March 2020. Intensive outpatient drug treatment and mental health services will be relocated to another corner of the former hospital.
Inpatient mental health services will continue until at least July 2022 as M Health Fairview builds a new mental health facility to serve the East Metro, location to be determined. Under the new model, an extension of the temporary care program is expected to act as an intermediary between emergency hospitalization and outpatient counseling services.
NEW PUBLIC HEALTH CENTER
More partners for the Fairview Center for Public Health and Wellness are expected to be announced in the coming months. The aim is to provide preventive services to vulnerable populations, including those affected by health inequities associated with “social determinants of health” such as income, educational attainment and access to healthy food. A growing body of research in public health circles is focusing on the enormous role of factors such as race, poverty and zip code in human health.
A June survey of Saint Paul residents found that more than half of respondents felt that existing health services did not meet the needs of the surrounding communities, especially for people with low incomes, racial or ethnic populations, and refugees. 61 percent of respondents said they were more aware of unmet health needs than they were before the pandemic. Among non-white respondents, 57 percent said they face barriers to staying healthy, even when they can’t cope with the disease.
Along the same lines, the downtown campus will host the new M Health Fairview Center for Health Equity, which is described in writing as a fundamental effort to support “the next generation of prevention-focused community health and wellness programs. and acting on the social determinants of health ”.
The center, led by Diane Tran, will expand the Fairview Foundation, which has funded public health activities such as diabetes clinics, COVID testing and other “mini-clinics” in ethnic minority and low-income areas. The University of Minnesota Foundation undertook a major fundraiser for M Health Fairview hospitals, clinics and community programs in November 2020.
A three-year community health needs assessment will be published by the end of December, Tran said, and the center will rely on this and other “community insights, data and analysis to determine how to operate in systems and communities.” … We are still at the beginning of the road. ”
The Center for Health Equity will include a community education space, as well as premises for mobile vaccination clinics and food access programs.
Fairview did not announce a price tag for the complete makeover of St. Joe, but the health network did announce a $ 14 million investment last year to build community and improve system-wide health. He looks to charitable donors for additional investment.
“We spoke with other health organizations across the country,” Hereford said. “I think this is unique. There is nothing like this. … I think it will be a busy place. ”
Founded in 1853 by the sisters of St. Joseph Carondelet after a cholera outbreak, St. Joseph’s served generations of St. Paul’s residents until it closed as a full-service hospital last year for a monetary loss. The 400-bed hospital abandoned the maternity ward in 2017, shortly after M Health Fairview acquired the cash-strapped HealthEast network.
Despite community backlash to cut services during the pandemic, its emergency department closed in December and the COVID unit set up during the pandemic received its last patient in April.
Fairview Health Services renamed its shared services with the University of Minnesota and the University of Minnesota to M Health Fairview in October 2019.