HealthFinders hosted a public forum at the Faribault Library on Saturday, February 18th, to gather feedback from community members about a new HealthFinders clinic to be located in Faribault. With over 50 in attendance, representing a broad spectrum of Faribault's diverse communities, the group heard a brief presentation from the executive director, asked questions, and then participated in engaging small group discussions that lasted well into the morning and beyond the anticipated time slot.
Read the full story below, or at the Faribault Daily News website
The only thing to note is that the "white ladies" named below were actually a mix of volunteers and patients.
Faribault gathers to talk health care
Faribault Daily News, 18 Feb 2012
By, Jaci Smith
“If your baby wakes up with a fever and pulling at his ears, what do you do?”, asked the HealthFinders staff member of the crowd of more than 50 gathered at Buckham Memorial Library on Saturday morning.
The answers came fast and furious — and in at least three different languages.
“Feed him popsicles.”
“Put a cold, wet towel on his head.”
“Give him a cold bath.”
“Go to the emergency room.”
None of the answers included visiting a primary care physician. That’s a problem HealthFinders, a nonprofit that provides health care options to the un- or under-insured in greater Rice County, hopes to fix.
The organization plans to open a clinic on Central Avenue next month and hosted Saturday’s community meeting to find out what Faribault wants in a health care clinic. The meeting started with Executive Director Charlie Mandile explaining what HealthFinders, currently located in Dundas, offers.
Several people at the meeting expressed surprise at the fact that not only does the clinic offer health care appointments two nights a week, it also offers wellness programs, a diabetes support program and some vision services.
Most importantly, the clinic seeks to be a gateway.
“We try to be the first step for folks to find the care they need,” Mandile said. That includes helping people obtain public assistance, a medical card and referrals to other services, he said.
Another hope of Mandile’s is that the new clinic will foster communication between ethnic communities in Faribault.
“We want to start to leverage our literal and proverbial ‘waiting room’ to foster conversations between communities that might not otherwise talk,” Mandile said.
If Saturday was any indication, that conversation was already under way. After a brief introductory speech that was interpreted by volunteers into two different languages, Mandile entertained questions from the audience.
One woman, who surprisingly was not an ethnic minority, wanted to know if receiving grants from the state and federal government would require the clinic to report any illegal immigrants it served. Mandile said the clinic must follow the same patient-doctor privacy laws as any other medical facility, which meant that no immigration information was even taken, much less released.
That response earned a “wonderful” from the woman who asked the question and nods of approval not only from the large Hispanic and Somali contingents present, but also from a sizeable group of elderly white women looking to be volunteers.
Other questions were more logistical — hours, services and days the clinic would be open. The audience eventually split into smaller groups — by language — to help provide input for the answers to those questions. Mandile said at first the clinic will have office hours and patient advocates for those needing assistance with paperwork or direction, and for wellness programming. As volunteers come on board, the clinic will then be able to staff medical appointments.
“We’re here to provide you service,” Mandile said.
—Jaci Smith is the managing editor of the Daily News. Reach her at 333-3134. Follow her on Twitter.com @FDNJaciSmith