HealthFinders operates on the fundamental belief that health happens in the home and in the community as much as it does in the clinic. Health happens in the streets of your community, the classrooms of schools, and the city parks. While HealthFinders is primarily known for accessible and reliable healthcare services, we also actively engage in the diverse community and help give voice to all members by being active listeners.
The Community Engagement team is dedicated to doing just that. With HealthFinders representatives at community coalition meetings, as well as school board meetings in both Northfield and Faribault, HealthFinders makes it a priority to listen to what their patients and other members of the community have to say about issues they are facing. A healthy life not only includes receiving quality healthcare but is also impacted by the overall satisfaction of a patient’s life. The Community Engagement team meets regularly to discuss ways to address important community issues and explore the intersections between community engagement and health. As community needs and assets are identified, HealthFinders works to build new programs or modify existing ones in response. For example, our dental program was developed in response to identified community needs, and has continued to engage patients in the design, implementation, and growth of the program. HFC’s MESA youth and family programs, and upcoming mental health services were similarly grown out of these ongoing relationships with our patient community.
One of HealthFinders assets in linking the organization to the community is Advancement Associate Wendy Sara. With a rich background in social justice and community engagement from her undergraduate studies at the University of Minnesota, Wendy Sara has been very helpful to the Community Engagement team. As a member of the community herself, Wendy has been crucial in identifying problems members of Rice County are currently facing. Spending many years in Faribault, Wendy has witnessed the many changes that have influenced her fellow community members. Wendy believes that her first-hand experience as a Faribault native has given her the opportunity to get a better understanding of the ways in which the community can be improved and the best ways to approach the actively changing environment. With the help of the Community Services Resource Fair organized by the Community Engagement team this past June, HealthFinders is now linked to more resources which could benefit patients and other residents. These significant connections within the community will help ensure patients are receiving the specific services they need outside of HealthFinders.
A major priority of the Community Engagement team is a better understanding of the community’s mental health concerns and the cultural barriers which may limit access to needed care. In the near future, the Community Engagement team hopes to revamp their social media to make conversations with community members easier. We believe that when everyone has the opportunity to share their voice, the community is stronger and “community” is at the heart of HealthFinders.