Mighty Blog

The power of Community Connect during COVID-19

The Community Connect program at Children’s Minnesota is an innovative initiative that goes beyond basic medical care to support the social determinants of health impacting kids. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, social determinants are conditions in the places where people live, learn, work and play.

What is Community Connect?

Community Connect is transforming Children’s Minnesota’s approach to health care by connecting families to existing community resources, including housing, food and other needs.

Clinicians at Children’s Minnesota begin by having families take a screening about the proactive social determinants of health. They then make real-time referrals to onsite resource navigators, who then design a responsive plan of action to help that family on an on-going basis.

Marayan Ibrahim, Lead Resource Navigator Community Connect at Children's Minnesota.

“The staff at Community Connect come from diverse backgrounds that represent the largest populations we serve. As a group we have Somali, French, Amharic and Spanish speaking staff,” said Marayan Ibrahim, resource navigator at Children’s Minnesota.

Available resources include food access, transportation services, legal assistance, housing support, early childhood education programs, employment search assistance and more.

Why is Community Connect important?

In 2019, Community Connect served over 2,000 families, and nearly 80 percent of participants surveyed said the program improved their family’s health and well-being. Top needs among patient-families include food, household goods, childcare, adult education and transportation.

“The Community Connect program extends care beyond our clinic walls to address those experiences, with a focus on families of color,” Marayan said. “The program helps connects families to resources such a transportation services, food, housing support, legal assistance, early childhood education programs and employment search assistance.”

How has Community Connect helped during COVID-19?

One Community Connect resource navigator recently experienced the proof that this program truly helps our patient families. In fact, this program is now more essential than ever with the outbreak of COVID-19.

Marayan recently received a text from a new mother and recent patient family at Children’s Minnesota. Because of Marayan’s experience as a resource navigator, she solved this mother’s worries and concerns in less than 30 minutes.

The mother reached out to Marayan to see if she had any ideas to get supplies for her newborn and herself delivered to their house. There were two things keeping her from going outside to gather supplies herself: She recently had pneumonia and influenza, and her baby just came home from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Children’s Minnesota. This made going outside to shop for supplies out of the question.

Marayan immediately took action. She called a few different resources and was in luck. Marayan talked to the Neighborhood House Crisis Team who delivered groceries to this mom 30 minutes later.

“This story, like many others, is the most rewarding part of my role as a navigator because the families little worries are relieved,” said Marayan. “I feel accomplished knowing that I was able to help the family.”

The Community Connect program at Children’s Minnesota makes a difference in the lives of so many of our patients and families.

Alexandra Rothstein