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Children’s Minnesota reaffirms need to address structural racism, health disparities, among other issues

Pediatric system to partner with community on inequities magnified by COVID-19

MINNEAPOLIS (June 23, 2020) –  As a result of its 2019 community health needs assessment, Children’s Minnesota has identified five key issues that will guide the health system’s work going forward. Partnering with community stakeholders, Children’s Minnesota will prioritize addressing structural racism, health disparities, economic opportunity and income, mental health and developmental well-being and access to resources.

Recognizing that eighty percent of what impacts the health of children happens outside hospital and clinic walls, the community health needs assessment serves as a call to action to more actively engage with partners across various social sectors to identify and address key needs in the community. The recent findings build upon the previous 2016 assessment and further refines Children’s Minnesota’s understanding of existing health priority areas as well as identifying emerging needs. In 2016, Children’s Minnesota became the first health institution in Minnesota to explicitly name structural racism as a priority health issue. This critical issue remains a top priority in its most recent assessment and requires even greater urgency.

Read the Children’s Minnesota 2019 community health needs assessment.

“It is imperative to work with the community to address deeply entrenched structural inequities that are negatively impacting our kids’ health and impeding their ability to reach their full potential,” said Dr. Marc Gorelick, president and CEO of Children’s Minnesota.  “The tragic death of George Floyd and the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has had on children of color further demonstrates the urgency of addressing these systemic shortcomings in health care and beyond.”

Over the last several years, Children’s Minnesota has made progress in addressing the needs of the community. Milestones include:

  • In 2017, Children’s Minnesota launched Community Connect, an innovative initiative that goes beyond basic medical care to support the social determinants of health impacting kids by connecting families to existing community resources, including housing, food and other needs. Since its inception, the program has helped more than 5,200 families. Through the Healthcare Legal Partnership, which launched the same year, Children’s Minnesota has also provided legal services in more than 620 cases to address the health-harming legal needs experienced by patients and families.
  • In 2018, Children’s Minnesota became the only health care system in Minnesota to join the CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion.
  • In 2019, Children’s Minnesota hired its first chief equity and inclusion officer. The equity and inclusion team has since worked to develop, implement and advocate for a comprehensive health equity, inclusion and diversity strategy at Children’s Minnesota.

Children’s Minnesota’s community health needs assessment findings are a result of dialogue with staff and clinicians, community stakeholders, parents, and secondary data analysis. Input was gathered through neighborhood events, individual interviews with community leaders and members and moderated employee and parent focus groups. A broad and holistic definition of health was used throughout the process to consider not only diseases and health outcomes as potential priority areas, but also the social and environmental factors that contribute to health and well-being.

About Children’s Minnesota

Children’s Minnesota is the seventh largest pediatric health system in the United States and the only health system in Minnesota to provide care exclusively to children, from before birth through young adulthood. An independent and not-for-profit system since 1924, Children’s serves kids throughout the Upper Midwest at two free-standing hospitals, 12 primary and specialty care clinics and six rehabilitation sites.

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Dina Elrashidy