Community partnership betweenUCare and WellShare International educates metro-area
immigrant populations about western health care. “Your Health” pilot program pairs WellShare community health workers with UCare members of PMAP and MinnesotaCare in Hennepin and Ramsey counties; information sessions inform communities
UCare andWellShare International have launched a voluntary pilot program called Your Health – Caafimaadkaaga in Somali – that is helping primarily Somali and East African immigrants in Hennepin and Ramsey counties learn about the western health care system and differences between health care resources available to them when care is needed.
Your Health is offered at no cost to eligible UCare members of Minnesota’s Prepaid Medical Assistance Program (PMAP) and MinnesotaCare. UCare identifies members in the two counties and invites them to take advantage of the program’s services.
“The western health care system is unfamiliar to most immigrants. As a leading provider of state public programs to new Minnesotans, UCare wants to help these members identify the best places to go to meet their health care needs,” said Jeri Peters, Clinical Services Director, UCare. “WellShare is a valued partner in this pilot because of its experience and personal approach to providing multi-cultural health education to new metro-area residents.”
Program offers personal visit, culturally competent information. UCare members who join Your Health receive a one-to-one visit at a location of their choosing, during which a WellSharecommunity health worker offers culturally competent communication about the program. Because WellShare workers live in the same community as the constituency they serve, they provide effective community-based health education. These cultural liaisons act as a bridge between the health care system and their communities, provide their communities with information about health issues that affect them, and link individuals with the health and social services they need to achieve wellness.
During the home visit, the community health worker informs the UCare member about levels of care offered in the western health system and from metro-area providers. The UCare member learns the “how and when” of accessing the types of care available at primary care clinics, urgent care sites, emergency departments, and hospitals so he or she can obtain the type of care needed – when it’s most needed.
“This unique opportunity to partner with UCare allows us to help community members access new ways to use the health system,” said Tessa Wetjen, the program’s manager with WellShare International. “For example, many people had never heard of urgent care or had never used the nurse line. By creating this project with UCare, we are able to provide the best information and support for the plan’s s members.”
To date, 100 home visits have been conducted by WellShare’s community health workers, who provide the Your Health participants with a wallet card and a magnet on which to record important health contact information, and a digital thermometer with a health contact phone number.
UCare is the leading provider of Minnesota state public programs to Minnesota’s growing Somali population. Of the 15,300 Somali members of these health care programs in January 2012, approximately two out of three were enrolled in UCare. In Hennepin County, 5,114 out of 9,148 members of managed care programs (56%) are enrolled in UCare. In Ramsey County, 1,487 out of 3,224 members of managed care programs (46%) are enrolled in UCare.
UCare and WellShare held three health fairs in November 2011; one at the Skyline Apartments on St. Anthony Ave. in St. Paul, one at the Riverside Commons in Minneapolis, and one at the Abubakar As-Siddique Islamic Center and mosquein the Phillips neighborhood in Minneapolis.
Community information sessions offered
This outreach initiative also includes no-cost information sessions in 2012 conducted by WellShare and UCare in the community. Sessions offer information about levels of care in the western health system, and the how and when of using types of care available at primary care clinics, urgent care sites, emergency departments, and hospitals. Another information session addresses health topics ranging from immunizations to child planning.
UCare (www.ucare.org) is an independent, nonprofit health plan providing health care and administrative services to more than 285,000 members. UCare serves more people from diverse cultures and more people with disabilities enrolled in Medical Assistance than any other health plan in Minnesota. UCare partners with health care providers, counties, community organizations, and other member-directed groups to create and deliver innovative health coverage plans for:
· Medicare-eligible individuals throughoutMinnesota and in western Wisconsin.
· Individuals and families enrolled in income-based Minnesota Health Care Programs, such as MinnesotaCare and Prepaid Medical Assistance Program.
· Adults with disabilities.
· Minnesotans dually eligible for Medical Assistance and Medicare.
UCare addresses health care disparities and care access issues through its UCare Fund grants and a broad array of community initiatives. The health plan received Top 100 Workplaces honors from the Star Tribune in 2010, 2011, and 2012.
About WellShare International
Based in Minneapolis, Minn., WellShare International (www.wellshareinternational.org) is a 501(c)(3) international and domestic nonprofit health organization. Its mission is to improve the health of women, children, and their communities around the world. It is guided by a commitment to sustainability, full community involvement, and the transfer of simple technologies and methods for educating and transforming communities.