College Health Corps Improving, Expanding, and Starting Campus-Community Partnerships To Create Greater Healthcare Assess and Health Literacy for Low-Income and Underserved Minnesota Populations Part One Duet Clinic and Metropolitan State University
<ul><li>In 2009, Minnesota Campus Compact founded the College Health Corps, an AmeriCorps VISTA Program. The program reduces health disparities and increases health literacy by developing powerful partnerships between college campuses and community organizations. </li></ul><ul><li>In its first year, the program hosted five VISTA members at campuses and community organizations in St. Paul, Minneapolis, Rochester, and Northfield, Minnesota. </li></ul>
In St. Paul, Metropolitan State University students and staff are working together to support the work of Duet Community Clinic. The clinic serves the 1,000 residents of Roosevelt Homes public housing neighborhood, as well as other community members.
Megan Ritchie, a 2009 graduate of Macalester College, works at the clinic as their VISTA member. As members of VISTA, Megan and her peers in College Health Corps commit to one year of volunteering full time in the community while living in poverty. Megan serves as the Manager of Business Affairs at the clinic, where among other duties, she organizes community health events, writes grants to support the clinic, develops clinic marketing, recruits volunteers, and cultivates community partnerships.
Megan, pictured here consulting with faculty from Metropolitan State University, joined VISTA in order “to do something substantial.” “I like to be challenged,” said Megan. “I wanted to do something that I knew would have impact.”
One of the challenges Megan has faced is learning how the clinic can best serve the Roosevelt community. Like many communities in poverty, residents of the Roosevelt neighborhood face a disproportionately high number of health issues associated with poverty, including diabetes and nutritional issues, mental health and substance abuse issues, and lack of adequate insurance.
Duet Community Clinic was one of the first clinics in Minnesota to provide patients with the H1N1 Influenza vaccine. Because of the high number of children in the area, vaccines are a critical part of the health care provided by the clinic. The clinic also provides children with the physicals they need to get into Head Start programs.
According to Megan, “Poverty is about a lack of resources, and this clinic is about bringing people resources.” By providing affordable health care in the heart of the Roosevelt community, the clinic “is alleviating health care poverty.”
Meghan Aanenson, Program Manager of College Health Corps, gets her blood pressure checked at a Duet Clinic health fair. The fairs raise awareness of the clinic and help clinic staff build relationships in the community. “We wanted the community to know that we’re here,” said Megan.
The fall 2009 health fair also brought together volunteers from the community, from the nursing and health programs at Metropolitan State University, and from other AmeriCorps groups. As part of Megan’s position at the clinic, she has met with other community clinics to learn how they work with volunteers and service learning classes. It is Megan’s responsibility to work with both community and campus stakeholders to build mutually beneficial relationships that help increase health care access in the neighborhood.
For Megan, learning about the health issues facing the Roosevelt neighborhood and the Twin Cities has proven to be one of the most valuable aspects of her VISTA position. “I’ve given myself more resources,” said Megan. “I’ve fought against the poverty of my knowledge. It’s opened my eyes.”
To Learn More <ul><li>Visit Duet Community Clinic at: </li></ul><ul><li>www.duetclinic.com </li></ul><ul><li>Visit Minnesota Campus Compact at: </li></ul><ul><li>www.mncampuscompact.org </li></ul><ul><li>Look for part two of the College Health Corps series at </li></ul><ul><li>www.mncompact.wordpress.com </li></ul>