Hennepin Healthcare urges prevention, vigilance as flu season looms and COVID-19 remains a threat

Essential hospitals across the country call on communities to adhere to recommendations for handwashing, mask wearing, and other protective measures

Hennepin Healthcare has joined Valleywise Health of Phoenix, America’s Essential Hospitals, and a dozen other essential hospitals – those with a safety-net mission – in an urgent call for all Americans to remain vigilant and continue preventative actions to combat the spread of COVID-19.

As the nation faces a potential second surge of COVID-19 with cases on the rise in many states, hospital leaders are imploring the public to double down on safety measures to help keep at-risk people and health care workers safe.

“The surge we saw earlier this spring and summer was devastating,” explains Dr. Jim Miner, Chief of Emergency Medicine at Hennepin Healthcare. The hospital cared for the highest volume of COVID positive patients of any Twin Cities hospital during the initial surge of cases. “We’ve made innovative changes to our emergency department and campus to safely care for anyone with COVID-19 symptoms, but of course the ideal scenario is to avoid getting sick.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), COVID-19 has disproportionately affected the country’s underrepresented communities – the same populations commonly served by essential hospitals. Leaders at Hennepin Healthcare are asking the public to maintain the most basic – and effective – health and safety measures to keep people safe. These are known as the three Ws: wear your mask, wash your hands, and watch your distance.

“We understand that people are growing tired of hearing prevention messages,” continues Dr. Miner. “So often these messages aren’t taken seriously until an exposure happens to someone you know – or even you. Don’t wait until then. What we’re hearing from patients is that many of their exposures may have been preventable.”

Dr. Miner also encourages everyone to have a conversation with the people they live with to understand their risk of exposure when they are away from home, for example, at work. Are co-workers adhering to safety measures? If not, household members can still practice the 3Ws to avoid bringing the virus home.

There are already more than 8 million cases in the United States and more than 224,000 deaths due to COVID-19. According to the Minnesota Department of Health, COVID-19 cases in our state continue to rise. While cases decreased in many hot spots in the early spring months, infections are rising again in many states, and some experts are concerned deaths will hit 300,000 by the end of the year.

The CDC reports that most COVID-19 infections are spread through contact with an infected person or through exposure to respiratory droplets within a range of 6 feet. Washing your hands often, wearing a mask, and staying 6 feet apart from others are the most effective ways to stop the spread of the virus.

The nation’s essential hospitals and health systems provide access to high-quality care for all people. They serve large volumes of patients from the most vulnerable populations, including the underinsured and uninsured.

HCMC program recognized by America’s Essential Hospitals

HCMC recognized for work to improve health in the Latino community

Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) has been recognized by America’s Essential Hospitals for its work to reduce health disparities for Latino youth through culturally sensitive, integrated care.

America’s Essential Hospitals, a national organization representing hospitals committed to high-quality care for all people, including the vulnerable, awarded HCMC a 2014 Gage Award honorable mention for population health.

“Health care disparities among minority and other underserved populations is a persistent problem that requires creative solutions, such as those at Hennepin County Medical Center,” said America’s Essential Hospitals President and CEO Bruce Siegel, MD, MPH.

The Gage Awards, named after association founder Larry Gage, honor and share successful and creative programs that improve patient care and meet community needs. The Gage Award for population health recognizes activities that improve delivery, access, or value for specific populations in the recipient’s community and, as a result, have improved health outcomes. Last year HCMC’s  Coordinated Care Center was recognized for improving population health.

HCMC’s Aqui Para Ti (APT)/Here for You program is a family centered, clinic-based youth development program that seeks to reduce health disparities for Latino youth using a culturally sensitive, bicultural, bilingual, integrated approach. Among other achievements, upon completion of the Beck Depression Inventory – a rating inventory that measures characteristic attitudes and symptoms of depression – APT patients exhibited significantly fewer depressive symptoms at their final assessment than at their initial assessment, and those with scores of depression achieved a statistically and clinically relevant improvement at follow-up.

“HCMC is a national leader in population health management because of programs like Aqui Para Ti that are created with the community, not for the community,” said HCMC CEO Jon L. Pryor, MD, MBA. “Dr. Svetaz and her team have developed an approach that works because it is culturally sensitive and it works with the family – both the teens and their parents – to address the factors that influence their health status. That is why it is making a real difference in the lives of these families and our community.”

Hennepin County Medical Center is a nationally recognized healthcare system that includes a Level l Adult Trauma Center and Level l Pediatric Trauma Center and a comprehensive primary and specialty care clinic system. The campus in downtown Minneapolis includes a 455-bed acute care hospital and many primary and specialty care clinics. Other clinics are located in Golden Valley, St. Anthony Village, Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, and Richfield; and in Minneapolis in the Whittier Neighborhood and on East Lake Street. HCMC also has a retail clinic in Bloomington, an employee clinic in the Hennepin County Government Center, and a Neurology and Specialty Clinic in the 212 Medical Center in Chaska.