The Power of Partnerships
Images of confusing paperwork, long lines, and never-ending questions might arise when one thinks of enrolling in health insurance, but on this particular day at the Northfield Union of Youth that could not be more wrong. In fact, after a quick twenty minutes a young woman walked out of a room fully insured while her mother, with tears in her eyes, hugged and thanked those who made it possible.
Days before, VISTA member Bella Mosqueda received word from the executive director of the Northfield Union of Youth that there were two teens who needed support getting health insurance, but the organization did not have enough capacity to directly help. To overcome this obstacle Bella, using a new partnership she cultivated, reached out to HealthFinders Collaborative, a community health center in Northfield, MN to see if they could assist. Healthfinders Collaborative was also a previous College Health Corps VISTA site that worked to increase access to wellness programs and insurance. Through this relationship Bella was able to secure a staff member to come to the Northfield Union of Youth and enroll the two teens in health insurance.
Staff sighed relief on the day of the meeting when both the youth arrived for the consultation. Bella elaborated that it can be challenging for at-risk youth to keep appointments due to various societal pressures, their environment, and crises that can arise. This makes the fact that they were able to be there even more impressive and shows trust and effective communication among all who were involved in making the meeting happen.
After a short meeting both teens walked away with completed applications for insurance. Thanks to the power of new partnerships built by Bella, two lives were changed for the better and the capacity of the Northfield Union of Youth was expanded. Bella is hopeful that there will be further collaboration between the two organizations in the future and that many more youth can be positively impacted.
Beyond this story, Bella is working to expand access to primary and mental health care in Northfield, and is committed to make it responsive to youth. 75% of the youth within the Northfield Union of Youth’s core community have a serious mental health issue, and the subject of mental health access has been identified by them as an important topic. Bella works directly with the Mental Health Youth Board to ensure that the youth are heard and given a voice in this work.
To learn more about the Northfield Union of Youth and their mission click here.