HealthFinders VISTA supports hospital understanding of Somali birthing practices

May 20, 2016

The Community Wellness Collaboration between District One Hospital (DOH) and HealthFinders Collaborative (HFC) was formed in September 2011 to enhance health access and increase wellness throughout the DOH community.  CHC VISTA, Sameena Ahmed, completed the first phase of the wellness collaboration plan by researching and developing the HealthFinders Collaborative Wellness Model that unifies existing programs and establishes a framework for future initiatives.  She continues to play a strong role in this collaborative by participating in quarterly meetings with DOH leadership.

In an early 2012 connection meeting, the DOH leadership team expressed interest in learning how to better communicate regarding reproductive and women’s health, after facing challenges treating pregnant Somali women. The team wanted to learn more about Somali women’s perspective on pregnancy and birth, especially cesarean sections. Sameena saw this as a great opportunity to use the collaborative nature of HealthFinders to connect with the local colleges.  She found a student/adviser team at Carleton College interested in taking this project on as an anthropology senior thesis project, and connected the student, Leah Eby, with various Somali women in the community to conduct one-on-one interviews regarding Somali perspectives on pregnancy and birth.  Combining the information from the interviews with extensive literature review, Leah developed an extensive report for DOH with recommendations including contact information for a great Somali cultural responsiveness trainer and encouragement to deepen connections with HealthFinders Family Councils. Sameena shared the results with the DOH leadership who arranged for Leah to present her findings personally to providers, the Chief Medical Officer, and the Clinical Coordinator of the Women’s Health Unit.

This project is a great example of how HealthFinders can bring together resources and connections from the patient community, the local colleges, and community institutions to address issues to improve health.  Not only did Sameena connect resources to address this particular issue, but in this process, she was able to establish structures and lasting relationships to allow for similar collaborative projects to take place in the future as other issues arise.

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