The University of Minnesota has received a $1 million donation from Otto Bremer Trust to establish mobile health care services in communities where access to medical care has been limited due to COVID-19 and racial disparities.
The program will launch at the Broadway Family Medicine Clinic in north Minneapolis and the Community-University Health Care Center in south Minneapolis’ Phillips neighborhood, with plans to expand geographically over the next few months.
The U has provided veterinary medicine and dentistry via mobile services in the past, but on a more limited basis than this planned program, said Dr. Bobbi Daniels, associate vice president for clinical affairs and the person who will oversee its implementation.
The program’s goal is to help neighborhoods with inadequate access to community facilities because of long-standing racial and social disparities. U health professionals from dentistry, nursing, pharmacy, medicine and veterinary medicine will provide a range of services, including COVID-19 testing (both viral and antibody). They’ll expand access to health care for populations whose risk of COVID-19 infection is higher than average.
The program will partner with community organizations to address what they identify as specific health care needs, Daniels said.
“By bringing much needed care that communities themselves identify, we hope to begin to ameliorate health care inequities in many communities both within the Twin Cities and throughout the state,” she said.
“Three clinics [in the area] suffered damage during the unrest and people who desperately needed health care and access, they didn’t have it,” said Brian Lipschultz, co-CEO and trustee of Otto Bremer Trust. Just as communities lacking grocery stores are called “food deserts,” he said, these areas are “a health care desert. There’s no available, affordable health care.”
Bremer Trust officials “made a commitment as fast as we could to make sure no time is wasted and no lives are at risk,” Lipschultz said.
Earlier this spring as the pandemic was spreading, the trust helped the U buy protective equipment for COVID-19 patients and front-line health care providers, Daniels said.
The 75-year-old St. Paul-based Bremer Trust focuses on helping people in need, Lipschultz said. “We try to not just do the easy things, but in fact tackle the most difficult,” he said.