Health care providers gathered Thursday as part of an effort to bridge the cultural gap between themselves and patients in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood.
The event, hosted by Mixed Blood Theatre and HealthPartners Institute, aimed to encourage medical providers to share experiences working with patients from the community. Providers also recognized their personal biases about immigrants and sought ways to better support residents seeking medical attention.
“This is really a story circle session where providers get the opportunity to connect with each other and share their own personal experiences,” said Keri Clifton, chief engagement officer of Mixed Blood.
The discussions are part of Project 154, an initiative aimed at addressing medical challenges between providers and patients in the neighborhood. Launched in 2017, the project is a mix of storytelling circles, workshops and events. Thursday was the first time health care providers were part of the programming.
Participants focused on “narrative health” to better understand different perspectives from residents and providers.
“Narrative health really is story listening,” said EmmaLee Pallai, education manager of the University’s Community-University Health Care Center. “How do we learn to listen to our communities, to listen to the people and to listen to the stories around health?”
Pallai also discussed how race, gender and disability status can affect how patients receive treatment.
Child psychiatrist Elizabeth Reeve has practiced in multiple urban settings. She said the event brought to light personal prejudices health care providers may hold.
“It works both ways. We have frustrations too in our actions,” Reeve said. “How can we make it more reciprocal so [residents] can tell us what you need, but how do we tell you what we need to make the system work better?”
Past story circle sessions have only been held for neighborhood residents. Community members raised concerns about assigned medical services, insurance coverage and health stigmas at these sessions, said Abdurrahman Mahmud, Project 154 coordinator.
Mahmud said he wants to continue providing spaces where residents can speak freely about their concerns.
“Things like this can create an impact in the future,” Mahmud. “If we continue doing this for a number of years, maybe it can bring a change, but only this is not enough.”
Clifton said Mixed Blood plans to merge an event to bring both residents and health care providers together in June.
“We felt it was important to listen to the residents and listen to the providers, and then figure out how to connect the two,” Clifton said.
Medical providers who attended the event could receive credits to go to professional board requirements.
A second event will take place Feb. 27. Clifton said Mixed Blood will continue assessing plans to host more events for medical providers in the future.