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Community Input

You know your health and your community best. We recognize and value your expertise — and believe that your experiences, ideas, perspectives, insights and needs are essential community wisdom. That’s why our approach to future planning focuses on your input as we develop strategies to transform our healthcare system.

Every experience with healthcare and health systems is deeply personal. Sometimes this means sharing an experience can feel painful or difficult. We know and understand this may be the case — that’s why we promise to respect and honor your feedback as we plan for a more equitable future at Hennepin Healthcare.

By sharing your real-life experiences and vision, you help us create a plan that is far better than what we might develop without collaborating with you. Together, we can innovate new ways of community-inspired care, as well as address gaps and opportunities for improvement within our system.

We thank you for your feedback and commit to approaching it with care and respect.

community members using dry erase board

Our Local History

To build a more equitable future, it is helpful and instructive to recognize our past. Our hospital, for example, is located in the Elliot Park Neighborhood and is one of many aspects of our regional landscape that has been shaped by several important socio-historical realities. By looking at what has happened, we can ask fundamental questions about what ultimately became today’s realities (and why), keeping this important historical context in mind as we build a vibrant future together.


Violent Acquisition of Dakota (Indigenous) Land

mni owe sni coldwater spring
The Dakota and Ojibwe people were the primary inhabitants of the land that is present-day Minnesota. In 1820, the U.S. Indian Agency was established at Fort Snelling and Indigenous communities were violently removed from their land. A wave of anti-Indigenous laws and policies followed, starting with the Indian Removal Act. The U.S.-Dakota War occurred in 1862. Elliot Park is situated on violently acquired Dakota land and various industries have been built upon that land, using its vital resources — many of which are sacred to the Dakota people. These industries have since made their owners very wealthy, while leaving Indigenous communities with almost no decision-making power over the land.
1900 - 1950

Redlining, Segregation and Gentrification

minneapolis redlining map

Homeownership is an effective way to build wealth. Unfortunately, the Minneapolis metro area has the largest disparity between Black and white homeownership of any major metropolitan area in the country. This was by design.

Throughout the early 1900s, redlining was used to reduce wealth building among African Americans and people of color by selectively blocking home financing and home purchases by race. In the early 2000s, the Elliot Park neighborhood was partially gentrified in the area closest to Downtown East and West — due to development pressure from downtown residents. As a result, rent became unaffordable in Elliot Park for Black residents and homeownership unaffordable for residents of all races.


Interstate Highway Development and Displacement

I35 highway

Construction of the interstate freeway system began in the late 1950s throughout the Twin Cities metro area. These freeways were constructed in areas with a higher density of Black residents and low-income residents.

Highways 35W and I-94 threatened or destroyed many communities’ physical and financial assets, as well as economic and social networks. The effects are still being felt today.

2000 - 2015

Environmental Harm

environmental harm map

Elliot Park is framed by both highways 35W and I-94, so residents are more likely to be exposed to air pollutants that affect overall air quality. In addition, the neighborhood has fewer trees than the citywide average, resulting in poorer air quality and increased land temperature in the area. Elliot Park averages 10.8 degrees hotter than areas that were not redlined.

Common Questions

Hennepin Healthcare launched community engagement and future planning to create a more just and equitable healthcare experience in Hennepin County.

The community served by our healthcare system has been directly engaged to share thoughts, ideas and wishes for how they would like to receive healthcare. Collectively, we are now creating a vision for the future of Hennepin Healthcare that improves community benefit, access, outcomes and value.

This effort is centered around listening, learning, collaborating and creating new systems that integrate future organizational plans with the desires and goals of the diverse and vibrant community we are honored to serve.

This project welcomed and reached out to a variety of team members, including hourly workers, executive leaders, frontline care providers, patients and members of our community that have experienced discrimination or increased barriers when accessing healthcare. We also engaged broader community members representing public and private sectors who also want to build a future that includes excellent health for all.

Ultimately, community wisdom means that the lived experiences of patients, team members, families, neighbors and the community at large inform how Hennepin Healthcare cares for people in the ways they both need and want to seek and receive healthcare.

For Hennepin Healthcare to fulfill our mission of delivering equitable care — now and in the future — we must listen to and learn from you.

You know your community best. We seek to know more about you and your loved ones’ healthcare needs, experiences and challenges — as well as your boldest desires for equitable care.

We are continuing to ask for your input. Please request or download a postcard to share your insights. The drawings you create will be examined by a committee of community designers who will integrate your vision into this process.

Since beginning the project, we have learned with and from over 1,130 community and team members in English, Somali, Spanish, Lao and Hmong through five different methods. We engaged these communities using both virtual and in-person methods including: key-informant (individual) interviews, small group discussions, community pop-ups, surveys and a community forum.

We are grateful to all who shared their time, energy, experiences and insights with us. We want to specifically thank our team members for your support of this project while simultaneously caring for our patients with great dedication.

The Learning Together phase came to a close at the end of September. We are moving seamlessly into the Creating Together phase.

During this phase, we are closely analyzing what the community has shared with us during the Learning Together phase and evaluating the broader healthcare landscape and social influencers of health in Hennepin County.

The goal is to have a complete picture of what our community wants and needs — as well as how we advance health equity.

During this phase, we are closely analyzing what the community has generously shared with us to date. This wisdom will help us develop a detailed understanding of what our community wants and needs.

Our postcard project continues gathering insights from our community.

We are also convening a Community Design Team of equity experts and artists. They will help ensure we keep community wisdom central in our planning and promote creative, future-oriented thinking.

We are currently collecting, organizing and reviewing all information. We will share key learnings from the community engagement by the end of 2021.

Please see our current updates page, Voices of Hennepin Healthcare blog series and sign up for our monthly newsletter from Jennifer DeCubellis, CEO of Hennepin Healthcare.

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