Eliminating Health Disparities Initiative (EHDI)

The goal of this program is to create sustainable, culturally responsive approaches to and tools to support health in the Somali, American Indian, Karen, and Ethiopian Communities in the Twin Cities and to increase the skills of individuals to prevent and manage diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Four objectives were laid out to help facilitate this goal. Objective 1: Increase knowledge and awareness of the risk factors for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and stroke. Objective 2: Reduce the risk factors that can lead to diabetes and its complications. Objective 3: Reduce the risk factors that can lead to heart disease and stroke. Objective 4: Increase access and quality of care both in clinical and community settings. These activity is made possible by a grant from the Eliminating Health Disparities Initiative (EHDI) of the Minnesota Department of Health’s Center for Health Equity, through an appropriation from the Minnesota State Legislature.


1.Improve Somali patient care at Smiley’s Clinic by supporting a part-time Community Health Worker (CHW) to educate and coach Somali patients in a clinical setting. 2.Conduct evidence-based programming: Chronic Disease Self-Management Programs (CDSMP) in the American Indian and Ethiopian communities; I CAN Prevent Diabetes Programs in the Somali Community; and Tai Ji Quan (TJQ) in the Karen community. 3.Disseminate consistent, evidence-based education and materials to inform CHWs about best practices, warning signs, and contributing factors to cardio-vascular disease and diabetes via in-person presentations at the CHW Peer Network, the CHW Peer Network YouTube channel, and tabling events. 4.Provide mentorship and stewardship through the CHW certification process of one Little Earth resident. 5.Continue partnership development and maintain existing relationships within the Karen, Somali, and American Indian communities. Explore new partnerships within the Ethiopian community.

Additional information

Minnesota Community Health Worker Peer Network: In 2015, WellShare expanded its work through the CHW Peer Network. The Peer Network was created by WellShare in 2005 and consists of a statewide group of Community Health Workers serving diverse communities. WellShare hosts the network mailing list and provides in-service professional development training opportunities to CHWs. The Network sends out electronic (email) updates including CHW job announcements, training information, and advocacy opportunities provided by CHWs and other stakeholders. Each year, WellShare surveys CHW members about their educational needs in order to determine trainings that are most relevant to their work. Based on survey results, WellShare hosts bimonthly professional development trainings for CHWs in the Peer Network. Currently the Network reaches over 500 CHWs, employers, and key stakeholders. Trainings are recorded, archived, and posted online for later viewing by CHWs and other stakeholders who live in greater Minnesota or out of state. Chronic Disease Self-Management: Chronic Disease Self-Management Program (CDSMP is a 6-week evidence-based curriculum from Stanford University which is supported by MDH- Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Division. Trained facilitators cover the following topics: 1) techniques to deal with problems such as frustration, fatigue, pain and isolation, 2) appropriate exercise for maintaining and improving strength, flexibility, and endurance, 3) appropriate use of medications, 4) communicating effectively with family, friends, and health professionals, 5) nutrition, 6) decision making, and, 7) how to evaluate new treatments. I CAN Prevent Diabetes: I CAN Prevent Diabetes is a collaborative, community-based, lifestyle change program designed for people with pre-diabetes delivered by trained facilitators. This year long program has weekly meetings for 16 weeks and monthly meetings thereafter. The WellShare International team has translated and adapted materials to be more culturally-relevant to the Somali community. The program also addresses the difference between food options in the United States versus the unprocessed, fresh foods in Somalia. Tai Ji Quan: Tai Ji Quan (TJQ) is an evidence-based movement program that has been shown to reduce risk of cardiovascular disease with long-term use. It is a 48-session (24-week) course where participants learn a series of choreographed movements to improve balance and reduce stress. TJQ can easily be integrated into a person’s daily life


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