Mayo, HealthFinders partner in women’s improved health care for Somali women

Through an innovative and evolving partnership with HealthFinders Collaborative (HFC), Mayo Clinic Health System women’s health providers have discovered new solutions to provide improved care for Somali women.
Kristina Rauenhorst, M.D., a women’s health physician in Faribault, became concerned that perhaps some of her Somali patients were not fully understanding the importance of prenatal care for pregnant women. Even with the use of an interpreter, she had concerns that miscommunications could become a barrier to building relationships with her patients and providing the best care possible.
HealthFinders Collaborative, a community health center that provides medical care to underserved populations in Rice County, stepped in to help bridge the communication and culture gap. Bisharo Farah, a community health worker at HealthFinders and a native of Faribault, knew of misconceptions within the Somali community about the health care system and agreed to help.
Farah often meets with the women before their doctor visit to help them formulate questions and articulate concerns. She often attends appointments with and follows up with patients after the appointment to ensure the patient understood what the provider said during the visit.
Working closely with Farah, providers from the women’s health department are making strides to improve the patient experience for Somali women. Providers are also gaining a better understanding of Somali culture and the perceptions of health care.
“We are fortunate to have Bisharo as a resource and partner,” said Rauenhorst. “She is fluent in both English and Somali and is a trusted member of the local community, so she was in the best position to step in to help. She accompanies patients to their medical appointments and encourages them to ask questions. She helps patients understand the health system and explains why certain treatments are recommended.”
The collaboration is leading to greater patient understanding and willingness to follow the provider’s recommendations for appointment attendance, exams and vaccinations.
Mayo Clinic Health System providers have also started hosting educational sessions for Somali women. The sessions include discussions about pregnancy and birthing in the United States and are an opportunity for open dialogue and conversation.
Farah continues to see patients who are referred from Mayo Clinic Health System women’s health department both at the Faribault clinic and in-home visits.
“This collaboration is a great example of health system partners working together to improve patient health,” said Farah.

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