The city of Willmar in west central Minnesota has a large population of Hispanic and Somali immigrants who may speak a language other than English or may have cultural beliefs that do not align with preventative care. The ReYou Wellness Program at Rice Memorial Hospital is striving to bridge the barrier between Willmar’s diverse populations and the concept of community wellness.
ReYou began in 2013 as part of Allina Health’s “Healthy Community Partnership” grant program. To reach Willmar’s minority population, ReYou coordinators enlisted the help of Willmar’s Adult Basic Education (ABE) program, with a goal of connecting with adults who were enrolled in English as a Second Language (ESL) classes.
In 2014, ReYou offered four separate biometric screenings throughout the year to ABE students, reaching 54 people. The screening checked each person’s blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and body mass index. With the assistance of interpreters, people who attended the biometric screenings were able to have their results explained to them in a comfortable environment. Suggestions were given as to how they could improve their health, and those with immediate needs were encouraged to follow up with their doctor as soon as possible.
From the data obtained at these biometric screenings, it became evident that women, especially Somali women, were not exercising on a regular basis. The most common reason given was that they did not have a comfortable setting where they could exercise.
To meet this need, ReYou started a free, women-only exercise class that was held in the City Auditorium, a convenient location within walking distance for many. Participants met once a week for one month and had fun letting loose in a comfortable, familiar environment. They enjoyed learning simple calisthenics, stretching and playing soccer – their favorite sport! The class has now concluded, but a medical student from the University of Minnesota is trying to model a similar class, in hopes of making it sustainable.
In addition to its large minority population, Willmar also faces another area of community health need. The city sits in Kandiyohi County, which has one of the largest populations of mentally and physically disabled individuals in the state of Minnesota.Rice Memorial Hospital’s ReYou Wellness Program brings community health initiatives to diverse populations Oftentimes, these individuals struggle with weight gain due to side effects from their medications, such as exhaustion or decreased metabolism.
Westwinds is a group home in Willmar that houses up to 10 people experiencing mental health issues ranging from depression and anxiety to schizophrenia, eating disorders, and anger management issues. To help improve the quality of life for these individuals, ReYou health and wellness coach Amber Chevalier made biweekly group health coaching visits to the home. The group coaching visits focused on maintaining good eating habits (building a menu plan each week), regular exercise (which included finding a partner to be accountable with) and stress management (meditation, Tai Chi).
Today, the ReYou Wellness Program has extended this initiative to the inpatient mental health unit at Rice Memorial Hospital. The weekly session allows patients to learn wellness tactics that can help them better manage their mental health.