mobile health unit

MHI Quarter 4 Report: 2022

Message from Adrienne Thayer, RN

Happy new year from the Mobile Health Initiative team! This quarterly report includes our 2022 end of year developments and reflections.

Since September 2022, I have been off and running with my new role as the community engagement nurse for the Mobile Health Initiative. Onboarding, along with planning for mobile substance use disorder work with unsheltered folks in Minneapolis and Duluth areas, has been exciting and educational to say the least! I have met with community partner organizations performing street outreach and harm reduction services starting with shadowing and getting to know the amazing people doing the work.

I started the journey shadowing nurses from Health Care from the Homeless who have a consistent model and vast expertise. I also shadowed the Suboxone Coordinator at Community-University Health Care Center to see how routine and triage appointments are performed within a clinic visit. My routine schedule has moved to monthly pop-ups with Southside Harm Reduction Services and other organizations. Additionally, a partnership grows with Native American Community Clinic outreach team and Aliveness outreach team to perform weekly visits meeting folks where they are at. I have also attended some Friday nights on Cedar Riverside with Abdi who started Daryeel Youth. He shows up weekly, and hands out pizza and Somali tea to the unsheltered brothers and sisters in the Somali community along with educating community members about the needs to decrease stigma.

As a trained health care professional, I am learning more and more how just stigmatizing language alone can keep people from accessing the health care system to meet their needs. I am honored to have this role. Moving this work forward, I hope the Mobile Health Initiative will be a place where people who have felt left out of traditional health care models and systems will feel they have a caring and safe place to receive help.

It has been so rewarding to see the trust and love community organizers have built with people who are living on the streets. Members from each of the organizations above meet people where they are at and are willing to listen and provide many needs and connections to services upon request. Having a schedule to show up regularly for people has been humbling along with seeing the resilience and sense of community connectedness that people who are unsheltered have for one another. The “thank yous” and “God bless yous” from wonderful folks while handing out supplies, offering wound care, and answering health-related questions has made me realize this is the work I was meant to do. As a part of the Mobile Health Initiative, hear more about my upcoming service project and other programming below.

Adrienne Thayer, RN, BSN, PHN
Community Engagement Nurse

Activity Updates

As the Mobile Health Initiative team our day-to-day activities include attending community events to offer our services or being back at the office collaborating with our staff and community partners to discuss, prepare, and develop our offerings. Through our encounters we aim to show up regularly, offer available mobile health care services, and initiate necessary connections to health and social resources.

  • Starting February 2023, Adrienne will launch a mobile nursing foot care service to enhance the harm reduction services provided, particularly to those who are unsheltered.
  • Our web application and volunteer coordinators, Bhavana and Kimberly, are currently developing new platforms to streamline volunteer recruitment and event planning.
  • Our inaugural Community Advisory Board has 10 new members representing experiences and careers in public health, recidivism prevention, refugee resettlement, rural dentistry outreach, and more. Our first meeting will be in February 2023. This group will advise the Mobile Health Initiative on programming and sustainability.

Presentations & Publications

Each year we have the opportunity to work with first year medical students on their longitudinal projects, which provide an opportunity to have devoted time working alongside community organizations. Below are three student-led projects from this past year:

Photos from three student-led projects from this past year

By the Numbers

January and February 2022 accounted for the busiest months for Afghan resettlement arrivals. Looking back, in those two months alone our volunteers completed an amazing 60 clinic shifts! A shift meant screening often 2-3 families, intaking health histories and assessing for urgent primary care needs.

In addition to the Afghan Health Response, our volunteers supported 41 events around Minnesota!

2022 Outreach in Addition to the Afghan Health Response

41 Events, 1050 Volunteer hours, 72 Volunteers

MHI Team Updates

Successful Asylum Evaluation!

This past summer, Dr. Jonathan Kirsch, clinical director of the Mobile Health Initiative, provided a forensic medical evaluation to a young Venezuelan asylum seeker to assist in documenting his claim before an immigration judge. The young man bravely and repeatedly spoke out against the brutality of the Venezuelan government, and for that he suffered serious consequences. Dr. Kirsch's review served as his primary documentary evidence of the abuses he survived. After reviewing the evidence and hearing witness testimony, the immigration judge granted this young man asylum. This decision will allow this young man the peace to put behind him fears of being returned to torture in Venezuela.

Attorney Alison M. Griffith, who represented this asylum seeker before the immigration judge, strongly encourages medical professionals to get trained by Physicians for Human Rights to provide forensic medical evaluations. Ms. Griffith states that, "After a long and perilous journey to the United States, often the scars on an asylum seeker's mind and body due to their persecution constitute their only evidence to present to the judge. Forensic medical documentation of the long-term impacts of persecution is a crucial tool to prove to judges that asylum seekers' scars from their persecution are consistent with what a medical professional would expect, that they're telling the truth, and deserve protection. They also are essential to make the record on appeal to an adjudicator who will review the case without having a chance to see the asylum seeker in front of them. Unfortunately, there are very, very few medical professionals in Minnesota trained and willing to offer these evaluations. I'm so grateful that Dr. Kirsch volunteered his time to help this brave young man finally find a safe haven in the United States and begin his life anew in a safe place."

If interested in receiving forensic medical evaluation training, please reach out to Dr. Kirsch at [email protected].

Annual Retreat

This past November our team gathered for our 2nd Annual Retreat. During this time, partners and representatives from the Community-University Health Care Center, each of the academic health schools, and our Office of Academic Clinical Affairs team review and reflect on our efforts. Standouts of 2022 include our volunteers and team coordinating:

  • Screenings for Afghan arrivals
  • Expansion of our vision screenings to include diabetic retinopathy screenings
  • Free at-home blood pressure cuffs through our new HIHOPE Program

In the coming year, identified goals include improvement of follow-up and care coordination and a continuing focus on sustainability of our programming.

Mobile Health Initiative 2nd Annual retreat, November 29th, 2022


Mobile Vision Screenings | Brooklyn Center
Feb. 11  

National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day | Minneapolis
African American AIDS Task Force
Feb. Feb. 14

Black History Month Health Fair | Minneapolis
Power of People Leadership Institute
Feb. 18 

Health on the Go Health & Resources Fair | Brooklyn Park
City of Brooklyn Park
March 18 

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