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The Backyard Initiative
Working together to improve health in our community
The Backyard Initiative is a dynamic partnership between Allina Health and its neighbors to improve health in the seven neighborhoods immediately surrounding Allina Commons, Abbott Northwestern Hospital, and the Phillips Eye Institute.
Despite having access to world-class medical care right in their "backyard" many residents in the area experience poor health outcomes.
The Backyard Initiative goes beyond medical care to improve health and health care through: active engagement, addressing the root causes of illness, and building connections.
Where is the Backyard?
The Backyard Initiative supports residents as they define the health needs of their community to become active partners in their health and the health of their community.
Addressing root causes of illness
Research shows that social determinants of health including isolation and lack of social support have a profound impact on our health.
The Backyard Initiative incubates new ideas to promote health in addition to treating illness.
It is one of the signature community health improvement initiatives of Community Benefit & Engagement at Allina Health. Partners include the Cultural Wellness Center, HOPE Community , Portico Healthnet and LISC-Twin Cities.
Informal social support networks
The Backyard Initiative supports residents as they define the health needs of their community and partner with community organizations to improve the health of their community.
By strengthening the social support networks needed for residents to be active partners in their own health, residents are empowered to draw upon their own knowledge, skills, and cultural values to take care of themselves and their families, friends, and neighbors.
By learning and working together, health care institutions and communities can begin to unravel the root environmental and social factors impacting community health, identify solutions, and have the community support necessary for success.
Below are the definitions for three key social determinants of health identified by Backyard residents.
Citizen Health Action Teams (CHATs)
This video gives an overview on the Backyard Initiative and three Citizen Health Action Team (CHAT) participants describe their work as residents of the Backyard Community.
Join a CHAT and work with your neighbors to improve community health. Call the Cultural Wellness Center at 612-721-5745.
All CHAT meetings
On the third Thursday of the month, from 5 to 7 p.m., all of the CHATs come together to work on their ideas and statement of purpose in order to have a uniform plan and process.
All CHAT Meetings
Midtown Global Market
We all know that we need exercise, healthy food, plenty of rest and occasional check-ups to be healthy—but our families, cultural traditions, and community and social connections also have a powerful impact on our health.
To strengthen the social support networks of the Backyard community, residents have formed Citizen Health Action Teams (CHATs), each with a different focus for maintaining and improving both individual and community health. These teams include:
How to get involved
Join a Citizen Health Action Team (CHAT).
If you are a resident of the Backyard area and would like to be part of a CHAT, please contact the Cultural Wellness Center at 612-721-5745.
Volunteer in the Backyard.
Even if you live outside of the Backyard area, you are welcome to come and help out.
Allina Health employees can check out volunteer opportunities on Mission Matters: Mission Matters Backyard.
This video shows how Portico Healthnet works with hospitals throughout the Minneapolis / St. Paul metro area to help families access a continuum of preventive, primary and specialty care to improve community health and reduce dependence on emergency care. (Windows Media Player required.)
About 22 percent of the people living in the Backyard do not have health insurance. That is why we're working with Portico Healthnet to increase access to health care for community residents.
Portico Healthnet is a non-profit organization that helps uninsured Minnesotans find affordable health insurance and care. Since 1995, more than 6,000 uninsured children and adults have enrolled in Portico's safety-net coverage program. With Portico Healthnet's assistance, another 5,000 have been enrolled in public coverage programs.
Fact sheet and report
Community at the Core: Backyard Initiative Assessment Report: This report describes the Backyard Initiative's community needs assessment process, and summarizes the findings and recommendations from 21 listening circles and 677 walk-around interviews.
In the news
For media inquiries, please contact Gloria O'Connell, 612-863-4801.
THE ALLEY: Annual reports on the Backyard
The Alley, the community newspaper of the Phillips Community in Minneapolis, regularly reports on the Backyard Initiative.
Presenting to You: The Faces, Voices and Work of the Backyard Initiative: The July 2012 issue of The Alley was largely dedicated to reflecting the voices and the activities over the past year of the Backyard Initiative.
The Backyard Initiative: Strengthening community health improvement: The August 2011 issue of The Alley included a four-page insert with updates on what's happening in the Backyard, details about Citizen Health Action Teams (CHATs) and a focus on mental health improvement.
A Community-Corporate Partnership to Improve Health: The May 2010 issue featured a four-page insert on the community needs assessment with insights from Allina Health staff and community residents.
AHA NEWS: Allina is helping 'Backyard' neighbors
The American Hospital Association (AHA) put its "Community Connections" spotlight on the Backyard Initiative in the May 31, 2010 issue of its national newsletter.
MINNESOTA PUBLIC RADIO: Income, zip code, education seen as good indicator of health
Factors like where you live and where you shop have a big effect on your health. And overcoming them is hard work. Just ask leaders of Allina Hospitals & Clinics' Backyard Initiative.
Listen to the report on minnesota.publicradio.org.