Minnesota Community Care Transforms System To Address COVID-19

By Paige Anderson Bowen


Minnesota Community Care, the state’s largest federally qualified health center, is activating a full transformation of its system to implement community mitigation strategies and reduce the spread and impact of COVID-19. The organization has transitioned its sites, services, and programs to immediately respond to the current status of COVID-19’s spread in Minnesota.

“We are at the epicenter of COVID-19’s impact on the most vulnerable populations among us – the unsheltered, uninsured, and historically underserved,” says Reuben Moore, the CEO of Minnesota Community Care. “This transition increases access to testing and respiratory care for the uninsured and underserved. It also maintains access to in-person essential medical services in a safe environment for those in need.”

A key feature of the transformation is a redesign of Minnesota Community Care’s ambulatory care delivery sites. East Side Clinic has been structured as a testing and respiratory sick care site while La Clinica is dedicated to well-care and telehealth delivery. Patients also have access to drive-up pharmacy and lab services, and emergency dental care. This separates sick and well patients and ensures a safe environment for vulnerable populations to access care.

Meanwhile, the Downtown Clinic, which is located next door to the Catholic Charities St. Paul Opportunity Center and primarily provides care for Minnesota’s homeless population, remains open to provide essential medical services, chemical dependency counseling, and COVID-19 screening, triage, and testing services. The Downtown Clinic’s strategic location allows people to access health care in the same space as shelter, food, and social services.

“We have been the Health Care for the Homeless provider for Ramsey County for many years,” adds Moore. “To continue serving this population, we’re building on our existing integrated services structure, are partnering with Ramsey County to provide medical respite services at the re-opened Mary Hall building, and are conducting screening and triage during intake hours for shelters in Ramsey County, including Higher Ground, Union Gospel Mission, and Safe Space Shelter.”

In addition to transforming care delivery sites, Minnesota Community Care has also created a telehealth practice in less than two weeks. The practice ensures continuity of care for primary care, mental health, and substance use disorder patients.

Finally, Minnesota Community Care has leveraged its 40-year partnership with St. Paul Public Schools to maintain operations at its Health Start School-Based Clinic in Gordon Parks High School. Through the clinic, all youth (up to age 22), regardless of school enrollment, will be able to access essential medical services, sexual health services, and tele-therapy.

“In under two weeks our team was able to completely transform our system,” says Moore. “It really shows how dedicated we are to addressing the critical needs in our community.”

About Minnesota Community Care

Minnesota Community Care was founded in 1969 with a simple purpose – to meet the health needs of the underserved. As the largest federally qualified health center in the state, Minnesota Community Care provides affordable, high-quality, accessible clinical care and public health services to patients regardless of income, insurance, or immigration status. Minnesota Community Care provides primary care services to over 37,000 patients each year across 17 clinical locations and reaches an additional 30,000 beneficiaries annually with public health and outreach services.

Morgan Weinert is a family gerontology nurse practitioner who provides care in the health care for the homeless program

MN Community Care Clinic Team During COVID-19 Response