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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Caught in the ACT: HealthFinders Collaborative: Making an Impact in Healthcare Disparities

<ost of healthcare and its impact on families is a much-debated topic in the media today.  From C-SPAN to the evening news, it is nearly impossible not to come across a discussion of healthcare at some point in the week.  The high-profile nature of this topic often leads us to forget, however, that there are individuals right in our neighborhoods who are experiencing difficulties related to healthcare costs.  According to a health survey completed at St. Dominic’s church in Northfield in 2002, roughly 7% of non-Latino church members and 75% of Latino church members were uninsured or underinsured.  This survey compelled several community members to take action in forming HealthFinders Collaborative.  HealthFinders, a nonprofit organization that runs a free medical clinic between Northfield and Faribault, serves these individuals and seeks to ensure more equitable services for all.  HealthFinders’ mission is “to provide quality, accessible and culturally sensitive healthcare services, at no cost, to low-income and uninsured residents of greater Rice County.”  To fulfill this mission, HealthFinders relies on the assistance of committed volunteers from the community and through the ACT Center’s HealthFinders program.  Volunteer professionals in the community include doctors, nurses, and staff members who maintain the clinic.  Carleton volunteers assist with clerical tasks, data entry, and translation for community members.  For the past five years, HealthFinders has impacted the lives of over 3,000 individuals in the Northfield area.  The program is very rewarding for the Carleton students who are involved and helps demonstrate Carleton’s commitment to serving the surrounding Northfield community.

This winter and spring, HealthFinders will be focusing on the gala: the clinic’s big fund raising event.  The gala is an annual event that includes refreshments and a silent auction to raise necessary funding for the clinic.  Students are a very important part in organizing the gala.  They are involved with everything from organizing the silent auction to contacting businesses to helping set up the night of the event.  This year the gala will take place at the Cheese Cave in Faribault. The theme of the gala is wine, cheese, and desserts. Student volunteer efforts are not only very important in helping the gala run smoothly on the day of the event, but also in leading up to it. There are a lot of volunteer opportunities when it comes to the gala itself: contacting businesses for auction items, picking up these items, making and distributing poster as advertisement for the event, organizing entertainment, etc.  These volunteer opportunities do not require previous experience with HealthFinders and can be fulfilled with a fairly low time-commitment.  Without this annual fundraiser, HealthFinders would not be able to serve as many families in the Northfield area.  Their goal for 2010 is to raise $16,000 in sponsorships to help boost the services available to the uninsured.  If you are interested in combating the inequalities in healthcare that affect so many residents of Northfield every day, consider becoming involved with HealthFinders by participating in their fundraising gala.  If you are interesting in being involved with HealthFinders in any capacity, please contact DeeDee Rupert at [email protected].

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