stella whitney-west _rev2

Stella Whitney-West: Chief Executive Officer for North Point Health and Wellness Center

“Wellness, I came to realize, will not happen by accident.  It must be a daily practice, especially for those of us who are more susceptible to the oppressiveness of the world.”  Jenna Wortham 

North Point Health and Wellness Center in North Minneapolis is expecting an additional 1,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine in the next several days. It began vaccinating first responders and NorthPoint staff last week. The agency serves over 25,000 residents in North Minneapolis and Hennepin County.  The Center provides comprehensive medical, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy, laboratory, radiology, and human services.  The facility has experienced dramatic growth in patients, revenue, and mission effectiveness under the leadership of CEO Stella Whitney-West.

“The center operates efficiently and admirably because of the great team we have assembled. Many staff members speak multiple languageswhich make communication easier, especially in emergency events.  Our call center is the heartbeat of the Health and Wellness operation.  Sometimes the phone calls become more than just scheduling an appointment. Often people just need help.  It’s imperative that we get our clients to where they need to be.  Like myself, they are dedicated to serving their community,” Whitney-West said in a recent interview. 

In addition to the major focus on combating the surges of COVID19, the human services department at North Point continues to play a vital role in many residents’ lives.  Examples of programming include: 

1. The African American Men’s Project, an initiative supported by and connected to effective networks and innovative strategies creating a community of healthy, strong, and self-sufficient Black men.  The Project provides case management, individual development plans, an empowerment curriculum, education awareness, employment readiness, and access to medical and behavior health services.

 2. The Be@School Program which provides education and support services to school age youth and their families to increase school attendances.  The program features home and school visits, representation at court hearings, referral to community resources, an after school program, and summer leadership programs.

In Hennepin County, the gaps in health care are huge, with COVID19 revealing Blacks being twice as likely to be infected or possibly die from the virus. The data show Latinos are three times as likely to be negatively impacted. 

“We are millions of vaccines behind where we should be, but that has a lot to do with a lack of leadership at the national level,” Whitney-West said. 

“Joe Biden’s strategic plan might save our country.  North Point’s patients will receive updated, trusted information and resources. People who look like the community are disseminating material and providing services,” she said. “That makes both more credible and helps residents decide what’s best for them.  Like testing, for instance, when it comes to vaccinations, we might have to go where the people are like churches and community centers.”

Large shipments of vaccine are expected at the site. In the opinion of the CEO, everyone needs to be in line.  Maybe not right away, but it needs to happen.  Whitney-West says there is a reluctance among many African American residents and other communities of color, and rightfully so.  Many have a ‘wait and see’ attitude.  And now there are rogue mutations all over the country and the world. Nonetheless, she said she did not hesitate to tell Minnesota Health Department she expected NorthPoint to be high on the priority list of vaccine shipment distribution sites since North Minneapolis had a disproportionate number of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. 

The vaccine will begin the healing process, but there are simple, inexpensive habits we can practice on our own such as exercising, examining what we eat, reducing stress and anxiety as much as possible, and staying motivated and engaged through social media or Zoom, Whitney-West said.

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