6 Minn. health care institutions devote a year to studying health and housing

The goal is for participants to bring their findings back to their respective health care institutions to help guide policymaking

The entry of the new Fairview Community Health and Wellness Hub in downtown St. Paul is seen Aug. 4, 2022. Occupying the former St. Joseph’s Hospital, the facility offers health and wellness services to disadvantaged individuals and communities.
John Autey / St. Paul Pioneer Press

ST. PAUL — Six of Minnesota’s largest health systems have dedicated some 30 administrative employees and financial and operational executives toward a joint yearlong learning endeavor — probing the intersection of health and housing.

It’s an unusual undertaking, but the inaugural Minnesota Healthcare Learning Cohort seeks to deepen growing research into “social determinants of health,” or the everyday aspects of modern living that steer some groups to healthier outcomes and hold others back. Research shows some 80% of health is linked to what happens outside of a doctor’s office or medical institution.

The 30 fellows, drawn from wide-ranging departments such as operations, finance, community engagement, patient education and pediatric care, will weigh results from community investments and practices across the country surrounding affordable housing. They’ll convene in six half-day, full-day and two-day sessions between March 28 and Nov. 30.

The cohort is a product of the Greater Minnesota Housing Fund’s Housing & Health Equity Initiative. The goal is for participants to bring their findings back to their respective health care institutions to help guide policymaking.

The participating organizations are Allina Health, Children’s Minnesota, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, Essentia Health, CentraCare and M-Health Fairview.


“We have seen through our work how a stable home is the most impactful social determinant of health and equity,” said Eric Muschler, director of the Housing & Health Equity Initiative. “Housing is a key multiplier for outcomes that improve family and community health, including education, income security, safety, connectivity and even mental health.”

The yearlong program is backed by a partnership of the Greater Minnesota Housing Fund, Minnesota Housing and the Center for Community Investment.

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