Credit AECOM for photos.
The seeds that would grow into what is today the NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center were sown then, as part of a national pilot program for community-based, multi-purpose social services centers. The program has grown and changed over the decades but is still guided by the original principals and vision on which it was founded. NorthPoint is co-administered by NorthPoint, Inc., a non-profit social/human services agency, and Hennepin County.
NorthPoint currently provides services at multiple locations, including the primary clinic building originally completed in 1993. Population growth and the expansion of services offered by NorthPoint have made the current spaces inadequate; an ambitious expansion and reorganization is underway. JE Dunn Construction, TRI-Construction, and KMS Construction are providing construction services for this third and final phase of the $90 million project, which will double the clinic space and bring all NorthPoint's services into a single campus.
Dr. Rashana Price-Isuk is a family physician who grew up just around the corner from NorthPoint in North Minneapolis. After working at various neighborhood clinics for several years, she was recently recruited to serve as Director of Clinic Services for NorthPoint, where she's "excited to be working back in north Minneapolis and seeing all the wonderful changes that are happening in the community." Dr. Price-Isuk was enthusiastic about the potential for the new campus to provide an overall sense of community wellness and provide a warm and inviting space for the people being served. "We're considered to serve the 'underserved,' but our community is deserving of something magnificent. I feel like this is going to bring a lot of healing and trust." Food Shelf Manager Stuart Iseminger agreed, adding that “at North Point we value the respect and dignity of our clients, and it's going to be nice when our space also reflects that. I think all people, even low-income folks, deserve a well -designed, welcoming space.”
Services at NorthPoint are provided using an integrated services model, so that wherever a client enters the system, staff will help them discover what other services they’re eligible for. Those services are now spread over four buildings, which often causes confusion to clients, according to Iseminger. “Making those connections will be easier when we're under one roof. If a client needs help signing up for food stamps or SNAP benefits, we could just literally walk them over to that office. There's also a higher chance that those referrals will be completed when we're under one roof.”
Michelle Wells was a patient at NorthPoint (then called Pilot City) while growing up in North Minneapolis and is currently Call Center Supervisor. She regards the call center as the gateway to NorthPoint, ensuring that anyone calling NorthPoint is given access to not only what they’re asking for but also services that they might not know are available to them. “It's just kind of letting (callers) know that we've got all of these services integrated under one building. We’re kind of a one stop shop.”
With almost twice the original square footage available after the project is completed, plans are in place to enlarge many departments and improve operations. For example, the food shelf will have expanded cold storage and dry storage facilities, and a redesigned pantry area will enable two clients to be served simultaneously. NorthPoint is planning to maximize the benefits of the expanded facility through a carefully planned reorganization of both the physical space and the systems by which the programs are run. Current spaces are very segmented, causing staff to waste time looking for colleagues or resources, and making collaboration between colleagues laborious at best. Meanwhile, members of the community may have difficulty finding and accessing the services they need. The revised, expanded spaces and improved wayfinding will streamline the experiences of both staff and clients.
In addition to making current programs more efficient and effective, the expansion project will also offer enough space for new services. Dr. Price-Isuk described a planned teaching kitchen space, where "our nutritionist and diabetes educators and other folks will be able to show the community, in a hands-on way, how to make healthy foods. It just promotes that care of the whole person that's so important."
As a provider of holistic health services, NorthPoint is using the opportunity provided by this construction project to make changes that will affect the community as a whole, as well as the individuals within it. With funding from the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization, the expanded campus will incorporate infiltration gardens to help manage and reuse stormwater runoff, and rainwater gardens featuring native plants will provide both education and an inviting space for community events.
A virtual groundbreaking ceremony was held on August 12 to celebrate the official start of the NorthPoint expansion and renovation. The facility will be open and providing services to the community throughout construction, which is scheduled to be completed in December 2023.
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