Gillette Children’s is fortunate and proud to have strong relationships with health care providers and organizations throughout the country. One partnership we value is with Southside Community Health Center in South Minneapolis.

This organization in our sister city is a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC). FQHCs provide comprehensive, high-quality primary health care services tailored to their communities regardless of their patients’ ability to pay. Southside and Gillette share similar visions of what health care should be: accessible, exceptional, and supportive of a patients’ goals.

Southside provider Alejandra Eppinger DNP, CPNP, APRN, began her relationship with Gillette as a care team member. “I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to be part of the Gillette team as an RN on the Orthopedic Surgery Unit,” Eppinger says. “I use what I have learned in helping guide families through complex medical care and decisions every day.”

When Eppinger moved to Southside as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner in 2018, she took her strong sense of purpose and commitment to complex medical situations to a new community. She says, “I am bilingual – English and Spanish – and Southside Community Health Services is a Federally Qualified Healthcare Center (FQHC), which allows me the opportunity to use my language and serve families by building clinical practice with a strong foundation in evidence and quality.”

Southside Looks to Gillette

Southside was given the opportunity to further strengthen their collaboration with Gillette with the arrival of Provider Relations Liaison Reyna Staats. Reyna and the rest of the provider relations team work hard to answer questions and share information with providers in the community whose patients could benefit from the specialty care Gillette provides.

“My colleagues at Southside and I value the collaboration with the specialty providers at Gillette. Our families are accessing a different health care team, but they don't feel removed from Southside for their Primary Care,” Eppinger says. “I’ve always appreciated the Orthopedics team as well as Craniofacial group and the Gillette Complex Care Clinic. Everyone at Gillette always provides holistic assessment and guidance for our families.”

FQHCs like Southside are often the first introduction to healthcare many families get when immigrating to the United States, so directing patients to specialty services and care of chronic disease is an important responsibility.

“Referring more vulnerable families away from our clinic can be intimidating. I am consistently impressed with the Gillette referral team as well as specialty provider response with curbside consults during complex cases,” Eppinger says. “I remember one specific case involving an infant with a craniofacial anomaly that resulted in delayed growth. Since he had his g-tube placed and started OT/PT/ST at Gillette, his energy and motor development has really taken off. When I saw his mother in my clinic she was very pleased with the progress and felt confident and comfortable using a direct line to contact the Gillette team if she had questions.” 

Federal Funds Support Child Health

In August 2023, during National Health Center Week, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) awarded approximately $30 million to 151 HRSA-funded health centers across the US to improve developmental outcomes among children ages 0-5 through increased screenings and follow-up services. Southside was chosen to receive funds from this award – the only FQHC in Minnesota to be selected.

Like Southside, Gillette serves families by meeting their medical and social needs. It is one of the reasons Eppinger and her colleagues have found it easy to foster a trusting relationship with Gillette. She says, “For families who need the extra help, Gillette social workers will reach out and assist with resources to assure patients can make it to appointments and schedulers/providers will arrange multiple appointments on the same day for families.”

Gillette is grateful to have strong community partners that put patients and their families at the center of the work we all do. We’re honored to partner in the care of Southside’s patients and thrilled that Eppinger and her colleagues feel similarly. She says, “We have valued our relationship with the Gillette team and look forward to ongoing collaboration to give our families the opportunity to access the best care.”

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