New Saint Paul Clinic will focus on culturally competent providers

Even before the pandemic, Dr. Julia Joseph DiCaprio intuitively knew how difficult life was for many Minnesota residents.

Data she saw as senior vice president and chief medical officer for the nonprofit health organization UCare confirmed that children are falling behind more on things like routine immunizations and quality visits.

COVID-19 posed additional challenges.

What was even more troubling for Joseph DiCaprio, who lives in the Merriam Park neighborhood of St. Paul, was that much of that was happening in her backyard. “So I thought, Well, what can I do in my area?” She said.

Like many doctors, she was eager to open her own clinic. But for most people, this is not a start. approx 75% of physicians work for a hospital, health system or legal entity As of 2021. This is about 20% more than it was before the pandemic.

But what might be an insurmountable hurdle for many seemed like an opportunity for 60-year-old Joseph DiCaprio. She believed that her background in patient care and management put her in a good position to meet the challenge.

“I said I had the knowledge and experience to do this. Also, I’d better do it now because I’m not too old to start this, but I will be in a few years!” She said in an email. “I understand the complex administrative components of healthcare, and most importantly, I know that healthcare needs to try new things.”

This month, Joseph DiCaprio will begin seeing patients at Leap . Child and Adolescent Care, the non-profit clinic she founded to provide “high-quality health care to those who face the greatest barriers to health and wellness”. She found a home for a clinic at the Community Action Partnership of Ramsey and Washington County, on Syndicate Street Inn in St. Paul.

She has big ambitions.

She wants to revive the proven items in the old care, and maybe add home visits at some point. It plans to incorporate the latest technology, including telehealth. Plan to accept all patients, no matter what type of insurance they have — or don’t have. She definitely doesn’t want to leave patients in the waiting room. It wants to address the social determinants of health for patients, and provide connections to social services.

She will start as the clinic’s sole managing director, but plans to slowly build a small staff of culturally competent providers to serve Midway’s residents, who are Somali, black, and Hispanic speakers. I’ve hired a medical assistant I’ve known for years and a receptionist who is a psychology student at the University of Minnesota.

Joseph DiCaprio, who was born in Canada but raised in the United States, always knew she wanted to be a doctor. “It’s an ideal career for me – combining serving others with knowledge and continuous learning,” she said. When she began playing sports more than 30 years ago, after completing her residency in pediatrics and a fellowship in adolescent medicine at the University of Minnesota Medical School, little attention was paid to things like the social determinants of health and diversity and equality and inclusion. But Joseph DiCaprio, who is black, was taking notice.

“I think different providers are able to listen differently,” she explained. “I’ll go into a room after the patient is in a room, and see the change when they see who I am. Not saying there’s anything magical about me, but the way they share is completely different. It’s like they’re waiting to bring themselves fully.”

She remembered one example when she was at Hennepin Healthcare, then HCMC, where she spent 22 years first as a specialist in pediatrics and adolescents and then as chief pediatrician. She was called to a room in which the patient was suspected of drug use. After a few minutes of listening to the patient, Joseph DiCaprio realized that the woman had a brain injury.

“It’s not that people weren’t nice or that they didn’t try,” she said. “It’s that someone who shares your experiences is better able to listen to what you express.”

Only 2.6% of the state’s physicians were identified as Black V. Survey 2018. Just under 2% identified as Hispanic, and 13.7% were Asian. More than three-quarters of it is white. It is important to Joseph DiCaprio to inspire some of her young patients to follow her path, and ultimately serve their communities.

Her experience led her to focus on the social determinants of health, including racism. In her most recent position at UCare, she has hired a Health Equity Officer, started anti-bias training and created a new position of Associate Vice President for Equality and Inclusion.

She said that while she loved her job as a CEO and was known for delivering results, the idea of ​​returning to patient care was always rife. So much so that she contacted friend and NorthPoint Center Health and Wellness CEO Stella Whitney-West about seeing patients there on a part-time basis.

“She’s an eminent family medicine doctor, and her real field of work is child/adolescent care – that’s what she’s been missing,” Whitney West said.

Whitney West grew up in the Rondo neighborhood near the New Lip Clinic and met Joseph DiCaprio to advise her on the project. It’s a community with deep roots, Whitney West said, a place where generations of a family choose to stay and send their children to local schools.

About to open the clinic to patients, Joseph DiCaprio is excited and confident that Leap will serve Midway in a much-needed different way. But more important is the effect it can have on the little patients who come through the doors.

“I want my kids To know that there are black doctors and Hmong doctors,” she said, “and that’s a possibility for me.”

This story comes from Sahan magazine, a nonprofit newsroom dedicated to covering immigrants and communities of color in Minnesota. Register on the site FREE newsletter To receive stories in your inbox.

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