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Wednesday August 23rd 2017

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A-POD and Guri Nabad Partnership Launches Unique Somali Diabetes Management Workshop and Meetups

By Robert Albee

An October Saturday became one of those magic times that took more than two years to imagine and plan— yet just a few hours to implement! Ubah Keynan a diabetes nurse not long out of formal schooling herself, marveled to see a group of Somali women who had just met sharing their travails with diabetes so openly and passionately with a group of strangers.

For Dr. Faduma Addow, the only Somali psychiatrist in the United States and Emtea N. Osman, her Minneapolis sponsor and lifelong friend, a doorway has begun to open that someday in the future will lead to a Somali-American culturally-specific healthcare system. For them, this newly-launched comprehensive diabetes management program is just the beginning.

“A Partnership Of Diabetics (A-POD) is designed to open up those of us with this lifelong condition in a way that no clinic or hospital does. It’s simply sharing between one diabetic with another diabetic. It’s how we put people first in addressing the whole spectrum of our condition that makes us unique.” says Robert Albee,  A-POD’s founder and longtime neighborhood activist. Through an introductory day-long workshop and follow-up weekly meetings, persons with diabetes have up to eighty-four annual hours of program contact instead of only an hour or two a year with one’s health care team. Albee admits that he benefitted highly from the highly-publicized ACCORD study of diabetics he participated in through Hennepin County Medical Center and then the development of several patient-oriented programs at the Native American Community Clinic (NACC) that he helped get started a decade ago.

Saturday’s event was designed for bilingual women, but instead most who showed up hardly spoke English beyond “Hello and Goodbye”. But with four interpreters, two of whom are practicing Somali healthcare professionals, the group ignored most of the formal structure and almost immediately began speaking to one another about their diabetes and associated chronic and acute conditions.

One of A-POD’s co-founders, Bridget Tierney, a Physician Assistant who has served in the Middle East and in various hurricane and earthquake zones, was completely delighted by how quickly the Somali women began to tell stories and painful memories. “Everybody just opened up! They seemed so grateful that finally somebody was ready to listen, to take the time with them that reflected healing in the old ways and coupled it with the most modern diabetes management strategies available anywhere.”

A Partnership Of Diabetics shares office space at the Phillips Community Center and will soon be hosting a series of workshops (POD-Tensives) and weekly meet-ups that will integrate with a whole range of wellness-related activities within the campus area at 2323 Eleventh Avenue, a Minneapolis Park Board building. For more than eighteen months A-POD has been developing its pilot program and is now launching its programs targeted to primarily serve persons living in the greater Phillips Community, (including adjacent neighborhoods), but anybody is welcome.

Sponsored by the Somali American Community, Guri Nabad’s (House of Peace) mission os one of being pro-active, not reactive in how participants choose to address their health, wellness, education and security issues within the American-Somali cultural community.

An initial funding for A-POD and Guri Nabad comes from Allina Health System through the Backyard Initiative allowed both programs to begin implementation and additional funding to A-POD from Novo Nordisk, a Danish pharmaceutical firm has guaranteed cost-free participation for one hundred low income persons who cannot afford even the nominal costs associated with the program. For further information, contact Robert Albee or 612.812.2429 For Guri Nabad, contact Mahamed Cali at 612.978.7091.

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