To expand an already-existing site at Cedar Riverside in collaboration with M Health Fairview, DFMCH Department Head Jim Pacala, MD, MS, received grant funding from the CARES Act through the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and also from UCare to hire Asha Hassan, a registered nurse who will manage the Cedar Hub. Asha's focus at this location will be on geriatric care and COVID care for existing patients at M Health Fairview Clinic - Smiley's (also known as Smiley's clinic). 

The department's research team will track metrics and run reports to gauge Cedar Hub's impact on patient access and quality of care over time. The hope is that having a clinic location embedded within Cedar Riverside Commons apartments—where a high density of Smiley's clinic's Somali patients live—will increase patient access and quality of care. Researchers will examine telehealth visits as well as in-person visits and the effects on the quality of geriatrics care, diabetes care, and COVID patient care. If results show a positive correlation by the end of the grant, the likelihood of expanding care to broader sets of patients beyond Smiley's clinic increases.

Residents who practice at Smiley's clinic came onsite to begin caring for their patients at Cedar Hub at the beginning of 2021 as part of their community health rotation or their continuity clinic. Residents will be able to see their patients at this new location via in-person and telehealth visits, which nurse Asha will help to facilitate. Thanks to a partnership with the School of Nursing, residents will work with nurse practitioners and broaden their interdisciplinary healthcare experience at the site.

From a clinical perspective, Asha will be doing geriatric and COVID care, providing COVID-positive patients with pulse oximeters and thermometers, and then following up with patients remotely. She will also conduct virtual care using iPads, see patients virtually, and visit patients in their apartments to facilitate a virtual visit with their provider using an iPad. Asha's role will also entail patient care coordination to get the patients connected with all the resources they may need, such as care from their provider, mental health services, and social services. In the future, there is a possibility of expanding Asha's scope of care to sites beyond Cedar Hub and Smiley's clinic following a successful outcome of this grant.

Following the Cedar Hub's soft launch phase, at the conclusion of the grant period, the hope is that the success of this endeavor will continue—and grow beyond its current location to benefit many more patients.