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Mobile public health strategy enters third year

health on the go outdoor event

Health on the Go! Brooklyn Center event at Centennial Park. (Photo credit: Sarah Lemke, Interim Recreation Supervisor/Health on the Go! Brooklyn City Lead - City of Brooklyn Center)

“Healthcare” often brings to mind visiting a clinic, hospital, or other healthcare site. For some groups, particularly those affected by health and racial disparities, these settings may not always be accessible, welcoming, or affirming.

In Brooklyn Park and Brooklyn Center, a mobile health strategy called Health on the Go! works to address this issue by bringing free and low-cost health and well-being resources into the community. With the support of Hennepin County Public Health, the cities, and community-based organizations, Health on the Go! aims to promote health and well-being through preventive services and other community-driven strategies.

Foundations of Health on the Go!

Health on the Go! was initially managed by the Brooklyn Bridge Alliance for Youth. They helped launch the mobile health initiative in December 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which highlighted longstanding health inequities experienced by black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) communities. In 2021, Health on the Go! focused on reducing the negative health impacts of those inequities. 

health on the go indoor event

Collaborative Health on the Go! Brooklyn Park and Health on the Go! Brooklyn Center vaccine and health resource event at St. Alphonsus. (Photo credit: Armando Oster, Community Engagement Specialist - City of Brooklyn Center)

In 2022, Health on the Go! transitioned to a collaborative approach led by representatives from the cities, county government, and a community-based organization. This group prioritized bringing new voices to the table that would more fully represent the diversity of the Brooklyns, including immigrant and refugee communities.
The current pilot partners include:
  • African Career and Education Resources (ACER), Inc.
  • Brooklyn Center Community Schools Health Resource Center
  • City of Brooklyn Center
  • City of Brooklyn Park
  • Hennepin County Public Health
  • Siengkane Lao MN

Engaging through events

Along with the transition in leadership, Health on the Go! began to focus on implementing more events in 2022. Between Brooklyn Park and Brooklyn Center, they held over 50 events in parks, churches, apartment complexes, and other settings that engaged more than 10,000 attendees. Events were intentionally planned to be accessible, welcoming, and relevant, especially to communities experiencing health disparities. They provided health services (including more than 1,500 doses of COVID-19 vaccines), tables with representatives sharing information about community and government resources, and free food distributions.

health on the go outdoor table event

Dan-neya Yancey, Health on the Go! Community Health Worker, talking with Riverview Apartment residents at Health on the Go! Brooklyn Park vaccine and health resource event. (Photo credit: Carmen Bibiano, Community Engagement Specialist/Health on the Go! Brooklyn Park Lead - City of Brooklyn Park)

Dan-neya Yancey, a community health worker and Health on the Go! lead with Hennepin County Public Health, enjoyed seeing the impact of these events. She said, “To see programs and initiatives across Hennepin County Public Health and Human Services working collaboratively and intentionally with both cities' programs, and witnessing how community-based organizations continuously rise to the call of meeting community where and when they need support was inspiring, and I am honored to have been a part of it since its inception." 

health on the go dental clinic

Children's Dental Service staff providing a free whole dental exam to a child on the tiny Health on the Go! mobile home during a Health on the Go! Brooklyn Park event at Eden Park Apartments. (Photo credit: Carmen Bibiano)

Beyond COVID-19 vaccines, Health on the Go! worked with partners to offer a wide range of health services, such as dental checks, HIV tests, STD tests, and flu shots. Providing these preventive services in convenient locations and alongside other helpful resources like food boxes, hand sanitizers, dental kits, and MN Period Kits makes them more accessible and appealing.

Health on the Go! in 2023

health on the go logo 

As Health on the Go! Brooklyn Park and Health on the Go! Brooklyn Center have shifted their focus from COVID-19 to health more broadly, the collaborative has had many conversations with community partners and leaders about what they want and need. The priorities identified for this year position Health on the Go! for another strong year of impact:

  • Increasing collaboration and communication between cities, community organizations, and local authorities.
  • Developing structure for long-term planning to identify necessary resources and create a sustainability plan.
  • Developing an assessment and evaluation plan in partnership with the Hennepin County Public Health Assessment Team.

Looking ahead to this year, Dan-neya noted, “Health on the Go! Brooklyn Park and Health on the Go! Brooklyn Center provide so many opportunities for connection and collaboration. And both cities welcome it! I’m excited to see where these programs go next.” 

One of Health on the Go! Brooklyn Park's new projects this year is working with Hennepin Technical College to expand their monthly free food distribution from once to twice monthly. Through this collaboration, Hennepin Technical College provides a space on-campus for the distribution, Second Harvest Heartland and Good in the ‘Hood provide food, and Health on the Go! runs the distribution event. Read more about Hennepin Technical College's food security work.