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Partnerships for Healthy Communities

What we do

Good health is created where we live, work, learn and play. Public Health works with partners in the community, schools, child care, healthcare and workplaces in order to create a culture of health that supports and promotes healthy living by making healthy choices easier.

Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP)

This work is supported by funding through the Minnesota Department of Health's Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP), which is creating healthier communities across Minnesota by expanding opportunities for active living, healthy eating and tobacco-free living.

SHIP is designed to improve health by reducing the risk factors that contribute to chronic disease, thereby reducing health care costs. 

Read more from the Minnesota Department of Health

Recent accomplishments

Success stories

Tobacco 21

Leading The Way: T-21
May 31, 2018

The cities of Edina and Richfield have contracted with the City of Bloomington since 1977 in order to receive public health services at the local level within their respective communities. The Public Health Alliance of Bloomington, Edina, and Richfield allows each city to have complete autonomy, yet work collaboratively toward promoting, protecting, and improving the overall health of these communities.

Historically, when one of the cities within the alliance implements a healthy policy or change, the other two cities aren’t far behind in following suit. Tobacco 21 (T-21) policy work is no exception and serves as a great example of how each city impacts the health of its stakeholders and takes action to make positive change.

T-21 increases the purchase age of tobacco products from 18 to 21. The 2017 Minnesota Youth Tobacco Survey found that 1 in 4 students use tobacco-related products. Research shows that raising the tobacco purchase age to 21 would limit tobacco access and keep Minnesota's youth from ever starting (Minnesota Department of Health).

Edina just so happened to be the first in the state to raise the legal age for tobacco purchase. The Community Health Commission considered the T-21 policy after Caleb Schultz, MD, MPH presented on the topic to them and subsequently to City Council. Unanimously, Edina City Council voted to pass the resolution that went into effect July 1. Schultz said council members reported being inundated with emails and phone calls with support of T-21 prior to the vote and said that after passage of T-21 there has been little opposition or negative reaction within Edina.

Bonnie Paulsen, Administrator for the Public Health Division at the City of Bloomington said it is policies like these that not only save lives, but make an impact in changing the health of these populations. Bloomington was not far behind Edina's efforts in also raising the legal purchase age of tobacco to 21. Bloomington City Council voted unanimously in November to pass the new ordinance which:

  • Prohibits the sale of tobacco-related products including electronic delivery devices, to persons under 21 years of age.
  • Requires tobacco retailers to check ID of customers under 30 years of age.
  • Requires tobacco retailers to train their employees on the legal requirements to sell tobacco-related products.

The city of Richfield is still in discussion on T-21 and will be for the better half of 2018. Jennifer Anderson, Support Services Supervisor said the Richfield Advisory Board of Health has not only been looking at what other cities have implemented but also what their experiences have been in order to develop a T-21 policy that works for Richfield.  

When it comes to the health of these overall communities, it is the collaboration within the alliance that creates this domino effect for policy change in order to move forward toward a healthier future.

Worksite Wellness

Worksite Wellness in the Hospitality Industry
November 30, 2018

The success of any hospitality business is dependent on the delivery of quality service to its guests. Hotel managers are constantly looking for ways to retain good employees, increase productivity, and maintain positive employee relations to improve customer service. Worksite wellness programs have been shown to deliver all of these benefits, however, hotels are a very different work environment from other businesses. To better assist the hotel industry locally, the City of Bloomington Public Health Division through the Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP) led an effort with other local health departments to discover how employee wellness might best be instituted in hotels.

A series of conversations were held with local hospitality representatives. One thing that was identified was that few hotels had elements of worksite wellness and as a result of these findings, the City of Bloomington Public Health Division, Hennepin County Public Health and the Minneapolis Health Department initiated a hotel worksite wellness cohort.

The cohort consisted of five hotels, three of which were in the cities of Bloomington and Edina. Each of the hotels that participated in the cohort not only began actions to support the health of their employees, but also established infrastructure for worksite wellness to ensure sustainability.

Serah Morrissey, Area Director of Human Resources for The Westin Edina Galleria and Sheraton Bloomington Hotel said, “Being part of the cohort directly impacted and benefited our hotels. The employee interest survey provided insight that enabled us to address our team’s questions and concerns about wellness. Seventy percent of employees were interested in healthy cooking and physical activity.” Morrissey successfully implemented healthy eating initiatives in both hotels, promoted city Farmers’ Markets and offered onsite CSA programs in partnership with the Hmong American Farmers Association. 

The Embassy Suites in Bloomington has also benefited from being part of the cohort. Based on their employee interest survey, 63 percent of employees rated aspects of healthy eating as their number one area of interest. As a result, Embassy Suites now provides healthy options for employees at meetings. Employees take walking breaks and participate in the “Step To It” physical activity challenge. Resources have also been provided to employees with exercises that can be done at their desk.

Jackie Ploen, Embassy Suites Human Resources Director said, “Being part of the meetings with other hotels has been great. We can hear what others [in the industry] are doing and get ideas from each other. Embassy Suites has enjoyed being a part of SHIP and the pilot program bringing wellness into our hotel.”

The five hotels that participated in the two-year pilot all expressed interest in continuing their participation in 2019. Each is willing to recruit additional hotels in an effort to expand the cohort and offer this unique health and wellness opportunity to others in the hospitality industry.  

Breastfeeding Supportive Workplaces

Breastfeeding Supportive Workplaces
May 28, 2019

Breastfeeding provides many health, nutritional, economical and emotional benefits to nursing moms and their babies. There are also significant benefits to the community, workplace and the environment. The City of Bloomington Public Health Division is dedicated to support and actively promote breastfeeding. For these reasons, Public Health completed the 10 steps to become a breastfeeding friendly health department in 2017.

In order to maintain its status as a breastfeeding friendly health department, Public Health is supposed to work with businesses each year to provide workplace lactation support. However, engaging workplaces proved difficult. Public Health kicked off 2019 using a different approach-- a social media campaign to raise breastfeeding awareness through the City of Bloomington’s Facebook page. The goal of the campaign is to educate the community on the laws surrounding breastfeeding in the workplace. The first post in the campaign generated a lot of positive feedback from women who had personal experience with returning to work themselves. It was evident from this feedback on Facebook that breastfeeding supportive workplaces is important to the community and one that is applauded. 

Public Health staff decided to pilot a new facet of the campaign in order to continue and elevate this conversation around breastfeeding supportive workplaces. A second post was generated from the positive feedback received as a way to gather information on which businesses within Bloomington are already supportive of moms returning to work. The pilot involves seeking nominations from employees of local businesses who feel their workplace supports them continuing to provide breastmilk for their baby after returning to work. Within 24 hours of publishing the Facebook post, seven nominations came through. In total, Public Health saw 17 nominations, with 10 of those being unduplicated nominations for employers in Bloomington. Employers will be recognized during breastfeeding awareness month at the August 5 Bloomington City Council meeting and included in publicity surrounding the event.

This same campaign is also being piloted in Richfield and Edina. Both cities also have agreed to recognize employers during breastfeeding awareness month at their respective city council meetings.

The success of this Facebook campaign and nomination pilot indicates there is community interest and engagement around this topic, especially within Bloomington. The campaign will be refined and repeated next year to continue the conversation and work towards normalizing workplace breastfeeding support within all three cities.

Stay informed

Learn more about what Public Health is doing in the community to promote healthy living. Contact Margaret Perez, Health Specialist for more information.