MINNEAPOLIS – More than 100 people, drawn from the government and business community, witnessed the launch of a new statewide association that seeks to address and service the needs of Minnesota’s healthcare businesses owned by African immigrants.
The African Health Care Providers Association (AHCPA) was unveiled on Saturday, offering members the chance to sign up to its stated goals of among others: providing sector leadership; developing and provide strategic policy support; and generating growth opportunities for members.
The new association, which already has more than 20 member businesses, is open to those that own and operate long-term care facilities, home cares and those that provide home support services. Businesses that are not part of the healthcare industry but provide services to members of the association are also eligible to sign up as associate or corporate members.
The association has already received strong support from several leading stakeholders in the state’s health care industry and has welcomed several prominent African business owners to its inaugural board.
One such stakeholder is Minnesota Department of Human Services Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Anab Gulaid, who delivered the keynote address to officially unveil the new association on Saturday.
“One of the important things I have learnt while at DHS is the huge importance of having an association as is the one that pushes the members’ agenda and legislative policy initiatives,” said Gulaid.
“With your new association I hope that we can both grow its capacity and you have the opportunity to have your voices heard, to network and to host conferences,” Gulaid continued.
Gulaid cautioned the audience against expecting results too quickly from the new association, as many of the well-known and powerful industry associations have existed for 100 years. She welcomed the new association stating she looks forward to it bringing new health care business owners “up to speed.”
She said many of the mainstream associations are lacking in diversity, hence the need for the new association to address the “unique needs” that African businesses face. She however urged AHCPA to look to the established associations on how they have succeeded in serving their members effectively over the years.
“Healthcare is a very regulated industry and a lot of times you are doing the work of the Department (DHS) but you are assuming most of the risk,” Gulaid said Saturday. “It is therefore important that you have all the technical assistance you need and the space to meet and network with others.”
The Deputy Assistant Commissioner was accompanied to the launch by Amy Petersen, DHS Director for Moving Home Minnesota. Petersen walked the audience through some of the key resources available to them at DHS focusing especially on ‘Moving Home Minnesota’, a federal demonstration project whose stated goal is “to create opportunities for Minnesotans to move from institutions to their own homes in the community.”
“It is also known as ‘money follows the person at the federal level’ and what it does is it assists people in transitioning from institutions like hospitals and nursing homes and into community based care,” said Petersen, adding that the demonstration project is one DHS hopes to work with the new association on.
The chair of the new association, Bill Akuma, the CEO of Uplifted Care Services spoke on the need for AHCPA.
“AHCPA is here to promote best business practices in the healthcare industry, especially for those who are starting out so they can get it right,” said Akuma. “It is also for the non-healthcare businesses that complement the industry.”
Akuma also waxed poetic by quoting poet Maya Angelou “I did then what I knew how to do, now that I know better, I will do better.”
He said the new association’s motto of “Stronger Together” was inspired by an African proverb that says “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
Membership information for the association can be found on its website at this link.