UNIITE - Understanding the Need for
Interfaith / Intercultural Togetherness & Education

January 24, 2006
Second Preliminary Meeting to Initiate Planning for “Health Care and World Religions” Series


Minutes by Angie Simon


Meeting location:
Saint Cloud Hospital, Spruce Room
January 24, 2006, 4-5:30 p.m.

Malcolm Nazareth (chair), executive director of UNIITE and program director of HCWR series
Angie Simon (minutes), volunteer from the St. Cloud community, “new immigrant” in St. Cloud
Kathy Twohy, chair, Department of Nursing, College of St. Benedict
Sanh Cheurenrath, member of St. Cloud Laotian Buddhist community
David Waage, chair, St. Cloud Hospital Diversity Committee
Carol Virnig, director, Centro Hispano, Waite Park, MN

What occurred:

Introduction of attendees – Nazareth distributed copies of the agenda (including tentative formulation of the Aims and O bjectives of the series) for today’s meeting and invited anybody to volunteer being chair -- David Waage moved that Nazareth chair the session – general approval – Malcolm accepted.

1. Nazareth gave a heads up on the series.

a. In keeping with recommendations made at the first preliminary series planning meeting at St. Cloud Hospital on 1/5/06, and UNIITE’s Board of Directors meeting the same night, UNIITE's forthcoming series has been postponed to mid-Sept thro mid-November 2006. In a phone conversation on 1/9, Jocelyn Ancheta, the project officer of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation approved of this change.

b. A tentative formulation of the Aims and Objectives of the series may be found at http://www.uniite.org/healthcare_religions.html. In light of recommendations about to be made at the present meeting and subsequent decisions to be made by UNIITE’s executive committee, this formulation will be altered.

c. UNIITE has been promised office space by Health Partners from 1 March 2006 for a whole year, so that the non-profit may function more efficiently from a single public location. [In email dated 1/27/06, Sandy Zakrajshek, secretary of Andy Vinson, CEO of Health Partners, conveyed the good news that Health Partners was committing themselves to donate an office suite to UNIITE for the first year of the project. I immediately conveyed this information to UNIITE’s Board, to Blue Cross, and to our partners in St. Cloud and the Twin Cities. Everybody is rejoicing in the largesse of HP and in UNIITE’s good luck. Zakrajshek wrote that our address would be 1245 15th Street North, St. Cloud, MN 56303. Our phone lines would be (320) 203-2110 ; 203-2111 ; 203-2112, and our fax 320-203-2414. The generous donation of HP would include copier facilities, among other things--Malcolm.]

Above are fresh developments of the past 3 weeks.

d. Nazareth has initiated a bunch of contacts in the five ethnic groups on which the HCWR series will be focused. These include contacts in the St. Cloud area and the Twin Cities. He visited on phone and in person early January with Dr. David Zander, research analyst of Asia Pacific Society. This led to a score of vital contacts (individuals and organizations) in Minnesota. Nazareth especially highlighted the Hmong Cultural and Resource Center in St. Paul, Lao Women Association (LAWA), Clare’s Well Spirituality Farm in Annandale, MN, and the newly built Laotian Buddhist Temple in Monticello, MN, called Wat Lao. He had just received a phone call from Cass McLaughlin, outreach coordinator of the Center for Spirituality and Healing (CHS) at the University of Minnesota (U of M), who informed him about a forthcoming resource “The New Medicine” which CHS is developing and which will soon be aired on PBS. [The New Medicine website is at www.thenewmedicine.org]

e. Naming a few more of these contacts, Nazareth said he had already attended one meeting each of the Metro Refugee Health Task Force, and of SEWA-AAIFW (which deals in part with health care issues which South Asian Hindu seniors are experiencing). He had spent substantial time with individuals from the target communities on the phone or in person, for example, Ms. Lul Hersi, a Somali interpreter and patient advocate at St. Cloud Hospital and Ana Maria Studer, Venezuelan physician who is not practicing in the US but currently teaching yoga in the St. Cloud area. Nazareth said he still had a lot of contacting and visiting to do. For example, soon he intended visiting the Center for Integrative Medicine at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, and making a connection with Dr. Ahmed Mohammad – Mid-MN Family Practice Clinic. Nazareth spoke of the challenge he faces in identifying individuals from the five immigrant communities for role play. He said he was expecting Dr. Paula Weber of the School of Business to provide a strong evaluation component. Students of SCSU would be involved under Weber’s guidance. One group of Weber’s students would devise evaluation instruments in the spring semester and another group would apply the instruments in the fall when the series gets under way.

f. Thanks to Nazareth’s meetings with Paul Knutson, Dianne Tuff, and Andy Vinson, he has discovered that the HCWR series is fully in sync with the findings of the Health Care Committee (HCC) of St. Cloud’s Create CommUNITY. In fact, the series takes HCC’s achievements to the next level, namely, implementation of some of Outfront Consulting’s fascinating research findings.

g. Following a tip provided by Hedy Tripp, new Coordinator of St. Cloud’s Create CommUNITY, Nazareth has begun to audit an upper level undergrad course at St. Cloud State University, ANTH 391-2 “Introduction to Medical Anthropology” taught by Dr. Dia Cha, a Hmong woman, who is a leading authority in Hmong history and culture in North America and probably in the world. This course is proving to be of immense help in shaping the framework and context of the HCWR series in Nazareth’s mind as HCWR series program director.

h. Dr. Nazareth is currently teaching part time an upper level undergrad course ETHS 201-8 “Introduction to Ethnic Studies” at SCSU and his office is across the hallway from Dr. Cha who also teaches in the Ethnic Studies Department. In the summer of 2004, Nazareth had co-taught an upper level undergrad course NURS 490 “Spirituality in Nursing” at SCSU with Dr. Brenda Lenz of the Nursing Science Department, SCSU (Please visit http://web.stcloudstate.edu/mjnazareth/)

1. Purpose of today’s meeting, called at very short notice: To enable UNIITE to send a Letter of Inquiry to Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation before month's end. [The letter has since been mailed on 2/1/06--Malcolm].

2. Nazareth then invited those present to comment on the Aims and Objectives of the two segments of the HCWR series. These have been reformulated and will be posted anew at http://www.uniite.org/healthcare_religions.html (UNIITE’s website www.uniite.org see under “Future Programs”). The formulation there (which is in today’s agenda sheet) comes largely from Twohy's suggestions/amendments to what Nazareth had earlier proposed in December.
Virnig read out the Aims and Objectives of the first segment of the HCWR series. Comments were discussed, and approved. Next Waage read out the Aims and Objectives of the second segment. Comments were discussed and approved. [The reformulated Aims and Objectives of these segments together comprise Phase A of the HCWR series in the revised understanding of the HCWR series. These formulations are not “written in stone” and, with the approval of HCWR’s future Planning Committees and UNIITE’s executive committee, will remain open for some months to modification and further sharpening.]

3. Finally Nazareth called for comments on the logo and web design of the HCWR series which have been created by UNIITE's web designer Ms. Norhashimah Erpelding. Waage passed around a black-and-white copy of the web page and logo since not everybody had visited the web page. As no comments were forthcoming, Nazareth invited people to send their comments and recommendations directly to the artist/web designer herself. This can be done by clicking on the “Contact us” button on UNIITE’s web page www.uniite.org

4. Nazareth announced that a couple Planning Committee meetings would be scheduled in February, also on Tuesdays, 4-6 pm. He would decide on suitable dates and announce in due time. Waage generously offered to arrange once again for a location at St. Cloud Hospital since UNIITE would not have a place at Health Partners till 1 March.


  • 1. Re. the 5 four-hour sessions, Virnig suggested (and Twohy seconded) offering a second time in the afternoon for others to attend since morning sessions might not be the best for physicians who are generally busy with morning rounds and surgeries. This way there would be more opportunities for others to attend the series. Finally it was suggested that two of the five sessions of the series could happen 9 am to 1 pm and two from 12 noon to 4 pm, for example. Those who were busy before noon would then be able to catch at least a couple afternoon offerings. Nazareth stated that personally he didn’t care what time of day the sessions would take place but he had taken seriously Bret Reuter’s suggestio, made in in 2004-05, to hold sessions on weekday mornings and to end 12-1 pm (hospital lunch break) so busy physicians and others could get a quick summary of the day’s insights. Nazareth suggested that another option might be to videotape the meetings for others who could not attend. Although he was open to this possibility, it posed challenges -- adequate lighting and audibility in a non-studio setting, for example.

  • 2. Re. the festival on Saturday, Twohy asked if beginning at 8 am was realistic. Who would come? Even for set up of booths, the timeframe would seem too early, especially for a Saturday. Nazareth replied that, according to the plan, there were 3 major parts to the festival: 8 am – 12 noon was on yoga. 12 noon –2 pm would be for visiting booths on complementary therapies. And 2-4 pm for break out sessions on 4 other popular and effective alternative therapies. Those not interested in yoga needn’t come in early. Those highly motivated to hear from a Hindu speaker Dr. Chandra Prakash what the original Sanskrit text Yogasutras says about Raja-yoga, would be welcome to be there from 8-9 am. Next, from 9 to 10 am would be a 60 min. session by local yoga guru Richard Chandler. This would be followed by break out sessions (10-11am) with 4 other yoga teachers. Finally 11-noon: q&a and general sharing of insights and reflections would bring the yoga session to a conclusion. Those setting up booths (on complementary therapies) could come in anytime before 12 noon to get things ready. Nazareth believed that only those who care passionately about yoga might be expected to show up at 8 am, simply because yoga practitioners are often early risers and highly motivated in mastering their practice. It therefore seemed to be a gamble worth taking for the yoga segment.

  • 3. Twohy suggested that we check with college bookstores for books related to alternative therapies to be made available for purchase at the booths.

  • 4. Twohy also suggested that we include as one of the objectives of the series “giving immigrants ideas about western medicines and practices.” Nazareth responded that the concept of the series needs to be clear. The series assumes that there are cultural and religious barriers to health care delivery. Such delivery implies that those who deliver health care are on one side of the barriers and those to whom health care is delivered on the other side. The barriers can be overcome for the immigrants (Twohy’s suggestion). However, the HCWR series doesn’t intend to attain that objective. For that objective, please visit the International Health Education Alliance at http://www.ihea.info UNIITE’s HCWR series wishes to address religious and cultural barriers to health care delivery experienced by health care professionals.

  • 5. Virnig suggested that the series presentations should list resources to help new immigrants. Twohy agreed and also suggested putting links on UNIITE’s website for accessibility of resources to help immigrants and clients. Nazareth responded that all of this is indeed part of what UNIITE intends.

  • 6. Twohy expressed the need for background information of the different cultures to be similarly provided. Nazareth responded as in #5 above.

  • 7. Nazareth spoke of the possibility of making 5 diverse ethnic foods available for purchase at the festival for lunch. This idea was warmly received by Waage and others. Nazareth also spoke of the possibility of each of the five ethnic groups presenting a cultural program (10-15 mins.) possibly at the conclusion of the festival thus creating a wider appeal than merely inputs on health care.

  • 8. Nazareth raised the question of registration fees: Should there be a charge? If so, how much would be appropriate? Twohy responded that Vicki Ruegemer would be the person to respond to this question. It was also pointed out later that Ruegemer was the one with whom to discuss publicity issues.

  • 9. Nazareth spoke of the idea of expanding the series into “case studies on 5 ethnic groups” in study groups. Those interested in participating in group study would spend two or three months (November 2006-February 2007) preparing such case studies and teasing out the issues in light of the content learned in the series. After this, we could organize panels of national-level specialists in these 5 ethnic groups to address these teased out issues. This project would be a good way to take the series to their logical conclusion. Twohy excitedly agreed that such panels would make the series more memorable. She believed that this would draw crowds and there could certainly be a fee charged for these panel presentations. Twohy also suggested doing studio recordings of the specialists’ presentations and sale of DVDs – this would provide revenue.

  • 10. To obtain support with implementation of the series, Twohy suggested Minnesota Campus Compact which strongly supports linking of college campuses with communities. She gave the name of John Hammerlink. Twohy also suggested that UNIITE enlist the support of the Mayo Residency Program.