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St. Anthony: Abdullahi Hussein opens first Somali-owned medical practice in Twin Cities

Physician assistant Abdullahi Hussein, a veteran medical professional who has worked at the Mayo Clinic and in the Cedar-Riverside area, opened his own walk-in clinic last month at 47th and Hiawatha avenues.
Hussein, 32, hails from a family of traders and shopkeepers and is one of only two licensed Somali-American physician assistants in the Twin Cities area. He’s the first to go out on his own.
“I am confident that I will be successful,” said Hussein, who’s been working seven-day weeks so far. “The biggest risk is not taking any risk.
“My goal is to help the patients, Somalis or anyone. We just don’t want them going to expensive emergency rooms, where they often have to wait … for primary care. I do an exam … treat them and tell them what they need to do to stay healthy.”
Hussein, who lives with his family in south Minneapolis, put down about $30,000 in savings and financed about $40,000 to build out space and start-up costs in a strip mall near Minnehaha Park. His financier is the Metropolitan Community Consortium of Developers (MCCD), the business-backed nonprofit that works with fledgling businesses that are not yet bankable.
Iric Nathanson, a veteran MCCD finance specialist, said Hussein’s education and work experience bode well for a primary-care clinic in the neighborhood and LRT line. The business plan anticipates a $70 per visit average charge, up to 20 visits daily and $250,000 in revenue in 2016. The two-employee clinic, which is open until 9 p.m. to accommodate working parents, is certified for reimbursement by insurers.
Hussein’s walk-in clinic fits an emerging model, starting with retailers such as CVS, that offers low-cost primary care clinics staffed by nurses or physician assistants who are equipped to provide exams and deal with common illnesses in a patient-convenient setting. Most people with strep throat or an earache don’t need a full-blown clinic or hospital.
Hussein, who graduated from high school in a Somali town near the Kenyan border, immigrated in 2006. He remembers American aid workers tending to sick kids in a nearby refugee camp. And when his father’s business started to fail amid strife in the area, Hussein got in line to immigrate to the United States for higher education and a medical career.
Hussein worked in medical manufacturing and clinics as he worked his way through North Hennepin Community College, the University of Minnesota, Rochester, and earned a master’s in physician assistance studies from the University of Wisconsin medical school.
“I got here with $25,” Hussein said. “I studied hard, worked hard, played by the rules. I also want to be a role model for East African kids.”
Bluestem Brands sued over Fingerhut charges
Bluestem Brands of Eden Prairie, the online retailer acquired a year ago for $565 million by Capmark Financial, has an interesting federal case on its hands.
A Georgia woman, represented by a Minneapolis law firm, has filed a suit that seeks class-action status on behalf of all customers. It alleges that Bluestem targets low-income people with poor credit with marked-up prices that actually are finance charges that violate Minnesota and federal consumer law on its website. Those folks are encouraged to sign up for the WebBank/Fingerhut Advantage Credit Account. Meanwhile, consumers with higher incomes and better credit, get better deals on Bluestem’s for the same merchandise.
According to the suit, Bluestem uses sophisticated Internet analytics to drive low-income consumers who register to the Fingerhut website and buries them in costs that Minneapolis lawyer Clayton Halunen says violate state deceptive trade practice and usury law, as well as the federal truth-in-lending statute.
Pennsylvania-based Capmark, a retail and finance consolidator, changed its name to Bluestem Group in June and consolidated headquarters in Eden Prairie. Its business included Fingerhut, Gettington and about a dozen other brands. Bluestem has not responded to questions about the lawsuit. Its initial response to the suit, after a court-approved delay in September, is expected later this month.
The company posted a loss in the first half of the year on revenue of $516.6 million.
IT training programs expanding
As part of President Obama’s TechHire initiative, the Twin Cities is expanding three accelerated tech training programs operating in the metro area that also target women and minorities who are underrepresented in the field.
They are IT-Ready, Prime Digital Academy and Concordia University Coding Bootcamp. More than 60 employers have become partners.
The Minnesota High Technology Association and Creating IT Futures Foundation will host an IT-Ready Employer Breakfast Oct. 13 at 7:30 a.m. at HealthPartners’ office in Bloomington. Register at:
Speakers will include Erick Garcia Luna, senior aide to Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges; Javier Martinez, an IT-Ready graduate and help desk and technical support professional at Avirat Inc.; and Becky Ryan, a manager at the Enterprise Support Center of HealthPartners.
Meanwhile, the Creating IT Futures Foundation and Emerge Community Development of north Minneapolis will partner to bring the IT-Ready program to the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, thanks to funding from the city and the Pohlad Family Foundation. Since 2012, 150-plus individuals have graduated from eight-week, low-cost IT-Ready training. Nearly 95 percent earn the CompTIA A+ certification and 80 percent moving into paid IT roles with area companies.
Mark Hulbert, a former executive at the Nerdery who last year took over Prime Digital Academy, an 18-week program that trains budding software developers, reports that the employer-supported program has graduated its second class, won a Minnesota Job Skills Partnership grant with Jewish Family and Childrens Services and will soon announce a scholarship program for students of color.
EPA emissions plan will get assessed
The Clean Power Plan — the nation’s first-ever standard to address carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants — requires Minnesota to cut its carbon dioxide emissions rate by 42 percent from 2012 levels by the year 2030. Environmental Initiative is bringing together key players from the state’s three largest utilities, industry, environmental groups and government regulators for a morning conference on the subject Oct. 13, at Hamline University.
Key decisions about a Minnesota plan, the progress so far and potential options and trade-offs for future discussions will be addressed.