EXCLUSIVE: HealthPartners installs stickers pointing the way to Mecca

The new decals are part of the company's commitment to "creating a welcoming and inclusive environment."

HealthPartners headquarters building in Bloomington, Minn. (Adobe Stock)

HealthPartners has installed “qibla decals” at multiple St. Paul locations to help Muslims orient themselves in the direction of Mecca during prayer, an internal email states.

“New quibla (sic) decals have been placed in several areas at our specialty centers and the neuroscience center on Phalen Blvd. You may notice these decals in some common areas and quiet areas throughout our buildings,” an email to HealthPartners staff from Terri Draxten, the Minneapolis-St. Paul clinic director, explains. “These decals point to the direction of the sacred shrine of Kaaba in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.”

According to Draxten’s email, the new decals are part of the company’s commitment to “creating a welcoming and inclusive environment.” She urged employees to “ensure that these decals remain in place.”

The email said the decals have been placed on walls in three HealthPartners centers: the 401 and 435 Phalen buildings and the HealthPartners Neuroscience Center, all in St. Paul.

“If you are interested in placing a qibla in an additional space, please contact Heather Walters, health equity program manager, Regions Hospital and Interpreter Services. I want to thank Heather and Abdi Dahir, Interpreter Services Manager, for bringing this idea to us and installing these at our Phalen facilities,” Draxten said.

An employee, who asked to remain anonymous, said HealthPartners “did not send out any email for Christmas or Hanukkah, but in June they allowed everyone to wear Pride shirts and nice jeans every Friday for the whole month.”

According to the employee, HealthPartners told staff they can wear “Holiday sweaters” on Dec. 22 as long as they “are appropriate.”

“Usually, what that means is that they don’t reflect religion of any kind,” the employee said.

HealthPartners did not respond to Alpha News’ request for comment. Hennepin Healthcare, another Minnesota provider, placed similar decals in Hennepin County Medical Center in 2021.

Alpha News previously reported on an internal chat showing HealthPartners staff were developing an online tool that would allow teens to “control the level of healthcare information they would like to share with their guardians.”


Hayley Feland

Hayley Feland previously worked as a journalist with The Minnesota Sun, The Wisconsin Daily Star, and The College Fix. She is a Minnesota native with a passion for politics and journalism.