Minnesota Community Health Worker Alliance is canceling the 2020 Annual Conference scheduled for May 15 because of COVID-19. Anyone who has already purchased admission to the conference may receive a full reimbursement, or, if they choose, donate the ticket price to support our mission.
What a week it has been! The COVID-19 (coronavirus) situation is changing daily, if not hourly. As many of you likely know, just this afternoon, Governor Walz signed an executive order declaring a peacetime state of emergency. Every organization and institution is figuring out how best to handle the situation. We are relying on the guidance of the experts at the Minnesota Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Our commitment is to the health of our attendees. We also know that you may be caring for patients and family members and that is where your focus is should be right now.
The decision to cancel is made with great sadness because we look forward to seeing everyone each year. It is a time when we are reminded of what a strong community you represent. We encourage you all to take care of own well-being and join us in sending supportive energy to those that may be affected by the virus.
Over the next month, we will reach out to you about our next steps. We appreciate your patience and understanding.
MNCHWA Board Chair
March always brings the promise of warmer days ahead. It makes me feel hopeful and excited for sunshine and green grass!
My name is Cathy Weik and I chair the Minnesota Community Health Worker Alliance (MNCHWA) Board of Directors. When I’m not focused on the Alliance, I serve as the Sr. Vice President, Administration/Compliance Officer for Stratis Health. Stratis Health has been a longtime partner of the Alliance and firmly believes in the power of integrating community health worker strategies into health care, public health and social service systems as a critical component of the solution that will positively impact the overall health and well-being of our communities. As many of you may already know, the Alliance entered into an agreement with Stratis Health last fall for “back office” administrative support and co-location that includes office space, access to conference rooms, technology and collaborative programming. This is exciting and provides a dedicated space for CHWs to come together to get work done.
You may have seen LaTanya Black’s letter by now in which she announces her transition from Executive Director to Project Manager. The board fully supports LaTanya in her new role representing the Alliance as a community representative and subject matter expert. The Alliance is blessed with a strong team, which also includes Anne Ganey, MPH, who will continue her work with the Alliance leading projects and serving in the education and training role, as well as the many CHWs that have a long history and involvement with the Alliance.
During this period of transition, the Alliance’s Board of Directors has delegated the day-to-day operational responsibilities to the board’s executive committee (Vice Chair – Laura Guzman-Corrales, MPH, Healthy Communities Program Manager; Treasurer – Gary Oftedahl, MD; and Secretary – Kimberli Barker, Community Health Worker). I will serve as the main point of contact. The Alliance’s Executive Committee, along with the other board members, will ensure the Alliance successfully executes on its work and remains a viable and active community collaborator and partner in achieving the vision of equitable and optimal health outcomes for all communities.
All the best,
Minnesota Community Health Worker Alliance
A Message from the Executive Director
It is with great sadness that I share my decision to step away from serving as the Executive Director for the MN Community Health Worker Alliance. The decision in no way reflects my commitment to the organization or my intention to stay involved in a meaningful way. Unfortunately, I have experienced continued health challenges related to a serious fall I took last fall. The challenges have been such that I do not feel I am able to give my complete focus and attention to the Executive Director role.
While I won’t be serving as the Executive Director, I will continue to serve as a project manager and will represent the Alliance as a community representative and subject matter expert.
I am confident the work of the Alliance will continue without interruption as we stay engaged with partners that are helping fulfill the organization’s contractual obligations and mission. Anne Ganey, MPH, continues her work with the Alliance leading projects and serving in the education and training role. Our collaboration with Stratis Health remains strong as they provide our “back office” administrative support and co-location, this relationship has strengthened the Alliance’s internal capacity.
During the period of transition, the Alliance’s Board of Directors has delegated the day-to-day operational responsibilities to the board’s executive committee. Cathy Weik, Sr. VP Administration for Stratis Health serves as the Alliance’s Board Chair and she will serve as the main point of contact. The Alliance’s Executive Committee, along with the other board members, will ensure the Alliance successfully executes on its work and remains a viable and active community collaborator and partner in achieving the vision of equitable and optimal health outcomes for all communities.
I want to thank the Alliance for the fantastic opportunity and for appointing me as the first Community Health Worker to serve as the organization’s Executive Director. I have accomplished great things in my work with the Alliance and have been presented with a wonderful opportunity to grow professionally and personally. I look forward to my continued work with the Alliance and know I am not saying goodbye, but rather, just changing the role from which I interact with each of you.
Until further notice, please direct your questions to Cathy Weik at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As always, the Alliance’s website is a wonderful source for answers to many of your questions. Please check this space for upcoming events and resources.
February Greetings to You!
The Minnesota Community Health Worker Alliance (MNCHWA) is off to a great start for 2020 by working with our partners on some exciting initiatives! In this issue, we are featuring several partnerships for your information, as well as information about ways you can be involved with the Alliance. As always, please contact me to learn more or get involved.
Fueling Growth with Partnerships
Our partnership with the Minnesota Breastfeeding Coalition will prepare Community Health Workers (CHWs) to serve as Infant Feeding Advisors by offering CHW training in breastfeeding support and infant feeding.
Together with Dr. LaPrincess C. Brewer, Assistant Professor at Mayo College of Medicine and a preventive cardiologist in the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine at Mayo Clinic, MNCHWA is partnering on the Fostering African-American Improvement in Total Health (FAITH!) program. The project objective is to refine the FAITH! app, an existing culturally-tailored smartphone application, and test its feasibility as a tool to deliver health education and self-management support to African American patients with uncontrolled hypertension with the help of Community Health Workers.
The Alliance is also working in collaborations to enhance rural partnerships and bring awareness to the great work of Minnesota’s rural CHWs. We are proud to announce that leadership development program graduate Hilda Sanchez-Herrera from the Sioux Falls area will be one of our many champions leading this work. I’m also excited to announce that we will add rural sections to our newsletter and website highlighting the great work and accomplishments of the CHWs as well as current and future rural projects.
We continue to look for additional ways to collaborate with other entities and are interested in the following:
- Supporting the training needs of CHWs for chronic diseases, such as dental disease and aging
- Supporting CHW professional development and recruitment through training workshops
- Convening skills-building discussion groups at the state level
Strengthening Ties Through Our Annual Conference on May 15th
I’d like to recognize and thank sponsors of the Alliance’s 2020 Annual Conference. We appreciate the support of the Medica Foundation, American Heart Association, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. It is not too late to become a sponsor! Please contact me for information. Be sure to save the date to attend—May 15th—and check out conference details on our website at http://mnchwalliance.org/
Applications to CHW Leadership Development Institute due Feb 7th
I encourage all interested Minnesota CHWs to learn about our 2020 CHW Leadership Development Institute. Applications are due Feb 7th. See the article in this e-newsletter for more information about this outstanding opportunity and or click here the application link. CHW leadership is key to the future of our field!
Minnesota Community Health Worker Alliance
Vonyee Howard, MNCHWA Board Member
Care Coordinator at People Incorporated
Family Life Mental Health Clinic
MN CHW Certificate Holder
What do you do as a CHW?
I’m the Care Coordinator at People Incorporated – Family Life Mental Health Clinic. I work alongside a team of mental health practitioners & clinicians and provide advocacy on behalf of consumers to communicate their needs within the organization, as well as to outside organizations. A large part of my role is assisting consumers with connections to various community resources, including health insurance. I also initiate referrals for MNCHOICES assessments, case management services, vocational training, support services, and other mental health programs.
What has been your favorite part of being a CHW?
My favorite part of being a CHW has always been helping people connect to the resources and services they need. I also love when I can squeeze a smile or a laugh out of someone, just by being myself. I realize the people I serve are dealing with some very tough times; some might even be experiencing feelings of depression and hopelessness. To say or do something that makes someone laugh or smile during tough times warms my entire spirit.
What’s something most people don’t know about you?
Most people don’t know that I’m inspired and motivated by the people I serve and by the need I see for service in our communities.
I recently connected a consumer to a resource for a holiday food basket. She called me to personally tell me about her experience picking up the holiday food basket: “Ms. Vonyee, I want to thank you for putting me in contact with [the agency]. They had a holiday party. I met some nice people and had a wonderful time! The people there were so nice! I wasn’t expecting anything except to pick up food, and I received so much more! Thank you SO much!”
I, of course, knew ahead of time that a holiday party was included but I didn’t think it was an important detail to mention when I provided her with this resource. The smile and excitement in her voice over the phone was infectious; I was so happy that attending the party was a pleasant surprise for her– especially during the holiday season.