Lindsay Eales

CHW Spotlight: Lindsey Eales 

Community Health Worker 

Before working at Essentia Health, I was working full-time at Northwood Children’s Services and going to school full-time. I was working towards my Bachelors in Social Work. I had found a job posting as a Community Health Worker at Essentia Health, and prior to this, I had no knowledge about what a Community Health Worker was or did. I did some research, then applied. I received a call that the job was mine, and I was so excited to take on this new role. 

As a Community Health Worker at Essentia Health, I work closely with our IHP Population to help connect them to community resources. In March of 2019, we started a pilot program in three pediatric departments where a questionnaire was sent out with three questions regarding financial resource strain, transportation access, and food insecurities. When a patient screens positive for any one of these social determinants of health, I would follow up to connect them to a community partner Essentia Health is partnered with. A few months later due to the success of the pilot, this questionnaire is now sent out to all patients with a primary care visit. Since COVID-19 surfaced, Essentia Health has identified over 40,000 patients who are considered to be at high risk of contracting the virus. I have also been working with these patients to ensure their needs are being met. 

This role and community health work is important to me because I feel that social determinants of health are often overlooked. For instance, I have worked with several patients who have to decide whether to pay for their monthly prescription of medication, or use that money to get groceries for their family. No person should have to make this kind of decision. We often don’t think about how lack of transportation is going to have an effect on someone’s overall health, or lack of healthy foods. I am so grateful to be a part of this work, and helping to connect our patients to the appropriate resources.

Carrie Harris

CHW Spotlight: Carrie Harris

Carrie Harris

I have worked at Volunteers of America MN/WIS for 15 years and I absolutely love it! The diverse population I serve face many health and social disparities in their lives and may need support to remain living independently. I have always been interested in health and nutrition and found that this area could be addressed more in the social services we provided. Over the years, I have led several health groups focusing on health improvement. When I came to learn about community health work, I knew this was something I had to be a part of. I looked into what our agency needed to be able to have CHWs on staff and started talking people to get grants to fund the new program. Once funding was achieved, I played a large role in implementation. We hired 2 CHWs and I supervised them. When the opportunity came up, I decided to take the CHW courses myself so I could also help people as a CHW. I very much enjoyed learning how to help people be in control of their conditions and their lives. The education was a great addition to my social service background. I just love meeting people where they are at and helping them make different choices if they choose to, with their health.

Learning about the CHW field is very exciting to me. I believe that not everything fits in the same box and there has to be different approaches to education in the health care systems. I would like to share what I have learned with individuals and agencies and them with me. I would like to make more connections with others in the same field. I would also like to develop new ways to grow the CHW field and make them happen.

As CHWs, we are very aware of the health care disparities. Let’s work together to solve them.

Carrie.harris@voamn.org

April 2020 MNCHWA Spotlight: Mohamed Ibrahim

Mohamed Ibrahim

Community Health Worker

Mayo Clinic Health System

I was born in Mogadishu, Somalia. I have a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery from Benadir University in Somalia and have worked in trauma and emergency surgery including service overseas with the International Committee of Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders.  Now I live in Mankato with my lovely wife Samsam. I have three boys, Hamza, Hisham and Hilal. I love soccer, reading and volunteering.

I earned my CHW certificate from Rochester Community and Technical College and currently work as a CHW in Mayo Clinic Health System where I serve as a central link between patients and health and social service providers, conducting home visits, facilitating health literacy workshops, and providing culturally-responsive interventions to address Somali health disparities.  In addition to that, I am studying for the US medical license examination test to continue the journey of helping underserved communities as a doctor.

In addition to my professional role, I am highly engaged in the greater Mankato community serving on several area committees and boards, including Blue Earth County Mental Health Task Force, Mayo Clinic Community Cancer Research Advisory Committee, Mayo Clinic Health System Diversity and Inclusion Committee, and Mayo Clinic Health System Family Medicine Quality Committee. I am a founding member of a developing grassroots group, Linking for Good, a committed group of local Somalis seeking to build bridges between the Somali and the greater Mankato community.  I also serve in a leadership role as one of the Imams at the St. Peter Islamic Center and Dar Abi Baker at Mankato.

In addition to our daily work to provide the Somali community in the Mankato-St. Peter area with information on the COVID-19 virus and Minnesota’s response, we have been doing many things.  These include:

  1. We have set up two What’sApp groups for Somali community members—one for Mankato and North Mankato and one for St. Peter.  You may already know this—community members move around between these communities.  A mom may live in St. Peter while here daughter lives in Mankato. This is often the case so there is a lot of movement back and forth.
  2. We set up a free conference call listening session to share information with the community and answer questions. We will continue to use free conference calls for meetings and for educating the community.
  3. We have identified people in housing complexes in Mankato, North Mankato and St. Peter where many Somali families live to share information with families in the building. We use What’sApp and free conference calls to inform these key people.

What’sApp and free conference calls are good tools because people can ask questions.  We find people have a lot of questions because they know something critical is happening, but they are not getting the information in Somali they need to understand. They have a lot of questions.  What’sApp is very simple and used by young and old alike.

Nasra Budul headshot

September 2019 MNCHWA Community Health Worker Spotlight: Nasra Budul

Nasra Budul, Community Health Worker, Ready Set Smile

What do you do as a CHW?

As a CHW I work with children without access to dental health care receive preventive dental exams and oral health education to build healthy habits ie. brushing, eating less sugary foods/drink with respect to their overall health.

What is your favorite part about becoming a CHW?

One thing I loved about becoming a CHW is definitely serving a community in which I can relate and am apart of as a Somali CHW. I work with Somali families to break down the barriers surrounding health in general. Often times our community is skeptical of Doctors/Dentists and it has been rewarding to be able to be someone they can build trust with in order to receive the services they need to improve their overall health and well-being.

What is most people don’t know about you?

Most people don’t know that as a teenager I was apart of the very first project the Minnesota Historical Society did about the immigration of Somali Families to Minnesota. The project was also about the Somali culture as well. We eventually produced and starred in two documentaries and held a premiere at the Historical Society. It truly was a great experience!

Impactful CHW Story

As I continue to grow in my career as a CHW I can think back on many rewarding moments with the population of students we serve. Often times the children we see at the school dental clinics have urgent dental needs. We contact their parents to help them connect with dental clinics that are able to see the child in the community. It has also been amazing to work with the Somali community to help them understand oral health is important and to provide education on building healthy eating habits as well.

Contact Nasra

Nasra Budul
612-731-6118 Office
651-434-5553 Cell
Maile-Vang Image

AUGUST 2019 MNCHWA Community Health Worker Spotlight

Maile (My-Lee) Vang

Community Health Worker-Program Assistant, Minnesota Community Care

What do you do as a CHW?

What I do as a community health worker is a work to improve the overall health and wellbeing of the people I serve in the community. Most notably, I focus on outreach, education, counseling, and social support to help out the community, and by boosting the communication between the health care facilities in the area identifying the different health-related issues that exist.

I get to assist in developing tools, strategies, and resources that can help with those problems. Therefore, I coordinate and partner with community agencies and health experts in the area to improve the health and well-being of a community. Helping families understand and improve their access to insurance, food, health care, and even housing stability.

What has been your favorite part of being a CHW?

My favorite part of being a community health worker has got to conducting health and social services outreach. I like to meet new people in community and community agencies. I love to strike up a conversation to learn about how much the people in the community get involved and currently hear what other agencies are doing to bring a positive impact. To me, that’s the beginning of a great day already because at the end of the day. I get to take back smiles, laughter, information, resources, and friendship.

What’s something most people don’t know about you?

I love watching horror movies! Yes, I get scared too, and sometimes I tend to overdo it, but for some reason, I like a good scare. Whether its broad daylight or taking a lunch break, you might catch me watching a scary movie.  

IMPACTFUL CHW WORK

I have had the honor to work and volunteer with the Hmong Health Care Professional Coalition (HHCPC) during the past year to talk about Influenza immunization. One of the most concerns with families is getting their children flu shots for the cold season. I encounter a Karen family trying to get flu shots, but they have many doubts about it because a family relative has passed away from it. I was prepared for situations like this to happen, so I had to sit the family down and speak to them about things that can be helpful if the family was vaccinated.

I provided visuals of families getting vaccinated and before/after to see how they look and feel. I showed the family myself getting a flu shot from the nurses because they take excellent care of patients. I explained that influenza could be prevented by washing hands when coughing or sneezing. Towards not to share too many things when someone else is sick or not feeling well. I gave the family apowerpoint translated into Karen along with brochures and visuals of how the parents can teach the children how to prevent influenza.

The family even saw other families coming in and out getting the flu shot. Sadly, I wasn’t able to win the family over. The family couldn’t make a decision and left with the information about a week later, I had another flu vaccination event I attended. I was helping families fill out paperwork and educating on what the vaccine does. I turned around and saw the Karen family sitting at the tables and filling out the forms. I walked up to them just talking, letting them know how glad I am to see them. I was also happy that they understand how important it is to get the flu vaccination. I went over to see the information with them again and sat there to make them feel comfortable knowing that this is a welcoming environment. In the end, the family received their flu shot, and I continued assisting families in getting their flu shots.

Contact Maile