State and National CHW Programs Respond to COVID-19

Essentia Health, Ely Clinic, Ely, MN
Heidi Favet, CHW Certificate Holder
Care Team Leader
Our work continues to focus on mental health and social determinants of health. (SDoH).  We had been working towards a community promotion of our services in May but accelerated that effort with a news release that was printed in area newspapers and sent to the radio station several weeks ago. We also sent and they printed the COVID-19 information page we have been providing to professionals and community members.  Next, we are discussing adding shelter in place and hygiene information to all our calls. Our CHWs switched to all phone contact (not billable) while working from home beginning in mid-March.
Intercultural Mutual Assistance Association (IMAA), Rochester, MN
Tara Nelson, CHW Certificate Holder
CHW Program Manager
This has been a time for CHWs to shine and show the adaptability and versatility of the work we do and how we do it.  We have made some very important changes and we are learning how to work through technology very quickly.  Each CHW takes their temperature twice daily to maintain health.
With the spread of this virus not yet at its peak, Mayo needed to discharge patients quickly to make room for expected incoming patient needs.  This also meant losing CHW landing spots in the hospital in Rochester, Kasson, Austin and Albert Lea.  My entire team is working remotely, and all members have been equipped with laptops and cell phones.  Each CHW is reaching out to all of our active referrals a few times a week to check in on them and try to quell fear, while also offering correct COVID-19 safety strategies and ensuring they have access to food, insurance, medicine, therapies, and more.  We started a database for all IMAA staff to track the contacts to our patients and other community individuals. In a 24-hour period, more than 120 clients were called.  These calls were made by staff who spoke the language needed.
As CHWs are calling the patients we serve, we ask a few questions, such as:
1.      How are you feeling today?
2.      Remind them to take their temperature 2 times per day.
3.      Is any member of your household feeling ill?
4.      Remind them that if anyone develops a fever of 100.4 or higher to call the nurse triage line.We then walk them through the language service access line.  If they need testing, we remind them of the sites that are open for this and tell them not to go to the ED unless they are very ill or if they are directed to do so from the nurse triage line.
5.      We ask them to set goals and encourage them to try and get a bit of fresh air in their own yards.
We have also partnered with another non-profit to reach some community individuals that are not current referrals to help with calling families that are identified in their programming.  Many of these individuals are not fluent English speakers and have some barriers to resources and understanding.
All of the CHWs are considered contractors with Mayo and have access to Mayo email and this is how we share pertinent information with our care team leads.
All meetings are held by videoconferencing through Teams and this has worked beautifully.  We check in daily and it is nice to see faces! 
In addition, we have two new CHWs coming on board Wednesday, April 1, so we still continue to grow!  We will complete all orientation through Teams.  MNsure calls are still coming in strong and we can handle all enrollments and applications through MNsure’s Assister Portal program as Certified Navigators.
Penn Center for CHWs, Philadephia, PA
Shreya Kangovi, MD, MS
Founding Executive Director
We are mobilizing our national network of IMPaCT community health workers to act as social first responders who will support patients with issues like unemployment, social isolation and food insecurity while also reinforcing public health messaging for COVID prevention. 
Penn is home to a national center of excellence that developed the IMPaCT CHW model which has been proven in clinical trials and replicated nationally. We have served over 10,000 Penn patients over the past decade.  During this time of crisis, we are working with organizations across 20 states to disseminate our offer of expanded social support by trained CHWs via tele-health.

A Note from the Board Chair

June 13, 2018

Dear Partners, Stakeholders, and Friends of the Minnesota Community Health Worker Alliance:

We are recently back from our statewide conference, “New Horizons in Community Health” attended by 200 of our colleagues from across Minnesota. The day-long conference brought us together for learning and networking, enabled us to recognize CHW leaders, and come together to envision the next stage of our work together.

I write to share organizational updates with you following our announcement in March of Joan Cleary’s retirement. We continue to move through a series of transitions as we position ourselves for the next exciting chapter for the Alliance. Moving through a leadership transition brings with it an opportunity for the organization to step back and assess where it has been and where it wishes to go. There have already been some early learnings and discoveries for us, most notably that it takes a team to manage the programmatic work as well as the organizational and structural work.

First, on behalf of the Board, I wish to thank Anne Ganey, MPH who initially stepped into the role of Executive Director. Anne is a vital member of our team and we greatly value all that she brings to carrying out our mission. Anne is moving into the role of subject matter expert and consultant. In addition, Joan Cleary remains with the Alliance as a senior advisor and continues to assist with specific projects. As noted in our March announcement, LaTanya Black, a CHW Certificate holder with experience as a CHW, CHW supervisor, and small business owner, will continue to serve in an outreach and advocacy role. We are grateful to Anne, Joan, and LaTanya for their vast wealth of expertise and deep knowledge.

Further, we have hired an interim management firm, Strategic Consulting & Coaching (www.strategic-, to provide executive leadership and support and strengthening our bandwidth to work on critical programmatic issues. Renae Oswald Anderson is serving as our interim executive director and is supported by Strategic Consulting & Coaching’s team of highly experienced professionals.

As we move through this time of transition, we have identified three primary areas of focus for the Alliance:

  • Education and training for CHWs and those organizations that employ CHWs
  • Advancing the field
  • Continuing policy support in the areas of health access and equity, workforce diversity, and the Triple Aim through federal, state, local, and institutional policy change

On behalf of our Board, thank you for all you do in support of the MN Community Health Worker Alliance. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.


Cathy Weik, Chair
Board of Directors
Minnesota Community Health Worker Alliance

Health Care Home Issue Brief

In a first-ever study of HCH team composition, the Minnesota Community Health Worker Alliance and University of Minnesota joined in a community-university research partnership to identify barriers and facilitators to CHW integration. This research fills a gap in understanding drivers of HCH team structure and composition. In view of Minnesota’s head-start in primary care transformation based on 2008 health reform legislation, lessons learned from this state’s experience can help inform implementation of team-based models elsewhere in the U.S. Building on study findings and other key factors, recommended action steps offer pathways to bring the benefits of CHW integration to more HCH patients and teams.

Click here to view the brief.