Every day across Minnesota, CHWs help people access care and coverage, navigate our complicated health care system, and learn how to stay healthy and better manage chronic illness.

Learn more about how CHWs are making a difference in the following profiles!

Q Health Connections

City/Location: Twin Cities

Program/Agency: Southside Community Health Services

Year working with CHWs: 8 years

Number of CHWs on staff: 8

Population: Underserved and vulnerable communities in the Twin Cities metro area

Why did you decide to hire CHWs and how did you get started?

Q Health Connections was an early placement site for graduates from Summit Academy’s Community Health Worker (CHW) certificate program. We serve as a pipeline to bring young people into the workforce and expose them to additional health careers (through other Southside Community Health Services programs).

What roles do CHWs play in your organization?

CHWs are instrumental in serving as a bridge between the community and medical organizations and resources. They continually listen to the needs of individuals and families in the community and respond with connections to resources. Additionally, CHWs work with our team and partners to start a movement to address any widespread or rapidly growing community needs.

How does the CHW role fit in with the rest of the Southside Community Health Services health team?

The CHW role is instrumental to the Southside Community Health Services Team. CHWs in our clinical locations provide MNsure assistance, health education, case management, and much more. Our outreach CHWs work closely with clinical staff to provide additional support in the field. Clinical CHWs will also come out into the community for outreach and often work closely with CHWs in the field. These team efforts contribute to our provision of culturally relevant preventive health education, health screenings, and disease management.

How has your work with CHWs changed over time?

The position has evolved over time, as Q Health Connections CHWs paved the road for CHWs in other programs at our organization. CHWs currently work with youth to prepare them for college, provide health education in barbershop, conduct health screenings with partners at “Q”mmunity Unit Events, and serve as MNsure Navigators.

How are your CHW positions funded? 

Funding is grant and sponsorship based. We are not currently billing for CHW services.

What would you say to encourage another organization to hire CHWs?

CHWs specialize in effectively communicating health message to others by creating a trusting environment and utilizing appropriate language for understanding. It may take time to further orient CHWs in the specialty of your organization, but this investment is well worth it. By investing in CHWs, you are investing in Public Health.

What would you tell policy makers to make it easier to hire and sustain CHW position in your organization?

We want to emphasize the ability of CHWs to create trusting environments to educate community members and clients. Their backgrounds, ability to relate to various cultures, and scope of practice allow them to uniquely supplement other professions to enhance the effectiveness of health education. In light of the Affordable Care Act, we would also like to highlight how effective CHWs can be as MNsure Navigators. Our CHWs have been extremely successful in educating the community about the Affordable Care Act and assisting them to gain the health insurance that is now available to them.

A CHW Success Story:

Mental health continues to be an important component of health that is often not talked about, especially amongst men. Our team of CHWs, as part of The Hue-MAN Partnership, has assisted with various events to provide safe places for conversations regarding mental health.

Q health connectoins

For more information contact:

Angie Gerlach, CHES

Outreach Administrator, Q Health Connections