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In the Field: National Rural Health Association’s 2016 Rural Health Equity Conference

Amy Parker Shanafelt at NRHA

This week, Migrant Clinicians Network’s Ileana Ponce-Gonzalez, MD, MPCH, CNC, Senior Advisor for Scientific and Strategic Planning and Ricardo Garay, Health Network Manager headed to Minneapolis for the intensive one-day 2016 Rural Health Equity Conference, hosted by the National Rural Health Association.

In the late morning, Carlos Castañeda presented on “Achieving Health Equity for Rural LGBTQ People,” based on his work as  Adelante Healthcare Special Populations programs coordinator, in Arizona.  Ricardo followed up the talk with a presentation on Health Network as an effective tool for maintaining continuity of care and helping create a Patient Centered Medical Home for different populations. Combining the challenges that LGBTQ and migrant patients face provided an excellent opportunity to showcase the potential partnerships and collaborations that could exist across organizations. 

“It continues to amaze me how receptive people are once they recognize the benefits of working with Health Network. When clinicians find out that there is no cost to enroll, the ease of enrollments, the fact that outcome reports are sent to enrolling clinics, the diversity of chronic conditions that are managed, and the alignment with the patient centered medical home, there is an instant connection,” Ricardo noted. “Working with Health Network then becomes an additional tool for their migrant populations, not an additional task. Having patients enrolled can actual help clinicians shaved work by eliminating redundancies and promoting patient participation.”  There were engaging questions based on particular anecdotes, and very interesting scenarios that motivated great discussion. Both presenters feel like they will continue to provide additional support to staff members that were not able to make to the conference.

In the afternoon, Ileana joined Laura Flores Cantrell, JD, Washington Dental Service Foundation (WDSF) senior program officer to speak about Oral Health Training for Community Health Workers (CHWs), a culturally proficient education program developed by MCN and WDSF, to engage CHWs to address oral health in underserved communities. The training, which was piloted in Washington State last year, aimed to increase general oral health knowledge and improve home habits and prevention skills, identify dental resources in the area within the context of social, cultural, economic, structural, and geographic factors that affect oral health.

“If we would like to support CHWs with the instruments and tools to be successful in their roles, we should support their needs,” Ileana said. This section was based on our first-of-its-kind Principles of Public Health for CHWs/promotores webinar series, a pilot education project in Spanish to respond to the needs expressed by the community of promotores/CHWs, and to deliver basic knowledge and information on public health and the important role play community champions in this area.

The popularity of the series led MCN to continue its CHW offerings in Spanish this year -- see our Upcoming Webinars page.


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