Kate Hartzell
Executive Director, SWCAHEC
August 31, 2020
Hi explorer

Director's Letter:
In a recent press conference given by the American Association of Medical Schools entitled Racism and Health: How and Where to Make Changes, a panel of experts discussed the relationship between racism, the staggering health inequities in communities of color emphasized by the
COVID-19 pandemic, and the need for diversity in the healthcare workforce. Panelists highlighted how the education and training of a diverse healthcare workforce can address access to high quality health care for underserved and minority communities.

At SWCAHEC, we are committed to help increase the diversity of the healthcare workforce in Southwestern Colorado by...
• Offering programs that create opportunities for community members from diverse backgrounds.

• Offering education that is inclusive and that honors an understanding of health as it relates to different racial and ethnic groups.

• And by encouraging our practicing healthcare providers in the region to mentor the next generation of diverse healthcare professionals.

We know that health professions' diversity and primary care access for underserved communities are inextricably linked. The facts below demonstrate how a more diverse workforce will benefit communities in our region.

Facts Supporting the Development of a
Diverse Healthcare Workforce

60 million Americans, including those living in Southwestern Colorado, live in primary care health professional shortage areas. Similar to our region, many rural and underserved communities are exploring ways to recruit primary care providers to address this shortage. According to one study, African American, Latino, and American Indian physicians are more likely to enter primary care and to work with underserved communities, minority patients, and lower-income patients with Medicaid or no insurance.
Research has also shown that “Racial and ethnic minority patients who have a choice are more likely to select health care professionals of their own racial and ethnic background and that they are generally more satisfied with their care and more likely to report higher quality care.” Healthcare professionals from diverse background increase healthcare access.
Racial and ethnic diversity among health professions students enhances the ease and increases the confidence with which non-minority medical students engage with diverse patient populations- growing more comfortable engaging with people of different backgrounds might encourage other non-minority students to serve underserved, Medicaid and uninsured patient populations.
By encountering and interacting with individuals from a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds during their training, health professionals are better able to serve the nation’s diverse society by having broadened perspectives of racial, ethnic, and cultural similarities and differences.

Please join us in our efforts to address regional health disparities by continuing to enhance our healthcare workforce. In so doing, we will increase the health and wellness of Southwestern Colorado.

Take Care and Stay Safe,

Kate Hartzell
Heather Sorensen, RN, MSN
Education Liaison

Heather manages the AHEC Scholars Program, housing for student clinical rotations, nursing, and clinical trainings (HIPAA and QMAP). Her background is in community health, social service, and public health nursing in both rural and urban settings.

We have highlighted a few of Heather's Successful Programs
AHEC Scholars Program

AHEC Scholars is a program for health professional students interested in supplementing their education by gaining additional knowledge and experience in rural and/or underserved urban settings.
AHEC Scholars - left to right: Jennifer Stucka Benally (Four Corners Rainbow Youth Center), Katie Gottlieb, Orion Zuni, Hannah McCormick, Haley Escheman, Kate Hartzell, Rexine Williams, Heather Sorensen.

AHEC Scholar Grads!

Congratulations to our AHEC Scholar grads and Summer grads!
We are so proud of you!

Rexine Williams

Rexine joined AHEC Scholars in 2018 from the Public Health Program at Fort Lewis College. Rexine was an active member of the scholars with a passion for public health and commitment to serving the rural and underserved populations in our region, specifically Native American populations. Rexine graduated from Fort Lewis College in May of 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Public Health. She joined Partners in Health as a volunteer to assist with COVID 19 contact tracing on the Navajo Nation and was immediately hired on as a full-time employee for the project in the role of Lead Trainer.

Katie Gottlieb

As a nursing student from Pueblo Community College in Mancos, Katie joined the AHEC Scholars in 2018. She was enrolled in the Associate nursing degree program at PCC and the University of Colorado’s Dual Enrollment Bachelor of Nursing Program. Katie was an active participant in the monthly collaborative meetings for the scholars and contributed a helpful nursing perspective. Katie graduated in May of 2020 from Pueblo Community College Southwest with an Associate Degree in Nursing while simultaneously completing her Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing from University of Colorado Denver. She was quickly hired by Yavapai Regional Medical Center in Prescott, Arizona as a nurse in their medical-surgical unit.

Orion Zuni

Orion also joined AHEC Scholars in 2018 from the Public Health Program at Fort Lewis College. Orion was an active member of the scholars even with his additional participation in the Native Research Ambassador Program through the American Indian Health Research and Education Alliance with the University of Kansas Medical Center. Orion graduated from Fort Lewis College in May of 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Public Health and a minor in Psychology. He is currently exploring career opportunities.

Haley Escheman

Haley joined the AHEC Scholars in 2018 from the Public Health Program at Fort Lewis College. Haley was initially interested in pharmacy when she was working as a pharmacy technician during college, but changed her career interest to epidemiology. She graduated in December 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Public Health from Fort Lewis College. Haley is currently applying to graduate schools to continue her education with a master’s degree in public health.
"I had the most amazing experience with AHEC and the Scholars program."
~ Chloe Chapman

Chloe Chapman

Chloe joined the AHEC Scholars program in 2020 from the Public Health Program at Fort Lewis College. Chloe was interested in joining the program to broaden her knowledge of healthcare in communities and apply that to her pursuit of nursing in the future. She graduated in May of 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Public Health. She is currently working to complete her CNA certification and is applying to nursing schools in the Denver Metro area.
"I am very grateful that there is a program like AHEC scholars that can help me grow to become a better health care provider. If someone has the ability to be apart of this program they should join and complete it, because it will really help with their future.”
~ Ann Nelson on the AHEC Scholars Project

Behavioral Health Trainings:

Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR Training)

Last Spring SWCAHEC offered virtual QPR Behavioral Health trainings with support from the Telligen Community Initiative. The goal of Question, Persuade, and Refer (Or QPR Trainings) is to teach participants to recognize the warning signs of a potential suicide, to increase knowledge of active listening and communication, and to increase knowledge of how to get help and actively refer. The training was designed to reach a general audience, and build on communication skills the participant already possesses. The training identified “clues” to a potential suicide, including direct and indirect verbal clues, behavioral clues, and situational clues. Suicide myths and facts were addressed. The trainer then reviewed techniques to Question, Persuade, and Refer, and through role play with a partner, demonstrated the behavior of QPR. Attendees participated in an online exercise, and practiced “asking the suicide question.” A variety of diverse participants completed the training including; Fort Lewis College IT Staff, University of Colorado Medical students, AXIS Healthcare employees, and healthcare providers from throughout Colorado.

Nurse FIT Testing an N95 Mask

Julia, a registered nurse and current nursing student from University of Colorado participated in community COVID 19 testing with San Juan Basin Public Health’s Medical Reserve Corps as part of her clinical practicum hours for her Population Health course. SWCAHEC facilitated her clinical practicum hours with Heather Sorensen, RN serving as their preceptor for the summer course. Julia recently graduated with her Associate Degree in Nursing from Pueblo Community College Southwest and is currently completing her Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing from CU.

Julia Hanson completing FIT testing for an N95 mask.

FIT testing tests the seal between the mask and the individual’s face. The test involves spraying a flavored oil into a hood placed over the head to detect taste or smell sensitivity.

Meet Our Interns

Fort Lewis College and SWCAHEC have teamed up to provide non-paid internships
for public health, health sciences, exercise science, and health
professions students searching for program practicum experiences.
Here are a few project highlights from our interns.

Mathew Treston

Mathew is a Public Health student at Fort Lewis College graduating in the Fall of 2020. His focus is in environmental and community public health issues.
Matthew Tresten worked on a project to introduce the science of Environmental Health to high school students interested in health-related careers. Matthew worked with both SWCAHEC and San Juan Basin Public Health and gained experience in both education and COVID-19 related public health initiatives.

Ann Nelson

Ann is a Senior at Fort Lewis College studying Public Health and minoring in Chemistry. She also plays NCAA D2 lacrosse and was listed as Honorable Mention All-Conference for defense (2018) as well as Honorable Mention Academic All-Conference (2019/2020). After graduating from FLC, she plans on attending an accelerated nursing program to become a registered nurse.
Ann Nelson worked on a presentation highlighting COVID-19 and co-morbidities to demonstrate the impact that chronic conditions can have on health outcomes. Her presentation entitled “COVID-19 and Obesity” is an informational slide show that will be used to teach high school pre-healthcare professions students about this emerging topic.

Thank you Mary! You will be missed!

SWCAHEC would like to thank Mary Dengler-Frey for her years of community work and her commitment to improving the health of Southwestern Colorado. As Regional Health Connector, Mary’s dedication to providing resources to community organizations and healthcare providers and her compassionate approach to serving others has been exemplary. As she moves on to new adventures, we wish her the best!

Opioid Education and Naloxone Trainings

SWCAHEC has provided Opioid Education and Naloxone trainings to the community with support from the Telligen Community Initiative. These trainings help save lives by educating health professionals and community members about the dangers of opioids, reducing the stigma around addiction, identifying the signs of an opioid overdose, and demonstrating the use of Naloxone to reverse the effects of an overdose. SWCAHEC distributed free Naloxone to training participants courtesy of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Participants from the multiple trainings included personnel from several Dolores County departments, including Public Health, the Sheriff and undersheriffs, Department of Social Services, Road and Bridge crews, PA’s from the Community Clinic, County Commissioners, administrative personnel, and Young People in Recovery representatives, and
Southern Ute tribal members.
The Care Coordination Collaborative, funded by a grant from the
Colorado Workforce Development Council, convenes to address issues related to care coordination in Southwestern Colorado.
SWCAHEC, in collaboration with San Juan Basin Department of Health, now offers a Care Coordination Collaborative webpage featuring a comprehensive Resource Guide for several counties in our region. This Collaborative will continue to meet to develop this resource list and to address the issue of education and training in care coordination.

SWCAHEC Continues to Host Health Professions Students Through the Host Home Program

Taylor Wand, Medical Student
This program matches students with host homes in order to enhance their student rotations at local healthcare facilities throughout Southwestern Colorado. Special relationships are often formed between hosts and their student guests; relationships that encourage students to come back to our region to practice as healthcare providers.
Tamra Lavengood and her husband Steve and both area healthcare providers who stepped in during the COVID-19 pandemic to help house a medical student rotating in Durango. The medical student, Taylor Wand, loved Durango and enjoyed both his time in his medical setting and his time in the beautiful mountains. The Lavengoods went above and beyond by giving Taylor a safe and comfortable place to live, they became his mentors, and encouraged him to follow his passions and pursue primary care practice in a rural area.
Tamra shared the following about their time with Taylor; “We are shaping our future generation of healthcare providers. Taylor had a passion to care for the “whole patient”, exactly what Comprehensive Primary Care is all about. We could see his passion and expressed to him that Family Physicians are so lucky, they become “part of their patient’s family”.
Patients want to have a provider who is invested in them and their family, who they can have a relationship with, and is someone who they can turn to and trust. Steve had several patient stories, and Taylor said: “that is what I want”. I hope he does follow his heart and go into Family Practice and we hope he comes back here!”

For more information about the Host Home Program, please contact [email protected]
SWCAHEC is developing an anatomy curriculum for area students and community members that includes a hands-on component using the Anatomy in Clay® program.
Anatomy in Clay® is a program that increases knowledge of human anatomy by using a hands-on approach to learning in which students build anatomical features on a model (or Maniken®).

Your donation of $576…

• Helps educate area students by showing them how to work with a three-dimensional perspective of the human body
• Gives your organization community recognition – a plaque will be placed on the Maniken® and on all supporting educational materials
• Supports and inspires aspiring healthcare professionals in Southwestern Colorado
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