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April 26, 2022
Hi explorer

Director's Letter:
As the Executive Director of SWCAHEC, I have the honor to work with colleagues who are dedicated to the mission of our organization and who exemplify a commitment to health equity.
As we continue to focus on supporting the development of a diverse and high quality healthcare workforce, we recognize the power of the unique cultures and character of the Four Corners region. I hope that our programming is enriching the experiences of providers and supporting the exemplary patient care that we know exists throughout the region. This newsletter celebrates the work of SWCAHEC staff and interns. I hope that it will serve as a reminder that we are here for you- for our healthcare providers, for those whose professional lives increase the wellness of all who live here, and for the community members who teach us so much about health every day.

Kate Hartzell
Executive Director, SWCAHEC
Thank you Heather! You will be Missed!
SWCAHEC would like to thank Heather Sorensen for her incredible dedication to the healthcare students and healthcare providers of our region. Heather generously shared her knowledge of nursing and public health with students, acting as a mentor and role model for many during her time at SWCAHEC. Heather’s dedication to the role of nurses in public and community health enriched the education and training of the organization and inspired those around her to more fully understand clinical/community linkages and the importance of integrated, comprehensive care. Thank you, Heather!
Staff Highlights and What We are Working on Here at SWCAHEC
Imo Succo
MSW, Regional Health Connector
Imo assist healthcare agencies in accessing training programs, educational materials, and sharing grant information that fills the needs in gaps of services in southwestern Colorado. She actively networks within the community while creating linkages for healthcare and community resource programs to support capacity building and agency relationships.

She was recently interviewed in the “Story of RHC Impact” by the Trailhead Institute.

Here is a brief highlight:
What is the Behavioral Health Recovery Act (BHRA) project?
The Behavioral Health Recovery Act (BHRA) project seeks to educate healthcare providers about Native American cultural perspectives, including how historical trauma can affect mental health. The project will also focus on bringing an Indigenous perspective and expanding programming to Southwest Native American communities who are seeking or are in recovery from substance use utilizing the Wellbriety curriculum created by White Bison, a Native American-operated 501(c)3 non-profit providing culturally-based healing to Indigenous People. As shared in their own words, White Bison’s mission for the Wellbriety Movement is to provide “culturally-based healing for the next seven generations of Indigenous People” and provide a holistic framework and education around sobriety, recovery, cultural identity and more. The emphasis of the Wellbriety Movement and its affiliated programs, such as White Bison’s Warrior Down/Recovery Coach model, includes peer-to-peer support and resource sharing among Native Americans which are services Indigenous communities are currently not receiving from predominantly white institutionalized settings.


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    Southwestern Colorado AHEC's Indigenous Wellbriety Series presented by Imo Succo
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    Employee Interviews:
    How does your current work support the SWCAHEC mission?
    Chelsie BeGoody
    Community Programs Associate
    My SWCAHEC work has allowed me to expand on the field of Nutrition, by offering education trainings around food insecurity specifically with AI/AN populations, while exploring Indigenous food knowledge and applying it to useful resources that connect food and health. All this work is promoting diversity in the health workforce because it builds upon that connection piece- students may feel more influenced and inclined to enter a field that is relatable and addresses the communities they come from.
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    Tilton Dennison
    Healthcare Pipeline Associate
    My main focus as a SWCAHEC Health Pipelines Associate is on improving education and success for Native American students. I am advocating for native students and supporting programming that exists to celebrate them. I know what it feels like to struggle in high school and to feel like I am being overlooked. My position at SWCAHEC allows me to give Native American students a chance to seen and heard through opportunities that recognize their unique strengths.


    Ashley Strader
    Ashley will graduate with her bachelor’s degree in Exercise Physiology from Fort Lewis College on May 14, 2022. Her goal is to become a physician assistant, so she has been spending time shadowing at Animas Surgical Hospital to learn more about the clinical role of the physician assistant. She plans return to Albuquerque to continue to acquire the clinical hours required to apply for physician assistant programs. She is hoping to attend University of New Mexico. Congratulations Ashley!
    Jenna Pearce
    Jenna graduated with her Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Physiology from FLC December of 2020. Her next goal was to complete her bachelor’s degree in nursing and she started the accelerated BSN nursing at Colorado State University Pueblo in May of 2021. She continued as an AHEC Scholar, completing the program in early 2022. Her expected graduation date from CSU-Pueblo is Fall 2022. Congratulations Jenna!
    Arron Fuentes
    Arron will graduate with her ADN from PCC SW on May 14, 2022 and with her BSN from Metropolitan State University of Denver in December of 2022. She will be relocating to Texas and already has a nursing position lined up in acute care neurology. As a former US Marine, Arron’s goal is to go into psychiatric nursing and work with veterans in behavioral health and suicide prevention. She says, “22 veterans die by suicide every day and that is where I want to make an impact as a nurse.” Congratulations Arron!
    Danielle Beamer
    Danielle will graduate with her master’s degree in Social Work from WNMU in May 2022. She also currently works as the Career Advisor with Durango Adult Education. She is now preparing for her national exam and plans to open a private practice here in Southwestern Colorado as a social worker specializing in experiences of trauma related to outdoor pursuits. Congratulations Danielle!

    Excited to Announce Our Summer Interns!

    My name is Kendra Mahkewa, I am a Navajo from Pinon, Arizona. The focus of my internship project is to get different perspectives of how we can utilize cultural foods and other resources to help those that struggle with substance abuse.

    How do you see your internship with SWCAHEC benefiting your future endeavors?
    My overall goal is to build a recreation center within my hometown to help those who struggle with addiction or abuse, to give the youth/community members a chance to be more active and to have different resources that help benefit their own mental health. I want to create a “healthy community” as one. So which is why I want to start my own resource center based out of my hometown.
    Dyllon Mills joined SWCAHEC as a public health intern of Fort Lewis College in Durango and has been helping with the community health needs assessment project.
    The community health needs assessment addresses leading public and environmental health issues in the community.
    Dyllon has been focused on gathering background material for the community engagement process, collecting secondary data and reviewing the information in group discussions. He has learned about social determinants of health, county health indicators, and collected feedback from the community to identify a list of issues to consider based on assessment results.

    “I had valuable experience mining data from numerous databases," stated Mills. "Some explorations took hours for raw data extraction and the preparation of the visualizations, like graphs and charts. The hours paid off because the process provided an easier method to communicate health indicators to the public. This internship has provided me an opportunity to develop community engagement skills and identify areas of professional and academic improvements.”
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    "Public health is about impacting an individual, community, and life itself (animal and environment) for the better."
    - Reisha
    Reisha Lewis-Adams
    What is the focus of your internship project at SWCAHEC?
    My internship project is Covid-19 Vaccine Outreach Initiative and my job description is to understand the purpose and benefits of receiving the Covid-19 vaccines and to help others develop an understanding.
    This includes providing additional resources about the vaccine, where to access the vaccine, and to answer any questions to my educated ability about Covid-19 and the vaccines to Colorado Communities. I am also helping other SWCAHEC projects like the Indigenous High School Cooking Demo where a presentation of healthy indigenous foods is given to high school students.

    How do you see your internship at SWCAHEC positively impacting your future (career) goals?
    My personal focus for this internship to educate myself, develop skills, and become a health researcher and educator. In the future I would like to work in the healthcare field.
    This internship has helped me;
    • Become more knowledgeable about Covid-19 and the vaccines
    • Realize that interacting with citizens and patients is essential in healthcare work
    • Research, create materials, and present materials for vaccine outreach
    • Work with professional documentation to log, track, and record data collected from participants


    Native Food for Life Kick-off Presentation
    May 5th, 2022 from 12:00-1:15pm

    Indigenous Peer Recovery, Cortez Community Meeting

    Reconnecting with Indigenous Foods, Three part Micro-Webinar Series
    Apr 27, 2022 12:00pm, May 4, 2022 12:00pm, May 11, 2022 12:00pm

    Inspiring the Next Generation: Continuing the Conversation About Native American Student Success
    May Date TBD

    SWCAHEC 2022 Health Careers Institute
    June 7-10th Fort Lewis College, Durango, CO
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