From the Director's Desk

March 2, 2023
Hi explorer
Greetings from SWCAHEC!

I continue to be so grateful to live and work in Southwestern Colorado. Our natural beauty is matched by the kindness and generosity of everyone we work with to improve the health of community members throughout our region!

SWCAHEC continues to strive to create a high quality, culturally diverse healthcare workforce and to support practicing healthcare providers with the training necessary to provide competent care to tribal, rural and underserved communities. We increase the diversity of the healthcare workforce by providing programs that include cultural knowledge about health and healing, that celebrate community resilience and that inspire diverse community members to purse health careers.

Our current Initiatives include a Community Health Worker Certificate, a post-COVID Public Health Workforce Support Initiative, an Indigenous Wellbriety Program and developing Native American Health Professions Pipeline Programs including a Native American Nursing Support Program. Education for healthcare providers focuses on conversations about health equity, inclusion in healthcare and skills-specific trainings related to primary care in rural and tribal communities.

We appreciate our local health workforce! Please let us know how we can support you now and in the future.

Kate Hartzell
Executive Director, SWCAHEC

Exciting News! What's Happening at SWCAHEC!

Our Native American Nursing Pipeline Program is well under way!

SWCAHEC has received funding from the Telligen Community Initiative (TCI) to create a Native American Nursing Pipeline. This project combines education and training around indigenous health models, resources for Native American students about nursing programs and scholarships and mentorship from native nurses who have generously shared their experiences in the profession. Activities have included a Native Alaskan Nursing Panel, a student interest group that has included movie showings and health-related certifications, and a developing set of trainings and resources related to nursing resilience. We are grateful for the support of TCI – their commitment to the development of a high quality and diverse workforce for Southwestern Colorado has inspired us to create innovative programing that will increase healthcare access for all community members.

The AHEC Scholars Program is proud to announce the acceptance of 13 students into Cohort 5. The students accepted into this program represent a mix of community health workers and public health disciplines. Through their hard work and dedication to their studies, these students have been chosen to join the esteemed AHEC Scholars Program.

The 143 students accepted into Cohort 5 of the AHEC Scholars Program are:
• Amberleigh Lorenzetti
• April Chavez
• Gabriela Adilene Rosas Ordóñez
• Gabriela Meraz-Fishbein
• Jessica Sanchez
• Kylie Cayedito
• Luis Ramirez
• Lynelle Slim
• Sunflower Huskie
• Tehani Waahila
• Trejan Clichee
• Tyra Johnson
• Wacey Begay

The AHEC Scholars Program is a program for health professions students interested in supplementing their education by gaining additional knowledge and experience in rural and/or underserved urban settings. As an AHEC Scholar, the student, who is already invested in healthcare as a career, increases their knowledge of pertinent issues to apply to their future health professions workplace or community. While completing their own health professions training, AHEC Scholars participate in a 40-hour longitudinal curriculum created by COAHEC, as well as community training and activities provided uniquely by specific AHEC regional centers in Colorado. The purpose is to apply their AHEC Scholars training and knowledge in their future health care settings in urban and rural areas that are medically underserved.

IWP Honors First Nations Development Institute

We would like to thank First Nations Development Institute for the receipt of a grant in the amount of 45k. This grant will allow our IWP Indigenous Peer Recovery Coaches to continue to provide their services in the southwestern Colorado area as well as the Four Corners
region. Thank you for making a difference for our Indigenous focused Wellbriety support to our community. Ahe’hee! (Thank you).

Street Outreach with Sih’Hasin Street Medicine and building relationships
with our homeless relatives in Cortez
The IWP Team has also been doing Street Outreach with Sih’Hasin Street Medicine Team in Cortez since last year in September. IWP Peer Recovery Coaches, Frankie, Imo and Elton along with IWP Volunteer (also White Bison Peer Certified) Sammy, have been doing amazing work with connecting and building relationships with our homeless relatives in Cortez. Sometimes people experiencing homelessness just need to be heard and validated, whether they chose the lifestyle they are living or not. Our team has offered words of encouragement, resourceful information, speaking our Navajo language if they understand or speak it, sharing our lived experiences in substance use and/or homelessness and storytelling narratives.
The Indigenous Wellbriety community offers inclusivity, immersed in cultural awareness and respect for diversity for people in recovery from substance use and/or addiction.
IWP team has been holding two Talking Circles a week since January 2023.
Mending Wounded Hearts Talking Circles are held on Tuesdays at
the Cortez Cultural Center. LEARN MORE...

Quotes from Talking Circles and Medicine Wheel 12 Step Talking Circles Participants

“I am fighting for life, learning every day and working with others.
I am really understanding why I am here.
I’m finally grieving. I am facing it and standing through it all.”

“This circle is what we carry for our ancestors.”

“Talking Circles have a great comfortness where I can come and talk amongst peers.”

“I want to do a prayer for you, so you can be a new better person again”
Howard, Indigenous Peer Recovery Elder said to our Talking Circle participant.
Howard Yazzie Receives Red Cross HERO Award!
Our IWP Peer Recovery Elder, Howard Yazzie, has been named a Hero by Red Cross of Colorado. IWP’s Frankiana Tsosie, Indigenous Peer Recovery Coach, nominated Howard for all the amazing work he does with IWP and as an advocate for veterans across the Four Corners Region. He will be awarded and honored in Denver, CO on Saturday, March 18, 2022.
Howard has been with our program since May 2022 and we have been very blessed as well as honored to have Howard in our presence. Howard provides Native American cultural teachings from an elder’s perspective and utilizes the Wellbriety teachings from Medicine Wheel 12 Step and Warrior Down trainings through White Bison, Inc. Howard advocates for veteran’s rights on the Navajo Nation. He is also a Commander for the Toh’likaan (Sweet Water) Veteran’s Chapter in Sweetwater, Arizona. He is a motivational speaker for his peers as well as being a sounding board for our Native American community members.

Thank you Howard for being an inspiring leader and compassionate elder to our community. Ahe’hee!

What are Community Health Workers?

Community Health Workers (CHWs) are a community-based public health workforce. Given growing evidence of paraprofessional efficacy in reducing health disparities and the importance of cultural humility in serving diverse populations, CHWs are particularly effective in bridging cultural and linguistic gaps between patients and providers and delivering evidence-based, culturally-informed teaching. Research has shown that Community Health Workers (CHWs) enhance primary care access and quality by linking community members to primary care providers and that they carry out functions that are person-centered, support team-based care, enhance healthcare access, increase patient engagement, and positively impact patient experiences with the healthcare system. Community Health Workers have a long history in the region working with tribal communities as Community Health Representatives for both the IHS and tribal health systems.
The Project: SWCAHEC has received generous funding from a Centura Health Equity grant to create and pilot a Community Health Worker Certificate for Fort Lewis College. The project uses a Community Advisory Board, or CAB, to help create content and processes that reflect the cultures, health issues and health workforce needs of our region. CAB members worked with SWCAHEC staff throughout the Fall to pilot a Community Health Worker Fundamentals course which will be the capstone of the certificate. Currently, CHW CAB members are advising on the creation of the CHW practicum and helping to educate clinics, health systems, and health-related community organizations about the role of the Community Health Worker. Because of the valuable feedback of the CHW CAB, this certificate program reflects the cultural understandings of health, healing, and community of the Four Corners region. We look forward to supporting the work of area Community Health Workers and to helping to create a vibrant and committed community-based health workforce to serve our communities in Southwestern Colorado!

A big welcome to our new interns!

Indigenous food program connect K-12 students to health career!

Through Indigenous foods we explore the opportunity to connect K-12 students to a health career. We utilize cooking activities or a demonstration of Indigenous recipes plus a presentation to pair student understanding to a dietetics career. Through this, students become aware of other important roles in health professions, while sharing Indigenous cultural foods.
“I enjoyed how Chelsie incorporated traditional Indigenous foods and explained a bit about the importance of the items and shared how cost-efficient the entire meal was. I also think it was fitting how she related a career in nutrition in the cooking demo.
I would gladly help again!” – Jessica, Student Intern

Sign up for the Health Careers Institute. Limited Spaces Available!

Calling all Students!
10th, 11th, and 12th grade students from any of the eight Colorado counties: Archuleta, Dolores, Hinsdale, La Plata, Montezuma, Ouray, San Juan & San Miguel, and the Four Corners Region are invited to apply for the summer SWCAHEC Health Careers Institute.

Health Career Institute (HCI) is a free opportunity for high school students to explore a variety of health careers and learn more about the health-related issues that are relevant to the southwest Colorado. With registration now open, we are thrilled about the interests and the number of applications we have been receiving from students. We look forward to another successful year of enriching student health career interests with academic and experiential learning activities.
To learn about HCI and the 30-minute HCI informational sessions, contact chelsie[email protected]
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