NTC Faculty and Staff Host Rural Community Health Worker Conference

Northwest Technical College faculty and staff presented at the Rural Minnesota Community Health Worker Conference that took place at the Hampton Inn and Suites on Sept. 28.

The daylong conference was intended for employers and potential employers of community health workers, as well as to provide community health workers with opportunities to network with colleagues and learn strategies for advocating for their own roles in the health care system, at work, and in their communities.

Director of Nursing and Health Sciences, Michele Brielmaier, presented the welcome and announcements, NTC faculty, Alicia Carley, presented “Linking Community Health Workers to Gerontology” and Wendy Potratz, adjunct professor in the NTC Community Health Worker program closed the conference with an overall discussion and evaluation of the day’s events.

The objective of the conference was to create awareness of the impact of community health workers on health, third-party billing, sustainability efforts and community collaboration opportunities. The conference also discussed current policies that affect the work of community health workers.

“There is significant evidence that community health workers make a difference in addressing the social determents of health,” Potratz said. “Efforts are being made in the state of Minnesota to improve legislation to expand the use of community health workers in various health and social settings.”

An important takeaway from the conference is that the use of community health workers to reduce health disparities across all populations is growing in Minnesota, as well as nationally.

The conference was made possible by support from the Minnesota Department of Health, Sanford Health and the Northern Dental Access Center.


  • Alicia Carley, Northwest Technical College; Kathryn Gonzalez, Northwoods Caregivers; and Georgia Lane, Arrowhead Area Agency on Aging, “Linking CHWs to Gerontology”
  • Sara Citrine and Sara Brubaker, Kiesler Wellness Center, “CHWs in Mental Health”
  • William Dicks, M.D. (Sanford Health), “The Benefits of a CHW: A Physician’s Perspective”
  • Megan Ellingson, CHW Solutions, and Melissa Baily, Dakota County Public Health, Panel, “Billing for CHW Services”
  • Jody Lien, Otter Tail County Public Health; Connie Norman, Sanford Health; and Dai Vu, Minnesota Department of Health, “Becoming a CHW Internship Site”
  • Jeff Lindseth, Sanford Health, and Deb Hernandez, Rural AIDS Action Network, “CHWs Working in Addiction”
  • Joy Rivera, American Indian Cancer Foundation, “CHWs Partnering to Reach American Indians”
  • Will Wilson, Minnesota Department of Health, “CHW programs in Minnesota: Current Status and Opportunities”


Northwest Technical College, located in northern Minnesota’s lake district, is an open, inviting technological learning organization. For more than 40 years, the college has valued life-long learning and the worth and dignity of all people. The college serves 900 students with a high-quality education, an open-enrollment policy and affordable tuition. NTC offers nearly 60 degree, diploma and certificate programs in areas such as business, health, human and protective services and environmental and industrial technology. Classes are offered on the Bemidji campus, online, or as a combination of both. NTC is a member of the Minnesota State system of colleges and universities. For more, visit ntcmn.edu.



Carissa Menefee
Associate Director of Communications & Marketing (interim)

Bemidji State University
carissa.menefee@bemidjistate.edu // (218) 755-3344
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