The CHAD team made it to 46 sites during our great National Health Center Week road trip! We met so many amazing health center staff, distributed cheer and treats, and celebrated high-quality medical, dental, and behavioral health care in the Dakotas!

Driving across both states, we saw firsthand the impact health centers have on our communities. According to a 2020 study, health centers in North Dakota and South Dakota had a total annual economic impact on the states of nearly $184M. Having access to health care in our small towns is one of the things that keeps rural communities viable and makes those communities great places to live. In our urban areas, health centers provide care and services for diverse populations such as immigrants, refugees, and unhoused making them especially valuable for those who need ready access to health care services in light of COVID-19. Health centers also contribute to the success of our communities by providing quality jobs for nearly 1,000 people.

Check out the photo gallery on our website for more photos, but in the meantime, here are a few of our favorites!
CHCs in the News
Dr. Douglas Lehmann, provider at the Community Health Center of the Black Hills, was interviewed about the impact the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally may have on the community spread of COVID-19 in Western South Dakota.
Wade Erickson, CEO at Horizon Health Care, is quoted in the Kingsbury Journal about National Health Center Week and the importance of America’s health centers.
Mary Michaels discusses the "Good for All" food distribution program in Sioux Falls in partnership with Falls Community Health via Dakota News Now.
Horizon Health Care welcomed First Gentleman Bryon Noem to Howard for National Health Center Week.
Coal Country Advances Patient and Family Advisory Committees
Health centers strive to be patient-centered and to improve care continuously. In that spirit, Coal Country Community Health Center has helped create a new, interactive channel to understand better patients and their needs – a medical neighborhood Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC). Other medical neighborhood partners on the PFAC include the local critical access hospital, basic care facility, skilled nursing facility, hospice, and the ambulance. The idea initially grew out of the Patient & Family Medical Home (PCMH) requirements for formal patient input.

Coal Country now works with medical neighborhood partners to convene specific patient populations to formalize the patient input process. They started with the elderly population, engaging those with both negative and positive experiences with health care. Next, they convened families with young children to understand their specific needs, and most recently, they brought together a group of patients who have utilized behavioral health services.  

With each group, Coal Country and partners hosted a zoom session where patients and families shared feedback. After the initial session, the team meets and identifies resolution ideas to any concerns expressed. Later, they re-convene the same participants to share their plan and receive any additional feedback. In some cases, the changes requested by patients have been relatively small and simple to implement. It has also been an avenue to hear about what is going well – one patient, in particular, was so passionate about the quality care he received that he is interested in becoming more engaged in awareness efforts with the clinic. In total, the process of engaging with one particular population takes about three months.

In the future, the team at Coal Country envisions utilizing the social determinants of health data to convene patients around a specific barrier or need, such as transportation. Such a meeting could also include key community partners interested in helping to address that need. Kudos to Coal Country for truly valuing the expertise and experience of patients and families!

CHAD is Hiring!
The team at CHAD is growing. CHAD is committed to cultivating and preserving a culture of inclusion and connectedness. We grow and learn better together with a diverse team of employees. In recruiting for our team, we welcome the unique contributions that candidates can bring and strive to attract staff who will share our cornerstones of character: integrity, respect, reliability, collaboration, and innovation. See the careers page on the CHAD website for these and other open positions at health centers in the Dakotas.
The Delta Variant and COVID-19 Vaccine Boosters
COVID-19 cases are increasing exponentially across North Dakota and South Dakota. In both states, cases have increased more than 600% from June to August. The Delta variant (Delta) is more contagious than previous variants and is largely to blame for the rapidly increasing cases in the region and across the United States. The latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that Delta is responsible for 86% of cases in the US and 96% of cases in Region VIII, which includes North Dakota and South Dakota.

Vaccination remains the most important defense against COVID-19. Last week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized an additional dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccine for immunocompromised individuals. The CDC hosted a COCA webinar on Tuesday, August 17, to share information about additional mRNA COVID-19 vaccines for moderately to several immunocompromised people. Updated emergency use authorization (EUA) statements are now available for Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.

Health care providers are urged to identify patients who meet the criteria to receive a third dose of vaccine. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) defined moderately and severely immunocompromised individuals here. Still, it recognized that a patient’s care team could best assess the degree of altered immunocompetence and optimal timing for vaccination.

Patients should receive the same mRNA vaccine as the primary series, at least 28 days after their second dose. Immunocompromised individuals should be strongly encouraged to follow prevention measures.
At this time, a third dose of vaccine is only recommended for moderately or severely immunocompromised individuals who received an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna). The FDA and CDC are working to provide guidance for patients who received the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine. On Wednesday, public health and medical experts from the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a statement on the Administration’s plan for COVID-19 booster shots. Starting September 20, all Americans will be eligible for a booster shot eight months after an individual’s second dose, pending FDA approval and ACIP recommendations.

Health care providers are urged to begin thinking and planning for additional populations to receive booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Likewise, health care facilities are encouraged to ensure that they have adequate PPE and testing supplies on hand to address the increasing number of COVID-19 cases.

Federal Legislative Updates
Infrastructure Bill Update

After months of negotiations, the Senate passed the bipartisan traditional infrastructure bill (H.R. 3684), the INVEST in America Act, passed by a vote of 69-30 on August 10. The bill provides over $550 billion in new infrastructure spending over five years and now moves to the House. Speaker Pelosi is expected to wait to advance the infrastructure bill and partisan reconciliation bill at the same time when the House returns from recess on August 23. Over five years, the bill provides $383 billion for highways, transit programs, and broadband deployment formula grants to the states. Among other provisions, the bill:
  • Extends fiscal year (FY) 2021 enacted levels through FY2022 for federal-aid highway, transit, and safety programs;
  • Reauthorizes for FY2023-FY2026 several surface transportations programs, including the federal-aid highway program, transit programs, highway safety, motor carrier safety, and rail programs;
  • Addresses climate change, including strategies to reduce the climate change impacts of the surface transportation system and a vulnerability assessment to identify opportunities to enhance the resilience of the surface transportation system and ensure the efficient use of federal resources;
  • Revises the Buy America procurement requirements for highways, mass transit, and rail;
  • Establishes a Rebuild Rural Bridges Program to improve the safety and state of good repair of bridges in rural communities;
  • Implements new safety requirements across all transportation modes; and,
  • Directs the Department of Transportation (DOT) to establish a pilot program to demonstrate a national motor vehicle per-mile user fee to restore and maintain the long-term solvency of the Highway Trust Fund and achieve and maintain a state of good repair in the surface transportation system.
Spending Plan-Budget Resolution Approved by Senate

On Wednesday, August 11, after 14 hours of votes on amendments, the Senate passed the $3.5 trillion budget resolution, authorizing the relevant committees to begin drafting legislation meeting specified budget limits. The Senate Finance Committee is charged with drafting most of the health-related policies of the package by September 15. The measure directs committees to craft a bill that would spend up to $3.5 trillion on climate initiatives, paid leave, childcare, education, and health care. Read more on the social policy budget here. The items in the budget may include:
  • Extending the higher Affordable Care Act tax credits from the American Rescue Plan Act;
  • Adding Medicare dental, vision, and hearing benefits;
  • Fixing the Medicaid coverage gap;
  • Investing in home- and community-based care;
  • Lowering the Medicare age of eligibility;
  • Advancing health equity;
  • Letting Medicare negotiate drug prices; and,
  • expanding federal support for community health centers, Graduate Medical Education, Teaching Health Centers, the National Health Service Corps, and Nurse Corps. 
Community COVID-19 Vaccine Ambassadors Training
In partnership with the North Dakota Department of Health Office of Health Equity, CHAD is pleased to offer a free, virtual training to trusted community volunteers to serve as Community COVID-19 Vaccine Ambassadors. These ambassadors will help increase vaccine confidence and dispel myths within their local networks. This one-hour training will provide an overview of the facts of COVID-19 vaccination, how to address common misconceptions and tactics on how to discuss vaccination in general.  

The ideal volunteer community ambassador is someone with strong community ties who is willing to be trained on the facts of COVID-19 vaccination and has strong communication and listening skills. They are comfortable sharing information about the COVID-19 vaccine through whichever channels are most comfortable to them. For more information or to RSVP, please contact Shannon Bacon at CHAD.

Thursday, August 26
10:00 am CT/ 9:00 am MT
RSVP to by Wednesday, August 25.

National 2020 UDS Data Now Available
The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has updated its website with the latest Uniform Data System (UDS) data. It includes a five-year trend for patient demographics, services, clinical measures, and cost data. In addition to national data, state and health center-level data can also be viewed. UDS data includes demographic data such as numbers of patients and visits, age, race and ethnicity, and payor mix, as well as performance measures in clinical quality, finance, and operations.

In 2020, the number of patients receiving medical and mental health services increased while there was a decrease in the number of total patients. This decrease was expected when reviewing the COVID-19 weekly survey that health centers submitted to HRSA throughout the pandemic. The survey measured the percentage of visits in current weeks compared to pre-COVID visit numbers. Find more information here.  
Application Cycle Open for Student Leaders in Public Health Program
The applications for the first round of students in the 2021-2022 academic year are now being accepted through September 15. The Student Leaders in Public Health program was created to enhance the public health workforce in the Rocky Mountain region, specifically in rural and under-served communities and populations. It supports students conducting applied health projects and provides opportunities for mentoring and professional development. The Health Resources and Services Administration funds the program.

During the 2021 – 2022 academic year, the Rocky Mountain Public Health Training Center will award 27 students in higher education $3,500 in financial support to assist with public health field placements and faculty-student collaborative projects. Find the latest SLPH information and application link here.
2021 Immunize SD Conference: Getting Back on Track September 10
Register now for the 5th annual statewide Immunize South Dakota conference: Getting Back on Track. Held on September 10 in Sioux Falls, this in-person event will bring together health care professionals to network and learn the most recent vaccine news and developments.

This conference is intended to promote immunizations throughout South Dakota by supporting health care providers through education and community outreach resources. Session topics will include vaccine innovations, increasing vaccine confidence, addressing rates of adult and adolescent immunizations, combatting vaccine misinformation, and the most recent information on the COVID-19 vaccines. Attendees will also hear a state epidemiology update from the South Dakota Department of Health.

The conference will be from 7:00 am to 5:00 pm CT. The full agenda is available now at
CCHN/CHAMPS Health Equity Learning Series
The three-part Colorado Community Health Network (CCHN)/CHAMPS 2021 Health Equity Learning Series builds on the foundation from last year’s series and continues efforts in the journey towards a more equitable and just health system. Participants will come away from the series with a greater understanding of organizational and personal position in health equity and tangible strategies and tools to assist in moving forward.

Sessions in the series include:
It Starts with Us: The Journey of Dismantling Institutional Racism
Tuesday, August 31
1:00–2:15 pm CT/ 12:00–1:15 pm MT

Applying the Health Equity Lens: Serving Indigenous People
Tuesday, September 14
1:00–2:30 pm CT/ 12:00–1:30 pm MT

Applying the Health Equity Lens: Weight Bias in Health Care
Tuesday, September 28
1:00–2:30 pm CT/ 12:00–1:30 pm MT

Registration is open and free for participants from Region VIII health centers and Primary Care Associations. To learn more and register for each event in the series, visit the CHAMPS Upcoming Live Distance Learning Events web page.
NWRPCA/CHAMPS Fall Primary Care Conference October 24-26
Registration is now open for the Northwest Region Primary Care Association (NWRPCA)/CHAMPS 2021 Fall Primary Care Conference. This multi-day, multi-track conference will offer a variety of keynote plenaries, educational sessions, networking opportunities, exhibitors, and more designed to meet the needs of health center staff. The theme for this year’s conference is ReConnect: ReEnvisioning Community Health for 2022 & Beyond.

The conference will be held on Sunday, October 24 – Tuesday, October 26, in Seattle, WA and is currently planned to include both in-person and virtual options. To learn more and register, please visit the CHAMPS Annual Primary Care Conference webpage.

GP11 Network News
Be Alert: Microsoft Phishing Warning

Microsoft recently sent out an alert to Office 365 users and administrators regarding a sophisticated phishing scheme that is more difficult for spam filters to catch and could easily trick a user into clicking a dangerous link. Microsoft Security Intelligence released a statement saying, "An active phishing campaign is using a crafty combination of legitimate-looking original sender e-mail addresses, spoofed display sender addresses that contain the target usernames and domains, and display names that mimic legitimate services to try and slip through e-mail filters."

The e-mail can easily fool a user due to the convincing Microsoft logos, including a link that resembles a "file share" request. Additionally, the file share link could resemble a request for bonuses, staff reports, etc., which could trick a user. This is a good reminder for health centers to continuously educate staff on the importance of reviewing e-mail content before clicking any links. Some suggestions include looking for misspelled words, unknown domain names, suspicious URLs, unknown users, etc. If a suspicious e-mail makes it to your inbox, delete it immediately and follow your health center’s procedure for reporting a possible phishing e-mail.
Annual Health Link Fall Forum October 7

Join South Dakota Health Link for the seventh annual fall forum, Interoperability: 2021 and Beyond. This is an informative session about South Dakota’s Health Information Exchange, and attendees will gain an understanding of the tools and services they offer. The meeting is open to all Health Link members and non-members. Both virtual and in-person options are available. Register here.
ONC Information Blocking Webinar

Join the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) on September 14 for the first in a series of clinician-focused webinars on the information blocking regulation. Experts will explain how ONC supports secure, appropriate electronic health information sharing and how information sharing leads to more affordable and equitable care and improved care quality.

Tuesday, September 14
12:00 pm CT/ 11:00 am MT
Register here.

Wildfire Smoke and Patient Health
The US Environmental Protection Agency has a course available to help providers, nurses, asthma educators, and others better respond to health concerns caused or worsened by wildfire smoke. This course is intended to help health care providers understand the health effects of wildfire smoke and steps to advise patients to reduce exposure both before and during a wildfire. Take the online course here.
Webinars & Meetings
Find these and other events on the CHAD website.

Staffing Transformation Following PCMH Recognition among HRSA-Funded Health Centers

Register today for this webinar exploring how patient-centered medical home (PCMH) recognition at health centers has affected staffing capacity to deliver team-based integrated care. PCMH recognition aims to improve patient outcomes and has been promoted through the Health Center Program with training, TA, and funding support. The speaker will feature findings from a recent data analysis from the UDS and the HRSA accreditation and PCMH recognition initiatives to identify health center staffing infrastructure changes.

Thursday, August 26
12:00 pm CT/ 11:00 am MT

South Dakota Department of Health COVID-19 Update

The South Dakota Department of Health hosts a monthly COVID-19 webinar for health care facilities, medical providers, laboratorians, long-term care facilities, EMS providers, and other health professionals.

Thursday, September 9
11:00 am CT/ 10:00 am MT
For call-in information, please join the listserv here. Find archived calls and slides here.

Open Enrollment 9 (OE9) Beyond the Basics

Registration is now open for the OE9 Beyond the Basics webinar series. The nine-part webinar series covers everything enrollment assisters need to know to help people get and keep their health coverage. All webinars will be recorded and available for viewing on the Beyond the Basics website.

Tuesdays and Thursdays between September 14 and October 14
12:00 pm CT/ 11:00 am MT
Register here.

2021 CHAD Conference

Registration is open for the 2021 CHAD Conference this fall in Rapid City, SD. Paired with the Great Plains Health Data Network summit, the 2021 CHAD Conference will feature speakers and panelists who will look at the history of the health center movement as a way to inform the current moment and look forward to the future’s potential. Participants will connect to the past through stories and learn how to use stories to continue to be community-driven, equity-oriented, and patient-centered organizations and how we can continue to live out the values of the health center movement in the current context. Tracks include workforce, leadership, health equity, clinical quality, and behavioral health. Visit our conference website for registration, schedule, and room details.

September 14 and 15
Register here.

CHAD Network Team Meetings

Friday, August 20 at 12:00 pm CT/ 11:00 am MT – Behavioral Health Work Group
Tuesday, August 24 at 3:00 pm CT/ 2:00 pm MT – CFO & Finance Manager Roundtable

Tuesday, August 31 at 1:00 pm CT/ 12:00 pm MT – Outreach & Enrollment Network Team Meeting
Thursday, September 2 at 12:00 pm CT/ 11:00 am MT – Clinical Quality Network Team
Thursday, September 9 at 9:30 am CT/ 8:30 am MT – Emergency Preparedness Network Team

This account is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $1,499,709.00 with 0 percent financed with non-governmental sources. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. Government. For more information, please visit

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