It was such a joy to be with so many community health leaders from across the Dakotas last week when CHAD hosted Leadership by the Lake. It has been a full two years without a lot of time and opportunity to be together in person, so it was really nice to get away in a relaxing and fun setting to reconnect.

As with all our trainings, our aim was to connect the content to the ongoing work we are doing together. In this case, the theme of “community-engaged leadership” is built on the strategic objectives the board of directors set in 2021.

In the 2021 strategic planning meeting, the CHAD board recognized that the long-term viability of the health center movement in the Dakotas depends on our connectedness to our patients and communities. If our patients and communities love and value us, we can thrive in whatever political, economic, or epidemiological storm that comes our way.

On the afternoon of the first day of training, we used a “bright spots” or “appreciative inquiry” process to help identify ways health centers in the Dakotas are already engaging their communities. Then, we asked them to collectively consider what made those collaborations successful and how we could replicate them in more places.

I joined the conversation with Coal Country Community Health Center (CCCHC), in which they talked about a nine-year effort to engage their community through a community-based needs assessment. The assessment then gets translated into a health improvement plan implemented by a range of partners in their areas, including local public health, the health center, the hospital, the nursing home, and others. A few takeaways from that model have stuck with me:
  • When you ask the community what they need and want, and then you actually begin to respond to those needs – and in the case of CCCHC and their partners, that has meant building a new child care center and significantly expanding behavioral health services in the schools, among other things – you build trust with your community, and then even more folks engage with the needs assessment process over time.
  • When you ask the community what they want and need and then provide those things, you can build really successful programs that grow over time.
  • Collaboration across multiple community-based organizations can exponentially increase your impact.
  • Effective collaboration changes the conversation from one focused on competition for scarce resources to one that enables us to grow the services available to everyone, which helps us build toward equity at the community level.

As we move into the fall and plan for 2023, we look forward to building the theme of community-engaged leadership into supervisor trainings and trainings with patient-facing staff. We also look forward to building on our social determinants of health work – or utilizing patient needs assessment tools to understand what is needed at the individual and community level. And we will continue to focus on bright spots and how we can shine a light on things that are working well so they can grow and spread!

Health Centers in the News
CHAD CEO Shelly Ten Napel and Wade Erickson, CEO of Horizon Health Care, were interviewed about the impacts of Medicaid expansion on community health centers in South Dakota via the Grand Forks Herald.

Bernie Schmidt, co-chair of the Falls Community Health board of directors, spoke about what Medicaid expansion would mean to health center patients at a recent rally via Dakota News Now.

Family HealthCare welcomes Arden Beachy, MD, as chief medical officer via The Forum.

Horizon Health Care won this year’s Collaboration of The Year (COTY) award from the United Way via the Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan.

Scott Weatherill, chief information officer for Horizon Health Care, is quoted in this SD News Watch article on telemedicine in South Dakota.
CHAD Welcomes Twila Hansen as Administrative and Program Coordinator
Please join us as we welcome Twila Hansen to the CHAD team! Twila joined CHAD in August as the administrative and program coordinator. In this role, she assists staff in support of conferences, trainings, and meetings. She also maintains grant and program documents, data reporting, and the central electronic filing system.

Previously, Twila worked for Special Olympics South Dakota for 12 years as the office manager, benefits coordinator, and accountant. She performed all aspects of financial accounting, audits, budgets, board packets, centralized accounting, as well as bookings and contracts for the Unify Center, and everything in between.

Twila lives on an acreage outside of Dell Rapids with her husband, five of their eight children, seven horses, two dogs, and multiple barn cats. Her family is passionate about sports and is involved in 4H and high school rodeo. They stay active in the community and school by coaching baseball and participating in athletic boosters and PTO committees.
Amendment D Campaign to Expand Medicaid in South Dakota Rallies for Early Voting
South Dakotans Decide Healthcare, the campaign to expand Medicaid in South Dakota via Amendment D, rallied in Sioux Falls last Friday to celebrate the first day of early voting for the November election. For more information on voting absentee, click here. Bernie Schmidt, co-chair of the Falls Community Health board of directors, spoke about what Medicaid expansion would mean to health center patients.

Several more events are planned for the next two months, including film screenings and educational forums. CHAD CEO Shelly Ten Napel will speak at an Amendment D community forum at City Hall in Vermillion tonight, September 29, from 6:30 - 8:30 pm.

CHAD is also partnering with South Dakota Urban Indian Health, South Dakota Voices for Peace, and LEAD South Dakota for the film premiere of “Wicozani: Bridging Health Care Gaps” at the State Theatre on Monday, October 3. Wicozani [pronounced wee-cho’zah-nee] is the Lakota term for health. This short documentary, produced by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, illustrates the impacts these gaps have on our Indigenous and non-Native relatives. Register today to learn how expanding Medicaid will strengthen our circles and empower us all to live healthier lives. Find more information on Amendment D, election information, and campaign events on the CHAD website.

Important deadlines to remember for the 2022 election in South Dakota include:
Syphilis in the Dakotas
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), syphilis has been increasing nationally, with large outbreaks reported across the country, including the Dakotas. The preliminary data from the CDC released this month shows the steep escalation of an alarming national trend and comes as local health departments are still battling COVID-19 and the challenges of the monkeypox outbreak.

According to the North Dakota State Health Department, as of June 30, there have been 63 reported cases of syphilis for the year in North Dakota, with 33 percent occurring in May and June of 2022. Infections are spread widely across the state and occur in both men and women. The South Dakota Infectious Disease Summary of 2022 shows 929 cases of syphilis year to date, with a 2411 percent increase from the five-year median.

Syphilis is a bacterial infection usually spread by sexual contact. The disease starts as a painless sore and spreads from person to person via skin or mucous membrane contact with these sores. After the initial infection, the syphilis bacteria can remain inactive in the body for decades before becoming active again. Early syphilis can be cured, sometimes with a single injection of penicillin. Without treatment, syphilis can severely damage the heart, brain, or other organs and can be life-threatening. Syphilis can also be passed from mothers to unborn children.

With the increase in cases of syphilis in both North Dakota and South Dakota, state health departments are asking that providers obtain a complete sexual history of their patients and test for syphilis and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV, for all patients with high-risk sexual behaviors.

While STIs are increasing across many groups, the 2020 STI data show that some racial and ethnic minority groups, gay and bisexual men, and our nation’s youth continue to experience higher rates of STIs. This trend indicates that factors such as lack of access to regular medical care, discrimination, and stigma, continue to stand in the way of quality sexual health care for everyone who needs it.

Health centers, state health departments, and public health agencies can prioritize and regain lost ground against STIs that resulted from the shift of funding to COVID-19 during the pandemic. Providers and staff can create an environment where everyone can access high-quality STI prevention, care, and treatment – free from stigma and discrimination.

Indigenous Peoples’ Day: A Panel Discussion October 10
Join CHAD for a panelist discussion on Indigenous Peoples’ Day at 12:00 pm CT/ 11:00 am MT. Panelists will share reflections on the meaning of Indigenous Peoples’ Day and the importance of this day in our region. Panelists will describe the need for trauma-informed and culturally safe care as a strategy to improve health outcomes in Indigenous communities. One presenter will share her experience successfully implementing cultural adaptations to evidence-based trauma therapy models. All health center staff and partner organizations are welcome to attend. Register here.
Nutrition & Wellness Partnership Opportunities with
NDSU Extension

North Dakota State University (NDSU) Extension is the link between the public and the university, connecting university science to community issues by delivering tailored, innovative, and accessible education programs, resources, and partnerships. NDSU Extension comprises a network of county-based extension agents offering educational programs within its three program areas: 4-H youth development, agriculture and natural resources, and family and community wellness (FCW).

As the local face of extension, FCW agents offer educational programs in response to emerging needs within a community. Programs span ages from youth to older adults. Topics may include food, nutrition and health, healthy aging, leadership and civic engagement, parent and family education, and personal and family finance. Some programs occur once, and others are a series of sessions.

Within the FCW program are two federally-funded nutrition education programs that offer free classes to individuals with low income - the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) and Family Nutrition Program (FNP), also known as SNAP-Ed. Like FCW agents, EFNEP and FNP educators are embedded in the communities they serve and work with area partners to reach eligible audiences.

To explore how FCW agents can partner with your health center, reach out to your local extension office. You can learn how to refer patients to ongoing FCW-organized opportunities, and FCW staff can also work with local health centers to offer onsite programs to patients. To connect with a local extension office, click here. Select a county from the dropdown list to reach the county’s webpage. Each page should have a “contact us” section.
Application Cycle Now Open:
Student Leaders in Public Health Project

During the 2022-2023 academic year, the Rocky Mountain Public Health Training Center (RM-PHTC) will award 27 students in higher education $3,500 in financial support to assist with public health-focused field placements and faculty-student collaborative projects. This program aims to increase the supply and diversity of the public health workforce in the Rocky Mountain region, specifically in underserved communities and populations, by supporting students conducting applied public health projects and providing opportunities for mentoring and professional development.

Application deadlines are October 1 and December 15. For more information, join an information session held on Wednesdays in September at 1:00 pm CT/ 12:00 pm MT or visit the Student Leaders in Public Health website.
COVID-19 Updates
According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) latest variant estimates, Omicron BA.5 still accounts for 83 percent of the COVID-19 cases in the US, and Omicron BA.4.6 is the second most prevalent at 11.9 percent. The CDC continuously tracks new variants and recently discovered Omicron subvariant, BF.7. While this is only at 2.3 percent in the US, the CDC urges the public to stay up to date on COVID-19 vaccines for the best protection against Omicron.

Currently, people aged 12 years and older are recommended to receive one updated Pfizer or Moderna (bivalent) booster. This includes people who have received all primary series doses and people who have previously received one or more original (monovalent) boosters. At this time, people aged 12 years to 17 years can only receive the updated Pfizer bivalent booster. Moderna bivalent booster is available for people 18 years and older. Ordering of bivalent boosters is open for both North Dakota and South Dakota health centers.

Both Moderna and Pfizer plan to apply for an emergency use authorization (EUA) for their bivalent booster COVID-19 vaccines for use in children 5-11 years old. This vaccine may be available for use in the United States in early October. It is anticipated that the monovalent (original) COVID-19 vaccines will no longer be authorized as booster doses in children 5-11 years old after authorization of the bivalent product. Providers should counsel patients on the possibility of delaying their booster dose until the bivalent product is available.

Getting a COVID-19 vaccine after you recover from COVID-19 infection provides added protection against the virus. COVID-19 vaccine and booster recommendations may be updated as CDC continues to monitor the latest data.

Additional resources
GP11 Network News
Patient Engagement Request for Proposal Due October 13

The Community HealthCare Association of the Dakotas and the Great Plains Health Data Network (GPHDN) seek a patient engagement vendor. The RFP will assist the GPHDN in selecting the best online patient registration vendor. A secondary consideration is given to two-way texting and online scheduling features to support patient outreach and enhance patient interaction with their community health center care team. The best online registration vendor selected will meet the requirements of the GPHDN members, including patient communication features, operational features, health IT integration, value-based care, and administration features. RFPs will be accepted until October 13, at 5:00 pm CT/ 4:00 pm MT, and can be emailed to Becky Wahl. The full details of the RFP can be found here.
Multiple Marketing Toolkits Released for October
The CHAD marketing and communications team is releasing multiple social media toolkits for health centers to use in October and throughout the next few months. October is the awareness month for both breast cancer and substance use disorder. Health centers also celebrate Native American Day and Indigenous Peoples’ Day in October. And October is the beginning of flu shot season and prepping for open enrollment. To be included on the marketing toolkit distribution list, contact Kayla Hanson.
Webinars & Meetings
Find these and other events on the CHAD website.
Partnerships Through the Pandemic: Strategies for Promoting COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Uptake
Join HRSA for a town hall to support health centers in promoting partnerships within their communities as a key strategy to continuing to stop the spread of COVID-19. Expert panelists from HUD, the Administration for Community Living, and HRSA’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau and Health Systems Bureau will provide insights on how health centers and other federal grant recipients can find their local counterparts, connect, and collaborate. This session will highlight the ongoing need for COVID-19 vaccines and boosters and strategies to further protect our communities.

Tuesday, October 4
12:00 pm CT/ 11:00 am MT

Register here.
2 by 10: Improved Best Practices for Routine HPV Vaccination
Join Immunize South Dakota for a virtual training focusing on the importance of routinely recommending timely vaccination against preventable cancers caused by HPV. This training is intended for all health care team members who impact adolescents’ medical care, including medical providers, nurses, pharmacists, school nurses, community health workers, and others.

Friday, October 7
12:00 pm CT/ 11:00 am MT
Register here.
Person-Centered Communication in Health Care
Join CHAD for a virtual training series focusing on broadly relevant person-centered communication concepts and skills, offering participants an interactive, skill-based learning experience. The sessions will include best communication practices and draw connections between evidence-based and consumer-voice guidance. The series will consist of four 90-minute web-based trainings, and each session will feature a lived experience testimonial you can access after the training. After each session, CHAD will provide a copy of the lived experience testimonial and a discussion guide that participants can utilize to share person-centered communication concepts with additional colleagues.

Wednesdays: October 12 & 26, November 9
12:00 pm – 1:30 pm CT / 11:00 am – 12:30 pm MT
Register here.
SD Cancer Coalition Fall Meeting
Registration is now open for the 2022 SD Cancer Coalition (SDCC) fall meeting. Join the SDCC on Thursday, October 13, for an opportunity to learn, network, and get involved in SDCC efforts. The planning committee has pulled together an excellent agenda for the first in-person meeting since 2019. Participants will hear about partnership opportunities with the Community Health Worker Collaborative of South Dakota, new data dashboards and resources, the latest legislative updates, and engage with a panel of cancer center directors from across the state. Task forces will also convene to begin action planning for the upcoming year. Registration is free, and all members of the SDCC are encouraged to attend.

Thursday, October 13
10:00 am - 3:30 pm CT
Register here.
Using the Incident Command System at Health Centers
Presented by Americares, this one-hour training introduces the FEMA Incident Command System (ICS) and describes why it is an important organizational system when responding to an emergency incident. The webinar is geared towards health center staff to address a gap in knowledge as most ICS technical information for health care organizations is primarily focused on a hospital-level network. Participants will leave this session with a better understanding of the ICS and how they can incorporate it within their facility, even outside emergencies or localized community disasters. The intended audience for this presentation includes staff in emergency preparedness, operations, and communications.

Thursday, October 13
12:00 pm CT/ 11:00 am MT
Register here.
CHAD Network Team Meetings
Tuesday, October 4 at 12:00 pm CT/ 11:00 am MT – Behavioral Health Work Group
Thursday, October 6 at 12:00 pm CT/ 11:00 am MT – Clinical Quality Network Time
Monday, October 10 at 1:00 pm CT/ 12:00 pm MT – Operational Excellence/ Compliance Workgroup
Tuesday, October 11 at 2:00 pm CT/ 1:00 pm MT – Communications and Marketing Network Team
Tuesday, October 25 at 1:00 pm CT/ 12:00 pm MT – Outreach and Enrollment Network Team
Tuesday, October 25 at 2:00 pm CT/ 1:00 pm MT – CFO and Finance Manager Roundtable

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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