Two Community Health Center Leaders Selected for Health Fellowship

December 12, 2019

With the help of various partner organizations and stakeholders, the Iowa Primary Care Association is devoted to improving Iowans’ health across the state. These partner organizations focus their efforts on serving particular populations, conditions, or social determinants of health like unemployment and housing. One such organization, the Mid-Iowa Health Foundation, is focused on children’s health and social conditions in the Greater Des Moines area. Recently, Mid-Iowa Health Foundation announced Nathan Simpson, Director of Operations from Primary Health Care, and Daniel Hoffman-Zinnel, Chief Executive Officer of Proteus, Inc., as Fellows for their HealthConnect Fellowship to improve a specific issue around children’s health.

Nathan chose to focus his project on integrating community health workers in school-based settings, which act as a natural hub to reach children and families. Community health workers are locally based professionals who work to improve their community’s access to primary health care, like the care that community health centers provide. Unfortunately, referrals and education about primary care services are not reimbursed by Iowa’s Medicaid system. Without payment, community health workers cannot follow-up with patients effectively, and it limits their ability to work in the first place. Nathan wants to secure funding and change policy to ensure community health workers are paid for their important work in promoting health. He wants to see this model expanded throughout Des Moines and in other school-based settings where a community health worker’s services are needed.

Daniel’s focus during his time in the HealthConnect Fellowship is also related to schools, but focuses on coordinating care for farmworker families. Proteus provides a range of services to ensure that Iowa farmworkers and their families receive the care and social services they need when in Iowa and after they return home once their work for the season is complete. Maintaining access to care and needed services is vital to preventing illness and helping families thrive. Through the Fellowship, Daniel hopes to establish and maintain a system for community health workers to support the migrant farmworker population in Iowa. He and the staff at Proteus are exploring partnerships and venues for this community health worker to reach this population all across the state.

The HealthConnect Fellowship runs for two years, so Nathan and Daniel’s projects are just beginning. We can’t wait to see what comes of their important work!