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Many community health clinics are eager to sign up for the program because some of the work they do every day is very similar to what navigators will be doing. It’s not clear yet where all of the services will be located.
At the Open Door Health Center in Mankato, for example, which has received $92,000 in federal funding already, navigators will be assigned to the local community center, churches and libraries.
“Any time when you have someone in hand who is really well-versed, it will help people with their needs,” said Sarah Kruse, chief executive officer of Open Door, where 78 percent of patients are uninsured. Clinic officials said they plan to hire one full-time and one part-time navigator to reach some of the area’s most underserved communities.
Under the ACA rules, navigators are required to have existing relationships or be in a position to readily establish relationships with the uninsured in their communities.
“Applying for health care coverage is really personal. And you don’t want to talk to anyone, you want to talk to someone you feel comfortable with,” said Marie Ellis, public policy manager at Catholic Charities’ Office for Social Justice.
In the meantime, Abu will continue doing the work’s he’s already doing with clients who struggle with the complexities of health insurance.
“I’m excited to be a part of [the] world of health care now,” said Abu. “I love outreach.”
Ashley Griffin • 612-673-4652