HealthFinders Collaborative (HFC) began as a true grassroots collaborative of residents, associations and institutions from the local Northfield and Faribault communities. Beginning in 2002, community leaders came together to identify issues impacting the quality of life in the Latino community. The most critical issue was access to healthcare. From these discussions, community leaders began building a solid foundation of support with the goal of addressing healthcare access for the underinsured, uninsured and low income residents of Rice County.
In 2004, HealthFinders obtained 501 (c) (3) status and preliminary fundraising began. In 2005, Little Prairie Church in Dundas remodeled their lower level for Healthfinders’ first clinic. Collaborations with local hospitals and clinics were also negotiated to include in-kind diagnostic and laboratory services. Local pharmacies agreed to fill prescriptions at cost and HealthFinders Medication Assistance Program (MAP) began. In the first year of existence, HealthFinders hired a director and with the help of volunteer receptionists, interpreters, and medical providers saw over 178 patients. Due to the increase in chronic disease in the patients, HealthFinders initiated its Diabetes Program.
Throughout the next few years, HealthFinders continued to grow. Filling the gaps of the healthcare system, it implemented a Pura Vida Healthy Lifestyles program, hired a clinic coordinator, a nurse practitioner (NP) and received the first of its significant grants from Healthier MN Community Clinic Fund.
In 2010, now current Executive Director, Charlie Mandile came onboard. Shortly thereafter, a development and communications coordinator, and then nurse practitioner (NP) was hired. Mandile began to strategically place HealthFinders into the strong and vibrant non-profit it is today. His endeavors included the development of its mission, values and visions, the implementation of Electronic Medical Records, as well as expanding and strengthening the Diabetes Program. During this time, the volunteers grew by over 10% and HealthFinders saw increased growth of patient visits to the Dundas clinic.
Because of increased demand in Dundas, HealthFinders needed to expand its clinic services. In 2012, the Faribault Clinic on Central Avenue opened. Since the inception of the Faribault clinic, HealthFinders has not only seen exponential growth in patient visits, but increased its capacity to serve by expanding its staff and creating programs in advocacy, community engagement and care coordination.
In 2014, with the help of a grant by Delta Dental and strong community support from volunteer dentists, HealthFinders hired a dental coordinator and established its first dental practice. In one year, HealthFinders’ dental practice assisted over 498 patients with dental care and the need for dental services has been on the increase.
In 2015 HealthFinders has also received national recognition for its model of healthcare with a 3 year HealthRise Grant, from Medtronic Foundation. The HealthRise Grant aims to improve the health of underserved populations living with cardiovascular disease and/or diabetes by uniting a coordinated care program that goes beyond the clinic and into the community. The program connects patients with a broad variety of community wellness resources as well as community health workers. HealthFinders will partner with Mayo Health System, Northfield Hospital and Clinics, District One Hospital, and Allina Health Clinics.
2016 will again bring more changes and growth to HealthFinders with expansion of clinic space and the addition of a second dental chair in Faribault. The Dundas clinic has served HealthFinders over many years but as HealthFinders’ outreach expands into community schools and other locations, HealthFinders is closing the Dundas clinic site and expanding its clinic services in Northfield.