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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.


After acquiring 501c3 status and preliminary fundraising and organizing, 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 a nurse practitioner 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 received national recognition for its model of health care with a three year HealthRise Grant from Medtronic Foundation. The HealthRise Grant aimed 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 partnered with Mayo Health System, Northfield Hospital and Clinics, District One Hospital, and Allina Health Clinics.


2016 again brought more changes and growth to HealthFinders with the 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.



HealthRise project produced measurable outcomes for chronic disease patients, lowering A1C and blood pressure, and reducing health inequities. HFC also published a study in collaboration with health systems that showed HFC prevented one persion per week from using the emergency room, one inpatient hospital admission per week, at each of the local hospitals. Combined this produced 16.5 ROI



HFC purchases and renovates a new facility; A significant expansion and after a lengthy planning process, HFC was able to do this with the support of the community and some initial major investments and gifts. While the pandemic paused this campaign, HFC was still able to expand to it's 9,000 sqft hub it inhabits today. Going from 2 dental chairs to 6 operatories, 2 medical rooms to 4, and adding a behavioral health suite, community kitchen, and garden, this was a milestone. Also this year, with the support of Medica Foundation, HFC also brought much-needed mental health services. 



After recently moving in to the new facility, HFC was thrust on responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and public health emergency. HFC was a trusted source of information, particularly for its non-English speaking community. Particularly at first this information was extremely difficult to access. HFC also launched a drive through testing and then vaccine effort, in collaboration with local health systems. HFC pivoted its operations to not only respond to the emergency, but to continue to provide for the ongoing needs of hundreds of patients in these challenging circumstances. 



Leadership from the Free Clinic of Steele County approached the HFC board looking to explore ways to deepen collaboration and cooperation between neighboring organizations. After an in-depth process with leadership, patients, communities and stakeholders, the two groups decided to merge, effectively expanding HFC's service area into Owatonna. HFC has been able to stand firmly on the shoulders of the FCSC volunteers and community, to continue building on their legacy and vision for the community, while bringing infrastructure and support for expanded local care. 



HFC was featured as part of a published article in Health Affairs (link) as a partner in a social determinants pilot with Allina Health. Together the organizations modeled unique community and health system collaboration, and effectively connected Allina Health patients with social determinants resources. 



With the successful licensure of its chemical health treatment services, HFC launches a comprehensive Behavioral Health program, uniting a growing mental health team with substance use treatment, making it a key pillar of our service offerings. 


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