Hmong and Hispanic Communication Network Meet the Team

Meet the H2N Team: Sarah Beversdorf

Sarah Beversdorf
Manager, Community Benefit and Community Health Improvement
Aspirus Health

Why did you get involved with H2N? 
I got involved in H2N when I was at Ascension during the very first COVID spring/summer. There was a grant opportunity from the Medical College. I reached out to a few colleagues from other health care systems about the grant. They were already working with other community partners in Marathon County. That group is what would become H2N.

What changes have you seen in the type of work H2N does since joining?  
H2N started as COVID-only-focused. The beauty of H2N is that it has strategically and effectively maintained the COVID focus while also elevating other important issues related to individuals who are Hmong or Hispanic in central Wisconsin. I am really impressed with how everyone involved in H2N has balanced those efforts.

What is the most rewarding part of working with H2N? What is the most challenging part? 
H2N was a bright spot of focused equity efforts during the awful COVID times. The ‘reward’ was both personal and professional. Personally, H2N helped me maintain a positive spirit and also grow in my understanding of equity. Professionally, it was heartening to see the positive impact H2N was having in communities – both in the short term (e.g., vaccinations) and the long term (building capacity and relationships and trust). As the work continues, I am hopeful that Aspirus can leverage/encourage/support more resources (funding as well as system changes) for H2N and the individuals it reaches.

What persistent obstacles have you noticed during your work with H2N? 
The H2N leadership does a great job keeping everything moving and keeping the funding going. It is helpful that there is some longer-term funding. Early on, the small amount and short-term nature of the funding was a challenge. It has sometimes been a challenge for me individually to track and understand who is who on the overall team, but eventually I catch up. As I mentioned earlier, I am hopeful Aspirus can bring more to the table as we move forward.

If you are still considering a career path, has the work you’ve done with H2N impacted what you want to do in the future?  
I am well-into my career path. Having said that, H2N had increased my attention to and advocacy around addressing issues that impact individuals who speak languages other than English and are originally from countries or communities that are not the U.S. I will continue that attention and advocacy through the rest of my career.

What role do you see for organizations like H2N in the future of public health in this country? 
H2N is powerful in that it is nimble and trusted. It is nimble because it reaches people where they are, hires who is needed and has an adaptive but strong ‘backbone’ of leaders. It is trusted because it hires / contracts with individuals who are Hispanic or Hmong, who are effective in their listening, outreach and advocacy. The sustainability challenge is finding long-term funding in the midst of an ineffective reimbursement system for services and a divided political environment.

Acknowledging that COVID has been terrible, H2N has been a positive, effective force in addressing long-under-addressed issues in central Wisconsin. I am grateful to be a small part of the solution with such an amazing, dedicated and strong group of people.