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The service area of Northwest AHEC includes 20% of the Wisconsin land area: Ashland, Barron, Bayfield, Burnett, Douglas, Iron, Polk, Rusk, Sawyer, St. Croix, and Washburn counties. All eleven of the NW counties are designated as Mental Health HPSAs, ten contain Primary Care HPSAs, and eight are classed as Dental HPSAs. In all but one, the populations exceed the state average of persons aged 65+. Nine of the eleven counties top the state average for people living below the poverty level. Over the recent decade the city of Barron has been receiving a steady flow of Somali immigrants lured by jobs in the poultry industry; Somalis now comprise at least 12% of Barron’s population. In addition, the Northwest region is home to four Bands of the Lake Superior Chippewa—Bad River, Lac Courte Oreilles, Red Cliff, and St. Croix.
The Northwest region is served by three Community Health Centers (Superior, Minong/Hayward and Bayfield) with four service delivery sites. It also includes an additional two service delivery sites of the Family Health Center of Marshfield CHC, five rural health clinics and sixteen Critical Access Hospitals.
Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College, with campuses throughout the region, provides opportunities for students to study for RN, CNA and EMT certification, as well as other health technician professions. Native American students are served by the Lac Court Oreilles (LCO) Ojibwe Community College near Hayward, and there is a two-year UW college campus in Barron. Four-year degree granting institutions include one campus of the University of Wisconsin (UW-Superior) and Northland College in Ashland. The UW System has a BSN-completion program available via distance education. Health education programs are offered by the University of Minnesota-Duluth and a BA completion program for RNs is available from Duluth’s St. Scholastica College (Duluth, MN is adjacent to the city of Superior, WI in the northwest corner of the region.) Other than the University of Minnesota Medical School program in Duluth, there are no graduate health professions programs in the region. In partnership with the Marshfield Clinic, the UWSMPH is developing facilities in the heart of the region, in Rice Lake, as the first hub for the Wisconsin Academy of Rural Medicine students, who will begin rotations there in the fall of 2009.
Northern AHEC, Inc. serves as the fiscal agent for Northwest AHEC.