SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Community health workers serve a vital role, especially in bringing care to rural New Mexico. Now, the state is highlighting their work with recognition and a conference.

“Community health workers are at the forefront of our efforts to alleviate health disparities and managing chronic diseases in public health,” New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) Secretary Patrick Allen said in a press release. “In rural and frontier regions, they are often the first resource for residents to engage with when talking about their health concerns.”

Over two days, the New Mexico Statewide Community Health Workers Conference at the Santa Ana Star Casino Hotel will offer training opportunities, NMDOH says. That conference will be on October 16 through October 17.

New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has also recognized October as New Mexico Community Health Workers Month. The proclamation notes that community health workers act as “community connectors and navigators” within the healthcare system and “play an important role in reaching the most vulnerable areas of New Mexico.”