Community Health Worker
Before working at Essentia Health, I was working full-time at Northwood Children’s Services and going to school full-time. I was working towards my Bachelors in Social Work. I had found a job posting as a Community Health Worker at Essentia Health, and prior to this, I had no knowledge about what a Community Health Worker was or did. I did some research, then applied. I received a call that the job was mine, and I was so excited to take on this new role.
As a Community Health Worker at Essentia Health, I work closely with our IHP Population to help connect them to community resources. In March of 2019, we started a pilot program in three pediatric departments where a questionnaire was sent out with three questions regarding financial resource strain, transportation access, and food insecurities. When a patient screens positive for any one of these social determinants of health, I would follow up to connect them to a community partner Essentia Health is partnered with. A few months later due to the success of the pilot, this questionnaire is now sent out to all patients with a primary care visit. Since COVID-19 surfaced, Essentia Health has identified over 40,000 patients who are considered to be at high risk of contracting the virus. I have also been working with these patients to ensure their needs are being met.
This role and community health work is important to me because I feel that social determinants of health are often overlooked. For instance, I have worked with several patients who have to decide whether to pay for their monthly prescription of medication, or use that money to get groceries for their family. No person should have to make this kind of decision. We often don’t think about how lack of transportation is going to have an effect on someone’s overall health, or lack of healthy foods. I am so grateful to be a part of this work, and helping to connect our patients to the appropriate resources.