Empowering Our Communities While Practicing Social Distancing
Although COVID-19 has changed the landscape of America, the health and social needs of our Latino communities hasn’t changed. If anything, members of our communities need more access to health education and public benefits than ever before. We also care about the health of our employees, and have adopted partial or full remote work for the entirety of our workforce. Our programs are providing services over the phone and online to our community members. In times like these, it’s critical that we don’t lose sight of our mission – while still acknowledging that we must do our part to limit the spread of COVID-19. Our Texas office is open by appointment only, and only two participants may enter at a time and are required to wear masks. Social distancing measures are applied, as well as a strict sanitation regimen.
Navigators Help Enroll Residents in Health Insurance
Under our Connect and Care initiative, the Navigator program provides health insurance application assistance to residents of the U.S-Mexico border in Texas. Community Health Workers are trained and certified as Health Insurance Navigators, who then provide help to consumers as they look for health coverage options. Navigators provide free and unbiased information to anyone who requests assistance, and the assistance is designed for anyone seeking health coverage. Since 2017, MHP Salud has helped over three thousand individuals enroll in a Qualified Health Plan. The Navigator program helps uninsured and underinsured individuals understand their health coverage options and complete eligibility and enrollment forms in order to access insurance. The program is particuarly effective, as Community Health Workers can provide assistance in Spanish, understand the cultural barriers that may prevent one from being able to file a succesful application, and can effectively combat the spread of misinformation regarding health insurance.
In response to COVID-19, all of our Navigators are providing telephone support. If you live along the U.S.-Mexico border and are looking for assitance enrolling in health insurance, please call us at 956.968.3600 extension 1007.
Phone-Based Outreach Proves Effective During COVID-19
Any community-based program requires outreach in order to help get the word out about services and benefits that community members may be unaware of. Although we have halted any in-person outreach efforts, our Community Health Workers are calling community members and past program participants to make sure that they are supported. During these calls, our Community Health Workers let community members know what programs are available and help community members take the next steps to enrolling in those programs if they are interested.
Community members in Texas and Florida can also call into MHP Salud (956-246-4125 ext. 1007) to inquire about what local programs they may qualify for. Our Community Health Workers will then connect them directly to the program for assitance. This has been also been effective for referring community members to outside resources, giving critical information to people during a time of great need. Since 2017, MHP Salud has helped over seven thousand people both connect and apply to public benefits programs.
Continuing to Develop Resources and Providing Virtual Training
While we continue working for underserved communities, we are also providing support to other organizations and their community health workers. Most recently, we have published a resource on Community Health Workers and COVID-19. The resources explores how Community Health Workers are uniquely equipped to help their communities cope with COVID-19. This resource, like all other resources in our resource portfolio, is available for free download after creating an account on our website.
We are also continuing to offer virtual training sessions for organizations who employ Commmunity Health Workers. These virtual training sessions are fully interactive and cover the same breadth of materials as our in-person training sessions.
If you would like to learn more about how you can schedule a virtual training for your organization, please explore our CHW Training and Consulting services, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Adopting to New Methods to Support Program Participants
While we are doing our part to limit the spread of COVID-19, we are also developing tools to help our Community Health Workers carry out their work remotely. For instance, Community Health Workers with our Juntos Podemos initiative are providing health and nutrition education to families over phone and video. The program is one of many successful MHP Salud initiatives in the Rio Grande Valley. In fact, in 2019, families who enrolled in the program incorporated up to one third more fruits and vegetables in their diet, and increased their amount up daily physical activity by 40%. Positive health outcomes like this are part of the reason why we have served America’s Latino communities for over thirty-five years, and plan to continue doing so for many years to come.