Older adults have been identified as a group that should receive vaccines as soon as possible. As has been widely reported in the media, the risk of death and severe illness from COVID-19 increases with age. In fact, older adults are more likely to experience severe illness from the disease, and roughly 8 out of every 10 COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. occur among this age group.
The first story is about Emilia's journey from CHW to Certified Nursing Assistant and the second about Vanessa's journey from CHW to Registered Nurse. The third story features Dante, who also became a Registered Nurse, but unlike Emilia and Vanessa, he did not start out as a CHW. This story is included to illustrate how the CHW profession builds skillsets that are desirable across industries.
Organizations throughout the years have depended on the social benefits of in-person outreach by Community Health Workers. Being out in the community and speaking directly to community members is an essential part of what CHWs do and is what makes CHW initiatives both unique and successful. COVID-19 has changed the landscape of how CHWs conduct outreach. As shelter in place orders went into effect, in-person meetings and outreach were immediately halted to prevent the spread of the virus. In order to continue serving their communities, CHWs in our initiatives had to quickly adapt to the circumstances to ensure that they could continue to provide the services so desperately needed in the areas they work and live in.
Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Workers (MSAWs) are often exposed to hazardous working conditions, long hours, extreme heat, and the physical demands of the work which can be tiresome. As more than 80% of MSAWs in the U.S. are Latino/Hispanic, MSAW communities are also more likely to experience certain chronic conditions that disproportionately impact Latino/Hispanic populations, like type II diabetes.
Elisa worked as a CHW at Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) for five years. In her role, Elisa went out into the community to visit families whose children had been diagnosed with asthma. The program was very successful in improving health outcomes for patients and as a result, the FQHC began looking to expand the program. The program director was hiring more CHWs and asked Elisa if she would like to become a trainer to guide the new hires. She accepted and started her role as a CHW trainer.
Hispanic Americans include a diverse group of cultures, each with their traditions and dietary lifestyles, making them more prone to Diabetes. Diabetes is most prevalent among the Latino/Hispanic communities due to poor general health. Poor general health can be associated with the individual's cultural values, level of education, social support systems, and sedentary behaviors. “Over their lifetime, U.S. adults have a 40 percent chance of developing type 2 diabetes,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states. “But if you’re a Hispanic/Latino American adult, your chance is more than 50 percent, and you’re likely to develop it at a younger age.”