Providence adds first community health workers by sdmn
In March 2021, Providence incorporated the first health workers in Alaska to assist in the delivery of health and social services to ethnic communities.
Providence health workers receive frequent training to provide truthful and safe information to the communities they assist, always following CDC safety measures on diseases and their prevention. Their goal is to reach more people, using a less formal approach so that patients feel comfortable and are able to talk about their concerns with more confidence.
On some occasions, they accompany the doctor on medical visits. This allows them to understand the patient’s situation and needs, and what the doctor asks of them. Afterwards the health workers continue to make visits to meet patients in their homes, where the patients are most comfortable talking about their health. Providence employees are guided by the Hospital’s values: Compassion, Dignity, Fairness, Excellence, and Integrity which can make it easier for the patients to trust them.
Lilian Montoya is originally from Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico. She has lived in Alaska for 16 years and is one of Providence’s five Community Health Workers. She works at Providence Hospital, the largest hospital in the state, focused on equality and equity in access to health care for communities and minorities.
Montoya’s presence is doubly useful. On the one hand, she helps the patient to understand what the doctor indicates, and on the other, with her work in home visits and monitoring patients, she helps the doctor with the follow-up, in addition to establishing teamwork between doctor, patient, and health worker.
She visits mostly Hispanics, as they feel more comfortable with someone who speaks their language. Lilian experienced the language barrier when she went to a health center and tested positive for COVID-19: She realized there was no assistance in other languages for non-English speakers. So, she started creating videos and content in different languages, with other collaborators, to help the community.
Other reasons Providence has incorporated health workers (CHWs) are the increase in obesity, pre-diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease among Hispanics and in the Alaskan community. “It is important to create health awareness based on safe education that promotes good habits in nutrition, physical exercise and healthy living,” concludes Lilian Montoya. The first Diabetes Prevention (Lifestyle Change) course will be in the Fall. It is a program recognized and certified by the CDC, and will be taught 100% in Spanish. It will begin on September 1st and will last for one year. Lilian Montoya will teach the course, which is a collaboration between Providence, the State of Alaska, and the YMCA, and it will take place at the YMCA Lake Otis facility.
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