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The REACH Foundation awarded grants totaling $358,822 to nine organizations to support the use of care coordinators, community health workers and other types of connectors to help uninsured and medically underserved individuals secure health services. The 12-month grants are designed to provide connector and wrap-around services that link clients to health, mental health, oral health care and other community resources.
“These organizations have made tremendous strides over several years in removing barriers to care and helping consumers secure the health and social services they need,” said Vice President of Programs Carla Gibson. “The systems they’ve built, and their knowledge of their targeted communities have helped improve access to care across our service area.”
Health care connectors are one of three strategies within the foundation’s Strong Safety Net community investment area.
Community health workers, case managers and promotoras are included within the care connector field. Gibson said their function is to bridge language, literacy, cultural and other life experiences so that consumers can learn how to navigate and access health care systems. The 2021 awards bring total investments in this area to $1.9 million since 2016.
Suzanne Smith, Director of Network Development for the Health Care Collaborative of Rural Missouri, which operates four health clinics in Lafayette County, said their team of community health workers (CHW) have stepped up to assist at COVID-19 testing and vaccination events to make sure consumers are getting the health information and other services they need.
“Our community health workers are from the communities where they work, so there is a good base of trust with their clients,” said Suzanne Smith, Director of Network Development, Health Care Collaborative of Rural Missouri.
Smith said the CHWs help with pre-appointment paperwork, applications, securing durable medical equipment, and health appointment follow-up needs. “We consider them our critical ‘boots on the ground,’” said Smith.
Synergy Services employs a care connector to coordinate health care for the children and youth the agency serves. The agency, which provides emergency shelter, transitional housing, mental health and trauma support services for youth and young adults up to age 21, partners with medical, dental and vision care providers to create a medical home experience for their clients. Robin Winner, Synergy’s co-executive director, said the care connector maintains an integrated health record for its clients and coordinates needed care. “This approach allows us to remove barriers to care that can get in the way of building the health and resiliency of our clients,” said Winner.
Care Connector grants were awarded to the following organizations: