Caring for our communities, from within our communities
On September 27, seven proud graduates of the ICHS Community Health Worker Internship Program came to the end of their journey more empowered to help the African, Asian and African American communities in South Seattle be healthy and thrive.
Community health workers have a deep understanding of their ethnic, cultural or religious communities to serve as a vital frontline resource. They are a trusted bridge between people who might otherwise have difficulty – because of language, culture, cost or other barriers – reaching social and health services. They provide health education and referrals, advocate for people and their communities, help fill out paperwork, and provide emotional support and guidance.
“So much was taught in a short time through monthly trainings and I can use the skills in the community,” said Rose Idambituo Idey. “I feel confident talking to people about health issues such as nutrition, breast cancer prevention, diabetes, blood pressure, alcohol and tobacco use, and mental health. This is an education I will have all my life.”
The ICHS internship program was made possible by a grant from Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in collaboration with King County Public Health. Over a six-month period, participants were trained to work directly with their communities, as well as engaged in events and special projects.
“Community health workers are a well-recognized workforce to help reduce health disparities and improve health equity,” said Rana Amini, ICHS health services manager, and the program’s founder. “The most important factor is identifying passionate community members and providing adequate training and mentorship.”
“This team has inspired me to conduct outreach with a fresh outlook and renewed enthusiasm,” said Miran Hothi, ICHS lead community advocate and the program’s head trainer. “They developed creative and imaginative approaches in the field, which resulted in improving the health outcomes of the community.”
Three participants have opted to continue the internship through a second year to focus on developing their leadership skills, working four hours per week from the ICHS Holly Park Clinic.
“I am grateful for the skills I have gained because they have given me the confidence to advocate for my community, my family and myself,” said participant Carrie Robersone.