Washington County awards $2M to hire community health workers and improve COVID-19 health literacy
For Immediate Release: Wednesday, September 21, 2022
The $2M in grants will be split among 12 community organizations, most that primarily serve the Latinx community. The organizations are using the money to hire and pay a living wage to at least 12 new promotores de salud, the Spanish term for community health workers (CHWs).
The new CHWs have formed the Washington County Community Health Worker Learning Collaborative to develop culturally appropriate COVID-19 training materials and to provide peer support.
They are working to dispel misinformation in the community and to provide education and resources about vaccination, testing and other COVID-19 prevention and treatment services, and have already reached more than 7,000 people in Washington County.
“Part of the goal is that working in collaboration, we can share services and opportunities. A promoter from Beaverton might not have the same information as one from Forest Grove,” said Anabertha Alvarado Martinez, who coordinates a program of volunteer promotores at Adelante Mujeres, a grant recipient that works to empower Latinx women and their families.
These promotores--who co-hosted vaccination clinics with Washington County-- receive a small stipend to reimburse them for childcare and transportation. The grant allowed Adelante Mujeres to hire two fulltime promotores de salud who are paid a salary and receive more extensive training and take on more responsibilities.
“Before this grant, I was the only staff person to coordinate our community health worker team. Having two additional promotores allows us to follow families and provide them with resources, rather than just providing one-time information about vaccines or COVID,” added Alvarado Martinez.
“This funding allowed us to hire our first full-time promotor de salud,” said Esmeralda Sanchez, Community Services Program Manager for Bienestar, a grant recipient that provides affordable housing and services to more than 2,300 people in Washington County.
Up to now, Bienestar had only been able to pay a small stipend to its eight volunteer promotores, who now work alongside the newly hired community health worker to provide the latest COVID-19 information and resources to Bienestar residents.
As part of the learning collaborative the promotores de salud will also partner with Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center to develop a process for integrating what they learn into health care settings.
The money for the grants came from the federal government and is part of a larger $4M award to Washington County that aims to identify and implement best practices for improving COVID-19 health literacy among underserved populations.
Health literacy is a person’s ability to find, understand and use information and services to help them make health-related decisions and to take action for themselves, their families and others.
“We believe that improving health literacy and knowledge will also improve access and use of COVID-19 services and resources among the Latinx community, and ultimately improve health outcomes,” said Armando Jimenez, senior program coordinator with Washington County Health Equity, Planning and Policy, who manages the grant for the county.
The county is partnering with AB Cultural Drivers to gather and analyze data to determine the impact of the project.
The organizations awarded grants include:
For more information about this work, contact Armando Jimenez at 503-716-6013.
Media Contact:Mary Sawyers, Public Health Communications Coordinator