Health News Roundup

Tapping into the expertise of community health workers to reach vulnerable populations, and more in this week’s roundup

To strengthen the public health response to COVID-19, we need community health workers
Denise O. Smith, Ashley Wennerstrom, Health Affairs Blog, May 6
Community health workers can be a tremendous asset to community-based COVID-19 emergency response teams. The missed opportunity to leverage CHWs’ potential is costing thousands of lives. Health systems, local governments, and state public health officials should immediately engage CHWs in community-based strategies to protect vulnerable populations during the pandemic.
Jacqueline Rabe Thomas, Gregory B. Hladky, The Connecticut Mirror, May 12
Frustration is growing among Connecticut residents living in low income, predominantly minority neighborhoods as they continue to face larger barriers to testing and other services. People living in inner-city neighborhoods also warn that communication about COVID-19 and how to get assistance has been confusing, that financial support for those who have lost their jobs has been sluggish, and that hunger is now a real threat for many blacks and Latinos living in poverty-stricken areas.

A Connecticut community hospital fights to stay financially afloat during the pandemic
Amy Goldstein, The Washington Post, May 13
Griffin Hospital is a fixture in Connecticut’s lower Naugatuck Valley, but COVID-19 is challenging its future. It is a metaphor for the wounds the pandemic is leaving on the places that Americans sickest with COVID-19 turn to in hope of being healed. Across the industry, as the coronavirus has caused elevated expenses and suppressed revenue, a new report estimates U.S. hospitals will have lost a total of $50.7 billion a month from March through June. Some are better buffered to absorb a financial shock than the 115-bed community hospital on its own in working-class Derby, Connecticut’s smallest-sized city.

Churches in New York City will offer COVID-19 tests to help end health disparity
Robert Pozarycki, amNewYork, May 9
The Governor of New York recently announced a new initiative to fight the disparities in COVID-19 being seen among low-income communities and New Yorkers of color. Northwell Health is teaming up with 22 churches across New York City and Long Island to offer testing to community residents. Churches will be working with their congregations to encourage them to get tested as quickly as possible.
Anna Almendrala, Kaiser Health News, May 13
Black and Hispanic people have higher rates of chronic health conditions that are associated with more severe cases of COVID-19. But public health officials said little about race early in the pandemic when targeted messaging to at-risk populations could have potentially helped many prepare for the pandemic.

From the foundation: Four recommendations to ensure Connecticut’s COVID-19 response does not leave anyone behind
As Connecticut state leaders work to address the unprecedented challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is clear that the virus is taking an especially heavy toll on people of color, particularly black residents, who are dying at a far higher rate than anyone else. An effective response to the pandemic must be designed to reach as many state residents as possible and tailored to the needs of those who are most vulnerable to the virus. The Connecticut Health Foundation has made four recommendations aimed at ensuring that the response reaches those who are most at risk.