Services provided in Danbury, Hartford, New Haven, Norwalk, and Stamford
HARTFORD, Conn. (Dec. 1, 2022) – Community health workers who participated in local health departments’ COVID-19 response helped meet the needs of residents and helped to reduce the spread of the virus, producing savings that offset the cost of the services, according to a report released by the Connecticut Health Foundation.
The report, by researchers from the UMass Chan Medical School, Commonwealth Medicine division, is based on an evaluation of community health worker interventions in Danbury, Hartford, New Haven, Norwalk, and Stamford.
Soon after the pandemic began, the Connecticut Health Foundation and 4-CT provided grant funds to allow local health departments to hire community health workers. Each city tailored the intervention to meet local needs. In some cities, community health workers helped linked people who were exposed to COVID-19 to services and supports to allow them to safely quarantine. Community health workers also conducted contact tracing, supported testing sites and vaccination clinics, and produced and shared educational materials.
The evaluation included a survey of residents who received services from community health workers, a survey of the community health workers, and a financial analysis.
Overall, the interventions likely saved more money than they cost, according to an analysis of data from Norwalk and Danbury. The researchers found that by helping people isolate after being exposed to COVID-19 or getting sick with it, community health workers helped prevent COVID-19 from spreading, avoiding both sickness and health care costs associated with treating it.
“This report demonstrates how valuable community health workers have been in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and in making sure that interventions reach those who need them the most,” said Tiffany Donelson, president and CEO of the Connecticut Health Foundation. “The same skills community health workers applied during the pandemic can be applied to improving health and meeting residents’ needs more broadly. As state leaders consider ways to improve health equity, assuring the sustainability of community health worker services should be a top priority.”
“Our community health workers have been, and continue to be, an essential part of our department. Today, they continue to play a vital role in our department and our community in various capacities,” said Fernanda S. Carvalho, associate director of community health for the Danbury Department of Health and Human Services. “We would not have been able to get through a pandemic and its aftermath without their dedication and perseverance.”
“Community health workers have been an invaluable part of our COVID-19 response and our continued efforts to support community members and advance health equity,” said Deanna D’Amore, Norwalk director of health. “We want to thank the Connecticut Health Foundation for its support of community health workers and this work to measure and demonstrate their value. Also, we are deeply grateful to our partner Family and Children’s Agency for their commitment to the community health worker model and to our community.”
“Community health workers supported those most vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic, working to address and reduce disparities in care,” said Commonwealth Medicine Executive Vice Chancellor Lisa M. Colombo. “I am pleased that this report for the Connecticut Health Foundation shines a light on their role, and I’m grateful to our team who helped the foundation to design the intervention, manage the proposal and grant process, deliver technical assistance, and evaluate and present the findings.”
For more information, contact Arielle Levin Becker at firstname.lastname@example.org or 860-724-1580 x 116.