News Release

Grant will support community health workers to address asthma in children

HARTFORD, Conn. (Sept. 30, 2021) – With a $150,000 grant from the Connecticut Health Foundation, Charter Oak Health Center will launch an intervention that uses community health workers to improve asthma control in children, part of a demonstration model intended to improve health and save money.

Asthma is the leading cause of preventable hospitalizations among children in Connecticut and a major reason children miss school nationwide. Black and Hispanic children are significantly more likely than white children to be hospitalized or visit the emergency department because of asthma.

As part of the grant, Charter Oak Health Center, a community health center in Hartford, will hire two community health workers to work with children identified as having poorly controlled asthma. The community health workers will visit the children’s homes and work with their families to address asthma triggers, challenges in controlling asthma, and other issues that might affect their children’s health and well-being. The community health workers will also work with the children’s primary care providers to create a care plan with goals for managing asthma, and coordinate the children’s care, calling families about upcoming appointments and coordinating with clinicians if a child goes to the emergency department.

Community health workers are frontline health workers and trusted members of their communities who serve as a bridge between their communities and the health care and social service systems. Research has shown that their services can improve health outcomes, reduce disparities, and reduce health care costs. However, their work is generally not funded as part of the health care system.

The asthma intervention stems from research the Connecticut Health Foundation commissioned to identify community health worker models that could be implemented in Connecticut and produce a positive return-on-investment.

Based on projections from the research, Charter Oak Health Center anticipates the community health worker intervention could decrease hospitalizations by 32%, reduce emergency department visits by 9%, and could lead to eight fewer school absences in the first year, saving more than $142,000 in health care costs.

“This initiative will allow Charter Oak Health Center to test a creative approach to improving care for pediatric patients,” said Nichelle Mullins, president and CEO of Charter Oak Health Center. “We are focused on initiatives that empower patients and families to take their health into their own hands through health education and self-management strategies, and the community health worker interventions will help to achieve that goal. We are eager to bring this approach to our work and improve health outcomes for children in Hartford with uncontrolled asthma.”

“This demonstration model is intended to help show that community health workers can be an essential part of improving the health and well-being of children and families while saving money for the health care system, and should be funded in way that sustains their role,” said Tiffany Donelson, president and CEO of the Connecticut Health Foundation. “The foundation has long recognized the importance of community health workers, and during the pandemic, we’ve seen a growing understanding of their value in improving the health and well-being of people of color. However, assuring that their services can be funded in a sustainable way, so community health workers will remain available to serve community residents who need them, is an ongoing challenge that we need to solve.”

The grant is one of five grants awarded this quarter, totaling $450,000. The others are:

Christian Community Action, New Haven: $25,000

This funding will support work by the grassroots advocacy group Mothers and Others for Justice to build capacity for health care advocacy through its Helping Everyone Achieve Lifetime Trusted Healthcare (HEALTH) subcommittee. This will include hosting a five-part Healthcare Institute to build knowledge, skills, and confidence in local residents who are interested in health care advocacy. In addition, the organization will survey residents of New Haven’s three lowest-income neighborhoods about their health care needs and challenges, and will help residents share their experiences with public officials to promote best practices and policy changes.

City of Hartford: $100,000

This funding will support the continued work of community health workers in the city’s COVID-19 response efforts. Community health workers will participate in vaccination efforts, provide information about COVID-19 prevention, conduct door-to-door outreach, engage in case management, and serve as contact tracers. This funding continues work started under a 2020 grant from the foundation and the Connecticut COVID-19 Charity Connection, known as 4-CT. This funding from the foundation will supplement state funding and support community health workers in Hartford through November 2022.

Corporation for Supportive Housing, New York: $75,000

This funding will support an effort to better link the health care and homeless systems to improve the health of people experiencing homelessness in Connecticut. Although stable housing is widely recognized as important to maintaining good health, the health care system and systems addressing housing and homelessness are not well connected. This project is aimed at creating a model for better coordination, using community health workers to help foster connections. This initiative includes establishing ways for community health centers and homeless systems to share data to connect patients to resources, and training staff at community health centers on ways to meet the needs of patients experiencing homelessness.

Griffin Hospital, Derby: $100,000

Under a previous grant, Griffin Hospital began an intervention intended to reduce disparities affecting patients of color with diabetes through the use of a clinical pharmacist. This funding will support the continuation of this work, as well as an evaluation of the impact of the clinical pharmacist’s interventions, and expanding the intervention to patients of color who are discharged from the hospital and do not have a primary care provider.

For more information, please contact Arielle Levin Becker at 860-724-1580 x 16 or