Briefs and Reports

The Role of Community Health Worker Services in COVID-19 Response Efforts

The COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately affected communities of color,
with Black and Hispanic Connecticut residents experiencing higher infection
and mortality rates than the overall population.

Recognizing the need to better assist communities with their COVID-19 response and understanding the value of community health workers in reaching residents, the Connecticut Health Foundation (the foundation) quickly developed a grant opportunity for local public health agencies. These grants enabled five local health departments to use community health worker (CHW) services as part of their pandemic response.

This brief provides an overview of the CHW initiatives that local health departments developed and implemented to meet the specific needs of their communities, with the foundation’s assistance, and it summarizes the results of an evaluation conducted by a team of experts based at UMass Chan Medical School, Commonwealth Medicine division.

Findings include:
  • CHWs effectively met community members’ medical and non-medical needs.
  • CHWs and the residents they served believe the initiative was helpful and had a positive impact.
  • The initiative averted some COVID-19 cases, and these averted cases offset the program cost.
Authors: Katharine London, MS, Lissette Victoriano, MPH, Bittie Behl-Chadha, PhD, Melissa Karapanos, RD, MPH, Susan Pfefferle, PhD, Yara Halasa-Rappel, PhD