By: Jason Patnosh – National Director / Associate Vice President
Last year, nearly 1.2 million people were impacted by services provided by Community HealthCorps, including 159,932 who used preventive and primary health care services and programs two or more times within the program year. These individuals may have accessed a health education class on diabetes management, attended a group counseling session on weight management, or had a follow-up visit to learn how to cook a healthy meal at home. All of these activities were coordinated by AmeriCorps members. In addition, 123,096 enrollment applications for health education workshops and classes, health insurance plans, and other health services and programs were generated and led to patients improving their access to health care services.
While these numbers tell the quantitative impact of the Community HealthCorps, stories from members and community residents can help paint a vivid picture of the impact:
Janett Aguilar, AmeriCorps Member – AltaMed Health Services (Los Angeles, CA): “It was the first day of our first “Healthier Living” class at the Huntington Beach Clinic on the first day of March. As the patients came in, there was an older man in particular that sat on the very edge of the group. A couple days later, I was notified by my supervisor that this same patient had a great experience during our class! He went in to see his provider at the clinic a couple days later, and mentioned how he thought the class…has motivated him to change things in his life! This particular patient has high blood pressure, and his goal for the week was to do at least half an hour of exercise each day for four days.”
CraShanta Evans, Program Coordinator – Heart of Texas Community Health Center (Waco, TX): “The Heart of Texas Community HealthCorps Tooth Fairy visits students ages 4-6 in local schools to teach the importance of taking care of their teeth. Children receive their very own tooth brush and practice proper brushing techniques. The Tooth Fairy also instructs children about tooth-healthy snacks. To reinforce these positive new behaviors, children take home follow-up instructions and a letter to parents. From parent surveys, we learn that the children are bringing home their newly acquired information and sharing it with family members. Teachers and parents agree that the Community HealthCorps Tooth Fairy has encouraged children to take better care of their teeth.”
(Video above courtesy of Community HealthCorps members from East Boston Neighborhood Health Center & Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program)
Creating a patient centered medical home for families will help to decrease their use of emergency rooms for primary care, improve their health outcomes over time, and reduce burdensome costs on the health care system to manage chronic illnesses. AmeriCorps members through the Community HealthCorps have served an important role to create that ‘medical home’ for millions over the years and, as the health care system shifts to a medical home model, will be essential going forward and will need to grow to meet the demands.
To learn more how you can support national service programs, join a national service program, or how health centers are making an impact we invite you to check out the links below: