Raleigh, NC – The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services will continue two programs that help North Carolinians access services such as relief payments, access to primary medical care, diagnostic testing, food and additional supports during the pandemic.
The Community Health Worker program supports community health workers in 55 countiesOpen PDF to connect North Carolinians with medical and social supports such as diagnostic testing, behavioral health services and education about vaccines. A community health worker is a frontline public health worker who is a trusted member of the community or who has a close understanding of the community served. This program will continue through June 30.
The COVID-19 Support Services program provides assistance such as home-delivered meals and groceries, financial relief payments, COVID-related supplies, transportation to medical or vaccine appointments and medication delivery to individuals in 29 of the 55 counties served by the Community Health Worker program. The Support Services program helps people who need support to be able to quarantine or isolate due to COVID-19. This program will continue until available funds have been spent.
Anyone who tests positive for or who has been exposed to COVID-19 needs to quarantine or isolate, meaning they need to separate themselves from others, including anyone in their household.
“Many North Carolinians struggle to safely quarantine and still meet basic needs,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D. “By making sure people can put food on the table and provide for their families, these programs help people successfully isolate and quarantine, protect themselves and their loved ones and slow the spread of COVID-19.”
The COVID-19 Support Services and the Community Health Worker programs are supported by federal funding and state funding. Both programs are built on the department’s long-standing, nationally recognized work to address non-medical drivers that impact a person’s health such as food, housing and transportation.
Since August 2020, the Community Health Worker program has supported 240,211 North Carolinians, and the Support Services Program has supported 21,865 households.
Community Health Worker Program Provides Support from Trusted Members of the Community
Through the Community Health Worker program, NCDHHS works with seven partner vendors to provide 400 community health workers support to North Carolinians affected by COVID-19 in the 55 counties in which the program operates. Counties were chosen for this program based on their high COVID-19 caseloads. NCDHHS provides financial support, technical assistance and coordination with state COVID-19 efforts.
In particular, community health workers are hired and trained to support historically marginalized individuals and families. The community health workers assist North Carolinians with COVID-19 related needs, such as connecting people to medical and social support resources like diagnostics testing, primary care, nutrition assistance, behavioral health services and financial assistance. Community health workers will also provide North Carolinians with COVID-19 vaccine support, including access, information and reminders.
In Buncombe County, a community health worker helped a 70-year-old woman in a senior living facility by preventing her from being evicted.
In a survey of services completed by Curamericas Global, one of the partner vendors, the company said, “Our coordinator received a call in the morning that the client was scheduled to be evicted at 10 a.m. the next day, since she hadn’t paid her rent. Our coordinator called the client’s building owner and by 5 p.m. received a call back that the owner had told the sheriff to cancel the eviction.”
Because of the community health worker’s “amazing understanding of ‘real help in real time,’” Curamericas said the community health worker convinced the woman to pay her rent and then provided her with a gift card to compensate for the loss of disposable income from paying the lease, which allowed the woman to pay for food.
“We are now working with her to find an apartment that is affordable with her social security payments,” the company said.
COVID-19 Support Services Helps North Carolinians During Quarantine or Isolation
Through the COVID-19 Support Services program, NCDHHS and its four vendor partners provide enhanced support and services so people experiencing need who live in a one of the 29 counties where the program operates can safely isolate or quarantine.
Community health workers help identify people who need these enhanced supports. Services can include nutrition assistance; a one-time COVID-19 relief payment to assist with meeting basic living expenses; safe, private transportation to and from essential locations such as testing sites, a non-congregate shelter or medical visits; or access to medical care, medication or COVID-19 related supplies.
A community health worker at Southeastern Healthcare NC, one of the program’s vendor partners, received a phone call about a family affected by COVID-19 in Johnston County that needed emergency food.
“The mother reached out to our agency for help, stating she did not know what she was going to do,” Southeastern Healthcare NC said in a program survey. “She lost her job due to COVID-19 and had no clue as to how she would feed her children.”
Within 48 hours, the community health worker had helped the family get the food they needed to help them quarantine.
3Ws Remain Key to Slowing the Spread
The Community Health Worker and COVID-19 Support Services programs help people who have COVID-19 or who have been exposed to the virus.
But it remains important for all North Carolinians to practice the 3Ws to slow the spread of COVID-19. Wear a mask, stay 6 feet apart from people who do not live in your household and wash your hands or use hand sanitizer frequently.