YOUR LIFE YOUR HEALTH

Frontline health care workers of color bridge racial gap in time of COVID-19

Dec 9, 2021, 5:15 PM | Updated: Dec 10, 2021, 5:39 am

SALT LAKE CITY — Lack of trust and access to services has caused devastation during COVID-19 for Utah’s communities of color.

An effort by the Utah Department of Health and Intermountain Healthcare aims to change that.

Emilia Brown prepared a care package that’s a lifeline. Brown is a community health worker for communities of color in St. George.

“We are the connectors,” Brown said.

She’s part of a small army that educates, links to services, and bridges the language and culture gap. They also dispel myths about the COVID-19 vaccine. “For example, the (micro) chip, ‘They’re going to be tracking all over if we have the vaccine,’” she said. “I’m part of this community. I know the people.” That connection helps build trust.

The Utah Department of Health started the COVID Communities Partnership last year. Intermountain Healthcare and Maverik donated $2 million to keep it going.

According to the Utah Department of Health, since the program began last March, they’ve referred 19,875 to COVID testing and 40,704 to vaccine clinics. They’ve hosted 277 vaccine sites and supported 245 vaccine sites, with 1,065 community health workers onsite at vaccine clinics. These workers also registered 24,615 for vaccine appointments. Providing outreach to about 6 million people, in 54 languages.

“They’re really a vital component of the health care workforce,” said Lisa Nichols, Assistant Vice President of Community Health, Intermountain Healthcare. The assistance often goes beyond health care. “They can work with them on keeping their utilities on getting food in the house, finding ways to address their home and mortgage payment.”

Deaths from COVID-19 among Native Americans are more than two times as high as the white community: 68 per 100,000 cases, according to UDOH. Leaders at the Urban Indian Center of Salt Lake say community health workers are vital.

Mo Smith says respecting traditions while providing access to good COVID-19 prevention and care is saving lives in his community. (KSL TV)

“There’s a lot of anxiety, there’s a lot of depression. We’ve had elders that have recently passed on,” said Mo Smith, executive director of the Urban Indian Center and tribal member of the Navajo Nation. “Sage is sacred to us as native people. We use it for prayer, for cleansing. When we vaccinate or test someone for COVID, we send them home with a care packet. We send them home with some sage.”

Respecting traditions, becoming a trusted friend, and helping turn the tides on racial disparity.

Coronavirus Resources

Have you or a family member been affected by coronavirus issues in Utah? KSL wants to hear from you. Contact KSL by emailing social@ksl.com.

Click here to sign up for a vaccine and here to see how Utah’s vaccine rollout is progressing.

The latest COVID-19 stories from KSL can be found here.

How do I prevent it?

The CDC has some simple recommendations, most of which are the same for preventing other respiratory illnesses or the flu:

  • Avoid close contact with people who may be sick
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. Always wash your hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

KSL 5 TV Live

Your Life Your Health

Chris and Aimee Tyler, speaking about their experience with Chris's pancreatic cancer diagnosis....

Emma Benson

‘Cancer can affect anybody’: Utah couple processes pancreatic cancer diagnosis

Pancreatic cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. and often goes undetected until it's advanced. One Utah County man is fighting for more time with his loved ones.

7 days ago

Ruth Norton uses the ArthroFit gym to help senior patients prevent, prepare for and recover from su...

Emma Benson

Intermountain program helps seniors fight joint pain, recover from surgery

Ruth Norton has had her fair share of health challenges, including double-knee surgery, open-heart surgery, and breast cancer. 

14 days ago

...

Emma Benson

‘The place we love isn’t healthy’: Millcreek couple weighs decision of moving due to poor air quality

No one is immune to the dangers of air pollution. What if you had to choose between staying in Utah while risking a premature death, or leaving behind family, your career, and your roots to move somewhere new for the sake of your health? One Millcreek couple is facing that exact scenario. #yourlifeyourhealth

21 days ago

Jayde St. Clair (left) with her newborn child being held by her husband....

Emma Benson

How childbirth education classes can help moms prepare for labor

Intermountain Health is offering prenatal courses for parents that cover everything from pregnancy to labor and delivery to postpartum care.

28 days ago

Steve Adams on dialysis...

Emma Benson

Are you at risk for kidney disease? 

Steve Adams is not afraid of making friends, even at the dialysis center. 

1 month ago

Chris and Amy Pendleton chat in their Midway home. Doctors are treating Chris Pendleton's advanced ...

Emma Benson

New treatment helps Midway man live with advanced prostate cancer

Approximately one out of eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime. Chris Pendleton, of Midway, was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer. Thanks to a new treatment, he can continue to enjoy doing the things he loves.

1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Frontline health care workers of color bridge racial gap in time of COVID-19