When Peter Munyanganizi and Kabuo Kabira arrived in Alaska from Uganda five years ago, neither spoke English. They knew nothing of the United States, much less Alaska, with its shockingly different climate and long, dark days. Navigating this foreign new place was bewildering—but made easier with the help of Providence Alaska community health worker, Zabeeba Mohammed.
Community health workers (CHWs) like Zabeeba are trusted front-line public health care workers who serve as a vital bridge between the community and the health care system. CHWs wear many hats, including educator, community builder, health screener, coach, behavioral health aid, and counselor. They understand local cultural differences, respond to pressing health needs, and foster strong relationships with community members.
Providence CHWs have been in the field supporting community members for years, but in 2021 we launched an expansion, with new programs in 12 service areas across the seven states we serve. We are deeply committed to CHW programs that are meeting the health needs of our communities, helping people navigate complex systems, reducing health inequities, and providing cost-effective care close to home.
Our commitment to every patient and community we serve
Community Health Worker programs are just one of the many ways Providence is working to achieve health equity. We committed $50 million to health equity over five years and formally integrated this work as a top priority in our strategic plan. As part of this work, we pledge to:
- Build, strengthen and maintain relationships with our diverse communities, including people of color, indigenous people, those who identify as LGBTQIA+ and others experiencing inequities, oppression and discrimination.
- Listen to and partner with our patients, communities and health plan members to understand and actively reduce structural, racial and cultural barriers to health for all.
- Partner with community organizations to develop data-informed health equity strategies and implement proven practices to resolve the root causes of health disparities.
- Amplify the voices of all people impacted by oppression. Advocate to reform the drivers of health, social and economic disparities. And in keeping with our faith tradition, use our voice to speak out against the structural racism and injustice that has led to a public health crisis.
- Prevent further harm, humbly welcome discussion and feedback, and foster a culture of continuous learning and transparency.
Population health progress to date
Over the past year, Providence’s health equity work has focused on underserved communities most impacted by the pandemic. We prioritized equitable vaccine deployment, data-informed evaluation and sustainability, inclusive language in the electronic medical record, and provider education.
So far, we’ve initiated 25+ new programs including 12 Community Health Worker programs, three mobile care clinics, culturally sensitive All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly, expanded hospice and palliative care and better birthing initiatives.
Working with 1,179 partner organizations, we’ve served more than 562K individuals and families.
We are also proud to connect our caregivers (employees) to opportunities that support the health of our communities via a digital hub that contains service opportunities on a variety of topics, grassroots advocacy campaigns, ways to donate to the causes they support as well as the ability to join groups with colleagues across the organization. In 2021, our caregivers contributed 29,000+ to more than 750 organizations. In the coming months, we will share our progress in 2022.
Finally, we are excited to announce two new certificates for caregivers through the University of Providence for health justice and community health investment. Both certificates prepare students to champion and advocate for health equity and improved community health outcomes.
Advancing health equity one step at a time
Though we still have a ways to go, we have made significant strides and are planning more in 2023 in an effort to help create a world where every person has the chance to live their healthiest life.
If your values align with ours and you’d like to join our team, explore all open roles.