July 02, 2020
Behind the Mask: Blake W., Community Health Worker
I’ve been a Community Health Worker (CHW) at KC CARE for a year and a half. I couldn’t ask for a better team to advocate for our patients. I didn’t have health insurance myself for 10 years and got help from a CHW when I needed it. So now, I’m on the other side to help people in similar situations. We relate to patients on their level and use our street smarts to work alongside them to figure things out.
With COVID-19, we’ve gone from in-depth, one-on-one contact with patients to it being almost like impersonal casework. Some of the real connection was lost—some of my COVID-19 patients have never seen my face.
Patients are scared. There have been some trust issues. The group I serve is very diverse, with most in their 50s and older. With everything going on, they sometimes feel like history is repeating itself. Their motivation can be lacking due to so many government agencies being closed or having limited access. We try to keep up communication, assure them this isn’t going to last forever, and focus on what we can do right now, like getting utilities and food stamps in order. Many have been affected by the loss of their jobs and health insurance. I do what I can to make sure they have what they need. Food disparities are a big issue. There’s always more we can do.
It’s great to work for a place that can make a difference and encourage change. As CHWs, we pay attention to everything. Our responsibility is to educate people and stay on our toes. It’s gratifying to help people, even if they accomplish only one goal. Because of what I’ve been through myself, it fills me with joy to help someone get into our program and make progress.
To support the work of Blake and his team – and all of KC CARE’s staff, text HELPKC to 44-321 or click here to make a donation today.