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Community Health Workers In Allegheny County Bridge Gap Between Doctors And Patients

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Community health workers are bridging the gap between doctors and patients.

On the tree-lined streets of the North Side, Georgette Evans does her best work.

"I can get you food, I can get you bus tickets," said Evans, a community health worker on Allegheny Health Network's Medicine Team.

Secure a safe place to stay, find a doctor or dentist, Evans is a community health worker who does it all.

KDKA's Meghan Schiller: What's your favorite part of your job?

Evans: When I see success in someone. That could be a little thing of them accomplishing filling out their application on their own, going to their doctor appointment on their own.

As a community health worker, she is a connection between Pittsburghers in need and a list of resources a mile long.

"That's why there needs to be more community health workers out here. I don't think people know the importance," Evans said.

Inside the walls of the Allegheny County Health Department, they know. The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted how community health workers are some of the most valuable members of our communities.

"Well-trusted, well-networked, have a really good understanding of what's going on specifically in their communities," said Kell Wilkinson with the Allegheny County Health Department.

The Allegheny County Health Department secured a substantial chunk of money to train and pay these frontline workers.

"Three-year grant, and the idea is all around imploring community health workers to help address disparities related to COVID-19," Wilkinson said.

We're talking $2.65 million, with $1.67 million funneling directly to local organizations.

"That's really important because, at the moment, there really isn't a direct reimbursement system for CHWs," said Robert Ferguson with the Jewish Healthcare Foundation.

Ferguson believes the money will create infrastructure, ensuring more organizations can train and certify future community health workers.

The Allegheny County Health Department will now complete the daunting task of determining how much money each local organization receives based on population, disparities in access to COVID-19 resources and community risk,

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