For over three decades, SEAHEC has been recognized as a health workforce agency. We have provided technical assistance and support to the growing CHW movement, contributing to the Arizona Department of Health Services efforts to create a voluntary CHW certification process and culminating in the Arizona Community Health Worker association, known as AZCHOW, becoming its own 501©3. With the “arrival” of the COVID pandemic, many resources at national, State and local levels, were directed towards education and outreach on COVID-19. SEAHEC and many of our partners responded in full force.
Addressing Vaccine Hesitancy in Rural Arizona:
In July 2021, we received a $1 million grant from the USDHHS HRSA, to strengthen local workforce to address vaccine hesitancy through a partnership known as “Proyecto Juntos” or Project Together. SEAHEC and partners, AzCHOW the state’s CHW professional association, and two community health centers – Mariposa Community Health Center and Canyonlands Community Health Center, and a behavioral health agency, Pinal Hispanic Council, are working together to support 12 community health workers in 6 rural counties: Gila, Graham and Greenlee, rural Pima County, Pinal and Santa Cruz. Through our combined efforts, we have planned and implemented a vast variety of events and activities – from food pantry distributions to Chili cook offs, from library campaigns to “Dia de La Mujer” events with the Mexican consulate, our CHW teams have met people where they are, providing information and support to help address concerns, answer questions and connect people to resources to prevent the spread of COVID and promote good health practices.
“Vacunas Para Todos/Vaccines for All” Migrant Health Coordination:
In April 2022, SEAHEC and its partner Casa Alitas Shelter, in Tucson, received continuation funding from the CDC Foundation grant to continue support through 2023 for our COVID education for migrant communities. Through this expansion grant, SEAHEC’s team of bilingual Community Health Workers at Alitas provide culturally and linguistically appropriate education and support to migrants and their sponsor families, addressing COVID vaccine hesitancy and connecting migrants to a health center or health department in their destination community where a “health care home” can be established. Furthermore, SEAHEC has been able to hire a Healthcare Coordinator, who is leading efforts to develop and coordinate a voluntary team of medical support services at Alitas, providing referrals and follow up for persons with health care needs. SEAHEC is working with a network of AHEC centers around the U.S. in top destination communities for migrants, in order to provide health care continuity, among other services. These include: Brooklyn/Queens/Long Island AHEC; Mid Rio Grande Border AHEC; and Miami/Dade AHEC.
US Mexico Border Philanthropy Project: In February 2022, SEAHEC was awarded 3 contracts from the USMPP to work with the Mexican Consulates Ventanilla de Salud programs in Douglas, Nogales and Phoenix. Since that time, SEAHECs CHW team has worked with the University of Arizona Mobile Health Unit and other partners to provide access to vaccinations, including health education, health screenings and referral to vaccines through the MHU and local health departments and health centers.