(AHEC) awarded $520,000 Grant
Southern Vermont Area Health Education Center (AHEC) awarded $520,000 Grant to build a statewide Community Health Worker (CHW) network and infrastructure.
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2022 Vermont Community Health Worker Conference Re-Cap
Click Here for highlights from The Promise and Power of Community Health Workers in Vermont, our first statewide community health worker conference.
About the Grant
Springfield, Vermont – Southern Vermont Area Health Education Center has received a $520,000 grant from the Vermont Department of Health to advance health equity in Vermont by expanding and sustaining the Community Health Worker profession as integral to the health workforce. The grant was awarded in conjunction with a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) initiative to support local efforts to address COVID-19 related health disparities and disparities that persist in lower income communities and communities of color.
This 18-month grant is the largest ever received by Southern Vermont AHEC, which said the grant funding will provide the opportunity to establish appropriate training and credentialing to create a career pipeline for expanding the community health worker (CHW) workforce into both clinical and community settings. Focusing on communities most disproportionately impacted by adverse health outcomes, the initiative is designed to support and recognize community health workers as uniquely skilled and essential members of the public and community health workforce.
Advancing Health Equity in Vermont
“Investing in a statewide network with strong community partnerships is a key part of strengthening this essential workforce and critical for reducing health disparities and advancing health equity in Vermont,” said Jennifer Woolard, Chronic Disease Program Specialist at Vermont Department of Health. “We are pleased to work with Southern Vermont Area Health Education Center to support training, building career paths, and strengthening a peer-to-peer network for community health workers.”
Southern Vermont AHEC has brought on Katina Cummings to manage the Community Health Workers Project and to lead this initiative across the state.
Formerly the Health Workforce Program Manager for Northern Vermont AHEC, Katina brings an incredible skill set to this position, having a wide breadth of experience in organizational management, leadership, policy, and project planning in the public health, behavioral health, and social service sectors, and working to provide health equity-focused interventions for those individuals living in rural and underserved areas. Katina is also active on the state’s Refugee Health Committee and serves on the Board of Directors of the Vermont Public Health Association.
“Community Health workers, as essential workers, will serve as navigators between health, social services, and the community to ensure delivery of services to improve the health and well-being of our most vulnerable populations,” said Jennifer Scott, Southern Vermont AHEC executive director. “Our team is thrilled to lead this statewide initiative on behalf of the AHEC network and with the full support of our excellent community partners. I, and our Board of Directors feel so fortunate to have attracted a superbly talented project manager to guide our efforts.”
Leah Kittredge, BA, MPH
Community Health Worker Coordinator, Northern Vermont
We are pleased to announce the addition of Leah Kittredge as our Community Health Worker Coordinator for Northern Vermont. Leah comes into this position with exceptional skills and experience. She began her work in public health with the Vermont Department of Health as a grant monitor and Research and Evaluation Coordinator in the field of HIV Prevention, collaborating with community-based organizations to implement HIV prevention interventions with populations at considerable risk for HIV and to collect data on these clients that was culturally appropriate. Leah also spent 2 years with the National Health Service in Shrewsbury, England as a health promotion practitioner, managing the Making Every Contact County Program, which involved working with medical and mental health staff to make the most of their contacts with clients to discuss health lifestyle and refer to appropriate resources for help in making a positive behavioral change.
Leah holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology & Communication Science from the University of Connecticut and a Master’s in Public Health from the University of Essex. She is passionate about health promotion, working to achieve health equity for all, and a strong proponent of universal health care.
Leah also works as a Parent Connector for the PJ Library of VT, where she leads events for families with young children and has been working to create a community of these families in the Montpelier area.
Leah is also the proud mother of three young children.
Emilie Johnston, AA
Community Health Worker Coordinator, Southern Vermont
Emilie has joined Southern Vermont AHEC as our Community Health Worker Coordinator for the southern part of Vermont. She brings a wealth of healthcare experience to her role. Emilie served as a medic with the United States Air Force and then worked in the Emergency Department at the White River Junction VA Medical Center.
Emilie earned an associate’s degree in applied science, and is also a personal fitness trainer/fitness instructor and nutrition coach. Emilie has a passion for health and wellness plus a great love for the outdoors. She enjoys hiking, running, and kayaking. Emilie is also a mother to three children.
Ana Saam, M.Ed
Coordinator, Chittenden County Community Health Workers
Ana was born and raised in Colombia. After arriving to the US in 2007, Ana has worked to understand how systems like hospitals, court houses and school districts work to ensure the rights of vulnerable populations and take responsibility for educating their staff on best practices. While completing her master’s degree at the University of Vermont, Ana found a passion for Restorative Practices and Emotional Intelligence, which propelled her to acquire more knowledge and experience to protect vulnerable populations. Ana holds degrees and certificates for advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Neurodevelopmental Disabilities; Leadership Effectiveness, Mental Health First Aid, among others. As interpreter and multicultural broker, Ana works connecting immigrant populations with resources, providing them with education and guidance about their rights and opportunities and advocating for their needs. As a community health worker, Ana works advancing community development by providing case management, workshops, and activities to help community members understands their and advocate for themselves. Ana accumulated over 10 years of experience of pioneering and promoting initiatives to foster inclusion and belonging.
What You Need to Know About CHWS
Community Health Workers
Are ESSENTIAL FRONTLINE PUBLIC HEALTH WORKERS in clinical and community settings.
Are TRUSTED MEMBERS of their community with shared lived experience, language, and cultural knowledge.
UNDERSTAND THE UNIQUE CHALLENGES community members face in preserving their health.
Form RELATIONSHIPS BASED ON SHARED POWER, working toward solutions that address both medical issues and social determinants of health.
Serve as LIAISONS between health and social services and their community, improving access to culturally appropriate health services.
Are EDUCATED AND EXPERIENCED–some with post-secondary education and formal certifications and others with years of experience.
May be SIMILAR TO OR ALLIED WITH community health representatives, promotores(as), and peer educators.
Build an infrastructure for engaging CHWs with practitioners and other allies to help solve our state’s health care disparities
Facilitate the development of a member-led CHW professional association or network to unify their voices, promote peer communication and learning, and sharing of information
Establish training standards and offer core training programs for CHWs, employers and other allies to better utilize CHWs in improving individual care and long-term community well-being, while containing costs
Foster supportive organizational environments that integrate CHWs as essential and valued employees into team-based care
Create a career path to expand the Community Health Worker workforce in health and non-health organizations
For more information on the Community Health Worker project contact:
Katina Cummings, Project Director, Community Health Workers
Katina Cummings, the initiative’s Project Director, said the program will build upon Vermont’s work to expand and support an essential and credentialed workforce to integrate social care practices into health care delivery from primary prevention to the treatment of chronic illnesses. “We know that during the COVID-19 pandemic CHWs were and continue to make invaluable contributions to reducing health disparities among underserved communities. I am thrilled to advance this work with a resolute, experienced, and dynamic team of professionals, including Susan White, our director of Health Careers Preparation & Practitioner Support,” Cummings said.
Vermont Community Health Worker’s Steering Committee’s newsletter
Catch up on the great work being done by our Community Health Workers in the April issue of the Vermont Community Health Worker’s Steering Committee’s newsletter. Note the articles on Southern Vermont AHEC! Check out link below.
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A 501(c)(3) organization serving Addison, Bennington, Rutland, Windham, and Windsor counties in partnership with The University of Vermont Robert Larner, M.D. College of Medicine