As a pregnant mother of three, Kaneesha Brown needed help from a community health worker to get a pack n’ play, car seat and other resources. After her fourth child was born healthy and thriving, Kaneesha became a community health worker herself.
Kaneesha helped pregnant and childbearing-age clients get connected to medical and social services throughout the community. Food, clothing, transportation, housing, diapers and other baby items are some examples of what clients need. Education about safe sleep practices and other health topics is vital for having healthy babies, too.
Pregnant women often aren’t concerned about themselves when they’re preparing for their babies. Working as a team with a community health worker creates a support system for low-income pregnant women.
“If you’re worried about how you’re going to get your baby a safe place to sleep, you’re not thinking about eating healthy and exercising,” says Kaneesha, who worked as a community health worker for a few years. “That’s the least of your worries.”
Community Health Workers
Lucas County has dozens of community health workers (CHWs) and other home visitors who are part of Toledo-Lucas County Getting to 1, the local Ohio Equity Institute team working to help women have healthy babies and reduce infant mortality. Getting to 1 is led by staff at the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department and Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio’s Northwest Ohio Pathways HUB.
While a CHW at Baby University in south Toledo, Kaneesha worked through the Northwest Ohio Pathways HUB, a care coordination system that involves multiple medical and social services partners that form a community-wide network. The CHW who helped Kaneesha when she was pregnant with Averi also worked through the Pathways HUB.
“I had a CHW, and she was awesome,” Kaneesha recalls. “She was great. It made me want to give back in the same way because of the services I received.”
While Kaneesha was pregnant with Averi and a Pathways HUB client, she was working as a state tested nursing assistant. She told her CHW that she felt her career opportunities were limited, and she was encouraged to become a CHW.
While working as a CHW, Kaneesha was studying to get a bachelor’s degree in organizational management from Spring Arbor University. Her work as a CHW set her off on a new career path.
“I enjoyed working with my clients,” Kaneesha says. “I enjoyed making a difference with their lives.”
This infographic explains more about preventing children from dying before their first birthdays, known as infant mortality. (Click on the infographic for a printable PDF.)