Engaging Community Health Workers and Social Care Staff as Social First Responders during the COVID-19 Crisis

Salvatore AL, Ortiz J, Booker E, , Katurakes N, Moore CC, Johnson CPA, Mapp AM, Waad A, Axe ML

Dela J Public Health 2020 Jul;6(2):92-95

PMID: 34467118


In this public health practice vignette, we describe an ongoing community and system intervention to identify and address social determinants of health and related needs experienced by ChristianaCare patients and the greater community during the Coronavirus pandemic. This intervention, being conducted by the ChristianaCare Office of Health Equity, in partnership with ChristianaCare’s embedded research institute, the Value Institute, and the Community Outreach and Education division of the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center and Research Institute, engages more than 25 community health workers, health Guides, Latinx health promoters and other social care staff as social first responders during the COVID-19 crisis. These experienced front-line social care staff screen patients and community members for social needs; make referrals to agencies and organizations for needed assistance (e.g., food, housing, financial assistance); assess people’s understanding of COVID-19 and preventive measures; provide education about COVID-19; and, connect patients and community members to COVID-19 testing and any relevant clinical services. While this ongoing intervention is under evaluation, we share here some preliminary lessons-learned and discuss the critical role that social first responders can play in reducing the growing adverse social and health impacts of COVID-19 across the state of Delaware.

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