||The smile behind the mask. CHW Carla Caraballo is making sure COVID-19 doesn't keep patients from the support they need.
In her 10+ years as a Community Health Worker, Carla Caraballo thought she had seen it all.
That was until COVID-19.
If you meet Carla, the first thing you'll notice is how her smile lights up the room. That's just who she is, and what makes her such an effective Community Health Worker (CHW).
Carla opens her heart to all those in need.
As you can imagine, she's doing that a lot these days.
"People are feeling so overwhelmed, stressed, and scared," she says with an empathetic sigh. "You can't imagine the level of need out there. It's overwhelming."
As a CHW, Carla is trained to be a problem-solver, to help patients navigate complex health-related needs - needs that fall outside of the exam room. And she pursues those solutions with relentless determination and optimism.
Stay-at-home orders to slow the spread of the virus have rippled through our community due to COVID-19, leaving thousands out of work, isolated, and without trusted supports.
The surge in need, combined with social distancing measures, have forced Carla and her fellow Outreach Workers to quickly rethink their approach.
"A good CHW knows how to hear what's not being said," she says. "When you meet with a patient face to face, or visit their home, you see the needs without them having to ask."
Now, those in-person interactions have turned into carefully coordinated door drops of food and essential supplies, or weekly phone check-ins.
"What motivates me is connecting with people - asking what you need, sending emails, doing whatever it takes to guide you to the resources you need."
Whether it's applying for unemployment, housing, or other assistance, Carla spends hours on the phone coaching people through the process.
"You know how confusing these forms can be. This process is new to all of us. Now, imagine you don't speak English, or you have limited access to a computer," Carla explains.
Then, there are the patients who are sick with COVID, facing all of the questions and anxiety that comes with that diagnosis. Quarantine procedures limit physical contact, but Carla and her fellow CHWs can still be lifelines via phone.
"To be honest, it's hard - I can't solve every problem. But, I can listen. I can hear their frustrations. And I can continue to call, continue to check in. Hopefully, they feel like they're not alone."
Rest assured, thanks to our hard-working team of Community Health Workers like Carla, patients will continue to feel the love of their Community Health Center - even when we're more than six feet apart.
If you are interested in supporting the tireless work of CHW's like Carla, please donate today to our
COVID-19 Response Fund.
Now, more than ever, we need you in our corner. Thank you.