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Appreciation this month for public health care workers

Nearly every month each year features an array of causes, groups or conditions that merit being recognized with a day, week or even the entire month.

August is no exception. But with the world in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, one designation seems particularly apt this year.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recently proclaimed August 2020 as Community Health Worker Appreciation Month in Michigan and encouraged Michiganders across the state to take this opportunity to thank the community health workers who have worked tirelessly against COVID-19.

“Community health workers have risen to the occasion to protect Michigan residents and battle COVID-19,” Whitmer said. “We are grateful for community health workers who continue to work hard to provide health services to communities across the state. I encourage each and everyone of us to show our appreciation to community health workers by taking steps to make their jobs easier by washing our hands frequently, practicing social distancing, and wearing a mask.”

According to the Michigan Community Health Worker Alliance, a community health worker “is a frontline public health worker who is a trusted member of and/or has an unusually close understanding of the community served. This trusting relationship enables the CHW to serve as a liaison/link/intermediary between health/social services and the community to facilitate access to services and improve the quality and cultural competence of service delivery. A CHW also builds individual and community capacity by increasing health knowledge and self-sufficiency through a range of activities such as outreach, community education, informal counseling, social support and advocacy.”

The state has hundreds of community health workers in all regions of the state “helping prevent and manage chronic conditions, develop healthier lifestyles, improve maternal and child health, increase rates of preventive screenings and improve access to and use of health care and social services through outreach, enrollment and patient education,” according to the proclamation.

They are vital to reaching underserved areas to help promote and protect the health and well-being of their communities, according to the governor.

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