Community health worker hub coming to support maternal health in Omaha

A new effort to improve maternal health
Published: Nov. 27, 2022 at 5:21 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - A new approach is coming to the city that aims to promote the health of pregnant people in Omaha.

The 2-year pilot program spearheaded by the Omaha Community Foundation will hire community health workers and start with maternal health.

“Enthusiasm and a lot of care for the community is really much needed in a person that wants to be a community health worker,” said Vivian Garcia, the community health worker and community outreach manager at OneWorld Community Health Centers.

A community health worker isn’t a doctor or nurse. They are a trained member of the community that knows the resources available to promote better health.

“Our volunteer community health promoters did some training with us. It was over an extended period of two months. We would meet every Saturday to go over health topics,” said Garcia.

OneWorld’s established community health worker program that has paid staff and volunteers makes it a possible partner for the Omaha Community Foundation’s new Pathways Community HUB.

The hub is a two-year pilot program that will employ four workers to target 100 pregnant individuals most at risk of poor health outcomes.

According to the Omaha Foundation’s research, Black individuals in Omaha experience higher rates of preterm birth and higher infant mortality. That data is follows national numbers from the CDC and the KFF, the Kaiser Family Foundation.

“We have a lot of amazing entities working in the various healthcare arenas, as well as community-based arenas. This hub brings it all together,” said Anne Meysenburg, the director of community investment for the Omaha Community Foundation.

The idea behind the hub is to connect pregnant women and community health workers to overarching health agencies and to track health outcomes.

“We’ve ran into situations where we do health screenings and we find out that they are expecting and they haven’t seen a provider, or maybe they don’t know where to go,” said Garcia. “Maybe they don’t count with health insurance or language is a barrier. So having that community heath promoter educate them about taking care of them and taking care of their baby and reaching out for prenatal services is always essential.”

The program is funded by CHI Health, Healthy Blue Nebraska, Nebraska Total Care, and United Health Care, each contributing a quarter of a million dollars.

Officials at the Omaha Community Foundation said that the model follows existing hubs across the nation that saw success in improving maternal health for Black women.

Officials hope to begin enrolling pregnant individuals to benefit from community health workers by the spring of 2023.

Their goal for this two-year pilot program is to expand beyond maternal health, possibly to include low-income senior health or mental health.