The goal of the Community Health Worker Program at Dorcas International is to improve access and the quality of healthcare that is provided for newly arrived refugee families who are resettled here in Rhode Island. The CHWs complete their certified trainings at Dorcas International and assist families who are new to the United States for a period of 3-6 months. All of the CHWs are from refugee and immigrant communities and serve as liaisons, coordinating with healthcare providers, Dorcas International, and newcomers in the community. Their primary focus is to teach newcomers how to navigate the healthcare system and receive information about standard health practices.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Community Health Workers have assisted 30 newly arrived refugee families (more than 100 individuals) by providing critical information about the Coronavirus, social distancing, and how to ensure their health and safety. For example, CHWs have dispersed helpful information in different languages throughout the community. In coordination with Dorcas International, they also help newcomers get to their required medical appointments, follow-up visits, and procedures; and they help them pick up medications from the pharmacy.
When refugees arrive here, they often need immediate medical attention. The CHWs have played a key role in bridging that gap, especially during a time when the healthcare system is overwhelmed and adjusting to major changes.