2016 Community Benefit Report CHAI_160088756_2016 Community Benefit Report_FIN - - Page 8

2016 COMMUNITY BENEFIT REPORT

The Whole Picture

Community Health Liaisons Embed Support Within Communities
When Lah Say Wah and Denise Burd walked into a home that had a box of eggs in the freezer and a carton of milk on the floor , they were hardly surprised . As Community Health Liaisons at the Women , Infants , and Children ( WIC ) Clinic in Aurora , Lah Say and Denise see a wide variety of family dynamics and challenges that extend far beyond managing health . Many are recent refugees who don ’ t speak English and don ’ t know how to take a bus or where to shop for groceries , nevermind how to use U . S . dollars to buy them .
“ Culturally , it makes sense ,” says Lah Say , who was a refugee herself . “ Some families don ’ t know how to use canned goods or what a refrigerator is , but how could we expect them to when they ’ ve never owned one ?”
Lah Say came to the United States from Thailand with her parents and brothers in 2009 . She spoke no English , yet knew she wanted to be involved with the Aurora community to help other families like hers . Now , she and Denise make up two of eight Community Health Liaisons at Children ’ s Hospital Colorado .
As part of the First 1,000 Days initiative , the Child Health Advocacy Institute launched its Community Health Liaison ( CHL ) program in 2016 with an award from the BUILD Health Challenge . The program aims to address the many social determinants that keep kids from getting the healthcare they need . CHLs meet families in their homes and in their communities , connect them with resources and help them with basic daily needs . Most of these families are immigrants , asylumseekers or refugees , and some are homeless .
In some cases , Lah Say and Denise work with a family for up to three months , helping them navigate public transportation , language barriers , food insecurity ,
Medicaid waivers and shopping for baby supplies . But they do much more than that . They are a nonjudgmental face , a counseling friend , a lifeline to surviving in a new country .
“ For me , it ’ s a way to pay it forward . When I first moved here , I barely spoke English , and I locked myself out of our home . This woman helped me and later brought cans of food to our apartment . I ’ ll never forget it ,” reminisces Lah Say . “ For some families we serve , they don ’ t have food for the next day . They don ’ t know how to pay the bills . And when we come in and help them , it may take 10 visits to figure it out . But when we tell them , ‘ We will help you get through this ,’ we see hope .”
And when families feel hope , it ’ s the start of positively impacting their health outcomes .
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