At the Tri-County Health Network, we invest the bulk of our energy in community engagement and, in this regard, statistics can only tell part of the story. In this monthly series, which we fondly refer to as “Notes from the Field,” we hope to bring personal stories of community engagement from “our boots on the ground”—our Health Coverage Guides, eNavigators, and Community Health Workers — across the Tri-County region.
Nicole Gans, Community Health Worker– Telluride
Lack of access to affordable fresh fruits and vegetables is a barrier to my clients living their lives to their healthiest. When suggesting dietary changes, I commonly hear that the prices of local healthy foods are too high. I have experienced this myself. In Ouray and Ridgway there is only one grocery store per community. I went to buy cauliflower in Ridgway, and it cost $9 for a head (and it wasn’t even organic!). I went to the grocer in Ouray and it cost $6 (and had brown spots on it). I decided not to buy anything until I went to a larger community, Montrose. There I was able to purchase organic cauliflower for less than $3. The drive to Montrose can take anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes due to construction. This means that while the food is less expensive, money must be spent on gas and time has to be taken to go shopping. So many of my clients work several part time jobs and/or don’t have reliable transportation that it is incredibly challenging for them to get to those more affordable stores. As a community, we must find ways to reduce the cost of living a healthy life and eating the recommended 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
Darlene Mora, Community Health Worker– Olathe
My co-worker Olivia Gonzales and I worked together in helping a family after coming to me for a free cholesterol screening. I called Olivia and told her about a family needing some assistance with their daughter who had Medicaid in the past, but for some apparent reason they received notice the child was no longer eligible for medicaid. Their daughter was in need of some medical assistance and dental work. We were able to work together and get the assistance the family needed for their daughter. The family did not know how to thank me enough for knowing the correct people to be in contact with for Medicaid enrollment. They were so thankful for our services they even wanted to pay me or take me out for lunch. I thanked them for their generosity, and told them I was happy to be able to help them and their situation was one of the reasons I loved my job so much, because I know we were helping people in need.
Pamela Curtiss, Patient Health Navigator– Westend
I worked with a 33 year-old woman who is overweight, overstressed and having difficulty sleeping. She had only been eating one meal per day. We discussed ensuring there are fruit and vegetables in her diet, and the importance of eating breakfast. We also talked about taking care of herself so she can care for her children and have energy for her job. During a follow-up phone call she said she is trying to eat breakfast, and when she does she feels more stable and sleeps better at night. She also is working with behavioral health on exercise goals. She mentioned she particularly appreciates the advice I gave her: “Be good to yourself.” She said this has helped her every day.