Pandemic Funding is Running Out for Community Health Workers

Originally published on April 6th, 2022

GRANITE CITY, Ill. — As a community health worker, 46-year-old Christina Scott is a professional red-tape cutter, hand-holder, shoulder to cry on, and personal safety net, all wrapped into one.

She works in an office in the shadow of the steel mill that employed her grandfather in this shrinking city in the Greater St. Louis area. Gone with many of the steel jobs is some of the area’s stability — almost a fifth of Granite City’s residents live in poverty, far higher than the national average.

Then another destabilizer — covid-19 — hit. And so Scott stepped in: She knows how to access rental assistance for those out of work as they isolate at home with covid. She can bring people cleaning supplies or food from a local food bank. She’ll stay on the phone with clients, helping them budget their finances to keep the lights on. And the calls keep coming because people know she understands.

“I’ve been hungry. I’ve not had a car,” Scott said. “I’ve been through those things.”