COLUMBIA, S.C. ― The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is recognizing the Midlands Region’s Community Health Workers as the latest recipients of the COVID-19 Community Hero Award. The Community Health Workers were nominated by their regional public health leaders for their dedicated service and compassion throughout the pandemic response.
A Community Health Worker (CHW) is a trusted and well-known member of a particular community who helps connect other community members with important public health resources. Through their leadership and positive influence, CHWs help share information with vulnerable or sometimes hard-to-reach populations, such as the elderly; neighborhoods with predominant language barriers; migrant workers; and individuals experiencing homelessness.
“I could not be prouder of each and every one of our Community Health Workers,” said Buck Wilson, Public Health Director for DHEC’s Midlands Region. “I have no doubt that their dedication to service and helping those around them during this incredible public health crisis has helped save lives and help protect families, neighbors and communities from the worst impacts of COVID-19.”
CHWs were hired by DHEC for assistance in “boots on the ground” efforts to share important COVID-19 information and resources in neighborhoods across the state. CHWs quickly became an integral part of the agency’s public education and outreach efforts by promoting testing and vaccination sites, sharing and translating COVID-19 materials and information with businesses, organizations and individuals, participating in community events, and strengthening connections between DHEC and the residents the agency serves.
Following are quotes from some of DHEC’s Midlands Region Community Health Workers:
Bruce Wright: “Being a Community Health Worker for DHEC Midlands has been a truly rewarding experience as it has given me the opportunity to help individuals in my community who are most at risk. During my 18 months as a bilingual CHW in Saluda and surrounding counties, I have been able to assist countless individuals with their COVID and other needs. Thank you to our leaders who had the vision to employ CHWs. As a team, we have made tremendous impact in bringing an end to COVID-19.”
Ray Brown: “Our CHW team serves as a vital and trusted resource in the communities we serve. We’ve become an important contact and link to resources for vulnerable populations and individuals, and we work first-hand in combatting the health disparities that people may face. During this pandemic, the Midlands CHWs have ensured COVID-19 testing and vaccination is accessible to all.”
Hazel Lowman: “Being a CHW means helping populations at risk for contracting coronavirus to find resources for testing and vaccinations. CHWs are also able to reach further into communities and find out what other needs are and directing individuals to resources.”
Nominating a Community Hero
To nominate a Community Hero for their efforts to be a local leader and support public health actions throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, submit a nomination form and a brief description of the nominee’s community involvement. DHEC will regularly announce new Community Heroes and will archive all award recipients online here.
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