Elizabeth met Sade just in time. Sade was 28-weeks pregnant and on bed rest. Her pregnancy was considered high-risk due to preterm labor and she was receiving weekly progesterone shots to prevent going into labor. To make matters worse, Sade didn’t even have a bed where she could rest. She was living in her car with her husband.
Elizabeth, a community health worker with Community Health Care and a Pathways Community HUB coordinator, was determined to help Sade and her growing family. Since Sade was enrolled through Coordinated Entry for housing with a local agency, Elizabeth set about working with her case manager to find safe housing. With scarce resources, no immediate solutions could be found so Sade was placed on the priority pool list and waited to be contacted.
Undaunted, Elizabeth met Sade at several agencies to help her find housing. After some time Elizabeth was able to find an agency that offered transitional housing with low barriers and advocated for the patient with the property manager.
Sade and her husband John attended an orientation program but income was a major barrier and prevented the couple from acquiring their own place. They had also been penalized by the DSHS Work First Program for not following program requirements. Elizabeth and Sade worked to get Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) reinstated. With Elizabeth’s skills as an advocate, Sade’s sanctions were lifted, and she again began to receive the funding she needed. Elizabeth also advocated with two local agencies for Sade for funding for rental assistance and emergency funding to cover the cost of moving.
Sade and John moved into their place less than two weeks later.
Next, Elizabeth focused on helping John find work. Within a week, he was working full time at a temp-to-hire agency. He has since acquired a full-time, permanent position.
Community Health Workers Make a Real Difference
Sade can’t say enough about the help she received from Elizabeth.
“The Pathways program has impacted not only my life but my family’s life in such a huge, wonderful way,” Sade said. “We went from being homeless living in our car, to having our own place and my husband has a job.”
Sade added that her experience with Passage2Motherhood was different compared to other assistance programs.
“Elizabeth didn’t just hand me a bunch of papers with numbers on it and tell me what to do. She walked us through everything with us and made sure we were getting the help we needed.”
Elevate Health launched the Passage2Motherhood program as a pilot in March. From the beginning, it was designed to be different. Current programs available in the community typically focus on one topic, for example, housing programs only focus on housing and not food, clothing, medical, etc. Pathways Community HUB Care coordinators focus on all social determinants of health.
The Pathways Community HUB doesn’t duplicate existing programs, but strengthens them by working with community-based organizations, social services agencies, and healthcare providers to achieve whole-person health. For example, Elizabeth met Sade where she lived and attended all of her appointments.
“From the first day I talked with her, she was on top of everything and immediately made me feel comfortable and walked through everything with my husband and me," said Sade. We could not have done it without the amazing help from our community health worker Elizabeth!”
Community Health Worker Shares Her Story
Elizabeth understands what a struggle life can be for disadvantaged and marginalized populations.
“I had to navigate through many of the same systems in King County and Pierce County,” said Elizabeth. Growing up in an alcoholic, single-parent home while on public assistance, she saw gang violence and drug activity right outside her door.
After many challenging years experiencing homelessness, addiction, incarceration, domestic violence and poverty, Elizabeth turned her life around with help her faith and people who believed in her when didn’t believe herself.
“I became a college graduate and a human service professional. I developed strength, resilience, and values to overcome my past experiences and life challenges,” she added. She also became intensely concerned with disparities of disadvantaged populations, which led her to dedicate her life’s work to helping others and being a voice for those who are underserved.
“I know what it feels like for someone to hand you a list of resources and leave you feeling hopeless not knowing where to start, It honored me and my struggle to help this family become self-sufficient.” Elizabeth noted that one of the biggest keys in helping Sade and her family was providing support and education. She made sure Sade learned how to advocate for herself by modeling this behavior and educating her on resources.
“Listening with no judgement was the key,” she said. “My drive came from my own personal struggles that I overcame. I knew that, with their willingness and support, they too could overcome their struggles.”
Less than a month after moving into their home, Sade gave birth to her first full-term baby. Weighing in at more than eight pounds, John Jr. is healthy and happy.
According to co-founder of the Pathways Community HUB Model Sarah Redding, MD, this is exactly how it’s supposed to work. “Community-based care coordinators look at everything that is getting in the way of good health outcomes – access to health care, housing, employment, safety, education – because it all matters.”