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Baltimore launches first-of-its-kind Health Corps to help those hardest hit by Covid-19

More than 300 residents who are currently jobless are being recruited to help address the city’s interconnected economic and public health crisis resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.

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The Health Corps will be deployed in Baltimore's most vulnerable communities
The Health Corps will be deployed in Baltimore's most vulnerable communities

Baltimore health service officials have revealed plans to recruit more than 300 jobless residents to serve as contact tracers and care coordinators during the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

The Baltimore Health Corps is a pilot programme intended to equitably address the city’s economic and public health crises caused by Covid-19.

 

Public-private partnership

 

Baltimore has made a $4.5m commitment to support the public-private partnership initiative while the Rockefeller Foundation committed an initial $2m. Additional private funders have contributed more than $2.3m. The total cost of the initiative is $12.4m, and the city will continue to raise the remaining $3.5 million as the pilot gets underway.

 

“The Baltimore Health Corps is first-of-its-kind because it will target hiring individuals who have recently lost their jobs due to the pandemic and live in communities hardest hit by Covid-19 as community health workers, including those without previous healthcare experience,” said mayor Bernard ‘Jack’ Young.

 

“I am grateful to this extraordinary coalition of philanthropists and operating partners who have worked tirelessly to launch this groundbreaking model in Baltimore City.”

All 300 plus members of the Baltimore Health Corps will receive a living wage and a stipend for health insurance to serve as full-time, trusted contact tracers and care coordinators in the communities

Health Corps staff will be deployed to address critical Covid-19 needs in Baltimore’s most vulnerable communities, performing three key functions: contact tracing; public health education outreach; and care coordination and social support.

 

All 300 plus members of the Baltimore Health Corps will receive a living wage and a stipend for health insurance to serve as full-time, trusted contact tracers and care coordinators in the communities.

 

Over the course of 12 months, the Baltimore Health Corps will serve three core objectives:

 

Job creation and skills training: the Baltimore Health Corps will onboard, and support hundreds of recently unemployed or out-of-work Baltimore residents in building careers as community health workers (CHWs). The program will provide free community health worker training to prospective applicants so individuals without traditional health experience can qualify. Training for contact tracing will include a course funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies and developed by the Bloomberg School of Public Health that is now being used widely across the country.

 

Controlling the spread of Covid-19: to stop the spread, aggressive case investigation and contact tracing are needed in conjunction with support for individuals in self-isolation or self-quarantine. The Health Corps will significantly expand the city’s existing contact tracing system, enabling the Baltimore City Health Department to reach communities with a depth of service not currently possible. In addition to contact tracing, workers will also assist with public health outreach and education.

 

Serving the social needs of Baltimore’s most vulnerable: the Health Corps will address the social needs of Baltimore’s most vulnerable populations such as older adults, those uninsured, and those who are pregnant and have young children through enhanced care coordination through existing non-profit groups. They will develop a core referral system for residents who are Covid-19 positive, a close contact, or need additional assistance during the pandemic. It will also develop a focused inventory of high-value essential service referral resources to empower care coordination services.

 

“The Baltimore Health Corps is the type of collaborative and innovative solution that we need right now,” said Dr Rajiv Shah, president of the Rockefeller Foundation. “By putting the community at the very core of this approach, the pilot will support the City’s public health and economic needs while serving as a model that can be adapted and scaled in cities across America.”

 

The Baltimore City Health Department, Jhpiego, the Mayor’s Office for Employment Development, Baltimore Corps, HealthCare Access Maryland, and the Baltimore Civic Fund are partnering to operate the initiative.

 

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