Bishnu Khadka has delivered food to quarantined people, teamed up with firefighters to deliver COVID vaccines at a homeless encampment, helped uncertain English speakers understand public health guidance and coronavirus testing.
She is part of a team of four community health workers in Manchester — who speak ten languages among them — working to improve health outcomes for people in the Queen City.
Early on, it became clear that Latinx, Black and other people of color were being disproportionately affected by COVID. Nationwide, people from communities of color are three times more likely to be infected with the virus than whites, and twice as likely to die.
New Hampshire’s COVID-19 Equity Response Team recommended to Gov. Chris Sununu in May of 2020 that an army of COVID-19 response community health workers be deployed to help people of color access care, testing and other services and resources to improve health outcomes.
Grants from the Foundation’s Community Crisis Action Fund, combined with federal CARES Act funding, made it possible for the cities of Manchester and Nashua to each hire four community health workers to do just that.
Long term, community health workers are connecting people with health care and other needs, helping them navigate systems and address chronic conditions and other barriers to wellness.
Ultimately, Bishnu said, building better health in a community starts with building trust. “If we can have that trusting relationship, I can help people with their health.”