Local organizations are seeking county support to expand the VIDA Community Health Worker program. | News

The peak of the agricultural harvest season is fast approaching and local organizers believe that community health workers are still essential to prevent Covid-19 when thousands of agricultural workers, locals and seasonal visitors, return to the fields. They are calling for an expansion of the VIDA program, a county-wide community health worker initiative.

The peak of the harvest season coincides with the end of the county’s initial funds allocated so far, $4.9 million, to maintain current staffing levels. Thanks to a $3.9 million federal grant for health literacy and $100,000 from the Institute of Public Health, the program is already set to continue for two years, but in a smaller capacity – instead of 48 full-time community health workers, there will be 18.

“The program has been very important in getting things to where we are,” says Jack Herbig, a leader of the COPA (Communities Organized for Relationship Power in Action) group, which was instrumental in getting VIDA started. .

COPA is advocating for $1.5 million in county funds to keep 48 workers through the end of 2022 and on March 8 will present its case to the Board of Supervisors, where four votes are needed to fund the expansion.

Community health workers often provide health care outside of health care facilities, in places like grocery stores and churches. VIDA has adapted since its launch a year ago, moving from providing information on health and financial resources to encouraging people to get vaccinated and hosting testing sites. Going forward, it will continue to adapt, but will continue to do the same: encouraging families to have children vaccinated and providing support in high-risk areas.

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