From left to right: Felicia, Linda, and Nada, WIN Network: Detroit Community Health Workers
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing guidelines, we have all been using technology more than ever to connect with one another. At WIN Network: Detroit, we are adapting our enhanced model of Group Prenatal Care (GPC) to a virtual format in order to ensure the safety of our community. Community Health Workers (CHWs) are vital to the success of WIN Network: Detroit each and every day, and they have especially stepped up to the task of supporting moms, babies, and families during this transition to virtual support. We asked our amazing CHWs, Felicia, Nada, and Linda about the successes and challenges they have experienced supporting moms virtually during COVID-19.
What has it been like adapting to support moms during COVID-19?
Felicia: It has been challenging, because I wanted to be able to give moms what they need to help them through this pandemic, to bring some kind of normalcy to their lives.
Linda: It has been a process keeping up with the moms at this time making sure they follow up with appointments and resources just like before COVID-19. Now there is more time spent getting them to follow up with virtual classes or assisting them to the new virtual classes. Not being able to have that human contact with them was strange, but we are working it out.
Nada: It was hard to adapt, because I am used to being there, to personally provide assistance. I could not physically be there for our moms, I had to ensure all their needs were being met during this pandemic.
Nada, Community Health Worker
What 3 words would you use to describe what it’s been like as a CHW during COVID-19?
Felicia: Challenging, stressful, but yet, rewarding.
Linda: Frightened, not knowing what to expect what was happening and how we were going to handle because of how COVID-19 was troubling our community. Motivated, as we were able to continue to provide for the patients and ensure that they would be alright during their time at the hospital when having to deliver. Thankful, for the resources available and the networks during this pandemic.
Nada: Empowering, urgent, and stressful in finding a balance of providing and searching for limited resources.
What has been challenging during this time?
Felicia: The unknowing and the unforeseen of the future of COVID-19.
Linda: The new way of doing things virtually and the technology. I have basic computer skills, but it was somewhat challenging at first, like learning how to share screen on a zoom call which that I am now able to do.
Nada: Trying to provide resources, when they were limited and there is such a high need.
What has been a positive or uplifting moment you’ve had in your work as a CHW during COVID-19?
Felicia, Community Health Worker, pictured with a #LittleWinner
Felicia: The ability to see and to recognize that through the midst of death, and disruption of normalcy, that we have come to know babies are still being born and the future and hope lives on.
Nada: A mom called to let me know she delivered but did not have any items for her baby. I was able to contact community partners and gather all of the items she needed before she was discharged from the hospital.
What is one good thing about being able to provide virtual groups?
Felicia: We can still “reach out and touch” through modern technology. We can keep the lines of communication open. Our moms and their families know that we’re there for them because as you know, some communication, even if it is virtually, is better than none.
Linda, Community Health Worker
Linda: Learning the technology of working remotely and assisting others to learn, and becoming familiar with the different technology. A new way of doing things.
Nada: Still being able to provide education and resources to our women.
What Is the future of virtual GPC?
“Currently, for the women who were already enrolled in GPC, we have been replacing in-person GPC sessions with “mommy meet-ups” and 1-on-1 appointments with the midwives. These sessions include the same education and support from the CHWs that we were previously able to offer prior to COVID-19.” Courtney Latimer, WIN Network: Detroit Program Manager explains. “Beginning in September, we will be switching to a more robust virtual format for new moms that enroll in GPC, thanks to funding from the BET COVID-19 and United Way of Southeastern Michigan.”
Moms who participate in Virtual Enhanced GPC will be temporarily given dopplers and blood pressure cuffs to use throughout their pregnancy in virtual GPC to monitor theirs and their baby’s health. We also hope to address technological barriers to care by providing tablets and internet access to those who don’t have it. The CHWs, Felicia, Nada, and Linda will help collect these items when the mom’s prenatal care is over. The CHWs will also continue to provide 1-on-1 support to women after their baby is born until their baby’s first birthday.