PHA CARES: COVID-19 Action Response Educational Services

By Gulrukh Chughtai

Considering the hardships that have been imposed upon the North Philadelphia Community due to COVID-19, the Philadelphia Housing Authority and the LNPWI,  along with Greater Philadelphia Health Action, Drexel University’s Wellness Hub and Temple University’s School of Medicine have come together to put a plan of action in place to help those around them.  Temple University, Drexel University and GPHA will be serving as employer partners and host Community Health Workers (CHW) who will be given the responsibility of supporting PHA and HCV residents on COVID-19 related issues. Some of these responsibilities will include offering some level of COVID-19 contact tracing, doing health education around COVID-19 prevention and other chronic illnesses, and providing support to individuals who are self-isolating or in quarantine. 

COVID-19 was first confirmed in Philadelphia on March 10th, 2020. Since then, the infection has spread like wildfire making it 100 times more deadly than a seasonal influenza. In the Philadelphia county, there are about 424k cases and they are rising every day. In context, this is higher than any other county in Pennsylvania. Officials have mandated individuals to quarantine, social distance and wear a mask if they intend to travel outside their home. 

The PHA CARES project is a community-based approach to healthcare and services that intends to change how Philadelphia residents experience the effects of COVID-19. Eight PHA/HCV residents will be hired as Community Health Workers. Some of their day-to-day responsibilities will include:

  • Advising PHA/HCV residents when and where to get tested for COVID-19
  • Encouraging PHA/HCV residents to implement strategies to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in families and in the community
  • Promoting posting of COVID-19 health and safety signage at PHA housing development sites 
  • Doing health education on chronic illnesses
  • Sharing and facilitating access to community resources 

With the COVID-19 cases growing at such a rapid pace, this community will benefit from the services of the Community Health Workers.  By employing these eight individuals in different parts of Philadelphia and giving them the knowledge to undertake their responsibilities, LNPWI and its partners hope to make an impact in helping communities cope with this pandemic.

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