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Partners in Service

9/15/2013, noon
This fall, 18 individuals are beginning their journeys into the field of health care as Community HealthCorps members.
Ronnie Sanders, executive director of Partners Community Health (far left), and Janice Brathwaite, workforce program manager at the League (far right), welcome a new class of Community HealthCorps members.

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This fall, 18 individuals are beginning their journeys into the field of health care as Community HealthCorps members.

The group took their pledge of service this month and will volunteer for a year at community health centers located in Boston, Brockton, Somerville and Quincy. The new recruits will assist clinicians and other health center staff in their ongoing work to provide their patients with strategies for achieving good health and wellbeing.

Taking on a range of initiatives identified by the health centers, Community HealthCorps members will support efforts to address obesity by helping families learn how to cook healthy meals on a budget, raise awareness about the availability of behavioral health services, develop tools for helping patients increase their financial literacy and promote health education for patients with chronic illnesses such as asthma diabetes and hypertension.

“For us, the Community HealthCorps program directly connects with two of our priorities in our efforts to improve community health: access to care and enhancing education and economic opportunities,” said Matt Fishman, vice president for Community Health at Partners HealthCare. “The program provides one more link in the chain of coordinated care for health center patients by making an additional person available to connect patients with a community-based service, or to provide transportation to a medical appointment, or to offer helpful hints about healthy meals and cooking. The program provides opportunities for a diverse group of young people to explore their goals about building careers in health care.”

The Community HealthCorps program is an extension of AmeriCorps, a federal program that engages young adults in volunteer opportunities at nonprofit and public service agencies across the country. The National Association of Community Health Centers has participated in the program since 1995; locally, the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers (the League) has been recruiting service members since 2004. Over the last two years, Partners has had the opportunity to collaborate with the League in expanding the program to more health centers in need.

“This program opens doors for everyone involved, “said Janice Brathwaite, workforce program manager at the League. “Patients and families can be guided along pathways to better health by the members and their mentors, and the members are able to get a better sense of what health care career options best fit their interests and strengths.”

What’s more, the Community HealthCorps program offers participants the opportunity to become part of a network of individuals they will likely stayed connected to throughout their lives. “Learning from staff, building trust with patients, and gaining insight about the role of community-based care in our health system all provide members with invaluable life and career experiences,” said James W. Hunt, Jr., president and CEO of the League.

Since 2007, 52 individuals have participated in the League’s Community HealthCorps program and explored health care as a possible career field. Of those 52 members, 19 went on to enroll in medical school and another eight are currently working in health-care related fields. If you’d like to learn more about this program go to: http://bit.ly/180scTM.