As reported by Smart Cities Connect in June of 2020, the Baltimore Health Corps (BHC) launched as a way to recruit, train, and employ new community health workers (CHWs) as part of a measure to to equitably address the city’s economic and public health crises caused by COVID-19.
The Health Systems and Policy Research Lab at the University of Maryland, College Park School of Public Health, has prepared a report outlining the progress of the BHC pilot across its three key objectives:
- Create jobs with racially equitable hiring and career development possibilities: The pilot sought to hire people who were unemployed, furloughed, or underemployed, and living in neighborhoods hardest hit by Covid-19. Jobs included contact tracing, care coordination, and program operation. BHC has reached its target of 275 hires, with 85% of the new hires fulfilling the demographic requirements. All the new staff have workforce supports in place, such as career counseling, behavioral health support, and legal services;
- Increase capacity for COVID-19 contact tracing: as of January, 2021 – when the program reached full staffing – the rate of positive cases completing interviews rose from 67 to 73%; the number of contacts who were contacted within 24 hours increased from 67 to 80%; and, the number of contacts who completed interviews grew from 50 to 78%; and,
- Provide essential care coordination: the BHC worked to improve referral coordination in the contact tracing process, and redeploy resources to testing sites, flu clinics, and housing complexes. Care coordination increased by 126% in referral volume.
“The Baltimore Health Corps pilot allowed us to rapidly scale our capacity for contact tracing and care coordination efforts,” said Dr. Letitia Dzirasa, health commissioner. “Our Health Corps team has played a critical role in the Health Department’s response to the pandemic, and the partnerships involved have helped build the City’s network of trained community health workers for post-pandemic careers in public health.”