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Health Workers with Lived Experience Help Close Gaps in OR

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CareOregon is giving out $455,000 in grants to eight groups to close health disparities in groups impacted by discrimination. (shane/Adobe Stock)
CareOregon is giving out $455,000 in grants to eight groups to close health disparities in groups impacted by discrimination. (shane/Adobe Stock)
 By Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR - Producer, Contact
March 22, 2021

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Health workers with experiences like the people they serve can provide unique care to communities.

In Oregon, organizations that employ these workers are receiving grants, with the aim of closing health disparities in communities impacted by discrimination.

Parrott Creek Child and Family Services was founded in 1968 as a residential treatment facility for youth in the juvenile justice system.

Simon Fulford, executive director of the nonprofit, said the grant will help Parrott Creek grow its traditional health workers program assisting mothers in sobriety.

"Our staff and members of the community who have that lived experience," Fulford explained. "[They] have gone through challenges in their lives, have found the path to accessing health care supports or social service supports and can kind of share their journey and guide others into getting the right supports and services."

CareOregon is investing $455,000 in eight groups, including the Asian Health and Services Center, Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization, and Native American Youth and Family Center. The groups provide culturally specific care to clients.

Fulford pointed out it's often hard for people to tackle a drug addiction if their primary concerns aren't met, like having a roof over their head or enough to eat.

"If we can help reduce some of those other barriers, they in turn will also help reduce barriers to health care and provide more equitable access to health care," Fulford contended.

Fulford also noted the road to recovery can be long, with many ups and downs. Often, the journey is not linear.

But he added the health-care system at large is realizing the interconnectedness of people's needs, like housing and food security, and there are many factors to being healthy.

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