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Illinois launches new program to expand COVID-19 resources, vaccine accessibility

AURORA, Ill. (WREX) — The state has launched a new program to help provide vaccine education and highlight available resources in the community.

The Pandemic Health Navigator Program (PHNP) was launched in partnership with the Illinois Public Health Association (IPHA), the Illinois Primary Health Care Association (IPHCA) and OSF Healthcare System. 

WATCH LIVE: Gov. Pritzker to discuss expanding COVID-19 resources and vaccine accessibility across Illinois.

WATCH LIVE: Gov. Pritzker to discuss expanding COVID-19 resources and vaccine accessibility across Illinois.wsiltv.com/coronavirus

Posted by WSIL News 3 on Monday, April 26, 2021

The program, already in operation in communities around the state, integrates community health centers, community-based organizations, and public health partners to coordinate available resources for Illinois regions that have been most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) granted $60 million in funding to Regional Coordinators to ensure resources are available for residents in need either through direct services and/or sub-awarding to Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and other community-based agencies.

OSF Healthcare System serves as the Regional Coordinator for Region 1 and the IPHA serves as the Regional Coordinator for Regions 2-9.  

Earlier this year, PHNP began efforts to equip community-based organizations (CBOs) and federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) with funding, training, and resources to provide local support to Illinois residents. To date, 65 CBOs and 23 FQHCs are participating in the program.

These partnerships have helped hire more than 400 Community Health Workers and regional supervisors, with the goal to hire hundreds more in the next three months. 

The PHNP team also collaborates and coordinates across the assigned regions with the public health system, including with local health departments (LHDs), to support contact tracing efforts and ensure all communities receive needed assistance and to help reduce disparities in health outcomes. 

“This program is about one-on-one connections involving established, trusted members of the community, whether that’s a federally qualified health center, a church, an LGBTQ+ center, a senior center, or a local branch of the NAACP. These are local community organizations who know their peers, their students, their colleagues – people who speak their languages and know their neighborhoods. When someone tests positive for COVID-19, or comes in contact with someone else who has, Pandemic Health Navigators are there, ready to assist with social service supports, personal care education, vaccine access, and even critical logistics like ensuring access to groceries and food when a person has to isolate. In short, our Pandemic Health Navigators are a crucial part of keeping our most vulnerable residents safe, and I’m so grateful to all of them.” 

Gov. JB Pritzker

To better understand the views and needs of Illinois communities during the pandemic, IPHA and IPHCA recently conducted a survey of more than 800 residents. The survey results showed that Illinois residents are in need of guidance and underscored the importance of sharing accurate information and dispelling common misconceptions.  The survey revealed the following data: 

  • 1 in 5 residents indicated they were not able or unsure of their ability to tell the difference between scientific facts and misinformation or false claims on the Internet.  
  • 21-percent of residents said they would not get the COVID-19 vaccine. 
  • More than half (57%) of respondents stated they would be open to working with a Community Health Worker.  

For more information about the program and to connect to a local community health worker, visit www.HelpGuideThrive.org.   

Coronavirus Resources

  • Want to see how many vaccines have been administered in your county? Check out our exclusive COVID-19 Tracker.
  • Are you fully vaccinated? Click here for guidance from the CDC.
  • Click here for the latest information from the Illinois Department of Public Health.
  • Looking for local information on the COVID-19 vaccine? Click here.
  • Click here for News 3 WSIL's latest coronavirus coverage.
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