COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting the health of low income housing residents and minority communities. Those who have symptoms of COVID-19 may not have the knowledge and resources to prevent the spread of infection, to seek appropriate healthcare, and to maintain quarantine. Lack of experience with telemedicine and lack of home blood pressure and glucose monitoring devices will result in worsening chronic disease health outcomes. Furthermore, the increased financial and emotional stress during the COVID-19 epidemic may result in increased need for mental health support.
The Bringing Health Home (BHH) Program, a collaboration between the Housing Authority of the City of Austin and the University of Texas Dell Medical School and funding provided by the St. David's Foundation, has trained and hired residents as state-certified Community Health Workers (CHW) to conduct virtual outreach to their neighbors at the largest public housing community to assess and address needs in the context of COVID-19.
Using CDC guidelines, the CHWs assess their peers over the phone for COVID-19 symptoms, reinforce preventative measures, link them to testing and medical care, when indicated, and connect them to other available resources, as needed. With this support, it has been possible for BHH residents with COVID-19 to maintain self-isolation and minimize transmission. The BHH team will share the work they are doing to prevent health disparities, minimize COVID-19 deaths, contain the virus, and protect the public welfare by supporting COVID-19 positive households with customized relief packages and symptom monitoring as they remain under quarantine.